Directioning: Where we should be going ?

Blue Ocean People at the Top of the Pyramid, BOP @ TOP

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we need to do is keep on walking.”—Buddhist proverb

Potentially, anyone of us could aspire to be one of them. Please see the wiki list of lists of centenarians to get a feel of what I have in mind. Most of these people would qualify to be there in the BOP@ TOP list that I am compiling.

Having worked for over three decades at the bottom of the pyramid and branded myself a low impact lifer, aka poor, much before the jargon was in vogue I am more fascinated with people at the top of the pyramid. It is for the TOP to make it lighter for those at the bottom. We have enough of them to show us that it is indeed possible. These people have taken the road less or not travelled. They show us the direction for the journey, milestones that point to further stretches of the road not taken, of the unrealised, unexplored territories, the blue ocean space of strategic directions for self-management or HRM, Human Resources Management, to use a B-School jargon. They give much more than they take. They are Low impact on inputs and very high impact on output. They bridge us with the past and point to us, the future

For me HRM is Hira Ratan Manek. Born in 1937, a graduate in mechanical engineering  who carried on with the family business, of shipping and spice trading till he retired in 1992. After working for 3 years, he re-discovered the secrets of sun gazing.   Since June 18th, 1995, HRM lives only on sun energy and water. Occasionally he drinks tea, coffee and buttermilk.  He had three strict fastings, during which he had just sun energy and only water and was under the control and observation of various science and medical teams. The first of these fasting lasted for 211 days which was followed by a 411 day fast from 2000-2001 in Ahmadabad. Indeed it is written “Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone “

Another one is, Pandit Sudhakar Krishna Rao Chaturvedi, a vedic scholar, teacher, writer, translator and journalist was born in 1897. At 113 years he says in the Vedas it is said that a person of pure character can live for 300 years. He hopes to live that long. He has planned his work for another ten years.

PC Devassia, whom I knew from very close for over two decades, who is in one  of the wiki lists, lived for 100 years 6 months and 15 days. This by itself is not a feat but how those years were spent is. On the day he retired from  nearly four decades of work,  he talked on how he planned to spend his remaining 40 years. His magnum opus, Kristubhagavatam, a meeting point of two cultures was written in his seventies. All those forty years were exceptionally productive, even more productive than the first forty years of work. The decision to live for a 100 years was a conscious one taken very early in life which he had made known to his son when he was in school. The position was taken very early in life, the direction was set and reflection was a continuous process. His work was his spirituality and he was religious about it. Making work meaningful and fun is the best medicine to live long. Instead we wait for a day when nano-robots will make it possible for us to become immortal.

Dominic Chacko Kizhkemuri, DC,was born in 1914 .He worked as a teacher for over a decade, was involved in the freedom struggle and imprisoned, promoted SPCS, the writers’ cooperative which created history.   He retired   at the age of 60 and started his own publishing firm, the DC Books with a capital of less than $ 200 which became a market leader in the business by the time he died in 1999

I am grateful to my B-School education for introducing to me many in the following lighthouse people. Some of them continue to beacon us and would qualify to be included the list of immortals if there were one.  The immortality quotient, my fascination for the long term, was triggered by them

W Edwards Deming 1900-1993

Ludwig Vn Bertalanffy 1901-1972

William Ross Ashby 1903—1972

Peter F Drucker 1909-2005

Kenneth E Boulding 1910-1993

Russel L Ackoff  1919-2009

Anthony Stafford Beer   1926 – 2002

Ronald Coase, 1910-

Emanuel Revici, M.D, 1898-1998

Obviously living a long life is not the only qualifier to be in the list of BOP @ TOP. Warren Buffet or Bill Gates will not qualify in spite of the combined weight of their charities.

The Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Rene’e Mauborgne, is about uncontested market space, how market leaders continue to stay far ahead of competition without wasting their energy and effort on market wars. I draw my lessons from people not corporates having lost my faith in B-Schools and business with my four years of education in two Of them. Imagine the vast unexplored space that is available to move on and the spin offs if more of us decide to adopt a blue ocean strategy in our lives. That would set one of the coordinates for strategic HRM, the blue ocean space that each individual discovers around oneself is the major driver for growth and improvement, true of all of history and the drive behind all those in the Guinness book of records. Future is in the making when we see this collective blue ocean space that remains unexplored.

The seniors shall inherit the earth

Can one grow old and young at the same time?

Some people, a small minority, do it. They mature like old whisky and still remain young, challenging common wisdom that old dogs cannot pick up new tricks. New findings suggest the opposite. For some seniors growing old and growing young are parallel processes.  They challenge their brain with continual learning. The result, plasticity of the brain improves. Intelligence too has the same character.  It improves if one keeps challenging it against problems. When the brain remains young and one is driven by work that is motivating on its own merit, the body grows young renewing itself continually like a river which is not blocked from renewal by our ecological footprints. One grows old and young at the same time.

Olive Riley, the world’s oldest blogger, passed away at 108. She must have picked up blogging when quite old by our usual standards. I also know some very smart, much younger people who boast of not using the internet or the computer claiming that they are against too much of technology. I am afraid it is a camouflage to cover up the resistance to embrace the new.  In my search for the old and young I met Joseph Smith. He weathered many a storm on the high seas and on land for 82 years and graduated from the school of hard knocks. He is old and young, more active and concerned than most of us about the way the system works or does not. The ‘old and young’ need closer attention because they are travelling a different road which is likely to be a mega trend, gathering momentum.

Elsewhere there is a conversation going on the future of social enterprise. I am convinced that the future of business is in the enhancement of community, global and local.   I spent four years as a student in two B-schools. Both claimed to be teaching management but proved to be just business schools. Some of them have an identity crisis like many of their clients. I would prefer to  believe that every business, including the business of religion and non- profits, is about creating community within to connect to the community outside and business performance ought to be measured by the enhancement of community or net value addition to the community capital. Many of them very successful by conventional norms could be destroying community. They survive and grow by reinforcing the business of shadows and substitutes. Growth does not differentiate between real goods and services and shadows and substitutes.

Established religions have stood the test of time, but have a shadow side to their existence. They appear to be more successful than most business organizations in promising the most intangible with the lowest cost of production, manipulating masses on the fear of death and retribution in next life. Priests and politicians play god and peddle dependence. Many of them love to be worshipped and are on a drive to fulfil their own power drive distortions. Did somebody say that the earth will be revealed to us when heaven is destroyed ?

Will insurance companies   have any business if   people have no fear of death or the future? If people are anchored to their true SELVES how would the fashion and cosmetics business respond which often assumes that the cosmetic is more important than the content?

Would there be a fall in demand for big screen heroes if we reframe our notions of the hero to the real meaning of the term, conquering one’s own fear?

If people redefine work as self-expression, will they continue to suffer from boredom and consequently will the market shrink for entertainment products and services? The entertainment industry stretches itself to keep boredom at bay. The demand is a derived one from the inability to find a purpose in life and work that is motivating by itself.

How would lotteries and the stock market fare if more people put an end to the wait for a better day game and start living in the present?

More than economics distorted human drives drive the economy. Which business is not a social enterprise though most of them implicitly admit that they are antisocial.  What would be the role of charity, other than as a measure of guilt associated with wealth when every business redefines its mission as enhancing global community?

These are landscapes   that one might come across on the two roads, one by design and the other by default.

One can go on ad nauseum about the shadow side of every business, profit or non profit. I believe more than the religions, business will take the road to spirituality. I have experienced better community in business than in religious organizations. Business will be more pressed to reinvent itself as enhancing community within to connect better to the external community locally and globally in a   borderless world.

It is neither easy for business or for individuals to walk out of the shadows, because we will have to turn against our own vested interests, the shadow side.

