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A Root Cause Analysis of Life – 1/3

13 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 1/3

Disclaimer: This 3-parts post isn’t a root cause analysis of Life itself, but just one aspect of it, i.e. inability to translate thoughts into action. Oh btw, unlike in the past^, this time all 3 parts will certainly get published in quick succession, as the post is more-ore-less completed already, but being shared in three parts just to help readers comprehend and – hopefully – contemplate!

An acquaintance of Swamy, who happens to be a meditator, recently reflected thus…
I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts. I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this? Due to this character I have lost more but still I do the same…🤔

This is the natural state of existence, for most humans – seeker or not. Survival is just a series of one insurmountable challenge after another for most, and they invariably end looking up to others (typically those who are successful and popular) for whatever they could get – guidance, advise, counsel, quote, motivational speech, experience sharing, training, books, etc. – to get better, be successful, overcome difficulties, etc. The situation isn’t that different on the spiritual path either, where there are so many choices for a seeker to completely go bonkers.

Sheep13While there is no specific answer or solution to this conundrum, one of the many possible options is succinctly captured by the emoji that the questioner used, at the end of the question, to indicate the thinking or pondering that’s going on. That so-called sixth sense is the only additional tool at the disposal of the Homo Sapiens, which unfortunately isn’t utilised effectively by them to liberate themselves from the BAUHumbug mundane existence. Unlike humans, who for whatever strange reason consider themselves as a superior species despite their incorrigible destructive nature, the remaining species on this tiny planet are quite content with their simple existence, as their lives remain uncomplicated by unnecessary thinking.

In the IT services industry, in which Swamy too had spent pretty much his entire phase of over two decades of survival, there is a popular process known as the “Root Cause Analysis,” to figure out what is causing a particular problem, with the objective of resolving the issue, by applying a temporary fix first (in order to ensure business continuity) and eventually a permanent fix (for preventing recurrence of the problem) as well. There are obviously many tools to perform this analysis (Ishikawa or Fishbone, 5-Why, etc)  but all of them are aimed at the same aforementioned purpose – analysing, understanding and resolving an(y) issue that impacts business continuity.

614px-Cause_and_effect_diagram_for_defect_XXX.svg

Image courtesy: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishikawa_diagram

Unfortunately, just like any other myopic perspectives of humans, about anything in life, this root cause analysis process too is focused only on the challenge at hand. Hardly a handful of people who are conversant with the process and the tools, ever use it to gain a larger perspective – at either the business level or at the industry / domain level. That’s why there are so many specialists who keep efficiently utilising the process at a rudimentary level, repeatedly, and very few (if any!) generalists who can effectively use the process to identify, analyse, contemplate, comprehend and craft solutions for real life situations, of which business / work is only a minuscule part.

Anyway, for the sake of the questioner, let’s keep the rant against the incorrigible human nature aside and focus on the situation at hand, by breaking down the reflection / long question into smaller parts, so that each of the components can be analysed to comprehend the whole.

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart

Why do humans read / hear / view what others have said?
To know what the others are supposed to have already known, would be the obvious answer. After all, humans are self-certified experts in taking the easy way out, for practically doing anything in a lifetime!

A Guru – an authentic one who has attained self-realisation, not one of those self-proclaimed character artists – shares his/her experience of Truth (about creator, creation, existence, et al) and offers ways or methods to seekers who strive to attain the same experience. In ancient times, it used to be done in person (ashrams were created primarily for this purpose) but in the perennially busy times that we are present in, it’s being done with the help of all available modes of communication – books, podcasts, videos, blogs, programs…

GuruPurnima1

Guru PUrNima, a day of reverence to all the Realised Masters who have chosen to show the path to realisation to fellow humans, is celebrated worldwide on 27-July-2018.

Unlike the ‘information is power’ survival where even those without any practical experience can be quite successful with acquired knowledge, spirituality is all about knowing, i.e. the actual inner experience of the seeker.

When a seeker accesses the experiential knowing shared by a Guru, it should be for the purpose of attaining the experience and not merely to know about the experience. So, seeking is not about the activity of reading / hearing / viewing the knowledge shared, but about putting it to use, in terms of actions (commonly known as sadhana), with the objective of attaining the same experience as one’s Guru.

In that context, it’s wonderful that the questioner has mentioned “nothing is hitting the heart.” Irrespective of whether it’s expressed with awareness or not, the questioner is actually pointing out how a Master’s teachings can be really effective. The heart referred here is not the blood pump that keeps the physical form ticking, but the spiritual heart known as the Hridhayam. It’s the seat of the divine aka soul. It’s where the creator is present, within each and every piece of the magnificent creation.

When a Guru’s teachings are put to practice, whatever experience happens is always internal. For example, hundreds of books talk about the primal energy of Kundalini and how to raise the dormant coiled serpent from the MUlaadhaara chakra at the base of the spine towards Sahasraara chakra on the top of the skull. To read any of them would naturally be exciting and the reader will exclaim “whoa, I didn’t know such a phenomenal power is hidden within myself.” But after reading the book, one either moves on to another book (must use Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription effectively!), may be share a review on GoodReads (which about 3 followers may read on social media platforms and 1 compulsive liker may actually “like”) and then get back to one’s BAUHumbug* existence.

