This street is right at the corner where the landmark Human Rights Museum is coming up.
The areas of life I am talking about are:
1. Self – the person that I am.
2. Relationships – with partner, children, other family and friends.
3. Wellbeing – my health and happiness.
4. Career – what I do to generate your income.
5. Financial – the money I have and where it is coming from.
6. Social – what I do for fun.
7. Spiritual/contribution – what gives my life meaning and purpose.
8. Lifestyle – the things I enjoy as a result of all the other stuff.
“Everyone is tested by life,but only a few extract strength and wisdom from their most trying
experiences. They’re the ones we call leaders.”
Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas
The above quote from the Harvard Business Review Sep 2002 article leads me to call the ‘wisdom’ as a competitive advantage.
Let me bring in a few other classical reference frames from religious texts.
Quoted from Sanskrit Hindu literature “God’s songs’ circa 1st century AD: Whenever the balance is broken, restoring force springs forth.
Story of Gideon from the Bible, circa BC 1100 : ‘Gideon rises from the ranks and file of Israelites and takes charge as their leader. He and his modest motley band of warriors annihilate 120,000 enemies in no time.
To use a principle from finance, perfect competition marks a certain stasis and results in very low returns. Incentives for doing business disappear, until – this one is important – someone comes up with a competitive advantage in terms of technology or cost savings. The competitive advantage sets up a monopolistic condition that generates what is termed as ‘abnormal profits’, which are what people actually want!
I am trying to draw a parallel for the above phenomenon in sociology: whenever stasis becomes too boring or protracted, abnormal things happen and challenge the status quo. New balances will be restored in hitherto unimaginable ways. However, significant changes will have happened in the process. The protagonists in leading such changes have an intellectual competitive advantage.
I think this is becoming way too serious matter! Let me leave the theorizing here. Actually I am trying to simply say that leaders emerge from most unexpected quarters with novel ways of solving vexing issues. These leaders emerge in every situation, big or small.
Globe and Mail reports huge earnings for S&P 500 CEOs, the average is in the vicinity of $10 million per annum. Larissa Meyer, until a couple of years ago worth only a million a year is laying claim to close to $60 million this year.
Is this food for thought?
Earlier this year I confronted a question in graduate business school classroom. ‘Why is there a proliferation of leadership literature in google searches in recent years?’
Neither the students nor the elderly professor mentioned astronomical bonus earnings of CEOs as a possible lure. The standard business school version is that leadership is not only about creating shareholder wealth. In reality, though, that is the paramount question.
I remember President Obama taking up issue with Wall Street for what he thought were excessive bonuses in 2009 when the US and global economies were struggling to recover from the Lehman Brothers collapse.
The companies were giving away $20 billion in bonuses at that time! Unconscionable? Well, in the light of economic theories that we learn, I think not! Why do I think so? It is the theory of why picking up a hypothetical $100 bill from the road is not advisable! Paradoxical as it might seem, this theory is the core of corporate finance theory that in a mature market there are no arbitrage or free money opportunities. It is well night impossible to find free money, so the question of picking up $100 doesn’t even arise!
However, free money, or ‘abnormal profit’ as it is called, is available when a company enters a monopolistic regime with a competitive advantage either in innovation or in cost savings. The CEOs and business leaders are supposed to be bringing in this cutting edge and the compensation for generating such a competitive advantage has to be really super high, don’t you think?
In other words, there is no super company that churns out profits unless someone is paid super bonuses as sufficient incentive to innovate.
The bottom line is, the leader creates wealth for the shareholders and takes away a sizeable chunk for himself or herself. Everyone is happy. Only the outsiders who are neither the shareholders nor the CEOs themselves will complain. Unfortunately, Obama is in that group.
This long weekend of Good Friday and Easter is the lasting and almost the last legacy of Christianity in many countries that were traditionally ‘Christian’. Now it is a time of merry making and outdoor fun, weather permitting.
I have three lines of thoughts to share on this day. The first line of thought centers on historicity of Christian beliefs.
The historic Jesus and the Jesus of the modern religious institutions are not exactly the same. Disputes have appeared among followers of Jesus at various times right from the days of the apostles. Disputes have been resolved at what were known as synods. The very first synod is known as the Synod of Jerusalem, which was attended by the apostles Paul and Peter themselves among others. The chief dispute at the time was whether circumcision was necessary for gentiles to be accepted in Christianity and whether Jewish restrictions on eating foods such as pork could be waived. Both were permitted with the exception that food sacrificed to idols shouldn’t be eaten.
