Tuesday, 24 November 2015

I’ve faked it… Do I really have it in me to ever make it?

“I’m not nearly as good enough,” declared an ex-colleague unequivocally.  I stared at him wide-eyed, thinking of what to say next. This is the man everyone was all praises about. This man knew his job and did it well. And yet he stood there with an apparent air of ineptitude. Humility, I assessed. His next sentence stunned me though.
“Anytime now; they’ll know I’m a fake… and my career is over.”

This wasn’t the emotion of humility; this had a much deeper psychological connotation. If a constant feeling of being undeserving of your success nags you too, then you’re among the likes of Chuck Lorre (Big Bang Theory fame), Meryl Streep… and many other high achievers who suffer from the imposter syndrome.

On one hand, being a neurotic imposter can drive people to perform at the best of their ability. But it also signifies a feeling of incompetence that lurks in the background, which may sabotage the prospects of a thriving career. This is reason enough for managers to recognise early signs and help the confident achiever in you overcome the neurotic imposter. 
Neurotic imposters stand out by displaying very stereotypical behavioural traits.

  • NIs are workaholics. They strive to achieve the unrealistic goals they set for themselves.
  • They are perfectionists. This is the main reason behind them being less inclined to delegate tasks and often micromanage their team.
  • They often cannot mentor. Their attitude to micromanage often gives an impression that they do not trust their team members.
  • They ‘feel’ incompetent. They’re constantly plagued by a feeling of not living up to expectations.
  • They often attribute their success to external factors, like luck. Therefore there is an evident lack of self-confidence.

It’s important to understand that the imposter syndrome develops with certain experiences. A neurotic imposter may have been bullied during childhood, or their abilities fell short before an advantaged rival. Feelings of insecurity may also creep in when people are promoted or trusted with a gamut of other responsibilities, triggered mostly by the fear of failure; the higher you climb, the scarier it gets. Whatever the reason, it’s important to nip the imposter syndrome in the bud.
The first step to remedying any condition is its identification. Now that you decided to continue reading further itself suggests that you may have associated with the condition. Here is a list of some simple strategies that can be employed to counteract the imposter syndrome.
Focus on the end result and communicate it: Don’t rush into things. Set some time aside to lay out a plan with the end result in mind and relay it to your team. Outline what you want and to what standard. There should be a dialogue which reveals what is realistically achievable and how.

Focus on your achievements: You might often feel that you mount up to nothing, especially when in reception of a negative feedback. This is the right time to muse over your past achievements and draw the drive to succeed from them. Negative feedbacks are constructive feedbacks often conveyed in the wrong words.

Allow yourself time to learn and apply what you learn: Every new opportunity is a chance to apply what you’ve learnt in the past and learn new things. Allow yourself the luxury of making mistakes. Remember you are a learner.

Set SMART goals: It is important to consider whether the goals you set are achievable.

Accept assistance: Part of this come from trusting in the abilities of your team members and delegating tasks that they can perform without having sleepless nights. This will also give a chance to your team members to learn something new. Et voila! You have a more effectual team.

Balance your work life: Teamwork is sharing of responsibility which does not disrupt work-life balance. Once realistic goals are set and tasks delegated, it’s easy and worthwhile to strike a balance between professional and personal lives.

Ask for feedback: Your superiors are not the only ones who are likely to give you feedback. Consider asking your subordinates for constructive feedback too. They might offer a whole new perspective on things that might surprise you.   

Take credit: As important as it is to give others credit for jobs done well, it is important to take credit for one’s achievements. What one accomplishes is a direct result of the effort one puts in. So give yourself a pat on the back sometimes; you’ve earned it.

Lastly, it’s important to understand that ridding yourself of the imposter syndrome is a process, and will require constant effort from your end. It requires you to change your perspective and know that you can’t control everything. Simultaneously, it should be an enjoyable journey; not a stressed achievement rampage. 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Lips Don’t Lie

When Scarlett O’Hara asked Mammy to make her a flattering dress out of the portieres, she had a very specific purpose in mind; to charm Rhett Butler. It’s a pity she didn’t use the lipstick instead.

