Tag Archives: #growth

Constant Gentle Pressure

Check out this article first at this link

The idea that it is life’s job to keep moving the salt shaker off the center of the table and my job to keep putting it back at the center – is so to the point.

I knew about this article in 2010 when Prof.Rao from CPM institute narrated this to us in London Business School. Recently, I remembered this article while preparing for the Wild Tiger Tees (WTT) team meeting. We have been up and running since August last year (I know it has not been that long), and I have tried to implement a lot of things (maybe a bit prematurely), and most of them have failed. Yes, I admit it. For a project manager and a driver like me, I had a tough time grappling with the inability to get things done. A few tries later (Quite a few tries) then I came to few realizations

  • We are doing this on a volunteer basis and mission is to support the youth.
  • There is entirely no point in beating myself over things in WTT because there is nothing at stake – we are making a difference.
  • Just because things do not work does not mean you stop trying.

The third point is why my mind dug up this article from the archives and brought it to the forefront of my mind chatter. Once I made peace with the situation, it became a lot easier. Now, I was open to trying different ways to make it work – it was like a game or a puzzle. I was trying to pick and see which piece would fit the best and then move on the next bit so that we can see the entire picture.

Lots of lessons in this one – Failure was a must for me to move on to the next step. The next step was the discovering that there is no need to treat every situation like a nail just because I have a hammer. Once I let go of the attachment to the outcomes I automatically starting exploring different ideas – creativity arose. And from there pure joy and well-being.

Life is pretty much the same way. Sometimes you have to keep chugging along even if the results are not there, but you know that it is the right track. The way our society shapes us we never fail enough. It is just not a done thing – however many books you may read, however many studies are out there which tell us that it is ok to fail. I take failure personally. Maybe it is time to rejoice the failures because then we can be unfettered in our next moves. Sometimes it might be best to fail and get the pressure out of the way so that you are free to experiment.

Yoda was right when he said – do or do not; there is no trying. If something fails then do something else – any beating yourself up, wasting time on what-ifs is not worth it.

What will you keep doing now?

Birthplace and Death

All of my paternal grandmothers have breathed their last in our ancestral village – the village where they were married into not the village where they were born. This topic was the talk of the town for quite a while. Even now somebody will say – it is very curious that all the daughter in laws of this family died in their husbands’ house. In Indian culture after a daughter is married, she is technically a part of her husband’s family, village and hence the significance that they died where they were married into – and also in the ancestral home not in the city they lived.

In India, these things are not just mere occurrences – there is some meaning behind everything – we might have forgotten the meaning, but the meaning still exists. For example, women in India wear bangles because the touch of the bangles on the forearm is supposed to calm you down and in olden days women folk all lived together, and hence patience was a much-needed quality.

The reason I bring up this topic is – I believe that you are born in a place for a reason, and your body inherently knows it as its home because that’s where it breathed its first breath and that’s where it’s most comfortable. For the last two years due to some reason or other, I could not visit India. And towards the end, I could feel it as a physical imbalance in my body. Now, I don’t know how true that is and how much it is in my head, but something was happening. When I landed in India – the minutes I stepped out the plane my body breathed freely even though it is hot and humid. The smells, familiar faces, accent makes me feel at home. It’s like I can be myself without thinking. If you have never lived in a different culture or a country, then it will be hard to comprehend what I mean by ‘being myself without thinking.’

Every culture has its norms some of them are explicit and some of it implicit. Like in England – talking about the weather is a way of saying Hello. In India, it is ok for a stranger to ask you how much is your salary. If you move to a different culture in some ways you are trying to fit in as you do not know what is accepted – what kind of clothing, food is accepted – so whether you realize it or not if you are thinking about these things which do take a toll on your body. And then some places are a lot more inviting to accepting other cultures, and some are not. For example, London invites different cultures, and that’s why I still feel at home in London. But not all places are as welcoming as London, and that means you, your mind, your body, and soul have to do extra work to fit in.

At the end of the day, you are where you need to be – there is no denying that, whether you believe it or not is not relevant. And it only makes ‘the’ you in you more defined.