The next dispute resolution occurred at the behest of Constantine in 325 AD at Nicea where the foundation of modern Christian beliefs was laid out, especially in terms of accepting Jesus’s divinity and the trinity and also the selection of books to be included in the bible. By that time there were so many old books available to choose from including some written in second century that were at variance with the currently adopted gospels. At the time of this synod churches of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch where all of equal status. Church of Jerusalem where Christianity originated almost came to naught by then. There have been other disputes and synods too. One point of contention was iconoclasm or making of idols, which was approved.
All kinds of beliefs about Jesus were rampant during the first few centuries in and around Jerusalem so much so Prophet Mohammed was influenced by some of them during his trade visits there as a boy assisting his uncle.
The second line of thought I want to share is about the events of Jesus’s death and resurrection as told in the gospels. As a boy I have grown up following most of the biblical stories relating to these events, but little did I realize the sequence of events and their relative importance in the big salvation picture. In fact a book titled “The Historic Jesus” or similar title so many years back was also only speculating why Jesus had to be killed by Jews. I clearly recall the book saying that it was a mystery for what immediate reason the Jews wanted to kill him on Passover day. Now I have a better idea of this sequence, starting with resurrection of Lazar, anointing of Jesus by a woman as a portentous funeral rite, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to tumultuous welcome, melee at the temple where he drove away the traders, secret Passover meal, Gethsemane, Judas’ kiss, night-long trial, 3pm – crucifixion and 3rd day-resurrection. These events all occurred in the space of just over a week and a substantial portion of each of the synoptic gospels deals with these events. Even the word rebellion, ceremonial release of a prisoner like Barabbas and the ‘thieves’ crucified on right and left of Jesus have a unifying theme of constant rebellion of Jews against Roman occupation. If the reader doesn’t find a cohesive story running through all of the above sub-stories, and if he is interested, I could help further. Please let me know using ‘comments’! Whether or not Jesus came back to life is central to the theme of gospels; many books have been written recently to claim success with the investigation into the truth of resurrection. Having said that, I do not think that today the resurrection is a major millstone for christian faith. The reasons for saying that constitute my third line of thought.
My third line of thought today is the most important, though. This is about the relevance of Christianity today and for the future. Regardless of how Christology evolved, Jesus as preached today is my hero! I believe his memory and teachings has an enduring value. The memes such as supreme sacrifice, all encompassing love and hope for the future are so powerful and real that anyone who invokes those thoughts has a very strong tool in his hands. Churches may be losing attendance over North America and Europe now, but a different type of Christendom is being increasingly accepted knowingly or unknowingly by almost everyone, superimposing itself on the existing political and geographic mosaic of the world. I do not talk about literal religious conversion; rather, I do talk about the acceptance of memes or precincts such as love, forgiveness, minimalism, sacrifice, faith and hope as a universality.
The self-check mechanisms of our society are becoming so much more and more robust that even celebrity superstars like Tiger Woods or politicians like Clinton and Dominique Strauss Kahn are finding themselves in a bind for sexual promiscuity. Human rights watchdogs are working everywhere with electronic eyes and ears, ever ready to pick up a violation of hallowed principles that, believe it or not, match with Jesus’s teachings. Therefore, I contend that, contrary to popular belief, Jesus’s story is becoming more relevant today, albeit not in church attendance.
This was the first puzzle in my life when I was about 8 or 10 years of age. My grand father’s friend told me that I could move the mountains if I wanted. I was really very anxious to know more. From his appearance, I didn’t think he was joking.
I made a quick conclusion that it was beyond me, or beyond anybody else for that matter.
But,it is not easy to toss that idea aside as the bible is replete with similar amazing statements.
“Everything is possible for one who believes.”
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Here is Evander Holyfield. He uses the above verse in signing autographs and displays on his T-shirts.
He is a former World Heavy Weight boxing champion.
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself intothe sea,’ and it will be done.”
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healedyou.”
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Now I am switching gears.
This book and a film appeared in 2006, which were huge hits. The author Rhonda Byrne was trying to sound as if she has secret information from ancient texts that are long gone, or forgotten. “The Great Secret of Life is the law of attraction.”
Now you can google ‘law of attraction’ and find 18 million sites about it! It is saying that we could have anything, material or physical or spiritual, if we consciously attract it to us.
Isn’t is amazing that the secret is becoming popular. Recently I heard a series of sermons in a church here about what the pastor called ‘the mountain-moving faith’.
Indeed these so called newly-revealed secrets are popping out of the bible from so many pages.
What are your thoughts?