A friend of mine is the mother of a middle-schooler. I often see her borrowing many interesting books from the library. Mostly about parenting. Last time when I saw her in the library, she was checking out the book "The Awakened Family" by Shefali Tsabary.
Shefali is a clinical psychologist, speaker and New York Times bestselling author. And this book, as I figured out later, was about raising children through establishing a deep relationship with them so that they can thrive to be their best, truest selves.
Anyway, coming back to my story. This morning I saw something that is even more interesting. I found her son reading this parenting book in a corner with utmost attention and seriousness. I was intimidated and curious. When I asked, he replied, "Don't tell mom! I want to read this to come up with my counter strategy!"
We are indeed in the middle of a revolution.
My eleven year old is a student of violin. His teacher occasionally arranges recitals where all her students come and play in front of an audience, usually the family members of other students. What a great way to motivate the students and help them gain confidence!
I never missed any of his recitals. Every time I patiently wait for his turn. But when his turn comes, something else happens. Every time.
Someone (I don’t want to disclose the identity!) hands over the video camera to me and asks me to record his performance.
I hate this part. I miss all the fun because my attention completely goes towards recording. Later, when I hear that one of our neighbors passionately listened my son’s piece and appreciated him, I feel bad because I focused too much on keeping a digital memory rather than enjoying the present moment and making emotional connections.
Taking rigorous notes in meetings is very similar. We focus so much on the future that we miss the opportunity to have human connections and to understand each other’s perspectives.
I don’t take notes in meetings anymore. I try to be part of the conversations.
The total amount of money in the world is finite. As of today, an approximate figure for this is $60 trillion.
But, if money is finite, why we are rewarded to accumulate it? And, by reward, I mean interest rates.
Isn't it a facilitation of inequality? Why it is not the other way round?
I think I can guess the answer. Here are my thoughts.
1. We work in corporations so that we can buy stuff. We also invest in stocks of various corporations with the same objective.
2. We buy products (this includes services as well) because we feel incomplete without them. However, I am excluding our bare necessities from this discussion for the time being.
3. Corporations make us feel incomplete without their products so that we have a strong urge to buy them. This is called marketing. I heard that it is an art.
4. Corporations make profit when we buy their products. A lot of profit, actually.
5. Corporations pay us a tiny proportion of their profit as salary.
6. We work in corporations and get paid the salary in return. We get returns in our investments in those corporation stocks.
This is a vicious cycle. And, in this whole process, the corporations accumulate a lot of money so that they can expand their business even more, so that they can be even more profitable.
And then there is another body. The Universities. They work very hard to prepare us so that we can serve those corporations. And, of course they charge money for that. So we take loans from those corporations itself to get some degrees and pay them back with interest, by working in those corporations and investing in their growth.
We, the people, are really trapped this time!
There is a fundamental difference between "I failed" and " I didn't succeed". And the difference is, there is an invisible 'yet' at the end of the second sentence .
There is even a more fundamental assumption about success and failure. And that is our perceived definition of success.
It's been almost an year I am trying to establish a small business with my friend Palash. However, we are yet to make our first dollar.
I usually come across three opinions about our business from our families, friends and sometimes strangers. Here they are:
1. Are you kidding? You didn't make a single dollar in almost a whole year! You should just accept that it is a complete failure and move on!
2. Well, it is not a failure. Yet. All businesses start like this. You shouldn't lose hope. I am sure your success is not very far away!
3. How much did you learn in your entrepreneurship journey? I am sure it completely changed your worldview and made you a much better version of you!
Most of the time I am pretty sure about what my definition of success is. But sometimes I lose it. I am working on it.
Yesterday I met with a car emergency in the middle of a highway when I was returning from my job. My car just stopped when I was driving and the car engine just refused to start. I was literally stranded in the middle lane of a busy highway in a rush hour. I had to call 911. Police arrived immediately and helped me move my car to the shoulder. My car was eventually towed to a nearby auto repair shop and then I called my friend Gaurango to check if he is available to pick me up from there.
