Let your Children make their own Mistakes – it helps them develop their potential! – 29 Sep 16

I mentioned yesterday that all parents want the best for their child. It is natural and normal to think in this way. There is however a certain struggle, too: a lot of parents keep their children too safe in the belief only they know what will be best for their child. Sometimes they forget that you have to make mistakes to find out what you want and that kids may go another way than they think!

This is a phenomenon which I have seen in many different countries and cultures, which is why I can confidently say that it is a parental issue. We all act according to our own experiences. That is simply normal. If we have faced difficulties in life, we try to prevent our children from getting into those same situations. We want to share our experience so that they have benefit from it.

That is the reason why for example Indian parents want their children to become doctors and engineers: they see in their surrounding that people with these jobs had the most success. This is why parents in the west take their children to dancing and singing competitions and push them to practice more and more – because they see how much fame and success those have who start early and work hard.

It is fully normal and of course also right to teach your children from your experiences. What we have to take care of however is one simple thing: we still have to give our children the freedom to develop their own wishes and let them explore who they want to be and what they want to do.

In this process, every child will make his own mistakes. It is natural and even necessary. Children who grow up in a bubble of security, whose parents protect them from each and every mistake, will not learn that in life there are situations of disappointment and also failure. You will not always be safe of mistakes, pain and negative experiences! This all is a part of creating your personality, finding out what you want and need.

At the same time, you should not push your children to do something they would not want to do just because you think it is what is good. It may be good for you but not for your children! It may just be the wrong thing for them or absolutely nothing that they would be happy with!

With these words I reach the point which I believe we really need to focus on: the happiness of our children. Let them do mistakes while guiding them gently, with love and in a way that they know they are free to do what they wish while you are providing the support of your experience! Let them find their own happiness, even if it goes against what you think would have been the best for them.

Should it go wrong at some point, be there for them. Just a shoulder, a helping hand. Without judgement or a ‘told-you-so’ attitude. I know, you will say ‘easier said than done’ and you are right, my daughter is only four-and-a-half years old but you know, I have every intention to keep it this way and know that I will be successful with this, too.

Lass deine Kinder ihre eigenen Fehler machen – es hilft ihnen, ihr Potential zu entwickeln! – 29 Sep 16

Ich habe gestern erwähnt, dass alle Eltern das Beste für ihr Kind wollen. Es ist ganz natürlich und normal, so zu denken. Es gibt jedoch auch einen gewissen Zwiespalt: viele Eltern behüten ihre Kinder zu sehr, in dem Glauben nur sie wüssten, was für ihr Kind am Besten ist. Manchmal vergessen sie, dass man seine eigenen Fehler machen muss, um herauszufinden, was man machen will und dass Kinder vielleicht einen anderen Weg gehen, als man denkt!

Das ist ein Phänomen, das ich schon in vielen verschiedenen Ländern und Kulturen gesehen habe, weshalb ich zuversichtlich sagen kann, dass es ein Thema von Eltern ist. Wir alle handeln nach unseren eigenen Erfahrungen. Das ist einfach nur normal. Wenn wir im Leben Schwierigkeiten hatten, versuchen wir, unsere Kinder davon abzuhalten, in die gleichen Situationen zu kommen. Wir wollen unsere Erfahrungen Teilen, so dass sie daraus Nutzen ziehen können.

Das ist der Grund, warum zum Beispiel indische Eltern wollen, dass ihre Kinder Ärzte und Ingenieure werden: sie sehen in ihrer Umgebung, dass Menschen mit dieser Arbeit den größten Erfolg haben. Deshalb bringen Eltern im Westen ihre Kinder zu Gesangs- und Tanz-Wettbewerben und bringen sie dazu, immer noch mehr und mehr zu üben – weil sie sehen, wie viel Ruhm und Erfolg diejenigen haben, die früh begonnen und hart gearbeitet haben.

Es ist völlig normal und natürlich auch richtig, seinen Kindern von seiner Erfahrung zu berichten und demnach Dinge beizubringen. Worauf wir jedoch achten müssen ist eines: wir müssen unseren Kindern trotzdem die Freiheit geben, ihre eigenen Wünsche zu entwickeln und sie erforschen zu lassen, wer sie sein wollen und was sie tun möchten.

