Technology & me

Technology & me

I always wonder if technology rules me or I rule technology.  When I was young, I did not have to think much on this subject.  But, as I grew older, technology seems to have taken over my life. While I am a great fan of technology, I sometimes wonder if technology helps me or harms me in my every day life.  Let us take the simple example of the mobile phone.  There is research around the world that the mobile is never more than three feet away from a human being at any point of the day or night.  This means that we depend more on the mobile than the mobile depends on us.

I think all of us have immensely benefited from technology.  I grew up when we had not seen the advent of computers.  We did not even have the television in our homes.  So, the journey from living in an era of no mobiles, TV or computers to an age where the world is fully digitised has been an exciting one. I remember the early days in my career when I had to travel more than ten kilometres to make a long distance call after waiting for my turn in a long queue.  It used to take hours of waiting in long queues and we paid through our nose for talking to our parents for just a few minutes using long distance telephone calls.

Today technology touches  us in every aspect of our life.  If we refelect on it, from the time we get up from bed till we sleep, technology supports us in many ways.  We are woken up by the alarm on our mobile phones and do not need the sound of birds or the classic alarm clock with us.  Then, we do not need to read the newspapers to know what has happened around the world.  We are connected to the world through our mobile apps and we get alerted of news events around the world within minutes of its occurrence.

If we extend to the work place, computers have changed the way we work.  The work place is no more sacrosanct.  Work moves along with you wherever you are in the world.  The ubiquitous mobile phone helps you as an office assistant with calendar reminders, emails, clock, fitness tracker and many more useful aids.  We are connected with the world on the internet and decisions are taken on issues by people sitting in different parts of the world seamlessly.  All this has been possible only due to the advent of technology.

Hence, in spite of all these benefits, why do we feel that technology is managing us rather than we managing it.  It may be because of our greedy nature.  It may be because we have become over dependant on technology.  I remember that we used to have  the landline numbers of most of our family and friends in our memory.  Today thanks to the mobile phone we do not even remember the numbers of our close family members.  Some may argue that this is convenience and hence we need not remember any phone numbers any more.  I agree.  But, there seems to be a side effect and we need to worry about that.

The side effect of technology overwhelming us is that we are losing our humanness.  We do not remember the birthdays of our family, friends or colleagues.  We do not have the time to visit a dear one in a hospital.  We have no time to play with our kids in the park.  We have no time to admire and enjoy nature.  We are more content by the number of likes to a post on social media. We get depressed if nobody comments on our post for a few minutes.

Like in the photo above while bluetooth headphones can be a great technology to listen to music, it may sometimes make you inattentive to people around you.

I believe technology is a great enabler for us.  But, may be it is time to touch people and use technology.  We are ending up using people and touching technology.  Technology does not have emotions but people have.  Let us resolve to share our feelings with our near and dear rather than use technology to do so.

Today is the most auspicious day to begin. Lets just do it.

S Ramesh Shankar

Mirror


I wonder many times as to how my behaviour with others will impact me.  I have seen in my life and career that many people get away with rude behaviour.  Sometimes people in power and authority think that have a right to behave rudely.  This happens both at home, work environment and society. Let us try to explore why this happens and what is the impact. 

At home, as I grow into an adult and become successful in my career, I tend to believe that I can boss around in the house.  I tend to take my family members for granted and sometimes even my parents.  This further makes me short tempered and unpredictable.  In some families, irrespective of both husband and wife working, there is a sense of superiority in either of us.  We are intolerant to the success of the other person and live in a make believe world. We do not realise how our behaviour as adults impacts the psychology of our own children.

If we move to the work place, the situation is not very different.  As we grow in the organisational hierarchy, we tend to believe we become demi God.  We treat our colleagues with disdain rather than human beings.  We tend to show not enough respect to people down the hierarchy.  It can result in simple courtesies not being extended to our colleagues.  It could be like not wishing back to our colleagues, when they wish us.  It could also mean not listening to junior colleagues or dictating our way through key decisions.

This tendency reflects in societal behaviours too.  People in positions of power whether in organisations, politics or other institutions tend to get egoistic.  They take everyone around them for granted.  Pride and ego dominates their behaviour.  They get away with this sort of antics as long as they are in power.  The moment they lose power, they become cowards and they do not realise how much they have hurt people till they get hurt themselves.

In all these situations, what is common is that power and behaviour seems to be directly correlated.  As power seeps into the human body, our behaviour tends to get from bad to worse.  So, it is up to us to realise this change and keep ourselves grounded and humble.  You may get respected as long as you wield power.  But, it is critical to remember that people respect your position rather than yourself.  In real life,  people respect those with character and humility.  Your words are more important than your deeds.    

All these situations signify that as parents, leaders or citizens our behaviour impacts our future generations.  Our words and actions determine our character.  Our character determine our actions.  Our actions trigger changes in society.  It is up to us to behave in a way we want our future generations to do.  Our behaviour reflects and impacts the behaviour of the younger generation.  It is like our images are reflected in the mirror every time we peep into it.

