3 stories to massage your VUCA mindset.

Hello !

I had explained what is VUCA, why is it important, and benefits of a VUCA mindset, in my previous post.

Maintaining a new mindset is not easy. As you practice it, you will face multiple challenges that will throw you away. When mind is agitated, mind gets tired, just like our physical bodies. Just as we massage our bodies when we are physically exhausted, our minds need massages, time and again.

A good story is a great way to massage your mind.  I stumbled upon these stories in books, internet and in midst of conversations with friends. You probably have heard variants of these. So here are 3 stories to reflect ( massage) when your mind is fatigued with VUCA.

Finding calm at the meditation hall.

Image result for meditation hall

A lady went on a meditation retreat somewhere in England. On second day, she was starting to get some decent mindfulness. But then out of no where a man next to her started snoring. She lost her mindfulness, the stillness. She could not sit in silence, she was agitated and was upset that this man is ruining her blissful experience. As the meditation session was ongoing, she had to endure the torture for another half an hour. When the session was over, she went straight to that man and complained. That man was in shock. He said that he did not snore, in-fact he had a wonderful meditation. Then the lady realised that snoring sound was still around in the hall. A further inspection revealed that the sound came from the radiator of the heater in the hall.

In a split second she was released and apologised. Just the knowledge that the sound was coming from a radiator, not from a man, enabled the mind to accept sound with out judgment and irritation.

Same sound coming from a machine and a person have very different consequences.

Boat ride

Image result for man in the boat

A man was on a boat sliding down stream in a bit of  rough river. He saw a log coming at him. He steered his boat away from the log and avoided disaster. He was happy about his quick agility that got his boat saved, and his life.

Then further down, he saw a boat coming in his way. He saw few people in that boat. Furious, he yelled at people in the boat, ‘are you trying to kill me?’

People in the other boat started yelling at him too. Yelling continued until they were out of sight of each other.

Then further down the stream, another log came his way. He used his agility and manoeuvred the boat to safety, again. He felt proud, again.

Same challenge coming from an object and a person have very different consequences.

Old man at the market

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Wife asked her husband to go to the market and bring a dozen of eggs. Husband was not a fan of shopping, but what can a man do when wife requests :)?

He was about to enter the market, when out of the blue, an old man appeared and started to scold him in filth. Husband was upset and got embarrassed, rushed back home. He yelled at his wife, “I’ve never been embarrassed like this in my entire life. You wanted to me to go market, that’s why it happened. How many times I told you to get eggs from supermarket?”

This wife was not like most of the wives. She listened to him calmly and asked “Is this man was wearing a red hat?”

“Yes”

“Did he had a large scar on his left cheek?”

“Yes”

“Oh, my dear, that is an old man who has lost his mind. He’s dwelling at the market place. That’s where he lives. People at the market let him live there out of pity. He has nowhere to go. He’s homeless and abandoned by his children. He has lost his mind and yells at every person.”

The husband immediately felt released, relaxed and thoughts of embarrassment was a thing in the past. He felt no feelings of embarrassment because now he knew the old man had a mental illness.

Same words coming from a sane person and a person with mental illness have very different consequences.

So next time VUCA happens in life, remember these three: the radiator, the log, and man at the market. Just remembering them will give you a different perspective to navigate VUCA in full awareness. It helps me everyday, I hope it will help you too.

Some people find these stories amusing, witty and sarcastic. Some find them insightful, transformative and therapeutic. How do you find them? Leave a comment below.

Thank you.

VUCA mindset

Image result for vuca

What is VUCA?

VUCA is an overused managerial acronym in the business world which actually came from the military. VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.

VUCA showcase a world of quick change, unpredictable results, and complex relationships.

It is a nicer way to say the situation is bat crazy. Most of our personal lives and work places are in VUCA, thankfully not in the level of military grade.

Yet we face career insecurity, inflation, rising interest rates, terrorism, global trade wars, natural disasters and irrational markets behaviours, making it impossible to gauge moment to moment with sufficient information. We have to take decisions with out having all information on the table.

So What are our options?

So if our world is in constant VUCA, does that mean we are helpless?.Does it make sense to plan at all?. Planning may not wipe out your helplessness 100%, but it can certainly help you to anticipate things, prepare in advance, and give you the space to respond in a better way.

Where to start VUCA mindset

I would get in to more of what VUCA situations taught me in future posts. But this post is all about how to get what I call, the VUCA mindset. Without building this mindset, no matter how much knowledge you have of your situation, you will be drowned in chaotic emotions and loads of information. So, how to build that mindset?

