Monthly Archives: May 2018

Not all who wander are lost

I remember somebody telling me about their best friend who has known them since childhood. Most people will probably say, ‘Awwww, that’s so nice.’ Not you, you are thinking – ‘That is so scary, why would I want that?’

You have lived in a place for five-plus years, and the locals ask you – “Is this place home?” And your answer is ‘No’ or if you are polite – you laugh and beat around the bush.

When people talk about exploring new places – going somewhere new – your heart gives a little tug.

If you resonated with the statements above, then you know what I mean by ‘Plight of an expat.’ These are people who have lived away from their so-called “Home” for so long that it is no longer home. And not having a home is their home now.

The world is made up of two kinds of people: those who travel and those who don’t. And for the most case, I do not think this is a choice – I believe some people are just wired that way. (There are exceptions always but still) These people never live in one place for long. They get bored of places, people, routines. They like change. And in most of these cases, these people moved around a lot growing up, and that’s the only life they know. Sounds familiar! And it is hard to explain to somebody who hasn’t experienced this about the feeling of not belonging anywhere.

This blog is dedicated to people who know what I am talking about and to raise awareness about global nomads. Yes, they exist. These people have a culture and social norms of their own.
They speak a language which is not rooted in one place but applies to everybody because nobody is from one place.
They are not asking the other person to conform to their ways but expand their’s to include others.
They understand that what is right for them might not be appropriate for others and they are ok with that.
They are willing to experience your ways and customs because they want to connect with you.
They want to know more about you because they are curious, they want to expand, they like change and diversity.

For a global nomad, they know nothing else – this is their life as they know it. I could go on and on and on. World today needs more of the above. Even if we cannot travel – we can expand our boundaries, bring awareness to the world outside of us. Be more welcoming to others in our life. We are all humans, and we all experience the same emotions of joy, happiness, anger. The barriers created by words, boundaries on earth are artificial and built by us and can be broken by us. But for that to happen, we have to recognize that we have created this and the person on the other side is us – we are all alike and not different.

And if you find it hard to follow then travel – go live somewhere else, experience somebody’s world and see yourself reflected in them.

Magical – Teams

The Four Rules state:
Whoever come are the right people.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
Whenever it starts is the right time.
When it’s over, it’s over.
and The Law of Two Feet states that:

“If during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their feet and go to some more productive place.”

If you are familiar with open space, then you know what I am talking about. If not, then open space is a way to run a conference/meetings/retreat. Now, if you are a control freak I am sure this sounds scary because this is all about trusting the process – BIG TIME.

Why am I talking about this? Last weekend we were at Give Back Hack(athon) in Cleveland. This is like a 48 hour startup weekend. Adam presented his idea on Friday, his idea made it to the top 10 out of the 50 ideas pitched. We were joined by 7 other people (self-selection) making us a team of 9 people. The idea was to employ homeless youth to screen print t-shirts and sell them. Screen printing suits the homeless youths flexibility, skill set.

Over the course of 40 hours, we did user validation, talked to people, built our business model with financials and social impact model. We also built our Minimal Viable Product called
Wild Tiger Tees managed to get 17 orders in 5 hours and pitched our final presentation and we won!!!

We started off as nine strangers who met on Friday night, and by Sunday night we were a high-performing team of screen printing experts. How cool is that? Most of the team members spoke to a few other groups and came back feeling very grateful for the team we have.

If you ask me what contributed to our success was the following
1. People: It is imperative the team be happy – happy people – great work. We had a fun champion who at every hour would make us do something or laugh. And by the end of it, we were all looking forward to jokes. And even now seems it’s going to become something of a tradition. We also had a closing down routine where we would all gather in a circle with our arms crossed and shout – Fired Up

2. Patience: When I started on Friday – I knew where I wanted us to go as a team. But if I had stated that on Friday evening – it would have been a flop. So I selfishly kept those ideas to myself and let the team plow through it. By Saturday afternoon I had two people come to me and state that it was getting a little confusing. That was my cue to get everybody into focus and move on.

3. The team takes priority: However great you think your idea is – unless you get the team to buy into it – success will elude you. Hence, it is essential to not get attached and trust the process. Sounds easier than done for sure. And it comes with lots of practice and experience. And as a control freak – I can tell you how painful the process is.

Experiences like this become memories and fill a space within our empty souls. I am very grateful to have been the medium for this to happen and also to experience this.

If you are so called by our cause – please place a pre-order at Wild Tiger Tees

Thinking Different

For selection into an orchestra, the potential candidates were asked to perform behind a screen so that the examiners had no idea who was playing – a carpet was placed behind the screen to prevent the heels of the women to give them away. RESULTS: The number of women in orchestras rose from 5% to 25% after the blind auditions.

Airbnb is well known for having diversity as their highest goal – Belong Anywhere (which appeals much to the nomad within me).
At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong. I sincerely believe that [discrimination] is the greatest challenge we face as a company. It cuts to the core of who we are and the values that we stand for. Brian Chesky CEO, Co-founder of Airbnb.

Let’s take an example: At a work meeting, five out four people state that it takes them thirty minutes to complete a report and one person says it takes them two hours to do the same report. What is the usual reaction – the fifth person is looked upon as an oddity or somebody who is not smart enough.

