A Driving Test

imageAs part of an elaborate procedure of hiring, corporates test a candidates personality. This is a dive into the inner being, to see hidden personality traits, create a picture and then try to match this personality with the corporates profile. There is a wish, that within this uncertain and complex procedure, some success is achieved in getting the right personality match.

Over the years I have seen this develop into a very complicated exercise, with hours of online questioning. Myself and the Engro Foods Management Committee (MC) went through just such testing sometime ago, to ensure that the next MC member can be tested for fit and thus make it a successful entry.

Over the years, most managers are still left with a nagging feeling. Where are these tests coming from? Who is designing them? How do we know they reach the correct conclusions? These have been designed for other cultures, do they really fit here? Many times it is simply a case of conflict. Reason and intuition is saying something and the tests are saying different things. Who to believe? Personally, my best results have come based on intuition and some judgement, rather than depending on physchometrics. So the jury is still out, on whether this works and the preferred route. Maybe, it should be a combination, but which is the dominant influence on a hiring decision? Psychometrics or a judgement call.

Now this might sound wacky, but bear with me. I have reached a conclusion, that as part of a hiring procedure, candidates who can drive, should be taken on the road and asked to drive for a time period. A Driving Test! Often, I have found, real personality traits are revealed under driving stress. Sometimes, one is really surprised. A mild mannered individual can turn out to be an aggressive, in the face, rude and abusive driver.

So following on from the above train of thought, I have carried this a bit further. While observing people drive, certain traits are revealed. These I have listed below, to show the appropriateness of my recommendation.

A mild mannered driver, under stress, will tend to be a calm manager, little impulse action and much serenity.

A decisive driver will apply similar decisions in a managerial role and will not dither and lose confidence. The reverse will be true for an indecisive driver.

An aggressive and pushy driver, will most likely take the same attitude into his job and also treat others in the same way at work.

Those drivers who follow all the driving rules, will tend to manage by the book and be strong in process and less so in human connect.

A risky driver can tend to risk himself and others in his surrounding. They might well apply similar behaviour at work and can tend towards taking risks which may or may not be appropriate. Similarly, a person who is a safety first and risk-less driver might be a very careful manager, who then will only take safe decisions.

The above is not a catch all list and there must be many other individual facets which could be monitored. These are better looked at by HR experts for appropriateness.

The above might sound way out of the box, but it is my feeling that if proper research and work is done on the above thought, we should be able to go a long way in revealing the personality profile of a candidate and then doing related work to match these traits to our organisational fit.

Something for HR experts and CEOs to chew on, for improvement in the hiring process.

Stephen Hawking on our “imminent danger”

imageIn his last interview, Marlon Brando (one of the most venerated people of the 20th century) of full age and wisdom, sat in his mansion on the hill, looking down on Los Angeles. The interviewer asked one final question, “Do you think mankind will make it?”. Brando looked sad, but almost relieved that his day was over. “No!” Brando answered.

Taking this cue, at the end of an astonishing career, when Professor Stephen Hawking says mankind is threatened, then the world takes notice. And its not to say, it has not been said before by others. The holy books and holy men have been saying it for many thousands of years. Maybe we have become desensitised to their words. Logic and science in the present day, are our foundation stone. Todays populace has been brought up on that diet and so it reaches deeper, I guess.

What does Hawking say?

Three specifics threats and one more general statement. Also, in an earlier talk, he classified one more specific threat.

Mankind is in danger and he would expect some catastrophic event to occur over the ages. An extinction level event has regularly happened every 100 million years or so in the world. This makes sense, as it is really a question of probability and statistical chance. The last time it occurred, the dinosaurs were wiped out. A catastrophic event is about due on Earth.

So where are the possible dangers coming from.

A) nuclear or similar world wide conflagration.
B) environmental damage.
C) genetically engineered viruses.
D) cognitive architecture artificial intelligence.*

*The D point was stated by Hawking in an earlier discussion – the development of artificial intelligence “could spell the end of the human race”-, while the points A to C are in the Reith Lectures which Hawking made recently for the BBC. The above four points are not a catch-all and future developments might well see more threats appear in this world of ours.