It needs practice. A lot actually. But small experiences daily, add up to strengthen that VUCA mindset. It’s like clearing your work desk or cleaning files on your computer desktop. Building a new mindset needs new space that is devoid of old habits.

Recently I went on a pilgrimage to India with my family to visit the places where Buddha was born, enlightened, gave his first sermon and eventually passed away. It involved 6 days of rigorous traveling for over 1200 kilometres in a big bus. If there’s a good place you can experience VUCA, Indian roads comes at the top of the list. Vehicles driven at crazy speeds slide all over the place. Roads and bridges are in constant state of construction. Traffic is terrific. Brown dust whirl pools circling roads and beyond. Heat and humidity suck the last ounce of human energy. We had Air conditioning, but the driver’s cubicle had no AC.

One day I was right behind the driver’s seat. Traffic got on to my nerves by just watching the road. I wondered, what would it be like to our beloved driver, who on some days drove more than 300 kilometres. He was the calmest person I’ve ever met in my life. He did not react, let alone bat an eyelid in stressful traffic. He did not get tired in difficult terrain. Nothing.

He showed me the most important lesson in VUCA: the absolute compulsory need of a calm mindset. Every time I am in chaos, now I visualise him driving those long winding roads in Uttar Pradesh, like below, which I hyper-lapsed five minutes of his driving.

 

The real note book

I am a fan of note 9 stylus and apple pencil. It makes my life easier with getting notes on the go and creating eye catching diagrams. Sharing them is so easy because the notes are already in digital format. I do not lose the notes and no need to carry note books to meetings. I have everything with  me when I open my phone. 

But lately I’ve found out for creative long haul work, like writing a book, is better on real physical note books. Real pencils and pens are therapeutic tools in situations I need long time duration focus. It is obvious because when I am on real note books I keep my phone away. And that is a good thing because when working on phone, some notification pops out and even for a fleeting moment I will lose focus. Getting focus back is a strenuous activity. The more disturbances, the more it gets harder to come back to the work at hand. That is why we cannot get creative work in an office, because there is so much distractions going on. Our attention gets divided in to small time chunks. 

Pick your battles

There are many bad people and bad situations I come across each day. 

It’s like I am about to get out of home to go to Colombo, to find out two dogs are barking at me at the gate. What are my options ? 

  1. Take cover, ignore the beasts, carry on with my journey
  2. Bark at them, may be bite at them.  (How dare you two !)

Most of the time I take option 1. It’s like 90% of the time. But there are 10% of those dogs who will not let me mind my business and don’t let me avoid them. Those are the battles I pick. 

Yet remember all dog barking seems to be falling to that 10%. It is not. My biggest challenge is to find that 10%. 90% of the time you get people who don’t trust you, belittle you, say and do back biting. I have found the elixir to let go of them 90%. That elixir is asking my self each time a dog barks ” Is this a battle worthy of my time?”

Done. 

Sanity filter

If there are energy sapping people, avoid them, as much as you can. 

If there are events that deplete your time and energy reserves, avoid them.

If there are people mocking you on social media – mute them, unfollow them. Choose not to respond to them. The feed that you see in your phone, is visible to a very small section of the world. You are not the centre of attraction, thought it seems like that in your perception. There’s nothing greater than taking care of yourself.

Also choose not to harm others.

And once you have a better perspective and identified sources of good energy, remember to practice below.

“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t be harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been”

~ Marcus Aurelius

 

How I block apps on my phone.

tackle
Me vs Apps competing for attention : pic credit

 

I told you about my 24 hour digital detox. And I promised I will explain how I block specific apps on my phone. The app I use to block apps (Cliched!) is “Appblock“.

Previously I used to uninstall facebook and twitter on phone and then reinstall. It is painful not just because of the reinstalling process, but I have to manually do the setting changes for like: disable video auto play, data consumption setting , etc etc, on each of the apps. It was a mind bottle neck for my worthy pursuit of digital detox. A simple search on web, and I found App block. It is super easy. I can have many profiles. Ex: I can have a profile for FB and twitter and I can have profile that includes all social media + email + chat + you name any app.

Isn’t it cool? Once I’ve done with my profiles it’s a matter of clicking on them to activate app block. Also, I can lock a profile after its activated. If I want to unlock, I can’t do it, unless I connect my phone to a charger. Very cool. Lot of barriers before you can get back in. It makes me super focused. Have a look at this video.

 

I tried the free version and I was super happy, went on to purchase the premium version at LKR 675/- ( $4.5 roughly). There are many alternatives in the play store.

Block your apps away ! Have fun.