The real reason behind a simple incident born in the thoughts of Margaret Mitchell in 1939, and was lost equally easily in the pages of ‘Gone with the Wind,’ was elaborated upon by a curious group of researchers almost seven decades later.

Amidst the 2008 recession when unemployment went through the roof and a great many companies, in almost all sectors, registered record plummeting of sales, one industry did not just stay afloat but actually saw an increase of almost 6% in sales. This was none other than the cosmetic titan, L’Oréal. Those who sat to speculate could not attribute L’Oréal’s success to any incredible business strategy; rather the answer came from evolutionary psychology, especially the mating psychology of women and may be, lies somewhere in our concept of beauty.

Make-up, especially lipstick, is not a vain modern invention. Tinting lips in face decoration has played a very important role in civilizations for thousands of years. Both men and women of the Ancient Sumerian civilization used gemstone powder, a luxury only the rich could afford, to tint lips in an attempt to attract the opposite sex; a very powerful emotion in evolutionary psychology of mankind.

Each civilisation has witnessed periods of abundance and scarcity alike. Where periods of abundance may trigger different mating patterns in humans, ferocious competition arises during scarcity. Beautification during scarcity was mainly to attract a resourceful mate. This principle pretty much holds true even today. Signs and symbols that were explicit in the ancient times may have been reduced to mere innuendoes as the world has progressed and has become more civilized, nonetheless, have not been wiped out and never will. Scarcity in the ancient world, which could be the times of famines or droughts, signified a man’s inability to provide food for his mate and offsprings. For single women, it also meant nonavailability of quality mates. So during these times, the efforts to attract a quality male partner are amplified. Today it entails unemployment or lack of monetary support and security that a man can provide, which is often the case during economic recessions.

‘The lipstick effect’ as it was termed, apparently had not occurred for the first time in 2008. During the Great Depression (1929-33) cosmetic sales rose while US industrial production was cut by 50%. All employees in Beiersdorf kept their jobs while unemployment was on the rise in Germany. Japan saw a 10% rise in the sales of accessories while the disposable income remained stagnant or has even reduced since 1997. Stock market investors can rest assured if they have invested in the cosmetics industry. This is a recession-proof industry; numbers don’t lie.

While the hypotheses itself falls short on the number of factors that are at play in the game of attraction; it does present an aspect of human behaviour and the primal instincts of homo sapiens. It articulates the importance of security needs which is pretty much ingrained in our DNA. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Your true love is not on Tinder!

When a colleague narrated her successful ‘I-met-my-husband-online’ story to a mixed bunch of us, relationship status ranging from singles to complicated to married; I blurted out, “Girl, you were just among the lucky 8%.” The rest of the evening was a haze. Every time I passed a single, their eyes shot daggers at me.

My grandparents had had an arranged marriage; they lived happily until my granddad passed away. Not just them, I can cite a lot of examples from the greatest generation, the Baby Boomers, and the Gen X with the same success story. All these accounts however, share one thing in common; none of them happened online. In this advanced information age, however, love is just a click away, or so they say.

Pew Research Center reveals some startling statistics about marriage and relationship statuses. In 1960, 59% adults of marriageable age were married compared to just a 20% in 2011. 64% adults of marriageable age today are neither married nor living with a partner. There has also been a 0.3% decrease in the number of people having more than one sexual partner from 1988-96 to 2002-10.

It’s not that Millennials don’t want to get married (61% actually do want to get married someday) or do not value a lasting romantic relationship (8 out of 10 value a genuine relationship). To help this woebegone generation find love, there are about 3000 websites offering online dating services. And 1 in 5 adults actually makes use of these religiously. Then why do statistics indicate otherwise.
The answer is ‘Analysis Paralysis’.

Too many choices
According to Forbes, in US alone there are about 1000 new options for dating every year. That means 1 thousand more potential partners at any given time. Choices can be overwhelming and a thousand is a fairly large number. Psychology proves that the more options available for a given situation, the less likely it is to derive at a concrete conclusion and the more likely is the choice to go awry. Humans are subconsciously aware of this and therefore there is less effort to hold onto a relationship with a match found online. Hence, a rise in the number of short term relationships.