It is very ironic that all these four dangerous points are self created by humans. When science and technology advances, it seems always to be a double edged sword. Used within reason and balance, it is a great benefit to mankind. However, over use or emphasis and it tends to get out of hand, as we reach out for more than our due. This has ever been humanity’s story. We have allowed our greed, ambition and larger unawareness to create threats, which should not have been there at all. Professor Hawking remarked that technological advances, were taking humanity into one of the most dangerous time periods ever.

So how are we to revert this danger of an existential threat to our future generations? Hawking thought the best chance of survival would be to colonise space. That is reverting to our past and core human behaviour. Whenever, what we have in hand is not enough, then we venture out and grab from others. Even the most celebrated mind today, cannot escape our programmed characteristics. Unfortunately, the truth is that at the moment we are at the edge of the science of space travel and surviving out there. This outlet could be hundreds of years away perhaps. So in this time we stand in great existential danger.

Hawking describes himself an optimist, despite the perceived future dangers. Considering his tilt of mind and his great mental capacity, we are well advised to take this danger seriously.

Compassion

imageRob Lawrie is a simple man, who happened to feel a twinge in his heart. It is called compassion and it is a very human emotion. Lawrie knew this family in the asylum camps in Calais and he was attached to their little girl(Bahar). Over time the family had come to be his friends. His compassion almost landed Lawrie in prison.

How does one classify this situation. An Afghan family, whose fate had turned against them. They lived some sort of rural life in Afghanistan and I guess they must have called it normal. However, whatever the circumstances, they ended up in Calais in a camp. They were asylum seekers, with zero status, living at the Jungle camp. Not really able to go back to their previous home and stuck here in a veritable prison.

One cannot even blame the French Government or people. They, like others in Europe, are facing this refugee crisis. It is the sort of thing which requires a very big heart. The heart requires to be even bigger, if it is incessant and continuous. Attrition sets in, and peoples insecurity fires up. There is economic and emotional fall-out and it is very difficult for humans to face it. The French Government has been under severe pressure on refugees and more so after recent terrorist events in Paris.

Some of the pressure then translates into the quality of the facility. The budgets are stretched and so the Jungle camp is not exactly five star. Infact it is more or less like a slum. The cold makes it even more unbearable. Maybe it is deliberately kept that way, to discourage residents. This Afghan family like others, has been living there. In case we do not understand, this is really at the edge of existence; hunger, poverty, inadequate facilities. No one really desires this sort of existence. Especially the uncertainty and the lack of something to do. People are just there, all day long.

It is really the luck of the draw. A roll of fate and one who lives in a chateau in France could as easily have been born in Afghanistan. Or this very Afghan family, could have been born in Calais, spoken the tongue, had documents which were French, worked locally and may have been on the outside, looking into this very camp. That is the way fate dodges some and awards others. No achievement, just plain luck.

The Afghan father said at the trial that he had asked Rob Lawrie to take the girl to UK several times, but he had steadfastly refused. On his last visit, he came to see them one last time. Bahar slept in his lap. Even if a cat curls up and sleeps in ones lap, one feels attachment. Here was a small, innocent human. Lawrie must have felt a cascade of emotions. Guilt, sadness, love and plain old compassion. He succumbed and picked up the girl and took her with him to the UK. Its a dangerous place to be, when faced by emotions and doing an illegal operation. Lawrie got caught and landed up in court. But thank God for other compassionate humans. The court saw it otherwise. Lawrie’s life could have been ruined, instead he was let off. His interview post the trial, confirmed his emotional, compassionate nature. A decent human, who thought that doing equitable and right, is more important than doing just the legal thing. Unfortunately, despite Lawrie, the family is back in their camp and the young one still suffers.

The world has changed. For millennia people just traveled everywhere. Ibn Batuta traveled all over for 30 years and Marco Polo went to China for 25 years. There was no scarcity, no documents or nationalities. Within the last 50 years, as human civilisation advanced(?), our hearts have shrunk. We put up barriers and instead of thinking that the world and its resources were on lease to us for life, we now own them to the exclusion of others. We face a terrible period in the next few decades, as environmental damage and resource conflicts will create multiples of refugees, compared to the numbers now. As a reminder of compassion, I hark back to 1980, when 3 million Afghan refugees overnight landed up in Pakistan. The numbers peaked at 4 million and a majority of these have now faded into the local population. Others stayed for a quarter of a century before going back. Pakistan is a developing country with few resources and has probably paid an economic and cultural cost, but nevertheless opened its heart for its neighbours. In the case of Rob Lawrie, he showed this very compassion; I hope his actions are contagious and others follow suit.