The serpent simply can’t be risen by reading books and needs to be practised under the watchful guidance of a qualified teacher. And those who have actually experienced the rise of Kundalini within themselves, will hardly ever share that experience as a “how-to” guide for aam janata, since the experience could be vastly different for someone else, depending on many parameters, and is potentially dangerous to the person who tries it as DOI experiment.

So, “nothing is hitting the heart” does not mean one being vexed at not having a heart attack, but feeling disappointed at not experiencing something inward. That’s actually a very good feeling to have – especially for a seeker, since the journey along the spiritual path is always about self-realisation, i.e. the realisation of Truth that happens within oneself, as an intimate – and intense, needless to say – direct experience, within oneself.

Unfortunately, the questioner isn’t going to let us remain elated with this revelation for long and instantly deflates us by extending his reflection thus…

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Now, the second part of this reflection highlights some serious misunderstanding of the practical side of spirituality, which is putting the ancient methods and processes (shared by Gurus, of course) into actual practice, in real life situations. After all, Yoga, the ancient science of Life, isn’t just an austere practice to be done in isolation but is a way of living that needs to be applied in day-to-day living, by the practitioners. That’s why there is so much emphasis on sadhana (practice or performance of a spiritual process) in spirituality. In fact, nationwide missions like SkillIndia should take a cue from yoga, for the practical application part, in order to be really effective.

Inner voice cries hoarse: “digression… digression…”

fb_img_1531370637666Thoughts can potentially lead to actions, but not necessarily always. If one tries to translate each and every thought into action, simply surviving in this world itself would become harder than scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen, and sherpas. Thoughts simply keep flowing by themselves, like the waves of the ocean. Over time, one not only loses count of their number, but one also learns that it’s practically impossible to do something with each wave. There are waves that one can let kiss one’s bare feet and then there are those one could surf. Perhaps there are even some that may trigger enchanting poetry. The rest can only be observed. And they never cease to flow.

The questioner smartly chooses to follow only “good thoughts.” Hmmm… but how does one determine a thought is good or bad? It’s still just a thought anyway. Unless it is translated into an action, with a defined purpose, aimed at a specific outcome, it’s impossible to determine the value of any thought. Only when the outcome is experienced, its usefulness can be ascertained, based on the social situation that one is part of. Something that is useful / beneficial for an individual or society, in a harmless way, is deemed good. The opposite of that is branded as bad.

But good and bad are just classifications based on the subjective intellect of an individual or collective. They are mere perspectives and will vary from person to person, just like any other perspective. For terrorists, mass murder is just a means to an end, which makes them believe killing others is good. For the rest, murder is obviously bad and mass murderers are unadulterated evil, personified. While those who are murdered gladly excuse themselves from the pointless debates on their murder, the rest of the populace is always ready and willing to debate the good vs bad of murders and murderers to death, literally (on the multitude of channels that guarantee the proverbial “15 seconds of fame” for anyone who is willing to flex his/her vocal chords to express one’s opinion about anything, relevant or not).

img_0719.jpgIn reality there is no such thing as a ‘good thought’ or a ‘bad thought.’ Thoughts are, well, just thoughts. Everyone has got a boatload of them and some even admire themselves as being “Thought Leaders,” in practically every aspect of living. Irrespective of whether one fancies oneself as a leader or not, one can only translate one’s own thoughts into actions. And thoughts that translate into action are either useful or not. Neither can all useful things be deemed good (e.g. guns) nor can any useless thing be classified bad (e.g. floppy disk).

A Guru has no interest in either regulating someone’s thoughts or making someone follow his/her (the Guru’s) thoughts. And s/he doesn’t really care about the goodness of her/his thoughts, for a real Guru is fully aware of the utter futility of trying to interrupt or control the natural flow of thoughts. A Guru will actually be keen on enabling a seeker to understand that futility, experientially, by offering one or more sadhana (spiritual practice). So, it is obviously left to the individual – seeker or not – to observe one’s own thoughts and identify those that really need to be translated into action and act accordingly. The rest will mind their own business, within the mind itself!

Let’s look at that first sentence one last time, so we can move on to the rest of the question (parts 2 and 3 are waiting to be shared, impatiently)!

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Here’s the summary of insights that may help you, dear reader, to ignore most of the thoughts triggered while / after reading this and act upon only those that are valuable / useful.

  • Listening to what a Guru (Realised Master) shares is wonderful, because it is experiential wisdom
  • Knowing that a Guru’s teachings are meant for the spiritual heart and not the silly mind is great and will help the seeker focus inward
  • Thoughts simply flow by themselves, like the waves of the ocean, and they are neither good nor bad. They can be triggered by listening to a Guru as well
  • It’s practically not possible to follow all the thoughts that arise in the mind, which will only make anyone who attempts that go insane
  • One can pick and choose the thoughts and translate them into purposeful action for a specific outcome. The often over-hyped sixth-sense is meant for this purpose
  • A Guru is fully aware of the futility of following (any)one’s thoughts and hence will only encourage seekers to effectively utilise some of the thoughts for purposeful action, and enable them with practices (sadhana) for that purpose

You may take a well-deserved tea/coffee/juice break now. But just don’t start another series of waves, ummm… thoughts, by debating this with your break companion(s). Simply enjoy the beverage instead!