Food For Soul

Have you ever had an experience where you had met a good friend(s) and left feeling more energized than when you entered the conversation?
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book which inspires you to be creative and leaves your mind buzzing?
Have you ever watched somebody speak and felt the energy change in the room – People came in angry but leave hugging one another?

These are all examples of soul food – that nourishes your soul, not your body or your intellect. So, what do we mean by soul food?

No Judgements or comparisons – instances where you are just yourself without the fear of being judged or being not loved or pressure of being a certain way because that is how it is supposed to be.

Laughter – not a superficial laugh but laughter that starts in your belly and resonates in your entire body. These moments become memories or mental screensavers that bring laughter to you whenever you think about it.

Nonsensical – there is something to be said about the times when it does not matter what utter nonsense comes out of your mind/mouth but it all makes sense because the sense of connection is much deeper than words.

Energy – instances where no matter how you felt at the beginning of the interaction, by the end of it there is a change for the better.

At Ease – we do not realize this because most of the time our bodies are not at ease – they are clenched in some area or the other, and sadly, we are so accustomed to it that it is our default state. However, when you have soul food your body is at ease – complete ease – there is no disease.

I am sure you could relate to one or more of the above instances. Why is the soul food important? Because this is what keeps us sane, keeps us who we are and not what others think who we are. If we lose touch with who we are then why do we even exist?. And just like your body which needs sustenance to continue your soul needs nourishment to maintain the life force which is inside all of us.

In an ideal world, all that we would consume would be soul food, unfortunately, or fortunately, the world we live in cares only about intellect and the outer skin and not about the deepest core which is what connects us all humankind with the planet earth. If we were really on soul food all the time we would be more connected with the planet earth – we will see the trees on this planet as the ‘lungs’ in our body and take more care of them. We will be kind to our fellow humans because we would see them as ourselves.

We are so distanced from each other that we are losing touch with ourselves – and if we cannot retain the bond with ourselves how will we ever connect with others. There are many ways to access soul food – the first step is being aware of the hunger for soul food. Are you hungry, now?

Window Cleaning

Have you your tried to clean something which has been covered with grime and dirt? One single swipe of the finger will not do it – neither will one single swipe of a cloth. It takes time. First, you might have to let it soak in some liquid for hours and then clean it layer by layer. Now imagine – as you clean new dust settles in – it makes the task harder. Now you have to clean at a faster rate than the rate at which new dust settles. And until you get to a certain level of cleanliness, the world will look different to you. You will not be able to the see the world as it is but only through the filter of grime and dirt accumulated over ages.

Our minds are similar – we have accumulated all sorts of dust and grime over the years and some of it we pick up throughout the day without awareness. Unlike our bodies, we do not spend time cleaning our mind. What does this dust look like? For example, as you were driving to work somebody cut you off – you got annoyed and vowed not to let it happen again. Every time you drive now, you make sure that anybody who looks like he is going to cut you off- you are on it. With every thought, you are applying a layer of dust on your mind – dust that will prevent you from seeing the reality as it is (Maybe he has a sick child, a bad day, fight with a wife). We will never know the reason but our belief that he is out to get you is mostly inaccurate, and this is what constitutes the dust.

Light shining through glass privacy window. Abstract background

Let’s say you are listening or reading to the news – all the news about abuse, corruption leaves a not so pleasant taste in your mind and at the same time clouds your mind with its dust. The movies you watch, the conversations you have, people you hang out with – all leave a residue on your mind. And more you do it more it happens – mostly unaware because we believe that we are not actively participating in it, but your mind is always active.

All this dirt and grime in our mind is what constitutes to ignorance and makes us believe we are separate from one another. My main aim in life is to be a better version of myself every day – clean this dirt thoroughly – turn my mind into a surface where dust is unable to stick. Only when we wipe the dirt in our mind does wisdom arise. One of the ways to gain wisdom is to get rid of ignorance. And that means cleaning the windows so that you can at least get a small patch of light through which shows you a glimpse of what the real world looks like.

We are starting with so many accumulated layers of dust that it is in some ways a miracle that we all humans live and function despite all the dirt clouding our judgment. The first step towards a clear mind is awareness – know that you have filters on and if it calls to you then immerse yourself in a good spiritual book, do yoga or meditate.

