sábado, 22 de janeiro de 2011

Freedom or indifference?

When I was in university, my dream was to live in São Paulo. Maybe inspired by the AIESEC conferences happening there or either by the idea of the city "full of opportunities" where you can be "whoever you are".

This week, after a visit of my sister and nephew here in São paulo (where I am living since the last 2 months) new insights have come. My sister is quite extrovert, she talks to everyone, becomes friend easily to unknown people. She is also very sensitive to different behaviours and has a quite good perception of the "environment" and how people are "feeling" about it.

São Paulo is a place where you can dress up in different colors, put tattoos everywhere over your body, take on relationships which your "far away" parents would not approve or either dress up like a doll on a sunday morning in the park, be a beggar on the street (even without needing it), a workaholic for the whole week, you can pray to Jesus with the homeless, do sexy photo sessions at the metro station...and in the end...who cares?

The feeling is that people come to São paulo to be free from all the chains of the stereotypes they could be attached to.

Today in Vitória (my hometown, an island on the coastline of Brazil) under a rising sun on the beach and a much more laid back environment, my sister talks about her last week in São Paulo. With a huge smile on the face, laughing out loud as she always does, a new idea:

In São Paulo you have so many things to do. And you can dress and behave like whatever you want, because nobody cares. The city is too big. People don´t even look at you.

It seems that seeking for personal freedom in São Paulo is a paradox of our age. People may think they have space to dress and live like they want and others´opinions are not important. If my opinion is not important to you life, some may think - I stop giving it.

It is a paradox because this lifelong searched "personal freedom" comes less from understading and dialoguing on the differences and more on the indifferences.

In comparison to Mumbai, where I lived last year, India is a place full of traditions which sometimes are overwhelming to a part of the population which might feel although they would prefer going other ways, they cannot because of the social pressures. Despite that, in Mumbai I could feel people were much more interested about each others' lives. You could feel the whole city comes together as one.

It is sincere, it is humane behaving like that...people don't need to agree on each others' ways of living, but at least saying they disagree is also a big sign of respect.

In that way, São Paulo is a city full of cities, a community full of individuals.

quarta-feira, 5 de janeiro de 2011

Times of change

Reading an article by Mckinsey on leadership, they show through a long time research which are the capabilities that should be cultivated by people under our current times of demanding circumstances.

Here they are:

*Give your life and work a sense of meaning that comunicate openly to others.

*Frame challenges constructively, emphasizing opportunities in change and uncertainity.

*Tap a broad constellation of internal and external constituents who can help your organization succeed.

*Engage proactively with risks and help your organization do the same.

*Sustain your energy while creating the conditions for others to restore theirs.

Reaching up to those points means you are into asking and looking for answers of questions such as: are you aware of your strengths? What is your greatest purpose in life and how is your career linked to that? Do you see opportunity in change and uncertainity? What are your fears? how can you "reframe" reality in order to overcome fears and allow optimism to sink in?

During times of change, fear and risk aversion can run rampant, but acknowledging and countering these emotions can help people summon courage to act and thus unleash tremendous potential.

Also, sustaining change requires the enthusiasm and commitment of large numbers of people across an organization/ society for an extended period of time.