A crisis too precious to waste

The path breaking movie, Star Wars left us many learnings. My favourite? Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn’s  advice to Anakin Skywalker, “Always remember: Your focus determines your reality.”  In our hyper distracted world of today, we would do well to remember this seminal thought! 

wish

The volume of communication bombarding us from all sides, and our unfettered access to information & other people, fuelled by the ubiquitous social media & our smartphones, have made it more difficult than ever to focus. Despite this reality, there are opportunities to focus all around us. But we must recognize & seize them.  The faith that focus will benefit, both yourself and the people around you, makes this a priority. In other words, before you can help & lead others, the first person you must help & lead is yourself.

know

The Global pandemic of CONVID19 and the consequent lockdown has forced us to remain in our houses. Analysts say this crisis is larger than what humanity has seen even in the 2 World Wars, or any other health scares we have experienced in the past  eg The Black Death (The Great London plague) in 1665; or the Spanish Flu of 1918; or the Asian Flu of 1957, in which an estimated 1 million plus people died. CONVID19 pandemic has the potential to overtake the estimated 65 Million infections worldwide & 25 Million deaths due to HIV/AIDS. The worldwide lockdowns & the desperate efforts afoot to find an inoculation to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, or to treat & cure patients afflicted, are well documented and within public knowledge.

When everything around us is breaking up, social networks  becoming purely virtual & digital, work from home is the new reality, manufacturing & supply chain are compromised,  and questions face us wherever we turn, it is easy to fall into despondency or worse, fatalism. Still, I believe tough times are an opportunity to ponder. To revalue everything in your life.  Nature and Industry is conniving to give you time, they have pressed the “Pause” button! You are getting a lot of time to reflect, and decide the next steps, or new turns, that you will take. Transmutation, Transformation, Change is rapidly intruding in our daily humdrum. “Business as usual” is clearly a matter of the foregone past.

I take heart in the words of Richard Bach: ” What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly”. A new world, a new reality beckons us; and am sure it will be better than our past!

What_the_caterpillar

So it is in this context I sit to write something positive, though the entire doomsday scenario has plunged us into negativity!  Many may call me foolhardy. But I do believe this crisis has thrown up some interesting learnings which we should take to heart, and blend into the way we will live, in the future.

I do believe our lives will be the better,  in case we survive!! So here I go counting my chickens before they are hatched….imagining the great Indian Chicken Tikka Masala we have in store for us, just around the corner.

true

So specifically what are the positives in this lockdown scenario?

  • We have learnt to do with less: unnecessary shopping, reckless eating out, entertainment till we drop, is gone. Less is More! Simple things give pleasure : the sheer availability of milk and veggies feels great.
  • Count your blessings: you enjoy a roof over your head, you are not worried where the next meal is coming from, essentials supplies are being maintained (hitherto). Life’s needle has moved just marginally for you, if you face the facts.
  • Families, teams & couples have come closer: you have only one another to look up to, celebrate, complain. Conversations have started on lunch/dinner tables, whereas earlier all were in a hurry to gobble food, and head in different directions, with no common agenda.
  • Time: the great leveller, has shown his benevolent side. Earlier a hard taskmaster, seemingly driving you relentlessly on a rollercoaster of tasks & activities, suddenly Father Time has shown his softer side. I see more time hanging on my hands now.  It gives me the joy of planning & executing at my volition. I feel more in command & can do more of what my heart desires.
  • Analyse your time spend. Think whether your short  & long term goals are best served with your “time spent analysis”. Develop a good understanding on where you want to reach, what you want to get done. Use the time-data to act on what needs change,  to get better alignment to your goals. Define priorities & focus on them.
  • In present times, we have learnt greater level of accomodation and adjustment. Our demands and desires have got tempered;  we are less strident about our needs & wants. “Marie nahi hai, KrackJack chalega; KrackJack nahi hai, Monaco ya Gluco  is OK.”  We are different now. I take joy in small tasks.
  • Starve your distractions. Social media, YouTube, NetFlix, and the limitless possibilities of the internet hang over our heads. They tempt us to click links that take us to another video or article. Understand & accept that the internet lures you in, & then take decisive action by logging out of your social media accounts and blocking websites during certain hours of the day. Recognize this is often a bottomless well. This is beneficial “Social Distancing”!

