As circumstances change, the challenges we face vary in severity, proportion and impact. But haven’t humans always transcended their limitations! We always aspire to improve and become better. Sometimes, however, we get too caught up in the pathways already paved. Just like the army ants, who keep following each other in a continuous loop when they lose their pheromone track (only to die of exhaustion!), we circle the endless loop of set paradigms.

Although invisible, a magnetic field is a force that pulls on ferromagnetic materials and attracts or repels other magnets. And it emerges out of the internal composition of magnets. Likewise, our behaviour and actions too emerge out of who we are from within, what we value inherently. Every day, we invest our energy in trying to align ourselves to our surroundings. But in doing so, we lose self-congruence. When our behaviour and actions do not align with our core values, we lose harmony. And such an increase in our internal disturbance is just like the Entropy inside a magnet that reduces its magnetism.

It is just like the entropy that consumes the Himalayan Musk Deer. Excited by the ravishing odour of Musk, the Deer frisks about anxiously sniffing under trees, and searching everywhere to find the source of the fragrance. Unable to find the source, he grows very restless and angry. And in this frenzy, he ends up plunging to death by jumping off the high Himalayan cliffs. If only the Deer could touch his nostrils to his own navel, he would have found the cherished Musk and saved himself from his painful death!

Our Positive Valence is our core building block that is intrinsic, inherent, authentic and positively inspiring to us. It is the essence, the fundamental quality that the world would miss in our absence. It is that which enables the magnetic field for a magnet. It is that which delivers musk to the Himalayan Deer.

But we people have been hard-wired to set our reference points outside of us, even when we are deciding for ourselves. All our external reference points- be it our families, friends, professional colleagues, or even the larger socio-cultural context- are fickle variables beyond our control.

This lack of self-congruence is where our deepest insecurities stem from. It is the principal source of the internal Entropy that we are perpetually consumed by. And there is external Entropy as well- the way external forces of heat and damage hamper a magnet’s potential of creating a strong magnetic field, our potential is hampered by the many self-consuming and powerful influences surrounding us. We have to distance ourselves from this Entropy to discover our Positive Valence and maximise its potential towards creating enduring relationships and inspiring positive action.

(This Perspective was originally published on May 20, 2021 by Shekhar Badve on LinkedIn)