Selection criteria
In the real world, you decide whether you want a relationship with a person based on the how much you like them. In the virtual world, apart from an extraordinarily pretty profile picture, there are a myriad other criteria to consider; even favourite colour may serve as one.

There are many profiles present that are poles apart from the actual person. This can lead to serious misjudgement and even heartache for those who wear their heart on their sleeves. But who exactly, is to blame for this? Again, when dating online, people are at a loss of genuine human contact. They are choosy given the wide selection criteria and based on petty criterion, may write off a potential match as incompatible.

There may be someone better out there
There’s always a nagging feeling about the many potential matches out there that a person may miss out on once they've found someone reasonably compatible. This not only makes the current engagement a trial but also reduces the amount of effort they’d be ready to put into the relationship to make it work.  

Lastly, all the fuss about finding the 'right' match leads to stress and in many cases depression. It shouldn't come as a surprise that most Millennials have managed to stay out of serious relationships for so long, or use dating sites only for flings. If you find this piece of truth disturbing, then a sensible thing to do would be to get offline. Try the jogger's park or the library instead. There are more chances of getting connected with a soul mate here than anywhere online.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Is Intuitive Decision Making Hyped?

You wouldn’t have to think hard if I asked you to cite an instance when you took a split second decision without probing into the facts and it turned out to be spot-on. While the inability to produce a reason in this advanced evidential age could be particularly vexatious for your pragmatically driven mind, people still laud your exactitude. Well, you just knew.
You just know a business decision would turn out to be a disaster because of a clenched gut, or a hunch tells you that a prospective candidate would have personality clashes with other team members; or a sense of contentment that sets a long term friendship in motion. And yet, a majority of us ignore that bleak alarm that sets off in the back of our heads.  
Managers make decisions based on intuition almost on a daily basis; only this phenomenon is rarely acknowledged. When it comes to bigger, wider, and strategic decisions, there is heavy reliance on numbers and statistics, psychometric tests, and other scientific tools, which are not only time consuming but also bombard the decision maker with a lot of irrelevant information which may cloud the process or worse, inspire a wrong decision.  
Conversely, intuition is not characteristic of everyone alike. Secondly, it is important not to confuse a colleague’s influence, workplace power dynamics, or mere likeness towards a person as intuitive prompts. Besides, the accuracy of intuitive decisions is way more important than their frequency. Imagine if your were to justify an important business deal gone awry and you’d say you just knew?? Then, is it possible to rely solely on this holistic method of decision making as so many researches are advocating? Are women better intuitive decision makers than men? Should you be able to play chess like a grand master to be able to master the art of intuition. The answer to all these questions is ‘No’ and here’s why.

The more it is used, the better it gets; so does experience.
Intuitive advocates opine that to be able to make accurate decisions, you need to be more in tune with yourself; the more you listen to it, the clearer the voice gets. Decision making is more of a trial and error in the beginning. The more experience you have, the more you’ll understand where to look for loopholes. That scenario is anyway conducive to the accuracy of a decision.
The more quantifiable the outcome; the easier it is to predict.
Intuitive prediction cannot quantify outcomes. A product you’ve just invented has immense potential to take over the market.  But you can’t launch it just because you know it’ll work. You will need a thorough study of your target market and some numbers from the test launch to predict its sales potential.
You cannot know what you don't know.
The unconscious and subconscious minds are reservoirs of past experiences. Intuition draws on these experiences to be able to work. Therefore, decisions outside of familiar territory may not be accurate. 
Good decision making is an art. No one decision making technique can prove effective in all sorts of scenarios. Decision makers may need to concoct a recipe of various techniques to predict with precision. And as one of the great minds of our time said "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