wish

  • This “quiet time” you have been gifted is a great time for you to take stock of your capabilities & competencies. Identify gaps in yourself and use this time to do online certifications, learning, webinars and training. Do not let the tempo of work get in the way of good development opportunities. Come out with a better version of You!
  •  There are only so many hours in a day. Reflect on where your time is best spent, which provides you with the clarity to decide which calls to take, which meetings to stop attending,  and which invitations you should politely decline. This is something that Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, has been advising people to do for many years. Create a “stop doing” list.
  • There is no silver bullet  for solving the complex problems of today. But there are some good places to start, and one of them is: solitude. Having the discipline to step back from the noise of the world is essential to staying focused. Know that whatever incites our emotions, causes the cognitive effects of distractions to linger. In their  book, Lead Yourself First, Ray Kethledge & Mike Erwin define solitude as a state of mind, a space in which to focus one’s own thoughts without distraction — and where the mind can work through a problem on its own. Leverage this to come up with sustainable & effective solutions to life’s challenges.

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If you see it in the right perspective, the present crisis has gift wrapped and brought all this to you, while you are sitting at home!! Sad will be the day, if we go back to our past ways as soon as this crisis blows over, & leave all these learnings by the wayside.

Now it is up to us to make use of this crisis time, and the power of our imagination, our faith & our trust in the ingenuity of our fellow human beings, our willingness to experiment and our ability to learn, our inner alchemy, if you will, to transmute the challenges & the mounds of coal that surround us today into streets of Gold, paved with our desires and dreams to move ahead and beyond. 

Believe, indeed it is possible, and it will come to pass!

In a Distracted World, Solitude is a Competitive Advantage;                                     Enjoy yours, while it lasts: vikas

Post Script: Gratefully acknowledge my debt of inspiration to Richard Bach’s Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah; as I believe we all are now.

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45 Replies to “A crisis too precious to waste”

  1. Brilliant piece sir!! I agree with your thoughts that current crisis is too precious to waste.

    Solitude being a competitive advantage in this distracted world is a terrific insight for me which I will surely try to apply!!!

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    1. Thanks Jayant for your kind words
      when we are ready to look at any situation with an approach of seeing how we can learn and draw something from it, we are primed for success
      all the best to you
      and Solitude is the progenitor and mother of all philosophers
      use yours well
      vikas

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    1. Marwah ji
      very true, independently we have written something very complementary
      I am sure the world will emerge stronger and wiser after this Convid 19 lock-down
      Suddenly we are all gifted with a lot of time
      and how we use it for reflection and learning will make all the difference

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  2. Very thought provoking and relevant.
    At the cost of sounding negative, I must say I have a strong feeling humanity will return to its old ways once this crisis fades out of our memories. But yes, certain things will change, and hopefully for the better.
    The point about solitude being a competitive advantage was a new insight for me, and I will work on that aspect of my life.

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    1. Thanks Abhijit
      Yes I too was caught on the horns of the dilemma: while it is true people’s memories are short and they may forget the learnings, but there are some strong positives in this situation which we must underline. So the “too precious to waste” title. In the replies below I have spoken of a Marhatti concept: Smashan Vairagya. While at the smashan bhoomi we all become philosophical and vow to change our ways, but comes the next day the “vairagya” is forgotten and we are back to our normal ways
      While this will happen, sooner or later depending on how deeply a person was affected, I do believe this sojourn has deeply affected all of us. Difficulties challenge us to rethink and become better
      let us wish one another the best
      Stay safe my singing star, app ko zindagi me bahut khushiyan baatni hai
      vikas

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  3. VS, very well worded, loads of new, vibrant thoughts, so dearly wanted today.
    Thanks for penning this beautiful masterpiece, one of your all time bests. Can’t wait more to read one more classic gem of a blog.
    Sanjay Aphale

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    1. Sanjay Bhau you are very kind with your words. Thanks. I read recently a great aphorism: Anything that does not kill us, will make us stronger. I am sure we all will learn and grow from this pandemic. Wishing you and your family a safe and healthy time

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  4. another master stroke, VS..and so timely !
    every point that you have made resonates with my thinking on this subject..but I could not have expressed it so well ..with very relevant quotes as you have done

    they say that it is in crisis that Men separate themselves from Boys! those who are able to pursue positivity in whatever form ,are the people who are real leaders…who can.show the path to others..

    your points serve as a torch light to those trying desperately to find a way in the pitch dark surrounding..

