Decisions

I received this email today:

There are 2 railway tracks, one of which is has been shutdown. A group of children decide to play on the one which is operational and 1 kid chooses to play on the one which had been shutdown. You are standing next to a manned switch, when you see a Train coming by. The train is bound for the operational track. The train can not be stopped; and only you can change its course.

You have 2 choices:

  1. Let the train go and risk lives of the group of kids who chose to play on the operation track or;
  2. Switch the train to the non-operational track and risk the life of the that 1 kid

What will you do? Is that right? Who has the right to decide what is right?

Well, a few of my friends have said to me – Sacrifice that one kid in favor of the many more. When asked why? they say it sounds moral and emotional right.
Let me tell you what I will do? – I will not change the course of the train and let destiny play its part for the kids who are playing on the track on which the train is bound. Maybe they are aware that that track is operational and are aware; or maybe they are just being ignorant kids. Who knows why that track is not operational and I may be putting many more at risk by making that decision.

It will be a hard to be there at that moment and be caught up in that dilemma; but I feel that is the right thing to do. Who am I to change someone’s destiny? If I ever get the choice, I would want to be in a position where I can inform kids and anyone else about the risks like that. I prefer to provide my suggestions and then let people make their choices, rather than make choices for them.

As for me, as along as I have faith in my decisions, I am doing justice to myself. I do not have an obligation to make others understand the rationale behind my choices.

 

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Leaders or just Managers?

Recalling an incident from 2007, it reminds me of the ideology of being “emotional for your work and company”. The phrase comes to mind – “Married to the company”.

In the past I have tried to be very emotional around my work, but a couple of discussions back in 2008 with a Senior Project Manager and a Director made me realize a few things. And now when I contemplate those things back and see similar things happening elsewhere too.

My assessment back then was that being emotional towards work and company (someone else) will only hurt me in the end. In the past I had worked almost twice the tenure with my company. For the 4 years I spent, my time spent working clocked to almost 8 years. No doubts that I was learning a lot, but the mistakes I did was that I was emotional about my work. I used to put that in front of everything else in my life. The rewards were good too – money, position etc. Until the day my project started to do South. A meeting that I had with a Senior Project Manager (Manish) around my future role on the project made me realize that he was going to sacrifice a human interest for the betterment of the project. He is a very successful manager in the organization and is very talented too.

A year later in 2008, another meeting made me realize that the company will choose to pay new hires more than what I am getting because I enjoy the Goodwill in the organization. I was not fully sure how to respond back then. But, I realize now that this is how every company operates. What I fail to understand is how that works out. A company/manager chooses to pay less to an existing employee who has done well for them and has generated results in the past; someone who knows the domain and the company. How can a manager/company let go of that person and go about finding a replacement only to give that new person a higher compensation and in the process spend a lot more on training and opportunity.

Maybe, this is a trait of a successful manager, I do not believe that this is a trait for a good leader. I have not done any MBA, but all these people who are running companies around me are MBAs from IIMs and other premier institutes. I do not understand the rationale behind it.

Information can be a Roadblock

The tendency to keep referencing the past is the biggest roadblock that any one hit. We can choose to use the information that we have. We can look at the past experiences to see what we did good and what could we have done better next time. We should not let those past experiences stop you.

Accept the fact that what has happened in the past is simply for information purposes.

Recognitions

We Are Marshall
Image via Wikipedia
Morale is the enthusiasm of a person at a particular time. I relate this to the workplace and I know this is the only thing that gets someone going. Last Thursday, there was a full team meeting at my workplace and somethings happened that make me think how do we make everyone on the team happy? 

One of the leaders of the team went beyond to recognize a team member of a track of just 2 people. I felt good about it, as she was on my team and was getting recognized for all the good work. I could clearly see my efforts being paid off. But, what I failed to look into that the other team member was getting ignored. She has done all that is needed to do to make the project a success. For me she has been a very key member of the team and without her on the team, I would not have delivered the great work. In my mind this was clear, but she was looking for some appreciation from other folks as well. When I put myself in her shoes, I find how right is she? When I was at her place a couple of years back that is exactly how I was structuring my thoughts.

Very interestingly, I start to think about my whole team and see how can I make them a success in their own worlds. Success to everyone would mean differently. For this member it is a simple recognition by a leader, an acknowledgment by someone other than just me. For others it can be monitory and for someone else it can be something else. Just to be able to understand every one’s dreams and give them the right recognition when they do a good job is a difficult task.

Morale, now becomes a vital factor in their growth. How they think/feel/perform is directly proportionate to how I would handle their expectations. I think it all boils down to keep them self-motivated. To give them new challenges that they can take to the next level. The fact that I need to keep my every team member motivated, is a motivation for me.

Also comes to mind some of my favorite movies from – “Remember the Titans”, “Miracle”, “We are Marshall” come to mind and how the teams who had struggled to deliver anything became the best. It was not just about the coach who led these team; but it was more about the players in the team and how they brought it all together.

Mayan predictions for 2012 – What is it exactly?

Stela 5 at Takalik Abaj, El Asintal, Retalhule...
Image via Wikipedia

It all started, when I read two posts on my Facebook wall that linked that the Earthquake in Japan could be signs that 2012 will be end of all days. And, I was like no not again. And, there started my research on what exactly this Mayan piece all about.

Apparently, the world is going to end on December 21st, 2012. Yes, you read correctly, in some way, shape or form, the Earth will cease to exist. Stop planning your careers, don’t bother buying a house, and be sure to spend the last years of your life doing something you always wanted to do but never had the time. Now you have the time, four years of time, to enjoy yourselves before… the end.

