S. Ainavolu

2/9/20237 min read

9th Feb. '23

The need for journaling and review

Often, people retrospect, revisit memories to reminisce, and recalibrate their journey for the “future”. It helps one revisit their assumptions about the fast-emerging context, reworking their vision. In the management language, it often is often called “course correction”. Organizations need that at intervals, and individuals need the same as well. In the competitive marketplace, the occasion may be changing regulatory/policy conditions, entry of formidable new players or consolidation going on in the industry, drastic technological changes unfolding, and of course, changing customer preferences which might be due to demographic shifts or as globalization effect. In personal/family life, the occasion to do such introspection may be one’s golden birthday or silver marriage anniversary, or serious life transitions happening rarely like a parental umbrella “moving out”. Some occasion that is more than mundane like career-related transitions may trigger this. Whatever the occasion it may be, it is a well-intended effort and has to be seriously and sincerely carried out. To bring in an element of “unbiasedness” and impartiality, close and trusted friends and cousins/siblings’ help may also be taken. Life coach, not many may have, but if one has, they can also be of help. The Mentor/Guru who helped you blossom all these years can provide valuable inputs on the path and efforts put in so far and also on the honest assessment of the eco-system and one’s situation, all the while strongly embedded in the current reality.

What it is really?

Retro+spect is literally “back+looking” which means looking at the past. It is seeing how it “happened” with respect to one’s efforts and assumptions. Many trivialize the effort of looking back by saying that the past is “over”. It is true that the time frame is over but the events/developments that happened over years, and lessons learned shall equip one better to move more meaningfully towards a “better tomorrow”. The future is calling and that call needs certain preparation from one’s side. Preparing for the future requires the inputs one received from situations and individuals in the past, minus the “emotion” part of it. Emotion is essential “energy in motion” and is a double-edged sword. Ideally one develops the observer mindset by being a “witness” (sakshi-bhava) to the unfolding. This is easy said than done. Unless the individual is highly self-centered and to the point of being called “selfish”, others affect them and others’ welfare too affects them. Of late, the “I, Me, Myself” mindset has increased and at the most, it shall extend to one’s immediate, nuclear family! Stretching the identification to include a larger mass is the essence of the journey. The time may come when the stretch is so much that oneness is the condition. However, one did to the best of one’s ability should give one solace, is the wise counsel. One may like to change the contours and redefine the rules of the game, but there are limitations to which your efforts and commitment can make a difference is their side of the argument. Reluctantly, one may accept after “putting fight” to the best of one’s abilities. But putting fight is much better than meekly surrendering or displaying inertia. Rocky resolve and rock-like, passionless pursuit are two different things!

The life processes

Oneness is the goal of life and this condition of oneness realized by an individual can be felt by others in that person’s behavior. He/she at the minimum displays compassion. Atleast when the other person is in trouble, he/she won’t derive vicarious pleasure from others suffering, and also won’t be indulging in spreading false info. A good person would have pitched in a number of times to help others by lending the skills they have mastered in their life journey. Their journey canvas can be seen as motivated by being someone who can make some difference to the world at large. “You can make a difference” shall be their credo and they live by it. They also may do “satyam bruyat”, speak the truth, and in a “priyam bruyat” manner, speaking nicely. Bickering, bitter conversations, and back-biting are the best things to avoid is the minimum learning they would have, and live by it. “Does it make the situation better” should be the “Guiding Light” of one’s behavior, including spoken words and physical actions. Things shall fall in place and the overall situation shall improve as a result.

