Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WakeUp 98 - Hang on; minutes can change emotions wildly!

The soccer world cup last year had some moments that linger in memory. It's not the goals that were scored but the emotions displayed on the field that linger.

Japan Vs Paraguay - round of 16 (pre-quarterfinal) match goes into penalties for the decider. Paraguay leads 3-2 and the next Japanese player steps up to take the penalty. He strikes the ball well, but it hits the top crossbar and the ball flies out. Every Japanese fan and follower groaned in disappointment - the Japanese faces we usually see on television do not express any emotion but this time was different; everyone had a sigh of disappointment... everyone except the coach. He stood stoic as a statue with not even a single facial muscle moving after the miss; he stood as if thinking 'this is just a game' - even the support staff standing beside him showed their disappointment. I was amazed because even a person who wasn't supporting Japan would have at least uttered an, "Oh, unlucky."

Ghana Vs Uruguay - quarter finals. Everyone would have read about the Hand of God in this match; but the interesting part was before and after the incident. The match was in the final couple of minutes of extra time with Ghana attacking. In the scuffle within the Uruguay "D" (penalty) area, the ball was headed towards the goal - keeper was beaten and it didn't seem like any defender could block the trajectory of the ball. But Suarez, an Uruguay striker, raised his hand, stopped the ball and prevented the goal. Handling the ball got him a red card but most importantly it wasn't a goal - Ghana was awarded a penalty shot. Suarez was sobbing uncontrollably as he left the field after Ghana was awarded the penalty. Quite a poignant scene. The next minute, Ghana's best striker stepped up to take the penalty shot; he was their best player - a goal would take them to the semis. When he missed it, Suarez was in extreme joy - one moment he seemed a villain but in the record books would probably go down as a hero. In the span of 3 minutes you witnessed extreme emotions in one person.

How about something light to wrap up - it is rare winning a million dollar lottery once; how about winning it a second time within a few months? A person in the US did it recently. Ok, twice is great - how about four times! An American lady won more than a million dollars in 4 different lotteries - 1993, 2006, 2008 and in 2010.

Things can change wildly in a matter of a few seconds. So if you feel desperate without any signs of light, just hang on to hope - fortunes could reverse wildly in your favour in a short time. Who knows - maybe it's your lucky number next!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WakeUp 97 - All it takes...a couple of words...

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." - William James (psychologist)

I've found it amusing looking at how many companies try to retain talent. When an employee slugs it out at work, they don't get recognized because the employee ensures everything runs smooth. And when things run smooth no one bothers about you. When an employee threatens to quit, the employer cajoles them and offers incentives to appease them. I've heard it happen a number of times and I wonder why employers don't give what an employee deserves on time. If you feel you can afford to give incentives why are you waiting till the threat of resignation arrives?
Why not do it earlier if they really deserve it?

"Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune." - Sam Walton (founder of Wal-Mart)

A lot of times the same happens with awards - not giving it to people who should actually get it and instead give it to someone just because they never got an award yet; cyclic rotation like what happens in film awards where they try to satisfy all the celebs! What's wrong if the same person were to get an award twice? If they really deserve it, other people are not going to crib that the same person got it again. Instead, awarding someone just because they never got an award, or offering incentives just because a person threatens only dampens the spirits of everyone around. The reasoning among them goes, "That guy did so much and they haven't even recognized his work. So why should I worry about putting extra effort?"
Or maybe there are some execution problems involved in this; I can probably shed light on that aspect when I'm running my own company :-)

"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you." - William Arthur Ward (author)

Look around and it probably doesn't stick to the workplace alone - if someone does something good, has tried something which might have failed but was a noble attempt, go on and appreciate them. A couple of words do a lot of good in cheering up a person. Overdoing it will dilute the effect; be genuine in appreciation and people will feel happy.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia (author)

WakeUp 96 - Love

Here’s a wakeup after a brief hiatus because of the Dubai travelogue.
It's been in a way a perfect day with the ups and downs in terms of mood swings. I started the day by reading news about how an educated young man, earning handsomely, murdered his wife and tried to setup the death as if a burglary had gone wrong leading to her death. He took extra measures to set the scene before murder to avoid the suspicious radar pointing at him, but the police not being convinced with the sequence of events after the murder questioned him. He confessed to the murder during the interrogation. And I wondered how rotten things were - lives being cut short tragically because of the whims and fancies of another human; newspaper was filled with news about plenty of domestic crimes - all related to money, ego and jealousy.
At night getting off a share-auto after a minor argument with the driver, I went to a fast food outlet. After a few minutes an elderly lady and a boy in his 20s unshaven, sporting a round neck t-shirt and white shorts stepped in. They appeared to be well off financially. They ordered something at the counter and came to a table. It was then that I noticed the lady holding the boy's hand as they walked. She wasn't that old that she needed support and it seemed more like she was supporting the boy. The boy had an unusual smile with his mouth open 80% of the time and with an awkward neck movement. The mom stood holding the son's hand while the boy sat down and started sipping a coco cola bottle. Something didn't seem right about the boy. After every two sips, the mom would faithfully wipe his mouth.