Friday, 25 September 2015

Incompetent Boss Decoded

After a gap of almost 5 years, I recently got in touch with a former colleague, thanks to social media. We recalled our time working together and chatted about how our respective careers and families had kept us busy. After a tête-a-tête about life in general, we ended up talking about our work life. It’s inevitable not to; we spend half our lives at work. A mere hint at a boss and employee's volatile relationship probably hit a raw nerve; she exploded with antagonism. I let her vent her feelings out, then asked her what exactly frustrated her so much. She replied, 'He is so incompetent; just can’t do his job right….' The next interrogative uttered thoughtlessly in an attempt to hold the conversation, which I regretted almost immediately, set her off again.
She was overworked, sandwiched between deadlines; and above all, micromanaged. ‘Is your company expanding? Maybe everyone’s overworked,’ I tried to appease her. 'No', she retorted, ‘he simply doesn't know how to do stuff.’
Most of us would identify with her. Every once in a while we come across supervisors who seem incompetent. Although ‘incompetence’ is a very harsh word, we hurl it at anyone who seems to fail at their job. I would rather say unskilled. Incompetence is relative; Skills are integral. Where technical and transferable skills can be honed further, personal skills are mostly inherent.
Having an unskilled boss isn't exactly a bad thing unless of course they suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect. Let’s examine the three categories of unskilled bosses, and what can be done about it.
Technical Skills
Take the IT sector as an example. The information age has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last two decades. Most employees who began as individual contributors some fifteen years ago are now in middle and high ranking positions. The technology they last worked on is either dead or has undergone an unrecognisable facelift. Besides, once the roles change from technical to managerial, it is hard to keep abreast with the ongoing market currencies.
What you can do: Take charge! Such supervisors are more common than you’d think. When a technically less skilled but receptive supervisor is paired with a technically skilled team, it’s a win-win situation for all.  The work environment is progressive and there is something for everyone to learn.
Transferable Skills
These skills range from hard skills like simply being able to operate MS Office to soft skills like being a good communicator. Most of the supervisors who lack transferable skills have most likely not stayed very long in a single organisation or have been there for far too long.
What you can do: Buckle up to produce 16-hrs. of work in half the time. You will most likely not be given credit for the copious amount of work that you accomplish on a daily basis, but it’s a great opportunity to learn as much as possible. It’s an opportunity to pro-actively take responsibility for tasks that are not listed in your job description, empower your profile and make a move to a better opportunity, internally or externally.
Personal Skills
These are indispensable in any work scenario.  Even the most expendable individual contributor is expected to have at least some personal skills in order to coexist and work effectively in an organisation. People with exceptional personal skills coupled with the right technical skills and relevant experience are mostly well liked and climb the corporate ladder much faster than others. Look up some prominent leaders. They all have one thing in common; they are charismatic and adept orators. Skills like teamwork, ability to trust and motivate others, patience, empathy, and good communication skills are only to name a few. However, these skills are mostly inherent or honed over a long period of time. The more you rub shoulder with the right influencers, the more you will cultivate your personal skills.
What you can do: Take the initiative to communicate from your end. Request regular catch-ups with your supervisor. Being detailed and prepared before any meeting would be an ideal thing to do. Ask for one-on-one feedback sessions intermittently. If you are confronted with an issue, the exigency of which doesn't seem to sink in with your boss, be patient and present your explanation in a discussion. Work on your emotional quotient; it’s imperative when dealing with unreceptive and unresponsive supervisors.
The image of a perfect boss is an illusion. Imperfection provides a lot of room for people to learn new skills and progress in their careers. It’s important to understand that most of these shortcomings aren't deliberate. They are a part of their personalities or projections of their deepest insecurities.
I kept thinking about my friend’s incompetent boss long after our conversation. It’s evidence enough of our narrow outlook and how often we term the poor fish incompetent based on its ability to climb a tree. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Procrastination: My Friend, Philosopher, and Guide

Working as a desk editor for a quarterly academic journal is a tough task to begin with. Days would fly by while I'd be buried in a deluge of potential papers, meticulously reviewing those that would grace our peer reviewed journal. This and apart from liaising with internal and external contributors, overseeing the release of journal issues, and handling print and distribution; one of my less weighted KPIs was to author and publish two research papers.

It was quite an 'achievable' goal according to my employer despite posing a slight risk of me churning out two indiscriminate research papers, coupled with the imminent delay of one of the four issues by two weeks or more. Instead, I chose to release four timely issues and produced only one yet an exemplary paper.

The verdict: found guilty of procrastination. I could have and I should have.
As for me, it meant examining where I went wrong, or did I.

A procrastinator is a problem child of today's mass producing organisations. Ask a typical 'boss', and they'll present a zillion arguments in favour of 'un-procrastinising' employees' outlook towards work. The bottom line, Get as many things as possible doneNo Questions Asked!

We all procrastinate once in a while for all sorts of reasons. There are two types of procrastinators, active and passive. If you've just put off a task to read this post instead, then the good news is that you're an active procrastinator. A passive procrastinator would be comfortably settled somewhere, doing what they do best: nothing.

Time is a luxury that most managers cannot afford given the pace at which today's organisations function. Needless to say that the constant flow of copious amount of information impedes the decision making process. Frank Partnoy’s book, Wait, mentions how the top executives of Lehman Brothers attended a seminar on ‘quick decision-making’ just before taking the most crucial financial decisions in 2005. The rest is history.

So, here’s why practising procrastination, may very well prove to be a virtue than what’s always otherwise been said about it.

1. Sets priorities
It allows time to the decision maker to understand which tasks are important.

2. Obliterate redundancies
If a process is followed, ask how important each step is? Will a certain task contribute towards the final goal or can the process be sped up by skipping it.
3. Begets quality; not quantity
Quality takes time. Ideas take time to develop. You may not be done and dusted with a 100% of the tasks on your to-do list, but the end result is sure to pass quality control without a glitch. Procrastination is quality assurance.

4. Leads to Creativity
Sleep on it. Sometimes the most obvious yet creative ideas dawn when least expected. That's the beauty of the subconscious mind. Delaying a crucial decision to its deadline is an ideal thing to do as it gives managers a 360 degree view or even come up with creative solutions to problems.

5. Gets things done
When you don't feel like doing something, the smaller, more mechanical and less cognitive tasks should take priority. They are reprieve juxtaposed with contemplation. As a result, more things get done.

6. Helps in taking better and well-informed decisions
Having a panoramic view of a problem is important when challenged with crucial decisions. It gives decision makers an insight into the influencers and their effects. Procrastination definitely helps in clearing the clutter, retaining what's relevant and taking calculated decisions.

7. To consider options
There is no one solution to any problem. The key is to have enough time to identify those options.

8. People who know they perform better under pressure
Then there are some of us who need the adrenaline rush in order to perform to our highest capabilities.

9. Reduces stress levels significantly
When situations are perceived to be daunting, more preparation time is a dream come true. It allows comprehension of the nature of the problem and its consequences. It is a coping mechanism and clears the haze caused by anxiety most of the times.

10. Procrastinating helps with the identity that you may want to create
And last, often true; rarely acknowledged. In professions where being on time is a vice, and may raise questions on character, procrastination is a mandatory practice. For example, academics. It was founded and operates on the psyche of assuming that you may have had less work if you were on time and vice versa. The notion of efficiency never occurs to anyone as a first instinct.  

The write-up may sound implicitly confessional but is in the least bit so. Procrastination has its own downsides and I'll come up with those in time.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Political Gene - Dennis Sewell

Charles Darwin is a name synonymous with evolutionary biology. When one of his magna opera, Origin of Species was first published in 1859, it propagated many unheard-of ideas like 'natural selection' and 'survival of the fittest' which till date are used to summarise the entirety of this work. The ideas were so drastic and influential that they gave birth to a new school of thought, or rather a fraternity of eugenicists.

The question is whether this new knowledge about human evolution in any way been used for the betterment of  human civilisation by the Gods of Science? Or has it provided the political perpetrators a platform, a license under which to carry out their ruthless regime to feed their self interest? This is exactly what Dennis Sewell attempts to address in his book- The Political Gene: How Darwin's Ideas Changed Politics.

The book provides a revelatory read into the consequences that Darwin's legacy brought about, beginning with the caging of Ota Benga, the so-called missing link, with an orangutan. It also probes into the fact that all the societies formed with eugenics as a foundation were initially operated and led by members of the Darwin clan and later extended to the top echelons of society. It is almost appalling to know how some of the most brilliant minds in human history have endorsed eugenics.

Hate crimes and racial abuse have been prevalent in human history since time immemorial. Darwin's ideas, although unintentionally, only gave them a scientific backing. For example, the Third Reich cognominated their political agenda to obliterate Jewry from all social classes of German society as 'ethnic cleansing'. While Nazis may not have been radically influenced by the idea, they did use it as a smoke-screen. Further misinterpretation also led to heinous events like the displacement and extermination of native races across continents, and persecution of African Americans, the remnants of which still haunt the American society. The book also cites many convincing examples of coercive measures, like sterilisation and lobotomy, undertaken to curb the proliferation of races perceived inferior. It elaborately discusses the preposterous methods employed to stamp people of specific ethnic backgrounds as imbeciles or even morally challenged until late after the second world war. Riveting instances and cases have been included in the book that point out the gaps in the American legal system geared towards the achievement of one ultimate goal: pruning of undesirable subjects.

The author has also produced an elaborate bibliography should readers be interested in delving deeper into the eugenics movement, its methods and consequences. While the reader might identify with being in a quagmire of information, a lot of back and forth, and familiar names popping up every now and then, the book poses a moral question and examines whether any efforts on the part of the eugenicists have paid off or ever will.

Suggestion: If complexity isn't daunting for you as a reader, this should be read in conjunction with The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man which are quoted many times in the book. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Letting Them Go

Parenting is an easy task. Good parenting doesn't exactly fit in the category of easy tasks. Most couples enter this new phase with a preconceived set of notions. There are books available that are again born out of the unique experiences and issues that people face everyday in order to give these new breed of parents a chance at excelling at this daunting task. There is no 'one size fits all'. Whilst there is a lot of help available on how and what we should teach our children, there is absolutely no literature available that tells parents how much or what they may learn; nothing that would tell them or give them an inkling about how they would need to learn to let go.

One afternoon, my mother came back from work and saw me running around the house, collecting stuff. A suitcase lay open half filled with my clothes. I dumped the things I had in my hand in the suitcase and dashed out of the room for another round. She was flabbergasted for a few moments, trying to grasp the status-quo. When she found her voice, she posed the question. "What's happening? Where are you going?" I did not reply the first time, thinking, calculating, trying to carve out a defence argument if she says the dreaded word, 'No'. She put her bag down on a table and started following me around the house. She forgot how hungry and tired she was. All she wanted to know was where am I planning to go.

When I dumped the last set of things in the suitcase and was convinced that I had enough clothes and toiletries to last for the next twelve days. I turned to her and said, "I have to go to a camp I have volunteered for and it begins in precisely 2 hours."

She was looking at me with large questioning eyes and I saw she was struggling to find words.
"Where is it being held?" I told her the address. "For how many days?" I said 12. Her eyes widened. "You should wait for your dad and ask for his permission."

"Mom, no, I'm not waiting for him to be back. I have given my word and I have to report in 2 hours." I bet she hadn't seen this coming when she allowed her 13 year old daughter to enrol in the military cadet corps. I could see she was thinking hard. For what seemed like a few moments, she asked, "Am I allowed to come and see you?" I hugged her tight, "Yes, you can. Every evening."

I don't know if she realised it then or not that she had just crossed a huge milestone in her journey as a parent. She had learnt to think beyond the age old question that gnaws at every mother's heart. Will my children be safe? She had learnt to let her little baby girl go.

No guide on parenting has ever mentioned it; a lesson that my mother and countless other parents learn everyday only by experience- You will have to let your children go. One day, you will have to stop protecting them and let them learn to live by themselves. You will have to let them spread their wings if you want to see them soar. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Be Selfish, Be Happy

Being a woman is not easy. Before you form an opinion about me or what you are about to read, I want to tell you that I'm in the least bit feminist.

So, yes, being a woman is not easy. We grow up causing our guardians to live under a cloud of uncertainty. They empower us with education but have no say when it comes to us making a choice to continue with our careers or invest that time in bringing up our families. If we do choose to be work women, we still have to shoulder great responsibility at home and practically speaking, this responsibility is seldom shared. Because, well, we have working partners or spouses. 