I could have called a cab. But I didn't. I could have paid Gaurango for the ride. But I didn't. Because I now believe in a gift economy. And so I wanted to pay with my "emotional credit".
What is "emotional credit"? Well, I created my own definition of it. When we buy a product or a service from someone, we pay the seller some money in return. But why money? And why not something else? The answer is, the traditional practice is to measure the product or service using a scale of money and pay that specific amount to the seller. Most of the time we don't realize, but this also implies an implicit communication to the seller: "I don't want to have a long term relationship with you!". Honestly, how many of us build a friendship with people who works in a local grocery store or a restaurant?
On the other hand, "emotional credit" means owing a favor. And, most importantly, it means living with the gratitude and acknowledging that the favor needs to be returned at a time when the other person needs it. Not when it is convenient for me and not refusing to show gratitude by paying money.
I promised myself to be there for Gaurango when he needs me. Also, I dream to live in a community where even a stranger will help me the same way Gaurango did yesterday. And I dream to live in a community where the currency will be our "emotional credit" so that we can all be connected, be friends and be of help to each other. It's just our faith and selflessness that we all need to work on a little bit. But I'm sure, that day will not be too far away if we all try.
If your answer to the above question is yes, then here is my next question to you.
Are you a vegetarian?
I really hope you are. Because, if you are not, you are not against animal cruelty. Even if you think you are.
We almost always miss the broader perspective, the bigger picture. We fail to differentiate between the fundamental problem and the symptom of it. And, even if we understand the fundamental problem, we try to find a temporary solution. Almost always.
I am not a vegetarian yet. But I hope to be able to be one. Someday.
I read the book "Permission Marketing" by Seth Godin very recently. It completely changed my view towards leadership.
I learned that a leader must earn permissions from the followers to lead them. And earning that permission is not easy. It takes months, years and sometimes decades.
It comes from showing that you care. It comes from your empathy. It comes from selflessness and generosity. And it comes from your passion to make a difference.
I have come across many leaders in my professional and personal life. Some of them were my leaders because of their positions and some of them were simply self-appointed. I followed just a few of them and ignored the rest. Because the rest didn't have any clue about what leadership is, unfortunately. They didn't care about me and my problems, they were not generous, and most importantly, they didn't have a passion of making a difference. I think they either followed instruction from someone else or just wanted to satisfy their wish to become a leader.
I still see many such leaders around me. I didn’t give them my permission to lead me. Not yet.
I heard this story in one of the speeches by Joel Osteen.
He was sitting beside a river on a bright sunny day enjoying the sound of water flowing. There were a couple of other people also sitting near him with fishing rods, trying to catch fishes.
There was one person, he noticed, who was acting a little strange. Every time he was catching a small fish, he was keeping it; but whenever he was able to catch a bigger one, he was returning it back to the river. Joel saw him doing that a few times and became really curious. He went to that person to expressed his curiosity and asked the reason behind his strange behavior. The person calmly replied, “Oh, it’s nothing, I have a tiny little frying pan”.
When I was working for a big organization a few years back, I made a choice to work sixteen hours a day. I thought that working this hard will make me a great and loyal worker, which will help me getting my next promotion, which will keep me ahead of my colleagues for getting the one after, which will eventually make me rich and happy.
I had a tiny little frying pan then. I missed the family movie times, picnics in the riverside on a bright sunny day, board games, solving big jigsaw puzzles in our living room for hours, and many more such things that are significant. Then I slowly started saving money for a bigger frying pan. And then I bought one.
I now live in a small house; but if you look carefully, I’m sure you will be able to see my big frying pan from a distance.
Abhimanyu Gupta lives in Chesterfield, Missouri with his wife Nilanjana & son Anusurya. His profession is software testing and his passion are music and books. He can be reached via Email, LinkedIn or Facebook.