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

Freewill or Freewheel?

Continued from Part 1. Freewill and the Immortality Quotient

The Shift

Religion owes its origin to immortality. I will always be with you till the end, said Christ. For ‘Peters’ the managers, institutional and personal self-interest take precedence over the conceptual and the visionary. Dependence is the fuel for survival of the pyramids.  Hierarchic religion will be the first casualty of empowerment!

How do you select a facilitator, Guru or even your physician, the consultant?

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. There are no Buddhas any more.

Mintzberg says, “Coach our selves”.  Gurus die very young.

If the emperor claims to be the emperor, he is no emperor.

We are in transition to the age of the common Buddha. If you are in doubt, check it up at the corner shop.

Let us bury the dead. Shun the angels of death not the devils of life. Is she healthy physically, mentally, spiritually? Does she believe in community and dialogue?  Is she an adult on the path to immortality? Does she see the adult in you, even if it is a dormant one? What is her IQ, immortality quotient, commitment to the long term?

In 1990, Tara was attending the beginners program in yoga.  The centre was part of a large international network. She was carried away by the ‘presence’ of the facilitator and at the end of the sessions wanted to remain in touch with him. In the twenty sessions that they worked together with around twenty participants he had never shared his name or any other details. She was curious and once the question popped out of her.

“How old are you?’

“I am ageless”

“May I know your name?”

“What is in a name”?

This was all the one to one conversation that she had. She continues to practice yoga. She returned to the centre more than once in search of the guru who had set her on her yogic path. He had left the center and they could not help her to trace him.  But memories and the learning remain.  His words to the group still echoes in her.

“All learning is in the body. The body is the learning engine”

What is in a name?

Pied Pipers?

Zuckerberg, it sucks

The millions averaging six hours a day

It sucks, is it social?

Bill Gates and Windows

Where are the doors, open or shut?

Obama and Osama, the double or the other?

Bush and ambush, plain vanilla bush

Swartzkopf and shotskop

Friedman, hot, flat, crowded, and fried?

Hawking, hawks?

Grand design

Or Grand default?

Satyam = truth, Adarsh = the ideal

Maytas, truth reinvented the Indian way

Just two from the Indian summer of scams

Skill + Killings, spice it with Layings

Enron follows and the others join

Mc Kinsey, Donalds and WhartOn All!

Hamels hammer?

So much for the talent hunt

What a hunt?

What a war?

Overdogs or underdogs

What do the dogs see?

Outliers or mainstream

Black swans or White,

All is not well in Gladwell’s well

Where the eagles do not dare

Connect the dots, says him

Patterns, puzzles, mysteries and the misery

It is a mystic mandala

Hi Charles

It is very Handy

To be appropriately selfish

Read Will

Durant the durable

Not the perishables

The case for India

He had something of freewill

Not a free wheeler

For a taste of your own medicine

Appropriate selfishness

Stay Hungry, Stay foolish

Says the richest from the pulpit

Wow, what a Job, Connect the dots

Echoes Bansal from the land of immortals

Meluha

The empty raincoat, making sense of the future

Let us make sense of the present

The future will take care of itself

Empty drums echo best

The new Brahmins

Brahmin = Knowledge bearer, Vidyadhara

Vidya = real knowledge

Vidyadhara = one who bears knowledge

Vidya was lost on the way

Knowledge bearers became plain bearers

A country went under

History repeats on other shores

Connect the Dots, Manuel

God is with us

Will the elephant dance?

Will it?

Wont it?

We Will

Freewill and freewheel.

Community Intelligence

Freewill and the Immortality Quotient

The Shift

Ideas are like antibiotics. They lose their potency over time. Resistant/mutant versions of bacteria or virus surface and the search for more potent ones add to our ‘busy-ness’, a Pandora’s Box.  Intelligence would have been an appropriate term to discuss what we are about to. Intelligence has become intelligences like one god in the west become many in the east. There are too many shades and versions of them. We too have contributed to the babble. Community and Gender Intelligence were our favorite buzzwords in this dialogue

So what is the new coinage?  Why is it imperative?

The ‘Immortality Quotient’.

There are many reasons. First one is semantic. We  talk about change, change is the only constant etc. Change can be + or – . The + and  – might cancel each other out or what we now think + may be – in the long run.

We talk in such gross generalities that the word is killed and the talk only adds to the noise pollution. Our communication has no power. The word does not create and it is like a mantra chanted ad nauseum, without understanding the meaning of it. Had we been talking about improvement in place of change we would have been far better off.

Let us take a 2011 resolution that change is out and improvement is in?

Another one is our preoccupation with the immediate, the quarterly, playing Robin Hood and robbing peter to pay Paul, quick fixes that kill even the remote possibility of sustained or sustainable improvement. If we are driven by the logic of the market place and the best sellers, we will always be after a mirage, this format would not be necessary and no dialogue will be possible. We need a core of permanence, the center, to accumulate the pearl material. The best sellers are designed to be best sellers and the best of them are the result of some intelligent repackaging. This is what intelligence has come to.

