Tag Archive: Culture

‘The Chinese Farmer’- Inspiring Story by Alan Watts

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”  ― Alan W. Watts, The Culture of Counter-Culture: Edited Transcripts

I absolutely love the above quote by Alan Watts  (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) who was a British philosopher, a writer, a speaker and a teacher. Like many others, i too am inspired by Alan’s magical and wakening teachings about the simple realities of life.

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Alan Watts-  Source: Wikipedia

I recently listened to one of his beautiful and inspiring short audio narratives, about a certain ‘Chinese Farmer,’ who chose to see the positive side of things even in negative situations.

On a certain day, one of the Chinese farmer’s horses escaped. That evening, all the neighbors came around and said to him “That’s too bad!” And he said, “Maybe.”

The next day the horse came back, and brought seven wild horses with it. And all the neighbors came around and said, “Well that’s great. Isn’t it?” And he said, “Maybe.”

The next day, as his son was attempting to tame one of his horses and was riding it, he fell down and broke his leg. The neighbors came again in the evening and said, “Well that’s too bad. Isn’t it?” and he said, “Maybe.”

The next day the conscription officers came around to recruit people into the army but they rejected his son because he had a broken leg.  All the people came around and said, “That’s great.” and he said, “Maybe.”

 

 

The moral of the story as the philosopher tells it is that- “The whole process of nature is a process of immense complexity and it is really impossible to tell whether something that happens in it is good or bad. Because you never know the consequences of the misfortune. Or, you never know the consequences of good fortune.” ~ Alan Watts.

 

You can learn more about the British Philosopher on Alanwatts.org

Video Source: the Sustainable Human project 

 

 

How Company Executives Can Cope With Stress At Work

Recently, the headlines were about the former Zurich Insurance boss Martin Senn who in May 2016, committed suicide, six months after stepping aside from the company  in December 2015. His death follows the suicide of Pierre Wauthier, who had been Zurich’s chief financial officer, in August 2013.

I came across an interesting article by Financial Times, which examines a few similar and related cases, where executives in Switzerland may have taken their own lives due to work related pressure and stress. In the article, experts point to psychological issues, emotional challenges, that are common among swiss business elites, especially for those in high hierarchies.- Of course such tragic incidents occur elsewhere around the globe too. Not just in Switzerland. We’ve heard stories about top bankers and management executives of notable companies commit suicide due to work related issues.

Work related issues not only cause general stress but can also lead to burnouts, especially among company executives. Some executives have  encountered continious frustrations and difficulties, and have been trapped in a negative psychological situation to an extent of being hospitalizied for exhaustation.

Remember BMW’s  chief executive Harald Krueger, who fainted just five minutes into his press conference, in September 2015 at the Frankfurt motor show? Although it’s unclear what triggered his collapse, experts say that such circumstances occur due to stress and pressure. And these can affect any one, from employees to senior executives.

How do you know you are suffering from burnout? An article by Harvard Business Review, describes a few identifiable characteristics-

 (1) Chronic fatigue

(2) Anger at those making demands

(3) Self-criticism for putting up with the demands

(4) Cynicism, negativity, and irritability

(5) Sense of being besieged

 (6) Hair-trigger display of emotions.

What can be done to help top managers to cope with such stressful situations?

 

“Hold On, Help Is On The Way”- (Whitney Houston ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ (1996))

 

Managing people can be stressful. Managers are expected to cope with a variety of employees, from the depressed, the rebellious, the self centered, the uncoperative including the malicious type. Managers have to be prepared for the pressures of having to deal with these kinds of personalites, and in turn balance those ‘conflicting personalities’ and create a motivated work team from them.- And that’s not so easy!

Justin Menkes, author of “Better Under Pressure,” discusses how CEOs can handle pressure without panic, and how they can cope with constant stress at the working place. (Here)

 

 

 

The American Psychological Association, also offers valuable information on how to cope with stress at the work place

Corporate Attire And Office Wear For A Career Woman- What’s Acceptable and What’s Not?

I was recently shocked  by a revelation from Nicola Thorp, a 27-year old temp worker who was ordered to go home without pay for not wearing high-heeled shoes.

Although her case gained global attention and a larger public opinion seemed to agree, her story als0 raised legal concerns across borders as to whether or not, a business can legally force it’s female employees to wear high heels? Nicola’s story has also raised questions among those working in an office environment where high heels are often the norm, especially where business attire is required.

The truth is, questions over dress code are nothing new. We’ve heard horrible stories about men and women facing discrimination because of their looks and attire. Some have been fired for being ‘too beautiful’ or ‘too sexy’. For example-

-Remember Debrahlee Lorenzana?  The lady who made headlines in 2010 when she claimed that she was forced out her Manhattan Citibank job because she was too “sexy”?  Village voice covered that story in details.

Well,  stuff happened  and she sued the bank for wrongful termination, and  as you might think, the ending was not so rosy!  Seemed like that case was too hot for a settlement.

According to Dealbreaker, “…  Citibank did not enter into any kind of a settlement with Ms. Lorenzana or provide any payment to her.”

And may i add, from her photos, she rocked those high heels at the work place!

-Remember Melissa Nelson’s story too?  The Iowa woman who was fired for being too ‘attractive’?  Or Dilek Edwards who was fired for being too cute?

And that’s not all!

-Did you hear that story about  Larycia Hawkins, a christian professor at Wheaton college, who was put on leave for wearing hijab? 

It gets crazier!

-Another story according to BBC,  is about a West African woman who works in a consultancy firm in London, who claims that her boss tells her to wear a weave to work because her natural ‘Afro hair is unprofessional’!

Such stories leave me in amazement! These are the kind of stories that catch both business and cultural attention. The idea of companies telling their employees what to wear, and firing them for not adhering to their rules, still puzzles many.

Of course what works for one organisation or department  may not necessarily  work for the others elsewhere in the world. But such cases or similar are likely create pitfalls for both employees and their employers and if not dealt with propely, they could fuel  more gender, race, cultural and religious discrimination.