Let’s reverse the example: At a work meeting, five out four people state that it takes them two hours to a report and one person says it takes them thirty minutes to do the same report. The reaction now is – the fifth person is looked upon as somebody who is not doing their due diligence.

I am not debating the right amount of time to complete an office report – I am trying to highlight two things a) unconscious bias b) diversity in thinking styles (which I was ignorant of until recently). Whether we know it or not we all have an unconscious bias – and we don’t know what we don’t know. Once we become aware of them, it is up to us to deal with it effectively.

The diversity in thinking style was an eye-opener for me as I did not think that I was exhibiting bias when people did things differently than me. I understood that they processed things differently. It’s like an in a country of blind people – a one-eyed man is an outlier. If the majority of people are exhibiting a behavior that tends to become a norm and if you are not in that majority then you are not the norm.

Why is important to celebrate a diversity of any kind? Can you imagine a world filled with just engineers or with just artists? In our human predicament, we need the opposite to show us the mirror and help us achieve balance. All these distinctions are created by us, and we make them true.

Everything has a place in this universe – good and the bad, dark and the light, young and old, black and white, like and dislike. We have a preference for certain things because for some reason we have a preference for one – in the end, we are all the same – here is to Belonging Everywhere.

Choreograph or Improvise

Have you ever said to yourself – “If only, I had done it this way – it would have worked out.” or “Why did this have to happen?” Have you ever been able to get things executed precisely the way you planned?

Neither have I – best-laid plans gone awry, right. I am a project manager, and I have come to realize that one of the reasons why we need project managers is because things rarely go to plan. If everything worked as its supposed to then, we wouldn’t have to manage them. Life would work similarly – if everything in life went as we planned we would all be robots (maybe an exaggeration but you get the picture)

I recently came across the book “Gallop to Freedom” – a book about two horse trainers who have a very different way of training horses – with compassion. And one of their leadership principles is “Improvise and not choreograph”. And like all things I need to learn – this stayed with me. We try to plan our life just like we choreograph a dance. But unlike dancing life is not a one-person show – we live in a society where there are so many external factors ranging from people to weather that it is impossible to account for all the different outcomes.

How about if we decided to improvise our steps in the dance depending on who shows up. We might have a very well choreographed Bollywood song but what if the music presented is a ballet song. It does not mean that we should not plan for things at all – remember the golden mean. Instead, choreographing can help us when we improvise. Life is no different – we prepare for various or often one outcome, and hence we are unprepared mentally when life throws a curveball. If we were improvising, then we would continue without breaking a sweat. The amount of emotional energy getting over not being able to use our choreography will not exist, and we will ride along taking in whatever comes our way – not only making it our own but improvising on it too.

The best thing about improvising is that you are always where you are supposed to be – there are no regrets, and it is up to you how great you make it. If life hands you lemons, then you make lemonade, or you cry. The choice is yours, and you own your choices.

Improvisation also ties into the principle that we do not have control – all we have is the illusion of control. Unexpected things happen all the time – either we get overwhelmed when things don’t work our way or make what is happening our way and carry on. If you are a realist, then the following quote probably resonates with you. You can only invest in the process and not the outcome – but if you improvise you can create your outcome.

My friend and I were visiting Palace of Versailles in France. There was a long line to get in. We decided to play dumb charades and entertained ourselves and others around us. The funny thing is that’s what I remember about our trip, not the actual palace – Improvisation makes for good memories too!

To Truly Listen

We had an open space session in one of our CPM retreats. And the topic was Silence – I went to the breakout room, and the session leader was there. He asked me, ‘Inside or Outside’ and I replied, ‘Does it matter?’ and he said no. We had just started a conversation when another person walked in, and Session Leader asked him, “Do you want to be outside or inside?” and he said, “Outside” and we had our topic discussion outside. As we were walking out I told the leader that I thought his question meant which topic would I choose – Silence inside or silence outside. We had a chuckle about it.

But this got me thinking. He said something, I understood it to be something, and we carried on with our logical yet misunderstood conversation. It was only when another person walked in the misunderstanding became clear. Now, this is a simple misunderstanding and did not have much of a consequence either. But I can imagine thousands of other conversations where I probably misunderstood what the other party was saying, or the other party did not understand what I was saying.

This is an issue because we humans use language as a significant means to communicate. How do we truly understand what the other person is saying? Does the other person even know what they are saying? Is there a meaning beneath the words we speak? Not sure, I have an answer, but I can offer the following viewpoints

Non Violent Communication: is the technique/practice that helps us listen to what is being said. It enables you to listen with your whole being without the senses to truly listen. “With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute, every day.” Check out the link for more information.

Silent Saint: Ramana Maharishi was also known as the Silent Saint – he rarely spoke, and still people got their answers. What would happen if we all went about our lives silently? When I go to Vipassana meditation I remain silent for 10-days, and there is a course for 60 days, 90 days where people stay silent. Life goes on well for them.

Does it matter: Does genuinely listening to other matter? We are a population of 8.5 billion on this planet earth and for the most part, life goes on with very few of use connecting with others.

Let’s talk a bit more about the “Does it matter?” – Can you imagine a world where we listened to each other without any bias/ judgment. Trust the process, and you get the results. For the most part your outer state is a reflection of your inner state. Being silent as we listen will ensure that we are heard. Understand to be understood.