Most importantly recognize that there is a layer of dust!

Great Healer

Do you remember something you wanted as a child? A toy, teddy bear, candy. And what about now? Do you still want it? Do you remember the first time your heart broke over love? Do you still feel the same angst? Do you remember the time when you fell as a child? Do you still have the same pain?

No.

Even if we grew up with unfulfilled desires as a child – there comes a time when the desires are longer relevant. Now as a grown adult the desire for a toy is no longer relevant. There comes the point when the questions drop away, and you start living the answers even if the answers are not what you expected.

I know one of my excellent friends who for reasons best known to the universe never married and after a while, the question ‘Are you married?’ does not matter. I know a few couples who never had a child and now the question ‘Do you have kids?’ does not matter. Because whether you like it or not time moves on and you will move with it (if you are wise). Because after a certain age – having a partner or having kids is no longer relevant.

And this brings me to the essence of the blog post.

Why is this good to know?
We can be assured from our experience that what we are experiencing now – will become irrelevant in the future, so there is no need to spend excessive amounts of energy for the situation. It can be used as a tool to deal with not so pleasant situations in our life currently.

It is the knowledge that the universe gives you only what you can handle – rest time will take care of it. Life is short – enjoy what you can, while you can.

It can aid in decision making knowing that in the long run time does take care of things – and it can reduce the agonizing over the decisions – if you let it be.

It helps you live your life entirely – which is an essential belief to grow in. If you think about the fact the earth is just a tiny mote of dust in the vast universe then not getting the promotion or not having a child or not having a partner is not that big of a deal. And as the saying goes – all roads lead to Rome, if this road does not work for you then take another route. Time is on your side after all!

Whenever you are in a situation that is bogging you down – do your best to deal with the situation as wisely as you can and always remember that in the long run time is in your side. And you might not even remember this situation down the road, or also if you do recall the situation it might bring laughter or tears of joy when you look back because with every second that passes – a new you is born and the new you has the potential to be free from the past you(s)

Diversity And Inclusion – Airbnb

I had written a post about Diversity and Inclusion a while ago. And I am still fascinated by the power of diversity.

I like to travel as some of you know – and I realized that for the last few trips we have always stayed at an Airbnb. I remember being skeptical about the idea initially. What! Do you live in someone’s house? They live there too! How does that work?

But, after the very first one, I was hooked to the idea. I was a total convert. Why do I like Airbnb? And how is it related to Diversity and inclusion. For those of you not familiar with Airbnb – here is the link to the website. But even important is their mission

“Our diverse global community makes Airbnb possible. Building an inclusive platform for all hosts and guests is our greatest goal, and we’re always working to improve it.”

Brian Chesky – co-founder and CEO of Airbnb states the following succinctly.

If you think about it, the very foundation of Airbnb is based on inclusion. You open your houses first to a stranger and then open your hearts to them as well. It is difficult to not like a human after you have ‘really’ seen them. For example, in my most recent trip to Toronto with my friend we were staying with an Asian family – complete with a kid, grandparent, and the parents. It was a very lovely Airbnb – the living room and kitchen was a common area, our bedrooms and bathroom were separated.

And if you are from an Asian culture, you instinctively understand the situation. The grandparent(s) usually travels along with the family to take care of the kid. They did not speak English, and we did not speak Chinese. The first day we were there, we were very polite and just nodded and smiled at each other if we crossed paths. At night the little kid starts crying. My friend and I give each other a look – ‘Kids’ and we went to sleep as the rooms were very well segregated. Next day we saw what they had for breakfast, they saw that we skipped breakfast. We could see the kid viewing us to see what we did, how we did etc. That evening she came up to us with her mother shyly and gave us two candies. Next day we returned the favor. And by that time we had become quite familiar with each other. And when we left, we took selfies. We exchanged our names.

Now, this is what happens in a joint family in India. You live with other people – you ADJUST, and you ACCEPT. This is what makes us a grow as a person. Living in Airbnb reminds me of that. And at the same time in a world where technology is pulling people away, we need more of these instances to remind us that we are all humans who share space on this lovely planet called earth.

