Invictus: Keep me inspiring

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

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I have special attachment with this poem. This is primarily because the creator of this poem went through the same situation as I did. My legs were not amputated as the poet’s were but then I had a similar experience where I had to undergo major surgery of my right leg after a near-death accident in 2006.

I was unable to walk on my own for an entire year. Even then, I did not let this dampen my spirit. I wrote articles for an English-language national daily in Nepal to keep myself reminding that although I may be physically limited perform certain actions, I am perfectly all right when it came to keep myself moving.

I am sure this poem will keep on inspiring me for the rest of my life. I will be the most successful person on the planet if I will be able to pass on the message and importance of this poem to my progeny.

These technical geeks—from the perspective of a Sociology graduate

So, so you think you could tell the difference between a programmer’s life and that of a Sociology graduate?

24 hours is not enough for us,” says an avid Android developer at my office.

Geek

Photo Credits: ArrowSmithShoes

Here I am working for a software company irrespective of earning a degree in Sociology, and trying to figure out the intricacies and simplicity of the lives of programmers or developers.

We have a bunch of exceptionally well-talented “geeks” who, if not found coding and creating logic, can be busy with their pet projects. Some of the guys are so talented enough that they have built their own mobile apps (short for application) which are very intuitive and amazingly pro-people.

Here I sit musing most of the times at the life of these brilliant minds who have made our lives so much easier with the use of technology. Since I am primarily surrounded by these technical people for the most part of my day, I am naturally surprised at the speed at which their minds work!

Take for example this superb app called Yellow (in Beta version for now). Developed by a group of enthusiastic developers Yellow has made it easy for people, especially working ones, to find nearby restaurants, go there and have a hearty meal at a discounted rate just for showing to the restaurant people that you have Yellow installed on your Android smartphone (More on this app in my later posts).

It will be difficult for me to sit in front of the computer conjuring images of logic and ill-logic. However, for these guys computers are their safe haven or perhaps their home.

I can sum up their lives as something revolved and hugely hovered over by supercomputers, avoiding all worldly distractions that I as a Sociology graduate would normally engage in.

Music is my passion, so is reading people’s lives. Hence this blog post where I am trying to understand the essence of these geeks. It may not be an exaggeration if I say that these technical individuals live, eat, breath and sleep with codes in their minds.

Not convinced? Ask Pradeep who says that if he gets “hang” for not being able to crack a code or create logic, he might be literally haunted that he will be able to decipher codes or develop one of his own in his dreams.

Wow! Wish I could do the same with my thoughts and my failed attempts at singing like a star.

Well, there’s definitely something I can learn a great deal from these people.

Eureka!

Baby steps to co-creating a symbiotic environment in my company

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Our office meeting room was full to the brim with eager individuals who wanted to learn something about how to speak powerfully to influence people at the very first talk program of Brown Bag Session. The day coincided with the birthday of the greatest enigma mankind has ever known, Nelson Mandela. Mandela, for me and for most of the world, is a source of great inspiration and admiration.

Let me talk about the first session in detail.

I circulated emails and reminders to each and every one of us in the company requesting them to attend the talk. Ours is a software company specializing in transaction banking and unfortunately I am not an engineer or a developer. Neither am I a business graduate. I am a Sociology major.

During the initial two months of joining F1Soft International, a feeling of being out of place crept inside me because neither IT nor banking was my cup of tea. Feelings of boredom, frustration and alienation gradually took over me in these two months so much so that I started dreading going to work. Seriously. The very thought of sitting in front of the computer or idling at my desk with nobody to talk to made me literally paranoid.

It was then that I felt there was a grave need for us to come together every once in a while and engage in co-creating behavior. What I felt was that we do not have human connection at the company. Everybody was working, yes, but then we worked as though we were mere machines toiling from early in the morning till late in the evening (sorry if I may sound rude to some).

There is this rule known as Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, which says 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. In other words, no matter how much we work, only 20% of our effort is going to bring about 80% better results.

Having worked in the company for the last 5 months now, I felt a communication and networking gap among people in our company. Just as they say “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy,” we were literally turning dull.

This is how Brown Bag session came into existence. But I’m not the only one who had this idea. I expressed my desire to have informal interaction sessions in the company to two of my colleagues who fortunately had thought of having similar programs at work.

Bingo!

So we kicked off our first session on 18 July 2014. Yours truly conducted the session and talked about the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) section of the human brain which helps us make important decisions in life and differentiate right from wrong. The talk revolved around fear and how it blocks our PFC when we try to address a mass of people or attend a job interview as an interviewee.

Well, to my utter happiness, the program received rave reviews and great comments from the participants. The program did help me boost my self-confidence. More than that, it worked as an ice-breaker and participants got an opportunity to get to know each other. (Remind you we have more than 100 employees).

I look forward to having similar sessions in the days to come so as to enhance a co-creating environment and symbiosis throughout the company. I’m sure my colleagues, friends and bosses will help me achieve that.

