February 2016 By Nandini Sarkar Using the Pareto principle, Nandini Sarkar illustrates how to resolve sticky situations in life by identifying and resolving the root causes Recently, I made a new friend. She is spirited and compassionate. She also has another attribute. Problems. Recurring, nagging, won’t-go-away kind of problems. Her Whatsapp DP says: O God…no more problems…please! I found myself thinking about her issues, trying to figure out what I would do in her place. The Bard famously said, “All the world’s a stage, and the men and women only actors”, so in any difficulty, I tell myself that it’s only a game and I need to figure out the right strategy. Why take situations too seriously or allow emotions to run riot when at the end of it all, it’s only a game (the journey home), and the only challenge is to figure out the best plan? Your life changes with this discovery and becomes the joy it was actually meant to be. Management gurus are the modern-day generals and masters of strategy. One of the vital strategic tools they use is called the Pareto Principle. It is also called the 80: 20 solution. Pareto, an eminent sociologist and economist, proved that when faced with multiple challenges, 80 per cent of the problems can actually be solved by focusing on only 20 per cent of the root causes. Hence, his theory leads us to focus on ‘the vital few’ causes rather than ‘the trivial many’ issues. The value of the Pareto Principle is that it reminds us to concentrate on the 20 per cent of things that actually matter. Of all the things we do to resolve a crisis, only 20 per cent are really important, Pareto argues. Those 20 per cent produce 80 per cent of our results. So, we need to identify and focus on those 20 per cent things first. Thus, the Pareto Principle challenges us look at problems in a creative way rather than allow our will to become paralysed because the problems seem too big. Says Yubraj Trigunait, an audit manager who effectively uses the Pareto Principle: “I have gone through so many, many problems, that now I don’t remember any of them! Mountains of problems stop appearing insurmountable, when you have the right gear, like Pareto, to climb them!” he says triumphantly. This is how you work on the Pareto Principle: Make a table with three columns: problem, frequency and root cause. In the first column make a list of all the problems you are facing. In the second column, write down the number of times each problem has occurred. In the third column, insert the root cause of each problem, as it appears to you. Now go over your entire list and group the issues that have the same root cause. Add up the frequencies in each group to get the group score. Identify the top 20 per cent of causes by looking at the scores. Take action I decided to follow the Pareto Principle and made a list of the problems that my friend had spoken about. I wanted to discover the 20 per cent of causes that could solve 80 per cent of her problems and where efforts should be focussed to achieve the greatest improvement. From the above table, it was clear that the top causes of her problems were relationship anxiety and her sweetheart’s errant behaviour: Total score for issues 1 and 3 related to relationship stress: 12+4=16 Total score for issues 4,5 and 7 related to sweetheart’s behaviour: 1+1+3=5 My friend and her parents had hoped for a 2015 wedding but the groom’s wayward behaviour had caused a roadblock. He was keeping bad company and had developed bad habits. He was repeatedly promising to change but was going back to his drunken and violent ways. Then she lodged the FIR with the police and things reached a point of no return between the two families. The other problem was that, instead of giving her time to heal her wounds and move on, her parents started fretting that perhaps she would never get married after this break-up. After all, she was 34, they said. Their incessant nagging and the pain of seeing a long-term relationship crumble were making her deeply stressful. Unable to release the stress, she started experiencing frequent stomach cramps and acidity, breathlessness, suffocation and absent-mindedness, leading to frequent accidents. Now that the root cause had been found, it was time to act, as per Pareto’s plan. My friend agreed and listened with interest and openness, when I told her about this. It is a well-established fact that when problems come, they bring a three-point agenda: To teach us to behave and/or To trigger a lifestyle change and/or To bring about spiritual awakening My friend felt in her case it was time for a spiritual transition. However, the spiritual path requires patience and consistency. There is no instant nirvana, just as there are no free lunches. That is why Lahiri Mahasaya’s famous advice: banat, banat ban jaaye, (make consistent effort, then one day, behold! the goal is reached) holds