Winner Takes All

imageIn late 1973 Red Star Belgrade came to Anfield in the European Cup (Champions League today) and ran the legs off Liverpool. Liverpool were one of the favourites, and couple of years later won the same European trophy twice back to back, besides winning the UEFA Cup twice in this period, and five League Championships in eight years and being runners-up in the remaining three. So no mugs.

Anfield must have been shocked. Absolutely, no argument about that. At the end of the match, the Kop (at the time, the most celebrated football crowd in the world, pre Heysel and Hillsborough), simply stood up and gave them a standing ovation, genuine and appreciative of the great skill of that Red Star team.

History records this particular Red Star Belgrade team was one of the great underachievers of club football. They were one of the best football teams in the world, but simply disappeared into the unknown. A later Red Star team won the European Cup in 1991, and that is what Red Star Belgrade is known for today. Like some other underachievers, namely Puskas Hungarians of 1954 and Tele Santana Brazilians of 1982, they won nothing and today, even very knowledgeable football fans do not know of them.

Who really remembers the 1970 South Africans? Except that they were one of the most magical cricket teams to exist. But they never won on the world stage, other than the 4-0 drubbing of Australia. Players like Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock and Mike Proctor were kings of their era.

This winner takes all mentality is a modern phenomenon. It has several aspects to it. Firstly, it expects that people win something to be acknowledged and become somebody. Secondly, the expectations and loyalty of supporters is also short and variable.

If, it’s a question of numbers and probabilities, one wonders how people will achieve acknowledgement in this world. Only 2 percent are outstanding in the Bell Curve. I am presuming title winners will come from within this 2 percent. So, what of the 98 per cent? Are they to be consigned to the scrap machine? Will these people live out an also-ran existence, because fortune did not smile on them?

The other point is of patience and loyalty. I read the Liverpool and Manchester United forums. In the old days, Shankly and Busby were given deep loyalty. When their teams were not doing well, the supporters never lost patience. Nowadays, Rogers, Moyes and Van Gaal, have had praise and then dung heaped on them. Sometimes this variability is week to week. A good performance and the manager is up in the sky; a bad performance and he is buried. The recent case of Mourinho is a stark reminder, ‘success is now measured in concrete returns – the trophies’.

There is a more obscure third matter, people my age will notice. In the past, there used to be a case for aesthetics in sports. Today it has been replaced by efficiency, because of the need to win. Guardiola, Benitez and Mourinho are all about this efficiency. Used to be that the luxury, skilful, maverick player would roam the park. They would deliver supreme beauty of skill, but were not too pushed about marking opposite players or getting back in position. Nevertheless, the joy of watching what they did with the ball was enough. Today these players have disappeared. Messi and Ronaldo, the most skilful players today, do not exercise their skills in matches as a Finney, Zico or Rivera (thats right, how many have heard these names, they were great, but never won a famous trophy). The same with a graceful batsman. They crunch the beauty out of his game and leave instead an efficient, slogging or boring run machine. One has to watch a free-wheeling Kanhai to understand what I mean. The joy of the visual has gone and the efficient deliverer has to perform on the stage.

Now just imagine this thinking spread across sports, art, literature and more. The flamboyant beauty of a Sobers innings, the risky manoeuvre of a Senna in F1, the audacious paint strokes of a Van Gogh, the long styled challenging writings of a Dickens. All these have disappeared and been replaced by efficiency, which cuts out risks and delivers results. Today, the winner takes all and so we also refine our lives accordingly. Imagine you advising your child to pursue a profession which is guaranteed good returns, shunning any particular artistic skills which may have been the real passion. Drabness starts to take over life.

My Star Wars Review

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imageThe venue Empire, Leicester Square, is synonymous in my mind with Star Wars. From the day in June 1977, when as a teenage student I saw this movie, I was addicted to it. Today 38 years later, I saw the seventh episode, at Nueplex. With no real movie critique skills, my focus is more on the story continuity and its positioning, rather than a direct review of the movie aspects.

Nevertheless, I came out of the movie, having thoroughly enjoyed it. I personally would rate it as a four plus and not quite the perfect five. For me, the Return of the Jedi (1983) has that status, among all the seven movies. The movie has done well at the box office and should be crossing a billion dollar worldwide revenue today. Rotten Tomatoes has given it a 5 perfect rating, and very few movies achieve that. I would also think that some Academy Award nominations will follow, especially related to screenplay and special effects.