Now that we have many an example of Skill + killings and layings, (read Enron and rest of the list) we know what the best and the most intelligent and the war for talent have come to be.

Why are we tagging immortality with freewill?

Free will is about choice whether to be an angel of death or a devil for life.  The immortality option is seldom explored because we are bogged down by the burden of normality which has nothing to do with true normality. To conform is natural yet not ‘natural’.

To be immortal is to stand the test of time. The blue ocean people are pointers in this direction. Buddha, Christ and Mohammad continue to be immortal and alive to influence our dominant world views. It is not really a clash of civilizations but a clash between mortals and immortals. With the longer life spans and the late bloomers, we are about to face challenges of relative physical immortality and eventually the problems of physical immortality.

It is better to believe in life/immortality and die a physical death due to any number of possible causes, than to believe in death and die before physical death.

Do we really believe in freewill?

We may not but we would like to.  An ounce of prevention is better than all the cures. We pretend that we have freewill because we want to live in free will while we continue to freewheel, like we pretend that we are working or adding value while we add to the semantic confusion, noise pollution and kill more trees. We don’t see evidence of anything free in the real sense of the term and it seems like the proverbial ‘eternal recurrence’.

It is a problem of what we pay attention to. We see brief manifestations of free will when we look at improvements over time and cumulatively we have many things to be put in perspective to build up a case for freewill.

It could be our 2011 resolution that we will work hard to develop a little of it.

So be it. Have a wonderful year ahead.

Ccontinued: Freewill or Freewheel

 

The Misinformation Overload and another Snake oil Cure

Misinfographics

It is the same wine, in a larger bottle

Packaging is everything in a cosmetic culture

You seem to be at your humorous best

It is not humor, call it pathetic humor.

The best packaging, container, will not take care of poor content in the long run. Snake oil salesmen will make only quick bucks.

That seems to be what business is all about! How do you separate the chaff from the grain?

We will first arrive at the essential content, the ideal, that which renders real value not the kind of value that marketeers   create out of ‘appropriate selfishness’. When we club all our appropriate selfishness we get what we see.  Osama is less dangerous than Obama

What do you mean?

The enemy within is more dangerous because all our defenses are pointed towards the one outside. And though we might have all the equipment we will not be equipped to pull the trigger when it is called for because of this internal squeamishness. The emperor is naked though fully covered up by the most elaborate and intricate ornamentation

Is there an enemy outside.

It depends on the position. From  a variant position, yes and from the invariant, no. There is no enemy out there. All deaths are suicides and all conversation a soliloquy.

The ideal is an internal dress code, the bare minimum to cover up our nakedness. The day we were discussing the issue one of our participants had a dream of a beautiful tomb. She could also see the rotting body of the emperor inside.

She must have been a good Christian?

She had overheard her parents reading the bible

The ideal is pure potential, perfection, reason, will, design, internal, conceptual, god for ordinary mortals, the grand design  for Hawking, in essence the same content in different packaging. Re-packaging is what creates the best sellers.  The semantic swamp that results appears to be information at first glance.

Let us get back to the roots. Sanskrit means, processed, civilized, cultured as against, Prakrit, the primitive, unprocessed. The essential content is the output of this processing that goes on, something which is perennial, universally relevant, beyond time and space, ‘akshaya’, immortal, culture or the ideal. We need to be clear on this to master separating the chaff from the grain.

This is the most essential competency to survive today.

Why flout all the rules of grammar and convention?

Sanskrit was the language of processing at one time. We need a new language of processing and our language experts suggested, Inglish. Inglish does not have the worldview that goes with English nor most of its rules of grammar. It is a common purpose oriented language which retains the essence. Most memories and conventions keep us tied down to the past.

So how does this competency take care of the information overload?

Information overload is a misnomer since the very character of information is that it kills variety and reduces the overload. It increases the order, fights decay and death. It is life giving.  We might call this data overload which is a boon to the storage industry and those who put all their faith in more power to the machines and less to the humans in general but not necessarily to an elite few.

We need some kind of meta information about information itself.

‘Ravana’, the emperor,  has ten heads, quite a burden for most practical purposes.  The ideal is mapped under ten heads in the call out in the top left quadrant of the map.  We have ten balls within that one ball.

You are making it more complicated? All those ten heads didn’t really help him.

All complexity is not a curse. Requisite complexity and variety are unavoidable. Miss out on anyone of the recipe, the dish goes to the garbage dump.

Why ten?

Ten is the minimum requisite variety to understand the basic design, the master templates of nature.

What do these ten heads stand for?

Let us take the information head. The information head is information about information. In the absence of this information one will not be able to transform data to information and reduce the complexity. Misinformation overload is the result

Another example

2×2 = 4, 4×4= 16, 16×16= 256, 256 x 256 =?

The multiplication table ceases to serve the purpose at a certain stage of increasing complexity. All tools reach this limit and at some stage the wheel needs to be reinvented. Reinventing is a new synthesis. It is relevant in other contexts too. When one has a major accident, on the road or off, it is time for a new synthesis. There are always better solutions and the best is always yet to come. Even health and healing is more about information than about medicines.

Now a little more meditation on the ten will give you all the clues. You are on your own.