I enjoy these tiny, intimate connection with people who I have never met – because it reminds me of our oneness.

Let it go!

In Creativity and Personal Mastery course, prof.Rao tells us a story.
A baby is happily drinking his bottle of milk. Let’s say you take it away. The baby’s face gets all red, and he bawls his little lungs out. There is no mistaking that he is upset. And when you give the bottle back to him, he goes back to drinking milk again as nothing happened. At this moment the baby has completely let go of the fact that you took the bottle away.

Something happens to us when we grow up – we learn to hold onto things. We learn to re-live what happened in our mind and replay it again and again. Sadly, we forget how to let go. Holding on to things also prevents us from being fully present at the moment. If your bag is already filled with stuff then how will you find space for new things. If your jar is already full – how can anything else come in.

We clean our bodies every day to make sure that all the dirt and grime from the day is washed away. But we do not do this for our minds which have rolling in one thing after the other and picking up whatever comes our way. Let’s face it, in our human condition how much ever we try we are not always conscious of what our mind is experiencing. Meditation morning and evening is one way to clean our minds. Letting go is a part of it – when you meditate you watch the thoughts pass away without becoming the thoughts – and thus allowing them to go.

Another way to let go is to watch your thoughts – through the mind chatter itself. That is the beauty and the curse of human existence. Our thoughts are what makes us hold on to things, and our thoughts are what help us let them go as well. Next time your mind starts replaying a scenario or rides off on the train of bitterness – don’t fight it, don’t get upset – watch the train go and enjoy the journey not as a passenger but as an observer. And when we do that we are no longer holding onto things, in fact, we are happily standing by waving our goodbyes.

When things expire in our kitchen do we still hold on to them – no we throw them in the trash because consuming them will be harmful to us. Similarly, for the thoughts/things that have expired – let them go – throw them in the garbage and make space for new things to come in. The expiration of thoughts is not as tangible as the products in our kitchen, and sometimes we are afraid of new ideas – so we hold on to what we know even if it is harmful to us.

Like all things in life, this is easier said than done but that said the only way to do such things is to start with awareness – all you have to do is shine your light on holding on to things and they will automatically let go.

Growth Mindset

Let’s say you are a kid in a small town. As a kid, you are fascinated by every nook and corner of the town – the towering candy stores, the super busy traffic, and the tall adults that you look up to. Whether you want it or not you are exposed to new experiences and people.

As a teenager, you discover another new side of the town which helps you express your individuality and be a rebel without a cause. Even the places you visited before seem different because of who you are or who you hang out with. It is still new, and you are still exploring.

As an adult the newness starts to fade – the things that fascinated you before seem to be no longer visible. And then you get a job and/or get married and start a family. The daily chores of the job and family slowly begin to replace the need for newness or growth.

The newness is not essential – what is important is the growth that comes with it. If the growth is not happening naturally then what do you do? Look for opportunities that do – so that you continue to grow.

For example, let’s say you have a piano and you play the keys on it, and it produces music – That may work initially, but if you want to produce an excellent song out of it then you have to learn the notes, be more disciplined about it. Similarly, the town provided you the music when you were a kid, but if you want to move to the next level, then you have to do something different.

Why is growth important? I firmly believe that if we are not learning something new or growing, then we are rotting or rusting away.

The growth mindset is present when we are younger because we do not know so many things but as we grow older we seem to get enough knowledge to survive our daily life and for some reason – become satisfied with where we are. Or, in some cases, we are not even aware that our growth has stopped. As a kid, I was curious to know why we see rainbows, as an adult I want the rain to stop so that the traffic can move quicker. Sad!

Then, the question arises – what can we do keep the growth mindset?
1. Learn something new – you don’t have to become an expert in it, but the mere act of learning will spark different neurons in your brains. Seek out new opportunities – go out of your way to invite them into your life.
2. Do something scary – we might learn something but let’s say you know windows 1.1, and now you are learning windows 1.2 – it will benefit but not as much if you start learning Linux.
3. Do something you are not good at – this is good because it keeps you humble and reminds you that you don’t know everything.

Last but not the least – Honor The Struggle as my favorite coach Brendan Burchard says.

