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Creating Flow

The Freedom To Be

Tag Archives: Dreams

He had been thinking about The City for a while. Living in it. Moving around it. Using the arterial roads that criss-crossed its length and breadth. At times when he was returning by plane back to the city at night he could see the traffic like an army of ants, moving like bight yellow dots across these arteries, much like blood flowing in the veins of the human body. Soon he would become one of them. A dot occupying the city. Get consumed by its energy. Swept by its pace. Seeking his dreams. Fulfilling his desires. Watchful to pain. Managing his feelings. Pretty much what everyone else did.

The vehicles honked. A simple beep. A longer impatient beeeeeeeeeep. A screeching kreeeeeeeeeee. A louder no-nonsense POMP. Cars, bikes, tempos, buses, auto rickshaws all jostling for space and movement. Honking at the pedestrians for occupying roads that rightfully belonged to round tyre-d creatures.  Man fighting for space in the city of his own creation. Who created the city? How did it come about? The towering buildings, the looming bridges, the hanging sky-walks, the parallel rails, the spinal highways, the dark alleys, the criss-crossing by-lanes, the colourful shops, the swanky offices, the well manicured parks, the crowded promenades. Who built them? What was there before all this was built?

One early Sunday morning he runs on the beach. As sea of plastic and garbage. He dodges the plastic to put his Addidas adorned foot on the sand. A tough task. It seems like he is playing a game of hop-skip-jump avoiding the white plastic. Like a shroud  covering the sand, signalling its death. The beach is crowded by people. A plump lady dressed in a yellow salwar kameez, walking her white, fluffy Pomeranian. She is wearing sports shoes walking briskly. Her face is ruddy with the exertion. A girls football team is practising at a distance. A large man in a white T-shirt and blue track pants is standing near them and shouting instructions about passing the ball to the center. A group of runners with similar white and red T-shirts are running together trying to keep pace with each other. A garbage van is making its way slowly across the beach. The brown uniformed municipal staff prod the plastic and garbage with metal-pointed sticks collecting them in pile before depositing it in the van. As the van makes its way across the beach it leaves a trail of visible sand, from where the garbage has been cleared.

Flowing red-hot coals. Not knowing if they are coming or going. As though frozen in time. Red hot, yet frozen.  Like a picture hanging on newly painted cream wall. Intense-passionate-vibrant-red framed in black and white. Docile, domesticated and sophisticated. Appreciated, complimented and arrested. The City of Dreams. Built with bricks of desire and the cements of passion. Imprisoning its inhabitants under tons of concrete. Gasping for air, for expression, for rest, for love. A lonely creature. An assembly line. A mass production. Heaving, breathing, sputtering. Fed on desire. The desire to become. Not be.


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“What do you do?” We are often asked. The question leaves us stumped. Depending on who’s asking, our answers may range from – organisation development, HR consulting, leadership development or team building. Some people end up thinking we offer life skills. Well the actual answer is peculiar. We do neither of the above, yet all of the above. Let me explain.

First, why is it difficult to explain what we do? Second, what we do and what emerges out of it.

My work is purely experiential, hence difficult to explain. It is like asking someone eating a chocolate ice cream what does it taste like. He will say “it tastes like chocolate ice cream”. Now, if you have tasted chocolate ice cream you will recall that taste from memory. But if you have never eaten it before, then chocolate ice cream are simply words and you are as clueless as before.  Since what I do is not something I have experienced others do, I don’t really have words to explain it. In which case I use common words that people will relate to – OD, HR, Training, Coaching etc. Of course these have so many connotations based on the listener’s association with these words, that he simply puts my work under one of these buckets, and is quite satisfied thinking he has understood what I do. But that is not what I do.

So what do I do? Simply put, I engage people in conversations. With themselves or with each other. It is my belief that all that is manifest in the outer world is on account of the inner conversations of people. These conversations may comprise of beliefs, values, ideas, notions, concepts, theories, philosophies, prejudices, perceptions, views, opinions, judgements. Call it what you may, all these form part of our inner conversation, that becomes our self-identity. When this personal inner world relates to another person’s inner world it creates a relationship. When there are more people bound together, it creates a culture. Cultures gives rise to systems, processes, policies – stated or unstated- to manage a social unit. Be it a family, organisation or a nation.

