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Revolution should start in our minds

Of all those things that have been happening in India in recent times, I’m actually wondering why hasn’t there been a “revolution” so far. Like India’s battle for independence according to history was sparked off by the 1857 mutiny. It seems it is time that we had another to liberate ourselves from the characterless, selfish, corrupt, immoral politicians, bureaucrats, irresponsible media both electronic and print, not so many trust worthy people around.

It was about thirty plus years ago I began to work as a young man, barely twenty three years old, stood the test of time and had to prove every time we worked on any project, or task was assigned. We could not in those days assume responsibility for the reason that we would be asked, “Did I tell you or authorize you to do it?” and this day you are waiting for people to assume responsibilities and tell you that they have accomplished this, they have accomplished that…. Instead we are asked, “You didn’t tell me, and if I did you will ask me why? Or did I tell you?” and so on an so forth..

Our life hasn't exactly been following a smooth and happy route for a majority of the time. No cushy office job, no holidays, and no grand hopes for the future. All of dreams that were nurtured when young seem as though they were long ago nicely and neatly packaged, taking a place in the back of our mind where it couldn't make too much noise.

The most depressing part of the story is the realization that the next thirty years of our life would be no better than the previous thirty; we would only be older while living through it.

Did you ever think about it that way?

That the next ten years of your life will most likely mirror the previous ten?

There will be no picket lines, no protests, no violent uprisings. No conference calls, no memos, no PowerPoint slides. No announcements, no guidance, no explanation.

This will be an invisible revolution. Its root cause will be guised in stories intended to cover up the truth. Don’t worry. It’s not that you will be unable to attract peace. You will. You just won’t get the best. It’s not that all of you will lose your existing peace either. You’ll only lose the best. This revolution is a silent revolution – one in which you will likely never know why the best is yet to come. This is the meaning revolution.

In its wake, Human Resources will also undergo the greatest cultural and academic revolution in its history, but it doesn’t know it yet. Then again, this is how most revolutions begin. Silently, yet with the ambition of people rising, revolutions surprise everyone. Although in hindsight, they surprise no one. All revolutions share a common calling. They make us more human. This silent revolution is one caught between apathy and the eternal search for meaning. It is a revolution taking place in the most complex and least understood places on the planet - inside the human heart. At this point in the arc of history, Human Resources will be valued much more for its humanity than for its resourcefulness.

Looking at India per se…the coming revolution is a revolution of hope.

What does it all mean? People will begin to ask themselves, “Why am I here? And what are you parents, relatives, society, employers] going to do to help me figure it out? Then people will be forced to re-structure, re-organize, and re-engineer, the way they, live the way the view incidents and their actions/reactions will be accordingly chartered. They would have innovated, executed, and gone from good to great. You will find a lot many far too outspoken, and outside the box thinkers, but now what? Isn’t there supposed to be a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow? Why doesn’t the stuff in my pot shine? Where has hope gone?

Although you cannot see hope rising, you can see its effects

We love to have leaders at every stage. It’s good for the stock. Is it any wonder that leadership tenure has fallen to less than five years? In most parts of the world they welcome new leaders, it rejoices! It’s only in India we suffer from hanging on with the same old leaders. But why? The new leader, by virtue of his or her mere novelty (and the fact that the new leader is anything but the old leader), is a sign of hope. Could this leader be our savior? Is there hope for us? People all over the planet live on hope, the in fact, love hope, and live on hope particularly when it works - when expectations translate into earnings. India is no exception to this. The question is: why wait? Why wait any longer? Why not learn to use hope to your advantage, now?

The Meaning Revolution
What we fail to discuss – hope, meaning, belief - is what we most value in our leaders. Sure, we want our leaders to be smart, but mostly we want our leaders to believe – in us, in the future, and in the promise of a new day. And we want our leaders to communicate those beliefs in ways we can understand. We want to know that if we choose to follow them, things will be okay. We want to know that our work is meaningful.
Therefore, this silent revolution - the coming revolution of hope rising - will be managed best by individuals who are able to identify, harness, and use meaning as a competitive advantage to attract, retain, and inspire people. Contemporary leaders must bring more than their vision to work. They must bring their beliefs. There is a difference. It’s not about thinking differently. We’ve done that. It’s about believing differently. The most effective leaders of our time will be remembered as much for their beliefs as their ideas. They will be remembered for their hope.

