Act do not react! 

Newton’s third law is, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects”; the size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object. The keyword is “opposite.”

The statement is on the techy side, and I also get worried when somebody makes such statements. So, let us talk in the language that all of us understand. In our life, some event or the other is always happening. There are meetings and discussions galore. There are smooth and hot discussions. Many times, we react to what someone has said. Sometimes the reaction is correct, and at other times it is incorrect because of different reasons. The second case is when a person has not explained correctly, or we have misunderstood what is said. But in both cases, we should not react. We should act. In the business scenario, such things can create business issues. In personal matters, we can suffer.

In the olden days, I used to work in an Aluminum foundry. We had a large compound. It was summertime, and in the empty area, the grass had grown and become dry. In the same place, our furnace oil tank was located. I was going from a building to another building and saw a cloud of smoke, fire, and commotion. Ours was a small factory, and I realised that we were not equipped to handle such fires. Our maintenance head was trying to extinguish the fire. I told him, “We need to take outside help.” The leader said, “Have you ever fought fires?” I said no, but I did not react or argue. I ran to our telephone room and called the fire brigade. I also decided to call Tata Motors and explained to them the situation. Within ten minutes, five fire tenders arrived and extinguished the fire. Tata Motors fire brigade chap said, “Good that you called us. We avoided a disaster.” I took him to the chief and told Tata person, “We acted as per his guidance.” Tata person congratulated the maintenance head and went away. Later, when we were having tea, the boss said, “Thanks, Pramod.” I smiled. The action helped, reaction from my side would have led to disaster.

US Airways flight 1549 took off from New York’s La Guardia airport on 15th January 2009, around 3.25 pm. It had 150 people on board. Within minutes it had a bird hit. Both engines of the Airbus 320 shut down. The primary pilot Sullenberger took charge, and the copilot Skiles was trying the SOP (standard operating procedure) to restart both engines. Within minutes they realised that the engines were not going to start again. They took a call to come back to the base and declared May Day! La Guardia asked them to come back to the airport and stopped all other flights as an emergency procedure took over. But by the time the pilots knew about the situation, absorbed it, analysed and acted upon it, precious time was lost. They did not react and never got into an argument with the ATC at the airport. They worked upon the prevailing conditions and declared that they would try for Teterboro airport instead. They were given clearance for that too. Within a short space of time, they realised that even that was not possible and informed the ATC that they were going to land in the Hudson River. They did it successfully without the loss of a single life.

In this event, both ATC’s and Pilots did not react but acted. They both had different parameters available to them and kept on taking decisions on the fly without arguing with each other. Even a thirty-second argument could have resulted in a major disaster as the time was at a premium. It was a classic case of acting instead of reacting, which saved the situation!


The slide above gives step by step information about acting and reacting. US Airways flight is the classic case of two sets of people handling the same situation differently. They were both correct in their perspective of the problem. They had a specific but different set of parameters available to them at their disposal. They were communicating with each other based on these details. The pilots were the ones who were in control of things, physically. Pilots and ATC’s are trained to discuss and behave calmly in the worst of the situations. By doing so, they argue less, with no raised voices. They are giving each other updates as well as the suggestions. By acting on each other’s advice and acting instead of reacting, in many cases, disaster was avoided.

The process of sharing information with another person is critical. It should be done in such a way that the sender’s message is understood as he intended it. Unless the sender and receiver are on the same page, they have not communicated effectively.

There are some critical points to be remembered when communicating with others. It could be personal communication or formal communication.

  • Do I have the facts, right?
  • Is my timing, right?
  • Is my attitude, right?  Am I trying to help the other person?
  • Are my words positive?
  • Do I need to seek counsel from someone else before I try to resolve this problem?

These are essential aspects of communication. One of the reasons why the start of the second world war was a surprise to Britain was that Prime Minister Chamberlain did not understand what Hitler was communicating to him. In his smooth way, Hitler was indicating to Chamberlain that, if required, Hitler would take over Britain. Chamberlain did not act on the soft threats and reacted by telling his people, “Oh! Do not worry. Hitler is not going to do anything nasty!”

What does a reaction do? The reaction starts the stress cycle for both sides. What it does is to create a situation where avoidable discussions start. These discussions are led more by ego rather than the desire to resolve the problem. Instead of this, both must find an escape route.

