25 September 2020

Times Now in Republic India Today

A Personal take on the media circus that we have witnessed in the last 3 months

Media Circus

The drama started unfolding with the shocking end to a promising life

but everyone smelt the rat and suspected the menace that ran rife.

A rebel without a cause fights on, brave and unfazed 

Even as she 'Ran out' of space in the ruins that got razed.

The 'nuis'ance media pants and rants in their race to gloat 'Exclusive'

but, is it their birthright to be abusive and intrusive?

Republic may be the name but freedom of speech is a big nay

they will grab 'Ar nab' your views even before you have a say

The Nation wants to know, why do they dramatize and overplay

with the frenzied debates always ending in disarray.

NCB is like that excited and confused kid in a candy store

too overjoyed to grab anything but still wants more

Was the bureau sleeping even as the A-Listers turned brats?

Sadly, they are left chasing the tail armed only with few historical chats.

Even as the masked and dazed divas beeline for interrogation

One can't help but wonder, whatever happened to the original murder investigation

Truth in India Today is all about what you chose to believe in

We live in an interesting Times Now where sensationalism masks all sin.

We have seen this movie before and we all know how it ends

Justice and closure in favor of all those who are friends

17 August 2020

The Big Picture

How often have we been told to look at the big picture? 

The good part is, no one will admit to not seeing one for the fear of being brandished as not too smart. After all, it is the realm of visionary leadership trait. Details are often relegated to the poor foot soldiers to deal with. After all, Leadership is all about showing the Big Picture is it not? Besides, if we just focus on the small details, we will never get the big picture. That is a good excuse to avoid details and paint your version of the big story. Do you agree?

Having done a few canvas paintings over the past 3 years, I wanted to transition to the larger versions. Or in other words, I wanted to paint a big picture. A very big one at that. The fun part of painting on canvas is that you create your magical world and live in it.  Maybe not forever but at least as long as you are painting it. It’s a different matter that I have never figured out why these paintings always looked better in my head than on the canvas I have painted in.   Well, that is a challenge for another day. 

Armed with paints, brushes a blank wall, and more importantly the permission to paint the wall, I was all set. I even had a reference photo so that took care of the problem of my ‘creative- challenged’ mind. And, before I knew it,  I was staring at the huge blank wall in front of me - A proverbial blank canvas that I could paint my world in. I felt like God. 

But then there was this small question that posed a big challenge. Where do I start? The harsh reality of the magnitude of the task ahead erased every hazy detail of the image I had in mind. (Ok, in the laptop screen).  Did I say, I felt like God? An overwhelmed clueless God, I must admit. 

But don’t little things matter? Don’t these small details make big things happen? I  decided to tackle the challenge by focussing on the details and started painting one little detail at a time. One tiny brushstroke at a time. I chose to ignore the big picture and looked at everything close-up.  I was no longer trying to create a Master Piece but focussed on the smallest of details. Slowly but steadily from the blank emptiness of the wall emerged a serene forest.  25 hours later when I stepped back from the wall, there it was, my version of the big picture. Click here for the video to see the details up close.

Wall painting with acrylics

Not everyone is a gifted visionary. Ordinary mortals like my self, may not be able to paint a big story that inspires the world. But that does not mean, we cannot get there. We simply have to take a different route. We can reach that big picture, with one tiny brushstroke at a time. Layer after layer, detail after detail, element after element we can build our picture up without feeling overwhelmed at not seeing the big picture. 
Small details
Close Up Pictures of the painting to show details

Small details are not the enemy of the big picture. They are not mutually exclusive traits of leadership too. So do not bother about figuring out if you are a big picture person or the details person. You can be both. You need to be both. There is no shame in paying attention to details. 

We can be that foot soldier who takes care of the details that help emerge the big picture. One tiny detail at a time creates a large forest. Nature has been doing it successfully for billions of years. So why can't we? 

05 August 2020

Lessons from an auto rickshaw ride

Have you ever felt that helpless frustration of being taken for a ride?

