November 24, 2005


I was thinking about what makes people strong in the face of adversity. For those who claim to know my characteristics, I am sure that you find it amazing that I have the faculty to think. However, there are times that I actually think. One thought lead to another as they always do and I finally began the concept of vulnerability. What does the word mean and what is its significance? Why do people fear the word and they take great pains to ensure that they not as vulnerable? What is it that is so special about this small word?

Personally, before I begin, I would like to say that there have been times that I have been so vulnerable that it pained. Therefore, I guess that gives me the authority to comment on the topic.

Vulnerability is the quality of a person that makes them open to external attack. This is in both the physical and psychological sense. However, being the weakling that I take pride in being, I shall not deal with the physical sense. That is for those people that take karate lessons and go work out in the gym daily. Those are another thing all together and let us not talk about that. I shall talk about what it is to be vulnerable emotionally. I do not want to go into what makes one vulnerable and why they should do if they are so. I want to touch upon the importance of being vulnerable.

In today’s world, more and more people want to be seen as strong people who are always in control and are scared of the word vulnerability and all that it signifies. They believe that the more in control they seem to be, the better they are professionally. Moreover, who gives a damn for the personal life anyway?

However, I have seen that vulnerability has strange effects on people.  By people, I mean me. It took me sometime to realize that vulnerability is not a bad thing. When one is vulnerable, open to the world, one can learn many things. They range from the mundane things about others to the most important question of them all. Let me see if I can take you through them. I believe that it is only when you are vulnerable that you realize who your friends are and who the enemies are. At a time when you are down, emotionally, if a person takes advantage of you, then he is not one you should keep close to your heart. A person who knows that you open, is ready to stand beside you, in my opinion is a good friend.

What is the opposite of being vulnerable? Is it being strong? Well it is not necessary. One can be strong and still make a mess of life. I am not saying that the vulnerable ones make a mess of life. That is the perception that is doing the rounds. Being strong is a case of not being in touch with who you are and what you want. It is like a mask that one wears to show the world that all is well within oneself. I have seen many cases where the people seem strong and they have become a mess inside. They have been hiding from what they should have realized long ago. That brings me to the most important characteristic of vulnerability, its ability to answer the question,” Who am I?” It gives a clear picture of the truth and all that goes with it. All your wants and your needs, everything that you say and do is direct from the depths of your being. There is nothing that wraps anything that you say and do. In a relationship, it is important to share this vulnerability. It shall enhance the relationship. There are times when I hated myself for being so open, but then this is but one life. Live it so that we never regret what happens or rather what does not happen. Be true to yourself and give others a chance to be true to you.

The essence of excellence

What is the meaning of the term excellence? Does it mean that you are better than others are in doing something? Does it mean that your performance is better than the rest in the group? Well it could mean anything depending on the circumstances. The question that arises is how is the quality of that excellence determined? More and more we have come to determine excellence by the competition that one faced. The more severe the adversity the better is ones performance. That is the idea that has been passed on down to us, and that is what we come to accept. Then the performance against weak opposition is not excellent by the above definition. However, does the same not require effort? I shall try to give some illustrations. It is the finals of any series in any game be it cricket that is a way of life in India or the renowned conference finals of the NBA in the US. For the sake of argument, I shall take a series that consists of seven matches. One team has won the first four to win the series even before playing the fifth match. The fans of the winning team are ecstatic. They have won and have drubbed the other team. They could not have asked for more. The other team as well as their fans is down. Now that the series is lost, there is nothing to play for. Or is there? There is the small matter of pride. Now the score that reads 4-0 could read a respectable 4-3 in case they win the remaining three games. That is motivation enough. Therefore, in most cases they shall give all that they have may be more, because this time they are playing for pride and the name. Fair enough. However, let us take the case of the winning team. For what are they playing? What is the use of flogging a dead horse as the saying goes? In most cases, the performance shall drop, players will stop offering the best that they can, and they will lose the next three matches. They are after all mortals. The final score line reads 4-3, no one shall remember the beating handed out in a few years time. To stamp the authority over the opponent, the score line should have read 7-0 not a mere 4-3. To maintain that level of performance when one knows that the rubber is dead goes above the mortal. It goes with willing oneself to give the best when it is not necessary, with motivating oneself even when the outcome is not affected. To keep that killer instinct that got them the series victory in the first place is where one rises above the mortal and takes on the mantle of immortal. That is the true essence of excellence, to want to win even when assured of victory.