The events take place some 30 years after the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader and is the endless quest for victory between good and evil. It is still bound around the striving quality of the Force and its uphill task of defeating its Dark Side. The elements of both are still being fought through the Skywalker family and its various generations. Needless to say, in the end good triumphs, though clearly it is a temporary reprieve, and two more battles are yet to be fought, through future episodes VIII and IX. I shall say no more about the story, as some who read this will still be hoping to see the movie.

Those who watch the movie will fall into three clear segments. Cult followers who are enthused by the nostalgia, cult followers who are not so enthused by nostalgia and expect innovation in the story and new followers who will be there because of the goodwill of the 38 year old franchise.

The nostalgia market will clearly thrive. So much of the movie is about that. People who were young stars in 1977 are now old. Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, R2D2, C3PO, Chewbacca all talk to us across our lives and tell us they are alive, despite all the travails and tests of time and its turbulence. They give us hope in our own existence, remind one of youth, and more importantly tell us the good fight continues. Even some of the secondary fighter characters are the old generals and warriors of the Return of the Jedi. A sage like character, a’la Yoda, is also present in the shape of Maz Kanata the female cantina owner. The tradition of the death of one of the main good character continues also, signifying the martyrdom required in the quest for good. The electrifying ultimate moment in the light sabre fight of the two sides of the Force also occurs. Moreover, the end of the movie is left very similar to the Episode IV. Evil temporarily conquered, a huge existential threat destroyed and yet, mysteriously, evil is still alive and will appear in later episodes.

For the cult innovation followers, I think this will be a slight disappointment. There are no new links in the story, unlike the trilogy of 1999-2005. No appearance of an innovative Sith like evil figure, nor an Anakin Skywalker, who was always visibly expected to go the route of evil. Even the Catholic Church, in its review. has bemoaned the lack of a horrifying evil figure, as it fits into their concept of good triumphing over evil.

As for new followers of Star Wars. They will enjoy this movie as a fun movie, with lots of emotions, mystery, quite a bit of action and definitely a lot of cinema making skill on display. They will be like myself back in 1977, ready to launch into another generation of the endless struggle of Man versus Satan. Who knows? One who is a young teenager follower today, may be writing a review of Star War Episode XVI, in 2050.

The way I would look at it is, this Episode VII is the passing of the baton. From one Skywalker generation to another, with the same mystery and hope about the future. Just to add my own little conclusion here, I would be surprised that as Rey holds out the light sabre to Luke Skywalker, she is not from his own blood. A bonding of sorts, of two generations.

Running on Empty

imageLast night one felt some satisfaction, but more than that one felt happy.

Back some thirty plus years ago, I used to handle Unilever’s treasury. It was one of my first assignments in that huge machine, which excelled at absorbing us humans into its folds. I used to regularly deal with a banker, who stood out as a human being. He was in senior career (having the Unilever account, must have been a status definer) and so could have acted the part. However, so transpired that he acted very normal, laughed, joked and guided me in my early days of learning banking stuff. I found that status and professional success had not defined him. He was himself, no frills.

I note this, because it has been my observation, that status and symbolism gets into our heads very easily. At a fairly young stage, our executives tend to play a certain role. Perhaps they do it because they are ‘expected to’, but more likely it is because they feel they have gained consequence. This cocoon which acquires us, begins to define us and tell tale signs become visible quickly. Having watched it for more than three decades, I can tell you, it owns the vast majority of us.

It begins with the feeling that ‘I am right’. Such a simple statement, but such disastrous results. Then it graduates into a more self propagating mode of ‘I know better’. Subsequently, it shuts down our listening skills. By the time a person has reached mid career (mid 30s), these habits are already ingrained in us. Once you are not listening, you quickly start talking more. This then gives you more consequence. You feel you know, because so few are telling you their version. It becomes a vicious circle and self fulfilling and makes you more diseased at each iteration. Soon the dinosaur is devouring many and hurting plenty. Till disaster strikes one day for whatever reason and the edifice you stand on collapses. And just for the people who do not realize it, the end happens in all cases. Our lives always descend into nothingness. You then realise you have been running on empty.