Tuk TukIf not, then maybe you have not experienced an auto-rickshaw (Tuk Tuk) ride in India. For some, an ‘auto’ ride is like a death wish on 3 wheels, for some others, it is one of the most essential conveniences to beat traffic and time. But if you are one of those who are not riding in an ‘auto’ then it is a nuisance on 3 wheels that are always threatening to knock you down or scratch your expensive car. So much so, that it is almost fashionable for most living in Chennai or visiting this city to complain about the rude auto-rickshaw drivers and rough rides that follow. Not to mention the ‘not so fair’ fares. But is there a Leadership lesson that we can pick up at the end of this bumpy ride?

Having traveled a few times in these 3 wheeled automobile marvels I have come to realize that there is more to this ride than just the rough side. In fact, if we manage to hang in there through the potholes, sharp turns, tampered fare meter et-all, then this ride can teach us some important lessons for both lives in general and handling the challenges at the workplace.  

Lesson 1: Every Problem has a solution 

Every now and then we come across a challenge that seems unsurmountable – a challenge that seems to have no apparent solution. An auto-rickshaw driver faces this situation every day in the jam-packed roads with hardly any space to maneuver. And yet, they somehow see as many gaps as there are vehicles on the road. They don’t look at what’s in front but what’s ahead. How do they do that?

They follow 3 simple essentials of leadership

Understand the rules well enough to know when to break them

If you have any doubts, go on one of those rides where the vehicle cuts an impossibly sharp angle to beat the jam ahead. The auto drivers don't always do this but just when it is essential. Some times, rules don't get you past a hurdle.  

It is not a popularity contest

These drivers are not the most popular ones on the road and they don't care about winning hearts either. Cutting through jammed traffic to drop a time-crunched passenger does not always happen if you are Mr. Nice. 

Focus on the solution and not the problems

An auto driver always looks for the gaps and not the vehicles in front that is blocking his route. Just as how a good leader looks only for solutions and not the problems in front. 

Lesson 2:Unknown angel better than the known devil  

When faced with overwhelming problems (heavy traffic) the ‘auto’ almost always goes into roads less traveled and maybe even into streets that have no road. An auto-rickshaw driver knows that a known devil (the main road with traffic) is a devil but is always optimistic about the new routes. It’s their hope for an angel rather than the fear of devil that helps pass the traffic. A gamble is always better than the status quo. You will never find an auto-rickshaw standing helpless in traffic. They always strive to move ahead. So what if you don’t approve of their methods. Often times, our problems are so much a result of our fear of failure and the resulting inaction. Don't you agree?

Lesson 3: Take that first step

An important and fascinating lesson I have learned through an auto ride is how a solution emerges once we are ready to resolve the problem. The trick is to take that first step, however small it may seem. Have you noticed how an auto-rickshaw manages to pass through the narrowest of gaps that were not even wide enough for the front wheel to pass through, to start with? The auto never waits for the complete solution to emerge but works with what it has and lets the answer evolve. Course corrections are part of the norm. True pioneers of the agile methodology I suppose. 

Lesson 4: Self Belief

It is easy to believe that for a vehicle on 3 wheels and a high center of gravity to stay on the road without tipping over then it has to be a miracle at play and not just engineering logic. But miracles don't happen every day. Do they? The supreme self-belief of the driver on his driving skills, his confidence about his vehicle's capability, and the knowledge of the road is what makes this miracle happen every day. Essential traits of a true leader. Aren't they?

Always remember, we are never taken for a ride in life. We are only taken on a ride. It is up to us to enjoy the distinction and more importantly enjoy the ride while it lasts. 

Next time you get into one of these 3 wheeled marvels, remember not to complain about the nerve-wracking, back-breaking ride. Instead, sit back and enjoy the adventure while it lasts, pick up all the amazing lessons from your journey and get down a better Leader.

10 June 2020

Made in China

The world blames China for this pandemic and the call to boycott their products is understandable. But is it practical? Or is it just emotional rhetoric that will last until the next crisis or the next elections (don't they mean the same?) Closer home, is it not too early and ambitious for India to believe that this is our time to replace China as the factory of the world? 