Years back, during my career, I used to work in a factory. We were having a discussion, and my senior said that a process should be handled in the way he explained to me. I was quite confident that he was incorrect. I said, “Ok! Sir, I will do it the way you have suggested.” It was an overnight process. I did it the way I knew, and the results were excellent. I told my senior the results. He did not ask me what method I had used. He was happy the results were good. The action was better than the reaction!

Are you stupid? 

My favourite Magazine was and is MAD! Who can forget the Crow Vs Crow stories? I always remember the Spy Vs Spy series. What a satirical humour it had! MAD would have stories on life in general, and one must read their political satires at least once in a lifetime. It is still alive in its new Avatar the print copy can be available only by specific methods! I am SAD like in MAD!  

I remember a perfect caricature “story” from this magazine. A skinny and very dead man is lying on the ground. A goon is standing above him with a smoking gun. A typical stupid character asks the goon, “What is happening?” The goon replies, “He was underweight; that is why pumping lead into him!” My friends, this is stupidity. Definition of stupidity is not as stupid as you might think! After searching on the net, I came across one of the best definitions of stupidity. Stupidity is overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information!  

I have read a book by Dr Atul Gawande. He is a practising surgeon in the Boston area and has written a brilliant book called “Checklist Manifesto”! Please read this exciting and intelligent book. According to him, the checklist concept started in the aviation industry and later on spread in other areas. It is about how to create and read the checklist to avoid stupid mistakes. World’s worst aviation accident occurred on the Tenerife islands. Two jumbo jets rammed into each other on the ground. One was travelling very fast as ATC had cleared it for take-off, and the other one was rolling towards the take-off area. The pilot of the second aircraft was busy reading the checklist as it was going slowly! Six hundred people died in that accident. Now I need not say why I liked the definition of stupidity! 

There are different kinds of stupidities in the worldthese can be scientific stupidity, military stupidity, literary stupidity, and so on. Example of military stupidity depends on the result. A group of soldiers may act when they know that they will never succeed in achieving the target. If they reach the goal, the act is called bravado; otherwise, it is stupidity!  

But there are many reasons why people behave in such a manner. There are two areas where you are made stupid. First is the act of a magician. His acts are such that he misdirects your attention and does his act in such a way that we feel that he is a magician. Such actions are for entertainment purpose. The other ones are frauds, cons or hoaxes. The people do these acts with the intention of cheating and are designed as malicious acts. Today’s so-called online scams are about the stupidity of the people. When people are robbed of their money by such actions, people realise how stupid they were. A professional in Pune paid Rs Sixty-five lacs (Six and half million) to register and create an online profile on a dating site. 

By now you must have realised stupid persons are not idiots. They are people like you and me. During one of the conferences, a lady got up and asked a question, “It may be a stupid question…” The speaker was a smart guy. He said with a smile, “Questions are never stupid, but people are! Please go ahead with your question.” 

What are the factors that lead to stupidity? First is being outside your typical environment or changing your routines — such circumstances lead to missing out on things which are easily known.  We behave in a different manner when we are in a group. The third is being in the presence of an expert or if you, yourself, are an expert. Fourth is doing any task that requires intense focus; the focusing activity can lead to odd situations. The fifth is the information overload that can lead to missing important information: six, physical or emotional stress, fatigue. If you have worked continuously for a long time, you might overlook essential signalsSometimes we work overnight on some project. You take a break for a couple of hours, take a quick nap. You wrongly feel that you are fresh again. It is the beginning of making mistakes. Rushing or “false” sense of urgency can lead us to make mistakes.  

Do not forget that in real life, more than one such situations always exist. If we are not careful about them, we tend to make blunders. Our favourite modern gadget, the cell phone, is a cause many such mistakes where lives are lost, we make accidents. It can lead to injuries and deaths. How many times have you heard people dying while crossing the road and simultaneously talking on a cell phone? The latest fad in India is to take selfies while standing at the edge of a valley. People have died showing themselves standing on the seashore to share live feed with friends- and suddenly a huge wave comes and takes you with it.  

