Musings on a rainy day….

The sky has opened and the rains patter against the window inviting me to leave the workplace and its gadgets and celebrate nature’s bounty. Beauty is just a window pane away.

A gentle breeze accompanies the rain, playing a soulful melody. The melody is nature’s; the stories it sets off in people’s minds are their own. This gentleman here remembers a carefree youth and an enchanted evening dancing in the rain, the lady there – she remembers a homecoming and the bitter-sweet memory of a dinner with her parents for the last time. Me, I remember blissful evenings on an open balcony armed with a cup of coffee and a good book in my hand. The book provides the stories, the cuppa provides the warmth and nature sets the ambience. A perfect world this – halfway between a man-made heaven and nature’s abundance – a dream to cherish forever.

But the workplace has its needs – and its charms too. Your office on the 10th floor allows provides a breathtaking view of nature at play – albeit as a spectator. The coffee is there and a hot buttered croissant too. There’s an ambitious “to-do” list peeking from the table that you can’t wait to get started on. A friend on the communicator is asking you how the day was. A twitter feed describing a mesmerizing, far-away world precisely in 140 characters hovers perched on some distant cloud. A loved project is just going live. If work is love made visible as Kahlil Gibran said, this is it!

Which brings us to the moment. Rains are special. But more so is our relationship with the rains. A thunderstorm can be frightening; or it can be mesmerising – a lot depends on our views (and the efficiency of the lightning conductors of course!). A task can be daunting or inspiring depending on the perceiver. So it’s in our hands.

But not entirely. The rains come of their accord, not to a timetable. If you miss them tonight, there’s no telling when a repeat performance is up next for you to participate. A task or a meeting – can be manoeuvred with greater flexibility – mostly! Nature presents her gifts majestically but for fleeting moments; Man-made tasks are mostly there for longer terms, yet are less in splendor.

Miss a moment of magic, and its gone forever. Consistently miss out on a work task, and success (in society’s terms) is elusive.

How do we achieve the right balance? I guess the answer is not in what we do, but what we choose not to do. Knock off enough things (but not the most important ones), and there’s always time to fit in Nature’s songs in your life. And doing so will get your soul to sing; and what could be a precious thing for man? 

Communicating strategically (!)

Enjoying some tea at the cafe last week, I heard myself advising a colleague “we’ve got to leverage our automation accelerator and show real value soon; let’s touchbase after a week and then close the loop with the customer”.

I saw her face break into a small frown before opening out into the familiar nod and broad smile. As always, she understood what was required and would take care of it – no problem.

A few sips later, it struck me – I had just unleashed a torrent of office speak (actually gibberish) at her. Try this version (with italics for emphasis!):

“we’ve got to leverage our automation accelerator and show real value soon; let’s touchbase after a week and then we can close the loop with the customer”.

Try that on someone who isn’t privy to IT speak and I promise you he’ll sport a startled look on his face for a week. I mean here I was using “leverage” as if I was Mr.Archimedes and promising to touchbase (when I didn’t even play baseball!). I was closing loops (maybe also jumping through hoops!) and talking about real value (is there any other kind?!). Man, was I talking funny!

I checked with my colleague if she concurred that I was infected with the “office speak” bug and she did – only she hadn’t realized it until later because these words and phrases were pervasive – you found them in every conference room, in every building. Was an epidemic really underway – we decided to run tests for a week.

The next day, walking into the workplace, I found a team member wearing a dazed look. Restored with our strong vending-machine coffee, he managed to let us know what had troubled him so. He had just been asked to create a “holistic, proactive approach to accelerate the IT and business cycle for a client – and this (and I swear I am not making this up!) was for a client who wanted one person to be onboarded for 6 weeks to execute some testing! Kind of like going to book a taxi ride and ending up buying a Mercedes sedan huh!

That afternoon, in a “brainstorming” session, a participant got up and asked to share his “2 cents of wisdom”. The 2 cents turned out to be 25 minutes worth of a monologue covering (but not limited to) the army, cricket, global issues, local resort experiences and many other things. The speech was peppered with stuff like “hitting the ball out of the park”, transforming with game changing ideas (maybe play cricket in a football field?), war rooms to foster collaboration (don’t ask me how!) and a lot more. Indeed, if “2 cents (or any other currency)” could be stretched so far, it is time for our Finance minister to take some lessons from him.

Five ‘o’clock saw me and 3 other colleagues finalizing the agenda for a client meeting (yeah, I am always in some meeting!). To be exact, we were doing a “round table” meet huddled around an oval-shaped table. Someone (yeah there’s always a Mr.Smart Alec in every meeting right) asked a tough question that no one had a ready answer to. The response he got was epic “let’s connect offline on this one”. Offline? We weren’t online now (we didn’t even have laptops in that meet!) anyway!

And so it went. Once you start looking, you’ll realize how many hours of fun, “office speak” can provide you. Are you listening Mr.Russell Peters/ other standup comedians – we’re ready to pose you some tough competition!

And with that, I’ll leave you to you to enjoy the weekend. I’ve got to get back to work – there’s a holistic strategy that involves a multi-faceted technique I’ve got to spend time on. I promise you it will transform our client’s business and make them undergo a paradigm shift. So long then!

Autobiography in Five chapters – a poem

Sogyal Rinpoche illustrates how we keep failing repeatedly by getting into a pattern and finally realize truth and wisdom through this beautiful poem authored by Portia Nelson:

1) I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in
I am lost…I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it.

5) I walk down another street.

Taken from his insightful, humane translation ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying…