long queue
pic credit

At airports, especially at immigration points, people queue up to the longest tail. I am not kidding, I know, because I was once like that. What I thought then was ‘this is long, so this should be the right queue’. I never questioned, did not bother to look up at sign boards – but waited  with my neck bent on the phone.

Recently I did few experiments. To my surprise it opened up many doors.

At airport – I could see many counters with few people, but in a distance. All I need to to do was to walk 100 feet. Probably people do not want to take the trouble of hauling their luggages ( they are quite large, of course) to save 20 minutes. They stay where ever they are, mostly in the longest queue.

At a bank – I asked the person at the next counter (because there was no queue in front of him) whether I can get served. He nodded ! The moment I stepped up to the next counter, many followed me. Ok, the guy behind the counter was having off time, why even bother when people are happy lining up in one queue ?

At a meeting – I counted 55 people in the meeting room. We gathered for 50 minutes. Only 8 people contributed, or simply put, open their mouths to talk. Rest of us, listened. I asked from participants, why so many people wasting time. ? It could have been an email to 55 people. The answer fascinated me. ” people do not care for emails, sms, or even printed letters. They say they did not see it. When in a meeting their names are called , they are present, so they cannot avoid”. Again herd mentality. We think, if the number of people in the room is high, we are more engaged and we get more done. Utter rubbish, it’s a colossal abuse of human resources. But we leave contented.

At Colombo International Book Fair or at Big Bad Wolf– people flock, because everybody is going. It is books, so it should be good. Books equal knowledge and wisdom, right ? No ! If you read the books yes. Also if you read the right books. So going to a book fair, does not make you a wise person.

So what should we do?

Question the queues. (Why? What? When? How? Where? Who ?). Be mindful of what you want. Not what others want.

At airport – Look around for more counters. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. What do you lose anyway?  A question?

At a bank – Look around for more counters. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to use check and money deposit machines. People are still afraid to use them.

At a meeting – Before going to the meeting, clarify from the convener, what are we going to discuss. Check if things can be done by a simple email. Be forthright, but be helpful, do not act as if you want to avoid the responsibilities , but show that you are more inclined to do more in less time.

At Colombo International Book Fair or at Big Bad Wolf – Go at times, when there are less traffic. Use common sense. It saves time and stress. Buy books of course, but read them.

 

 

I can understand and appreciate all new tech advances, still I can’t believe how a plane works. It’s mind boggling for me to fathom that first commercial aircraft took off in 1914, which is more than hundred years ago!

I just arrived in Hague, Netherlands to attend a workshop for Civil Society leaders, invited by Open Government Partnership. (more on that in a future post)

I had the opportunity to fly Airbus 380 for the first time in my life. Honestly, it’s like a pilgrimage for a traveller-the double decker plane. At Dubai, before boarding, everyone was taking a picture of the giant. I just observed the magic and tried to figure out how on earth can this kind of elegant beast could be a reality.

I love window seats, and I take pics of earth from up above.

When I’m up in the air, when the world I inhabit zooms out in to a birds eye view, I realize the baggage I carry. From up above the earth is a gorgeous globe of beauty, layered in unique facets, mingled with cotton like clouds. It clears my mind from the debris of day to day struggles. How come we struggle so hard to have basic rights for humans. Why so much greed? I reflect on my self. What a privileged life I have, surrounded by great people. But why we struggle so much in meeting rooms to collaborate on a worthy cause?

Then my crazy mind poured over A380 again. Despite been the most elegant beast, it has its’ own share of issues. Production delays crippled by supply issues may lead to close A380 business completely.

A great solution to air travel hangs on the line. So is our struggle for social enterprises. Though looks sexy from outside, we carry our scars. I will be meeting 20 like minded civil society leaders for the next 3 days. I’m excited to be here. I’m curious to know how they do things differently in their countries.

storm

Today, I have changed the title of this blog site to ‘Future Forward’ from the old ‘common sense blog’. When I started this blog, I wanted to navigate the complexity of the world to make some sense through my writing.

Lately I found out having common sense and writing about it, is not enough. We need to apply that sense to make things work for us all. I’ll focus more on why and how. What, is up to each one of us to decide.

I have also created 5 categories: technology, education, mindfulness, leadership, and social enterprise. These 5 things fascinates me each day. What we do with these 5 things will shape up the world we build. Naturally there’ll be blending of categories in my writing. Not to worry, because world is too complex to categorise in to neat labels, so is my blog, which is a frequent evolution of my learning curve.

Future forward – because we need to sail in to unknowns , work out things faster, and repeat. This is becoming the normal, not the exception. Chaos and tension are part of even routine type of work. I will write twice a week, at-least.

I also added a new page. Check this out.

 

 

distraction
pic: credit

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing, knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

~ Leonardo Da Vinci

I’m surprised about how much busy we are. No one seems to have time. Parents don’t have time for their kids. Managers don’t have time for their staff. And yet what happened to that promise of technology will make our lives much easier, speedier and better ?

Da Vinci’s statement above is a paradox in modern times. He mentions urgency, and applying. Well we all are busy, ain’t we ?

Working at office with inbox, whatsapp, facebook, instagram and twitter open is not urgency nor applying. It is simply distraction. What Da Vinci wants us to apply urgently is our attention. Reading about the maestro himself, I found how immersed he had been about his work. Nothing in the world – absolutely nothing would distract him from the work he had on his mind. He used to lock him self in his lab for hours, sometimes few days until he came up with a solution. Good that there was no social media back then.

Social media is great. Create your own work, show it to the world, get people to see you, your work and your dedication. Then, of course, social media can be an amazing platform for you.

Are we using our finite attention well ? Are you addicted to distractions to an extent you cannot control ?

A great book to read is ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport. Or search youtube to see his TED talk. You will be blown away.

nimal

I meet some remarkable young people in Sri Lanka at the most unlikeliest of places. I found one last week, in front of a hardware store in my neighbourhood. It was 730 in the morning. I was there to rent a water motor, he was there to rent a heavy duty drill. He’s a mechanic, an expert on tractors.

We started chatting. He mentioned about a good mechanic he knows who’s work is like a super charm. I said, there are many good craftsmen in Sri Lanka, under the radar, not getting the recognition and respect. Then he said something amazing, that prompted me to write this post.

“Yes we have great technicians, but they don’t thrive to be what they truly can be. They don’t work hard as much as they are capable. Many form bad habits. They booze, gamble, and go after other women. ”

He went on to say, ” If one has good skills, if one can keep the 5 precepts , one can have a good life, money will come”

The air of confidence he told me this was so powerful, I took his energy in to the rest of my day. He’s 25.

***5 precepts the Buddha recommended for lay people, as found in the Dhammapada

Whoever destroys living beings,

speaks false words, who in the world

takes that which is not given to him,

or goes too with another’s wife,

or takes distilled, fermented drinks —

whatever man indulges thus

extirpates the roots of himself

even here in this very world.

(Dhp. 246-7)