So to get back to my source of happiness, after a long digression. Some 30 years on, I met the same banker last night. Much aged, comparatively, but he still looked well. The same smile, same physical posture but more importantly, same demeanour. This was the same heart I once knew and appreciated. He even treated me the same. Oh, he knew, had followed my history and the various worldly successes. But, I tell you he treated me exactly as he treated that young manager decades ago. Still more typical of this person. His words. “I have been retired a long time now. Really enjoyed it. So much to do in life. No reason to miss work. I am busy with stuff all the time.”

Allah bless him. It re-invigorated my faith in humanity. Some can still be good and real. They do not have to impress anyone, are happy in themselves, and everything has its place and right value. Nothing really is above goodness and happiness. Some of us go to ‘art of happiness classes’. I learnt it in a few minutes conversing with a genuine human.

To all the young people out there. Enjoy your work and its benefits, but please do not let it own you. Be yourself, the genuine you, do not inflate yourself into a hot air balloon. Do not run after goal posts you will never catch. You will be much the better at the end, by just living. Enjoy it!

* picture is from Wylio.com

Kamal Ahmed Rizvi

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Another icon from an age gone by has departed this world. Kamal Ahmed Rizvi died day before yesterday.

In the mid-1980s I would go for Friday prayers to Masjid-e-Farooq, which was new at the time and was located across from the Boating Basin market. Since Friday used to be a holiday in those days, a very sizeable crowd would collect for the Juma’a prayers.

I had recently returned from my studies and Friday prayers was a time for bonding with friends and to feel the soul connection, which I had missed during my years abroad. Into this mix should be thrown a famous presence, who used to turn up every Friday. He was a tallish, very fair, bright eyed man, wearing a white kurta pyjama. The kurta was made out of malmal and reminded me of all the connections with my childhood and old Karachi. Especially the fact that it was paired with a pyjama, which more or less by then had been discarded in favour of the shalwaar. Kamal Ahmed Rizvi on those Fridays, for me, stood as the epitome of my childhood and a Pakistani culture, which was rapidly disappearing at the time.

Kamal sahib, would walk in tall and upright, displaying a beaming smile and work his way to the front ranks in the masjid. He would acknowledge the salaams and stares with verve and panache, which seemed to say ‘these things matter not’. His kurta and pyjama were starched and white as white could be and his demeanour and method reminded one of the nawabs of ages gone by.

My memory (and those of my generation) of Kamal Ahmed Rizvi relates to many years of Allan and Nannha (Alif Noon). A quite fascinating sitcom, which besides being funny, dealt with many of the social issues of the 1960s. For years this was the most watched program on PTV and the roads used to be deserted when it was being televised. In the program as much as Nannha (Rafi Khawar) was a loved character, Allan (KAR) was generally not liked and yet an essential to the program. One never forgot the faces of Allan and Nanna and though 45 years might have passed, they remain vivid and real.

It is all very sad. Artists and people with culture, depth and character are disappearing. Society as it grapples with the modern era is changing. As it changes the values are altering. People who put their heart and soul into trying to put a culture together in Pakistan, are passing on. As they pass on, it seems there is not enough depth left in society to replace them. There are none of those writers/thinkers/artistes who would spend their evening in the cafes of Karachi, discussing social and human issues. They were connected with the people and were so much part of us ordinary humans. We now seem like a populace lost, too attached to our technology, speed and material needs, Do we really see that our lives have become hollow? One is reminded of it, when those survivors of a different generation die and the loss is seen as irreplaceable.

The passing of Kamal Ahmed Rizvi, as some others of the same ilk, is like a body blow to people in my generation, who saw a brighter and more hopeful world. Somewhere sometime, the lights are being switched off one by one. May Allah grant Kamal Ahmad Rizvi maghfirat and Jannah for all the good deeds he has done.

An Emotional Intelligence Lesson

imageThere is an emotional intelligence lesson going on in London and I doubt if many management gurus are watching it. Most who follow football would be aware of it, when I mention the names of Chelsea, Mourinho and Stamford Bridge.

