Everyone's dream! Wonderful stories abound on making the impossible- possible. We teach them in business schools around the world. We make the people who have done so as role models for our children and the people themselves become icons. After all, who can deny the impossibility of what a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Narayana Murthy, Jack Ma, or a Richard Branson have done. Great role models. But every single one of them will tell you that success only comes if you 'think out of the box'. And this is a very 'out of the box' type of article. The picture caption on the top should have given you a clue.
Donald Trump and the Mahatma together in the same picture. Horrifying! There could never be a greater contrast. But they are the exact point of this article. And to give you another clue from the picture caption, Trump has a larger piece of the picture than the Mahatma! Totally indicative of the times we live in! So the moot question is - what is so out of the box of this article? The difference is that I am not looking at how to make the impossible possible in business or in one's career.
There are so many articles and stories on this, from how the great pyramid was built, to how Abraham Lincoln struggled, to how Thomas Edison finally succeeded in creating the light bulb after a thousand failed experiments that you can fill out an encyclopaedia on them. It is unfortunate that people's eyes glaze and they almost fall asleep when they hear these stories, and they are relegated to school textbooks. Sad, but the undeniable truth! No. This article looks at how people are making the impossible possible in the 21st century. The way of the Donald!
When I had heard the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities mentioned in the Old Testament, where god told Abraham that he would spare the cities if there were 50 righteous people in it, I always thought these were examples to indicate the extremities of human nature, not common traits. Today, looking at developments in the 21st century, I am not so sure.
Examples are increasingly frequent showing us the impossible becoming possible in the style of a Donald Trump, not the role models we should have like Edison, Lincoln or a Mahatma. Trump insulted every person who opposed him, was caught on tape making the most vulgar comments on women, and still got 63 million votes or 46.4% of the American electorate. In no one's wildest dreams did anyone imagine him as President of the United States. But when our eyes glaze when we hear historical stories, we have forgotten Sir Winston Churchill's statement, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it".
Hitler was dismissed as a total non-entity before he came to power through a totally negative campaign accusing the communists of burning the German Parliament. We have forgotten that the negative can make the impossible totally possible. It has happened regularly throughout history.
Lenin came to power using a small fanatical group of followers, the Bolsheviks. Trumps bedrock of support are from a hardcore group of supporters, who will support him come what may. Negative rules because most people have realised that the worse you are, the more of a celebrity you become. Phoolan Devi, the bandit queen not only had a movie made of her, but became a Member of Parliament in spite of being accused of 48 major crimes.
We are in big trouble in the 21st century. I know, one should try and be positive. But we have never faced a situation like this in human history where negativity rules to this extent. There have always been those who have made the impossible possible by using a negative approach. But they have always been in the minority, or on the fringe. In the 21st century, they have become the majority from the political leaders to the the ordinary people.
Brexit is a classic example of a negative campaign that created fear of immigrants and got results. The original justification of demonetisation in India was to stop duplicate currency and terrorist funding, but that narrative has disappeared. Indian news channels compete to be nastier and louder to make an impact. The more controversial a person is as in Bigg Boss, the better he is recognised. And the icing on the rotten cake? A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung Sang Su Kyi, looks the other way when over 350,000 of her people have to run away to Bangladesh to escape prosecution.
I used to make fun of my friends who spewed the sayings of Nostradamus. I still don't think Nostradamus is any great shakes. He has got one thing right though. He mentioned tremendous instability in the 21st century. That seems to be happening. Our future? Only if we all move toward a more positive framework and the negativity we see around runs out of steam. It definitely seems to have with Trump. As a well-known quote states, 'A negative mind will never give you a positive life'. The faster everyone realises this, the more success there will be worldwide. Let us hope it is sooner than later.