Auf diesem Weg macht jedes Kind seine eigenen Fehler. Das ist natürlich und sogar notwendig. Kinder, die in einer Blase der Sicherheit aufwachsen, deren Eltern sie vor jedem Fehler bewahren, lernen nicht, dass es im Leben Situationen der Enttäuschung und auch des Misserfolges gibt. Man kann sich nicht immer vor Fehlern, Schmerzen und negativen Erfahrungen bewahren! Das ist alles Teil der Persönlichkeitsfindung, herauszufinden, was man will und braucht.

Gleichzeitig sollte man seine Kinder nicht mit Druck dazu bringen, etwas zu tun, was sie nicht tun wollen, nur weil du meinst, dass das das einzig Gute ist. Das mag für dich gut sein, aber nicht für deine Kinder! Für sie mag es das Falsche sein oder absolut nichts, womit sie glücklich wären!

Mit diesen Worten komme ich an den Punkt, auf den wir uns meiner Meinung nach wirklich konzentrieren müssen: das Glück unserer Kinder. Lass sie Fehler machen, während du sie sanft leitest, mit Liebe und auf eine Weise, dass sie wissen, dass sie frei das tun können, was sie wollen, während du sie mit deiner Erfahrung unterstützt! Lass sie ihr eigenes Glück finden, selbst wenn es gegen das geht, was du für sie für das Beste gehalten hättest.

Sollte irgendwann etwas schief laufen, sei für sie da. Einfach eine Schulter, eine helfende Hand. Ohne zu urteilen oder eine ‚ich-hab’s-dir-doch-gesagt‘-Einstellung. Ich weiß, ihr könnt jetzt sagen, das ist einfach gesagt als getan und ja, meine Tochter ist erst viereinhalb Jahre alt, aber wisst ihr, ich habe fest vor, diese Einstellung beizubehalten und ich weiß, dass ich auch hierbei erfolgreich sein werde.

Why you should not try to be perfect – 24 Feb 16

Yesterday I wrote about the little judgements that especially parents often have to face from the outside. And the reason why such a judgement often bothers you much longer than it actually should, is simple: you want to be perfect!

Yes, striving for perfection actually makes you unhappy, something you may already have guessed. Why? Because there is no way you are ever going to reach this goal! There is nobody who is perfect, we all make mistakes and the easier you accept this, the happier you will be!

The problem for a lot of people is however that they really very much want to be perfect. They don’t want to make any mistake and that’s how they are eagerly trying to do everything right. If they do a mistake, they beat themselves up about it mentally. Paired with a tendency to worry about what others think, this gets even worse. A mistake proves you wrong and you get stuck with it. You keep it in the mind, try to make explanations and excuses, you try to hide it so that nobody sees it – in short, you just don’t want to let anybody see that you are not perfect. Maybe you even manage to convince yourself that it was not a real mistake, that in fact you are perfect and it was someone else’s mistake!

Another problem is that there is not always a right and a wrong! For some people, one thing may be right while others would say the same for a completely different matter. So if you are trying to be perfect for your surroundings, you constantly need to change, because the people around you have different ideas of what is perfect!

There is a big lesson for everyone wanting to be perfect: we learn from our mistakes! Yes, it is actually good to do mistakes because they teach you what you should or should not do in future. You can feel guilty about your mistake and ponder on it for weeks or months or you can accept that it was a mistake and make a change!

I can promise you that other people won’t even remember your mistake for as long as you do! They forget it quicker than you because it actually is not as important as you think it is! So when you feel judged by someone about a little thing and then you are worried about it for a long time, they may already have changed their mind and forgotten all about it!

Don’t try to be perfect – you are perfect as you are with all your mistakes!

How to deal with your ‘Fictional Future Fear’ – 17 Feb 14

When talking about the stress and worries of corporate life last week, I had to think of a talk I recently had with a guest at the Ashram. He told me that he got too worried and stressed not only about the work that he had to do but also about the fact that he could practically lose his job at any time. His biggest fear is this: What if I get kicked out tomorrow? If I lose my job?

So this man now practically has a good job with a good salary and everything is going great. There is no specific reason why he would have this fear, no indication from his boss and no talk among colleagues. Everything seems alright – but there is that thought that anything could happen and he would be without job soon!

