Why We Need to Look Beyond the Virtual to Appreciate the Real World

My childhood was so full of adventure, I never had the slightest thought for boredom or stagnation. The world revealed itself to me in so many fascinating ways that I felt fortunate to be able to feel and experience the world around me in all its totality.

The natural surroundings in the vicinity engaged my senses and gave me opportunity to observe and recognise the phenomenon of creation. Nature taught me to appreciate the expanse and diversity of life. The changing seasons, the trees shedding leaves, the leaves regrowing on barren trees, the trees in full blossom and finally the trees being loaded with ripened sweetness, all this helped me shape my understanding of the changing patterns of life. From green to brown and brown to green, the changing colours led me to contemplate how the passage of  life is an intricately woven circle of fall and rise and rise and fall; how the old order gives space to the new and how only destruction can lead to re-creation. I was able to connect to the deeper mysteries of creation and it gave me strength to overcome the personal and professional losses.

A Christmas break or a summer vacation was a good time to bond with cousins and friends. We could choose our own toys and even engineer them too. I  vividly remember playing in  mud with the other kids in my neighbourhood and building mud houses, roads,secret tunnels and miniature models of valleys and dams. Sitting near the narrow culvert on the path near the house making small boats of paper and floating them in the open ditch or flying paper planes used to be a favourite timepass, which, I  believe most kids of that era can recollect. I am nostalgically reminded of having stayed in small tent houses in the garden inside our house premises. My father was an archaeologist and he would spent several days camping at and excavating ancient sites. So when we had vacations , he would sometimes build us small tents and we would spent summer afternoons playing inside them. I think more than the excitement that we derived from such experiences,  it was the feel of the real adventure that added value to our shaping years.

Living in an age of no internet and mobile phones, it was common practice and almost customary for kids to engage in indoor activities like card games, board games, carom etc. during the day time. So the kids either journeyed through the game of Snakes and Ladders, played chess or refined their language skills by playing word builder or scrabble. There were fewer sports academies but more open spaces that would offer free access to children for outdoor sports. Team games like cricket, hockey , football and badminton were not only a source of  entertainment and good physical  exercise but they also served as great platform for building team spirit and coordination skills.

Sometimes we would spent hours rummaging through the old bookshelf and search for some interesting read. There was a huge collection of books on a variety of subjects like art, science, poetry, drama, history, culture, Indian mythology, current affairs, wild life and other subjects. However, we were naturally drawn towards a small corner which lodged popular fiction, short stories and comic books. One of the advantages of living in an internet free world was that reading came to you as a natural option. With less distractions and fewer choices the probability of turning to books is higher as compared to present day world which is overloaded with multiple options. Though nothing against technology, but definitely in days preceding the internet revolution, life was simple, choices were restricted but there was more focus. Things were real, not virtual. There was more opportunity for developing skills and advancing intellect through routine activities. In sharp contrast to today’s  digital games  which promote more screen exposure, isolation, physical and psychological risks, the kids of the yesteryear found more solace in each other’s company. The time spent playing together nurtured bonding with family and friends, helped evolve skills like cooperation and team spirit. Activities like reading, drawing, painting, singing, music, sculpting, etc. helped polish the creative instincts and instill confidence in the children. Creative intelligence is nurtured through the interaction with the outer world and with one’s own inner universe. Social intelligence is acquired through the time spent together with friends. It equips one to understand human behaviour.

Today, when we come across the youth we know they belong to a new generation. This generation is smarter and indeed brighter than the previous one. We find more number of young leaders shouldering responsible positions, young people working as CEO’s, as corporate tycoons. Yet, we know, there is pressure mounting each day with more targets to be achieved, more clients to cater to, more business to be done to be successful. We are now more dependent on teams than on individuals. Modern work culture is inconceivable without team work. The irony is that team work is hard to find and harder to sustain. It is therefore not surprising to find more and more employers struggling hard to train their employees in team building despite conducting rigorous workshops and training programmes. Training people in team building is difficult especially when the members of a team are born out of a  highly individualistic culture. In a time when we speak of ‘Cross-cultural communication’ and ‘Globalisation‘ it is shockingto observe that self-driven, dynamic individuals fail to become reliable members of a team. The problem is not with the potential , problem lies in the lack of exposure.

A generation solely reliant on technology is trained to work with machines and live with technology. The experience of knowing, learning and feeling the real world is somewhere compromised with the virtual world created by this digital age. We chat with our own parents or siblings through social media platforms or networking sites while living under the same roof. We are quick to respond to Facebook posts and Twitters more promptly than to real people around us. We travel, dine or socialise to click more ‘Selfies‘ than to spent quality time with our family or friends. Name it any place, private or public , the intruder is always present and it is none other than the technology.  So when we meet real people don’t we need real emotions, real situations and real conversations to strike a chord.

Personal glorification, race to be supreme, desire to appear superior than the others leads to false ego which eventually creates conflict. Conflict is born out of either ego or jealousy. Ego or jelalousy both are a threat to the team and hence cause the team to be ineffective.

How to counter these threatening elements to construct the road for stronger, lasting teams? I think the trainings can be successful only if we promote a culture of seeing, feeling and experiencing the world around us. When you fight against a real human, you will receive in return real blows and injuries, real hurts and pain. This will teach either to fight better or to never fight again. This will give you a lesson which will be realistic and truthful. This battle will not have levels that are set from lowest level of difficulty to highest which you could adjust to your convenience and then claim your chosen victory.

We need honest competitions, sincere feedbacks, real conversations and genuine relations. How far and how long can we fake it?

You can be better than me or I can be better than you but if I know what makes me the person I am I will make the better of me. My limits will be pushed when I meet stricter challenges and fierce competition. My greed to stay ahead will only be further fuelled by false parameters dictating my false identity. My identity is not tied or restricted to my facebook profile or virtual reality. I have a life beyond that. We all have a life beyond that.

Experience the rustle of the leaves, smell the fragrance of the flowers, listen to the buzz of the bees , the humming of the birds, the song of the cricket, watch the gentle drops of rain drop hour by hour on the window pane,  If you can observe the astonishing variety of life and the amazing diversity of creation, you will learn to accept and appreciate the differences. Dissimilarities make us distinct, debates make us wise, but despise, contempt, hatred and jealousy steal us of our wisdom and seldom make us wise. Let us promote a culture of mutual respect and harmony. Look at the nature around you, there is so much to learn from it. Redefining the culture is the answer to building better teams.





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