    I hope this message passes on to max no of.people..
    I consider this a ‘seva ‘ that you are doing with such message of hope!
    Wonderful!

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    1. JLS
      Zahe Naseeb. Allahu rehem
      Your words always mean a lot to me and so coming from you this feels very very good.
      Indeed the tough times and crisis situations is the time to step up to the plate and show one’s true mettle
      In that respect I felt this is a crisis too precious to waste
      we must emerge stronger and lighter ( shedding unwanted weight of opinions and material needs)
      It is unfortunate that Man has to pay a big price for his own stupidities
      But if that is the price of progress, so be it

      My only worry is how many of us will remember the lessons we are learning now and carry them FW into our life
      as long as we do that I think it is fine to undergo difficulties and shake-outs in the short run
      and secure and improve our long run
      As the Negro Gospel spiritual puts it so well: “We shall over come…..
      मन में है विश्वास
      पूरा है विश्वास
      हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन

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      1. Thanks VS for your prompt response, with a further dose of positivity!

        You are aware that i am hugely influenced by the BK way of thinking ( and i am also aware that you have some opinion about them …and as such I fully respect your right to hold on to your views ).

        The point that I want to make with respect to the topic on hand is that there are several concepts that people are now leaning towards, have long been advocated by them (BKs):

        • Focus is crucial. We are bombarded with a huge set of information on a daily basis. It is is like we getting tempted to have a ‘de-tour’ by the apparent attractions of the ‘side scenes’ on our journey. In the process, we forget the original destination . “Starve your distractions” is the right mantra, as you have elaborated.

        • Before you lead others , you have to learn to lead yourself ( this has been the theme of one of the popular programs of BKs called “Self Managing Leadership”.. for which we had conducted several sessions at Cibatul in 1990s)
        • Challenges in life come to prepare you and give you confidence to face difficulties that may arise in future. Conversely, you are facing the current challenges successfully, because you have been trained in the past by conquering several obstacles in your journey , however small. (VS:You, for example, are seeing something positive in the current situation. This must be based on the way your mind has been trained over years ,facing one crisis or another).
        • The phase of “Business as usual “ has gone. We have to think in terms of transformational changes in our approach to life .
        • We have lived most of our life on the basis of “outside in”..This means, we are most influenced by all the attractions of the material /physical world .
        • As you have mentioned, we have to learn to live with less. The time has come to reduce the dependence on the supposed comforts that the world around us offers. Today, we are at least having uninterrupted power supply to run all gadgets..we have internet to communicate ..we have all TV channels running…Imagine, if these facilities, which we are taking for granted, are also not there.. what will the life be like? In that scenario, our mental stability will be determined solely by our ability to depend on our “inside”..that is, the quality of our thought process and our advance mental preparation of not depending on these ‘outside’ resources..

        The basic issue cutting across all the problems of the world is the ‘Erosion of values” in all walks of life. BKs have been predicting for years now that finally this erosion is going to lead to catastrophes. We were specifically told that time is not far when we will not be able to move out of our homes. As late as last year, we were advised to keep adequate stocks of the essentials, in view of an impending crisis. This was not taken seriously enough by most of us.

        BKs believe, however, that post the transformation , a better world will emerge. This too is in line with the future that you have referred to in your blog.

        So let us not lose hope by seeing what we are seeing now.

        We need to pass through very very difficult period before that new world order emerges.

        Let us swim together through this crisis , by sharing and mutually reinforcing positive ideas !

        I agree that a better world, built on the learning from the present tragedy awaits us!

        I also believe that we would have learnt our lessons and will not easily forget them!

