Relearning from childhood…


Learning is a life long journey. I was sitting with my grandson, who is 7 years old. He asked me if I knew how to use Instagram on my phone. I said yes. He asked me if I could take a photo of his with the whiskers of a rabbit. I told him that I did know how to do it. He readily agreed to teach me.

He advised me to open the app on my phone. He then showed me as to how change the setting on the phone and then take a selfie as in the photo above. I was quite stunned. It was great learning to use a mobile app from a 7 year old.

As children, we are inquisitive and curious. We learn continually by observing others and things around us. When I asked him as to how did he learn it – he said that he saw my son doing the same on his phone. As we grow up in life, we possibly forget to be curious. Our inquisitiveness is buried within us. We feel shy to ask questions and thereby our learning retards.

It is time to look back and learn from childhood. If we cannot turn the clock back, we can observe young kids around us and learn from them. Another incident made me realise how simple observation can be of great learning value. My grand son was at home for his school vacation. We were playing with each other. Then he wanted to download a few games on my iPad.

I gave him my iPad and enquired which games he would like download. He glanced through the app and shortlisted a few. When I was about to download, he told not to do so. He informed me that every app has a preview. We should preview the game and only if it is interesting, we should download the app. It would otherwise be waste of money. I could not believe that a young kid of 7 years could be so knowledgable on how to carefully download game apps from the internet without wasting money.

To be honest I was not aware of it. This helps learn an important lesson in life. We all are good learners as kids. We observer everything around us and learn. We do not hesitate to ask questions when in doubt. As we grow up our observations skills fades away and hence may be our learning ability also diminishes. We are scared of asking questions when we do not know so as to hide our ignorance rather than learn from others who know.

It is time to reflect. It is time rekindle the child in us. It is time ask questions of curiosity from everyone around us including kids. It is never too late to change. It is also never too late to unlearn, learn and relearn.

Time to restart is today ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Moods & Modes


We go through different moods and through different modes. Our moods could be determined by our attitude and also that of others. As in the photo above, a kid can keep you energised right through the day with his playfulness and spontaneity.

A mother could teach you lessons of selflessness through her actions every day. She does everything at home and is the ultimate caregiver. She may then spend a tough day at work and yet never forget to care for her family. Her moods are not impacted by her pressures at work alone but her selfless nature to give more than she gets.

Most of us conveniently blame the environment around us for our moods. We believe the mode determines our moods. If we have a challenging day at work or our boss is upset with us, we pass it on to our spouse or kids. We do not realise that they may also have had a tough day at school or work and have equal impact ot mode on their moods.

I have tried to examine the cause and effect and moods and mode. While it may appear logical to relate a mode to the state of the mood, in reality it may be the other way around. After a lot of reflection I have come to the conclusion that I alone am responsible for my moods right through the day.

I may conveniently pass on the cause of my bad mood to my family or colleagues at work. It is possible that a family member or a colleague at work may have spoilt your mood by their bad mode. But it is up to us to keep our cool and maintain our mood. This may easier said than lived.

However, on deep reflection I have realised that the really good people are not impacted by the mode of others. They keep a happy mood all the time. Their attitude to life makes all the difference. They make you realise that to be in a good mood or bad mood is more dependant on ourselves than other people around us.

We have start each day with the belief that this is the best day of my life. We have to grateful to God and all the people around ourselves to have helped us where we are. If we live life with this attitude, I believe our mood will always be positive. As I said earlier, it may be more difficult to practise than write about it. But I have met real people in my life who live it every day.

Time to change is now.

S Ramesh Shankar


Each of us have a place in our society. Each of us has a role we play. We all try our best to live up to the expectations of our role. It is like every player in a football team has a specific role to play and they try their best to play their role to the best of their ability. Life is no different. Let us look at our daily life. We see people play different roles right through the day. It could be the newspaper boy who drops your morning paper. It could be the security guard, who guards your community premises. It could be your maid, your driver or even your cook. We cannot imagine our life to be complete without each of them playing their role.

Some of us have a tendency to belittle some roles in life. Even in the professional field, some people may consider their jobs more valuable than others. This is more of perception than reality. The best example are the fingers or toes in our arms. All the fingers have the same value although may play different functions in our daily chores. But, imagine the thumb thinking that she is superior to the little finger and makes us believe so. Then we realise the value of the little finger only when it is injured in an accident and we are unable to use it for doing our routine tasks.