Made in chinaYou may hate them but you can't ignore them. Look around your own house and try to pick something that is not '中国制造Zhōngguó zhìzào (Made in China) or at least a part of it made there. From consumer goods to medicines to planes to cars, we rely on them. We are happy to sit comfortably on the recliners made in China, while watching a TikTok video or playing PUBG on our Xiaomi phone in the living room designed on Feng Shui principles, waiting for the Chinese food to be door delivered. All the while, 'Hotei' or the Laughing Buddha as we know him, keeps smiling at us from the corner of our room. And yet, we want to boycott China.  Like it or not, we are the reason why 中国人无处不在  Zhōngguó rén wú chù bùzài. (the Chinese are everywhere).We let them encroach our world. They created dependency and we fell for it. Because it made a lot of sense. The truth is, it still does. 

Toaster Economics is a reality and the Chinese understood this long before others did. It takes more than 400 subparts made out of 100 different materials to make a humble toaster. It is cheaper and quicker to procure these parts and assemble a toaster rather than making it from scratch. In the business world, the economy of scale decides who wins and who bites the dust. The Chinese may not eat bread toasts for breakfast but they know that the rest of the world loves it and they need toasters. So they decided to be the Factory to the world. They built infrastructure and assets to scale for global needs. 40% of the world's overall trade happens with China. Almost all countries import more from China than they export to them. And they did not achieve this status overnight.

China is known as the natural resource deficient country. So theirs is not an overnight rag to riches story like some of the gulf countries. They didn't take the elevator but climbed every rung of the ladder. Hate them as much as you will, but we must remember that they are the ones to beat. Their political landscape played a crucial role in sustaining a vision, their inherent skill, and discipline made them perfectly suited for mass production manufacturing. With cheap labor cost to boost, Made in China became inevitable for countries across the globe to grow their business. It still is. So what changed suddenly?

Everything is fine until it is not. 

This global lockdown has not just made the world wear a mask but has also helped us remove the blinkers. It has given us a new perspective. This break has given us the opportunity to pause and take a step back to assess our follies. We are now seeing the obvious. Conspiracy theories about the origination of COVID-19 fuelled this into anger and the upcoming elections are stoking this anti-China fire.  Ban China, Boycott Chinese product sentiment is echoing across the globe. This rhetoric might help some 'Trump' the upcoming elections. But the larger question remains, can the world afford to exit the dragon? 

Are we ready to Make in India?

'Make in India' is not a magic switch to turn China off and turn India on. It is an intent statement that needs to be backed with decades of discipline and planning. Small and Medium Industries that will have to play a major role in making this intent succeed are still relying on cheap Chinese made machines to be competitive.  India will have to spend billions in building the infrastructure needed to produce the volumes, efficiency to reduce the turn around times, reforms to improve the ease of doing business, and many more aspects to reduce their reliance on China. Let alone wriggling completely out of the dragon's jaws.  Statue of Unity is India's pride and an architectural wonder for sure. But this Made in India monument needed parts Made in China to stand tall and make us proud. Think about it.

Make in India is a great start.No doubt. Countries looking to reduce the dependency on China is a wise move. But, we will all do well to remember that it took more than 30 years of ruthless single-minded leadership led by a common vision and discipline to make China reach where they are. 

Don't you agree?

30 May 2020

Online education for India

"When the student is ready, the teacher arrives"

Google has been that teacher for me whenever the student in me is ready. It has been my best friend, mentor, guide, and many more in the last 15 years and has taught me most of what I know today. Does that make me a big fan of the online education system? Maybe, not entirely. 

In my view, online, learning is ideal for adults who want to augment a new skill, for job seekers to clear that last mile employability hurdles or those who are looking for a certificate of merit. Proficiency in a subject alone does not make you a capable person. You can never replace the overall personality development basics inculcated by the formal education system. Most of the top companies across the globe are led by Indians. They did not learn online to get to where they are. I believe that a complete online system can and should never replace the traditional system. Of course, that does not take away the need to upgrade the current education system. 