^There are a few multi-part blog posts that Swamy has started but yet to complete. Some on purpose and some for no reason. Or, may be it’s just procrastination! ha.. ha..

*BAUHumbug = “Business As Usual Humbug”, a term in Swamyctionary (which itself is another term coined by Swamy, supposed to mean ‘Swamy’s dictionary,’ i.e. collection of words coined by Swamy) that’s often used by him to depict the pretentious superficial survival focused existence of the species to which he too unfortunately belongs to!

… rest of the post will be shared in parts 2 & 3, as soon as at least 1 person cares to read this part and attempts to reflect upon it (thank goodness, that gives Swamy sufficient time to procrastinate :D)!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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The Idea of Belief!

30 May

Even after the greatest loss in life, would one still believe in God?

That was one of those rare profound questions (a lot of questions belong to the usual BAUHumbug “I’ll ask because I can” type) asked to Swamy on Quora. Here’s his response!

This is the fundamental conundrum in any kind of belief system, of which the most prominent is religion, which is built on the foundation known as God. Without the foundation, there can’t be a strong building, hence pretty much all Religions are heavily invested in the grand idea of an omnipotent and omnipresent entity called God. Of course, each of them have their own definition of God and are absolutely certain that only their version of God is authentic and the rest are heretic!

If one believes in God (or the source of creation – for those who are uncomfortable with the very idea of an almighty supreme being that’s Creator / Preserver / Transformer all rolled into one), faith in the divine has to be absolute, no matter what. Otherwise, it’s just a selective-belief, which is very subjective, varying from one situation to another, rooted in the binary existence (good/bad, right/wrong, superior/inferior, beaty/ugly, rich/poor, etc) of humans.

If a believer is like “I’ll believe when things work out well for me and I’ll be doubtful when things don’t work out the way I expected,” then there is really no need for any kind of belief at all. Which, in a tangential way, is actually liberating, because,

In the absence of belief, one will be true to oneself, holding oneself accountable for one’s own actions, instead of passing the buck to God.

Oh well, now we’ve inadvertently started treading on the spiritual path. And here’s what Spirituality (not to be confused with Religion) says about the Source of Creation aka Parabrahmam aka God/dess.

The source of creation is present in every single piece of creation, i.e. all beings in existence – including, but not limited to, humans. All creations are nothing but manifestations or manifest forms of the singular unmanifest energy. So, Creation / birth and Cremation / death are nothing but transformation of the same energy into different forms (Shout out to scientists – “you’re not in conflict with seekers”). And this manifestation happens incessantly, forever, until it ceases for good (known as MahAPraLayA aka Armageddon), and then starts all over again (Rudra’s roar aka the Big Bang). Those on the Spiritual path believe (pun intended) we’re in the 84th such cycle of creation, while those on the survival road are still trying hard to believe this single big bang itself!

In the grand – beyond the puny limited imagination of humans – scale of cosmos, creation or cremation of a single piece of creation, however famous or great that being may’ve been, is really an insignificant happening.

A flower bud on a plant blossoms, whithers and falls – without any complaints about the creator’s partiality.

A lion gets delivered in the forest, learns to walk and hunt, grows, hunts to feed, creates and nurtures cubs, ages and dies – without ever blaming a higher power for any of that.

A river originates from the mountain glacier, flows merrily with pure water down to the plains, gets used and abused by humans, and empties itself into the ocean – not for a moment pondering if its pure mountain joy or polluted plains suffering is because of God.

Every single piece of creation – animals, birds, critters, flora, fauna, land, mountain, ocean, valley, river, sun, moon, planets, galaxies, etc. etc. etc… – goes on, through the cycle of creation, many times over, without a belief system and without an iota of doubt, by experiencing “Life, the way it is!

Only a single species, in this vast still-expanding universe, known as humans, endowed with the rare ability to observe, contemplate and conclude, is simultaneously too proud of the superiority of its kind (as it wields destructive power over everything else on this – so far only inhabitable planet) and too silly to blame God for its woes, instead of marvelling at the intricate and complex process of colourful Life, happening all around, all the time and remaining grateful to be a part of this grand Creation.

In that context, loss in life is an independent event in an individual being’s insignificant existence. It’s just another event, in the self-preservation focused survival. This too shall pass. Irrespective of whether an individual recovers from grief soon or not, without waiting for that individual to renew her/his faith in the divine or not, ‘Life, the way it is,’ simply goes on… and on… and on… In other words, the dance of the divine (Dance of Shiva, if you will) keeps happening, without depending on any individual creation’s tune, while remaining in sync with all kinds of tunes in existence.

The Creator has everything to do with all of Creation, but nothing to do with any one creation’s self-created beliefs!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Copy New Year!

31 Dec

The senseless noisy silly celebrations of yet another new year has started all over the planet. Millions will get drunk mindlessly, shake their body shamelessly to non-stop cacophony, shovel plates of atrociously priced food into their bowels & keep on wishing many more millions pointlessly.