In the work we have done, I have observed that engaging people in facilitative conversations brings awareness of mindsets, values, strengths, weaknesses, cultures, roles, systems. It also highlights how these are related to each other and helps to identify what is functional and dysfunctional in a particular situation. These conversations are very real. By that I mean pertinent to the person’s current life situation. Since neither of this is intellectual or cognitive, it impacts people at a feeling level. These conversations have the capability to impact mindsets and beliefs, during the course of the conversations itself. Even views the person may hold about himself. Quite unlike intellectual learning, where concepts are gathered, to be put to good use later. Which in my experience rarely happens. It only adds to the concept bank of a person, without creating any shift in consciousness.

So what use is this? The beauty of it is, that it can be put to any use. Ranging from helping individuals get in touch with themselves more deeply, facilitating full self-expression to building organisation cultures. The outcome is mostly a by-product of these conversations. A recent interview and interactive process we did with the leadership team of an organization to my mind built individual and group self-awareness, opened communication blocks, examined individual styles to organizational roles, identified key organizational blocks, built ownership to the organisation brand and vision and identified the next strategic initiatives for organizational growth. Did we start with these objectives? No. We simply started and ended with facilitating conversations that were unarticulated. Bringing multiple perspectives to awareness for exploration and enhancing the gestalt of an individual to experience himself and another. Whatever objectives were achieved, were an outcome that of that process.

I often tell people, what I do cannot be told or sold. It can only be experienced and recommended. People who have experienced our work and found value in it, become our brand ambassadors. We recently did a group coaching exercise for young adults, as a part of a two year leadership program called Gandhi Fellowship. Enclosed below is a testimonial from Tripti, the Head of that program. It was one of the most fulfilling assignments and the comprehensive testimonial is reflective of how we work. Even though the focus in this assignment was the individual and not the organisation, our approach in all cases remain the same. Facilitating the unsaid.

In conclusion I am reminded of the saying “The proof of the pudding lies in eating it.”

And, knowing what Flow does lies in experiencing it!

Testimonial from Kaivalya Education Foundation


Flow conducted a five day Personal Reflection process for the fellows of the Gandhi Fellowship program. The brief to Flow was to design a process that would enhance the fellows’ self-awareness, get them to systematically begin exploring the question, “Who am I?” and thus be able to reach clarity about themselves so as to enable each fellow to articulate to herself his/her early version of their ‘private dream’; which is a the pivot around which the Gandhi Fellowship program is designed.

 Flow had to design a process that explored the innermost questions of each individual but it had to be done in a group and it had to be designed for 40 people. How to design a standard process that can be customized to the needs of each individual? And most importantly how to do this an environment that is emotionally and psychologically safe? These were the issues around which Flow had to work.

 Added to this was the challenge that these were no regular corporate employees, who would do a process simply because they had been asked to. The Fellows are individuals who will not do anything only for the sake of it and they are people who will ask questions and demand reasons for what they are getting in to.

 Flow Consulting designed a process that effectively and intelligently worked around the above-mentioned challenges and constraints. The design of the process was accurate to the last minute and yet left room for ideas and emotions to flow when needed. Within a tight design there was room for adaptation, participation and even co-facilitation. The beauty of the process was that by the second day fellows themselves had begun to contribute to the facilitation process.

 The process stretched the limits of all, the fellows and of members from Flow Consulting too. A process of such intense nature that extends for five days can be a emotionally and psychologically draining but Ajay, Payal and Jaya flowed through the ebb and flow of intense emotions with consummate ease.

 What I appreciate most was their ability to connect with, respect and appreciate the uniqueness of the Gandhi Fellows. This attitude percolated to the fellows and so they were able to draw  real appreciation and respect from the Fellows.

The most evident outcome of the process has been that the Fellows have learnt how to accept the emotion they are feeling at a given moment and  then give word to their emotions. This ability to connect to the ebb and flow of one’s emotions is the first step towards taking responsibility for one’s feelings, which in turn is a giant step in reaching true maturity. Flow has made a huge contribution to this growth in the journey of the 40 fellows.

Tripti Vyas

Head: Gandhi Fellowship Programme

Kaivalya Education Foundation

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