How many horror stories we hear from the medical field? A patient gets operated on the left eye instead of the right eye. I will share one story shared by Dr Gawande in his book. Before any surgery, a hospital operation theatre would make a checklist. In one specific surgery, an antibiotic injection was required to be given 1 ½ hour before the surgery. The surgery was likely to cause a massive infection. The start time was nine a. m. On that particular day, the operations were getting delayed. Nine a. m. surgery got postponed to 10.30 a. m. The nurse did not keep track of the delay, and she gave the injection at 7.30. By the time the surgery started, it was three hours instead of a 1 ½ hours gap. The operation took three hours instead of two hours. By the time the patient was brought into the recovery room, the effect of the antibiotic had already tapered off. In the evening, the patient had a high fever, went into rigours. Nobody could find out what went wrong. The doctors checked the checklist, and everything was in order. Since it was an emergency, all were under stress. The nurse had done double duty on that day. She was physically and mentally tired. On rechecking everything, they found the reason. Antibiotic was given three hours before the surgery instead of 1½ hour. The patient went into septicemia and died!  

How many such stories do we know? Many patients do not come out of the operation theatre; they are killed inside by stupid mistakes.  

We are driving on highway. The radio is going full blast, and your friend calls you to check if you have taken the right exit. At the same time, your friend sitting next to you asks you the same question about the exit. The first thing we should not do is not to pick up the phone. The second thing would have been to put the radio offtry and stop where we are allowed stopping. Then maybe check your GPS or call your friend. Multitasking is difficult even when we are sitting in our home or office. Trying to multitask at 100 km speed is not at all easy. We are driving at 100 km speed, and radio waves are going into your ear. Then you are trying to speak on cell phone plus listening to what your friend in the car is asking you.  

I need not elaborate on what can happen; we become overconfident. We are acting the way the pilot of the jumbo jet acted. People in a rush forget their passport at the security check. Some people forget stuff like musical instruments worth millions of dollars in trains, on the flights. I had forgotten a pouch containing a camera and some cash in a wellknown hotel lobby in Santa Clara. I realised after about twenty minutes. I rushed back, but it was gone.  

The importance of looking for crucial information need not be emphasised; it is necessary to pay attention to it. It’s conspicuous like it’s right in front of your nose and yet you either overlook it or you dismiss it. How not to be stupid, what are the causes of human error? Most stupidity is ignored or swept under the rug if the consequences are not severe. So, friends, let us not be stupid; it can cost heavily!  




Are we a nation of petty people?

ISRO, Large computer literate population, Recent jump to power surplus nation though distribution is an issue. India as a nation surprises people with extremes; we have extremes in the number of major languages written and spoken, extremes in rainfall variations, extremes in average temperatures. India and the Indians are an enigma. People world over find it tough to understand India and Indians.

Even I find it challenging to understand our own people. From the early 90s of the last century, economic changes started happening in India, leading to the creation of wealth. The changes led to the creation of a massive group of middle-class people. The story continues; inflations, deflations are always there, but the large number middle class has become a fact of life.  This group of people has started travelling on holidays in India as well as in foreign countries. The subject of the title is how Indians are getting infamous on the travel circuit. I had written an article on a similar subject a few months back.

There are many examples of petty-minded behaviour of Indians on the tours. How does this happen? Why does this happen? Have we not overcome the shortage era of the 60s and 70s of the last century? Indians sometimes travel in large groups. Ages back, we were taking a flight back from New York to Mumbai. There was a group of fifty people on the plane. It was a direct flight. The noise and chaos they created on the flight were to be seen and heard to be believed. Finally, when we landed in Mumbai, they clapped and danced for five minutes, as if they were on a charter flight. They did not follow the instructions of the crew, not to stand up while the plane was taxiing. The pilot finally announced that he would stop the aircraft unless people sat down. Okay, you are in a group having fun, but what about others?  What about basic decency?


Recently, I have read two new items about people stealing items from the resorts and pinching apples, cakes, and scones from the breakfast spread; this was done to save money on lunch later during the day! A hotel in Switzerland had put a notice specifically for Indian guests. It is humiliating, and industrialist Harsh Goenka formally protested against it. After many more protests, they removed the notice. But why did they put it up? They must have seen our brethren taking away food items for later consumption.

A group of 1300 hundred Indians, dealers of an organisation, were taken for Sydney harbour cruise. The total number of passengers on the cruise was around 2500. The group created so much ruckus during the cruise that others were fed up. They troubled the staff too, but staff had to continue with a smiling face. The chaos was in the food area, the bars, and the play area. Where ever they went situation went out of control. The issue was reported to the management of the cruise company. At the end, when the cruise ship came back to the harbour, all the passengers other than the group were given an apology letter. They were offered a full refund or a coupon which could be used in one year’s times, for the same cruise. Can such acts of rough and rowdy public behaviour be justified, ever? Why did this group behave this way? I have no answers.