The challenge to human resources professionals is one of training and development. The good news is that some mindful leaders have figured it out. They see the revolution coming. In fact, they saw it coming long ago. We need to believe in this phenomenon, that hope can be learned.

Putting Hope to Work
There is no better time to think about believing than now. Start a new conversation.

Here are a few things you may want to try.

Gather together a group of your rising stars and have a conversation about what they believe. Do not talk about your expectations. Talk about their aspirations. Do not talk about your objectives. Talk about their beliefs. Ask them: Why are you here? What does it mean to you to be working for this organization? What are your fears? What is your hope – for yourself, for the future? The first time you have this conversation, you will likely get mixed stares. They will likely not tell you the truth. In part, this is because they may not know what they believe. It takes time and trust to get to truth. Keep asking why. Next, have each person create a Belief Statement. This is not a mission or vision statement. Nor is this a set of goals. This is simply a list of what each person believes. Ask each person to focus on why, not what. Why do you do what you do? If employed as most of us are, Why do you work here? Why are you not doing what you most enjoy? And what can we [the company] do to make your job more meaningful? As Charles Schwab said to me, “I want people who work for me to believe as much as I do about our role in this world.” Great leaders help others to internalize and learn to lead themselves through their own beliefs – they promote meaning. Great leaders give hope.

We need to find our own way. Where there is a will, there is a way. This is the confidence mantra. It sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice. Confidence fails when “the way” is no longer a viable road to the future. Nothing is more pathetic than watching an overly-confident athlete or employee run through walls never stopping to look for an open door. Hope, on the other hand, is a combination of willfulness and to borrow psychologist C. Rick Snyder’s term, “wayfulness”. Triumphant leaders think in portfolio terms – there is no single way to get it done, no single path to a desired future, and no single solution to a problem. There are many cul-de-sacs on the road to the future. It is in these dead ends of life when confidence is often broken, but hope never dies. Why? Because hope has the capacity to find alternative routes to a desired future. Hope is creative. Hope is way we can choose to make a new living. It is a guide. And finding our way would be a technique which we all need to understand and master to help each of us apply hope. Try this. Write down a goal, any goal. Now, write down all possible paths to achieve that goal. Next, throw away the list. What if none of those paths were available to you, what would you do? All humans are endlessly creative. You just need to force your self to think beyond the obvious. This is the art of finding ur way combined with willfulness, to promotes hope.

Unsung hero is an oxymoron. Hope cannot reside with you alone to be an effective tool. You must get the story out. Triumphant leaders bring hope to life through a campaign of symbols. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon, Lance Armstrong, Nelson Mandela all used symbols as signs of hope. Mandela used sandwiches to fight apartheid. Armstrong uses his ubiquitous yellow wristbands to fight cancer. It should come as no surprise that we [humans] respond to symbols. It’s why we throw coins in fountains and salt over our shoulders. Symbols are physical expressions of our hope. They make the intangible, actionable. Find ways in which to translate your hope into tangible symbols. Whatever your goal, create a campaign of hope.

The coming revolution is a call for awakening the consciousness - a call for meaning. If you believe that people are our greatest assets, in this land, then you must understand how to lead through this silent revolution. Let each of us become a “bearer of meaning.” We must be able to agree that if someone feel they can do this, the other too can agree upon the fact that this must be good for humanity as a whole. Try it. Answer the call for an awakening of the consciousness. Help others learn to become more human. Help hope rise.

Let us work to peace in our minds, peace in our society, peace in our community, peace in our city, peace in our state, peace in our country, bring peace on earth. That is our birth right. Let us all unite to fight for our rights and leave this planet as we found it – beautiful. Let us leave a legacy for those yet to be born that they shall inherit an earth which is peaceful, beautiful and meaningful.

I end it with this inspiring quote from the late Sir Winston Churchill (World War II veteran and former Prime Minister of Britain, who said "Kites rise highest against the wind -- not with it."

Author : R Bharadwaj

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