Let us look at how The Mayans came to that conclusion. One thing we have to give to Mayans is their indepth knowledge of the solar system and how they calculated time. Based on their knowledge, they came up with a complex calendar system. You want to know what that is go and read it on Wikipedia. What links to the 2012 prediction is the Long Count. The Long Count days were tallied in a base-20 scheme. Thus 0.0.0.0.1 is day 1 and 0.0.0.1.5 is equal to 25, and 0.0.0.2.0 is equal to 40. As the winal unit resets after only counting to 18, the Long Count consistently uses base-20 only if the tun is considered the primary unit of measurement, The Long Count 0.0.1.0.0 represents 360 days, rather than the 400 in a purely base-20 count.

There is one case where some experts are divided as to when the Long Count ends, but as the Maya used the numbers of 13 and 20 at the root of their numerical systems, the last day could occur on 13.0.0.0.0. When does this happen? Well, 13.0.0.0.0 represents 5126 years and the Long Count started on 0.0.0.0.0, which corresponds to the modern date of August 11th 3114 BC. Have you seen the problem yet? The Mayan Long Count ends 5126 years later on December 21st, 2012.

This is where all goes crazy; Mayans believed that at the end of the time a new age started, but there are no artifacts from the Mayan era that tell what will happen when that time comes. Another dimension to this is the belief that there are 5 ages, and we are already in the 5th age and hence earth has to end for all purposes. People have theories like – All the planets in the solar systems will align and a huge gravitational force will pull Earth in the black hole or There will be a solar flare which will bring in radiation and kill everything; or a meteor will strike earth like Armageddon. Read what NASA has to say about all these theories.

Well, given there is no proof and there are experts who are still divided on the 13.0.0.0.0 piece; some feel that the calendar will end on 20.0.0.0.0 which means it will last so many more generations.

Bottom line – no one knows what will happen and it based on a calendar system that is based on reset function; Can it simply be that they wanted to keep things simple and liked resetting it 🙂

A few interesting links that I found, in case you are interested and want to read more:

My Life ~ How I drive

I have been driving now for over 15 years and I have been known to drive at break-neck speeds. Also, my driving style has been quoted by many as “rash”. But, since I bought my new Car in 2009, I have changed my driving style completely. Also, being in US, I have been more patient on roads and drive under the given speed limits; very careful over bumps and bad roads. I was timing myself and noticed that it now takes me 50 minutes to reach office where it used to take me 30 minutes earlier. While I loose time driving, I have started to enjoy my driving. I use this time to do lot of thinking. Many of my blog entries are conceived as I am driving down to office. 

Retrospecting on my life today, I realized that my driving is a reflection of my life. I was in the fast lane always, wanted to do everything the same day, wanted to to everything – simply rushing past my life. But, for last few months, I have changed quite a bit. I do not push as hard as I used to earlier, I do not rush into things as I used to earlier, most importantly I am thinking a lot more than I used to. And, I realize how important all this was.

Assuming that this co-relation is a true, two things that I would like to relate to my life:
1. Car fuel efficiency increases by 25% with this new driving style. I have noticed that because I have started to take things at a slower pace, I have been able to retain small tasks lot more that I have been in the past. I do not completely forget the lesser things in life and;
2. I still at times compete with others on the road and it is then when I go back to being the original Kapil thus proving myself that I have not lost my ability

 

Right vs. Wrong

This is a recollection of a discussion I had almost 3 years back. I was sitting over coffee with some of my team mates and Sandhya brought up this topic of what is wrong? For some time I avoided the discussions (because of my un-conventional thinking). but soon it became un-resistible and I was deep in the discussion. I was thinking about this and here I am sharing my thoughts.

Some of the most dreadful sins as declared by society – “Murder”, “Adultery”, “Stealing”. Well this is what a society feels are sins and hence wrongs of the world. I see these a little differently. For me what I feel at heart if right is right. Society has its own way of seeing things and I can not change that, but that does not mean that I will change myself the way society wants us to be. Why do we always want to be what others want us to be.

Coming back to the Right vs Wrong – for me the person who does something “wrong” may not feel that it is wrong in any way. A thief, steals why? To earn some money and feed his children. Just saying that he is wrong is not the right thing. Do we spend any time in understanding why is that thief a thief? We take that person to trial and punish if the charge is proved in court of law. Do we even try to see what circumstances forced the person to steal. What we have done is put away a criminal for some time and made him a criminal for life. If we would try to listen his/her problems we may have rehabilitated him/her. No, but society says he is wrong when it may have been someone who forced a thief to steal is the wrong here.

Sandhya also brought up the biggest sin – Murder. I was on the same opinion if I feel what I am doing is right, then even Murder is right. I should not feel remorse about it. Sandhya said “How can someone play God?” I think she is right in a way, but let us explore what is being God and then we will come back to Sandhya’s point. Sometime back I saw the movie “Provoked”; based on a real-life story. The story was about a wife who is being physically and mentally harassed by her husband and one day she breaks down and burns her husband alive. She was taken to court of law and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. What do we get here: Was the wife wrong as she burnt her husband alive or was the husband wrong who was harassing his wife?

I am split here on how the husband was behaving – What was shown in the movie. It showed all the bad things he would do to his wife, but I could not find a cause. I am tempted to believe that he was wrong as there was no reason for him to do this. As for wife she has all the right reasons to punish him and she did. Was she right? I would say yes – but then is this being playing God? Well yes, it is. But for the right reason for her. The authorities still feel that she was wrong and that’s the reason she was put behind bars.

Being right or wrong is not a function of how the society defines. The rules have been laid out there to keep a larger part of the society under control and it works very well. But, how a person behaves is based on various circumstances and not knowing all you can not hold someone for the wrong. The wrong for which you would hold someone may be your wrong and not their.