ARE YOU A GOOD SAMARITAN?

A lone sojourner on his way from one city to the other was brutally attacked by hooligans. They beat him up mercilessly, looted his valuables and left him by the roadside to breathe his last. It was a scarcely treaded stretch of road and not many people passed that way. In a while, a priest came along that way. He saw the injured man. Not wanting to get himself into any mess, he took a detour and went the other way. The maimed man continued to battle for his life. In some more time, there came by another traveller who belonged to a respectable class in the society. He too saw the man and changed tracks. After yet some more time, another man who was not held with much regard in that part of the country, passed by. He saw the injured man and stopped on his tracks. He rushed towards him, bandaged his wounds, administered first aid, took him to the nearest inn and stayed with him the whole day to take care of him. The next day, he gave some money to the innkeeper urging him to take care of the injured man and that he would bear all the extra expenses on his way back from the errand for which he had to leave.

The third man in the above parable who helped the injured man has been nicknamed as the Good Samaritan (‘Good’ because of his good act, and ‘Samaritan’ because he hailed from a place called Samaria). And thus, the expression ‘Good Samaritan’ finds its way into common parlance in the English language.

How we all wish for the helping hand of a Good Samaritan in times of need! How we all yearn during rough patches that somebody would stop on his/her tracks to attend to us! Even if you are a very independent person, there would’ve been hours where you would’ve silently longed for assistance.

Being ‘people-centric’ comes with spontaneity to many, but not to most. Why don’t we focus on people more than what we do for ourselves? What holds us back?

  1. Individual personality traitsAltruism doesn’t come naturally to all. Some are simply less altruistic and so paying attention to the needs of others is not a dish on their menu. However, altruism is an attribute which if cultivated results in a lot of good to society. Then there are some who are timid, shy and docile to intervene in the lives of people around them. There are others who are too self-centered to shift their attention from ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself’ to ‘them’ and ‘others’. Certain others are apathetic – they just fail to perceive the needs of others and make any sense of them.
  2. Bystander phenomenon – How many times have you passed by a scene of accident telling yourself that some others would step in to help the victim? This is called the bystander phenomenon in psychological terms and is present in most of us. We stand by and watch events unfold without stepping in to make a constructive difference, by convincing ourselves that there sure would be someone else who would offer assistance to the needy person. Most of us refrain from philanthropy for this very same reason, harbouring the notion that others are contributing towards that end.
  3. To avoid getting into trouble – The Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2014 aims to provide protection to those who expose wrongdoing in government offices (in India). With such an Act in place, may people would have come forward to help the government machinery to function better. Sadly, this doesn’t happen! Rather, those who open their mouths find themselves embroiled in endless controversies causing them and their families untold miseries. People who help roadside accident victims, or the victims of mob violence or communal riots or eye-witnesses who volunteer to testify in courts of law end up being harassed and surrounded by endless controversies. Moreover, most people do not wish to get entangled with the seemingly unending and cumbersome legal procedures. The first person who offered assistance to the victims in the infamous Nirbhaya case and willingly volunteered to testify in the court of law has lost his private job because he had to make numerous appearances in the court leading to long periods of absence from work. So it is not simply a lack of will or motivation to help that prevents some from being people-centric, but the price that they end coughing up that makes them decide to keep away from the mess.
  4. ‘I am not affected’ – Many people turn away from helping others because they are not affected. ‘As long as I and my family are not affected, I need not bother’ is the latent thought process of many people. There are a few personal life experiences which open our minds to shed age-old notions and dogmas and be more helping towards certain sections of people. Some people whose houses get submerged under flood waters or shattered by earthquake are quicker to empathize towards similar others on later occasions. But till they go through a personal experience, they do not bother to budge.
  5. Mental schemas and societal stereotypes – In the parable mentioned in the beginning of this article, may be the priest who hesitated to help the injured man was afraid of defiling himself with blood or with a dead body in case of death of the man (there were strong rules of purity and defilement among the priestly clan in that culture). Taking an example from the caste system in Indian society (which is still quite vivid in rural India, though it is dissipating in most urban settings), people belonging to upper castes do not give access to water to those belonging to lower castes even in the scorching summer conditions. Though the Constitution makers incorporated Article 17 to abolish the practice of untouchability, it continues to raise its ugly head in various forms. Caste barriers, racial prejudices, religious and ethnic discrimination accompanied by the fear of excommunication stop people from focussing on certain others.