Tomorrow morning the Sun will rise without a reminder, just like it did today & billions of days before, to keep Life going on this planet. Flowers will bloom; trees will sway & offer shade; birds will chirp & flap their wings; ants will crawl in a disciplined line to gather food; strays will roam the streets looking for food; cows will wait patiently near medians for speeding idiots to race past them; ceaseless waves of the ocean will continue to kiss the shore; prayers will be offered at temples, churches, mosques, gurudwaras & other places of worship; RaGa’s earthquake will not bother to disturb the Richter scale; neighbour will double the chance of you getting stricken with cancer by blowing second hand smoke from his balcony nonchalantly; over half of the Divided States of America will pray for armageddon to happen before Jan 20; AIADMK white brigade will pride themselves on being herded by a brand new mini amma; Stalin will continue to wait for his nanogenarian father to hand over the DMK baton; Akhilesh Yadav will continue to marvel at his incredulous father’s irrational attachment to his uncle; selective secularists will continue to wait for the next opportunity to pounce on NaMo worshippers, while sipping their wine or chai in british era clubs; black money hoarders will offer expensive gifts to bankers to convert their stash beyond the legal deadline that has already passed; Google will have another enchanting doodle; ACT fibernet will continue to be dead, almost a month after Vardah; TV channels will continuously broadcast death, despair & destruction 24×7; none of the Hollywood copycats & wannabes here will make a single decent movie that a global audience can watch & cheer, yet our movie makers who think too highly of their limited skills will wonder why they still couldn’t get an Oscar; all sports other than cricket will continue to starve for sponsorship; gyms & slimming clubs will gleefully sign annual contracts, knowing fully we’ll they don’t have to sweat it out after a few days; rich spoilt brats will drive their ultra-expensive imported cars in drunken stupor & kill a few platform dwellers, and walk away unscathed; Urjit Patel will conjure up his umpteenth DeMo rule, to amend the one announced yesterday; NaMo will wake up at 4am, do yOgA & head for another day at work to make this once-great nation great again; invariably all the hotels – especially the ones with a bar, Ola, Uber & the like will relish their most profitable day of the year, and will eagerly await the next such silly celebration day.  

You’ll wake up either a bad hangover or aching hips & knees or upset stomach or all of them & yell at someone for the misery you’ve created yourself. And signal the glorious start of yet another year of your wretched existence, which isn’t going to be any different from the previous one. 

Yet, you’ll expect everyone to wish you a “Very happy, healthy,… blah.. blah.. blah.. New Year” on all the social media apps & over phone, if not in person, and will respond to only those who wish you & make a note of those who don’t, adding that wrath to your already dump yard like karmA pile.

Bejan Dharuvala, Peter Vidal, Vamanan Namboodiri, AMR & Shelvee will assure you that at least 50% of your new year will be wonderful, which is exactly what they predicted for every new year, for everyone who cares to read their prediction. 

Swamy will once again re share his previous blogs like “Wish you Will” on this topic to remind you of the utter pointlessness of this abject stupidity & not respond to anyone’s wishes, which will continue to pour unabated from all & sundry anyway. Of course, not many will bother to read those blogs, again. 

As far as Swamy is concerned, there are only two days worth even thinking about – the day the Sun fails to show up in the morning & the one when it forgets to leave in the evening. In case of the former, we’ll all perish by freezing in a new ice age & in the latter we’ll probably burn & still perish.

Either way, there won’t be a planet anymore that inhabits a species that gloats so much about its extra sense over all other beings & still manage to screw up the only planet they’ve got to exist. As if their miraculously continuing existence itself, even for one more day, isn’t a celebration, they’ll hilariously – and very noisily – continue to celebrate some silly day or anniversary, pretty much every other day of the year. Every year. 

Celebrate like automatons trapped in The Matrix, without pausing to ponder even for a moment, if they’ve actually changed anything within themselves, in all these years, each of which offered at least 365 brand new days to ignite some change & appreciate the magnificence of creation all around in myriad forms, sizes & hues. And take at least a few baby steps to know the purpose of Life.

Celebrate yet another Noisy, Egocentric, Weary, Yappy, Eco-unfriendly, Arrogant, Ridiculous Copy New Year. BAUHumbug!

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy 

Quote

Use!

25 Dec

Both Belief & Faith are powerful & effective.

Religion uses Belief as a weapon to hold the believers. 

Spirituality uses Faith as a tool to liberate the faithful. 

~Swamy 

Faceless Friends!

26 Sep

Swamy isn’t really a friending type, umm… someone who befriends anyone and everyone. He certainly is friendly, but that doesn’t mean he’s keen to be a friend of anyone who wants to be one with him. Swamy’s friends circle is so small that it’s almost virtual! 🤓

Pic: Since there aren’t any photos of Swamy with childhood friends (you go to a studio for photos, in those days), Swamy Jr’s school phase – spent mostly with playing his Chess opponents – are included. 😆

At school he had a bunch of friends (names are still remembered, whereabouts unknown) who are primarily connected through sports. Once a potential sporting career came crashing down with a sports accident (irony playing out – pun intended), that circle became much smaller because now his focus was only on studies. And writing. Writers are loners, because that’s how they get to think. And write.

