Thursday, January 14, 2021

This Too Shall Pass

If you are looking for the perfect phrase to get the balance we all strive for in our lives, this is it. 'This Too Shall Pass' gives one hope when things are going wrong and keeps one in check when everything is going right. It represents the cycle of life and asks you to respect, if you will. The story goes that this phrase was inscribed in the ring worn by the king, whose desire was for a phrase that captures the wisdom of the world. Very apt, isin’t it?

Today we will delve into the examples of disruptions – where leaders have given up their power and position to challengers – countries, corporations, cities, dynasties, monarchies, wealthy families etc. the cycle is everywhere.

The title of the worlds most powerful moved along (with a lot of bloodbath) from the Asians to the Ottomans to the French to the Dutch to the British to the Americans and many in between (Spain, Portugal, China, Japan, Russia, Italy, India etc). You see one can’t hold on to this title for too long.

The corporate version of this is much more fun. Just think of it -

IBM was the original tech co before other tech majors came along and upstaged it

DC (with Superman) were unbeatable before Marvel superheroes

Orkut was original before Facebook

Yahoo before Google; Rediffmail before Gmail

Boeing before Airbus

Tesco before Walmart

GM before Toyota

SBI before HDFC Bank

Everyone else before Jio

Those with power give it away due to external factors (anti trust regulations - Carnegie Steel, Standard Oil and competition –) or internal factors (mostly hubris – look at GE and many financial institutions that ceased to exist post the great financial crisis). So it should only be expected that todays largest companies will not be the largest in the next few decades – this churn is actually desirable as it reflects a dynamic and a functional system.   

The point is that one has to respect the cycle. That’s why the triad of Brahma – Vishnu – Mahesh (creator - preserver – destroyer) is such an exceptionally powerful concept. We desire status quo while nature abhors it.

So if you are an underdog in the fight – don’t despair – history is on your side if you play your cards well, stay in the game and get some lucky breaks. And if you currently have the pole position – be paranoid and enjoy it till it lasts, for someone will come along who you will have to pass the baton to. For this too shall pass, as it always does.