It is like in the age old caste system in India. Some castes considered themselves upper castes and others were considered lower in the social strata. This is more of a mindset issue. In my view all human beings irrespective of their caste are equal in every possible way. They ability to add value to society depends on their knowledge, skill and attitude rather than caste. Modernisation has proved that caste has nothing to do with the growth of the human kind. But, traditionally people belonging to the upper castes did belittle the lower castes in society. This is a more psychological limitation of the upper castes in their mind rather than a reality based on scientific facts.

I sometimes wonder why do we belittle people around us. A child sometimes ends up even belittling his mother because she may not be as educated as the kid. The child believes that being more educated gives him the right to underestimate his mother. Time and experience teaches the child that education cannot make you superior to others. It could add value to your knowledge but cannot necessarily substitute experience or hone your attitude to life.

We see this behaviour within the precincts of the organisation too. People in particular positions think that they are superior to the people doing others jobs. It is like a white collared staff thinking that he is superior to the blue collared workman. The staff does not realise that he can never make the product a workman produces ever in his life even if he tries his best. This is not because he cannot ever but does not have the skills to do the same. It is true for all professions and all roles. We may be highly qualified from the best Universities but cannot compare ourselves with someone else, who has skills we do not have.

The truth is that societies also tend to value roles differently. Every society values some roles more than others. This could be due to historic reasons or due lack of adequate awareness of the different roles. But I do believe that evolved societies respect all roles with equal reverence. This is the true reflection for human development. This can be seen in developed societies where nobody is hesitant to share what they do since every role in the community is equally respected.

We need to learn to respect every role in life. There is no justification of belittling others and then justifying it. I would say that is human limitation to belittle others. It reflects more in our inability than ability to know others and their value in society. We need to learn to respect each and every person around us and their contributions to life. This is the only we learn and grow in life.

It may be belittling to dinosaurs to compare them with humans as in the photo above.

Let us start to respect everyone around us from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

How to kill boredom..


It is natural to feel bored sometimes. It happens with all of us. It could happen at work, at home or even when you are travelling. When you go through such a phase, you feel as if the clock has stopped ticking. You feel life is not interesting any more and you also wonder how to kill your time ?. I have also gone through this experience many times in my life.

We all go through boredom and find our own innovative ways to kill it. Some of us enjoy reading a book. Others find joy in writing a blog or a poem. Some others may just like to gaze through the window and admire the beauty of nature. Some listen to music and others shake their leg when time stands still for them. I feel each of us is bestowed with some unique way of killing boredom.

Some of us find it difficult to deal with boredom, while others don’t. The key to find a way is the belief that we can. If we believe, we can, we will. If we believe, we cannot, we never will. Everything in life begins with the basic belief in oneself and one’s capabilities. Many of us tend to give up even before we try. It may be a good idea to try something and accept failure even if that thing does not click. This way we will surely find ways to kill boredom.

It is also important that what clicks for you may not excite someone else. I love to listen to music when bored. My son enjoys watching movies on TV and daughter enjoys writing articles. My wife keeps weaving her words through poetry when she wants to kill boredom. So each of us in the same family may find different ways to achieve the same goal. There is nothing right or wrong about anybody’s way.

It is also interesting to note that each of us also may find unique ways at different points of time in our own lives. Even that is fine. I enjoyed listening to music and going for walks when bored. Nowadays, I enjoy writing blogs and travelling. Tomorrow, I may watch birds and enjoy the music of nature. There is nothing wrong or right in any of these activities. Each of them is by choice and what gives me most joy at a particular point of time.

Life is no different. Even at work, we can always find ways and means to kill boredom. Some young colleagues have approached me as to how I am not bored working in my chosen field for almost four decades. I tell them that every morning when I get to work, I think of doing something different and creative at work. I challenge my thoughts and those of my colleagues. It may be a good idea to challenge ideas and ways of working of everyone around us and not challenge people. This ensures that you are not creating conflicts but finding ways and means to improve our way of working every day.