so much value for me. My friend’s problems were making her mentally restless. Desperate for a quick solution, she started jumping from one motivational teacher to another without being focussed on any one path. One month she was doing sudarshan kriya, then theta healing, then mantra japa, then reiki, then crystal healing, and on and on it went without giving her any peace and solution whatsoever. She and her mother were also visiting multiple astrologers, who were making dire predictions, making her feel worse. Though she was ready to work on a spiritual solution to her problems, she was becoming a spiritual voyeur, without realising it. If she had followed Pareto’s advice of staying focussed, here is what she could have done instead: Gracefully bury the dead relationship that was causing stress, health issues and accidents and act wisely, to create an improved future. There is no better tonic than a mix of wisdom and patience, to reverse a bad situation. I always recommend this second step to people wanting to make a new and beautiful beginning. I have personally experienced miraculous results from it. Conduct a Gayatri yagya or fire ceremony at home and dump all your bitterness, resentment, sense of being wronged and past memories into the rising flames. With each swaha! or offering to the fire, throw the past into the scorching flames and watch it rise and go away with the smoke. The past is no longer a relevant prop for your role in the game of life, hence it no longer needs to exist. Simple. To be prepared for your new role in life you need a new brief, so now, invoke and invite the light of wisdom, called Gayatri, in the Vedic tradition. This invocation has a powerful effect on the chakras as well, which have become clogged and dysfunctional due to pain and distress. As you invoke Gayatri’s presence, the chakras will also open and start functioning properly. Chant the full Gayatri mantra 108 times, or at least 14 times, with deep concentration, in front of the fire. Experience the fire lending power to your intention, as you chant the full Gayatri and understand its grand meaning. The Gayatri mantra is a universal prayer, like the prayer of St Francis and works for all, irrespective of religious leanings. You don’t need to believe in God either to chant this mantra because you are simply tuning in to the universal intelligence for a briefing. Here is the meaning with which I chant the Gayatri. You can also download the mantra on your mobile from YouTube and chant along with it. Don’t lose the meaning of the mantra because knowing the meaning adds tremendous power to your intention. Surrender your worries to the fire AUM bhUH, AUM bhuvaH, AUM svaH, AUM mahaH AUM janaH, AUM tapaH, AUM satyam AUM tatsaviturvarenyM bhargo devasya dhImahi dhIyo yo nH prachodayAt.h. AUM Apo jyotiH rasomRRitaM brahma bhUR bhuvaH svar AUM AUM, the primordial sound, resides in all elements of the universe. It permeates the earth (-bhUH), water (-bhuvaH), fire (-svaH), air (-mahaH), ether (-janaH), intelligence (-tapaH) and consciousness (-satyam). We pay homage to the universal intelligence, Gayatri, the one who shines like the sun (tat savitur), the one who destroys our ignorance through her effulgent light. Please give light to our path and lead us to higher consciousness and to our true purpose in life. Please shine your light (-jyotiH) on our path so we may enjoy the nectar (rasomRitaM), which is hidden within our Self, while chanting the primordial sound, Aum. At some point during the fire ceremony, shift your attention from the fire to your spine. Close your eyes and mentally focus on each chakra as you chant the Gayatri. Mentally walk up and down the spine chanting the Gayatri at each chakra. Implant the Gayatri mantra in each chakra and experience how the chakra blossoms and functions anew. What a different person you will become! Even after the formal fire ceremony is over don’t let go of Gayatri. Make the mantra your friend and chant it daily, at least once, for at least 14 times, before you start or end your day. Don’t forget the meaning of what you are chanting and walk up and down your spine mentally with your mantra, to open your chakras. Knock and the door shall be opened. And once you have knocked, be patient. What needs to happen will happen when you are ready for it. But wonderful results are guaranteed and they will far exceed your expectations. In business, we say that if you can stick it out for 10 years, then you will become king! After patience, it is consistency which is the key element. If you have found a spiritual path that resonates with you, stick to it and build on its framework with your own reading and research. In my life, I have followed the Kriya Yoga path as shown by Paramahansa Yogananda for 29 years, from age 17 to my current ag
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