Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Real Test: How Do You Deal With Risks?

How do you handle a situation you've not dealt with before? How do you respond to a situation you're uncomfortable with? Do you panic when you're in a sudden and seemingly unnerving situation?

I'm essentially talking about risk and our ability to take risks. 

I feel the real test of a person is how he/she deals with such random, sudden and unexpected situations.

We often encounter such situations in our lives. And many times the first reaction is panic - which is quite understandable. It is a fight or flight response, which our cave-dwelling ancestors were compelled to take. And this is thousands of years of programming hardwired in our system which is difficult to get rid of.

So what is risk taking? It's about getting involved in something with an undefined/ unexpected outcome. And the risk taking ability is how well one deals with such an event/ activity with an undefined/ unexpected outcome.

The good news is that we can nurture this risk taking ability - with lot of practice, patience and good presence of mind. Expect that there will always be uncertainties, and be prepared for it. Be confident. Have a presence of mind to deal with them. Keep practicing. Gradually, we will get better at it.

Start taking intelligent risks. Not like jumping out of your building or like moonwalking near a cobra, or standing in front of an approaching truck. Not life threatening risks. That would be dumb. I'm not talking about them.

More like, starting to experiment with things/ situations. Say you feel uncomfortable dealing with an unknown group of people. As a first step, you can just start mixing with some newer faces, one at a time. And then gradually mixing with a group of unknown people.

Maybe you think that investing in stock market is risky. So to build up your confidence, read more about investing, start investing small amounts and gradually increase the sum. You'll notice that the more you're exposed to it, the better you can deal with it.

It could be as simple as taking a detour from your regular route to explore newer routes. Things like these. You can start by taking risks in areas you're familiar with.

There are people we know of having this remarkable ability to aptly deal with such situations. We admire them for having a good presence of mind. I'm sure you can instantly recall many in your personal and professional network. You should also speak to them about how they have developed this ability.

Taking risks exposes us to environments/ situations we have not come across before. We learn. We grow. We become better. Challenge yourself to take newer risks to become better.

Go ahead and take a new risk, today! You'll be thrilled! Promise. 

How do you respond when you face an unexpected situation presents itself? What are some ways you've used that helped you master it? Do share your experiences and techniques in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Celebrate Eco-Friendly Ganesh Chaturthi

I could see several people standing on the traffic signal, holding placards of some kind. About 10-15 in number, in 2-3 groups across different junctions of the signal. But they seemed peaceful enough. No cops around. No crowd around. What was going on?

I thought this group was a part of just another protest of some kind. I ran through a list of embarrassing public events which were recently unfolded - large scams, protests, fast-unto-death rallies, etc, and then I also tried arriving at the cause that this group might be affiliated to. I got curious.

When I was idling at the signal, I read what the placards had displayed and carefully observed the attire of the people.

And then I became ecstatic.

What stood apart was their bright yellow jackets on white T-shirts and a prominent cap, with Cummins neatly embroidered. Which probably meant that Cummins was the sponsor.

The placards they held were not to support a cause of protest.

They were in fact spreading awareness to celebrate the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly manner. One of the placards asked people to refrain from submerging Ganesh Idols in rivers, ponds, etc. They implored people to submerge the idols in a tank specially created near such water bodies. Another placard requested people to stop throwing garlands and flowers (Nirmalya) in natural water reservoirs. This ensured that these water reservoirs did not get (further) polluted.

[Photo credit: http://www.bigpicture.in/festival-photos-from-india/]

I was thrilled. This brief encounter made me think deeper about the very need of such awareness campaigns. Upon googling the issue further, I came across some interesting articles here and here. And this one was particularly insightful.

Here are few things we can start doing from this Ganesh Festival (starting 19th Sept) to keep the environment clean:
1. Let's immerse Ganesh Idols in separate tanks and not in rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.
2. Let's pledge that we will keep Ganesh Festival free of noise pollution.
3. Let's use only the natural clay idols, and not Plaster of Paris ones.
4. Let's avoid use of non biodegradable material such as thermocole altogether.
5. Lets recycle flowers and garlands to make hand made paper or dried flower products.

Keep it up Cummins! I'm certain it will have a lasting impact. Gradually we will start seeing clearer water reservoirs through many such initiatives and campaigns.

Wishing you all a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi in advance! :) May Lord Ganesh bless you with lifelong happiness!

What are some other initiatives/ activities you can do to conserve the nature better? Do share in your comments below. Thanks.