A recent viral video that showed Indian guests getting caught stealing hotel items in a Bali resort, triggered controversy in India and abroad. While many Indians acknowledged that Indian tourists had received a bad rap in the West for misbehaviour, many others argued that the family caught stealing in no way represented Indians in general. The resort was a high-end resort, so the people who stayed there had loads of money. That does not mean they behaved better; it is simply in their DNA.


In the video circulating on the net, members of the Indian family are seen arguing with the hotel staff. But that didn’t stop the security man from opening every suitcase and taking out things that were stolen from their room – such as towels, electronics, decorative pieces, and other stuff. “We are really very sorry. It is a family tour. We will “pay you.” (bribe?) Please let us go because we have to catch our flight,” one of the women is seen telling the man.  Other security officials are also seen frisking their baggage in the video. “I will pay,” one of the family members exclaimed,  but the man from the hotel refused to “take” money (offered as a bribe) “I know you have a lot of money, but this is no respect.”

There are a couple of other methods people follow to save on the expense. When we go to some museums or monuments, there are guides on hire.  These people follow a group who have hired a guide. They stay a couple of meters behind and can hear everything!

One more method used by these people is when they want to use the loo! Many washroom areas have the main door which can be opened on paying the money. When the door opens, as many people from the group as possible will barge in at the cost of a single payment. Poor show?

Is this a modern trend? Is it a new style? In olden days only rich people would fly internationally. I knew someone who used to mint money. He used to travel to Europe 3 to 4 times a year for work. Once he invited us home for a cup of coffee. I had never flown in those days. I saw many small pillows of different types and shapes. I asked him where did he get such lovely pillows? He said, “When I fly to Europe, every time I bring a couple of them from the plane!” Wow, he used to steal them but was he proud?

I am aware that shop-lifting is a sickness. This sickness is called Kleptomania. But from the examples discussed above, none of the people seems to be a Kleptomaniac. Is this behaviour justified when a person is short of funds? The thoughts that come to mind are about why do people try and do something which is not correct!

Let me end this with a sad story. An IT engineer stayed at a five-star hotel in Hyderbad for one month, about 15 years back. In those days large, flat TV’s had just started coming to the market. He was a very talkative person and had shared the details like his flight number, back to Pune. He checked out. After he went away, to the horror of the staff, the TV from his room was missing. They managed to reach the airport as he was at the check-in counter. He had hidden the TV in one of his bags! Well, I cannot even think of explaining such behaviour. He had a high salary and could have easily afforded the TV, still why he did it? Kleptomania?

Self-help books.
Self-help books.

Sudden ….

Some things happen gradually, and other things happen suddenly. What is reasonable, gradual or sudden? It depends on circumstances and events. In sporting events like hockey and football, there are sudden death goals. Till the last moment in the game, it is possible that team A is controlling the match but is not able to score the coveted goal. But at an opportune moment team, team B gets a chance to score that goal! The goal scored causes “sudden death”! The only word to explain such an event is destiny!

Many such events happen in life. We think that these are sudden events, but not all are sudden. Heart attack in sporadic cases is sudden. A friend ten years senior to me is a retired Air Force pilot. Once we were discussing heart attack, he said, “ Heart attack is a failure of hydraulic systems in different ways. Aeroplane and heart are very similar. In the aeroplanes only one hydraulic system needs to be checked while flying; crews can check all other systems on the ground. When a plane crashes, it is either due to pilot error or maintenance failure.”

I checked on the net and found that there are very few situations where death is instantaneous. The so-called sudden events always have some history in the background. The situation is getting developed which we miss out. In the case of health, we miss out on body signals. In case of relationships, we miss out on indications. In the case of professional work, there are precedents known, and histories are available about failures. But we think that those are sudden failures, which they are not.

Years back there was an event where I was deeply involved. I family friend called me, I was in the office. She said, “Please drop everything and come to my home immediately.” I rushed. She said that mother of her son’s girlfriend had called. The couple fought, and it appeared that the girl tried to immolate herself. But my friend said, “ This is sudden, and  it is impossible. They have broken off more than six months back. How can this happen?” I took some action by which would get some time. I made the Son “vanish” or sent him to a location not easy to find. The act was to buy some time if the police started looking for him. By that time, her husband came back from office. Her husband and I went to that girl’s home. The girl had locked up our man’s scooter to a pillar using a chain, proving that the boy had visited them. On discussion, we found out they were regularly meeting for the last six months even after the breakup. They had exchanged letters and gifts. Somehow we managed to settle the problem. But there was nothing “Sudden” as my friend had said. The boy’s family was unaware of their meetings, but the girls family knew everything.