Why always leave a large part of it unexplained?

We need to break from treating others as children, like all governments do, and relate as adults so that the adult emerges.  We point to the issue and one has to figure it out for oneself if it has to be of any use.

Bon Voyage

Real Time Management Development (RTMD)

Infographics – RTMD

We can make an improvement (not change) now, right at this moment, is the premise from which RTMD draws its significance

We are not jugglers because we hold on to just one thing, a ball at a time. It is either this or that, there is god or no god, it is good or bad, it is day or night, black or white and so on ad infinitum.

We have just run a content analysis on a popular social network for consultants/professionals and had to conclude that most of us are no exceptions.

(Are we the toxic assets?)

We need to move on from the black and white to the grey, the twilight zone and then to the  green, perennial, and then to the  creative commons and be at home with all the positions yet take an invariant position beyond all these and begin juggling with all the four and more.

The challenge lies in our action being justified against the ideal for all times and in making sure that our output invariably exceeds the inputs, giving more than we take.

If we agree we can move on.  If there is an agreement, we have taken a common position.

That is a great improvement.

The Window to the Self – A Thought Experiment

Return to the Centre and the new beginning

Imagine yourself at the centre of a perfect sheet of rubber being inflated all around in the conflict between the old and the new, the ideal and the operational.   Being a perfect sheet of rubber it does not get torn but stretches perfectly. The centre of the sheet remains at the centre, undisturbed

Now imagine the sheet being transformed into a perfect football. What happens to the centre? The centre is shifted to the centre of the football and the football is being kicked around in the world-cup with no timelines.

It is a perfect football. Nothing happens to the centre. It remains at the centre absolutely centred, motionless and at peace. Sometime during the process of being kicked around the football becomes aware of what is going on.  Instead of being chased around it decides to chase the players!

Imagine your own self, the perfection and the conflicts and the process of becoming centred, taking the lighthouse position and the beginning of the journey of sustained continuous improvement.

Infographics – Return to the Centre, 

A User Manual to the Self

“Dad”

“Yes, Johnny”

“The PC is not working”

“Look up the user manual”

“Dad”

“Yes, Johnny”

“The UPS is not working”

“Look up the User Manual”

“Dad”

“Yes, Johnny”

“I can’t figure this out. Where is my User Manual?”

“Ask Panditji”. (Panditji is the neighbourhood astrologer and dad a Professor of Strategic Human Resource Management in an ivy league B- School.)

Machines and gadgets come accompanied by a User Manual. But we do not come across a User Manual to  the most sophisticated system that we own and use, the self.  We use it  in very different ways and pay very heavily for our ignorance of the design of the system.

There must be some principles that one cannot do without for achieving better outcomes. These posts focus on them.

Self is the system through which we ‘see’, create meaning and make choices. The choices decide whether our actions lead to improvement or otherwise.

With more and more options available to each one of us the opportunity could as well be a threat,  how the interface is aligned will decide whether it will lead to greater good or havoc.

Self is the observer and also the observed. Reality is perceived / created by our inherited mental models that evolved over the history of humanity. If the world has turned out to be imperfect, it has more to do with our models of the world than anything else.

Being the instrument of all knowing and learning, study of the self is the first discipline, the foundation/unifier of all other disciplines.

The practice evolved through a process of dialogue since 1990 using the First Discipline Framework as a tool to create  convergence through  a process of discovering, enhancing and strengthening the individual, group, organisational and community self. The approach facilitates the emergence of a roadmap for unification, continuous improvement and renewal,  transcend barriers created by different disciplines bringing the various perspectives together into a coherent whole – a new way of looking at reality.

The approach incorporates positioning, measurement, feedback and self correction – the functions of the compass, clock and the feedback system which enables the traveller to be on course.

Getting started

I have a new DP, dialogue partner.

He is new to Bangalore and spent quite a long time reaching me and the opening sentence when he met me was

I have a problem with my GPS

Thank god you know that you have a problem with your GPS. Most people think they don’t have a problem with their GPS

What do you mean?

What is the first thing that we need to know if we want to reach my destination?

As usual we get a wide set of answers except THE FIRST which is where am I now.

So where are we now?

We may have to ask more questions before we come to the answer to that question?

When were you born?

dd.mm.yyyy

That was the birth of your body. You didn’t have anything much to do with it and you are much more than the physical.

Or is it that I am yet to be born?

WE, the community self is yet to be born ?

Birth of self and community self

Birth of selfWe were not born when we were born since physical birth is not synonymous with birth of self.

The Community Self is yet to be born.

The system at birth is comparable to the bullet that leaves the barrel of a gun. The bullet is helpless to influence its trajectory. Most systems do not go beyond this level though the duration could be much longer.

Self regulation is the differentiator to qualify to be a higher level system, evolving to become aware of the position, direction and regulating itself to influence the outcome, creating a more desirable future.

The key words are birth of self, position, direction,reflection and self-regulation

Another question- what are our basic needs?

Are they the physiological?  – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; food, shelter, clothing , reproduction, social, self actualisation and so on. We will revisit Maslow some time later .