Also read: Artificial Intelligence or Natural Stupidity

Less than 30% of Indians have access to online and less than 15% have a computing device at home. So we are a long way away from online education. However, from a business point of view, this is the industry to be in for the following reasons.

  • Survey statistics might say that only 15% of Indian students have a smartphone or a device. But a tiny percentage in India is still more than the entire student population of many countries. So this will become one of the fastest-growing industries in India for sure. 
  • With the present governments focus on Digital India and several initiatives launched to promote online education programs, we will see growth. 
  • Gamification is the key to this model. Especially for the kids. Byju's of the world are getting better at it and that explains their popularity. 
  • The cost of traditional education is still very high for many. Online can be an affordable solution if accessibility issues are addressed.
  • India does not have many teachers. Our student-teacher ratio is really bad. So we need this model.

New need not be the enemy of the Old. The generations thus far, haven't done too bad with the traditional systems. I hope we continue the traditional systems and augment it with the online education system to produce a better generation. 

25 April 2020

The Mask Of Sorrow

I have a dream, declared an ambitious heart.

If you can dream it, then I can achieve it challenged the cunning brain.

Aim bigger and go for more, egged the greedy mind.  

We are born to rule roared the ego.

Our superior intelligence has certainly given us the edge over the other species. And this advantage has also given us the belief that the earth belongs only to us. Our world domination might still be a work in progress but this juggernaut has been gaining momentum. The fun part is, we even managed to get rid of the unnecessary nuisance of guilt and remorse along the way. So we don't regret our actions. Life was never this beautiful and comfortable. Who cares if animals don’t share this sentiment? The Earth itself might feel abused. Do we care? Of course not? We are born to rule this planet and rule we shall. 

With an air of invincibility and conviction of our destiny to reach the imagined future, we were all set for another high octane ride this year. Unfortunately, the pride of our past success and the race towards the imagined future, made us lose sight of the present. We failed to notice that nature was secretly scheming to put us in place. We even ignored the clues that nature was trying to give us. We failed to listen to a chilling question that nature was asking us, 'Where is your mask'? 

Social Distancing

Why would we pay heed? After all, we are invincible and we fear nothing. Do we? Since the beginning of this year, that ominous question Where is your mask kept ringing in the air. But most countries were busy squabbling over who created this menace rather than acting swiftly. We even challenged the social distancing measures and got too close for comfort with each other. 

Life is all about the trade-off. And as Newton would say, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Progress and Development give us comfort but also the side effects in equal measure.  But the rapid increase in human avarice sadly matched the advancement in technology. The result was a powerful backlash that we couldn’t handle. We might be able to destroy nature but we can’t beat the laws of nature. Can we?

Alas, the juggernaut has come to a screeching halt. The invincible humans are brought down to their knees. We could achieve anything that we could imagine and we could destroy anything that we see. But nature played it smartly and unfairly by unfurling an invisible enemy. In just a matter of 2 months, we are shown our place in the pecking order. We are scared, locked down, and socially distanced. Powerful leaders are exposed for their inefficiencies, Nations are clueless. Ambitions have given way to mere survival. We finally listened to nature and picked up our masks.

We are forced to put a mask around our ego, our desire, our arrogance, and our cockiness. We are desperately trying to cover our fears and uncertainties behind the mask. Behind the mask, we are learning the power of humility and the truth of who we are. The mask has uncovered a simple peaceful world that we long forgot. The mask is revealing what a sad, insignificant, and fragile species we are. The invincible mankind is cowering behind the mask mortified by an invisible enemy. Under the cover of the mask, we are silently uttering some long-forgotten prayers to save us from this misery. The mask is not just a cover to protect us. It's a cover that reveals the truth. The sad, bitter truth that we are not as indestructible as we thought we were. 

Nature is not done yet. The humiliation is still not complete. The mask might help many humans survive this threat. But will it save humanity? Will we take the truth we are discovering about ourselves behind these masks once the world returns to normalcy? 

Or will nature force us to wear this mask of sorrow again? 

11 March 2020

Is it right to use the virus to go viral?

So many viral marketing campaigns referencing the Corona Virus pandemic are going around. Is this smart marketing or insensitive opportunists?