Even in our personal lives, a routine life of work-home-work makes it dull and dry. It may be good idea to explore what gives you joy and then try to do the same. I travel whenever I can and explore nature , art and culture around us. I sometimes try out new things and play with gadgets. God has given each of us enough mental capacities to challenge ourselves and learn from people around us. Learning is a journey and exciting always as there is not a destination you cannot reach.

A child can teach us as to how kill boredom without much efforts as in the photo above.

It is time to be adventurous to kill boredom. We need to take risks. We need to try out new things without worrying about failure. So what if we fail. After all the best sportspersons have not won Olympic medals without failing hundreds of times in their lives. The key is to keep trying out new things all the time. The path to fun in life is variety. The road to kill boredom is not well laid out all the time. It is up to us to explore and carve the path ourselves.

Time to begin is now.

S Ramesh Shankar

How you say is more important than What you say ?

I have met employees in different organisations who have shared stories about how they were hurt with the way their managers communicated with them. I used to initially think that this may be because all of us as employees do not like to hear the bad news from our managers. For eg. Who will like a negative feedback from his or her manager ? . But, I was surprised that when I dug deep into it, I found that many employees were okay with the content of the message but were upset the way it was delivered by their managers.

This made me think as to why this happens. I assume all managers are responsible and hence will be careful in preparing their messages and more so when it is a negative message. If a manager has to sit with his employee to give a performance feedback, he will prepare his content and then deliver the message. This may be true in most of the cases. But, the real impact is not content but delivery and mode of delivery.

If a manager takes her employee to a canteen and over a cup of tea and casually makes a comment that the employee has to improve his interpersonal relations and does not substantiate with examples, it could have a negative effect. In this instance, the employee is shattered both by the content and the delivery of the message. First the employee is not prepared for the feedback. Next he feels his manager has been very frivolous and insensitive in the way it was conveyed. So, the lesson learnt is delivery is as important if not more than content of the message.

The situation is no different at home. We as parents tend to convey a negative message to our kid as if we have no ownership to it. We may say your mom feels you are reckless in behaviour though I don’t agree. This can not only harm the child more than before but also create a lack of credibility of yours in the mind space of your kid. We do not realize how a child gets impacted if the message is not conveyed in the right way.

Even in a play field, a coach can motivate a player by ensuring the message is conveyed to the player in the correct manner. A coach is respected, who is not only fair but is perceived to be fair. Perception is based in real experiences of the players. If a player is dropped for a game, the coach needs to plan and deliver this bad news to the player concerned in a proper way. If this is done much before the match and the player is explained the reasons for his dropping by the coach and the captain, this message is taken in the right spirit. On the contrary, if this is conveyed in the last minute just at the start of play, the player gets demotivated.

The same thing happens in organisations too. Employees are open to feedback. I have experienced that they respect leaders who give authentic feedback. Authenticity means that there is no gap between what I say and what I do. If I say you are good at something and then do not give you an opportunity to do that thing, then I lose respect. On the contrary if I tell you that you will not be considered for this project because you do not have the skills but will be considered for the next which will match with your strengths and keep that promise, then I am respected.

Your love and affection can be experienced by the receiver as in the photo above as long as you behave affectionately.

I think it is human to realise that “how we say” something is more important than “what we say “. We are all human and we get hurt as individuals when we are conveyed a message by our family, friends, colleagues or by our manager in an inappropriate manner. Hence, we do realise it . But, it is time to convert that realisation to practise. While we have every right to feel hurt in being conveyed a message wrongly, we have an equal responsibility to ensure that we do not hurt others by similar behaviour while we convey messages to others.

Lets be human.

S Ramesh Shankar


Yesterday was one of those rare days in my life when I could not sleep. I had gone on a tour to Germany and when I returned I had a bad cold and cough because of extreme change of weather conditions. Although this has not been new to me but I do not know why I could not sleep. I have travelled to Germany multiple times and have never missed a whole night sleep. But today was different.

I do not even remember as to when I last spent a sleepless night. Yes in the past on a few occasions, when I have travelled to places where there is a huge time zone difference it does take the human body to adjust and adapt. But four and a half hours time difference is not that difficult to adjust or adapt after a day’s rest. I do not know why nor do I want to know.