Let us behave the way we want others to do with us every day.

S Ramesh Shankar

Competition or Co-optition ?


We live in a competitive world.  The competitive spirit starts from our childhood.  Our parents tend to compare us with other kids in the same school.  Many a time, we are told why our peformance in academics cannot be like our neighbour’s daughter or son.  We are asked why we cant compete in sports like our friend’s kid and so on.  Not a single day in school or college goes without our performance being compared with someone else.   Why this competition ?  We are not born in this world with our neighbour’s son or daughter nor will we die with our friend’s children.  Then, why do we do compete and make our life miserable every day.

If we move beyond children, even adults tend to compare themselves in everything.  If a neighbour buys a new TV, it creates enough ripples within our home.  If a friend buys a car or house, we want to outbeat them in size and value of house and car.  Our value is based on the size of our house and car and not on the size of our heart.  We want to possess more wealth than our siblings and our friends.  We do not compete in giving back more.  We are not willing to learn from the best habits of our neighbours.

Why this competitive spirits seeps in our life ?  I may not have an answer but have many questions to ask myself and my readers ?  Why do our parents want us to always compete with our siblings and our neighbours and friends ?  Why do we want to possess more wealth than our neighbours and friends even though we may not need all of them in our life time ?  Why are we willing to sometimes sacrifice our personal values to outbeat our colleagues at work ? 

Many a time we justify our animal spirit of competitiveness by claiming that there are limited resources in this world and we have to be ahead of others in grabbing them.  In my view, there are unlimited resources in the world for us to be successful.  It is the limitation in our thinking, which makes us competitive.  We limit our thinking and that reflects in our behaviour.

The workplace behaviour is more competitive.  We die at the workplace virtually competing with everyone around us.  Our spirit is not to learn and grow but to compete and die in our careers.  While, it may be a good idea to be the best in whatever you do, it should not be at the cost of other colleagues at work.  It may be a good idea to compete with oneself in whatever we do in life.  We could be the best by being the best in work and in our behaviour.  

There is enough in this world for all of us.  Co-optition may be a better word.  We can work along with our competitors for jointly creating a better world.  Similarly, we can work with our colleagues to do our job better and learn from one another.  We can also learn from our siblings and support each other to succeed.  We learn more by sharing with one another rather than keeping knowledge to ourselves.

If at all there is an urge to compete, let us compete in working to create a happier world.  Let us compete to live together as a bonded family.  Let us compete with other countries to foster peace in the world.  Let us compete to eliminate pollution in the world.  Let countries compete to eradicate poverty in the world.  Cooptition may replace competition from our dictionaries.

In the photo above, friends are singing together to create a chorus rather than competing with each other to  outbeat each other.

Let us learn to live along with each other and create a world of our choice for our future generations.

S Ramesh Shankar

Personal Crisis


Today I met a young colleague, who is going through a personal crisis.  Her father is seriously unwell and bed ridden at home.  Her father in law is hospitalised and is in a serious condition.  She and her husband have been going through this crisis for the last two years.  She was heart broken and was not sure how to handle such a situation.  “Why me ? ” is a question she asked and I had no answer.

I listened to her patiently and shared some of the crisis I have gone through in life.  We can neither share the pain nor give her any advise in this situation.  Many of us have grown through such situations in life. Each of us may have faced a different type of crisis in life.  When we are going through a crisis, we have no tears to shed and no advice to follow.  In most situations, you have to face it alone and the journey is ardous.

Most of us wonder why me ?  Why is God so cruel to us ?  What did I do wrong to face such a situation ?  We have no answers and may be many more questions ?  While we may ask many of our friends and well wishers, we have no solutions.  It is in these situations, you can really know the genuine people in your life.  Your own relatives may behave differently and your so called friends may move away from you.

One may almost lose hope in life.  There could be days where you may like to talk to God and tell him that he is being unfair.  You even lose faith in God.  It is at this time, it may useful for us to keep faith in ourselves and our good deeds in life.  May be God is testing our patience and He is expecting us to lose our faith in Him.  But, we should never lose faith in ourselves and hope in life.

Hope is like water.  It will always quench our thirst.  It is in this phase of our life, we tend to recognise the authentic people in our lives.  Some of them who we thought were close to us may lose significance in our lives by their displayed behaviour during this crisis.  But, we have to keep our faith in ourselves.  We have to be grateful to the people who helped us during this crisis for the rest of our lives.

God bestows us with the courage to face this crisis.  She will support us with the resources we need to overcome this phase of our life.  Such incidents make us stronger and wiser in life.  The people who listen to us and help us wade through such crises are God in human form.  We have to respect them, love them and be grateful to them.

It may also be useful to realise that there are millions of people in the world, who may be facing much tougher crisis than us.  They may have much lesser resources to deal with their issues.  We may consider ourselves lucky to be able to face the crisis and deal with it by ourselves.  If married, we may be grateful to our spouse for being with us and enabling each other to be brave and helpful during this phase of our life.

