Tag Archives: #growth

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.

Aki The Great

I would like you to meet our Shiba Inu pup – Aki (which means Bright Prince in Japanese). He is two years old, and honestly, I don’t know what life was like without him. All the secret to success mantras like positive thinking, the power of thought Aki knows them all instinctively – the ones that I still have trouble grasping. This post is dedicated to Aki and his greatness.

1. Power of Thought: Aki lives in a world where his humans exist to give him treats. The minute I step into the laundry room the possibility of not getting a treat does not exist for him. He will just sit there, and in his eyes, he is 200% sure that he will get the treat and he usually does. I wish I had the same unwavering faith in the outcomes I want in my life.

2. No grudges: Aki has a very short memory. He has no recollection of things, so every day is like a groundhog day for him. This one time Aki got free from his collar and took Adam on a one-hour ride. And he was punished by cage time, but by evening he had forgotten that he was ever in the cage and he was as excited to see Adam as any other day. I, on the other hand, took two days go let go.

3. Serious Business: Aki is a watchdog of some sort. And he takes this very seriously – it doesn’t matter to him if I am giving him a treat at that time. A scrap of paper flapping in the corner of the road is serious business. If he thinks there is danger he is on it – tail straight, teeth bared. He means it – how much ever Adam and I might find it funny. Sometimes I wish I could go on with the things which I thought were serious, even if people around me were laughing.

4. Relax: Aki can relax at any time. There is nothing that stops him from going to sleep if he wants to. He can sleep immediately and get up instantly. There is no getting ready for bed for him or waking up in the morning. I am asleep, and now I am not. I wish I could switch off like that.

5. Unconditional love: This one I doubt if I will ever master in this lifetime. For Aki, there is no doubt about the love he has for us. It is so ingrained that it possibly doesn’t even cross his mind. We are a pack – end of story. Until I met Aki, I didn’t think I was capable of unconditional love or putting somebody else’s needs before me (Yes, I know I am selfish.) Aki neither earns any money or does any chores, but his humans serve him willingly – what a life!

I had heard about how great it is to have a dog but having a dog makes you realize that all that is true. There is so much simplicity and pure joy in his life that it is a miracle. You can follow him on instagram @ iamluckyaki.

Courage – in daily life

“It is easy to fight a war, but it’s the day to day life that wears us out.” Like all things that have something to teach us this quote stayed with me. The words might not be the same, but it does convey the message. It is easier to tackle a big crisis than with the minutiae of our daily life.

For example, it is easier to work towards the project deadline than to say no to chocolates. A big goal helps us focus our energies – it is so big that we find it hard to see anything else. It is difficult to deal with the smaller things that keep chipping away at our willpower because they slip under the radar. Oh! Its just one chocolate we say, but that tiny hole is enough to break the dam.

What is courage really? Courage is required for us to climb everest but courage is the following little things as well.

– Courage is not participating in gossip about a person at the workplace.
– Courage is refusing to join in the complaining about the state of the world.
– Courage is refusing to eat chocolates or junk food when offered to you.
– Courage is going for another lap in the pool when your mind is saying no, but your body is ready.
(It is good to take action too but the first step is to recognize the behavior and stop encouraging it.)

And like everything else in the world, the golden mean applies here too. There is no wisdom in pushing yourself so hard that you faint while running as opposed to stopping when your body tells you. It is a delicate balance that comes with awareness and experience.

It is a skill that can be learned and not something that people are just born with. Like strawberry beer, this is an acquired taste. Good news is this that we can learn this in the school of life. We don’t have to go to university and take on a student loan to learn how to be courageous.

As you go about your day be aware of your thoughts, sensations and most importantly what your inner voice is saying. Every time we suppress the inner voice that is asking us to be courageous there is a frission in our soul. Note that moment when the crack appears and next time instead of accelerating the break just stay silent. Next time your colleagues/family start talking about somebody behind his or her back dare to remain silent or just walk away. Be brave and say no to the temptation to join in. If you are not able to resist yourself, then make a mental note that you tried. Even this small act of awareness feeds the little courage inside of you. And some more actions of this kind will feed the courage until its ready to reveal itself and act. Show itself; it will – courage that is.