Most of us would find ourselves in one or more of the above mentioned categories (or even in some others) as to why we are less focussed on others. For some, it may even be simply a busy life schedule with hardly any time for self, leave alone for others. No matter what be the causal factors, all of us would definitely agree that we are not always ready to attend to people at all times. Mothers would agree that it causes them immense discomfort when guests pop in just the evening before their children’s exam. With all traits of efficient hospitability, it still becomes a grave dilemma to choose guests over helping the children with their lessons.

While ‘choice’ would continue to be a deciding factor, there are two golden principles that arch over all.

  1. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you – You expect others to attend to you in times of need, do your bit to attend to theirs when they need you. Identify the needs of at least those in your immediate periphery and reach out to them. Remember, needs of people are not always material, physical or external. Also, those in need may not always call out for help (just as you don’t, on many occasions). Just put yourself in each ones position in your immediate circle of loved ones and have a grip over some area in which they would desire you.
  2. Value others above yourselves – The moment you value someone above yourself, that person becomes the focus of your attention. And, you would definitely not shift your focus from those others who fall within the range of your radar. The Bible teaches – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Let’s start small. No matter what be the reasons – personal, societal or systemic that prevent us from focussing on people around us and their interests, it is wise to make a conscious attempt to turn the floodlights outwards and then gradually increase their intensity for greater coverage.

 

HOW DO WE VALUE OURSELVES?

In today’s world of social media where personal information is shared with the entire world, and not just close circle of friends and family, do we place our value in the number of likes and comments? In other words is it others perception of us which adds value to us, or is it something else?  Personal brand-building is enhancing the value of a person.  It’s the value one has of oneself, or how much a person values himself/herself.

This value of oneself is a tricky thing. If you have too much of self-worth you might come across as an arrogant and narcissist person. You have too little of it, you acquire inferiority complex, zero confidence, and get treated like a doormat. 

In a world of competitive culture our worth is always being measured against others. The comparison never ceases as it encroaches all spheres of life right from the time we get admitted to school, and may be for some from the day they are born. Marks, beauty, talents, careers, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife and what not! The list of comparison is never ending. And amidst all this comparison we try to hang-on to our accomplishments dearly to feel worthwhile. And when some Sharmaji-ka-ladka/ladki surpasses it the feeling of worthlessness sets in. We are back to zero and the world seems against us. Somebody has rightly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

So, where does one go from here? It takes all sorts to make this world go around and each one of us has been created uniquely. And the value we attach to ourselves is not something we should give control to others. It’s us that should have it under control. The following pointers will elucidate what I’m trying to say.

  • Focus on being the best version of yourself:

In simpler terms it means maximizing the potential we have. For example in a game of football everybody dreams of becoming a striker and score amazing goals like Messi or Ronaldo, and be treated like a global superstar. But not all are cut out for it. Coaches help a young player identify his strongest attributes and help the budding- player mature into a position to which he is best suited. So the midfielder controls the flow of the game, the defender stops the opponent from scoring, and the striker has to score of course. It’s the sum total of all which makes a team strongest. And if one can maximize the talent at his disposal he will always add value not only to himself but to whichever team he belongs to.

 

  • It’s ok to fail:

This is something which I feel is highly undervalued in this present day society.  Failures are looked upon with such disdain. It’s an inevitable part of growing up. And the fear of failure prevents most of us to step out of our comfort zone and try for anything new. Thus, people opt for staying in the safe zone, not making any sort of attempt to do something different for fear of being branded a failure.  Only if we fail we learn what does not work and hence we gain the knowledge of what can actually work. That’s why they say” failures are the pillars of success”. The first US President Abraham Lincoln is a prime example of this.

  

  • Don’t aspire for perfection:

This point is an outset of the previous point. Perfection has the power to create inflated expectations and once we get that notion that someone’s life is perfect we always fall in the comparison trap that whatever we have is not enough. So many times we look at the FB profile of someone and see them in great jobs, travelling to exotic locations, married and honeymooning in Mauritius, and deduce that how perfect their life might be. This just creates negativity in us and makes us feel that our life is going nowhere.  Our life may not be in the best of state, but we have to stay still, breathe in, and learn to enjoy the little blessings and bounties bestowed upon us  by the almighty.  

