Thursday, 23 October 2014

TV holding families together?!

I never thought I'd say this, but it's true! Like all amazing inventions and tools, the TV can be the biggest addiction and life-sapping  box there is, OR it can be the magnet that gives your family some quality time together.

Yup you read it right, I said quality time and TV in the same sentence.

As someone who has always been totally irritated at the sight of someone just zoned out in front of a TV, watching anything that flashes on it, including noise, this is one hell of an admission!

I realized this in bits and pieces. My husband & I have some TV serials that we both enjoy & some that 1 of us likes a little more than the other. In the middle of a work week chocablock with long working hours, university in the evening, spending time with the kids, watching a serial together before we conk out becomes a little oasis of 'us' time. Commenting on the production values of the series, laughing together or predicting what comes next, it's our little bubble in time.

Some time back my daughters leapt into our bed and started watching a serial I was watching (not  hubby's cup of tea). I told them I wasn't sure they would like it and they replied, "we just want to watch with you". And as the 3 of us cuddled under the covers and giggled together, commenting on the heroine's antics, I realised THAT was all they actually wanted. That moment of togetherness. Then their dad joined us and we introduced them to another serial that has just started and that we enjoy. Thumbs up all around! We loved the experience so much, we quickly identified other serials we can watch together. They are now a weekly family slot that we all look forward to. The spin off flows into the rest of the week as the references and inside jokes permeate everyday conversations. It even helps us when we play dumb charades as a team!!

The best part is that every member compromises on their usual taste, just to share the moment with everyone else. My poor husband has laboured through some really chick-flicky series, while I manfully watched a lot of blood and gore, and the girls will watch anything if its with us. At the end, its not about what you're watching, its about who you watch it with, and the way that time together becomes another precious memory in an all-too fleeting time together.

My mum who lives with us, and my maid, who also lives with us, reiterate this point.

At dinner the other night, my mum said "was that movie based on a true story? Because we (the maid & her) were debating on how it could have happened, & she said it can't be true & I said it was..." Everyone chipped in with arguments in favour of and against. And as I sat back and watched, I realised that the TV had done it again. Brought 2 elderly women, 2 teenage girls and both of us, into a shared moment of togetherness. Long after it had been turned off.


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Till neglect do us part

'I heard it on the grapevine'. If the grapevine was important enough for Marvin Gaye to sing about, I think it's a valid enough subject for my random musings!

Besides providing one of the yummiest fruits ever, that grapevine is also responsible for some not so palatable stuff as well. So what do you do with the fruit of the grapevine (no, not grapes)?

I know organizations dread water cooler chats & the resulting grist for the rumor mill. But maybe it's time to stop and think about the problem instead of just addressing the symptom by discouraging said chats.

In order to remain healthy and stay alive, any relationship, personal or professional, needs trust. Which in turn is built on credible communication. When the communication arteries get clogged, for whatever reason, the result is always a reduction in the health of the relationship.

The sad thing is, the reasons are always justifiable in the minds of those who are clogging it up - ignorance is bliss; what they don't know won't hurt them; this is not the right time for them to find out- add in the ones you have heard or thought of!

A friend suggested I write about this topic, as he's currently going through a situation at work where they are being kept in the dark about the changes their company's undergoing, while being slapped on the wrist for listening to the grapevine. "what is the right response to what goes around on the grapevine in an organization?" was his exact question.

Well, I can only offer my humble opinion, which is, the grapevine has a prosperous crop only when fed the fertilizer of no official communication. People need to feel in control. They need to feel they are aware of what's happening around them and to them. In the absence of  sufficient information which gives them this sense of security, they will turn to anyone who appears to know anything. The rumor mill goes into overdrive and the most fantastic results pop out!

To fix the root of the problem, I would actually keep my ear tuned to the grapevine, so I have my finger on the pulse of the majority of the company. When something is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth and this is how rumours begin to spread with so much credibility.

If people are spending a lot of time at the water cooler or in corridors, maybe it's time to do a quick comms check - are we putting out enough info to negate the need for this unofficial source of information? When the resounding NO sounds, sort through the rumours that are doing the rounds. You will quickly identify the key areas of concern. Make them your priority in your comms plan.

People have short term memories when it comes to these situations. Give them enough to allay their fears and to show that you value them and their peace of mind, and you'll have them back. Not just at their desks and work, but on your side again. And the health of the relationship will be back to a 100%.

