Fashion is cyclic

Fashion is cyclic and so is life. I was once asked in my college viva as to why fashion is cyclic ? I did not know the answer and responded that it may be because the world is round. Later when I clarified with my professor, he said I was partly right. He said fashion is cyclic because the choices are always limited for everything in life. Once we reach the limit , we tend to follow a repeat cycle.

We can examine this hypothesis from different angles. Let us first look at fashion itself. If we take hairstyle, we have the option of having long hair, medium, short hair or no hair and then we revert to long hair. If we look at our pants. We had tight fitting pants, bell bottoms, parallels and then we may revert to tight pants. So, we notice that all aspects of fashion is cyclic.

If we examine this from HR practices in an organisation, the story is not very different. If we look at rewards and recognition practices, we had high level of differentiation and focus on individual rewards. We then moved to a hybrid model to balance individual and team rewards. Finally, we denounce individual differentiation and feel that the best way to go is team rewards. The story of the bell curve is testimony to this theory as well. Today the same organizations which kept bell curve as the way to differentiate performance assessment have started moving away from the same.

Now, let us look at life. As they say in common parlance, life has come a full circle. We go through bad times and after years of struggle, we feel we have got over the ridge and some good things start to happen. As we ride the crest, we again see the clouds of trouble approaching us. Life is never a straight road. It has a lots of twists and turns and it is up to us to develop the resilience to deal with the uncertainties of life.

Even nature teaches us the cycle of life. We have a great monsoon and a bumper crop for two years in a row. We feel the world is green and food and commodity prices drop. Then we have a severe drought and huge losses to farmers. This is followed by high inflation and escalating food prices. The following year again we have a normal monsoon and life seems to limp back to normalcy.

One of the lessons I have learnt in life is that it is unpredictable. You face a trough, when you expect a crest and vice versa. One has to develop our patience and perseverance to deal with ups and downs. Our ability to bounce back and deal with both with equanimity makes us a winner in life. We need to realize that there is always a sun rise after every sun set. Hence, there is no need to despair after a trough but be optimistic that a crest will soon follow.

Every thing in life goes round and round. We have to develop the ability to be comfortable with the circles in our life. It is a continuum and for every dark and cloudy day, there will be a bright and sunny day that follows. If we develop the ability to deal with the breaks in between, we become victorious in life. It may look that the dark and gloomy days never end for us. The sun looks to never shine for us. But, herein we need the patience and the gratitude that we are better off than millions of people around us in the world.

Life is a full circle like in the floral decoration of the photo above. Let us learn to deal with it.

S Ramesh Shankar

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