What is your Baseline ?

What is your baseline… I am sure you had many stories like this, which are either forgotten over the years or felt not relevant anymore.

We all think of freedom in a relative sense, do I have enough freedom at work, at home…with family, parents… obviously with the significant other, with children etc.  While we talk about freedom and space.. the way we approach a lot of things, it does not look like we are after a sense of freedom.  Let me elaborate.

The freedom for me goes from one end of curiosity to the other end of Fear.. most of us are comfortable when we are closer to the side of curiosity, and the more we travel towards fear the more sense of security haunts us… and that’s when we start to avoid the thrills and frills.

So we could experience a bit of curiosity and engulf ourselves with total security or strive to go to over the edge of security and hop over to the arena of fear… and open ourselves to the thrills and the frills…

I really like this quote from John Burroughs

Leap and the net will appear.

To be totally secure, we kneel down to average for almost everything, like the education plan for children by having them go to several classes /tuitions etc., The kids usually have 5 to 10 subjects for academic and 2 to 3 sport hobbies, and just a few some art forms drawing, singing, …as we think just in case one does not work, the other may work. They say if you have more than two priorities, it’s like having no priority at all, as you have too much to scatter your focus already

Always most of us are constantly downplaying our greatness with the secured average, as that sounds a lot more beneficial than the risky greatness inside of us.

Yes, the secured average is predictable and known commodity, but we cannot freeze and be at the same place just to be secure, we should be open to moving on and experiencing the unknown… the area of fear… the fear side of the curiosity equation.

It’s the same person who would have done crazy things as a teen, young adult, but as you the person age’s, everything ties back to security, there is no harm in being secure, but don’t go overboard in search of security as you may lose your freedom of expressing yourself.

As a child, It was hard for me to learn to ride a bicycle… I still remember the lessons my father gave on bicycling… he was very good at it, he used to bicycle long distances…about 40 km every day for several years until he got his scooter. And he patiently taught me for several days and weeks to bicycle.. once I learned… obviously, there was no stopping… I enjoyed my bicycle rides… there is nothing like the Adrenaline rush of zooming around on a bicycle…

All the running around for the daily needs was taken care of by me… I used to bring vegetables… special food orders for my grandmother (I was her genie.. to bring things from outside), also all needs for her pan.. betel leaf… katta.. chuna, all ingredients of the pan were carefully bought by me.

Owing to my mobility and bringing things as and when needed and ability to exchange them etc., made me the plumber and electrician of my home… as we had 3 to 4 tenants on our ground floor and something or the other would go bad and here I go to bring some replacements from the market.

My grandmother, especially as she was fond of mangoes… and mangoes cannot be missed in the pickle season, especially after the new pickle tasting… I still remember her … for her fondness of mangoes… and the new pickle (typically during the summers here in India May- June 2018).

As I remember one of my child hold escapades, We got our new TV (television) at home… The Dyanora TV… and having antenna was kind of mandatory those days.. I was asked to go the market and inquire about the TV antennas, so I went around and checked with several shops in the market and found the antenna was cheaper than I thought.

Those days of no cell phone… I decided to buy an antenna and once I bought I was not sure on how to take it home.. if I ask a rickshaw (manual pulled rickshaw)… I have to carefully follow him and I was not sure to trust the guy, as he can disappear into any of those winding lanes. So I decided to hold the antenna on my right hand and use the left handle for the bicycle…as the rear wheel brake was on the left-hand side of the bicycle… so I got the antenna home …(the 5 feet long aluminum tube with connectors across the top) with one had held the antenna and other holding the handlebar.

Those were impulsive decisions of mid 80’s and early 90’s we are used to …its not that we did not care about security but we did things where we knew we can pull it off with some amount of risk.  We did not analyze too much we just executed… we had no cell phone or google. We went with the gut and made it happen…

While today we have any information at the fingertips, but that also puts us in the trap of over-analysis, too much thinking… and gradually our ability to use our gut and intuition are being transitioned to machines apps… browsers… while I am not anti-app or browser… but things that needed to be done with the gut needed to be done… and analysis does have its own place but no… analysis…paralysis as they say…

I really like the Nike caption, “Just do it”, as it is very empowering.. … any over-analysis would rather postpone a thing versus doing it now.

A boy who struggled with a bicycle for two weeks and later could carry TV antennas and other things with one hand while holding the bicycle handlebar with the other hand and could safely reach home in the old city of Hyderabad can do anything!!!.

Now I had to remind myself of the bicycle feats… lately… as I need a dose of courage, to get back to the two wheels… while I already do bicycle more as a hobby on weekends.. this time I got the one with an engine…

I decided to start driving the motorcycle all over again…I did have people tell me that this may not be a good idea considering for a guy in 40’s on the roads of Bangalore…. But I took the plunge anyway… yeah… thanks to the growing Bangalore city and all the amazing challenges the unmanaged growth brings with it. My commute to work (in the Car) which is about 9 KM’s went from 25 minutes to about 1 hour 20 minutes in last 5 years… hence decided to get back to two-wheeler… it was almost 10 years ago, that I had moved to a car and going back to a two-wheeler needed some getting used to. If two-wheeler needed getting used to, my childhood dream… The Royal Enfield Bullet needed a bit more getting used to…

I recollect my baseline … that baseline of this boy, who carried that antenna with one hand and drove his bicycle with one hand, it puts me at ease and gives me the confidence to take the plunge and move to the two-wheeler for my daily commute. And the commute now (on Bullet) is back at a manageable 30 minutes.

To drive by the bullet in the city roads of Bangalore is amazing (read.. the thrill of going over potholes and speed breakers of all sizes and shapes with no markers and when it rains these roads serve really well as training grounds for dirt racing). But Hey… I am the guy who drove with an antenna in one hand… that’s my baseline…

What is your baseline… I am sure you had many stories like this, which are either forgotten over the years or felt not relevant anymore.

So have a baseline, and bring it along for any challenge you deal with..and in this new lens of your baseline, the challenge is nothing as compared to the ones you overcome as a kid, as a teen, and as a young adult. Yes, the challenges are different and come in different forms, shapes, and speed at you, but you are the same person who dealt with far more challenges with more unknown’s and fewer skillset and now you are an adult and more mature to deal with…

So the baseline is from a relative sense of your own growth as a human being, and the baseline here is yourself few years/decades ago.. and how you overcome these hurdles in life… it builds immense confidence…

It’s the same guy who carried TV antenna on a bicycle now driving the Bullet in the heavy traffic of Bangalore, no big deal…!

Happy Baselining


Author: Veijay

Veijay is an IIT’an (IIT Madras), has two decades of experience of driving Change Management, Operational Excellence, Behavioral dynamics for global enterprises both at several MNC’s and Product Organizations

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