For those who commit suicide, life is no more meaningful, not worth the trouble.

If so the most basic need must be the need for MEANING.  If life is meaningful, then food has meaning – to keep the body and soul together

Soul is the unifying principle that, which connects, the glue, gives meaning, spirit. We have’nt really started. We are already getting mired in the  semantic swamp.

The semantic swamp contributes to global warming, cutting down more trees and creates more intellectual poverty rights.

Symbols make it easier than all the text and discourses.

The philosophy and the maths are very simple – the new maths

New or the very old, I don’t know

0, 1, 2, 3, ∏

Where

0 = nothing

1 = everything

2 = duality, the linear, static, partial truth

3 = connecting, the linear is transformed

∏ = synergy, whole > the sum of parts, dynamic, continual, real time, unending, quality of being connected, centre and the periphery

When the setting is right, the intent is expressed, the seed turns into the tree, caterpillar to the butterfly and the bullet becomes aware of its self, takes birth to eternity.

The journey begins here, that of transformation. “Well-nigh two thousand years and not a single new god”- Nietzsche.

We see the light at the end of the tunnel and walk out of the dark hole, the prison that we built for our SELVES

Oneness is the quality of the whole – the child in the womb is one with the mother and at birth is confronted by the separation, a perceived duality which is the quality of two, a linear world of many, day and night, good or bad, true or false, yes or no – the domain of problems.  The prodigal son revolts, eventually reconciles. The self evolves to resolve the contradictions, duality and recognise the connectedness – oneness. Not a return in the sense of going back since the self has moved to a higher level in terms of growth and maturity from the level of yes or no, true or false to the level of yes and no, true and false , good and bad.

This is the quality of three – trinity, the third position from which agreement, improvement and solutions are possible. The shift from the static and linear to the dynamic happens.

Intelligent choices and conscious evolution follow.

So where are we now ?

Other Less FAQs

Which is true north, the direction for the journey ?

How do WE make sure that WE are on the path?

Do we have a map of everyTHING to make it easier and foolproof?

The Map of Everything

The First Discipline Framework is a map to attenuate variety, reduce the babble among disciplines to facilitate positioning, fixing direction and self-correction for the process of continual renewal and improvement at different levels – individual, institutions, communities and community.

The map makes it possible to hang our different hats as practitioners of various disciplines, ‘social programmers’ – parents, pedagogues, priests, and politicians connecting the various disciplines and put them in perspective, SEE and SHOW (the visual has the highest bandwidth) how everything, living, nonliving, internal and external- is ONE, a continuum, in process and evolving.

The framework helps the observer self, to connect with the observed SELF, position, visualise the gap between potential and performance, fix the direction for the journey and make sure that we are on the path of continuous improvement/renewal.

Metrics, measurement, of true progress becomes possible.

The map has four quadrants and the observer is at the centre. The observer could be the individual, a group, an organisation or the species.

NW  is a map of the ideal, the deep structure, the conceptual, pure potential, design and the world of ideas .The order, hierarchy, increasing complexity and potential with each level, alignment and connectedness need be re- ‘cognised to understand the performance issues in the external world mapped in the bottom right quadrant, SE.

The four quadrants are like the four wheels of the car, a learning engine which continues to improve its performance as it goes forward

The eye at the centre represents self, the observer, and the driver of the car

The wheels must be aligned for the car to move on

But there exists a conflict between quadrants NW and SE, ideal and the operational

Between internal self and the external social system, quadrants SW and NE

It is for us to create the alignment so that the car moves on

First step is to see the interconnections and see the whole as one system in process, evolving

What makes the human unique as a class of systems is the potential to improve. There is ‘no’ gap between potential and performance up to the level of animals (see quadrant SW)

The gap begins after the level of animals. The gap can also be seen as the waste in the system, the unrealised potential, the root cause for problems. In terms of potential vs. performance the human is sub animal

Corresponding to the total potential/performance gap, there exists a gap in every one of us which forms the personal sphere for improvement which would lead to the question – what is my potential and my performance?

Quadrant NW represents the ideal, perfect, conceptual, pure potential, internal to the self and in perfect alignment at all levels starting from the maps to Meta systems (represented by the umbrella).  Quadrant SE represents the physical world, measurement, performance. Mirrors NW up to the level of animals. The knowledge gap is the major reason for the gap. There will always be a gap but it is feasible to narrow the gap and bring about sustained and continual improvements

Quadrant SW is internal to the self and NE represents the external social system. While learning is a pre-requisite to improvement, history and habits encourage conformity. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. Self could be the individual, team, organisational or community self. Complexity increases with levels

The map facilitates positioning, fixing the direction for the journey and measurement of progress.  It is possible to visualise the nature of the journey as an ongoing process of continual improvement and renewal. The first step is having a map for the journey. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Confucius. To take that first step we need to know where our position is and the direction in which to take that step, to be on course.

The potential performance gap is illustrated by life expectancy vs. longevity of exceptional people. Life expectancy in developed countries is around 75 which is an indication of performance. Potential is reflected in the exceptions, people living beyond their 100. The gap or the waste in terms of unrealised potential is 25 years, though life expectancy is not the only aspect to be taken into account. There are exceptions who achieve much more than average people with shorter life spans and those who continue to be much more productive in their second careers than in their first.