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      2. JLS
        you remind me of one of the pop posters I had seen a while ago: We do not grow when things are easy. We grow when we are faced with challenges.
        The present times are confronting humanity with a challenge so huge that a la Don Quixote it has the potential to cast us in the mud or take us to the stars. I for one believe in the larger good present in the larger humanity and am sure we will come out wiser…a trifle bloodied and hurt, but certainly more positive.
        I remember Brain Bacon doing the Self Managing Leadership programmes for Atul. I also have great memories of our trip with Swatiben to Nagarjuna to see the changes they had brought about in the culture of that company. I am convinced there are multiple ways to reach Allah and no path can be considered small or irrelevant. In case I have created that impression about my views on BKs I was foolish and wrong. To each his own has been my philosophy in terms of doing good and being good, and i am truly a non-entity to comment on the work of such a large organization which is affecting so many good people all over the world. The little that I have seen and read from the BKs has impressed me with their ease of breaking down esoteric concepts into practical terms. I know many people who regularly follow BK Shivani and were hugely taken in by the work done by Dadi. This is a space where I only know that I know very little to paraphrase the famous quote of Plato: the more that I know, the more I know I know nothing.
        The challenge before us requires all well meaning people and leaders to pull in one direction and help& support one another. Foolish indeed would be the Bramhim who will quibble about Sanskrit grammar at a time when the deeper learnings have to be brought into practice.
        My only purpose in writing the blog was to make a pitch that we should learn in these challenging times and more importantly carry these learnings with us into the future. Difficulties only strengthen the mind and develop our powers to discern and learn more. Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher, put it brilliantly: It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. This is a time for us to look positively to the ‘new normal” which is emerging, as the life that we knew will get significantly altered by what we are going through. So I look FW with some worry and still a lot of hope….hasta manana

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      3. Thanks VS !

        i must admit that it was inappropriate on my part to assume certain things about your disposition to the BKs.
        I very much remember our journey together along with Swatiben to Nagarjuna. It was indeed a unique experience. I also recall how happy you were with the interactions over there.

        i agree that the real challenge is for all the well meaning people to pull together in one direction to come out of the present crisis .

        i too am optimistic ..collectively we will come out winner, albeit learning some hard lessons !

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes indeed there are some precious learning in such times, I think being ample time to be in “solitude” and think through the life is most precious one to me. Sincere and deep thinking makes one realise how futile our way of living is, and what really matters.
    One ares which is worrisome is, in such times people turn more to social media and flipping through various entertainment channels. Both are lost opportunity of a life time. Simply, we have yet not learn to be with self and family. I also think we shall avoid continuous inflow of information re COVIND through any media, just get updated once a day. That is depressing.
    I often ask, will the change continue in some form and how much after we are passed through this phase? Will wait for that moment.

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    1. KK
      I do believe adversity is a great teacher
      One thing that the pandemic has brought home to all….BAU ie Business as Usual is DEAD
      A “new normal” will arise from the ashes of BAU
      as the new normal forces us to be at home, I believe it is also a time to go deeper, introspect, re-evaluate your present approach
      and come up with a new approach
      Indeed this is a time to think: foolish are those who have become “bahira-mukha” instead of becoming “antar-mukha” at this time
      I hope the present intelligence is not shallow learning and fundamentally changes all of us who have been through this experience
      anyways, let us see what we carry forward and what we leave behind after this major event

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  6. Dear Vikas, very well written- as usual.
    Yesterday, I wrote; but looks like it has not been successful.
    All the Best.

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  7. Amazing post….yes I truly believe that what we carry into the future from this crisis will define us….loved the piece…. thanks for sharing

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    1. Preeti thanks
      Only challenge is…we should not think life will be “business as usual” after the lockdown ends
      In marathi there is a concept”Smashan vairagya”
      This concept is what we all experience when we go to smashan bhumi for a funeral
      Seeing the last rites, we become philosophical and think..>….zindagi kya hai
      in the funeral place we make make resolutions
      of changing our lives and becoming a better person
      But comes the next day we forget all those thoughts and go back to our routine ways, whether functional or not
      Lord protect us from such smashan vairagya wrt the present crisis
      we must prepare for the “new world” post lockdown and carry our learnings from this experience

      Like

  8. Vikas ji, you have really poured your heart out and in the bargain helped spread positivity all around us. Your choice of words and quotes from Ricard Bach gave a rich reading experience, a little masterpiece. You were profound without pomposity. From every adversity we overcome their are lessons learnt and we come out wiser and stronger. As humanity hits the pause button and our entire way of life is upended, most seekers are asking themselves if the Corona Virus pandemic could possibly be the *portal* to a New Earth? After all, for something to begin, something else has to end.
    With the economy at a standstill, with families forced to spend time with each other, with menfolk learning to cook and clean, and women managing homes without maids, with having to make the most of scarce resources, with stepping back from the treadmill of routine and assessing your life, these times have tremendous potential to birth a gentler, less materialistic, more holistic, more connected, more caring, more giving world. I, for one, can’t wait to see what unfolds.

