Thought leader- Org effectiveness and NeuroLeadership | Country Head | Start-up Mentor | Leadership Coach
Two brothers, Tim and Dave, had just earned a fortune in inheritance after the death of their father – the proceeds were kept in a special locker, which could be opened only by using two keys simultaneously. To avoid any chance of cheating, the father gave the brothers one key each. This way, the locker could be opened only if Tim and Dave presented their keys together. Both were happy with this arrangement. The brothers stored their keys at locations known only to them.
A day came when Tim needed his share of the money. As Dave walked towards the location where he had stored his key, he was hit by a car and had to be rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Days became weeks and Dave’s condition wasn’t getting any better, making Tim progressively worried about his brother’s health and their fortune.
Weeks after the accident, Tim received news that Dave had regained consciousness. Tim rushed to the hospital full of hope and excitement only to find Dave still completely bandaged from head to toe. As Tim went closer, Dave opened his eyes and everyone was thrilled. But Dave said nothing: he merely made some funny signs with the pen in his hands. Neither the doctors nor Tim followed what was going on – though Tim guessed that Dave was trying to tell him the location of his key. As seconds passed by, Dave appeared even more desperate and frantically scribbled something on a piece of paper. The scribbling was unreadable. Tim shouted even louder into Dave’s ears, asking him about the location of his key – Dave continued to scribble. Seconds later, Dave died.
Tim was disturbed and kept the paper scribbling in his wallet as the last sign of his brother. Tim had lost all his inheritance.
A few days later, in a calm state, Tim opened his wallet to read the paper. The gibberish now appeared much clearer to him. It said “You are standing on my oxygen pipe.”
So many of us are like Tim. The opportunities of life are always close enough yet tucked away in lockers of challenges. However, life is always cautiously kind: it tosses keys to us in the form of Dave’s paper scribbling. Our challenge? In the mad rush to grab the opportunity, we are often found standing on the oxygen pipe of the keys to our challenges, killing the opportunity in the process.
Not so sure? Check these out.
1.Family comes first: In the rush to reach the corporate totem pole, you are totally focused on your work to the point of ignoring your family altogether. No family events, no birthdays or special occasions, low to no quality time with family. You ignore scribbled warnings- frustrated family, fights and prolonged communication breakdown with partner, broken relations with children.
You are standing on the oxygen pipe of your personal success.
2. Health is vital: In the mad rush to make more money, you change over to a high-paying job with excessive pressures, work even longer hours under tremendous stress and indulge in taking up aggressive targets – in the process missing workouts and compromising on your health. Eventually, you might succeed, albeit at the cost of a permanent damage to your health. All along, your health is scribbling warnings – tiredness, stress, fatigue and perhaps even elevated blood pressure.
You are standing on the oxygen pipe of your own health.
3. Emotions cause demotions: You face challenges in life. Instead of containing them, you bring your work challenges to your family and vice versa. You are angry, grumpy, frustrated and show an array of negative emotions vitiating the part of life that’s doing well.
You are standing on the oxygen pipe of the solution to the very problems you are facing.
4. Assumptions makes you an ASS: At work, you are presented a new challenge. You make negative assumptions about the challenge, spread rumors, indulge in loose talk about the organization and the management or worse, create conspiracy theories ignoring scribbled warnings – dis-enchanted management and being passed up for new opportunities.
You are standing on the oxygen pipe of your job longevity and positivity.
5. Competition shows your mettle: You lose something to a competitor: a major business contract, an important sports match, a promotion, recognition for work done, an award or anything else that valuable to you. Instead of congratulating your competitor and realizing you have areas of self-improvement, you indulge in open mud-slinging and character assassination on your competitor, indulge in verbal duels, fabricate stories of nepotism to demean your opponent’s reputation in your industry and broadcast this to everyone who cares to listen to you. You ignore scribbled warnings telling you the more negative the tongue, the narrower the oxygen pile of professional success.
You are standing on the oxygen pipe of your industry standing, sportsmanship, integrity and professionalism.
Almost all perceived challenges faced in life come bundled with their solutions like the scribbled paper in the story – just that in our emotions and rush, we face to notice them or worse, snuff life out of the solutions.
Here are four R’s that can help prevent you from unknowingly standing on your oxygen pipe:
Relax: The human brain is a busy organ with too many things competing for its attention. Stress and other emotions usually play at high frequencies, whereas rational understanding of challenges play at very low frequencies in the brain – similar to whispers in a loud room. Not surprisingly, loud useless noise trumps feeble valuable ones when it comes to grabbing brain’s attention. You need to calm your brain down to hear these inner feeble voices.
Yoga, prayer and mindfulness meditation now start making a lot of sense.
2. Rejuvenate: Rejuvenation is the art of balancing time among important entities: self, significant others (family etc), higher powers and everyday work, without allowing life events to get in the way. Each entity in your life activates different parts of the brain (and deactivates the overactive parts) leading to feeling of fulfillment in life.
3. Realize: Realization is the wisdom of appreciating two important universal truths:
a. Emotions play spoilsport while handling any challenge or change.Nothing remains permanent, neither your challenges nor your happiness.
Such a perspective helps you to stay grounded during your success knowing this too shall pass and maintain positive attitude during your darkest hours knowing that this too shall pass.
4. Reassess: A relaxed, rejuvenated and wise mind is the perfect place to reassess opportunities, challenges and changes from a fresh perspective to unscramble the solutions.
Provided you put efforts in the first 3 R’s right, the 4th R usually shows up effortlessly as luck, insight, miracle or revelation. Most people fail to put in efforts in the first 3 R’s and instead go straight to the last R, resulting in wasted efforts and tremendous stress. The human brain is simply not designed to work that way.
Life a simple ecosystem and its success depends on individual elements fitting together effortlessly like a jig-saw puzzle. The oxygen pipe of life runs through these seemingly unlinked elements. A calm, wise and rejuvenated mind is the crucial requirement to reassess life holistically so we don’t accidentally stand on the vital oxygen pipe of your life.
Have you experienced a situation where you unknowingly stood on your own oxygen pipe? How did you cope up with it? How did you see others handle these?