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Monday, December 29, 2014

An open letter to Virat Kohli

Video link:

Dear Virat Kohli,

Your press conference has disturbed us a lot. Because we have learnt from our childhood that we should be humble even if we are winning. Even Ajit Agarkar said that your comments in the press conference were 'immature'. Sunil Gavaskar said that you must 'control your emotions and let the bat do the talking'. Commentators in the room were quoting how Rahul Dravid and V Laxman were so 'humble' after scoring so many runs.

It seems that we are are confused due to two reasons.

All of us want to win, so i guess that we cannot be afraid of winning. So are we afraid of  your wearing of your confidence on the sleeve, even before we won. Because wearing confidence can be so risky. If you lose the match you will be proven wrong. You will be laughed at. Our parents have taught us that 'one should not be so cocky, because destiny is waiting to prove us wrong'. So your cardinal sin probably was showing that you are so confident even before you won. Like you said in your press conference "You can say anything if you win. How would Australians behave if they were 1-1 instead of 2-0".

I also have another, much deeper, question. Like Sunil Gavaskar said " Virat Kohli's aggression can be counter productive for Indian team". But psychologist have a different view on this. They say, that if you want to win, you must first 'believe' that you will win. They call this Self belief. Before winning, Self belief of 'winning' has to exist. So, when you showed your confidence of giving back to Johnson, you were also helping Indian team to instill 'self belief' in themselves. You were telling them that , irrespective of outcome, you must first believe that you are good enough to 'give back' . So should we thank you for instilling Self belief in the Indian team, or should we worry about the 'losing of face' if we lose this match?  Should we thank you for instilling Self belief in Indian team that will help them win many more matches in the future, or should we curse you for forcing us to eat our pie if we lose this match?

We are outcome oriented people. If you win this third match, then we can understand your aggression. So, next time, when you show your aggression, please do it after winning. That is more easier to digest. For us, everything is acceptable only after we win. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Meditation is just the first layer of Self awareness

Self awareness is preached as a Mantra by many professionals. It is supposed to be a door towards Enlightenment. The routes suggested to achieve self awareness are different. Some take a simple route of meditation. Some offer Vipassana, a 10 day retreat of silence. Some join movements that promise the path towards self awareness through Yoga. Some join non-religious associations that take you to villages for self-help work in a rural area or help you vitalise your 'kundalini'. Some gurus take you to Himalayas to deliver Enlightenment.

But all these movements of meditation are just the first, even if they are the most important, step towards self awareness. Journey of self-awareness involves moving from one layer to another until you are 'comfortable' with your Self, the way it is.

I have been able to discover these four overlapping layers in the journey of self-awareness:

Layer 1: Self-observation
This is the first layer where we start seeing our own actions, thoughts, opinions, evaluations as a third person. This is a tough step for many professionals because we often are so busy in 'running' that we rarely 'pause' to see ourselves. Some, like my friend, may initially run away from this 'meditation' silence.

Many professionals however remain at this layer , believing that meditating for an hour is the ultimate goal. Some even practice mindfulness, trying to be present in their daily activity. Many feel that 'emptying mind' is enough to achieve self awareness.

If you want to leave this 'practical world' and go and stay in Ashram for the rest of your life, this layer is the last layer to engage. But if you want to use self-awareness to find your happiness in the practical world, then you have to move to the second layer of self-awareness. Because the first and second layer overlap, the first layer is difficult to negotiate simply because it exposes the 'black part' of our Self, which is part of the second layer.

Layer 2: Self-criticism ( Knowing the black side of ours)
The moment we become self-aware, we start seeing the black side of ours. For instance, sometimes we have not helped our friend, when we could have. Or when we felt happiness when our friend was not promoted. Or when we were jealous of our friend's beautiful wife. Or when we could have spoken our 'mind' to our boss, but did not. Or when we acted very selfish with our parents. And on and on.

We all do so many things in our life of which we are not proud of. Sometimes, this list is so long, that facing these sins of omission and commission may lead to depression. Due to this awareness, most of the professionals get stuck in this layer itself. But sooner or later, one needs to move to the third layer.

Layer 3: Self Appreciation ( finding the white side of ours)
After knowing so many negative parts of life, it is so difficult to appreciate ourselves.

Many professionals take an easy route to negotiate this layer. For instance, they try to adopt new beliefs propelled by self-styled gurus.  For instance, they tell us believing that you are 'unique' helps you to balm the wounds. Or believing that 'you must forgive yourself' helps you appreciate yourself. But these change of beliefs is like a 'change of clothes'. It does not work for a long time.

But negotiating this layer is difficult because appreciating oneself involves peeling our own behaviour and understanding the dynamics from which it got invoked. For example, many of our wrong behaviours help us understand the power of 'situation' in which we committed the mistake. Like when we 'bribe' to save time. It also forces us to appreciate the fragile nature of our Type-1 spontaneous mind ( of emotions and biases) that often misdirect our desires and actions. And more importantly, our bad behaviour also uncovers our basket of beliefs (that we have unwittingly adopted from the society around us) that are ruling our daily lives. Such as the belief that 'You can win only if you are honest'. 

Layer 3 overlaps a lot with Layer 2. Only when we start appreciating our Self, the more we are willing to accept our mistakes. In a way, layer 2 cannot be negotiated independently of Layer 3.

Layer 4: Self-acceptance  
Only after we can accept our 'white and black' parts of our Self, we are in the position to accept our Self. Otherwise we either keep on changing Our Self and get attracted to many self-help books which promise you to change any of your faults. Or we live with a false 'sense of bravado' where we think we can do anything.

Only after we accept our self, we can be comfortable in our being alone without fearing the loneliness. When we accept our Self we can be 'happy' with the way we are, or else we constantly try to do something to prove ourself to others. When we accept our Self, we can find what we truly desire without the pressure of friends and well wishers. And only when we accept our Self, we can do what we want because we are neither overexcited by our strengths, nor overwhelmed by our limitations.


Although self-awareness is important to achieve better results in job, it cannot directly help you produce the other two outputs, work outputs and relationship outputs, that are critical for your success in career.

We should remember that self-awareness is not a magic potion of career success that many self-help books profess to be. Instead, if we understand that self awareness is an important milestone that links all the three outputs, we can find better ways to achieve self awareness. For instance, dense relationship with our partner has perhaps a  much better chance to achieve this 'self awareness' than meditation.