The mom was looking tired and yet she continued to stand holding the boy's left hand. For a short while she let go of the hand and the boy began swaying gently with his arm moving forward and backward. If it were a party, you'd think he was dancing. His mannerisms were like that of a mentally affected person and he wasn't able to control his movements. Just before they picked up their takeaway order, she wiped the boy’s face completely; just like a mom wipes a 3 year old child's face when they have some dirt on their face. And there was something touching in the way the mother stayed beside her son in those 15 minutes in the restaurant - amidst her fatigue, amidst all the worries and burdens she carried. I don't know how to describe what I felt - the closest word I get is touching; poignant to see that mother's love; mothers tend to love despite everything. They might shout and be angry at the child but they still keep loving the child - love no matter what comes back in return; love that doesn't ask for anything in return.

WakeUp 95 - Nothing like a cup of tea...

When I stepped outside office, to drop into the courier service shop, I noticed an old man, probably working in some construction site, in his early sixties squatted outside the entrance. The place was swarming with flies, people littered everywhere on the ground, the place smelt bad and it was literally like a garbage dump. As I waited for the courier guy to write the receipt, I observed the old man outside. The old man was still in the same squat position - I was surprised because that is a hard posture to assume for long, especially for elderly people. He had a battered plastic water bottle with around 200ml of tea on his left hand. He poured a little into an equally shabby looking plastic cup and sipped from it. In five sips he finished the cup and poured another cup of tea from the bottle. You would say the scene was deplorable but I found something fascinating amidst the gloom - maybe it was the way he relished his cup of tea squatting on the muddy ground hardly worried about the grim surroundings - flies, litter, garbage, sweat; focusing fully on what he was doing and least worried about the background. It reminded me of Arjuna, the master archer in Mahabharata, who when taking aim at the eye of a wooden bird on a tree said that he could see only the eye of the bird and nothing else.
I don't know when was the last time I relished a cup of milk like that - forget a drink, I don't know if we ever relish anything the way he cherished that bottle of tea. He was truly enjoying those few minutes - poignant.

We spend our time in worry,
and time runs in a big hurry.

Our mind cooks many a curry,
later for lost time we feel sorry.

We think so much abt future and pension,
and add to our daily dose of tension.

We ignore our real passion,
and follow the crowd's fashion.

Our time out here is limited,
out of which many days we've wasted.

I wish we break free from our fears,
from others faces wipe away sad tears,
work daily bright and cheerful,
and progress to our dream zestful.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WakeUp 94 - Privileged aren't we?

I'm back to thinking just how lucky we really are. There are times when you feel a kind of slap in your face or a kick in your back that gets you 'kick'started. Perhaps now is one such moment.

I came across some news articles which had shades of what we see quite regularly these days in the paper: story of a wife being abused by a drunken husband, story of prisoners who were tortured by policemen who poured acid in their eyes, story of a lottery millionaire who spent so much that he became quite literally a beggar. And at night, after a long time a blind kid chatted with me about my Dubai trip; his voice was filled with joy when he said, "I liked your blog describing the flight and the airport." And I had a tinge of sadness when I thought over what he must be going through - how much he desires to see the world outside but for now he just has to be satisfied with mental visualization. And when you look back, I think most of us would feel (ought to feel!) we are a lot more privileged; we've been given better circumstances; we have a lot more things in our control. With greater power comes greater responsibility, right?

We watched the BBC movie Earth 2007 (BBC and Disney venture) on Earth day which showcased the struggles of different species - how elephants had to walk for days without water in the Kalahari Desert; how a polar bear swims for miles in search of land and food, how birds brave extreme conditions while migrating across the mighty Himalayas - and all this not for finding better pastures or fortunes but just for survival. I wonder what the animals would think of us if they saw our typical day and the amount of time we had at hand! The movie centers around 3 families - polar bear, elephant and the humpback whale; and interestingly in all 3 families it was the mother that took care of the young ones; getting food for them and protecting them from the dangers of the wild!

Nature reminds us that we are a privileged species.

And if you haven’t watched the movie, then do check it out - 90 mins. visual treat along with some impressive scenes of the Himalayas; supposed to be the first production to shoot aerials of Mt. Everest!