For the uninitiated. Jose Mourinho, the most successful manager in the last decade, has won European Cups and League Championships with more clubs than anyone in football history. His football sense is exceptional, but many have tactical nous. It is his strategic sense, the ability to create a vision and teams which makes him exceptional. He will create a siege mentality, so players bind into a team. Coupled with their football skills, team bonding drives the purpose and brings trophies. Mourinho has won European Championships with Porto, Inter-Milan and league championships with Porto, Chelsea, Inter-Milan and Real Madrid. Not to forget the local cups he has won. He has ended up winning 22 trophies in an eleven year period.

This is obviously a Rolls-Royce of a manager, with a very aggressive confrontational management style, but his teams are at one with him.

So, when Chelsea (English Champions) stepped into this season, with a couple of additions to the squad, they came as favourites. Somewhere, unbeknownst, things were not quite right. My own inference is that the head was not quite in place. Arrogance begets strange children.

The team preparation was not adequate. I think they fell into a trap of complacency. So pre-season being inadequate, they came into the season not at the top of their game. In modern day sports, the difference between dominant professionals and very good ones is minuscule. It meant a bad start.

From then on, human psyche took over. An early reverse, meant that Mourinho and team were under stress. They were angry that they were not living up to their reputation. Mourinho knows one style only. Its confrontational and generally directed at the press, referees and sometimes other teams. Here bad results meant, he was looking for rationale. He turned inwards to the peripherals of his team – theoretically where least damage happens. A very strange and largely irrelevant storm blew up against Dr Eva Carneiro, the team doctor. Since this is sub-judice, one cannot comment on it. Suffice to say, it had little to do with football and coupled with a gleeful media, it became a storm, which has now ended up in the courts.

What it did to the heads of the players is the more relevant issue. Managing a team, football or otherwise is a very delicate balance. The leader has to lead. The moment a team realises that a leader is not in control, it sheds doubt on his/her leadership. Mourinho, I think lost control of the situation immediately. The moment you lose control, the team is gone. The common enemy, common purpose, the feeling of belonging begin to unravel. The results showed it. They were not disastrous, but were decidedly mediocre.

Next step came the players. They start with a mind set, ‘we are good players and at the moment the team is a problem’. As the results decline, supporters become agitated and the press target them, personal confidence slides. After a while, even the players start losing confidence and perform sub-optimally. This eventually resulted in a couple of bad results and Chelsea now hover right above the relegation zone.

We are now at a stage where the atmosphere within must have come apart. Typically it results in a blame game and descends into politics. Sure enough! With Eden Hazard (rather dismissively) going off injured in the last defeat against Leicester, Mourinho has now gone on record as feeling betrayed by his players. This is a man, whose basic tenet of management has been that his players are great and that he is a wall of protection in front of them against the big bad world out there. Now just imagine the feelings of his players. They have lost their protector, leader and friend. They have been cut loose to face the world.

At this stage one of two things happen. Mourinho has either taken a risk and hopes to shock his players back into togetherness or his ego is now in justification mode – ie I am not responsible for this mess. It is the stage where rationality has now gone out of the door, with the ratcheting up of risky actions. I would be surprised if the owner Abramovic does not step into action by the New Year. So either way, the status quo is about to change. Chelsea go up suddenly or Mourinho goes out.

This is a salutary case study of management. The whole facet of it. An exceptional system, leading to exceptional success. Complaisance due to over confidence, leading to temporary decline, an unthought reaction, an unravelling of the team spirit, an implosion inwards and now arbitrary decision making. It is now in the realms of luck.

* picture is from Dreamstime.com

Passionate!

imageAn advice to all ardent and young people, who are in search of jobs and go to interviews or are prospecting for business.

Many who have been in the corporate world will recognise this statement.

“I am so passionate about this brand, growing it and taking the brand into new areas which it can expand into. I want this to be my legacy.”

Seriously?

This is the typical fluff we all con ourselves into believing. It is a statement, which one hears in many interviews, from hopeful candidates. Can you really be passionate about a commercial product, which has been created to attract consumers, with the sole motive to make money. Is this what your life is about? Not Allah and spirituality, not your family, or your country, nor the poor and underprivileged? If you have to descend from these high moral passions, then at least let it be the arts, or the sports or some lighter comic stuff.

When we were kids or in our teens, do you ever remember anyone ever saying they would die to be a Corporate President or a Marketing Director, or a Sales Director. Why? Because the young are real and say things which are reality. They do not have to be hypocritical and mush their stuff with constant fibs.