The ‘young and old’ show the way. The most successful of them have no learning plateaus as they take their positions very early in life. They quit only when their mission is fulfilled. The others have successfully negotiated the learning plateaus at different stages of their life. They live a life of their own design and they are their own heroes.  They earn credibility with their life and walk the talk. They are not looking for a secure tenure   or driven by the need to perform in the marketplace where your future is as volatile as the stock market, where in the first 15 years of your career your fate is almost sealed whether you belong to the ‘top of the pyramid’ material or not. Demography favors the seniors. Thanks to the web more of them are finding their voice and we have enough of them in the public domain to listen and learn how to live a life by design.

‘The elephant rock declaration’

In one of our workouts, we, twelve 60 + couples, got together to discuss the trend, climbed the elephant rock and shouted out the elephant rock declaration – “The seniors shall inherit the earth”

Building Our Own  Ark, Living in Real-time

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Angels of Death and Devils of Life, Old and New

What would you prefer to be, an angel of death or a devil of life?  Be a devil of life, a ruthless one at that, 8×5 if not 24×7.

If the belief in god begets the devil, isn’t it better not to believe in that god ?  God and devil, life and death need not be at the poles and in opposition to create each other. If charity begets charity, it takes a lot of courage to stop being charitable.

Can life die?  Everything that lives eventually dies, says, a popular author to his six year old son who asks, will our sun eventually die and the earth turn into a lifeless planet? It takes some understanding and even more courage to say, I don’t know.

The true scientist working to decipher the code for biological immortality has no options  but to take a different position, live that reality at least in part, now. For her life never dies, everything that lives need not necessarily die.  She chooses to pay attention to ‘facts’ to support her position and work towards translating the dream to a lived reality all through her living life. She sees everything alive and not dying. She too could die but she truly lived when she lived, out of the shadow of death. Biological immortality is a virtual reality for her, now.

Nature continually renews itself. We create death working overtime, resisting nature. Our best selling author also does almost the same, paying attention to ‘facts’ to support his position, spreading the message of death all through his dying life. Death is the virtual reality for him now.  The coward dies many deaths.

The author is an angel of death and the scientist, a devil of life. A devil of life is rarer than a black swan.

Black swans are exceptions when we take very thin slices of  time and space. Compare this with the universal, all slices of time and space. Imagine all the unknown earths where white swans are as rare as black swans on our planet.  In some future time we would be ‘successful’ in making white swans extinct so that the black swans will be the ‘normality. Or it could also be true that in ‘her-story’ in some unknown past, nobody wrote a ‘his-story’ of the swans, black swans were the normality. America was doing all right, perhaps better from some other perspective, even before Columbus ! Thanks to Taleb for the trigger, a black swan in our present slice of time and space. In the cacophony of the market place one with the best noise box is listened to and being audacious is integral to a  B-School education. One is advised to have big hoary audacious goals.  We go to great lengths to prove that we belong to ‘mediocristan’ to use one of Taleb’s coins. Mediocristan and extremistan are two sides of the same coin which has a third side for ordinary mortals like us and many more sides to the likes of Taleb, which most students and their professors fail to connect to in their case studies in B-School.  In the medium run all of us are dead or ‘fooled’ in mediocristan, the flatland.

Angels of death come in all colors and shades, most pleasing, gentle, dying to do good, promise to make you all powerful, beautiful, immortal, a full life here, another one after your death – ‘mutually inclusive’, so on and so forth. The cosmetics peddler, medicine man, philanthropist, priest, pedagogues, top of the pyramid, blue chip performance, pied pipers, astrologer, snake oil in all rainbow colors…………noblest of intentions ………….. The effect is invariably malignant and they are so sure of themselves. You will never hear them say, I do not know.  We are not that sure.

The devils of life come in gray. They are very rare. Keep searching. Appearances are very very deceptive. There could be a beginners’ dilemma.

Keep paying attention to the new. Everything is renewed. Life never dies. Somewhere on the way, the tipping point will come, death will be the abnormal and life the normal. Biology will be in fashion than Physics.