Accidents do happen suddenly. In such cases, sometimes we get time, sometimes we don’t. US Airways flight 1549 was climbing up after take off. That afternoon’s events were at 3.24 clearance, 3.25 take off, at 3:27:11 there was a significant bird hit. At 3:27:33 the pilot declared MAYDAY, a major emergency. At 3.31 water landing in Hudson River in New York. The expert pilot Sullenberger and his co-pilot managed to land safely, and all 155 people survived. Could they have done something differently? I don’t think so. The expert panel had suggested the pilots could have landed at an airport based on the evidence available. But it was proven that there is reaction time to be considered in case of such emergencies. Humans take time to absorb the shock and react. After the bird hit, for about 20 seconds the pilots were stunned and could not respond. These 20 seconds converted the event into “sudden” catastrophe variety. Luckily there were no deaths.

A 42-year-old son of a friend died recently. He had some medical history and was going through rehabilitation under medical guidance. He was doing some exercise in the hospital premises, about 100 meters from a trauma care facility. But he got such a massive attack, one of those rare events, that he could not be taken across for treatment. This death is a sudden event, and there is nothing humans can do about it except accept the fact that the event has occurred.

Some unforeseen events give us joy, for example winning a lottery ticket. Nobody can predict the winning of the lottery, and it can provide humans with great pleasure. The death of the man is also a sudden event which brings extreme sadness in our lives. As explained the tiff of the lovers was not sudden but was unexpected for the boy’s family.

Falling in love in life is one of the most pleasant events in life. This event is also described as Love at First Sight! Such an event occurs in case of very few lucky people.


Consider the earthquakes. An earthquake is an event which occurs suddenly. The above diagram indicates the science behind earthquakes. This science is not yet perfect and even the scientists who are trying to track when an earthquake can occur, are still unable to do so. For you and me it is a sudden event, and all that we can do is pray! Volcanoes, Landslides also come under the same category as earthquakes, and we can hope that the eruption is not too severe!

Lately, a new man-made thing which is causing real worries, is Terrorist Attack! These have started the world over in late ’70 s and are unexpected events. There are many things happening world over like illegal migrations, the tyranny of dictators which lead to such attacks. Even the best of the security majors are not able to prevent them entirely. These attacks come under sudden category!

Another pleasant sudden event is Inheritance. Some people are lucky to get it, but most don’t.

Friends, my experience is that the “Sudden” events in majority cases, are not pleasant ones. Why does this happen? Is it because we always assume that bad things will never happen in our lives? There is a saying “Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst”! What does it mean? It means that we must have a positive attitude but be prepared for a bad outcome. But we don’t follow this idiom. By doing this, we manage not to get entangled in situations that are “Sudden”!

Cheers! I suddenly remembered that I was expected somehwere two hours back!

Irrational Thinking!

My nephew is a senior Air Force pilot. Years back when we were discussing something, he said, “Pramod Kaka, this has to be true. It was there in yesterday’s newspapers.” I told him that I would put an advertisement is a newspaper, saying that he is an idiot. Will that be true? He realized the folly of his argument. All of us make similar errors in our lives when we are taking a decision. We always try to go by existing norms or “truths”. It is very easy to compare the current situation with the existing norms. We don’t want to deviate from these norms. Many times the decision based on this thinking could be wrong but the status quo in thinking is what we opt for. 

Humans always take pride in saying that they are always very rational and take decisions based on logical well considered thought. But there are many times when we make emotional, irrational, and confusing choices. But there are some very obvious errors we make while taking decisions like my nephew did!  


Follow the leader tendency 

On the internet we see articles with titles like “8 Things Successful People Do Every day” or “The Best Advice Richard Branson Ever Received” or “How Tendulkar followed an exercise regime since childhood”. These articles give pointers to you to understand the path used by successful people. 

Follow the leader tendency is to focus on the winners in a particular area and try to learn from them while completely forgetting about hundreds of losers who are employing the same strategy. 