Anyway, I don't know if you are beginning to see my point here. We are conditioned to place ourselves in the second place. We are taught from the very first conscious thought to accommodate others first. Any instrument of self expression, be it a career you are passionate about, or a hobby you may want to pursue; your simple likes and dislikes even when it comes to what's-there-for-dinner take a back seat if they interfere with the routines and choices of those who matter in your lives. We are expected to act selflessly. But does this make us happy human beings? Does this make us happy women?

A selfless act once in a while is good. But what if you have to act selflessly at almost every instance in your life. I have heard many women fret and complain about the selfless acts they have been performing everyday and how unimportant they felt. So, here's a piece of advice exclusively for all my dear female counterparts. Be Selfish!

Don't wait for people to respect you. Command it!
One night, I was too brain-dead, fagged out, and in no mood to cook a meal. Copy editors too get tired; reading crap the whole day is no piece of cake. I knew my husband had had a busy week too. At dinner time, when he asked what was there for dinner, I told him I was in no mood. That night he cooked a delicious gourmet meal for us. It was a good break from the kitchen for me and a great stress relieving activity for him. 

It is a very small incident but the implication is huge. It is the right to say 'No' to things you don't want to do and people respecting you enough to accept it; no questions asked. 

Voice your opinion 
Having a firm commitment to what you believe in is an intricate part of who you are and what others make of you. If you like or dislike something, assert your opinion even if it does not align with that of others'. But then again, it was never meant to be. You are unique. It only shows that you are an important individual and know what you want. Give yourself importance, the world will follow.

Take time out
That's a difficult one for all the home makers out there who go with the flow in their respective homes. Take time out to do things you like to do. Don't shrink your personal time because it clashes with the routine of your family. Spending time alone and being in tune with your inner self is important. 

Pamper yourself
Yes, you are an marvellous creation and you deserve a bit of pampering. People will respect you more if you take care of yourself. They derive conclusions about how you expect to be treated by the way you present yourself. 

Do what makes you happy. Have a activity or a hobby you can excel at. Create something without looking for approval from others. 

You are solely responsible for your happiness
Above all, the responsibility of your happiness lies with you. Make yourself a priority. You are the only one who can bear the emotional burden of keeping yourself happy. 

Find happiness in the little things that you, as an individual would like to do. The happier you are, the more you will love yourself, the lesser regrets you will have in life, and the better you will be able to care for your family. Now, that's a win-win situation.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

10 Things to do Before a Baby Rocks Your World

So, you've come out victorious in answering the most enervating question of life: to commit or not to commit. And now you intend to spend your life with that special someone. Marriage is a big change and it may take a good few years to even get used to the idea. But as soon as you think you're getting there, people, especially you know who, start bombarding you with questions about your intentions to expand as a family. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, rest assured, you’re not alone.

As women, we know that sooner or later our maternal instincts shall kick in. The miniature version of you, with the pitter-patter of tiny feet, incessant and incoherent babble, food smeared pout, and chubby cheeks, sounds uber cute but is an energy sucker to a behemothic degree. This is change in its profound sense. The other things that come along with parenting will suck-up most of your energy and your couple-time will either shrink infinitesimally or cease to exist altogether. With babies comes routine, which isn’t always good for adults. Often a feeling of emptiness creeps in throwing the emotional state of couples out of whack.

So, here is my concise list of things you can do now to make this time together the most fulfilling experience. 

It takes two to Tango
Allegorically speaking, tango for beginners is marriage in the fast forward mode. Stepping on each other’s feet, losing balance and supporting each other, rocking in tune and trusting enough to fall into each other's arms. It builds trust and prepares couples for the support they’ll need from each other. Besides, tango is sexy. Full-stop.

Go backpacking
Ladies, this is the time to prove to your partner that you can read maps. Jokes apart, this is a revelatory experience. It gives couples a deep insight into each other’s capacity to hold on in tough situations, their resourcefulness and the ability to take the lead.  

Cook together
This is by far the most fulfilling experience for me. While crafting a culinary masterpiece every time they step into the kitchen may not be the strong point of many partners/spouses, cooking meals together strengthens couples as a team. It instils the feelings of acceptance and appreciation for each other. You can do it even when the new member joins your camp, but things are going to be super-duper messy.  