We need to visualise human potential if we are to realise it.  On a global scale the aggregate waste is astounding. The estimation has to be on multiple factors to illustrate the issue better. A corporate would attempt to look at the issue from many different perspectives, in terms of market potential vs. performance or the human potential vs. performance. The same could be attempted at different levels- individuals, institutions, communities, nations, global

The Cloud Community College

Eagle’s gift

Continual learning is the path to continual renewal.

Nature is in a process of continual renewal but for the ecological footprints left by our interventions. It takes more than a year for nature to renew what we consume in a year and some damages are irreparable.

Learning improves our mental models. The frog in the well forms a model of the world. The eagle on the tree has a different model. When the frog is taken out by the eagle and brought back into the well these two merge together to form a map of the world. The world has not changed but the models of the world have changed. We had a flat earth model in the not too distant past. With better technology and tools these models have given way to maps with increasing precision. Though maps of the physical world have become more precise the mental models that went with them are not easily discarded.

The eagle represents the big picture and frog, the details. Both are connected just as the Hubble telescope sends us pictures from outer space and the femtoscope helps us see the smallest of the small.

The eagle represents the global and frog the local which are but different perspectives of the whole. Thus being GLOCAL – is an imperative.  So is the imperative of continual learning, leading to continual renewal. We are frogs in the well of nature

A brief history of learning/ renewal

Real work is the expression of a mature self

As a Dairy Technologist, I used to watch the huge butter churns in motion, waiting for that magical moment when the cream breaks out into globules of butter. This was my first project at work- to find a solution to mountains of cream that had accumulated over the previous surplus season. In the long hours that i worked towards reducing the bulk, I was forced to fight the boredom, visualising the mythical churning of the sea of milk by the Devas and Asuras to make amrit, the stuff that makes one immortal – knowledge.

Later on I had the privilege of observing a very sedentary ascetic centenarian for the last twenty five years of his pursuit of learning which had started at the age of nine. At 60 he had made it known that he had another 40 years of work left to complete. He completed his 40 years and went on for another six months and 15 days.

In developed nations the fastest growing segment of the population is centenarians.

While most “successful’ people in the ‘modern world’ (read top of the pyramid – sic) contribute in real terms for 15/20 years of their life span of around 75,  what goes into the making of the rare centenarian who remains productive many times  over ? If the product is in the process, what makes this process so rewarding in itself which keeps them relatively less mortal physically and immortal in the world of knowledge. Why are we not able to go beyond them as a community?

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.  – Max Planck (1858-1947)

Imagine the churning that preceded the above statement!

Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543)

Proof: Galileo, (1564-1642) Strategy: Patience, non- action, out-wait competition

Ever wondered about the history of churning and the consequences?

We have a secret dread of being thought ignorant. And we end by being ignorant after all, only we have done it in a long and roundabout way. (From the short story – Once there was a King) Rabindranath Tagore, 1839-1941. The Parrots Tale develops this in much greater detail. Viswabharati, the university he set up, was the solution that he came up with for the problem.

There are only two ways to live: Either without thinking of death… or with the thought that you approach death with every hour of your life.  – -Leo Tolstoy, 1828 – 1910

There is a third way, the path of regeneration, living with birth/death, NOW, in real time, the path taken by the high performing centenarians and the path open to the next generation who would go far beyond them. Most of us live in linear time. Living in real time is living in eternity.

Tolstoy  was a prophets’ prophet, a link in the long chain from Buddha, Asoka the great and Christ who greatly influenced two of the heroes of our time and kept alive the idea of non-violence and non – action, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi   (1869 –  1948) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968).

Why did most champions of non-violence, have to  die violent death?

Tolstoy’s thoughts on How to live: (He appears to have founded the human potential movement much ahead of the new age messiahs of the movement)

  • The more upset you are with other people and circumstances, and the more satisfied you are with yourself, the further you are from wisdom.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others. Compare yourself only with perfection.
  • It is not the place we occupy that is important, but the direction in which we move.
  • When you want to escape from rage, do not walk, do not move, and do not speak. Your rage cannot be justified by anything. The reason for your rage is always inside you.
  • Speak only when your words are better than silence. For every time you regret that you did not say something, you will regret a hundred times that you did not keep your silence.
  • There are two ways not to suffer from poverty. The first is to acquire more wealth. The second is to limit your requirements. The first is not always in our power. The second is.
  • You do not have the right to be unhappy with your life. If you are not satisfied, see this as a reason to be unsatisfied with yourself.
  • The more strictly and mercilessly you judge yourself, the more just and kind you will be in the judgment of others.
  • Strive for goodness without any expectations for rapid or noticeable success. For the further you progress, the higher your ideal of perfection will rise. Yet it is the process itself, this striving, that justifies our lives.
  • Nobody knows where the human race is going. The highest wisdom, then, is to know where you are going.
  • The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens … Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere.
  • There can be only one permanent revolution – a moral one: the regeneration of the inner man.

