Nurture!

Nurture

The other day my friend Sudhakar had come for a chat and we spent some quality time together. In our home, we have a plaque given by the organization called “Nurture” to Jaya.  Sudhakar saw this plaque and asked about the same. Jaya helps through this organization, startups in Pune, nurtures them, hand holds them. Like the child is let go while learning to ride a bike, at some stage she lets them go. Some organizations sore high in the sky, some fall and try to rise again. It is the nurturing done that is important.  

The word just lingered in my mind and I kept on thinking about it, its meaning, its origin and got a feeling how appropriate this word is! English is an interesting language, sometimes the English words, define or explain the meaning perfectly whereas sometimes they are vague.     

The origin of this word Nurture is from old French noureture, “nourishment”; based on Latin nutrire “feed or cherish”.  

As a verb it means to take care of, feed, and protect someone or something, especially young children or plants, and help him, her, or it to develop,  to help a plan to be successful. Modern dictionary may add the new meaning about helping of modern day startups, to grow from their babyhood to a successful organization. As a noun, it means the way in which children are treated as they are growing, especially as compared with the characteristics they are born with. This can apply equally to young startups to young professional.   

Jaya has helped many startups,  as technical social work;  there is success story  about a person with PhD in Chemical engineering. He had developed many products to improve agriculture productivity. As normally happens, he was very proud of the products he had developed. When he met Jaya, he was struggling with business. When Jaya told him to concentrate initially, on one product, he was not very happy; he wanted to dabble in all the products together, those were his creations. But after sometime, he realized the meaning of what Jaya told him. He came up with his best product and started concentrating on the same. He was a brilliant scientist and a hard worker. He needed nurturing, he needed hand holding. Rest as they say is history. Recently UNESCO has given him a large grant to spread the use of his products in technologically extremely backward African countries. I think his role will also be to nurture their farmers! The baton has passed on!  

This keeps on happening in the world. The goodness keeps on spreading. The baton keeps on passing. This also keeps on happening about good deeds that everybody keeps on doing. When you help someone, you should never expect anything in return. The good Samaritans of this world never do it. What I have seen is that the good deeds pass around in an open circle. The person who has been helped, always remembers the good deed, he may not return the gesture to the same person who helped him but he will do it to the next person, as soon as he gets the opportunity. 

I am sure the same is true with Nurture. I am now talking about the verb. If a person is nurtured, in later stage of the career he or she will nurture some persons and the chain will continue. We humans have been nurturing our children, our trees since long. It is natural for a person to nurture someone who needs it. In humans, the need for nurturing is much more compared to animals or trees. Babies in humans need nurturing for maybe up to 20 years. But in case of other species or fauna, this period is much smaller. Is this because we humans think, talk and have a much smarter brain? It is also because other species need to develop skills only to gather food and survive in the world. Many skill sets that humans learn, are not needed by them.  

There is always a debate going on about nature versus nurture. How a plant looks or how a human behaves, how the human develops, depends on the genes. A rose plant and its flowers are beautiful as per genes but they really bloom when they are nurtured. An Alphonso Mango is the king of fruits but to develop and grow Mango orchards is the long process of many years. We see the result of the long efforts taken by someone. That person has nurtured them, has given them water at the right time, has taken care their health. In some cases, business may be involved and, in some cases, it may be personal. Similarly, when we nurture humans it could be sometimes at a fee but then I would not call it nurture, I would call it consulting fees!  

At the end of the day, what do you expect when you nurture something. You want to see beautiful flowers blooming, lovely fruits hanging on the trees, a confident, smart and successful person handling his or her profession smartly. When we are happy with well nurtured plants, we say, “Hey why not come and see my Roses? Why not see my Bonsai?” Similarly, you feel happy, elated when the person nurtured by you looks good, successful, competent and confident. That is time when you know that time has come to let go and enjoy  them shout, “Mumma, see no hands!” The person you have nurtured is now riding the bicycle or the destiny,  on own!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ignore body signals at your own peril!