But this sleeplessness has helped me to further kindle my writing spirit. In a matter of less than an hour, I wrote four blogs. The thoughts started flowing like water in an open tap, There was no traffic on the road and no noise in the environs. It is dawn now and I can only hear the sound of the Rooster in the background. I realize that it may be sometimes wonderful to sleep in the day and enjoy the night this way.

However, on a serious note of reflection, I realised today how privileged I am. I have never complained of sleeplessness in my life. I have been an honest tax paying citizen and have lived my family and society values to the best of my ability all through my life. But today I realised how important sleep is for the health of a human being. If the body is not able to rest, it may not be energised the next day. It may be like a engine running twenty four hours and three hundred and sixty five days a year without any stop. The engine is likely to break down so will the human being without 8 hours of sleep every day.

I realised that there millions of people around the world who may not be sleeping every day this way. Of course some of the highly creative people like music composers, scientists etc sometimes work day or night when their calling comes. It is not sleep which is their way to relax but the work they do and their calling is not determined by the working hours of ordinary human kind like many of us.

Similarly, there are millions of people around the world who cannot sleep because they do not have a shelter above their head or food in their stomach. How privileged I am in comparison to these people. I did realise today after just one day of sleep deprivation. I may sleep during the day tomorrow as it is a weekend but everyone around the world does not have that privilege.

Another learning for me is to be grateful for what I am and what I have in life rather than what I am not and I do not have. There can never be day in my life where all my dreams will be realised. This does not mean I stop dreaming. But gratitude lays the foundation for humility in life. It also helps us balance need and greed. The day we realise we are grounded.

It is almost 5 am now. It is either time for my morning coffee or a quick nap.

What do you think I will do ?

S Ramesh Shankar

18th Nov 2017

Second Innings

In cricket, there are two innings in a test match. Similarly in life there are two innings. The first innings is when you pursue your education, then get into your career or vocation and reach the pinnacle of your life and career. Then the second innings begins. This is time you retire from work and settle down in life with your family. In the first innings, we try to take everything we can from society. In the second innings, it is time to give back.

Organisations in most countries determine the retirement age in advance and sign a contract with the employee. On the other hand, if you are practising a vocation or business, you decide on your own retirement age. In my view, it does not matter. All of us need to retire some day so that we can give way to the younger generation. If there are only eleven playing members in a soccer team, then the senior players need to retire so that young potential players will get a chance. Life is not different.

It is better to retire and quit, when people ask “why are you leaving? “, rather than “why are you not leaving?”. There is a time and place for everything in life. It is important for all of us to prepare ourselves for every phase of life. I know of many people who are so busy with their work that they do not have the time for their family, vacations or even for planning for their own future. They live and die at work every day as if there is no tomorrow.

We all need to realize that life has two innings. In the first, you learn and take from society and in the second, we share and give back to society in all ways we can. We need to plan for the second innings in life. There can be no prescription for anyone or anything in life. However, I have seen people who plan everything meticulously and are looking forward to their retirement so that they can give back. On the other hand, there are others who think that there is no life without work and hence dread the thought of the second innings.

One always wonders what would one do when you retire from life. This is a fair question. While you are working you believe you never have the time to pursue your hobbies. You also tend to think that you are so busy that you cannot pursue an exercise regimen every day as your routine. After all work and no exercise, you wonder where is the time for your spouse or your kids. You have not visited your friends or relatives for ages on the pretext of being a work-a-horse.

Now as soon as you are about to retire the same questions haunt you. You start wondering that you will have all the time in the world and have no work to do. You need not exercise now although you have the time since it is no more relevant for your future. Your kids have left home and your relatives and friends do not have the time to host you now. This may be harsh reality of the future. However one needs to plan for it.

The first myth is that work is within the precincts of an organization in a defined role. The second myth is that maintaining good health is an option. The third myth is that your family, friends and relatives will wait for you for the rest of their lives. The day we break these myths in our minds we will make a difference to our lives and to the lives of our near and dear.

My father in law in the photo above was a good example of meticulous planning and preparation for his second innings. He pursued his hobbies of reading, writing and serving the community around him in all possible ways.

Work beyond retirement could be pursuing hobbies, social service, teaching students, reading, writing, travelling or any other way of giving back to society. Maintaining good health is a life long regimen and does not end with retirement. Our indebtedness to family and friends is a life long expression of gratitude.

Let us begin today.

S Ramesh Shankar