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Reinventing Oneself

Reinventing Oneself

When the Congress party was routed in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, winning only 46 seats, the lowest in its history, many newspapers wrote editorials, advising the Congress to reinvent itself. Reinventing can happen in the life of an organization, a political party and in the life of an individual. ‘Reinventing’ is a term generally used in business management for rejuvenating a business or industry when it faces a crisis or not performing well. The dictionary meaning of ‘reinventing’ is “change (something) so much that it appears to be entirely new” or take up a radically new way of life.

According to Peter Drucker, the management guru reinvention requires three steps: 1) Abandonment of things that do not work; the things that have outlived their usefulness 2) Concentration on things that work, things that produce results 3) Analysis of half success and half failures. In other words it means to  change the way that one lives and the  things that one does so that a new focus, vigour, enthusiasm and contentment are reflected in the life of a person. 

Reinventing can take place in the life of a person when he/she undergoes a crisis or he/ she sees a new opportunity. Reinventing also can be done when a person reaches a particular stage in life. For example retirement from job or business is an occasion for a person to reinvent himself/herself by setting new goals for life. A few individuals after retirement reinvent themselves by setting apart their time and a portion of their resources to pay back to the society. Rajan Ranade, a retired government officer from Indore, provides his service free of cost to five Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on six days in a week. These NGOs are taking care of street children, old people, orphan children and children suffering from multiple disabilities. Rajan Ranade renders various services to these NGOs from morning to evening and he does not take any remuneration from them. On the other hand, he uses his own scooter for travelling to different places in connection with works of these NGOs. One of the important tasks he performs for these organizations is resource mobilization.

While addressing the members of the CMI Congregation, who are celebrating the golden jubilee of their religious commitment, the Superior General, Dr. Paul Achandy CMI appealed to the jubilerians to reinvent themselves. He suggested five paradigm shifts for reinventing oneself: 1) from administrative phase to accompanying phase 2)from blaming to believing 3) from conformity to creativity 4) from disciplinary mode to dialogical mode and 5) from endorsing to empowering. These five shifts are applicable not only to the priests and religious but also people belonging to all sections of the society.

By the time a person reaches the age of 65 to 70 he/she has abundance of experience and expertise in some specialized fields. With this rich experience he/she is able to guide or facilitate others. Instead of accepting administrative responsibilities he/she can play the role of grooming effective and efficient administrators. In other words he/she can become a mentor by identifying the capacities of others, especially of the youngsters, by encouraging and supporting , by sharing expertise and above all by becoming a role model.

Generation gap and the conflicts arising out of it are found in almost all societies and communities. The thinking and actions of the young generation may be different from that of the old generation. Generally the old generation has a tendency to blame the young generation. The young generation is born and brought up in a different environment; hence their way of thinking and approach could be different from that of the old generation. Instead of blaming the young generation, if the seniors become role models and believe in the capacity and sincerity of the young generation, the youngsters will approach the seniors for guidance and support.

The greatest gift God has bestowed on human beings is creativity. According to the Genesis 1:27 human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and therefore they share in the creativity of God; they are co-creators. The innumerable scientific inventions and amazing works of art, architecture and literature are nothing but the result of human ingenuity and creativity. With the progress in age many people may develop a sense of conformity, conformity to a particular way of thinking, to certain rituals, practices, customs and traditions. As a result they may develop a resistance to anything new. In order to become a mentor it is essential to accept and promote creativity and become creative.

One of the indicators of a spiritual person is creativity. Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam in one of his books writes that God is the source of creativity and anyone who genuinely prays connects himself with the source of creativity. Dr. Kalam himself was a role model of a spiritual person. Transformation from a person of religiosity to a person of spirituality is a prerequisite to become creative.

Discipline is needed for an orderly and successful life. But discipline imposed from outside may not help a person to grow. What is required is self discipline. A person of self discipline may be strict with himself/herself, but he/she will be liberal with others. Persons of old generation may have a tendency to impose their ideas, views and discipline on others and this may lead to conflicts and tensions. Reinventing oneself requires adopting an approach of dialogue in view of understanding each other and arriving at consensus. A dialogical approach will help a person from being isolated or even rejected by others.

One of the goals of a mentor is empowering the mentee. The senior citizens in the society or a community have to find ways and means to empower others, especially the youngsters. This can be achieved by delegating or handing over more and more responsibilities and decision making powers to others along with giving periodic feedback. Instead of adopting a judgmental attitude an approach of facilitation will lead to empowerment.

I was not aware of the five paradigm shifts for reinventing when I decided at the age of 65 not to take up any administrative post or responsibility in the future. I decided to become a facilitator for empowering the young people. With the permission from the authorities I joined the core team of Universal Solidarity Movement (USM) of Value Education for Peace, Indore. The interaction with the young people and becoming part of the team for training young students to become enlightened leaders opened a new world before me. The relationship with the young people persuaded me to become more flexible and friendly not only with the students but also with all. Increased openness to the views and opinions of others was another significant change in me.

I began to read more number of books than I used to do earlier. I started writing articles and publication of my articles in the periodical, ‘Indian Currents’, motivated me to become a regular contributor to that periodical. During the last three and half years I have written about 200 articles and most of these articles are published in ‘Indian Currents’. I have also written five books and two booklets during this period. Publication of my books by USM was a great encouragement for me to write books.

Thus a shift from administrative mode to accompaniment mode slowly led to the other shifts in my life. Becoming more creative, flexible, friendly and dialogical are the other changes that have taken place in me as a result of the first shift. The changes that have taken place within me have convinced me that reinventing is possible and it makes a person happy and contented.

(Published on 22th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 04)