And if each of one of us minds his or her own business and focuses the energy internally on strengthening the inner muscle of courage the world will be whole with a few fewer fissures.

No Need To Respond

A bunch of us were talking about our holiday plans for the year-end. The person sitting on my left was telling me about how he and his wife had gone to Brussels and spoke to this young girl who was traveling Europe with just a backpack. And I responded with, “I didn’t like Brussels, as it was frigid and all that seemed worth seeing there was the Manneken Pis.”

Now, was there genuinely a need for me to respond? Did he ask me about my experience in Brussels? There are a lot of such situations where I respond unnecessarily. How many times in conversations with friends and family I have ignored what they are saying and just butted in with what I think is more important. Most of the time I am talking to myself even in a conversation. The intent with which I have a conversation is one to reply not to understand.

Why do I respond when there is no need? There are many reasons. Primarily, I believe it is my need to show that I know more – a little bit of ego. Since I live in Columbus, I think I need to prove that I don’t belong to Columbus. Secondly, it is just lack of listening. I am not hearing, genuinely listening to what the other person is saying. Lastly, its because I am not intentional in my discussions. I am not sure myself on what the purpose of the conversation is and what my role is? Are they looking to pass the time, seeking advice, share good news or just need somebody to listen.

What are the few ways I can change this attitude?
1. Set the intention: If I even thought for a few seconds in any conversation about what my role is in the conversation it will be a lot better. If I am overtly aware that the other person is just filling their time, then I can focus my energies elsewhere. Or, If I determine that my purpose in this conversation is to set direction then I can respond accordingly.
2. Be Selfish: Dalai Lama said, “When you talk, you just repeat what you know. If you listen then you might actually learn something new.” Next time take the learning approach to the conversations.
3. Take small steps: If I decide to do the above in all my conversations, I will be exhausted. I might end up doing more harm with no progress. The next baby step is to start with one or two conversations a day and then build on that.

Silence is also an acceptable response and most of the times a better one.

Communities and Creation

Last Saturday our two year old pup – Aki decided he wanted to experience freedom. He wiggled free from his collar and went for an hour jaunt around the neighborhood. My husband, Adam trudged behind, coaxing Aki to come back. Aki is a shiba inu and they are known for their stubbornness so he kept going. Fortunately, Adam ran into another couple walking their dogs,he explained what happened and asked them to watch out for Aki if they see him. And Aki decided to say hello to their dogs and they managed to catch him. Adam and I are grateful to them for catching Aki.

It is easier for dog owners to relate to each other as they all go through similar experiences. Even though the dog owners do not explicitly share their experiences they can relate to each other. In some ways the community of Dog Owners just exists – nobody had to create it. I was telling a stranger in dog park about how Aki has become more rebellious since he turned two. He responded, “Maybe he is just being a teenager.” For somebody who does not own a dog this conversation might not make a lot of sense but the dog owners know that for them their dogs are just like children.

We all know the quote that “friends are the family we choose”, I believe that the same thing exists for communities or social circles as well. Lot of people ask me how is London different from Columbus. Personally, the main difference is that I felt at home in London and I never realized it until I left London. In London everybody is from outside, from somewhere else. Every other person is talking in their own language, different cuisines – even the airport in London has welcome in different languages. And that itself is a community of people who don’t belong anywhere – global nomadic community. Adam and I feel at home there because we don’t really belong anywhere too.

Can you imagine a world where we believe that humanity or rather the human condition itself is a community.Our existence on earth as a human being goes beyond the race, religion and other barriers we have created. We all face heartbreaks. We experience the same emotions of happiness, sadness, jealousy, envy. These are more powerful binding agents than what kind of dress you wear or language you speak. We all go through the same phases in life – birth, baby, kids, young adults, teenagers, adults, family, old age and death. Instead of finding commonness here we look for other factors like skin color, religious beliefs as something to bind us. Just because I was born in India and Adam in America does not mean we experience different anger or joy. It is the same.

I am an utopian – I believe in an ideal world. And I fail to understand why humanity as a community is termed as Utopian. When I share my views with people the usual response is – “In an ideal world – yes.” Humans understanding each other as a human and relating to each other as human is just table stakes not an ideal world. This is how we should all live – but then maybe this is what is Utopia.