Pic: Since Swamy’s college photos are sleeping happily somewhere in the loft, he has included what appear like college photos – with him, of course – here. In fact, one of them is from a real college & those in others most certainly have some college connection! 😉

At college his circle of friends was smaller, limited by the daily commute (he was a day scholar, travelling about 90 minutes one-way, by bus, daily). There were hardly anything common other than juvenile fantasies and matinee movies. His short story was already published in a popular weekly and a few poems too got published. But he didn’t pursue that path seriously since there was no one to guide him (nor has he sought any guidance – other than writing an inland letter to Manirathnam, requesting him to take him as an assistant director, for which there was no response, understandably). Intellectually, he was starved for connecting with someone but there were none. Most college mates must be doing very well now – predominantly abroad – but he is probably connected with about 3 of them, that too not on a Nanbenda style but more like an occasional social media ping kind.

Pic: Swamy during his corporate career days, somehow or other trying to Be Joyful & spread the cheer, pretty much all the time – while leading a 550 member captive with 26 million dollars annual revenue or charting the course of learning & development or happily enabling eager learners to explore Life thru experiential learning programs… 🙃

At work, he was always an exception than the norm – much closer to his teams than the bosses, which his close friends (oh yeah, there are still a few left – surprisingly) probably still marvel about (“How the heck did he manage to sustain for so long & be reasonably successful too!” 😕). Somehow, he survived 23 loooooooooong years in the corporate battlefront, trying to Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer. One fine day, he bid farewell to that BAUHumbug survival, for good. Only a handful of friends remain in touch through a WhatsApp group that he created (aptly called SwamyPals 🤗) & contributes to actively (most of them either humbly remain silent spectators or hardly bother to even check what’s up in the group 😂). A few are connected thru Facebook too!

Pic: Swamy with fellow seekers, some of whom are way advanced adepts, far ahead in the path to Truth. 😌

Suddenly, about a week or two ago, his friend requests on Facebook went thru the roof (quite literally). As of today, he has 808 friends, 164 followers and about a 100 odd friend requests pending for approval. This is truly perplexing though there seems to be a connecting thread (Swamy is considered an exponent of the connecting-the-dots craft), a very strong one. But that still doesn’t explain the sudden spike. He hasn’t changed anything – in terms of content (daily Dhinam Oru Padhigam – 117 & counting, occasional sharing of shareable news items with his perspectives, Sadhguru quotes with a spontaneous tagline, random blog posts, political / sports jibes, few photos, et al), or tone (always pulling the legs, self-deprecating not-so-subtle humour, sharp in-your-face comments & bluntly calling BAUHumbug what it is 😏), yet the spike isn’t subsiding at all! 🤔

Pic: Swamy with members of extended Swamily. 👪

Swamy doesn’t know most (all) of them & they certainly don’t know a damn thing (other than what’s on public media) about him. That’s what’s scary (& hilarious 😄) about the present trend of friends who aren’t really friends in the Webster sense of the word but more strangers who seek to be friends – predominantly online & hardly offline – because it’s possible! 😞

Who are our friends, really? If at all there are really any!

Folks from one’s Alma maters? – nope, they’re a thing of the past (as far as Swamy is concerned, who consciously keeps himself away from the past, as much as possible)!  😨

Members of the Family? – not at all, as that relationship is far more intimate (& intricate)! 😐

Fellow seekers? – not really, as spirituality is a very lonely pursuit, even when one is among like minded groups! 😌

Persons of a common interest? – not quite, as the connect is only as strong as the interest, which may change any moment! 😒

Complete strangers who suddenly want to be your friend simply because they can thru technology? – nooooooooo way, as you’ve (& probably will never) no idea of where the strange, vague, social connect (visible to the whole world, obviously) is headed! 🤔

With the explosion of social media and liberated access to it, anyone can at least seek to be friends with anyone. Just like how Swamy tried to be acquainted with popular movie director Manirathnam, before even email became known (forget being popular). Nothing happened then and nothing much is going to happen now. Except, either party will get to see more mokkai (occasionally worthy, rarely original) content* on their timelines. And sheepishly grin at the increasing count of… Faceless Friends!

*Note: Swamy’s content are 100% ISI certified agmark original content, from his own brain – just like this blog post. Oh btw, if you haven’t checked out his Dhinam Oru Padhigam (A Hymn a day – keeps “i”llness away) yet, please do so before sending a friend request! 😃

And if you are really keen on knowing more about Swamy (who, by now, may possibly be a Facebook friend of you), kindly set aside some quiet time & explore Who am Swamy!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂 

~Swamy 

@PrakashSwamy

STOP to Start!

19 Sep

Swamy got a request to motivate students in a college recently. Swamy being what he is, a little bit of preliminary excavation happened, to understand the situation (not problem or challenge – always) better. What was supposed to be an hour or two long lecture on motivation (which, at least in Swamy’s view, is a sheer waste of time and energy on everyone’s part because motivating someone is near the top of the BAUHumbug list), may eventually blossom into a long-term intervention that will help the students get equipped to face the survival war zone called corporate career. But this post isn’t about that (though you’re welcome to avail Swamy’s Human Potential DISCovery + NURTURE offerings, for yourself or your organisation or institution). 

This kind of pointless flurry of activities happen all around us – especially so in the corporate training or learning & development space. 

80% of the training that’s offered to employees of corporates will remain ineffective because they don’t STOP before they start. 