  • Be gentle on our dear ones:

This is something which deals with adding value to the lives of our near and dear ones. Our friends and family are not perfect but they are the most important persons we have in our lives. There are times when we feel let down by them, be it cause of their behavior, their nature, or may be because they have stopped loving us for some reason. It’s our responsibility to try to understand them in a better way, listen to their side of the story, and help them wherever we can and be good to them. And if nothing works out we should have in our hearts to forgive them. It actually shows great strength on our behalf to forgive someone and makes us better persons, a person of value.

So let’s stay positive and keep believing in ourselves.  Every cloud has a silver lining. Stay blessed and have a great week ahead.

​WHY IS PERSONAL BRANDING IMPORTANT?

This article is not about making your career or boosting your business. Even though branding has always been considered a business topic – to me it is very personal. It is to believe who you are, what you want from your life and declaring it to the world in a way that the world starts relating to you differently. 

Branding is not showcasing you as somebody else. It is also not about wearing expensive clothes and driving expensive cars. It is all about how you want others to see you and relate to you.

Some 10 years earlier, I was involved in a course named “Landmark Education” and that course taught me a lot of things and one of the important ones was to learn how to confront others. We were given a task of taking interviews of people from different areas of our lives. We were given some set of questions that would make us aware of how we are perceived by people in that area of our lives. For example – I took interviews of one of my colleagues, one of my college friends, one of my cousins etc. 

What happened while taking those interviews was that I was so very surprised at so many things that people liked and disliked about me. I was very surprised to know who I was for them. Some surprises were pleasant and some were not, but they were all surprises. That was when I realized that if I do not consciously take care of maintaining my image/brand, it will just get built on its own. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I stop being myself and try to put on a false show – it just means that understand the consequences of your actions and take responsibility for them. 

That was the first ever time in my life when I truly understand the meaning of “Creating your own brand”. 

Who are you seen as? What do your friends talk about you when you are not with them? Is it positive or negative? Are they making fun of you or talking about the great things that you have done? Or do they even talk about you? Are people happy to have you in their group or they simply don’t care? Who are you to them? These are some of the basic questions that your “Brand” answers.

How do you consciously try to create your brand? 

Be true to yourself – Never ever put up a false show. It doesn’t work. If you try to be somebody other than yourself, people will see right through you in no time. It doesn’t work. Be your own self.

Be committed – It all depends on how badly you want to create a true brand for yourself. And it is not easy to do this. It takes time, energy, thoughts and a lot of work. Commitment is the key here. 

Define your aspirations – Who do you really want to be? How do you see yourself 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Be very precise of your aspirations today, they will keep changing and you will see that change in you if you define it appropriately now. 

Understand your strengths – As a culture, we are always asked to focus on our improvements areas. Sometimes so much that we forget what our strengths really are. Always play by your strengths and to do that you need to understand what you are good at. 

What are your brand attributes – What is it that you want people should relate to you as? What kind of adjectives you want people to use for you? Once you know what your brand attributes are, you also need to understand why those things are important to you. Again your brand attributes will also change with time. 

Once you understand how you want people to relate to you, you need to understand the current situation. Then start working towards creating the image or brand that is line with the attributes you defined earlier. 

Working towards creating your brand could include anything – your social media profiles, your display pictures, the topic of your conversations with others, your posts on social media, your attitude towards others, the work that you do etc. 

Few years back when I was talking to one of my colleagues in one of the interviews I mentioned earlier, he said that he doesn’t think I am as committed to my work as I ought to be and sometimes he doubts if he can really depend on me. This came as total surprise to me because I never thought of myself as non-committal. At that point of time, I made it a mission to create an image of me that is dependable and committed. It took quite a change of perspective to do that. I started communicating regularly what I was doing and how I was doing a certain task, I started being proactive in meeting small milestones so that big deadlines are never missed. And it worked.

On the personal front, I had an image of being a cry baby. Any argument with any family member used to end in me crying about it. I used to cry in a way that it would force the other person to just close the topic. I got this feedback various times and few years back I took it up to be more mature in my discussions/arguments with my family members. Every time during an argument I felt like crying – I would just tell the person that I am unable to control it and I need a break. That would give me some time to think about the topic and also come in right perspective. And it worked yet again. I managed to change the brand that I had created for myself.

So, think about it. What is your current brand? Are you happy with your brand? If not, then what do you need to do to turn it around?