Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ace Child Empowerment

Let us discuss an old folk story, the one about the hare and the tortoise.
1) We know that there was a race in which, slow but steady tortoise won the race while the over confident hare took a nap before the race was over.
2) Now that the hare had lost the race, he was quite ashamed to move around in the neighbourhood and was depressed. His parents got worried – naturally. They had a small discussion, there was to be another race and the clear advise was to first finish the race and then do any thing else, like taking a nap.
So there was another race and this time as you would guess, the hare won hands down. The moral of the story in this case is even more simple – Even when you are fast and talented to win a race you shall have to finish it…..and being slow and steady can win you a race, only some of the time.

3) Now it was the turn of the tortoise kid to get depressed. The kid had felt the
warm glow that comes from being successful. It was better than any TV serial, candy or a toy. His parents were deeply concerned. The mummy tortoise came up with an idea – which to my mind was brilliant. “To win a race you must run another race, that much is for sure only this time the race track should be through the jungle river.
So there was this third race and the tortoise kid won once more. The hare was stuck at the river bank despite reaching there early.
Let us discuss this part of the story a little –
a) The parents (of the tortoise) understood that it was all about winning the race and not about running. In life situations too it is more important to be successful in a chosen vocation and it is not about scoring 100 marks in maths or for that matter in any other subject all the time.
b) One can not win , from a point of weakness. So in our story just running to win the race was seen as , not possible. Weaknesses generally can not be converted to strengths, not easily any way. By hard work and practice the tortoise could never hope to run faster than the hare - so when hard work will not work a change of strategy can work. This is the key to good parenting , to be able to tell your child when to work hard and when to work on something else.
c) To be good and successful you have to know your strengths and plan the race of life accordingly and run it till the finish line.Swimming was definitely a strength for the tortoise and so the race course was tailored.
The greatest positive influence we adults can have on our children is to
i) help them in identifying their strength areas.
ii) Develop the strengths into core competencies.
iii) Encourage them to choose their vocation according to their core competencies.
By the way, there are (at least ) two lessons from the cricket world cup 2003.
Pointing foxed Ganguly when he told the press that “Indian seamers could pose a problem”. So Anil Kumble was not taken in the team.( that is what my friends and I think). Please recall how tantalizing it was to discuss the fate of Sri Lanka - Australia semifinal, because of Australian weakness in playing spin bowling. Sri Lanka lost the match because of their own stupid batting. It is important that children understand strategy, and develop thought flexibility. Lateral thinking process is one great idea.
The second important lesson is that, no amount of worshipping , numerology left handed captains alternating with right handed captains lifting the cup etc will win us the cup. We have to play better cricket, that is it. You must discourage superstition in your child always.
Thank you very much.


This is not about the great Alfred Hitchcock movie, but I reckon you will find it interesting enough. As we do our living with our personal goals – we find that team work becomes very significant. Our position keeps swinging between being an individual and a team person. This is about birds, we know that birds fly thousands of miles in huge numbers. You would have seen birds fly in perfect formation. What you read now tells you how these little creatures have perfected the art and science of living.

A) As each goose flaps its wings it creates uplift for the bird that follows. By flying in a –V, formation the whole flock adds seventy one percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson – People who share a common direction and a sense of community can reach where they are going a lot quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of each other. So if you are a lone flyer you shall need that much extra effort. Friends with common goal will always excel –individually.

B) When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and the resistance of flying alone and it quickly moves back in formation. When the lead goose tires it rotates back in to formation and another goose takes its position.

Lesson - If we have as much sense as birds, we should stay in formation with people going to the same destination. We should take turns in doing the hard task. As with birds we should be interdependent on each others skills, capabilities and set of gifts
talents and resources.

C) The geese flying in formation honk, to encourage those at the front to keep up their speed.

Lesson – We need to make sure that our honking is encouraging not irritating. In groups where there is encouragement the output is much more. Leaders must know what is quality honking.

D) When a goose gets sick wounded or shot down, at least two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay back until the wounded dies off or is able to fly again. These three then try to get in to any formation that is passing by and later catch up with their own flock.

Lesson – First never shoot a bird for gods sake. If we had as much sense as birds we would stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

All good things, indeed will have its fair share of flaws – so does this bird story. The idea is not to focus on weaknesses in life. Often it is very gratifying to find faults in a situation but mostly it is an intellectual trap, I hope folks you are not into it. Even the best Digha mango has hard ugly seed.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Living Wisely

You might actually be living wisely, who would admit to anything else. Rama thought he was living wisely, Ravana also thought he was living wisely, so thought Judas and Jesus. One betrayed, the other trusted.

It is clear, however, that all that one considers to be wisdom could actually be something else. A couple of decade ago, mass manufacturing was at its peak. Large factories produced a small product in millions. It produced a very good product and then produced more of it and then even more. It was called a great organization. The mirror image of manufacturing was bureaucracy. It was supposed to churn out standardized decisions and if it was good, do more of the same – very mundane indeed.

This article is on parenting issues; but the social churn is important to understand. It is more like social mutation. There was a time when all parents looked smart. They did something well and then did more of the same. It made them look even better. Today, this strategy would be a blue print for disaster – doing more of the same does not work any more.
Your children still think you are the best mom and dad in the world and they would not trade you for anything. Then comes the effect of a mutant society. “But folks, that is not good enough for me.”
Today, the environment is very unstable and accelerative with unclear direction. Take an example – Our parents had to deal with “Binaca geet mala” and “Jaimala” and you deal with hundreds T.V. Channel, broadband and a Gizmo called cell-phone.

By the way, I wonder how many of you know what blue – tooth is? I will drop a hint. It is not about color of our dentition.Our society is possibly going through a lot of mutation. Look at the new things and the new behavior that spring up regularly. The novelty ratio is rising and if one thought that history and tradition will teach us skills for the future, that is not happening.
We are forced today to re-examine concepts and beliefs and this is true for almost all walks of life. I would not want this write up (and others if there are more) to become a “Samizdat” document among parents, but we must learn fast and have good channels of idea sharing. By the way the next word to Samizdat in my dictionary is Samosa.India Shining ?
A very high novelty ratio makes behavior adaptation much more difficult. We need to modify some of our postulates of thinking to improve our adaptation to this new society.
a) Most of us have an acute fear of the future, it is almost, mythical and we would love to preempt life.
In last few decades, some great things have happened. Berlin wall came down; Ideological wars in economic theory are non existent. Our relationships with neighboring countries are on the mend. Economically we are on the fast track. There is so much work on disease control - life is going to be good.
Our glass is more than half full and we are victim of nothing. So this mythical fear of the future is absolutely misplaced.

b) It may be a mistake to treat life as a game of checkers, where every piece is the same, every move is similar.
Life gets an entirely new meaning if it is treated as movements in a game of chess. Every chess piece is positively differentiated.
I must add here that the greatest service you can do to your children is help in differentiation that is to identify his strength. In the age of instant noodles and drinks this is going to be a long drawn old fashioned process, please be careful.
We will come with real action plan for your children of every age group in due course.