Blinking..? Read on to know the Ws!

Anything a being – including silly humans – does in Life will be done better, if that being or the organization that the being is part of learns to STOP before they Start, well, anything in Life.

“S”trategy – What are you doing / going to do. To get to where you want to be. By when. 

Most people confuse Strategy with Why or How, but it is essentially the big What.

What do I / we want to be 10 years from now?

What will be the growth in our market cap 5 years from now?

What will our customers need 3 years from now?

What changes I / we must make to raise the bar of output / outcome by x% an year from now?

Consultants (yep, those suited, booted folks speaking jargolingo non-stop for hours to make you believe that your well-run business is doomed if you don’t adopt some vague cutting edge model with the tailored framework they’ll offer specifically to you for a pro fee of $300 / hour – oh, that’s a conservative estimate 😨) will vehemently raise their hands and voice that the last one isn’t strategy. Who gives a damn anyway, for it’s their business to survive on such hazy minutae .

In essense, if you don’t know what you want to be that’ll get you where you want to be in a certain amount of time – in future, obviously – whatever you’re about to start (or already doing) is going to sputter someway along like an automobile that ran out of fuel on a deserted road where your fancy mobile costing a bomb couldn’t find VoLTE signal to call for help!

Pic: The starting line-up for the 10km run, Chennai Marathon 2015 – Mrs & Jr Swamy are seen alongside the head of Isha Vidhya – a rural education initiative by Isha Foundation, to support which thousands of Isha Yoga meditators participate in the annual event. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“T”acticsHow are you going to do what you want to do to get where you want to be, by whenever (years or months or weeks or days or hours…).

Leaders (genuine ISI certified or generic ISO certified) spend tremendous amounts of time, effort & energy in Strategy, instead of Tactics, which is neither smart nor wise.

Contrary to popular belief, this is what leaders need to focus on and invest their energy, thoughts and action in, not the former one (though that’s important – to begin with), nor the latter (which we’ll get to know shortly anyway, won’t we). In fact, those who get immersed in the latter aren’t leaders at all, because they inadvertently cause more harm to realising their own vision. 

How will we become the No.2 player in our chosen space? (leave the No.1 to those who love high BP & excessive cholestrol & be joyful

How will we differentiate our product / service from the umpteen pretenders?

How can we navigate around the known roadblocks to get to where we want to go?

In a nutshell, this is the pacing of the marathon (Swamy’s long-distance runner bro & s-i-l will be delighted ;), without which, your chances of finishing the marathon (far more important than winning – ask any Olympian, if in doubt) are as slim as those models on the ramp with ridiculous waists that can’t hold that barely there clothing!

Pic: Swamy Jr Akash PC Iyer setting the pace in a segment of the 10km run, in the Chennai Marathon 2015. This was his first Marathon. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Operations – Ops is the Oops part of whatever you want to do, to get to wherever you want to be, by whenever.  

This is the breakdown of your S, i.e. What, based on the T, i.e. How, into actionable bits and pieces that can be comprehended, owned and acted upon by individuals and/or teams. Usually misunderstood as the plan, since Managers love to have as many plans as they can (isn’t that why they’re aka Damagers :O).

The crux of Oops, ahem, Ops is action, not the plan. 

In the IT services space (just as an example – other spaces aren’t that different), customers got so pissed off by the quantum of planning, which is grossly disproportionate to the quantum of action, they embraced a new model called Agile, almost en masse’ a few years ago. Reason is, Agile is all action – daily and hourly. Accountable action. That’s what Ops should be, not reviewing based on a plan what didn’t happen and why, a week or month or half-an-year later. But Agile is just an example. Ops is action. Period.

Pic: A sea of runners in action, in support of Isha Vidhya, at the Chennai Marathon 2015.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, what the heck is the P then? Before that, let’s do a quick rewind to see if you’re ready to STO-P!

S(trategy) – What do you want to do / be, by when. S is envisioning (& articulating – for the benefit of believers / followers / doers to comprehend) the entire marathon, not just the start or stop.

  • Top-10 best-selling book in 3 years 
  • Medal at world championships 
  • 50% market share 
  • 100% placement for students

<fill your S here>

T(actics) – How do you go about where you want to be. T is comprehending (& detailing – for the rest of non-suit types to know) how to compete & complete the marathon.

  • Define the reader demography for the Top-10 bestselling book.
  • Will the style be third-person storytelling or first-person narration of events and facts. 
  • Ebooks or paperback or both. 
  • First of a trilogy or stand-alone. 

<detail your T here>

O(perations) – What are all the things that need to be done by when to get to where you want to be to be whatever you want to be. Oops, that’s how detailed Ops has to be, but not necessarily that confusing. 😀

  • What is the daily fitness routine? Each for how long? At what time?
  • What’s the change in daily diet? How many times to eat? What? When?
  • Which are the tournaments / competitions that are useful for progress? How to register? What’s the fee? Where will the registration fee come from? Who’ll do the travel & accommodation booking?
  • When do the reviews of progress happen? What will be reviewed? How to get instant feedback on changes to be made to the routine?