The truth is that as adults we need money for our present day existence. So we all have to earn it (Unless we are one of the very few, who are born with the proverbial silver spoon). Therefore, when we have to earn it, then we have to work hard at it. I personally think search for the legal tender, is not natural to us humans, but we compromise because its needed. So then lets be truthful and accept that we are doing it perforce, rather than putting up dramatic, oft repeated, idiotic statements, which most HR people actually never believe. You are being hired for your ability, experience and perceived integrity, not on seeming to be passionate about your role. We all know that given a ‘better job’, almost all of us (including the interviewer) will move on.

Now to understand the aspirational side of living. Most of us require higher aspirations, rather than just earning money (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). There is a time and place for that definitely. The way to do this, is to have a larger vision in life and in the business, ie a method of achieving a higher moral stance in a business. That larger vision should drive us and if you are living that vision and are really passionate about it and work as a team, then the business will succeed also. When the business succeeds, it means that profit will happen and careers will do well. This will be the side effect. Allah works in strange ways. You work sincerely on a higher purpose and he will provide you with worldly success.

So next time when you are in an interview and asked about your motivation, then say that you are working hard because you need to do well in your personal life and ambitions. At the same time, you hope to do well and benefit those not so lucky as yourself. It works like magic. Because its the truth! So be passionate about the truth.

* this picture is from Dreamstime.com…a free picture site.

In praise of the infinite mind

image“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein

Through a plus thirty year career, and traipsing even further back, all the years of education, it has really bothered me that the best people have failed. And when I say this, it is not in any way to personalise this statement. It is actually stated on behalf of a host of fellow managers and students, those especially, who found the system insurmountable and succumbed, thus never reaching their true potential which was clearly visible.

This life is designed in the present. It is designed to function and operate on the limitations of present systems, technology and ability. The world appreciates those who carry the norms of this world on their back. In the working corridors of the world, people who hold sway, are those who efficiently and unquestionably go about the work of the day. The most appreciated is the SMART worker, who will deliver expectations in time and without much question. The world functions a bit like an ant colony, efficient, unimaginative, conformist. The ordinary rules us!

The SMART worker will be further appreciated, if they can continue to do this day after day, year after year, with a total disregard for attrition. Over a career, this worker will prosper in the system and simultaneously protect and sustain it. Little tinkering will occur, but a revolution will not come from such a one. Typically, as the Bell Curve predicts, almost 96% will conform to this system – 68 normal and 14 on either side of it.

On the other hand there will be that 2 percent on the absolute right of the Bell Curve, who will be totally out of the box thinkers. They will be gifted people, who will challenge the system, see images which others simply cannot visualise and invariably will also challenge the status quo. They will be passionate and emotional and express their thoughts while taking on the system. These outliers, will generally be considered mavericks and the system will tend to be mildly contemptuous of them (I have seen plenty of very ordinary managers, laugh about such talented individuals). Typically, in our structured working systems, these mavericks will fail. Alas, there have been legions of such failed people, throughout the history of this world, who have been ground into the dust. My heart bleeds for such people. If given the opportunity, they could have done so much, but they never had the conformist switch.

Nevertheless, there are some of these gifted people, who despite the system and walls manage to wriggle free and achieve something. These are the ones who change the world. How they succeed is more in the hands of Allah (some may call it luck, or low probability numbers finally working out). Think Prophets immediately. That is an obvious given. But there are others, less blessed humans, like Newton, MichaelAngelo, Rumi and Biruni. For every age a band of gifted people lifted their prevailing society. Almost all science, art, literature, discoveries etc has been achieved by such people. Humans through the folds of history owe a huge debt to the ones who stuck their neck out, imagined, created and moved society a major notch each time. This note is a thank you note and in praise of the infinite mind.

There are not too many of these individuals in comparison to their achievement. Some infact went to their permanent resting place without any acknowledgement of achievement and greatness. Only later would such people be recognised. Van Gogh is an example. So just imagine a world where no Archimedes made his discovery. Or Newton did not expound his theory, or Shakespeare not write his plays, or Ibn Batuta not travel his miles, or Einstein not work out the theory of relativity. We could still be living in the dark ages, hunting with primitive weapons, speaking a stunted tongue and living in our little hole. Our world would have been just the few square miles around us, that we would cover during our lives, never knowing there was a world and people beyond. Think about it!

* picture is from the http://www.canadianteacher.com

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