December and January are usually the most positive periods in our lives.  I don't know if it's the much-awaited holidays or relief of a hard year gone by. Maybe, its the overdose of those feel-good Hollywood Christmas movies. Somehow, everyone believes in miracles in these months. We somehow believe that the turnaround is imminent. In our over-enthusiastic positivity, we make resolutions that would be broken in a few days, promises that would be forgotten even before we spell them out. Our romantic magical world slowly fades away like a beautiful dream does on a Monday morning. 

And reality sets in. 

2020, started with the same emotional cycle of life. Promise and hope fuelled the energy. The world was ready to take on the challenges of a new year, a new decade. But unknown to many, a nightmare that will shake the world, was brewing. A virus that was not too familiar to humans was sharing its CV in a little town with an evil intent that our race is all too familiar with. Colonizing. With every cough and sneeze these little devils spread from one person to another. Little did we anticipate that COVID -19 as they call it now, would change our realities completely. And so rapidly. 

Issues that everyone was fighting for, rooting for or fretting about are no longer as important. Who cares if the Mexican's could Trump the wall or not. Who cares what the Khan is rambling about. Who cares if the fugitive would live with his diamonds forever or if the Kings would be fished out of their good times and dragged back to India. Who cares about CAA or NRC.  Who cares about global warming or the "How dare you" squeal of a little girl. Is it Krona or Karona or Karuna virus? Who cares. Who cares about anything, anymore.

Corona marketing
Who cares? The marketers certainly seem to do. Or at least they claim to have a solution to reduce the human sufferings that even the Doctors and Scientists are clueless about. From Cumin Powder to Rasam Powder, everyone wants to ride on the fear. IT solutions that have been around for decades are suddenly promoted as a solution to this Corona conundrum. Even Sari 's (Indian wrap around for woman)  with few splattering of random colors are sold as Carona design. 

The line that separates creativity and sensitivity is too thin. Capitalizing on a trending hot topic is always part of a creative marketing strategy. However, is it right to capitalize on this human despair? Something about using the virus to go viral with your product seems wrong. However, Ethics and Morals are a matter of perspective. A terrorist for one is a freedom fighter for the other. So who is to say what is right or what is wrong. We can draw the line as thin or thick as we want to. We can choose a side and get ourselves in knots with this self-imposed moral dilemma in the name of sensitivity. Or we can be the creative opportunists who simply are smart enough to capitalize on an opportunity. The answers to these questions are as difficult as finding a cure for this virus. Even if you get one, you will never be sure if its the right one.

The global lockdown may be preventing us from crossing the real borders. But are we crossing the moral borders by capitalizing on this unprecedented fear? By writing this post on this subject, did I just step over that line too? 

Who cares?

29 February 2020

Leadership Lessons from WWE Wrestling

Do you enjoy watching giant men, built like oak trees beating each other to a pulp, inside a steel cage?  

Wrestler fighting in ring
Well, for the uninitiated, I am referring to World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE a billion-dollar industry, running successfully for the past 30 years or so. Most sane people might think of it as a mind-numbing dumb act of violence. But not the 100,000 frenzied spectators in the stadium and billion others who watch it in on TV.  

Fake matches, fixed fights, entertainment, violence. Call it what you may. This sports entertainment is a billion-dollar industry today. Not many IT solutions companies have reached this size. Can we learn some leadership lessons from this entertainment show? After all, running a billion-dollar industry is not an easy task. and keep it interesting and relevant is even harder.  They must be doing something right that we could learn from. Shall we ring the bell?

Balancing The Opposites

The success of this wrestling entertainment show depends on the wrestler's ability to display some extremely opposite skills. The players have to have the combination of size, stamina brutal strength of a wrestler along with the flexibility, agility, and athleticism of a gymnast to pull off those gravity-defying and some times jaw-dropping moves. If this is not enough, they have to display a wide range of emotions while mouthing some lengthy dialogues as well. Remember, this is an entertainment show. So these giant wrestlers are great orators and actors as well.

