Saturday, August 28, 2021

Protective factors in life

Challenges and struggles are an integral part of human life. There are very few people who easily get what they wish for, however the majority of people have to stretch themselves and have to come out of their comfort zone. To live life and make it happy is an internal state of mind. There are millions of people who wake up early in the morning, go to their job, (now during a pandemic, log in on the computer while working from home), listen to their managers, get the job done. The reasons behind going to the job are different. Some People want to live a happy life by achieving more, some want to give the education to their kids, and some run for loans. Everybody chases their dreams. During this process, people get success and failure. People live with a big burden on their shoulders. Stress, work pressure bring disappointments and frustrations. Everybody becomes part of the rat race; they may not like to be the rat in the rat race, but they are unable to find another option. We are not rats; we are human beings. Unfortunately, very few people in the society have the right ecosystem to support them. The problem is that both success, and failures bring stress. The overall scenario is impacting mental health. Organizations are investing in their people to support them in their life, however is it enough?    

Image from internet
Finally, it is you, who has to take actions for your good life. How to do this? The best way is to find out those protective factors in our life. Protective factors are your defense system, in case your mental health is affected because of struggles and challenges in your personal and professional life. It helps you to bounce back in setbacks and to be resilient. We need to develop those protective factors in our life. Unfortunately, in the rat race, we forget to take those protective factors along with us. In fact, we totally ignore those factors. 

Those protective factors can be classified as under:

Social factors: Generally speaking, this is society around us. All of society may not be useful for you. Sometimes people don’t recognize your success because of their jealousy.  Jealous people don’t want to see you better than them. And hence it is very important to identify those relationships which would support you in case of setbacks and challenges. It includes relationships, family members, friends, teachers, coach, and mentors. However sometimes this also may not work. Hence many protective factors are out of the control. Your protective factor only works when there is the respect and unconditional intentions of the next person. Find out those close family members and friends to whom you can speak about your problem without any fear. Their ability to understand you will determine how effective they are. This also depends upon the level of support you are looking for. Parents, spouse, and children are natural protective factors and then comes your family and friends.

Coping skills: It is said that you are the first person to help you. This is your ability to manage uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. Resilient is one of the skills which helps you to manage setbacks. Emotional Intelligence is the key part of coping skills. Ask the questions yourself, are you aware of your own emotions & feelings? Do you recognize the impact of the same on your behaviour?

Health: Physical health is very important. Proper exercise, healthy diet and enough physical activities including simple walk or cycling keep you fit. More you fit, the more your ability to manage stress, failure, and struggles. The benefits of physical activities are amazing. That’s why our ancestors told us, “Health is wealth.”

Purpose: It is the reason for being. If you have a strong purpose, your power increases, you become passionate and then struggles become tiny. This is a great protective factor in our life. Finding the meaning in life will help you fulfill the purpose and goals in life. We can’t live life as it comes. There should be the reasons you get up in the morning. If you have a purpose, it can guide life decisions, influence behaviour, shape goals, offer a sense of direction, and create meaning in life. The overall process makes you strong.

Thinking: Albert Einstein quoted, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking”. You become what you think. Healthy thinking is one of the protective factors in your life. We all are the victims of cognitive distortions. Every event in our life triggers irrational thoughts in our mind. Those thoughts influence our behaviour. Everybody experiences those thoughts but if it is more extreme then, it is harmful for us. Identify those irrational thoughts. Think how you can use your strengths and weaknesses rationally in life. Thinking clearly by understanding different biases, irrational thoughts will make a stronger self.

There is another protective factor like hobbies. Hobbies give you energy. Pursue your hobby and make life easier.

Check the level of those protective factors currently you have and make your plan to make it stronger. Remember the stronger your protective factors, stronger you are. Protective factors are your immune system which helps you to keep you healthy mentally. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

In search of gold, we are losing the diamond

After the pandemic, few skills are in full demand, especially IT skills in India. Digitalization was always one of the agenda in companies’ strategy documents, however it is accelerated because of the pandemic. It means that these skills became crucial in view of organizations fast tracking their digital agenda. 

