Clean up act

It’s that time of the year, where most people here in India begin an extensive cleaning exercise for the big festival – Diwali. Home improvement, fixing the furniture, getting the walls done to much simpler things like throwing away unused items are on the to-do list. I decided to start a bit earlier than usual, considering its our first Diwali after getting married. As i dusted and picked up random receipts, card statements, brochures and bills i could retrace some wise and a few unwise buying decisions. While most of the stuff we had stashed away wasn’t of any utilitarian value, I had to keep some of it because of sentimental connect. Somehow there is always an emotional connect to inanimate things like books etc.

With every irrelevant and broken item i put away, i felt much better. It got me thinking to how much we accumulate over days, weeks and months without actually realizing the burden we are creating for ourselves. The burden, if that’s what we choose to call it for now – can be physical, emotional or materialistic. But no matter what, its important to pause and reflect. The cleaning bit is always a good way to let it off.

Another aspect that came to my mind about cleaning up centered on how a major cleaning of the mindset is required. In the past few weeks several stories have done the rounds on social media. First there were photo leaks due to a icloud hack, then Emma Watson got threatened after her UN speech and a powerful media house took on a popular actress. In most cases, women were objectified and blamed that they were asking for it. While the explanations defeat logic, all of this has left a lot of tongues wagging. Sure we are talking about gender equality, women empowerment and work place equality. But what would it take for us to break out of the regressive mindset? Some men would be intimidating the wife at home, getting intimidated by the female boss at work and end up going for the latest movie released to go watch some lead actress being objectified over celluloid. I cannot even begin to connect the dots and put all of it in perspective. All i know is that a major cleaning of the mindset is required. It’s not going to be easy. But given the number of decades and generations we’ve spent discussing, its most required now.

clean-up-act

 

Leadership

As wikipedia defines it, Leadership is basically “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. While my extent of knowledge on this subject is not as extensive as i’d have hoped it to be, i think TED talks are a good source for inspiration. I’ve seen several talks but the one that i could connect with best is the one by Sheryl Sandberg.

Sheryl makes an important start by highlighting that women are not making it to the top in corporate (15%) or political sector (13%) across the world. She explains how the numbers are not getting any better even withing the start-up sector. The part about women having harder choices is a valid one too. It’s increasingly difficult for married women to make the choice between professional success & personal fulfillment. Quite a lot of cases exist where women chose the former to loose out on personal fulfillment. I think that would lead to a lot of regret. She follows up that point with another valid observation that women taking up their career as the top priority tend to put off having children for quite a while or maybe don’t conceive at all. Another important obsevation is that women tend to underestimate themselves. Maybe negotiation isn’t one of the top skill sets women have. I think a lot of these notions are rooted in culture and upbringing. But, having said that even educated people carry conflicted notions. One of the most striking pointers was that success and popularity is inversely related for women. This reminds me of the #BanBossy campaign where even Beyonce had a voice to lend. I’m not quite sure at this point about the best way for one to combat all of the bias that is created for / against women. But what i do know is that this talk always inspires me to think more on the lines of what i can do better going ahead.