He died on his way to become a wandering ascetic. Imagine the churning.

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky,  1821- 1882 turned out to be more prophetic than Tolstoy –  Raskolnikov, the hero of Crime and Punishment  is the template for our current role models  who have perfected the art of committing the perfect crime and earn  their place in history as saviours of the world.

The product is in the process.

The seats of learning/ churning/clashes and the interplay of history, knowledge, power, religion, politics and culture

Taxila   6th century BCE to the 5th century CE

Nālandā  (427 to 1197 CE)

The Imperial Nanjing Institute, China, founded in 258, has perhaps the longest unbroken tradition

Budha , Christ, Ashoka 304 BCE – 232 BCE ,  all belong to this period.

Taxila was burnt to ashes in 1197. The fire went on for weeks.

Prophet Muhammad, 570   – 632

The University of Al-Karaouine, Morocco was founded in 859 by two well educated wealthy sisters. Played   a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe in the middle ages,

University of Bologna, Italy, 1150. The term university was coined at the founding of this seat of learning.  The University of Paris was founded even earlier, was split into 13 universities in 1970.

1167    University of Oxford, UK.  Exact date uncertain, teaching existed in some form since 1096

1209 University of Cambridge, UK

1440 the Printing Press

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

Harvard University, 1636

Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883), John Maynard Keynes, (1883- 1946)

W. Edwards Deming, (1900 – 1993), Peter Ferdinand Drucker, (1909-2005)

Drucker had personal experience of the Nazi regime, probably would have listened to Sigmund Freud as a child, and was a student of Keynes and Schumpeter. He foresaw the possibilities of the modern corporation and continuously reinvented himself. One might conclude that he also foresaw the need for a new paradigm of management with the focus on the self, managing oneself, for which he himself would remain, one of the best models.

Drucker started the study of General Motors in 1945, leading to the publication of the Concept of the Corporation and began his career as a consultant, teacher and writer. He remained at the forefront of the discipline he founded for half a century.

Deming started from where Drucker left off towards the end of his career. Had Deming been accepted in his home country as much as Drucker in his country of adoption, perhaps we wouldn’t have been in our current crisis. The prophet is seldom respected at home. One could argue that Japan had the cultural pre-requisites to accept Deming and the US ultimately had to give in reluctantly to the competition. Drucker could not save the corporation/s whereas Deming left a legacy which forms the foundation to the discipline that Drucker is said to have founded.

The Web. 1992. The parrot leaves the cage, the seats of learning move to the clouds. The internet has dematerialised learning from the seats of learning. Technology has become real time but people have not moved to real time. . We need new paradigms to bridge the gaps and transcend the learning plateaus in our journey of continual renewal and improvement

> a  new discipline and pedagogy > the first discipline>the discipline of sustained high performance

1. Context

The BRIC is broken

The tail wags the head

WMD – Destruction or Dialogue?

War on terror/ talent – WFT, Dream merchants and the revenge of the underdogs

Recession, Booms and Busts, the long cycles and the bubbles in between,

Is there a future?  The rise or fall of India, Indian = Global

The climate /energy crisis, water /food security and sustainability

Finance capital > Human Capital > Community Capital > Eco-system Management > Developmental Management > Rethinking Development

Reinventing the discipline of Management

2. Management Overview

Missing the wood for the trees – What we failed to see, Marketing Myopia, Theodor Levitt

Peter Drucker. The Bystander> End of economic man > to Managing Oneself

Beyond Competitive advantage

3 . First Discipline, SHPC :  A Map to the Future and the Road ahead

  • 1. Continual Renewal >  Regeneration Therapy
  • 2. Personal mastery and LLL, Life Long learning, learning plateaus
  • 3. System/s Thinking
  • 4. Accelerated Learning and Mental Maps, KM
  • 5. Positioning yourself, your business for SHP
  • 6. Community Intelligence
  • 7. The Singularity Perspective- the map of all maps

4 The Practice of First Discipline.

The tool kit – a backpack for the road

Dialogue and Storytelling

Analytics and Gap Analysis

Aligning with the Deep Structure

Conscious Dreaming,

Participative Action Learning, Research and Real Time Management Development

Sustained High Performance – Growth by Design

5.  Custodians of the Future

The Blue ocean people

Milk is white

God’s own country, Devils too – Between the devil and the deep-sea

The Eco-system people, fishermen/ tribal communities

The Fusion fuel and the Energy Challenge

6.Creating the future by design

Rethinking CSR, Wealth and Charity

7.  Strategy.

Animating the Learning Engine, Maintaining the LE for SHP

Appendix

Context: First Discipline?

The global failure of management as a discipline- Enron to Lehman brothers, recession, failure of IT , bubbles, poverty and conflicts. Thought leaders –  Peter Drucker over the years –  In spite of all the hype management in the west also has failed to deliver against the global context

Local failures: Failure to connect to the developmental management issues of India

Failure to define what is Indian (global) about management

Failure to attract management to governance and development

Academic work in India has failed to make a global impact

A dialogue between an academic and a development  practitioner

The  collapse of governance

The disillusionment with managers and academics, failure of leadership/intellectualism

The majority are left to fend for themselves –

TECHNOLOGY AND ACESS IN A CONNECTED WORLD

One man can make a difference

IT was entrepreneurial /technological/ learning breakthrough and not a product of management thought

Competencies of the new manager- Development practitioner?