Medical Illiteracy or Ignore body signals at your own peril! I was in two minds about the title for this blog. But the second option prevailed.

Not all of us are doctors by training and not all of us could have access to basic medical information, at least, during pre-internet days! It’s a highly specialized field. But in our day to day life health conditions keep on changing, as you grow older. Some changes can be discrete and some may be obvious. In our own and families interest, we should take care of having basic information and knowledge and decodify the signals our body sends.

Since this is a current ongoing medical event, I am not sharing the names, as I usually do! Yesterday, in my office I was talking to my colleague. Suddenly she said let me make an urgent call. She called and as the call progressed she sounded quite worried and anguished. After the call I asked her what happened? Her brother was not keeping well for ¾ days and she had called to find out how he was doing! She came to know all the details only after the call. He felt weak in the office; since he is diabetic and with BP issues, he asked his colleague to fetch a chocolate for him, to overcome low sugar issue, if any! He felt slightly better but decided to go home as he was uncomfortable. When he tried to use his scooter, he could not use his left hand properly; he felt very low strength in his left hand. Next day he saw a doctor who gave him some medicines and asked him to run tests. Sunday, he saw an eye specialist as he was feeling unease in the left eye!  The doctor indicated some distortion around the left eye. All signals were obvious but our friend probably lacked knowledge about the effects. I immediately coordinated an appointment with a neurologist. In next two hours he was hospitalized in a CCU. I shudder to think if my colleague had not made that call!

I will share many more such events but this particular event has made me very uneasy. It is just by chance, that I overheard a conversation and then got the wheels moving fast! There were specific indications, the person or his family did not understand the details of what was happening but can they also not understand that there was something going wrong with the body. How to inculcate this discipline in the whole family? These things are never taught in schools but these need to be picked up from someone or somewhere. A human being generally does not have detailed knowledge of most subjects other than his own subject. But health is one area which is common to all humans whether they are kings or paupers! I feel that this learning be made mandatory in school curriculum, so that people come to know basic symptoms regarding the emergency events, like heart attack, stroke and others.

In olden days there was the system of GP or general practitioners. GP’s were family friends, advisors, mentors for the whole family. I have known of GP’s who have treated four generations from families. For anything and everything related to health and not related to health too, the families would take advise of GP’s. So, they knew  most of the things about people in the family. If required, GP’s would ask the people to go to experts. In today’s times of no GP’s, I feel that a family should be going to a fixed physician and do things as per his/her advice and suggestions. Since our friend did not have “GP”, the doctors whom he saw, could not guide him properly.

It can be a good idea to guide people into basics of health management and emergency management. Basic training about patient resuscitation is one aspect but such emergencies don’t come so frequently. More than that, knowledge about basic symptoms is most essential. This will reduce time between symptoms and start of treatment. My friend Shashi has a history of stroke. A few months back when he had very high fever and felt faint, he immediately got himself checked from experts. This gave him peace of mind.

I will share one event with you to explain what I mean by lack of basic knowledge in other areas. A professor of arts with a doctorate, drove his car for two days. You will ask me what is so special about it? One of the tappets in the engine had broken and he drove the car with a lot of noise. To understand this, he did not need to know that tappet was broken but he only needed to understand that something was broken and was making loud noise. So, he should not drive the car! Period. But no! He drove on for two days accompanied by big noise! Is it so difficult to comprehend that there was something wrong with the car and not what is wrong with the car?

Two things generally happen. One is signals are simply not understood and sometimes signals are ignored. Our friend did not understand the gravity of the signals, the body was sending. However, I will tell you of someone, a few years elder than me. He apparently had good health, outwardly. He used to go to gym regularly. One day he went out, after  he came back he said that he was a bit tired and would rest for 15 min. 10 minutes later, he was dead due to cardiac arrest. He was diabetic but values were controlled. He was going to the gym regularly. Then why did this happen? When his papers were checked, the values were never good; he was informing his son, who lives abroad,  that everything was ok. He went to the gym every day; he always drove the 500 meters distance! Did minor exercise and chatted with friends, tea, have fried stuff and smoking followed. What he did was not accepting the true body condition, which further deteriorated with wrong food and smoking.