 

It’s not about Apes Vs. Humans

It is not a review of the movie, rather my recount of how I ended up watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and my feeling thereafter. Only heard of and not really watched its actual prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it is nothing short of an accident as to how I came to watch Dawn.

We were having our usual chit-chats at the office rooftop when my colleague Bipin mentioned Rise of the Planet of the Apes. His recount of the story, especially its climax where the protagonist Caesar, the vigorous leader of the Apes, develops the ability to speak, instilled in me an instant desire to watch the sequel. As a person who is filled with curiosity, I immediately rushed to my desk computer to go through the reviews of Dawn on the Internet. Having discovered that the movie received rave reviews from well-known sites such as Forbes and The Telegraph, I decided to go watch the movie at the nearest theatre.

[Related- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: ‘Impressively un-stupid’]

It would not be an exaggeration if I say that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of the most outstanding and technically sound movies I have ever seen. Not really an out-and-out enthusiast of movies of this genre where they try to enforce the gun-control message, I developed a different feeling from the movie. Contrary to most reviews, I believe the basic message Dawn wants to put across is the fact that be it apes or humans, we are all part of the same planet and the survival of one is impossible without the help of that of the other and vice versa.

It is this symbiosis that would make our planet worth living ultimately. Peace and harmony seem to be the basic theme throughout the movie where Caesar and his band, and a human family, understand the value and power of togetherness and want to impart the same message to the rest of the planet inhabitants.

Dawn proves right the old adage, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Caesar lets go of the hand of Koba, one of the main characters who despises humans after having faced numerous harsh and life-threatening lab experiments at the hand of humans, stating that Koba is not an Ape because he shot someone of his own race and drove the entire Apes into a war against the humans who had managed to survive the devastating Simian virus unleashed a decade earlier.

Portraying a derelict downtown of San Francisco, the movie will be a treat to those looking for the importance of the role of diplomacy, law, leadership and deterrence in the survival and propagation of life on our dear planet. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not about Apes vs. humans; rather it is about the importance of co-creating harmonious relationships among the planet inhabitants.

 

Vipasanna- Glad that I visited you

Vipasanna meditation

Friends I made at Vipasanna Center, Shivapuri, Kathmandu, Nepal

“I want to get out of here”.

These were the very words that hovered over my mind constantly for the first three days of the Vipasanna meditation. I could feel severe pain on my right shoulder blade while sitting even in the most comfortable position (for Vipasanna one does not need to be in a certain standardized posture. Any posture that is comfortable to you, you can assume that posture).

As the almost horrifying three days subsided, we entered into the real Vipasanna where we had to concentrate on our bodily sensations, be aware of them but not react to them at all. And as we used to be in the process of feeling the sensations in our body, the meditation would be punctuated by sudden (for me it was always alarming) chanting of mantras (in Pali language) by Sri Satya Narayan Goenka.

Goenka

Satya Narayan Goenka, Burmese-Indian teacher of Vipasanna meditation

Sunyagar

As days passed by, I thought I was the only one who was sent to Sunyagar (meditation in complete isolation) one day for my own imagined reasons. I had this feeling that perhaps it was my waywardness, or not practicing Arya Maun (Noble Silence) and simply laughing or smiling at my co-Sadhikas orSadhaks. I thought I was being sent to solitary confinement and remembered Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for 27 years. To my utter amusement, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who was put in Sunyagar. It is their ritual there at Vipasanna that people are sent to these cells for an hour or two to meditate in complete isolation and pitch darkness. For me, it was far from complete isolation. I mean, who could be in peace and not have horrific imaginations when put in a dark cell not even 8 sq. feet!

My genuine feelings

Sitting down for hours at a stretch in meditation was the most painful experience for me. We could barely change our positions or posture, close our eyes and meditate. For the most part, my mind (a monkey mind) wandered far and wide rather than being aware of my bodily sensation at the current point of time.

Anyway, Vipasanna did teach me a lot of things and helped me re-discover things that I used to hold in my sub-conscious mind.

The fact that Vipasanna follows the rule of nature inspired me a lot. I, too, am a person who regards nature as the supreme “commander” (for lack of a better word) and Dharma is simply following the rules of nature and nothing more or less than that. So, the ten days at the center reinforced the beliefs already existing in me, gave me a new vantage point to look at life and transform myself into an entirely different personality. It taught me even-mindedness both in pain and in gain.

 Vipasanna, to my humble opinion, is something which every individual should do at least once in her or his lifetime. It’s definitely a unique experience, if not a life-challenging one.

Sab ka mangal, mangal, mangal ho! (I wish only the best for all)

Train your brain toward positivity

The feeling of positivity in the present is the key to happiness says positive psychologist and CEO of Think Good, Shawn Achor. Happiness is not so about being successful as it is about improving or enhancing positivity in the present. Known as Happiness Advantage, this helps us to see the world through a positive lens.

Try out the 21-day activity as presented in this Harvard Business Review (HBR) article as Shawn spells out the ways we can actually train our brain for 21 days in a row to think positive for the rest of our lives.