Does this mean that the situation will remain the same after 3-5 years? Definitely not. Another issue is about the artificial scarcity created by the talent itself. Imagine, you have one offer in hand, and you have resigned from your current company. You are on a notice period. As you are not committed to the current organization now, you start further exploring opportunities in spite of having the offer in hand. You get another offer during the notice period. Now your current organization wishes to retain you and matches your salary with a second offer which is almost double of the current salary. As you have enough time in hand and you get another offer with a triple salary. Because of the notice period and your delayed joining, you start shopping. Ideally it is the only one talent, but because of the insane behaviour of the market and pressure from the business you get multiple offers. Ready-made skills are always attractive for certain periods. 

During the process other organizations could have seen other talent but the assumption is that having multiple offers means great talent. Instead of searching, the talent organizations are only focusing on particular people who are active on job portals and LinkedIn.  

Because of short term focus, organizations and candidates are missing the long-term actions. They want to save the present, but they lose the future. Organizations need to think of “the dual strategy” which means, you build a strategy not based on one outcome, but you also consider the future. For example, you don’t only focus on the short term (hiring the skills from the market) but also start to build up the current and future skills within an organization for the future. Of course, organizations should have done this at least a year back. 

While doing this, there should be some assumptions. Even in the past everybody knew that certain skills are in demand and will be in demand. This is the game of supply & demand but sometimes business leaders are so desperate for short term gain given the reason of cost competitiveness while missing the long-term actions. 

Two years back, the software engineer and IT skills were right sized and fired. The reason mentioned by those companies was performance but actually it was slimming the organizations. This resulted in the formation of unions in certain areas. There were complaints filed against those companies in the labour office and labour courts. Now same talent has become crucial for those organizations. All assumptions were fragile.

A well-known author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book, “Anti Fragile” writes, “there are three distinctions when describing systems, organizations etc, i.e.  Fragile, Robust and Anti-Fragile. Fragile systems and organizations are vulnerable to all kinds of unforeseen events or pushes, like the situation we are seeing now. Robust ones can withstand them. Anti-fragile ones even benefit from potentially unforeseen events. The key is to build your system, organization or company as much as possible in a robust or even anti-fragile way.”

I understand the panic situation of those organizations because of the business pressures but they had a great opportunity in the past to build the robust talent management systems in their organizations. They are looking for the gold but lost the diamonds which could have been perhaps more beneficial. 

The problem is not with that talent who is shopping the job from one company to another company, the problem is with the organizations who are allowing them to do this. unfortunately. Building a robust organization and system is still far away.  

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Achieve your big dreams by taking small actions

Few years back, the editor of one of the dailies called me and requested to write the weekly column for their supplement. The column was supposed to be published weekly for a year. When I visualize the year, I thought, how I would do that. Further I had to commit to writing and sending articles every week. Writing seldom is very easy without any commitment. There were challenges of taking time out for this task and then having consistency in writing. Readers also should feel engaged. For me it was a mammoth task. I requested some time to think. Finally, I decided to give it a try. I thought I would write one article a week and then decide depending upon the mood of my mind. 

I started writing and then it became fun. Initially I write one article once in a week but then in a flow, I used to write 3-4 articles in one sitting and used to mail regularly. The task which I thought was a mammoth task, became simple for me. Topics were challenging but interesting; readers appreciated it. I was able to engage them. Secondly, I started enjoying writing regularly. It formed a habit. The column was popular among youth and students. After that I am writing many columns for magazines and dailies. I created the habit of writing regularly. 

(Image: Internet)
Sometimes, we feel the task is very large, and we get scared. Take an example of driving to another city at night which is almost 250 km from your city. What do you look outside while driving? You can see only a few meters in the headlights of the car. So, in those headlights, you drive mile by mile and reach your destination. Life is like that. Most of the time, we don’t know how we will achieve our task, how we will reach the destination, but then there are some guiding principles to reach there. 

Find out your headlight: What is that guiding light which will help you to see a few meters away, you don’t need always to see beyond the vision. Starting the journey and taking small steps help you to reach your goals. 

Break the task in smaller tasks: This is not a new technique, but we don’t follow it. Most of the time, we are desperate to complete it in one stretch, which may result in failure.    

Author Dan Richards quotes about solving the problem “Break down the problem into smaller pieces and start dealing with them one at a time, piece by piece. The smaller the piece, the easier it will be to evaluate it individually and come up with the solution. You can also try solving one problem for one day.”    

It applies to your goals, tasks, dreams etc. Whatever you wish to achieve, break down that task into a smaller task or think about milestones. While writing a column, I started with one article, and I wrote many. 