Let me assure you that our body and brain are very sharp in understanding the signals that are generated in our eco system. In young age we start knowing who our parents are, in adulthood we catch the right love signals. As we grow older, we know how to find better opportunities in jobs and in business. All this is done by capturing the signals, the indications that are emanating in our surroundings. But why can’t we catch our body signals which tell about our health? In life we master various things without formal training. Then why we cannot do it about our own health? Is it due to thought process that Cancer, Heart Attack, Strokes happen to someone else? Sudden deaths occur mostly in accidents, most other deaths  are because of ignoring the signal system created by HIM! So please keep track of these signals, it may be twitching of an eye, shaking of hand while holding a glass, heaviness in body especially on only one side, sudden sweating and so on. But at least “create” for yourself a GP system and take his/her advise as we grow 40 plus!

Cheers! Life is too beautiful to be wasted by ignoring signals from the world’s best design, “Our Body”!

Empathy

Dictionary meaning of Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This is one of the most important facets of human personality. I am always amazed how human personality develops. A human may be born with good physique, good brains; these traits can come from ones gene pool; these facets can be further improved by consistent efforts. But what about empathy? Is a person born with empathy? Is empathy a physical trait? No it is definitely not. Empathy is considered a motivating factor for unselfish, prosocial behavior, whereas a lack of empathy is related to antisocial behavior.

Human intelligence is the sum total of IQ & EQ. Empathy is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves. This is best described by the proverb “Never criticize a person unless you have walked in his shoes for one mile.”

At what stage in life a human being becomes an empathizer? Is it seen only in humans or also in animals? I feel that it is definitely seen in the pets like dogs and cats. Of the two, dogs are better empathizers as they express themselves more openly than cats. I have read about dolphins, chimpanzees also showing this trait. These things indicate that empathy is a trait related to brain activity.

Empathy is a skill that is gradually developed throughout life, and which improves, the more contact we have with the person with whom one empathizes. Accordingly, any knowledge gained about the emotions of the other, must be revisable in light of further information. Empathizers will find it easier to take the perspective of another person when they have experienced a similar situation. When I share my personal experiences below, I again wonder if what I am writing is correct.

I want to share a couple of examples of my own and a business story which give different facets of empathy.

This is about 13/14 years back. I was in the US with my son Sachin, my grandson, Suyash, was maybe around 4 yrs old. We went his school to see a performance by the kids for Halloween. We were requested go and wait in a hall. Kids were coming in parade like formation and were having great fun. Almost all the kids had come out but we could not see our grandson Suyash. He came in the end, pushing a child who was in a wheelchair. After the program I asked the teacher, “How do you decide who will push the chair? Do you request the children to take turns?” She said, “Yes, we do it that way, but Suyash insists that he wants to push the wheelchair every time!” She said, “Suyash is different child and has of great empathy!”

Recently at home my daughter Priya and our granddaughter Rhea were with us. Our daughter came back from the clinic. She was mentally very down with some professional event and she had a telephonic conversation with my wife Jaya before she came home. Rhea asked Jaya, “Is mumma unwell?” Jaya said “No, she is ok!” Rhea is 3 ½ years old. When Priya came home and Rhea told us, “See mumma is well, she is not crying!” Jaya suggested to Priya to have some food. Rhea went and sat next to Priya and fed her all the meal. All the time telling her, “Eat your food, you will feel well!” She made sure that Priya finished all the food. How do I explain empathy in a 3 1/2 year old child?

Now I am not able to understand both the kids, all of ¾ years of age and so much empathy within them! They have not seen the world, they have not seen the bad side of the world. How could they empathize? I am back to my question at what stage the empathy start? How does it kickstart? Are all ¾ old kids like this? It cannot be so as each individual is a different person. Is it then genetic? Does it come down to you when you are born as hereditary facet of your personality?

Now I am sharing one experience from business domain. There was a heading somewhere.