My reply was that anyway everything can happen at any time. You don’t know about the future and thus whatever you imagine that could happen is all imagination and fiction! It is not there, not happening but you think about the slightest possibility that something bad could happen.

It is an old advice which I want to give but it really works well: Live in presence instead of worrying about the future. The future is not here yet!

While worrying about the future you are actually missing the life in the presence. Instead of giving your best at your job and at what you are doing, you may even make mistakes at your work, simply because you are so nervous and anxious! You don’t concentrate and thus don’t give as much as you could.

Even if something happens though and you lose this job, why don’t you think it could be something good happening to you? Why don’t you see that this could be your chance for something bigger and better? Why are you thinking about the future and when you do it, why are you so negative about it? Realize that those scenarios are just fiction!

I know a similar, related case of ‘fictional future fear’: a man says he has his motorbike for many years now and he always enjoyed riding it – until some weeks ago when he suddenly started being afraid of having an accident with it! He never had an accident, he never even slipped but he is now nervous while riding the motorbike, imagining all the things that could happen.

It is fictional and although I would never suggest you to ride a motorbike if you are afraid of falling, in this case I would say work on your inner balance and then get back on it.

Live in the presence, enjoy the moment and be happy. Do physical exercise, eat healthy food and give your mind the chance to find peace and happiness in itself. Once you have reached that state, fictional fears will lose its scariness. You can shrug them off because you know that you are fine in this very moment.

Don’t let those fears get you down but use them as a reason to get more stable and happier than you are now in this very moment!

Travelling but afraid of making Mistakes in another Culture? – 21 Nov 12

When our guests arrive at the Ashram, we always give them a short introduction into Ashram life, tell them who is who and let them know that they can just feel like home, relax here, go into the garden or wherever they want. We explain that we are very free and that they don’t have to do anything and are not prohibited from doing anything, they can just be, that’s it. Sometimes however people who are in India for the first time hesitate to really feel free – they have heard so much about what you should do and what you should not do in another culture that they are afraid to do something wrong!

It is just a natural feeling which you have more or less of, depending on your experience and your general character.

People who are very self-conscious and feel easily ashamed about their mistakes may have big difficulties even starting a journey to a country like India because they know the culture is so different that they will hardly be able to avoid putting his foot in. If they do come though, they will stay away from places where they don’t know the rules and customs for unless they are with a guide or someone who they can follow in their actions.

They will hesitate going into a temple for example, not knowing how to behave in it and whether someone might be offended by them even entering. With this attitude they ‘play safe’ but unfortunately miss out on a lot of things, simply because of their fear of doing something wrong. They will be able to avoid really offending someone culturally but if they actually do something that a native inhabitant would do differently, they will be horribly ashamed. That will be one of the biggest memories of their journey and each time they think of it, their cheeks will burn with the memory. Only time will be able to fix that and they will eventually be able to regret making this so important. Maybe they can even laugh about it and tell it to others – but only after some years and from safe distance!

Perfectionists would hate committing any faux-pas in another country just as much and that is why they read as many culture-guides as they can in order to know everything before. They have read so much that they believe they know how to behave anywhere and everywhere. With their theoretical knowledge, they can impress their fellow travellers and they can easily become the guides for locations they have not even been to themselves.

Obviously the knowledge of books and texts is not comparable to the experience itself though and sometimes you find such people wondering why everyone is doing things just so very differently from how they should be doing it! They stand at the evening ceremony at the river ghats and explain their friends how the priest lights the candles and holds the fire and swings it – wait, he doesn’t do it right! Seeing this controversy brings confusion and the perfectionist will mostly leave with the feeling that the natives are not following their own culture properly – he would have done it better.

The best attitude to enjoy and experience however is, if you simply jump into the life and go with the flow. Don’t hesitate too much and don’t have too many expectations on how it should be. Just let it happen and go along. Indians are known for their hospitality and they will be happy to show you, explain you and just let you know what to do. Don’t be shy or afraid of doing mistakes – they can see you are not from here and that is why they don’t expect you to know everything!

You can hardly commit a faux-pas that is so big and bad that people really could blame you to have done a big mistake. It is a difference of culture and if they came to your country, you would also not mind them doing things a bit differently than you do them. Just use your common sense and a little bit of a feeling for the situation and you will be fine. The most important thing is that you enjoy your time.