<list down your O here>

Pic: Wow, we’ve done it. Swamily, all 3 of them (their 2 charming 4-legged daughters couldn’t register to run along) have completed the 10km run in the Chennai Marathon 2015. Swamy & Mrs can’t run, due to major surgery in their left legs, so they walked the distance. Jr ran & walked the distance, for the first time in this lifetime. 
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You’re ready for P, only after filling the <your> segments of STO. No kidding! ✋

All right, you’ve now got the (aha, finally, something truly valuable, in this lifetime) Strategy, Tactics & Operations of something you want to accomplish. Is it time to start? Not so fast, dear reader.🙋

Do you know Why you want to do whatever you want to do to be wherever you want to be?

P is the Why. Big Why, i.e. Purpose.

Without clarity of Purpose, however fantastic your vision is, whatever level of insight your detailing has, whichever depth of detail your action plan has.. won’t still get you to wherever you want to be by when you want. 

Gandhi had clarity of Purpose. He got India freedom from the brits, once and for all.

Bolt had clarity of Purpose. He will remain a living legend, the greatest sprinter ever, for a long time.

Sadhguru had clarity of Purpose. His creation – the only Dhyanalinga on this planet – will sow the seed of liberation in all seekers who set foot in his space, for a very long time.

Pic: Swamily’s Purpose for participating in the Chennai Marathon – raise awareness about & support Isha Vidhya. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What’s your Purpose! Why do you want to do whatever you want to do?

That’s the P of STOP. The last but the most important piece of the puzzle. 

That’s Why you need to focus on the P first.👍

<fill your P here>.

That’s how you STOP before you Start – the Life Marathon!

Note: Isha Vidhya is an official Charity partner of the Chennai Marathon in 2016. Swamily will be participating to support Isha Vidhya, naturally. You too can!

Be joyful & spread the cheer 😃

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

3 MGRs!

10 Sep

MGR (M G Ramachandran aka Puratchi Thalaivar) is a revered matinee idol & political leader in TamizhnAdu. And a BhArat RatnA as well. This post isn’t about that near mythical mass leader, who many pretenders still try to emulate & miserably fail. 

MGR #1 – Minimum Guarantee Return

This MGR #1 is the #1 reason why mediocre movies are made – especially in kollywood – still. 

Someone with spare change spends X crore (obviously, undeclared / non-declarable income) to fund a movie. That crap movie makes Y crores in theatres. If Y is greater than X, even by a minuscule margin, then that’s MGR #1. The same thing happens in education, media, fashion, healthcare, etc. 

While this MGR certainly makes a number of humans involved with making crap happy (it keeps the survival wheel in motion for thousands, obviously), he, err.. it also guarantees a steady stream of more such never-ending crap.

Humans (ahem, that includes you, presumably) who play it safe all life, whose aspirations are limited to settling down comfortably, who don’t dare to go beyond the bar set at the lowest possible height, who routinely (& religiously) follow instructions from others are all MGR #1 devotees. That’s a significant chunk of human species. Bummer. 

MGR #2 – Minimum Gestation Return

A lot of people want more money. And fame. And a lot more. 

Pretty much all of them want all of thay now (living in the present, yaar). 

No 99% perspiration 1% inspiration model for these folks in a tearing hurry.

If they work, they expect a promotion or rise in an year; to be a damager, umm.. manager in 2; to buy a home by year 5 (car was already bought in year 3) & get admitted at Apollo hospital for a surgery (they’ll spoil you with choices) within 10. Well, they don’t wish for the last one, but will get it anyway!

Those who think they can write, want to be a bestselling author with their first ebook. Those who yak endlessly, imagine being sought after like Clinton or Obama for paid speeches. Those who code, want to be Zuckerberg with their first app. Those who invest in the market want to be Buffet or Jhunjhunwala in a month. 

The problem with this type is they aren’t willing to accept the hard fact that anything useful & valuable & respectable takes time. A significantly long time.

Universe took billions of years. Earth became habitable over millions. Humans evolved over several hundred thousands. Animals took a few thousand years to know not to trust humans & stay far away. Kamal, Rajini, Annie, Sly, Statham, Jackie all took a few decades to become near immortal movie stars. Musicians toiled for years to craft their chart busters. 

But no sir/ma’am, MGR #2 types want their rice in the bowl at the flick of a switch, without it getting pressure cooked. And they just won’t accept the fact that isn’t going to happen. Ever. BAUHumbug! 

MGR #3 Mastery Guided Return 

If you want magnificent returns from something.. anything.. that isn’t going to happen with mediocrity, but only with Mastery.

Mediocrity produces crap. Repeatedly. 

Mastery results in outcomes. Steadily. 

Mediocrity doesn’t take effort or time but makes a lot of noise. That’s why honkers (what.. you haven’t read yesterday’s Nano Blog  “Hornestly Honking.. Err.. Speaking” yet!) are mediocre (& needless to say, cowardly). 

Mastery takes time to blossom & needs tremendous amount of effort. And grit. And faith.

F1 drivers don’t honk. They’ve put themselves thru years of driving practice. So are eminent artists, actors, architects, writers, sportspersons, poets, sages, Gurus… 

Malcolm Gladwell (one of those rare humans endowed with Mastery of both Thinking & Communicating, like Seth Godin) says Mastery in anything takes at least 10,000 hours. Yep, that’s 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 hours!