Leadership is no different. The success of a leader depends on the ability to balance some seemingly opposing traits. One has to be assertive and yet be empathetic, has to frame the rules and yet be street smart in knowing when to break those, balance ambition and vision without compromising the core values. A good leader has to understand the facts and yet trust his instincts to make that calculated leap of faith, at times.

Kiss enough frogs to find the princess

The storyline in WWE usually lulls you into believing that you got a hang of it. The story builds a specific wrestler to become the fan-favorite. Just when the support for the wrestler reaches a frenzy a sudden unexpected turn is introduced - A Face turns Heel or vice versa. In case you are wondering, Heel is a villain and Face is a good guy in WWE lingo. While these sudden twists and turns to the storyline have been the key to its success for over 3 decades, not all these changes are appreciated by all the fans, all the time. A typical WWE fan has more than one favorite wrestler and more than many reasons to like this entertainment show. That is why for a hardcore WWE fan, there is never a dull episode or never permanent despair. They anticipate these twists, they are prepared to get disappointed but yet have plenty more reasons and options to enjoy this show beyond these setbacks. 

The life of a leader works pretty much the same way. The decisions she takes seem perfect and they might even lull her into believing that success is just around the bend.  And then the twist happens to the tale. All the well laid out plan fails for reasons beyond her control.  As painful as it may be, a smart leader bounces back quicker because she always works on parallel plans and newer initiatives. She is never too disappointed and certainly not long enough to sulk. Because a good leader knows that the only way to find the prince is by kissing enough frogs. 

Length of Woman's skirt

Another big reason for WWE's success over the years has been its story length. They are neither too long winding like our soap operas nor too short to understand the point. They are usually just long enough for you to fall in love with the story and a specific wrestler and root for him with all your emotions. After all, its the emotions that drive the story forward and not pure logic. When you have a plot that is captivating enough for the right length of time, for billions of fans to invest in it emotionally, you have a winning formula.

A smart leader is one who pursues his long term vision with a series of short term goals to keep everyone motivated and interested enough to follow his dreams. The plan of a good leader is like a woman's skirt. Long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to keep everyone interested. 

Competition and Coopetition

In WWE Wrestlers are made to pair up randomly. At times, close friends and tag team partners for years are pitted against each other. Often we see bitter enemies teaming up to take on a common enemy. It is this surprise element that has kept this enterprise remain as popular as it was 30 years back.

The drama of life sometimes demands that a leader should constantly assess the competition, not just to outwit them but to partner with them if needed. Coopetition is a key part of a smart leader strategy.  There are no permanent friends or foes. Success often means putting up with some strange bedfellows.
Wrestling match As always happens in life, "When the student is ready, the teacher arrives". If you are an aspiring leader, then be a keen student first. Your teacher could be right in front of you choke slamming a hapless opponent or hidden behind a well-conceived storyline. Or he could be the Sports Entertainment show itself.  So, keep your eyes open and be alert. Who knows your teacher could be flying right at you from the top of that steel cage. 

Remember, you can start with 1,2,3 or be counted out 1,2,3. The choice is yours. So, will you now enjoy watching giant men, built like oak trees beating each other to a pulp, inside a steel cage? 

18 February 2020

When the heart smiles

What is Maturity?

Modern psychology says that maturity is being aware of the surroundings and acting accordingly. From Adi Shankara to Buddhato many other modern philosophers have given their views and wisdom on this question as well. In spite of their different schools of philosophy separated by centuries, the definition of maturity by all of them is more or less the same. My summary of understanding of these great minds definition of maturity is

It is the awareness and ability to distance ourselves mentally when needed.

Heart smiling
While I respect this conventional wisdom, my personal definition of maturity is about our ability to balance the constant needs of our head and heart. It is about our ability to satisfy the logical need of pursuing life-altering larger goals without forgetting to cherish those little things that make the heart smile. It is not a this or that choice but a this and that balance. 

Achieving the larger goals is no doubt important for they would make us proud. They give our life a sense of purpose, discipline and ultimately respect. Desire is not always the root cause of all evils as the Budhha taught us. Pursuing it at all with costs without balance maybe is.  