We are all Mad

Adam and I were walking to a coffee shop downtown. I saw this lanky young man with a head full of thick curls walking towards us. He was talking non-stop and was holding onto his pants. As he walked past us I realized that he was talking to himself and not on bluetooth as I had assumed.

For some reason him talking to himself stayed with me for a while. I asked my husband, “What goes through your mind when you see a mad person talking to himself?” His answer was,”Compassion. I think that homeless people are judged twice – once because of their condition and second because of the way we treat them – with fear, pity , ignorance.” Did I ever tell you that Adam is a really nice guy?

My initial thought when I see a crazy person is Fear but not because I am afraid of them. I am scared that there is a very fine line that separates me from them. He talks out aloud where as my mind talks inside all the time. I will be honest and this is not an original thought (if there is such a thing). I read this in the opening pages of the Tolle’s Power Of Now. I read that book about ten years ago now and I am still evolving.

If you want to experiment – just sit quietly and watch where your monkey mind goes. There is no end to the branches it climbs. There is no rhyme or reason to the thoughts – there is no method to madness here. We all carry our monkey mind with us every moment of our living lives.

The difference between crazy person and sane person is that sane person does not talk his thoughts aloud. Probably because sane person is aware that is not accepted social behavior and partially because at some level he knows that whatever goes through his mind is not real. We can distinguish between what is real and what is not at some level. It is a very fine line though.

There is another distinguishing factor – sane person knows that he is not his mind chatter to a certain extent. Let’s say you are in an argument and your mind chatter is running amuck. It’s telling you how the other person is out to get you, they are lying etc etc. There are sometimes when you don’t listen to the mind chatter and you remain calm but there are times when you get carried away with what your mind is telling you. And you become your mind chatter – that’s when we have lost our balance. To use another analogy our head is under water,we have lost touch with what is real and we cannot see clearly. The times when we can ignore our mind chatter, realize that there are two sides to a story and stay calm are the times when our head is above the water.

The human life itself is a very precious gift and being able to watch our mind chatter is another gift – let’s make the most of it.

Listening – Muscle

I have a hard time listening to others. I am very good at listening… to myself – I am beginning to realize that I love the sound of my own voice. And recently with the change in my role as a people leader I find myself coming back to the listening more and more. Maybe, its because I am realizing that unless I learn to listen I won’t be efficient. And like everything else this is also an ability that can be learnt and it will take time.

I have given this matter – “Why I don’t Listen?” some serious thought.

REASON 1: I believe I know all the answers. I believe I am smarter than others and get to solution quicker. And maybe I can but that’s not the end – is it? I would never do something if somebody told me to do it – unless I realize that’s it something I want to do usually it means I have thought about it. So this applies to other people too. And it depends on the situation – if you know somebody is running towards fire then you will do your best to stop them and not listen to why they are trying to burn themselves. Most situations in life aren’t that dangerous or crucial.

REASON 2: I don’t have the time. I have other things to do and cannot waste my time listening to people talk. Really! That is not true. And irony is if I don’t slow down and listen now, then I will always be hurrying. If I have to make life easier for me then I have to slow down and listen to people.

REASON 3: If I am just listening then what value am I adding? I have to realize that listening to people, truly listening people is the greatest gift I can give them in this world. And it is definitely more valuable than talking.

Or sometimes I wonder if it is the fear of silence, un-comfortable feeling that arises when there is silence – does it mean I have to hold off a little longer. Give people some more time before wrapping it up or filling it in?

Talking takes up a lot of energy and most of what I talk is utter nonsense. Just to fill the space. There is a very little part of what I say during the day that really has to be said. Rest of the time I am just trying to prove how smart and important I am. Now – that has its own place but not all the time. So, even though I know all this then why is it so hard for me to listen? Because I forget, and old habits die hard. But all great journeys begin with one step. And I set the intent to listen every day. Even I fail to do that the intention is there and that is the first step.

Why do I feel it is important to listen? Because I feel it and at this point in my life it is something that I need to learn. Like my dad had said – “I am trying to increase my listening capacity.” He and my husband, Adam would know as they listen to me all the time. I am grateful for that.

I am on a journey and hopefully I am at a different station when we talk about this topic next.