We all have some dreams and wishes, unless we don’t convert them into goals that remain dreams and wishes. Don’t get scared by big tasks and goals. Find out the right headlights to reach those goals and break the goals into smaller achievable tasks. You will achieve what you wish.  

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

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Saturday, August 07, 2021

In the world of cowards, courage is precious

Demonstrating courage is not that easy. In the hierarchical society, you can’t ask questions. On the pretext of respect, you can’t challenge seniors, elders, teachers, and parents. If you do that, you are tagged rebellious. Managers don’t like challenges. Politicians and bureaucrats don’t like challenging questions. This is a sad reality of life. Courage and curiosity is killed during school days itself. That’s why the majority of the section don’t take a stand. They are always on the fence because being courageous and curious brings additional personal stress. In the society which follows majority decisions, the person who is courageous has to pay the huge cost of being courageous and curious. Great scientists and philosophers had to sacrifice for the benefits of society. From Galileo to Socrates, almost everyone had to pay the price for being curious and courageous. 

However, once people understand the intentions and benefits of being curious and curious, they follow you. I was curious but was not courageous because of the culture in which we grow. I realized that being courageous has more benefits than not being courageous. It is possible that you may be penalized for being courageous, but if you get the right ecosystem, i.e.  mature managers, understanding peers, great teachers, guiding parents and elders, you grow fast if you are curious and courageous. Courageous doesn't mean you are arrogant, but you speak your mind, take strong decisions, and finally take accountability of your life and decisions you take. Courage is a life skill. 

Kathleen K. Reardon writes in HBR (Jan 2007), “In business, courageous action is really a special kind of calculated risk taking. People who become good leaders have a greater than average willingness to make bold moves, but they strengthen their chances of success—and avoid career suicide—through careful deliberation and preparation.”

Of course, courage is not a heroic or brave act to show extraordinary capabilities or confronting the negativity with the egoistic reactions. It refers to the ability and willingness to confront fear, uncertainty, intimidation, or difficulty in life by having in-depth knowledge of one’s belief, liberation, and insight. Courage means asking logical reasons for doing something, assessing the beliefs, behaviours, practices, customs etc and challenging for a right cause. Courage is also speaking up and it is expected that respondents should respect the opinion and views of other people. 

I always encourage and ask my team to be courageous while performing their duties. 

Recently, my son, Atharva, who is in 12th, was given an assignment of English subject during mid-term. There were few topics, on which students had to write their opinion. This was an internal assignment. In view of the pandemic, we all know that their final exams are cancelled, and assessment is done on internal marks. Atharva choose one topic, “Student’s Life” 

He writes,

“Student’s life is considered as a person’s golden part of life. This phase forms the foundation and basis of a person's career and entire life. If a student has the ability and dedication, he or she will be able to become successful in the long-term career and life. This phase plays a major role in developing one’s thought process, ideology, and morality. 

Student’s life is not only about studies and examinations, but it is about acquiring real Knowledge. During this stage, a person is supposed to acquire knowledge to become more aware of the outer as well as inner worlds.

We all remember our school days because those days were the best and they gave us the best memories. We all remember all those happy days. But a student’s life is full of hardship and struggles. In India, education is now an industry. Each educational institution claims to be the best. I mean, take a look at my school; they claim to be the topmost school in the city, but they can’t even respond to emails or co-operate with students. Students’ lives have changed drastically over the last year thanks to the global pandemic. We were able to concentrate more on our studies but there was no human interaction, and the situation was a bit depressing. 

So, back to the student's life, a student's life is the best part of one’s life but being a student is being helpless. It is easy to be disappointed, but life is about preparing for disappointments.

In short, the life of a student is about discipline and hardship; hard woe punctuated by moments of fun and ecstasy.”       

Before submitting this, he showed this to me. We were aware that the comments about the school would not be taken positively, and it exactly happened. It was a hard and courageous decision during such a crucial period where the students’ marks are determined on internal assessment given by the school.  Speaking the mind about the student’s life, specifically comments on the school were taken otherwise by the teacher. The internal marks are compromised by speaking the truth.

But he is happy, I am happy. I am sure, allowing him to speak up his mind will help him in his future career. I am proud.     

If you want to make a difference in your life, always be curious and courageous. Don’t shy away from speaking up and asking questions. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

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