Go for long drives
Going for long drives without a destination in mind is a great way to unwind and let go off things. Apart from being fun, following the road is a reminder to take things as they come. Often we worry a lot about the future which makes parenting more stressful. This activity will remind you to enjoy the journey.

Buy a House
House hunting is an exhausting process. Nonetheless, it’s worth investing time and money before you add more members to your family. The feeling of having a place you can call your own is second to nothing. It gives couples space to spread their legs and stimulates creative thought. Besides, you don't want to be moving houses with a baby on board.  

Take a vacation to an exotic locale
Go for a second honeymoon. And if your financial situation permits, a third and a fourth. Surround yourself with natural beauty. There is nothing more romantic than taking a long walk along the beach hand-in-hand, or having a candle light dinner in an exotic location. It'll be a long while until you can have all that time to yourself. 

Have a common friend circle
It is important to have a robust support system outside of your immediate family. Have common friends of all age groups from different stage of life, even empty nesters. Firstly, it is easier to share things with friends that we mostly wouldn't share with our next of kin. Secondly, it is a chance for couples to learn about relationships and parenting, vicariously. And as they fulfil your support needs, you can have a chance to do the same for them along the way. 

Don’t buy a car; buy a Campervan
Yes, you read it; A Campervan. Ditch the comfort of your couch for a month and live off the road; work can wait. You will come back tanned and ugly but a brand new person. And who knows how long until you hit the road again?

Be involved in each other's passion
I live and breathe books. Written word is to me as a screwdriver drill is to my husband. We understand that. We have regular trips to book stores and warehouses and influence each other's decisions for the better. As important as it is to give each other space to pursue your respective passions, it is important to be involved in it, even if all you can do is offer a dilettante's perspective. It is a great way to empower each other. 

Financial independence and stability
This is a very powerful position to be in. Women may want to continue to work or be stay-at-home mums to take care of their little one/s. Being financially independent gives the power of choice to women. Financial stability will pay your bills while you enjoy motherhood and will alleviate the burden on your partners so that they can enjoy parenting as much as you will.   

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Hitler's War

Cover page: Hitler's War, David Irving
There are those who believe what they have been told. There are those who go with the flow.  There are those who contemplate. And then there are those who like to question and reason.

The early 20th century witnessed the rise of the Nazi regime which proliferated throughout the 20's and 30's until it wreaked havoc on the world, wiping away a major chunk of the human race and heritage. The Nazi ideologies were so widespread that it intimidated half the world about the consequences if it was left unchecked and would come to power.

Genocide has been an undeniable part of our history. For all that we've been taught during history lectures, the simple reason behind this Darwinistic idea of mass human extermination was ethnic cleansing; the wiping out of the less desirable, the less adaptable, and the less equipped to create a more superior and strong race. The most talked about among the many genocides that the world has witnessed is the holocaust; the horrifically unforgettable and appalling massacre of the European Jewry.

But did it really unfold as we know it? Was 'race' really the reason? A slightest implication of this idea would offend quite a large number of people and anyone saying so or even discussing the possibility may be termed as a pro-nazi; not a very desirable title. The book, Hitler's War audaciously tackles this very idea. While, it has been applauded by a new breed of thinkers called 'Holocaust Deniers', it has also been the subject of condemnation from holocaust survivors and independent political historians worldwide.

It is an unpretentious account of 'behind the scene' activity among the high ranking officials of the Nazi party, NSDAP, during World War II. It presents factual information aligning them with the timeline in the rule of the Third Reich and places them against the knowledge that we have about it till date. It exposes the thought process of Nazi Germany. It cultivates the idea that Adolf Hitler was oblivious to the happenings in the concentration camps mainly because he couldn't have been bothered with it when they were being attacked from all directions; when there were far more important things at stake than exercising his personal hatred for a group of people. It also sheds some light on Hitler's persona.

It may seem slightly biased towards clearing up the image of the Nazis that we have, yet it leaves ample cognitive space for the readers to draw their own conclusions.