All it needs to keep it there are attention and action. Neglect is a slow-eating acid that takes a long time to dissolve something strong. Keep your eyes peeled for the signs of acid erosion and you can always, always, still fix it.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Taking control

"Close your eyes & slowly allow yourself to fall back...". I dare say the ones who haven't done the 'trust' exercise with a team member are few and far between!

Letting go of the wheel and letting someone else take control is not something that sits well with us at all. As long as we have a modicum of control, or even the illusion of it sometimes, we find we can bear the toughest situation.

It's pretty much like looking at a 1000 piece jigsaw and feeling so overwhelmed at the sheer number of tiny pieces, that you never begin. But focus on identifying just one of the corners and with even as few as five pieces that fit together, you  are filled with the confidence that it's not that big a puzzle after all!

It's happened with such predictability, that I can now swear by this approach to an overwhelming situation - after indulging in the best pity-party ever, sit yourself down with a pen and paper. Divide it into 2 columns and title them pros and cons respectively. Now comes the tricky part. Objectively looking at your situation and being honest about it.

Surprisingly, there WILL be something to put in the pros column, there almost always is. There's something about the act of  putting pen to paper that clarifies a situation, allowing you to see it in black and white. Funny how so many positives get lost in the grey areas!

Once you have identified what the cons are, you narrow it down either by priority, or by what you can tackle first. The important thing is to finish the exercise with a clear cut sense of what you need to do next, in a clearly defined set of steps.

What you have done, in effect, is to carve up your huge problem into a grid of small squares and then zoom in on the ones you can fix right away.

Now you're back at the wheel and steering your own life again. And there's no better vantage point than being the captain of your own ship. The worst storm will be but a blip on your radar, to be steered through with minimum damage, so you come out on the other side looking as good as ever!

Keep looking ahead....calm water ahead, just around the next bend.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Be your biggest fan!

Self-confidence. The most fragile thing on earth. I have seen the most self-confident, capable people develop cracks in their self-image, doubting their ability to handle the simplest of tasks. Sadly, our image of ourselves and our abilities is tied to the way others perceive us. So if you get passed over for a well-deserved promotion time and again, or see others who are clearly far less capable than you outshine you, its only natural that in time you will begin to question your image of yourself. I have seen this disease strike across all ages and occupations - teenage students, seasoned professionals, fresh graduates... The best way to take this on, I find, is to have a set of criteria by which you measure yourself. These need to be very specific and clear, so you don't leave room for delusion! Every now & then measure yourself by this yardstick and do the necessary course-correction as required. After all, you are the only one who knows what you are shaping yourself to be! I also find it is absolutely necessary to have people who will be brutally honest with you. We all know the ones who will say the sweet lies that soothe us when we are upset or make us feel better when we are down. We also know the not so popular ones who will tell us the bitter truth. These people are your compass - give weight to their opinions. We are not always the most objective judges of ourselves! To have friends, at school or at work, who can remind you of all your positive attributes and help you walk away with your self confidence intact, is the biggest blessing. Hold the mirror up, remove the rose-tinted glasses and take a hard look at yourself, warts and all. If what you see is what you wanted to see, take a deep breath and tell yourself you are every bit as good as you thought you were! if the image is getting a little tarnished or mutating into someone else, take note of what needs to be fixed and get started on that right away. Remember, you are not as good or as bad as everyone says you are. Don't let circumstances drag you down. Just stay true to yourself and the values that you hold dear. If who you're with or where you are is toxic to your self-confidence and self worth, MOVE. Get out of there pronto. You are all you've got. Value yourself. Surround yourself with positive people who will help you be a better person and value the person you are right now. After all,there is only one you. Never was anyone like you before and never will be ever again. That's a pretty huge responsibility. And I believe you're up to it :)

Monday, 25 October 2010

Disconnect to connect!!!

I just saw an ad that packed a massive punch - Disconnect to connect. & its in THAI or something!! That straightaway makes it a great ad. Please watch it & tell me it doesnt speak to you:

I really have nothing against social media. Honest. I don't! The only bone I have to pick with those who need to be plugged into 1 form of it or another at ALL times, is this - life is happening all around you NOW. You're so busy living in the virtual world with your virtual friends, that you are losing out on the REAL WORLD and the flesh & blood people around you!!!

How can you truly enjoy an amazing sunset, if half the time your mind is focussed on taking a picture of it, then broadcasting/tweeting/uplaoding it??? by the time you're done with all of that, night has fallen & the moment has melted into the darkness.....