I believe we all should be more open towards others and take life easy. With such an attitude, we don’t need to be afraid of cultural mistakes but can really make beautiful experiences, knowing that others simply appreciate you exploring their country and culture. Enjoy and be happy!

Violent Teachers teaching about non-violent Gandhi – Corporal Punishment in Indian Schools – 3 Oct 12

Yesterday, on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, I shortly mentioned his non-violent approach to make a change. He believed that a change can be made without any violent acts. Unfortunately Gandhi’s idea of change without violence has not reached Indian schools.

In fact, the opposite is the case. A recent report shows that in 99% of India’s schools physical punishment is still exercised. A very common opinion among teachers and also parents is that this is necessary for children to improve in school and most of all to get better manners and discipline. The consequence, in the theory, is that children once they are adult, thank their teachers for beating them because this is how they finally learned in school.

The real result looks different: if you just take one of last week’s newspapers, you will read that a teacher in Jammu, in North India, beat a student of 9th grade into the belly. The boy is in hospital with an injured kidney. Pick up another newspaper and you read about a 10th grade student in Haryana who did not know the answer to a question. The teacher struck him with a stick 40 times. Again, the child is now in hospital and the teacher is absconding.

In India such things happen all the time. Teachers beat children, a teacher cuts the ears of children with blades, children come home with bruises and injuries, have to go to hospital and sometimes even die. There is a law against corporal punishment – but it has obviously not been implemented.

As I have told before in my blog, I have personally experienced physical punishment in school and I remember several teachers who just enjoyed beating children and searched for an excuse to punish them. I am still today angry and I can very clearly say that I never felt thankfulness. Not then and not now.

It does not stop with beating children, though. I have seen with my own eyes how teachers use the excuse of hitting for touching girls. Today I would call it sexual harassment and maybe it gives some kind of sexual satisfaction to sick minds. Let me describe one such scene. We were sitting on the floor learning, the teacher next to a girl. When the girl made a mistake, the teacher pinched the girl so hard in her thigh that she screamed. This did not only happen once. Whenever I think of this scene now, I hate the memory, wishing I would have done something against it. But I was just a child, too.

No, corporal punishment has to stop, there is no question. It is never right to be violent towards children. They are small and weaker than you, so you hit them because they cannot hit you back. You want to make them afraid of you, the bigger one. I believe hitting children will make them less fearful. They will accept it and just think ‘What else can happen? I will just get beaten once or twice more.’ This was exactly the attitude of those children in my school who were beaten frequently!

Such old and barbaric ways are not acceptable in today’s society. That is why in many countries of the world corporal punishment is banned and there are new approaches to teach children in a non-violent atmosphere. Those countries have very good education standards without beating a single child! But in our country, the country of Mahatma Gandhi, whom the world sees as an example of non-violence, the law is of no use, it is not being implemented.

We are positive however that there will be a change and we actively do something to start this process of change! In our primary school we have implemented the law and taught our teachers how to teach without physical punishment. In the past five years we had to fire three teachers for this reason. There are other ways to show children that they are doing wrong without making them hate school. I believe children have to like their school and we have created such a place and such an atmosphere where children like to come every day. Without violence.

Are you slow in connecting and fast in breaking up? – 22 May 12

Yesterday I wrote a few suggestions what you should consider before you break a relation. Those are valid points but unfortunately people seem to forget them because I often see how friends have a fight and end their friendship. I see how families break apart because of this and how people change their partners frequently. I often wonder how come it is so easy to take this decision!

It is an interesting contradiction that you experience every day if you keep your eyes open. Singles are looking for their partners for life. They search everywhere and then finally they find someone. It all seems great, they are on cloud nine and tell you how overjoyed and in love they are. One week later they tell you that it is over. Why, you ask and you get to know a reason that seems to be just insufficient, which you believe is maybe a point to disagree upon but surely not a point of breaking up?

The same thing happens with friends. Some people have this habit very badly that they can go together with one person only for a short time before they find some kind of fault, some reason to end the friendship. An explanation to others always seems quite poor and not understandable.

Among family members, too, this kind of thing happens although it may be a bit more rare – after all where would you get another sister, brother, father or mother from? It does happen though, the decision to be apart comes easily and quickly to some people.