Why wait for the prophet who will never come?  Let us begin building our ark.

We become what we pay attention to. Resistance creates resistance. Do not resist. Meera looks at the jaded jeans from her B-School days completing a quarter century of companionship. She chooses to see the new feel of it, today, now.

 

Dialogues – Aging out of life

Meenakshi asks, In our time do we age out of life?

Like most questions, the answers are yes, no, and yes and no

“Death is not essential’, said The Mother

Reading this, has been a milestone in my learning.

Life begins when we resolve our issues with death and ageing

We are not designed to die but to live

Death is a habit and we are breaking more and more out of this habit – people are living longer.

What is time? Is it linear, a one way traffic, an arrow that moves from birth to death?

This cannot be natural since nothing in nature is linear. There is an arrow of time that goes in the opposite direction, memory – how we RE-collect our past.  The sun we see  is around 9 minutes old but our  thought does not take nine minutes to reach the sun  we see, the sun that was nine minutes ago.

Yes thought is faster than light.

As we talk our cells die and new cells are born, two more arrows, to put it in a very crude way. In place of the first arrow we have four arrows of time now.

When this is experienced, birth and death become simultaneous, not a journey from point A to B, birth to death. One transcends linear time and steps into eternity, become ageless.

So we age out of linear time, not out of life, and start living in the NOW, – eternity.

When was I born?  MM DD YYYY? That was the birth of my body.

Did I have anything to do with it?

The real me was born much later when I  RE-collected all that scattered stuff and put them all together and I walked out of the shadows of death, linear time, my unconscious and took that first step to the birth of myself , eternity and continual renewal.

How old are you?

I have multiple choices to suit the questioner

I am 61, for the straights

I am 39 when I count from the birth of my SELF

I am 29  if I count from  when I decided to live life on my terms ( It took ten years for the self to become mature enough to make that decison)

15 billion (in arrow terms) years.

The logic is I am as old as the Universe and everything  that went on is mapped in me in many ways

> 15 billion years – something in me will go on living for ever.

< 2 years – age of the oldest cell in my body ?

Take your pick or all of it.

Have some more of your own answers.

It is always better to have as many answers, perspectives, than anyone single answer.

NAN?

What is NAN?   The Indian bread?   New Age Nonsense?

Well I could have been dead yesterday. I haven’t. What greater miracle do you need to make life wonderful?

So what is the answer, without beating around the bush?

In “our times “, we can age out of time itself.

We can age out of life too.

It is a Choice.

Year 2065

Creating the future now/Remote seeing  !

At times, on certain roads,  we can see to the front as much as we can see behind us if we look back. I am over 60 years and can ‘see’ into my past rather well for 55 + years. Assuming 55 years to be the radius of my mindscape I can see 55 years into the future too.

Due to prevalent mental models I do not see farther than 2024, life expectancy being 74 years in my context.  If I subscribe to this my planning horizon need be just another 14 years which in turn would certainly be influencing my decisions, the prime reason why managers tend to believe in the sprint rather than the marathon.

We believe we can ‘see’ even much farther. If we can see through our DNA  and our collective mind we can see much much farther. Everything about the past is mapped into us in so many different ways and we are as old as the universe. There is something immortal in all of us.

We have been using the following exercise in ‘remote seeing’ mostly with young MBAs in the age group, 22 – 26 years, since 1990 and this gets revised every year.

The mental horizons keep on expanding but what we see hasn’t changed much.

