Updated: Nov 18, 2020
A kid with bright eyes and an inquisitive demeanour was asked for his name, during a school inspection. The prompt answer was
“My name is Johnny Don’t”.
It appeared to be an improbable name, so the Principal of the school decided to probe further, asking about his family background, and who had given him that name. He elaborated that his mother was the driving force behind his achievements, and she always encouraged him by saying:
“Johnny Don’t Keep Doing That.”
He was happy that she had taught him to be persevering and persistent. He had earned accolades from all his teachers for his consistent achievements in every field.
This child had captured the essence of success, by displacing the punctuation mark in his mother’s sentence, and turning negativity to positivity.
Measuring Incremental Progress
Forward motion starts at birth, as the clock and calendar keep ticking away the years. All progress is being accounted for, in an incremental manner. The night pulls us back, as close as possible, to the foetal state — closed, protected and comfortable in the dark. The mind does not remain still, though. The subconscious replays whatever was ignored by the conscious mind during the day, in our dreams or intuitive flashes. It is the job of the conscious mind to draw inferences from subconscious activity, and let it influence life going forward.
Life does not allow us to slip backwards, or drop the baggage from the past. We carry the burden of our identity, our experience and the blueprint that we have once drawn for the rest of our life. If at all, mishap or misfortune do manage to pull us back, it is labelled regression or de-growth, a negative term, not displacement or migration.
Incremental progress is measured from the beginning of life, not from any point in between. What if you took a detour, and started afresh at some point?
The Power of Zero
Zero defines and balances both the positive and negative, and is yet, misconstrued as a state of nothingness in colloquial language.
“Oh, Jack and Social Sciences! He is a Big Zero”.
Have we bothered to check if Jack scored well in other subjects, or his relative grades in different subjects under social sciences, or improvement during a certain period? Does he qualify to be called a Zero, despite his other achievements?
We measure life elements on both sides of zero, and isolate the fulcrum. That is also the Power of Zero — — of influencing, of giving other numbers their relative position, without being impacted itself. It transforms numbers in its trailing position (2400), and lets them be in its leading position (0024). It can shift the value of numbers from zero to infinity, by a simple operation of multiplication or division.
What is more powerful than Zero?
Something more powerful than zero is a tiny dot called the decimal point, which transforms zero into a placeholder. The value of zero changes with its placement vis-à-vis this dot (0.0024 or 0.2400). However, zero does not lose its importance. 1.024 is not the same as 1.24, despite the decimal being placed after 1.
I see Zero as the core being, the soul, the source of energy in a human being, while the Decimal Point is the Universal Consciousness, a centripetal force that drives human life. The core is strong by itself, but the Universal Consciousness can help in making it aware of its place, vis-à-vis all other forces in the universe.
Meditation aims at reaching this point of being, not doing. It enables fair and impartial observation of whatever is happening inside and around us.
How do we focus on Zero?
The burden of the past (birth, heredity, tradition, debts and transferred life expectations) prevents us from leading a self-aligned life.
Zero-based budgeting is a tool, where one needs to justify every item of expenditure in the present context. The base figures are not taken as automatically approved. It is not an incremental budget that is built upon a base figure, and assumes that all incurred costs will continue.
Life needs to be planned in the same way. Shift the zero to your present position. It will help in accurate measurement of future progress.
Look for the decimal point, and where has it placed you. The relativity to a circle of your priorities matters more than linear growth.
The only question that we really need to ask ourselves is
What would I do, if I could start again on a clean slate ?
We need to move backwards, but stop at zero. Refuse to slide onto the negative scale. The questions that you ask yourself should be :
How is the current situation serving you? Are you learning from it, or is it holding you back?
Which past value or belief stands in the way of your success?
What do you need to shed in order for you to move forward?
Which past experience or belief is influencing your assumption of the situation?
A limitation, once identified, loses its force, and can be overcome. Identify the voice which prompts that this is an impossible option. Think about the circumstances which made that voice say so. Are you facing identical circumstances? If not, then what stops you?
The Balance Sheet of Life
I can hear my business brain say that we may not reach the targets with this approach. Balance sheets need to show a steady upward graph, not a zigzag line. The targets and the approach remain valid, as long as you wish to be measured by the same market on the same parameters. If you don’t, change the path. The targets and goalposts will lose validity. You need to press the reset button.
A just social order
The same principle applies to a society. If linear growth is taking you in undesirable directions, press Reset. The future generations will thank you for the foresight. We need not leave a legacy that is a burden to them, be it the economy, the environment or an unjust social order.
Stephen Fry says that our assumptions and vested interests, color our perspective of a just society. This video nails the burden of the past and self-interest that we carry, and which comes in the way of building a just and equitable social order.