Life is journey and we may have good days and bad days and ultimately we do fulfill our goals by our own means and that gives us happiness.

Let us live life as it comes. We need to remember that there is sunrise after every sunset.

S Ramesh Shankar

Life is like a “Marathon”


Our life is like a marathon.  We start to lay our foundation in our childhood, work hard during youth and then pick up steam as an adult to achieve our life goals.  All that we achieve in our life depends on the hard work we put in.  It is like to run a marathon, we start practising almost a year before the event.  It is not only our physical fitness but our emotional quotient, which makes us a winner.

One need not be the fastest sprinter to win but needs to be high on patience and perseverance.  After we have set your eyes in participating in a marathon, it is meticulous planning, sweating it out every day for more than a year and good dietary discipline, which makes us ready for the marathon.  Life is no different.  As a kid, we have many dreams in our lives.  We want to realize all of them and at the shortest possible time.  If one is able to set a clear goal and work towards achieving it, nothing is impossible in life.

I am aware of many people who plan to participate in a marathon.  While they set their goal clearly, they do not plan for it well.  Their daily practise does not happen regularly. Their eating habits are not in place.  So, when they participate in their first marathon and end up with cramps after just 5 kms of running, they get disappointed and many even give up their goal.  

Life is no different.  We need to set our life goals- personal, career or otherwise.  We need to plan in detail and be self disciplined.  The moment we lose focus and fail to raise our own standards, we get into pitfalls in life.  This disappoints us and we tend to give up on some of our goals even before we have put in adequate efforts to achieve them.

In a marathon, one could possibly start with a dream run of 6 or 10 kms, then move to run the half marathon, full marathon and may be even attempt the ultra marathon.  This will help them take one step at a time.  It prepares the body and mind.  They increase the intensity of their participation every year and success at each step reinforces their belief in themselves.

The same is true in life.  We could set small milestones, work hard and achieve them.  This gives us the confidence to take on tougher goals and work towards achieving them.  Each time we succeed in attaining our goals, it builds on our ability to aim higher.  This is the secret of success in life.  Many of us give up even before we try our best.

Life is a journey and we have to take one step at a time.  The icons of success in all walks of life have proved that if you set your vision, plan your action and execute with discipline, everything is possible in life.  This may help us believe in ourselves and set impossible goals. Our efforts get rewarded even before we realize it.  This enthuses us to achieve more in life.

Let us start our dream run today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Position & Possession

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Is our life ruled by position or possession only ?  Lets explore. We can examine this hypothesis from three different lenses and the answer seems to be similar.  Let us first examine it from the lens of the family.  We may be born in a middle class family in a small village.  Our status in the society where we are born is determined by the position held by our family members in the society around us.  In the olden days, your caste determined your status in society.  After all caste is also a social position class.

Now if we look within the family social structure, the story is not very different.  The power structure is determined by the position you hold in the family tree.  An elder in the family whether parents or grandparents can never be wrong as compared to their children in any situation.  At least this is the way we are brought up.  I respect elders in the family but there is a possibility that in some situations our children may be right and we may be wrong.  But, we generally will be in a denial mode unless we are magnanimous in our attitude.

We can then move to the lens of organisation.  The hierarchy determines the power structure in organisations.  The higher you are in the hierarchy the less you can be wrong in any situation.  Thus position determines power and thereby influences all decisions in the organisation.  The situation is no different if you examine this from the lens of society.  The public figures who hold positions of power determine the direction the society has to move and those who are powerless are less influential in society.

Now, lets examine as to why we are possessive by nature.  We all are born into this world with no possessions and when we leave this world we can carry no possessions.  But in between these two events in our life, we spend most of our time accullumating possessions.  As a kid, we want all the games and gadgets in the family or in the circle of friends we have.  Then as an individual as we grow up, we want to maximise our material wealth at any cost most of the times.  We do not have time to sit and listen to our family or friends in distress.

If we move to the organisational context, the situation is similar.  Most organisations work at maximising shareholders’ wealth at any cost.  They want to increase profits at the cost of society if needed.  Very few organisations look at what they can give back to society unless the governments statutorily compel them to do so.  This again proves that as individuals and organisations we are possessive by nature and we want to maximise at the cost of society in most situations.

I sometimes wonder ” why we are crazy after positions or possessions in life ?”. Is it a physical or psychological need ?  I am not sure.  But, I do realize that the root cause of conflicts in family , organisations and society is the craving for positions or possessions in their life time.  This is amply clear if we introspect or objectively look at organisations and societies around us.  As in the photo above, the position we hold and the assets we possess may give us a sense of power.  It is up to us to ensure that we remain grounded always with our feet firmly on the ground.

It is time to reflect. There is nothing wrong to yearn for a position or assimilate possessions in life.  But, as long as we are able to restrict them to fulfil our needs rather than greed, it is fine.  We also need to learn to give back to society.  The day we have this realisation, we wake up and feel actualised in life.  It is never too late to make this distinction.

Let us try to start today

S Ramesh Shankar