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    1. Gopi you made my day dear friend. What a glowing message to wake up to. Many many thanks for your generous words of praise.
      I too fully believe in the ingenuity n resilience of mankind. Am sure we will come out stronger n better and I am not despodent at all. Times are tough but it is the ” baking” time for the dough to rise n emerge as a bread…a new form more lasting n enjoyable.
      Darwin has taught us that the adaptable will survive. Let us focus on the new n emerging avatars, with our learning from the crisis intact.
      Once again many thanks for your kindness
      vikas

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  9. Vikas,
    Thank you for your so very positive expression of thoughts in our gloomy and confused mind set during Pandemic. Cherished all your Golden Quotes and thoughts about
    Never give up, just keep going!!
    I too feel Yaahan kal kya ho kisne jana… As
    Tomorrow is not here yet and yesterday with all its sad mistakes is far away, I think we will be busy with our today. 😊😊👍👍
    Manisha

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    1. Yes Manisha you are abs right
      The real challenge is what learnings will we carry into the future
      I just wrote a reply to preeti and mentioned about Smashan Vairagya
      I am repeating what I wrote:
      “”Smashan vairagya”
      This concept is what we all experience when we go to smashan bhumi for a funeral
      Seeing the last rites, we become philosophical and think..>….zindagi kya hai
      in the funeral place we make make resolutions
      of changing our lives and becoming a better person
      But comes the next day we forget all those thoughts and go back to our routine ways, whether functional or not
      Lord protect us from such smashan vairagya wrt the present crisis”
      So the real challenge will be making and working for a better tomorrow
      Basically I am an optimist and so I believe in human ingenuity and creativity
      But before we reach the the new world, we will have to bravely pass through the valley of death
      we must prepare for the “new world” post lockdown and carry our learnings from this experience
      Thanks for writing in and all the best Stay safe

      Like

  10. Baba it was very thought provoking. I have always believed that we should live every day as it’s our last. Do everything in your stride to fulfil your wishes and desires and that we shouldn’t forget about the things we have. The most important thing I feel we forget to do in our busy lives is to acknowledge our near and dear ones. After all this ends we have to make efforts to give time to them and live life in the moment. Who knows whats coming our way after this!

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    1. Rashmi
      The latinos called it Carpe Diem ….Seize the Day. Fully agree with you yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana. So the strategy of living every day to the full, as though it will be your last is a great one.
      You also make two more important points: Being grateful and spending time with loved ones
      I am sure after the crisis all of us will emerge better, more sober, more loving & giving, and living more fully individuals
      Really the learnings are enormous

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  11. The article is so powerful and has come together like a collective realisation which will, I’m sure, resonate with each person who reads it. There is such rich introspection that has been triggered off by your observations – little examples like the Marie, Krackjack example you have given. Absolutely fabulous piece of writing. Among one of your best.

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    1. Thanks Minouti
      I have always tried to remain rooted and write from my own experience, which I believe will be others’ too. Only I have got some time to reflect and time to write, but I sing your song, a pedestrian experience.
      The chief teachings of my parents were to be grounded, look to the clouds but feet on firmly on earth.I hate exclusivity and so feel particularly nice when what I am saying resonates with the reader. Finally , I am You. The Human condition is the same and if we can relate and resonate, I think we are on the right track

      Thanks for being the signpost, and the traffic light, keeping me on the right road

      Like

  12. Amazing and powerful words i must say… your words are enlightening me to discover my hidden and lost talent. I like the concept “opportunity gift wrapped” that this is not a fullstop ,its a beginning, a hint to you to fulfill those dreams which are shattered or lost from your present plans.
    Be benefitted with this tough time..
    Remember Power is YOU.