More on the “work” in life

Human life is measured in terms of the number of breaths taken. With each breath taken, the counter decrements by one. Achieving the balance, coming to terms with the “macro”, recalibrating the assumption-based target set, and reviewing in an honest manner shall help. Repenting the events that happened is akin to what they call, “crying over split milk”. The essence of life is in “current action”. The action happens in the “Present”, this very moment. To make the long journey a real present, one needs to convert the present moment into an “action hub”. This action can be physical, psychological, or a combination of these two. Being in the present gives one multiple advantage. First, it stops the expense of energy on the things that can’t be changed or can’t be advanced for action. In other words, one can not go back in the timeline and “adjust or repair” the happenings. Just not possible as we don’t have a time machine. Secondly, being in the present helps one act and not daydream. When things and events arrive, they do. Only one can make enough work towards realizing that “moment”. Work is the key to making the moment happen. But not working in the present but mentally transporting into the “desired future condition” gives one instant pleasure but takes away the important resource called time. Action is working in the present. This work can be significantly new as felt or just over-practice of an earlier learned skill. One has to remember that “practice makes one perfect” and this practice is a continual and conscious effort. The author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the golden rule that it takes ten-thousand hours of practice to achieve the perfect level and be counted as an expert or master of the skill. One need not be daunted by the large number of ten thousand which is truly large, practicing at the rate of three hours a day shall require ten years for aimed mastery. But start cutting the pile of hours by practicing an hour now. The further requirement would immediately come down by an hour! The meltdown before we realize the master begins with the first hour itself. Remember, a thousand-mile journey begins with the first step.

Integrating the learnings

Above is the integration of various approaches and techniques to be adapted for one’s review and recap for recalibration. When two individuals start their “together journey” a sense of sacrifice and accommodation shall be there. Moving away to a new place, often without much guidance from the traditional sources might have made one soberer in accepting the mentorship offered by the good intention-filled neighbors and self-offered mentors. These mentors might expect an element of basic respect from one at the most. Not a very costly thing to spare and the minimum one should offer in skewed, favorable transactions. These are “give-win” situations, “give” from the other side, and “win” (gain) from this side. “Stand-alone” opportunities are also good for one’s evolution, both physical and spiritual level. The result shall be development. It is also a golden opportunity of breaking stereotypes. One might have been surrounded by the mental image and stereotype of whatever the limit. Limitless growth is a possibility and hence any stereotype is not good from the developmental perspective. All one has to remember is the Johari window where we have one box of “not known to others and not known to self”. This presents infinite possibilities and one can break free and set aspiringly high goals.

What to do and do again?

Consciously choosing higher than high targets that shall help one “stretch and leverage” help in every manner. Of course, then one can’t play by the normal, relaxing schedules and unproductive habits. You define your league, you choose your “Blue Ocean”. One of the first steps is to start being surrounded by superior talent than you. It helps you absorb a few things more than you are at present. “Sponge” is the behavior lord Dattatreya displayed when he tells us to absorb better things from all sources. He had twenty-four “gurus” from whom he learned or shows to us for our sake what we need to learn. Learning can be along “what to do and what to avoid”. People claim they have work and life, hence the concept of “Work-Life balance”. Someone said when work becomes life, everything is balanced. Thus, we have learning opportunities in a work context and outside the work context as well. Here, one learns from organizational leaders often how to conduct oneself as a leader when one becomes one. But we also learn “how not to conduct ourselves and what not to become” when we see a few toxic leaders! Learning always is on two dimensions of dos and don’ts. But remember to exercise Hirshman’s framework of “Loyalty, Voice, and Exit”. Never take toxicity beyond the initial limit. Often such negative leaders (installed managers?) believe that they could reach this level due to their “rewarding toxicity”. They never realize that “what brought them here won’t them there”. Those who teach us how to conduct ourselves and what to become, become our role models. Those who misbehave, become “rule-out” models! Your energies are precious to be working with such “rule-out” or even working on them in terms of advising them.

Prepare to receive the abundance

The road less traveled makes one end up with surprises and mostly positive as this writer would like to believe. If one reaches levels that were otherwise impossible to reach, then it is a big surprise. Also, if one ends up below par by following the path that was “less traveled”, it may be still a surprise. We never knew where the other “beaten path” would have taken us. But if the calculated risk is taken, the most important resource “one’s life” is committed full-throttle, self-doubt was left before the journey commenced, other baggage like petty ego was never allowed to interfere in one’s development, the fruits are sure to be had. It is only a matter of time, and certainly. If the fruits are yet to be seen, or even buds are yet to be felt, trust the Chinese bamboo is happening underneath. The shooting off shall happen and happen with thunder. The belief has to be deep, like the roots of the above bamboo we know. The belief is based on the faith that Newton’s third law can’t be wrong, that which says for every action, there shall be an equal and “giving” reaction. Efforts always pay and bigger efforts in a big way. Physical work and commitment are important. One might do it for years. Psychological preparedness to “receive” is very important. You attract abundance. Rest shall become history. And, you would have created this history.

Stay blessed and keep blossoming is the deep wish.