It’s been a while since I scribbled anything significant here. But I am regular with notes on my daily diary and a few short posts on Linkedin.
A few things that have changed in me are:
a. I am not thinking too much about the future.
b. Uncertainty of any kind is finally not worrying me.
c. I am feeling least distracted these days. Of course Instagram may be trapping me in its ludic loops but that is still limited to less than 30 minutes a day.
d. I am usually calm. And especially from inside these days.
e. I am not pulled too deep into unfavorable situations unlike in the past.
f. I am exercising but not overstraining myself.
g. I want to go for a bike trip this year too but will schedule in a way that does not disrupt my responsibilities at work.
I am changing and ageing as well.
My daughter is lost in watching a movie that was released 10 years before she was born. At the 9th year of her life with us and being the youngest in our family, she shows same intensity that my spouse and I showed in 1997 seeing the same movie.
She asks me if I had seen this movie before. And I have no hesitation confirming it. Yes, I have seen this movie before and infact the first that her Mom and I watched when we first dated each other. Back then, we were just 17 years old.
Today, I learnt that movies form an intricate part of family time. Traditionally, Indian middle class express a lot by using Bollywood actors as proxies.
As the love story progresses, my daughter is keen to hear the outcome of the movie- Will the couple finally marry. The movie perfectly showcases the seriousness of relationships in those years which may have got diluted today.
Our relationship to work hinges on motivation. The motivation defined in terms of recognition for the effort. When we are not recognized for our effort, we are de-motivated and inefficiency creeps into our work life. We do have tools to motivate the experienced working at higher echelons in the organizations but the
The expectation of being recognized holds true, across all hierarchies, in an organization. I was interacting with a Chartered Accountant working with a large Company for last 8 years. His salary had grown 15% y-o-y and awarded one promotion as well. But he had decided to move-on and was keen to look for a change. “I have nothing new at my job there- same set of people, same work, nothing new. I did contribute to an idea of cost reduction, and that was implemented. But, this was a few years back.”, he said in response to one of my questions. He suffered from Sisyphus condition.
In another context, I asked my young colleagues, with work experience not exceeding a couple of years, to share their expectations from their employer and most mentioned ‘appreciation’ as a key criterion. Most of them perform monotonous jobs where critique for failure is more probable than an occasional pat on the back. They too suffer from Sisyphus condition.
The word ‘Sisyphus condition’ emerges from the name of a king named Sisyphus in Greek mythology who was punished to carry a heavy boulder up a steep hill only to roll it back the moment it reached the top and keep repeating till he died. In modern world, Sisyphus condition is used for tasks that can be labelled as laborious and futile. Why do we end-up having jobs that are at best tasks? This has something to do with the way we create jobs and define roles.
I was heading for my first major trek to Ladakh. After a hectic day at work, I had to take a late night bus to nearest airport that was 5 hours away- some 270 km.
After starting at 12 midnight, sitting in a Volvo bus, I was trying to disconnect myself from my personal and professional life. My eyes were shut but my mind kept racing between expectations from the trek and the life I have to return to, after a week. I could not hold my mind on one particular series of thoughts.
All the while bus was cruising to its pit stop, some 150 km from base city . I had hardly managed a nap when the bus stopped with a solid braking. The bus conductor had announced a 10 minute stop before heading onwards.
Half asleep, I turned my head to look through the fogging window pains on my left. And I could see this……
This was on Jan 12, 2018.
“What You See Is All There Is” abbreviated by Daniel Kahneman as “WYSIATI” in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”.
Biases of various kinds are known to impact our ability to be rational in decision-making. I have an experience to share where perceptions turned out to be more real than facts themselves. The key learning is that perceptions reflect what we believe in and ‘belief’ is what we are programmed to value more.
My colleague and I were part of a sales meeting. He was a salesperson and I represented as a CFO. His version of feedback about the meeting with customer, “The meeting was good and we did an excellent job explaining and outlining our execution plan once we get the project.”
“Are we getting the project?” CEO was focused on specifics only. He was used to the rhetoric of salesmen for decades now. “We are most likely to get it.” My colleague reconfirmed when CEO said, “You seem to be confident.”
CEO had cross verified the claim of my colleague talking to the customer directly. He blamed my colleague of misrepresenting the facts. The customer believed that the presentation lacked creativity and out-of-box thinking on marketing plan. I was also called to share my version. I uttered, “the customer seems to build a strong negotiation platform and hence probed us to share more insights on marketing plan while talking of budget constraints.”
My CEO asked, “Did customer mention the budget?”. I said, “He did not.”
Quoting Koen Smets, “The pernicious nature of WYSIATI is precisely that we don’t reason. This old riddle illustrates how easily we jump to conclusions: a father and his son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital. Just as he is about to go under the knife, the surgeon exclaims, “I can’t operate — that boy is my son!” How can this be?
Basal Ganglia inside our brains plays an important role in habit formation. This is quite a norm in our lives for all we do- bathing after breakfast; waking up late on weekdays vs on weekends; grabbing a drink daily especially especially when leaving office etc. etc.
While basal ganglia and its role in shaping our habits has a long history of research, six decades or so, our reaction to exceptional or non-routine events intrigues me. This does not indicate any unexplored field of research for a Nobel prize aspirant to pursue. This is simply my lazziness to not read further.
For example, Why will someone be nostalgic for pleasure and painful events equally. Why is this so? A couple of centuries back, Nostalgia was an emotion that threatened life. Today, it is simply a word of emotion – missing a place or an event- and does not trigger neurological symptoms that may lead to death of an individual.
How can an event that triggered extreme sadness/ unhappiness, equivalent to a trauma, be felt on same dates several years later? This could be simply, in layman terms, a result of our obsession with dates, or our memory. This may also be out of habit/nostalgic feeling to re-experience and change the course of events that occured in past.
Of course research has answers to above questions that I am unaware of. But why should one not try to approach it in a manner that is less punishing to say the least?