But, some of our best memories are about the ‘meaningless’ little things we did in our life. Aren't they? The ones we indulged in because we chose to follow our hearts. These little moments might not always serve any quantifiable purpose to our lives but they always give us something more important. The big goals make us proud for sure but it is those silly little moments that give us a smile from deep inside the heart. 

Unfortunately, we distance ourselves from these little pleasures in the name of maturity. Remember, Smile of the heart is often the result of these little memories and not just those big proud achievements.

Maturity is not always about doing big things. 

Balancing large goals and small pleasuresSuccessful life is all about balancing the opposites. Chase the big dreams, pursue the important goals but never miss an opportunity to do what the heart says. That is maturity. So go ahead, get silly if you have to and enjoy those little things that make you happy. Who knows, they can become beautiful memories, sometime in the future and make you flash that all-important silent smile from your heart. 

When the heart smiles, it means you have achieved that perfect harmony between your head and heart. And that is Maturity. 

01 February 2020

Are you a Lion or Lamb? Who would you rather be?

Every now and then we come across a piece of creation and wonder if we had what it takes to do that. An interesting painting by Marcel Witte, a world-class artist who paints realistic animals, caught my eyes and kindled that deep desire to try. My initial apprehension was the patience required to bring out all those details. You can learn techniques through YouTube videos but not patience.   

But then, fun is all about playing out of your comfort zone. Is it not? So after nearly 40 hours of resisting the temptation to rush through and with a relentless push from a friend, I was finally able to step back from the canvas and admire the finished painting.  My own Lion and Lamb.

Acrylic painting of lion & lambWhen you stay focused on a particular subject that long, subconsciously you start forming doubts and theories. Is it a good painting or a sad painting? Should I make the Lion carry a cub instead of the poor Lamb? But then, I was not sure if Lions carried their cubs. I know lionesses do. Should the lamb be scared? Do lambs have an expressive face to show fear or happiness? In cartoons maybe. 

Then came the clichéd doubt in my head. Am I the Lion or the lamb? Who would I rather be?

A lion is Powerful and Majestic for sure. That is cool especially if you play a leadership role. They are certainly Ferocious and Feared. Not too cool but that is not going to hurt your position as a leader. A mighty Lion grabs what he wants and when he wants it. Modern management gurus will dig this Alpha predator characteristic and set you as the benchmark for Leadership

A lamb, on the other hand, is cute at best. Brings about a smile when you look at their clumsiness. But then they are lunch or dinner for just about every beast with claws or fangs or even a knife and fork. I certainly would not like to be the vulnerable one. 

But then I am not a lion either, as much as I envy most of its power.

By now the painting progressed significantly and reached a point that I had to take that decision of cub or a lamb in the lion’s mouth.

Just then, I remembered a fundamental principle of painting realism. Paint what you see and not what you think should be. The original masterpiece had a lamb in the lion’s mouth and so will my lion too. For the remainder of the painting, I did not worry about the cause or logic. I did not care if the lion was hungry or if the lamb was scared. It did not matter to me if the lion was protecting the lamb or taking it to the dinner table. I became an earnest trier, an 
artist who wanted to get better, a hobbyist who simply wanted to have fun, a humble student who was not worried about failing and many more at different stages of the painting process. All that mattered was the fun of putting paint-dipped brush to canvas and see those images shaping up. I was many versions of the one person that mattered.  

After all, the Lion and Lamb is a metaphor for the ultimate sacrifice (Lamb) of God and his resurrection to life (Lion). Many versions that ultimately represent the ONE 

My Lion and Lamb painting might be a humble imitation of the original masterpiece. This painting might not be exhibition worthy or good enough to be sold. It does not matter. What matters is that this painting will keep reminding me that we do not have to be a powerful lion or vulnerable lamb. We do not have to bother about the game but be the best player while the game is on. We do not have to understand the play but act the part we chose to perfection. We do not have to worry about the war but battle hard as a true warrior as long as we are standing. We do not have to be something or someone but be many versions of ourselves that are constantly trying to get better

Because the best way to be is to become the best version of ourselves.