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    1. Lovepreet
      am so happy that y words resonated with you
      You reminded me of another fav quote of mine from Richard bach
      “you teach best, what you need to know the most”
      we are all in this pandemic together
      we have to support and strengthen each other as we go on
      Every stop is the signal of a regrouping of energies and making one more assault
      There is no power bigger than the one within you
      Unleash that power
      Jeet Hamari Hogi Bhai…..Lage raho

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  13. Dear Vikas,

    Thanks for such a wonderful positive perspective. Your reference to “Richard Bach’s illusions, put me on to nostalgia trip.

    It also reminded me of “Illussions – by Andre` Maurois”

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  14. Vikas you have once again come out with a thought provoking piece.
    I liked your view that Social distancing should include social media is also important to enable one to reflect on important before it becomes urgent.
    Keep writing my friend 👍👍👍👌👌👌

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    1. Viju
      many thanks for your loving comments.
      Had read earlier that fasting should be from anger or ego, or tat-sam and not only food
      Parez should be from dvesha, matsar, etc
      that was what inspired the SM distancing thought
      I have stopped reading or viewing anything related to Carona on WA as it was becoming too much
      Also feel that every major disaster Great Plague in 1665 onwards, people have predicted Doom
      but man has bounced back
      I am sure he will bounce back now also

      Human ingenuity and adaptability indeed knows no bounds

      Like

  15. Dear Vikas
    Congratulations on this Awesome article. I admire your skills at writing, with such fertile mind & thinking.New thoughts every time to deeply touch our hearts.
    New messages emerge with such Positive Vibrations in the present Negative Dooms day atmosphere. You have widened our horizon & given us food for thought.Thanks. Look forward to many more in future too…….

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    1. Dear sister Yasmin
      I was also getting fed up with all the negative vibrations all around
      and felt can we not turn this on it’s head?
      A full stop is not the end, it marks the beginning of a new sentence
      That is what inspired me to think differently and put down my thoughts
      So glad you liked my exposition
      Rashmi is all alone in Gurgaon, but the sheer positivity she radiates on every call keeps reminding Vinita and me, Tomorrow is yet another day
      Face the Sun and move on
      You take care, my dear
      Looking FW to meeting sometime soon

      Like

  16. Once again your blog makes one to look within. It helped to rejenuvate refresh reinforce and now one can redraw and rewrite future plans.
    Its a realisation that the end for a caterpillar lies the birth of a butterfly
    But when the caterpillar dies it would have birth to many more caterpillars.

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    1. Harshad
      well said brother
      rejuvenate, refresh, reinforce
      If we are able to do that well we will overcome all the challenges thrown at us
      Change will happen
      Either I can complain or I can increase my Readiness to Change
      Nature assures us, there is a design
      we have to only go with the flow

      Again to quote Star Wars
      May the Force be with you!!!

      Like

  17. Awesome blog…. And the quotes and references from the much loved novels and movies are a treat…. Also loved the concept of a “stop doing” list when everyone around is advising do this and do that ☺️☺️

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    1. Hey Praju
      many thanks for your comment
      Richard Bach is a particular fav of my college/growing up days
      and so I dipped into it again for this blog
      and thoroughly refreshed myself

      I have been a big practitioner of Stop Doing lists
      I genuinely feel we kill ourselves with over work because as we move ahead we do not drop loads, as we pick up new ones

      Even when I was doing large job roles in MNCs, I was clear, if I need to something, something else has to go off the plate

      Balance & Harmony….that is life
      or FOCUS

      I have always been a Skywalker, he he

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  18. Vikas

    You surpass yourself.

    Based on my personal experience I can say the way forward is to
    >>Think long term
    >> Think positive
    &
    >> Seek opportunities no matter how effectively the immense adversity may disguise/ camouflage them.

    Your blogs are always insightful & thought provoking.

    Look forward to your next blog.

    Nikhil

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    1. Nikhil bhai
      thanks for your kind words
      However bleak the sky, there is always a tomorrow to look up to
      we need to keep reminding ourselves of that
      all the more when things are dark
      vikas

      Like

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