Giraffe and Jackals

I recently attended a Non Violent Communication workshop, and they used a couple of metaphors which I loved.
First one was a Giraffe – there were things about Giraffe that I discovered.
1. Giraffes have an 11-Kg or a 26-pound heart.
2. Giraffes have a 1.8m or 6 feet long neck.
3. Giraffes Saliva is magical – it dissolves even thorns. Well, the saliva coats the thorns so well that it does not harm them.

Now, why would this be important in a Non-Violent Communication Course? In a nutshell,
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.
NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs and that each of our actions is a strategy to meet one or more of these needs.

It is a means of communication that invites us to meet at the space beyond right and wrongs. This is not about physical violence but the harm we might do with our words.

Giraffe – metaphor reminds us to
1. Ensure that heart and mind are connected. We are not only responding with our mind but also cognizant of the feelings in our heart.
2. long neck reminds us to make sure we have the long-term view and not just this interaction. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and it takes a long time to build – keeping the long-term outlook is essential if we want to create a relationship and not just have a successful transaction.
3. Saliva reminds us to get rid of judgments and let them pass through us.

Second metaphor referred to Jackals as a reference to all the judgments and biases we have – this is nothing against Jackals. When we are judging another person, we are surrounded by Jackals, and it is better to get rid of them or let them pass through.

I knew about Non-Violent Communication almost ten years ago, but I was not ready for it then. And this year the book called out to me. The reason I am drawn to the book is that I have realized how inadept I am at communication.
For example:
I call X lazy when in reality all that person X is doing is lying on the couch.
I want Y to be more responsive when what I need Y to do is to respond to my emails within 25 hours.

As I am reading the book, I realize how I am not clear on what I need and how I am feeling. And if me the originator of the request is not clear then how can the recipient fare any better. And to top it all I blame the recipient for all the miscommunication. I am surprised that I have managed for so long with this kind of thinking.

Like any foundational change – this will take days, months, years but all journeys start with a baby step and here is mine.

Positive Intent

Have you ever woken up in the morning deciding to make someone’s else life hell? If yes, then it is better that you don’t get out of bed. Jokes aside, earnestly when have we wished to hurt another person. If you are like an average person then your thoughts will be focused more on you – I am already running late, I need to do a zillion things, traffic is going to be worse. Etc etc.

Then why do we assume somebody else would want to wish us to harm intentionally?

For example, you are driving to work, and somebody cuts you off – how often do we jump to the conclusion that he did it on purpose. When in reality the other driver might not even be thinking about you – all he wants to do is get to work like you.

Or, at work, if somebody forgets to do what you asked them to do – the immediate response is a judgment on his ability when in reality the server might be down, and he could not access the work he had done to bring it to you.

You go to a party, and the hostess takes one look at you and does a 180-degree turn. You think she does not like you, but it is possible she realized she just left her purse in the toilet.

Now, in most cases, we will never know what the other party intended but what is in control is our reaction to the situation. This is where you choose to feed the dog and not the wolf within you.

Dalai Lama, said, “Love and Compassion Are Necessities Not Luxuries, Without Them, Humanity Cannot Survive.” Look at the world around us, the circumstance in which we live – we need more of the positive energy, and we can do our bit towards it.

It doesn’t have to stop with us. If you have a friend or a companion, who jumps to negative in everything try and plant a good possibility in their minds. And of course, if somebody has decided to live in a world where everybody assumes harmful intent towards them then wish them well and make sure you protect your well-being when you interact with them.

All significant journeys start with one baby step. The first step here is to become aware of the fact that you are not assuming the positive intent. Most of the times our minds conditioned to see the worst in the people – that mental model needs to be modified. And for it to evolve first we need to know in which situations do we use that mental model – shine a light on it – and the very act of shining the light on it will at the very least decrease the intensity of our response or adverse reaction.

Another way to incorporate into our lives would be when you are preparing for an awkward conversation with a loved one or a colleague – make a conscious decision to assume that they have the best intentions. This would take out 80% of the stress from our lives due to such situations.

And the best way to learn something is to teach it – so if you can spread your light to another person, the light will only get bigger.