Mercedes-Benz, the car manufacturer, is no longer interested in achieving customer satisfaction.

That does not mean that customer experience is not important to Mercedes. Quite the opposite. It means that customer experience is so important that satisfaction is not enough. Instead, the company wants its customers to feel delighted by their experience with Mercedes.

The company’s president and CEO believe that engaging Mercedes employees is key to achieving that. For example, a recent company poll found that 70% of employees had never driven a Mercedes. They are now being given the opportunity to do so, so that they can better empathise with customers, and therefore engage with them more effectively.

I had a similar discussion years back when first “Indian” car was being developed. The key people involved in this development were all using Fiat & Ambassador cars in those days. I asked some one senior in the organization, when all the key persons were accustomed to quality of Fiat & Ambassador cars, how will they create a car to compete with Maruti Zen, the best car of those times. We all know the end result.

In our office we make software products. I tell all my colleagues we are NOT developing software but we are creating a solution for other people to help them to handle their own processes in correct and a very easy way. Unless we achieve that we are not going to sell our products.  We must walk in our Customers shoes for one mile to understand their needs.

Will the world be a better place if more people are able to empathize? Is there a threshold at which people start to empathize? Can there be formal training given to people to learn to empathize? Friends come with your views! Let’s make this world even a better place.

Touch Base…

The term touch base is being used in many different contexts so I thought, “Why not touch base and see what it really means?” Dictionary meaning of touch base is “ to briefly make or renew contact with somebody” or “to talk to someone for a short time to find out how they are or what they think about something”.

In real life this term is used in many different ways. Many many moons back when I was in school, we used to play a game called Bhojjya (भोज्या). It was a form of hide and seek game where a guy would count ten, with eyes shut, others would hide. There was a designated place called (भोज्या), the game was to touch the base (भोज्या) before you were caught and shout भोज्या sssss! It was touching base, the game was evolved around the base and the idea was to Touch Base!

The term Touch Base must have evolved from Baseball. In baseball you have three bases and one home base. The team which touches the home base more number of times, after hitting the ball, wins the game. Human race evolved from wanderers when there was no base to touch, to today’s society which became stable, as it created a base. This “stable” state started getting hit as better and better travelling methods evolved. The wheel gave birth to vehicles with wheels and other methods; initially people were using horses to move away from base. 500 years back the Europeans started surfing the globe in their ships crossing the great oceans. In human race, there are people who are a little more adventurous than others. This group tends to migrate. Current high speed transportation and almost instant communication, has made migration even more easy, though right wing thought process has come back especially in the Caucasian dominated nations, trying to prevent migration. This will probably put some hindrances in migration process.

Human life cycle starts with birth, childhood, school/college days which is the initial phase. Second phase starts after education is completed and the work phase starts, along with creation of own family. Then there is Working phase and then there is retirement phase.

During the first phase especially preschool days, the child’s base is the mother. In fact mother is the whole world for the child. Touching base during this phase is very simple, look for your mummy.

Once the school starts the horizon widens and life is full of new attractions like books, sports and friends. Along with these come responsibilities like exams, studies. The base now broadens from mummy to the whole family and to an extent friends.

Post school, the horizon widens even more, we start getting more and more interested in other things like movies, professional learning and travel on our own. During this phase, adventurous type start migrating. Migration may be within country or to some other country. In this phase the base is our own town or place where parents live. In this initial phase of migration, touching base can be frequent or less, depending on the different situations. For some people the base is their native place where they were born and grew up in initial phase.

The “touching base” in different phases of life makes an interesting study. During every phase, emotion is the force that draws us to our base. As phases change, we learn to distribute these emotions amongst different people. As our life cycle moves through childhood to retirement, our bond with the base weakens as we get busier in our lives but in the retirement phase the bond again gets stronger. Why does this happen? This is where “going back to roots” thought process begins for most. Is it about merging back with the universe? We know the biological process of our birth & death but metaphorically we come from earth and go back earth and in death physically merge back with the earth. This thought process creates a strong emotion of going back to base, post retirement, as one visualizes golden period and ultimately death.