The blogs explore these issues through dialogue

+

. Birth of the professional manager: the ethical /competency /community imperatives

Peter Drucker vs Amartya Sen

Stafford Beer vs. Peter M Senge

Prahlad vs  Porter

Chris Argyris vs. Maslow – End of Organisation man ?

Deming  vs. Drucker

Aurobindo  vs. Ken Wilbur

Management Development , Nurturing the new managers

Action learning – Reginald Revans

Schumacher vs Schumpeter

Kuhn

Sustained High Performance by Design

Facts, fiction and metaphor

Are we guided by facts or fiction?

We are guided less by facts and more by myth, fiction and fantasy.

9/11 is a fact, not illusion, so are the war 1, war, 2 and the war 3 now going on. We have democratized wars and conflicts, flattened it (The world is flat- Friedman) dispersed them all over the planet.

Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, AIG, the pharaohs of financial pyramids walk away leaving their accumulated follies on to the public. When the same happens to the farmers the escape route is suicide for many

Facts do not take hold of our minds as myth, fantasy and fiction do. The superman, batman, hunks, WWF, larger than life heroes/heroines, science fiction, the star wars and particle accelerators are attempts at creating modern myths. We need more and more potent amnesiacs, analgesics and anti-BIOTICS – substitutes to do away with the grim reality of life. Older myths still survive and we continue to be driven more and more by shadows and myths. We wish to forget facts or sweep them under the carpet. In India, we have an ancient text by name Bavishya Puranam. Bhavisya means future and puranam is an old epic story. I hope you see the twist. It is time for us to rely on myths to create a more desirable future. This is why we are compelled to talk in metaphors, since we are in a process of creating something which does not exist .

As technological bandwidth and connectivity increase, human bandwidth and connectivity decrease. I see this all around me, with my own children demanding more and more bandwidth and becoming less and less concerned about broader issues. I have begun to suspect that their jobs are creating an occupational hazard to them and the society at large. The higher incidence of suicides in Bangalore, to me, is a bandwidth problem of the latter kind. So is the terrorist issue. The first step to the making of a terrorist is to narrow his bandwidth. The multitude of disciplines and the silos they create offers the best setting for the narrow bandwidths which in turn chokes the channels creating more noise than communication. We need a Meta discipline, the first discipline, which connects the scientists, priests and the artist to transcend these barriers to communication and community since all the three are in the same business – that of explaining reality to lesser mortals like us. The knowledge hole is more serous than the ozone hole.

The bandwidth problem is not exclusive to the younger generation. Institutions too pass through the process. The midlife crisis of the CEO is passed on to the organization he heads, that of the politician to the country and of the Guru to the disciples

I met Jo on the beach, in my time with the fishermen. We continue to meet on the beach, less frequently, since he has moved to another shore. He is a PhD in his area of expertise but you would not get these thoughts anywhere in his work or even in the class rooms when he teaches. There is a risk attached with a wide bandwidth. One could be ‘excommunicated’. He believes in many births/many lifetimes. He still has hopes of pulling me over to his position on birth and rebirth. I am tempted to do so when confounded by the recollection of childhood memories in our workshops. I am afraid that after the age of five there is a kind of growing down in the process of socialization. Much later one could reconnect with these memories and grow up. I am yet to make up my mind whether to join his school or not but I have gained a lot from his arguments

Here is a brief on our many sessions on the beach over many years, since 1985

He would watch the waves beating on the shore and would talk about the waves in the production of bio-mass in the sea and the consequent rise and fall in fish production, what it does to fishing, corresponding waves in farmers’ produce on the land, the waves in life, business, and markets. He taught me to see things as waves and cycles. He foresaw the present crisis in financial markets and the coming economic slowdown, the big crunch in demand driven by the inability to connect to the voice of the masses across the planet.He has a pet theory on why Jesus recruited Peter as his CEO against our current paradigms of selection, recruitment, training and development. He challenged my B-school education. “If you have any competencies that you claim to have, go to the bottom of the pyramids and prove it rather than skimming the cream and stamping them with Ivy League labels”. Christ made the choice since Peter would fit the bill in terms of his mental maps that go with a fisherman.

So next time you go head hunting check their mental maps!