The trends became more pronounced. The majority was taking the exit and the new generation, homo novus, was taking over. The flooding started much earlier but was not recognized by many. The minority could not influence the general flow. They found it more sensible to conserve their energy; certain that time would solve the problem.
The markets were collapsing. Longer life-spans and decline in births changed the very character of demand. The seniors influenced the markets much more. Most products and services could not hold on to market share. People found them not giving any more satisfaction, that many of these were just substitutes, products of survival drive distortions and had no basis in reality. The gold and bullion markets had become part of history. The chemicals and fertilizer industry was putting up a stiff fight to stay afloat. The stock markets too were on the brink of collapse due to the upsurge of loosely held voluntary business associations of real stakeholders. The cities were facing a crisis giving way to communes and virtual communities living a life in communion with nature, part of a loose network of similar ones elsewhere. People often shifted residence from one to the other. People in the communes lived a different life in contrast to the majority who failed to grasp the philosophical backdrop behind such lifestyles.

The shift could, now, no more be ignored.
Marriage and family seemed to be the most affected. With adults freed of the long years of responsibility and investment of their time and effort on child rearing, marriage itself lost most of its relevance. People of similar interests seemed to band together into communities of practice for reasons of professional and personal growth. These networks were more like extended families. Life expectancy had crossed the 100-year mark but people were, surprisingly in much better health for their age than at any time before. The communities were self-sufficient in meeting most of their needs. Products and services were by-products of life rather than ends in themselves. Work, fun, learning and leisure merged to become an indivisible whole and expertise in various aspects of knowledge accumulated in specific communities. Established religions were giving way to a new spirituality focused on conscious evolutionary growth by design.

It appeared that Homo sapiens was being overtaken by Homo novus.

Whether you agree or disagree, future is influenced now.

We can choose the world that we want to be in.

Homo Novus

Is the species of the future?
Gathering the scattered remnants of humanness,  building the Noah’s ark of vestigial human qualities
To salvage Homo sapiens from extinction, the most threatened of all species
Sapiens worshipped the dead, never really buried them fully
Oblivious that they were stuck in the mud
They chanted Buddha and Christ for millenniums
Not wanting to go beyond them
Found immense pleasure in wallowing in the mud
Homo erectus never evolved fully
Never really walked erect, mentally or spiritually
Just another of nature’s game of dice
Now vanishing in the millennium flood
Killing each other in the name of God and Satan
By-products of ignorance, another gate to learning

Homo novus is the human of the future
To be one or not to be is one’s conscious decision
THE CHOICE
Homo novus is androgynous, trisexual
Building islands of sanity in the midst of chaos
Islands of love and connected-ness
Networked beyond borders
Of those who by choice, select the road not travelled,
The Road by Design

Potter at the Wheel

The river of life flows forever – renewing itself.

A drop from the ocean has the ocean in it

The body is a drop from the ocean of nature.

We are much more than our physical self.

The spirit clothes the physical, animating it.

Soul , the unifier , is yet to take birth, the second birth, more real than our first birth.

It is both a personal and COLLECTIVE CHOICE for true community to emerge.

The soul is the unifier that bridges the divides within and without, in us, amongst us.

Beyond time, without before or after and as ‘old or young’ as the universe.

The body, the physical, is just the potter’s clay, soul the potter and ‘time’ the potter’s wheel.

Potter fashions the pot in tune with his internal map

If the map is of death we die and if that of illness we become ill

We have programmed our – SELVES to die, to fall ill (what a fall?)

Life is anti-death and its only purpose is to defeat death

It is not the food or the medicines but the maps that make the difference

–         The biology of our belief

–         What we believe together is the reality we create

If the map is of health, renewal, the river of life, the body regenerates

In the flow of life, wrinkles vanish, skin glows, old cells flow out, new cells flow in.

Re- collecting the body that we had at 25 and improving it further

Perfect health is so natural and our ‘efforts’ make it unnatural

RE – ‘COGNISE’ the possibility allowing nature to express itself

Not standing against the flow of life, continual renewal
Eat just for the fun of it, fact is you don’t need to (see the blue ocean people) Eat what brings joy to you, drink what you feel like

For it is the soul that fashions the body

The unifying principle, the glue of life, that connects and binds everything together,

That which re – NEWS continually

(Context in which grown 50 + Couples)

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen. I want to live on in my apartment.”    Woody Allen