A similar example is “Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of school and became billionaires! You don’t need school to succeed. Entrepreneurs just need to stop wasting time in class and get started.” It’s possible that Richard Branson succeeded in spite of his path and not because of it. For every Branson, Gates, and Zuckerberg, there are thousands of other entrepreneurs with failed projects, debt-heavy bank accounts, and half-finished degrees. Follow the leader tendency isn’t merely saying that a strategy may not work well for you, it’s also saying that we don’t really know if the strategy works well at all. 

When the winners are remembered and the losers are forgotten it becomes very difficult to say if a particular strategy leads to success.  Ten thousand to one may be the ratio of forgotten and remembered people. For hundreds of thousand failed cricketers, we think about a Tendulkar. It’s good to aim to be a Tendulkar. We only know a general path Tendulkar took to succeed but we don’t know ALL the details of what he did! Tendulkar also never went to college, so not going to college to become a successful cricketer is not the path for everybody. Tendulkar did not go to college because he was already an international player when he reached college age and never got time to go to college! 

Loss Aversion 

We have been taught from childhood be a topper, be a winner all the time in whatever we do! But life is never that simple. In an exam, you must come first, in races you should win, in singing you should be the best. But to be a winner in every aspect of life is simply not possible. But then how do you learn to lose? Nobody teaches you how to lose. One avenue where you win some and lose some is the sports arena! Every individual or every team in any sports activity they play wins and loses! The winning and losing games is a great education. This teaches us that life is the same as any game. You win some and lose some!

When we become overly competitive, every aspect of life becomes a competition! On a toll booth, if other lines move fast, we get upset. Consider two transactions, in one we gain Rs.100/ and in the other we lose Rs.100/. In one case we are elated and in the other, we feel a loss. But the intensity of elation and loss for the same amount is different. Humans don’t like to lose. I bought a pair of shoes a few days back but I did not feel like disposing of my old shoes. That is human nature. In today’s startup scenario it is considered that you do not have sufficient experience if your CV does not show a couple of failed ventures in your name. Failures are the path to success.  

Decisions based on limited knowledge 

To believe in things that are easily available and visible is a common mistake that our brains make, by assuming that the examples which come to mind easily are the most important or prevalent things.  

We are living in the most peaceful time in history, and also the best reported time in history. Information on any disaster or crime is more widely available than ever before. A quick search on the Internet will pull up more information about the most recent terrorist attack than any newspaper could have ever delivered 100 years ago. The recent killing of the Police Officer in UP is a classic case. A lot of information is coming up everywhere in the form of visuals, videos, sound bites; views of different leaders, social scientists are heard and read continuously. This creates an atmosphere as if the world as we know is going down the drain. Yes, what happened was extremely bad but the things are in reasonable control. Social media is equally responsible for creating such a tense atmosphere.  

The overall percentage of dangerous events is decreasing, but the likelihood that you hear about one of them (or many of them) is increasing. And because these events are readily available in our mind, our brains assume that they happen with greater frequency than they actually do. We overvalue and overestimate the impact of things that we can remember and we undervalue and underestimate the prevalence of the events we hear nothing about.  

The end result of all this euphoria is while taking decisions about things we only go by what is currently discussed and what is discussed boldly but is not necessarily correct. Sometimes I feel that social media was designed by Goebbels.


We go by what we believe in and what we want to believe in. If we believe that demonetization was good for the economy, we will look at every statement and article and speech against it, as some stupidity or we will call it paid news. If we believe in climate changes, anything against your view, you  will tend to ignore. Similarly, while taking decisions, we go by what we believe is right and nothing else.  

Friends, I have discussed something which is the issue with all of us. So, we will think that we need to change and be more rational. But it is easier said than done. Changing our way of thinking is one of the toughest things in this world. Sometimes this is also called Ego! But to be on the practical side, we should try to realize that we should be more rational while thinking on any subject. We may have grown up in a family, where paying taxes was considered irrational. But when we think rationally….

We are all self-centred. We always think in our own cocoons or silos! The best example is the famous sentence, “What my nation has done for me?”; but we never think of the counter question, “What have I done for my nation?” Be rational, don’t be self-centred. Let us not be an Ostrich and bury our head in the sand! 


Who packed my Parachute?