He stripped me of my notions of an internal flatland which he told me is the inheritance of all land based humans, since the beginning of settled agriculture, some 10,000 years in the past. Prior to that, the fishermen and the people on the land had the same worldview. Both were hunting and gathering. He was born in a fisher family, used to go fishing with his father as a child, an outsider to the flatland, having lived on the coast and the sea for generations. A good fisherman has a different worldview closer to reality than the humans on land. He is pushed to the brink much more than the farmers. He produces much more than the farmer yet he is poorer. He is seldom driven to suicide and the spirit of community is more alive in the ecosystem people who survive on common property resources

He is the one who introduced me to the concept of digital, analogue bandwidths and the other bandwidth, of expectancies in human communication and how the net result has not been any better. He has a very wide bandwidth which you would know only at a personal level. He would go on how water is recycled on the planet, how everything is in a cycle or process, that there is nothing linear or ‘straightforward’ about nature and then take the quantum leap to conclude that we too pass through a higher order version of the process. If we want we can break out of that giant wheel of births and rebirths

He challenged me with some insights from his many life times

Of the time he was in Egypt and Joseph’s dream of the good years and bad years. How the natural cycles in primary production would hurt the farmers and how famines would result unless the state steps in to lend a helping hand when the cycles turn against the farmer and why left to themselves, markets will fail the farmers. More so in the case of fishermen who have no property rights other than common property and open access to resources.

Of the time he was in Jerusalem and how Jesus had been reinvented over centuries to suit the bandwidth requirements of different times. Low bandwidth of practitioners leads to creation of silos and pyramids in disciplines which kills community and would conclude with a sigh. “It is all about bandwidth, of people, technology and the interface”

The Process – Enhancing bandwidth

I was playing a game with 57 MBA students for two days. It went on from 9.00 AM to 9.00 PM on day 1 and from 9.00 AM to 6 .15 PM on day 2

Prior to the game, I talked to a local politician to understand the business he is in, that of development of the locality

I also talked to their professor to get some insights about these young men and women who are in the business of becoming businessmen

The game commenced with an assessment of their present position, globally and locally, in the context of the global meltdown and the situation of the locality

Both the politician and the professor were exceptional people who will not fit in with our perceptions of the run of the mill in this category

Then the game with the students began, simulating an organization working together as a community for two days and an open selection process of identifying a group who would be offered premium placements   on the basis of their mental maps. Then I checked their mental maps on many issues.

All of them had a map as shown in figure 1 deeply ingrained in them, the code for failure – BOOMS AND BUSTS. They will with those maps will build their towers of babylon and will be wall street smart.

Mental maps

Fig. 1 is about birth maturity and death. Fig 2 shows the shift to a dynamic one of continual improvement and renewal. Is such a shift possible?

The first set never goes beyond the level of a clock or a bullet leaving the barrel of the gun. The difference is only in the duration, time.  The potential to self-regulate or the potential to transform to a learning engine, a sustained high performance system, is not expressed. The claim to culture, civilization, evolution, improvements are but empty boasts

Why so?

Columbus reached America. He never wanted to go there.  We too are as good as our maps.

Can we have a better set of maps? I told them of the Eagle’s gift

Between before and after, it is not the world that has changed but the map of the world. This is all that we can do and that is good enough.

The problem is not with the world but our maps of the world

We did quite a few other things, more stories, team learning, dialogues, Buddha’s smile, discussed the First Discipline Framework

They presented their understanding of the framework, told me of their dreams on the morning of the second day. They were surprised to look at their own process. All of them came up with evidence and data about the shifts, each contributing to the community learning process

We can indeed observe ourselves 24/7, the first step to continual improvement.

We positioned ourselves, fixed the direction for the journey and reflected over our improvements during the process. The shared space expanded as we moved along with the work.  The map for a learning community was crafted and the process is on.

Simulating High Performance – Defying gravity

The Business Strategy Simulation: New University, Udayagiri, TN. Number of participants – 61 including the three facilitators. The System of Profound Knowledge, (Deming) helps us to see how complex organisations work.   Organisations   guided by SPK will be more effective and successful. We demonstrate this using the First Discipline Framework. We tell stories, about 15 of them. Every community need to tell its own stories and recreate old stories. We reflect every now and then and the participants develop the game. Harvard agrees with what we have been doing for twenty years. http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6119.html

The Simulation

  • How do we fix the true north (the true point)
  • The business, transformation of the crowd to a sustained high performance community
  • Choose the CEO , prescribe a process, Position him so that he positions the community and make sure that the community is on a path of continuous improvement – sustained high performance
  • The CEO selects a custodian of maps, CTO, Facilities Manager, other additional positions as required
  • Selection of VPs Marketing, HR , Finance, Learning and Development , timelines
  • Position them in the appropriate quadrant by consensus of the group
  • The CEO fixes the true north , describes his compass function
  • The VP marketing outlines the market potential, BDP and personnel requirements / product/market mix, pricing, targets
  • VP HR – translates the business plan and organize the human component
  • VP Fin – the controller of weights and measures – Metrics
  • VP L&D – his/her business is that we learn continuously
  • Other roles: Regulators/industry associations/venture capitalists , external public

In the mornings we recollect our dreams to check whether our unconscious is aligned with our conscious. The process goes on for six days from the beginning to the 12th evening. Everyone worked on their own during the two holidays in between and continued to add value.  We climbed peaks and took glimpses of the blue ocean space and at times fell down to the valleys like humpty dumpty but managed to gather ourselves together and continue on the journey.

The game continues… but we are back to our respective places of work. Are we back to the same place? Certainly not, we have moved ahead towards true north, 61 of us … a learning community.

The journey/process is on. We plan to meet again

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.