As those oh so wise philosphers Steven Tyler & Eminem wrote: just "sing for the years, sing for the laughter, sing for the tears,sing it with me, just for today...maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away" - don't wanna be caught texting THEN!! can you just imagine it?? "Hang on a sec there Lord, OMG!! I just HAVE to tell everyone... this is UNBELIEVABLE OMG OMG OMG!!! & let me just change my status message to 'permanently unavailable' okay, i'm good - yalla let's go!!!"

Monday, 20 September 2010

Flowers are for the living

I know, I know.....i fell off the wagon again. Its been months since I wrote something - why is it so much easier to make a resolution than to keep it?

Anyways, I think I have a valid excuse this time round. I lost someone very dear to my heart in June. Writing at such times is pretty much like slitting my wrists & letting my life-blood pour me weird, but somehow i just never really learnt to enjoy doing that!

Time numbs the pain, while working away on the healing part. So here I am, comfortably numb, sharing my thoughts again

"live like you're dying" goes the song. 'Carpe Diem' - a Latin phrase that an amazing number of people actually know the meaning of - all inspiring bits of wisdom spurring us to Seize the Day & live for the moment.

It's only when I actually went through the process of living life on borrowed time, that i realized how true this obvious truth is!

By nature we are programmed to appreciate that which is not easily available. To prize that which is in short supply. So it is with people. When we know we dont have much time with someone,we raise the quality of life bar to unimaginable heights during that rationed out time.

Just how far this goes is actually quite funny - the other day my mum tried out a new recipe for a sweet I like. It didnt quite turn out as expected, so we kind of half heartedly nibbled at it, all the while cribbing about how it used to turn out so well before, blah, blah..

Then we had visitors and gave them the rest. They LOVED it - we tried some - WE loved it!! The damn thing tasted really good! And the worst thing was, as we saw the last few pieces disappearing, they just got better & better!

Sneak a peek at the work scenario? Same story. Poor sod devotes body, mind & soul to company for years. Nothing to show for it. All attempts at moving up and growing are firmly put down. Then, the day he/she decides to leave......voila! Into the magic hat they reach, and pull out exactly what he/she has been asking for all these years.But somehow, in the cold light of a decision thats been taken, the offer just doesnt look that great anymore. And just like that, a precious asset is lost.

This is a serious design flaw in human beings. WHY cant we appreciate what we have? Why does what is readily available lose its value? Why should something teeter at the edge of our fingertips for us to want to hold on to it?? Why cant we just show the people who matter to us just how much they matter, while they are still with us?

As my dad always said: Flowers are for the living.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Every day, in every way, I get wiser and wiser!

Seems like I posted my thoughts on turning 38 just a few days ago - could be because it really HAS just been a few days since I did, despite writing it a year ago! Anyway, the 'year hand' has moved another notch and 39 is here.

I'm surrounded by young guns who are so chock full of new technologies and new gadgets & new ... well basically everything about them is new! Which leads one to reflect on what exactly it is that we of the more 'mature' cadres have over them?

What do all these years of having 'been there & done that' actually add up to in a world which is increasingly becoming 'heard of that, wanna do that', to us? On the face of it, not much. Roles appear to be reversed a tad, when they are the ones introducing you to stuff, explaining and convincing.

But hang on just a bit longer, and you find, that no matter what the shiny new veneer of the moment is, underneath lurk all the same age-old concerns and issues. Yes, they of the 'been there done that' era.

That's when we come into our own. Yeah baby! Watch the smart young thing who has been put in a position of power, way before one his/her age would normally get there. Faced with the mine field that is human beings, they are more often than not reduced to order-snapping, screechy dicators. Not because this is how they are, but because it makes for a good protective shield. Attack is the best form of defense after all.

And as the list of ways you would have handled the situation run on & on in your head, you realise what it is that you've been accumulating. Good old fashioned common sense! Put it as you will, I say that is all wisdom actually amounts to.

Have you heard the story of the ship with a leak? Experts are brought in from around the world. After many days of messing around the ship with all their doodads, they admit defeat and present the captain with a massive bill for all their fancy equipment. Finally a little old man comes forward to offer his service. Armed with just a hammer and a spanner, he sets about his work. After a couple of hours he has done the job and presents his bill. "$10,000?!!!"shrieks the captain. "For a couple of hours of messing around with a hammer and a spanner?? Why would i give you that much for pathetic tools like that?" "You're quite right", the old man smiles. "Use of the hammer & spanner cost you just $1. Knowing where to use them costs $9999!"

Here's to finally figuring out where the leak is and knowing how to fix it :-)