The point that contradicts this however is that the decision to love someone, as a friend or a partner, is so difficult to many people. They start getting to know someone and they get along well. They meet once, twice, several times. They visit events together, eat together and more but they hesitate of calling the other person a friend. Even worse when you have to decide whether you are partners or not. Some people kiss but still hesitate to call the other one a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Even more difficult is the decision to actually marry the one you love. We joke here sometimes and call it the ‘trial period’ before making a purchase. It is however a serious matter because people are really afraid of making a decision for a lifetime. Could it be that the other one is maybe not ‘the one’? There seems to be always a tiny bit of doubt until they are finally convinced that there won’t be anybody better coming around.

So on one hand it takes a long time to make the decision to be together but on the other hand the decision to break up or finish a relation is made in seconds. I think it should not be like this.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a friendship or a partnership, you should have a big heart for others. Let them come freely. The other person is also a human being who does mistakes. You, too, could be in that situation. Don’t just break. If you forgive instead, you give the other one a possibility to learn and to improve. Maybe it was a mistake only in your eyes. Maybe it is only your perception and with a small change of view or a bit of time, you suddenly don’t mind that anymore. We are humans, be human and love.

You don’t count the Faults and Mistakes of your loved ones – 9 May 12

I yesterday wrote more in detail about brothers and family members who fight with each other which in the consequence leads to a separation of families. They fight, get separate and sometimes don’t ever talk to each other again. As I already said, the main reasons for such fights are money and ego. And I believe that had these people really loved each other, it would not have happened. They would not have moved apart.

In my opinion, this kind of situation does not happen if there is real love in between people. This does not only apply to family members but also to friends. I am bold to say my opinion and I know that many people don’t want to admit that there is truth in it. I believe that among those who fight like this and who get separate for such reasons, there was not enough love.

If there is love, you don’t count each other’s mistakes. We cannot all be the same and we cannot all be great in every subject, every topic and every matter. In my eyes it is wonderful that we all are different because, as I wrote once in my diary, we cannot all be doctors! We need doctors, yes, but we also need cooks, tailors, engineers, scientists, cleaners, teachers, secretaries and so much more. The variety of people on this earth is great. Some of us have fun in one thing while others enjoy something else.

It is not only our profession that is different from each other, it is our thinking, our taste, what we like and what we don’t, how we react and what we speak. If someone whom you love does more mistakes than you, is lazier, greedier, more negative or more envious than you, you will not reproach him. If you love someone, you don’t put any emphasis on his faults, whatever it is. You just don’t.

That does not mean that you don’t see his faults. That would be not right and I am surely not telling you to hide from reality. No, you see them exactly but at the same time you see the virtues, too. You don’t just see a fault and run away, get separate and cut that person out of your life. When you have a wound at your hand, you don’t just cut the whole arm off. You diagnose what is wrong, you treat the wound, put an ointment and a bandage and hope that the wound heals. So don’t just break off your connection to a person because of his fault. If you keep on giving love, it might be corrected or you learn to accept him as he is.

When there is love, you put a mental emphasis on a person’s virtues, not on his faults. You see what is good in him and you balance what is not as good. After all, everybody, no matter how many faults he has, also has some virtues. And everyone, no matter how good he is, also has some faults. Nobody is perfect. But in the eyes of someone who loves you, you are. You don’t stop loving someone because of his faults.

Imagine your parents doing something that you don’t like, your brother has a habit that you don’t like or your friend does the same mistake again and again. You don’t appreciate this but there is not only one way to treat a problem. Separation is the last option. You may be able to separate from one friend who has many faults but will you do that with all of them? And what about your own children – if they have the same fault, will you do the same? When love is there, you can accept those faults. And then there is this person whom you love, even though you see all his faults and you embrace him as who he is, complete and just with love.

Not shy to make Mistakes when learning English – 11 Sep 11

During her proposal, the woman said: ‘We are very compatible’. She actually spoke Hindi to me but mixed it with English words. With my limited knowledge of English I did not know what ‘compatible’ meant and asked her for the meaning.

She explained me the following: If there is a husband and a wife and they have different ideas of life, like a different way of living and different wishes, they just don’t fit together. It doesn’t work. But we fit together! You are from the Brahman caste and I am from the Brahman caste. You are very religious and so am I! You lived alone for so long and I lived alone until now, too. Our thoughts are similar! We are really very compatible, it is hard to find someone like this.