You better get started today, if you seek MGR #3. In fact, that’s probably what the real MGR (& other icons like him) actually did. That’s why there’s only one Bolt or Einstein or Marley or Bharathi or Buddha. Those with absolute Mastery in their chosen space are so few, amidst the billions of humans in existence! 

~@PrakashSwamy

Hornestly honking.. err.. speaking!

9 Sep

Hornestly honking.. err.. speaking!

If you’ve ever been on an Indian road, other than perennially wondering where the lane is (if there’s any), you would’ve also been perplexed by the cacophony of horn noises from a plethora of vehicles (bullocks carts are exempted as they’re pulled by gentle bulls who know better manners). I’m pretty sure there are many other nations who would eagerly to raise their horn.. umm.. hand for sharing the honour, but since I continue to have first hand experience on my motherland’s lanes (roads, highways, whatever), let me stick to it.

I rarely honk not because it’s impolite (you must be a moron to be polite on Indian roads) but because it doesn’t serve any purpose. Once, while traveling with a nice gentlemanly crew member, having observed his penchant to press the horn every 8th second, irrespective of whether there were any vehicles in front of him or not, I’ve gently pushed him (not out of the car – he was driving, after all) to contain his keen interest in playing the piano using the steering wheel until we reached the destination (office, of course). When we got out of the car, I – as gently as possible – reminded him that the car did manage to reach the destination, despite him not honking for 3/4ths of the journey (after the gentle push, obviously), so it must certainly be due to the fuel & not the horn!

Incessant (& irrepressible) honkers are either cowards or sadomasochists. Either they don’t have the courage to navigate the traffic peacefully, which demonstrates their utter lack of self-confidence (lacking in multiple abilities, including driving / riding) or they derive pleasure by willingly hurting others & themselves, by amplifying the already noise polluted environment.

Now shift your perspective a bit & think of those who keep honking.. ahem, yakking, i.e. endlessly (& pointlessly) talking, without even sensing if someone’s listening or not. They’re everywhere – at home, work, street, mall, railway station… Someone’s gotta tell ’em they’re just cowards or sadomasochists!

~Swamy 

Value of Values!

8 Sep

​Value of Values! ~ Swamystery Nano Blog #3

One of the most abused words in the long, never-ending corridors of corporate concrete (& steel & glass) jungles is Value.☝️

Every Ram, Durga & Hari (howzatt for the BAUHumbug Tom, Dick & Harry, eh 😁) will use it as 3rd bullet of every slide or 4th sentence of every conversation, especially in meetings where the corner cozy room suit types are sitting around, pretending to listen seriously when they’re actually forced to contain a parade of yawns. 😩

If you’re genuinely interested in creating (& offering) true value to your customers, the most important thing to do is not to dig around in the ruins of Mohanjo Daro to find something resembling it but to put yourself in the customers’ Skechers GoWalk 3 & contemplate what would be truly valuable for you (ahem.. them), if you choose to buy a product or avail a service from them (umm.. you). 

The outcome of such contemplation can make you (& the suit types) very uncomfortable, because what you thought of as great value may just be brushed away as a mere exotic (read ‘useless’) feature or unwanted attribute by the customer. Adding to your woes, what they truly value as true value, may require a complete redesign (& build & test) of your product or service, if at all it has to be of any value. Yikes, so much for creating Value! 

Well, before you throw that value-filled (but obviously not so valuable) deck away and storm out of the conference room (to the coffee shop, where else – it’s still work hours, after all),  there’s a unique (& often ignored) thing found deep within the jargon jungle, which can help you like a ‘Udukkai izhandhavan kaipOla’* (like your hands, when your pants slip 😕). It’s called Values.👌

If your Values (i.e. your business entity’s / service organisation’s) are right (driven by purpose), unwavering (what you commit to is what you do, no matter what) & intact (remain the same despite any & all pressure to change it to favour someone), then you’ll always be delivering only Value to the customer, because there’s no other agenda – hidden or otherwise. Simple as that.

If not, your colorful PowerPoint (or Keynote or GSlides) deck will lie among the Harappan ruins, i.e. bullshit stockpile of millions of such decks, docs & sheets, which were once thought to be valuable (only by their creator, obviously) but were exposed to be nothing but the Emperor’s new clothes! 

~Swamy

* Thirukkural 788

உடுக்கை இழந்தவன் கைபோல ஆங்கே 

இடுக்கண் களைவதாம் நட்பு. 

True friendship is removing the distress (of a friend) swiftly like a hand that rushes to hold the pants (clothing) when it slips (falls off). 

Because You Can!

31 Aug

Here are a few choices in Life worth exploring, experimenting and enjoying, not just alone but along with fellow humans as well.

.

Thinking2Brainy over bravura…

Eclectic over esoteric…

Concise over convoluted…

Authentic over artful…

Unassuming over uber…

Sensible over sentimental…

Empathy over eminence…

.

Gandhi3Yearn over yarn…

Overt over ostentatious…

Useful over unique…

.

Monkay1Care over can-do…

Amuse over amaze…

No-bull over nonsense…

.

…Not because it’s possible, but Because You Can!

.

@PrakashSwamy

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