We used to have Cats as pets at our home. When they became older, one fine day they would just stop coming home. They would go away from “home” or the Base and die peacefully. But there was one Cat who was probably smartest of the lot. As this Cat grew old, it started staying more and more at home. Was the higher intelligence of the CAT, the cause of this different behavior? This indicated that the Cat wanted  to “Touch Base” one final time, a la Humans!

True & False -Smart & a Half Species!

What is truth? It is a real question that has to be looked at the way our Universe performs. Whatever Universe does is flawless. Why it is flawless, because it always follows rules, it always follows the path of truth. Do we see any accidents in the Universe as we see on our own earth? Do the Sun and the Moon ever ram into each other? At the end of every day, you always get the night and never a day! Why? Because rules are followed to the last T! Do birds wake up at midnight? Never because they follow the rules. They go “home” at the pre decided time which is set by the nature and go to sleep to wake up early morning again as per rules set by the nature. In winter I see birds flying back to their nest maybe at 5.45 in the evening but in summer they fly back at 6.45 in the evening, again following the rules of nature as the days are longer in summer. Classic case of nature’s rules being followed is by Polar Bears. It is a recorded fact that all the Polar Bears in a certain area go into winter hibernation sleep exactly at the same time on the same day!

If we compare adjectives “True” and “False” then true fits the Universe and the only species that fits false in this Universe, is the human race. Truth depicts the Universe and Falsehood depicts the human race. The Universe is existing for millions of years and the time for which the human race exists is blip on that time scale. Human race has evolved from the same eco system as the Universe. But why the human race is so different in comparison with other species!

Is it the evolution of brain? Is it the evolution of physical attributes like being able to walk on two limbs! Is it because humans are the only species who can make use of thumbs of their hands. If we think of brain and body coordination monkeys are way ahead of humans. But what is it that has made humans different- not better! What is the reason behind human deceit? How this attribute is so much developed? From where has this trait evolved? I am not an anthropologist but I am sure studies have been made to study the evolution of human attribute of deceit.

Survival of the fittest has been the motto of the Universe. Right from the beginning, there have been fights on “ownership” of the Eve, later on other “assets” came into picture. In all other species, this is decided by fighting amongst each other to decide. Human society has evolved over a period of time, and has created a system of marriage (trying to follow rules?). Yes rules are broken in the marriage system also but maybe the percentage of rule breakers is still manageable. How do they manage divorce in monkeys or lions? Or they don’t have system of divorce!

Human race has made great progress compared to other species. Is falsehood the attribute needed for progress? I know of attributes like drive, passion, thinking out of box that help one to go ahead of others but human species has a special attribute of falsehood or deceit which is not present in other species. Humans deceive, cheat and in general try to break rules where possible. A lion catches a deer as his prey and will eat till his stomach is full. He will walk away once he is full. A cat will drink milk but when it is done, it will just walk away. We humans also follow rules in initial phase of our life. A child will normally never over eat. The child just refuses to eat when full. But the mother of the child will always think that the child is eating less, and she will force more food than needed. End result the child will vomit.

What is it with breaking of rules? Humans will break rules while driving, while paying his taxes, while he is wooing his fiancée, in short at every stage in life if possible rules are broken. In some countries this percentage is less because Government is more vigilant! We really don’t know if it is necessary to break rules to achieve something. A businessman friend of mine, once showed me the calculation how he could make a lot of money by cheating on paying income tax. A month after this discussion, his whole family was raided by income tax department at 7 am. I met him a couple of days after the raid. He was very sad, naturally! After some time he said that he was very sad. I said that I can understand. He said he was not sad because of the raid. “Expense” for raid was budgeted for. But he was sad because his mother asked him a question, “When we have so much why you are cheating?” He had no answer and that made him sad. Ultimately we have to answer to HIM if not to your own mother (who anyway is GOD), is it not? I always keep on thinking how the world will be, if nobody breaks rules? Is it my utopian thinking?