My friend Vivek sends me some beautiful videos and stories. One story he sent me, is a story about a fighter pilot, who was required to para jump out of his airplane. Pilot asks a question, “Who packed my parachute?” For the pilot, parachute is the backup that is life and death for him. In our lives all of us have someone in the back ground who packs our parachutes. Not all of us are pilots and not all our situations are life and death situations. But day to day  situations arise where we need support.

In case of the pilot, his official back up system which has the safety person, who handles important function of packing his Parachute, performing this duty to perfection! I felt that “Packing the Parachute” is a metaphor for support system in our everyday life. In our lives, we also have parachute packers. They are always working in background and they are relentless and selfless in their work. Nature of this work is quite serious, this needs to be done consistently day in and day out. We think that practice sorties taken by Airforce pilots are very important for the safety of our nation but the parachute packers like those who pack the parachute, those who perform the maintenance of the Aero planes are equally important. The Airforce pilots are parachute packers for the nation’s defense!

In humans and other species, mothers pack the parachute till the baby is on its own. Only thing that changes is the duration of this initial support system. In birds it may be a few days, in humans it is till the child becomes independent. But in the mind of the mothers in humans, this support system lasts life-long! How does this happen? Why this is done? Such  support system is without any expectation from the child in return! Mothers have carried their child in the wombs and this creates an affinity that cannot be described, it cannot be explained. It is just there. Even when one becomes older, the mothers have a knack of knowing what is happening in your mind, if something is wrong with your health, when you need physical support or mental support. The mothers will leave everything else, to pack the Parachute for the child.

Unstinted support that is given is sometimes not known to us and is most unexpected. I have shared this story in a blog in March 2014. When a dangerous industrial safety situation arose in a factory, the plant was evacuated. The plant-in-charge and a colleague decided to inspect the situation. Things were brought under control by their actions. When the in-charge turned to go away from the danger zone, after finding things were under control, he saw 4/5 workers standing just behind him. He said, “I told you to evacuate, why did you come inside?” The reply was, “Sir, when you were in a dangerous situation, we were just behind you to help, if needed!”.

These are Parachute packers of our life. In our life we have friends, family and others who may not be close to you on day to day basis. These persons or group of people are just there behind you, just in case, if needed. How does this happen? What makes people think differently than others? Is it the love between two humans, not necessarily equals? Is it inborn in the people? In normal course your parents, sibling’s, close relatives and friends are expected to be such people, but there have been instances when this group of people have remained spectators. Your parachute packer, lurking in the background, raised his hand! 

Do we work on creating such support system? Is such support quid pro quo? No, it is definitely not quid pro quo! Such people are simply born that way. Like mothers, these people also pack your parachute because they just want to do it! Who does not need parachute packers in their lives? I feel that all of us, need such people in our lives. It is simply because money can’t buy everything. There are some situations where you may have financial where withal but that does not get support you are looking for; you may be two minds about the decision to be taken in a tough situation. You may feel lost in a situation; Parachute packers are there to you in the background. You go to them and they will help you. Or maybe sometimes they will come to help you without your calling them. 

In case of the Parachute packer for the pilot, parachute packing is his job, it is his work. But I am talking of those who support others on their own, because they just want to do so. I will share with you a story about a professional. He was a very smart professional in technical marketing field. He had exceled in his job and everything looked hunky dory, from a distance. One day he went to see a friend of his. They were good friends but did not meet regularly. Our man told his friend, let’s go out somewhere. They went and settled near a lake; the guy looked very upset and tense. He said, please help me I have an issue in my job. The problem was that gentleman had simply started hating his job; and going to office, daily,  was a big “No, No” for him. He did not have any professional issue, and he was not sure what caused this. He also said that once he felt like committing suicide. His friend talked to him for some time and helped him to decide to quit that job. He nursed him back to normalcy. The gentleman took another job and is very happy with his life for last 30 years. The person who did this is a close friend of mine. I asked him why this friend came to him? He is still not sure, but my friend spent almost 3 months in nursing that person back to routine; they have met only once after that episode in, 30 years!

Why was my friend approached in this situation? My analysis is that my friend is a great listener, he is a person with empathy, he is very sharp and can judge things in correct perspective, quickly. He is not afraid to call spade a spade! And most important is that during this critical phase took special efforts to find time for this gentleman who was in difficulty! Is that description of a Parachute Packer? I don’t know but my description should be at least 85% correct. Friends could you help me in finding balance 15% qualities which I could not define? I wish I had at least 50% of these qualities in me! Happy Parachuting!