This is how I learned a new word: compatible.

I actually was learning English bit by bit and word by word, always ready to adopt a new one into my vocabulary. I just tried to add English words into my Hindi speaking and to say small sentences in English. I was eager to learn, knowing that with English you can talk with so many more people!

When I was with the other family in London before, I had told my host to correct me if I said something wrong in English. He asked me ‘So you won’t mind if I correct you?’ and I told him that I was not shy at all in realizing my mistakes and having them corrected. I never was and am not until now.

I knew I did mistakes in pronounciation, my grammar was wrong and I even used wrong words when I did not know the proper meaning. He was actually happy to correct me, to teach me and to help me. I had also started receiving emails in English and he helped me by translating what I did not understand as well as writing replies in a way that the other one could understand it.

I remember how we were sitting together once and talking when his teenage daughter came in. She said ‘I go Harrow’ and off she was. He turned to me and said ‘You see, these days young people don’t care whether they speak correctly or not. She was born here, she knows that the correct way to say this sentence is ‘I go to Harrow’, but she does not care about the correct form. So you really don’t need to worry if you do some small mistakes and if that what you say is slightly wrong. People will understand you!’

I never had proper English lessons but in this way I learned some words, some sentences and some expressions in 2002.

Personal Responsibility in Fighting Corruption: No Payments for Comfort anymore – 15 Apr 11

I wrote that the government has to implement its laws against corruption strictly and has to act against their own employees who all take bribes until the lowest clerk in a small village. In my opinion however, the general public also has to take its responsibility in this fight against corruption and not even offer bribes anymore.

Let me give you an example of how corruption works in every day’s life. About a month ago we were in Delhi to watch a cricket world cup match. I reported about this experience in the diary, too. After the match we were driving through Delhi on our way home. As our driver is not from Delhi, he does not know the city very well and accidentally took a wrong turn to the right at a crossing where he was not actually allowed to turn right but only to go straight. He had not seen the sign. The moment he turned the car, there was a policeman in front of us who stopped the car and informed us that we had not been allowed to turn this way.

Our driver got out to show his license and Purnendu got out to explain to the police officer that we were not from Delhi and that we were not aware of the rules at this particular crossing. All our papers were fine and so the policeman only could remark upon this one wrong action. ‘You turned wrong and you will have to pay the fine of 2000 Rupees’. When Purnendu agreed, he told him that he could instead also just pay 500 Rupees, that would be okay, too.

This is a very normal way of police officers to get some extra pocket money. They simply don’t officially note this case down, so the government will never know about it and never get to see their 2000 Rupees. The 500 Rupees go into the pocket of the police officer. A small extra income that can get quite big if you have enough such cases in one evening, standing exactly at the turn of a road where people must frequently turn by mistake. And which car driver or owner would not like to pay a fourth of what he is asked for?

Well, Purnendu didn’t. He refused straight away and told the policeman to prepare a receipt of the 2000 Rupees he would give him. If a policeman gives a receipt, it means that he officially took a fine which will then go to the government.

At this point another officer came and after a small discussion he said ‘Okay, we are sorry, you made a mistake by turning here and that can happen to anyone. You can go on without paying!’ And so we did.

What I want to say with this small story is that it is also the responsibility of each single person to make sure he or she does not support corruption. Don’t think of your own convenience and benefit. There is a synonym for the word ‘bribe’ in Hindi so that you can say ‘bribe’ in a softer way that doesn’t sound that much like a crime. It is called ‘Suvidha Shulk’, the ‘Payment for Comfort’. This is how corruption started: people giving and others taking some extra money in order to get their things done with comfort for them.

Don’t offer anybody money in order to get something done quickly or more smoothly or cheaper for you. If you pay less to the police officer who stops you for driving too fast, it justifies the clerk asking for a bribe when you apply for a passport or want to have a copy of your birth certificate! You support the system of corruption if you give bribes! If you did a mistake in traffic, you pay for it. Of course, if the officer accepts, as in our case, an apology for the misdeed, you are lucky but never pay a bribe. Request the official receipt and pay for it. In such cases we can refuse to go along with a corrupt system and can slowly make a change. We, the people, have this power together. And maybe, someday, each government office will simply have a signboard with the prices for services and you can trust that nobody will take even one Rupee more than is written on that board.