Tag Archives: #selflearn

Who Are You Kidding?

I taught five-year-olds science during a volunteering project. I was nervous because I did not know what to expect, but I enjoyed it. The main reason was I left the class feeling hugged (not Physically but general vibe). I often wonder why that is – my take is because with kids they are who they are – they are not trying to be someone else or make you believe something. They are just themselves. On the very first day of the class – a kid came up to me and asked, ‘Where is the teacher?’. I told her it was me. She looked at me and said, ‘You are too short.’ And walked off. She forgot about it, and there was no intention behind it – it was a comment and moved on. Something happens to all of us as we grow up. We start behaving in public.


So, does it mean we say what comes to our mind even when we grow up? No. But, it doesn’t mean that all we do is behave – because then we are what the world around us molded us to be. It is vital to retain your inner spark even when you have to act. As we grow up we have to adapt our behavior to different situations, different people – but underneath it all, you know who you are, and you are very well aware that all you are doing is just acting.

Another aspect of it inward. Are we faithful to ourselves even when no one is watching? This is even more important than behaving in public because at the end of you live with yourself 24 X 7. If you say something in society but do something else in private then it creates a crack within you – and if not controlled the break can devastate your inner self leaving you constantly not at peace. It is better, to be honest with yourself first. Know who you are (it all comes to down that) and once you know where you stand, it will automatically show up in the way you behave. It is tough in this day and age to not have a difference between who you are and how you act? But, as long as the gap is minimum and there is a slice of your life where these two are identical you are good to go.

It is crucial to have people or opportunities in your daily life with whom you can who you are without any doubts because they do not judge you. Some people find it easier to open up to strangers than to loved one whereas others are completely open to their family and friends. There is no right or wrong -what is essential that you have somebody with whom you can be yourself and let your inner self breathe freely.

When was the last time you let your inner self breathe freely?

Now It Exists and Now It Doesn’t

My brother and sister-in-law had a baby a few months ago. Until the day she was born – she was a concept. We spoke about her; we figured out her names, her traits – who will she look like. And then one day she was born – she was there in reality. And now she is a human being who exists on this planet.

Sleeping baby silhouette, stylized line logo. Cute simple vector illustration.

A bunch of us attended the Give Back Hackathon last year. And in that weekend we busted everything we had to set up the business, figure out the market proposition – even managed to get 25 orders. And until then our company was just an idea, and today Wild Tiger Tees is its entity – it is an LLC. We have youth who print T-shirts. Like, it is real, and it exists.

In both these examples, there was a seed of the idea first, and then you nurture it, water it and then Lo! Behold it becomes real. A baby or a new product do not exist one day, and then they live the next moment. There is a lot of creativity involved in bringing something to life, literally.

Now, I am sure some of you might be thinking – this all sounds good, but I am not creative. I want to challenge that. First, of all let’s talk about what creative means. Most people assume that unless you are drawing, painting or writing poetry – you are not creative. Our limitation of creativity is limited by profession.

I want to put forward the idea that we are creative because we exist. Our existence itself a piece of primary evidence that we are creative. Our parents conceived the idea of us first before they brought us into reality – everyone around us has been conceived at some point as an idea first and then in flesh and blood.

Every moment since then has been your creation. You wake up in the morning and create your day. For those of you who do not believe that you are 100% in charge of your life then let me modify the statement to say – you wake up in the morning, and then you co-create your day. The day happens because you do something, you invest emotional and physical energy into the next moment. You think about how the meeting is going to go or your interaction with the other person – sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. You create things that did not exist before, like the experiences throughout the day, the emails you write, the food you cook. All these things did not exist until you invested energy in them.

To say that you are not creative is in someway disowning the very energy that created you. Even if you don’t believe that you are ‘creative’ in the literal sense – at the very least recognize that you create your life moment by moment. And if it calls out to you then explore your inner creativity by being with nature or by taking a journey in books like Artist way by Julia Cameron.

How did you express your creativity today?

You Are Not Done Yet!

Some of you might know that I have a dance class that I teach as a side hustle. I have been doing it for five years, every Monday teaching a class. At the end of last year, I could feel my interest in dance class waning. So, I decided to call it quits – I did float the idea with my students around June, but they were shocked, so I continued. Come October; I decided to take a break, a long break. At the beginning of 2019, I decided it was time to end Bollywood Dance classes. There was some inner conflict there – I love dancing, but I could not get myself to choreograph another song.

A few weeks ago I got an email asking if there was a potential teaching opportunity. I initially said no, but then Adam urged me to at least meet with that person. I reached back out, and we met. And it was a perfect match – she wanted to teach, and I had the setup. So, the dance classes are back on, and this week I attended my dance class as a student, and I had so much fun. Somewhere during the class, my heart was filled with gratitude at the gift I was receiving from her. All these years of dancing had taken away the joy of pure dancing which I loved, and now I have it. The universe works in its unique way.

This got me thinking. You know, how there are times when you cannot decide between choices like should you move to a different location, transfer to a different job, eat ice cream. Just make a choice; if something is meant to be it will come back to you. That’s what happened with Bollywood Dance. We weren’t done with each other – it was not time yet. I did try but it wasn’t time yet.

Prof.Rao from CPM always said that if it is a bet between you and life, always place your bet on life. Sometimes, we don’t know what is best for us – we have our grand designs, but the universe might have other more ambitious plans. I am talking about fate vs. free will and just offering another way to look at things. Sometimes we work ourselves up debating a choice – in such cases go forward, and it will all work out.

If you don’t know where you are headed, then it does not matter what road you take. (It’s a quote from Alice In Wonderland). Or if you know where you are headed and not sure if it is the right direction – don’t worry universe will take you where you need to be.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear or re-appear in some cases. Life wants the best for us, but we believe we know better because we don’t know any better. If we give life a chance, we might be able to live more easily.

What chance will you give your life?

Priorities

I recently watched an amazon prime series, ‘Made in Heaven.’ It is about a couple of wedding planners whose clients are the elite of elitist in Delhi, India. The show was ok overall, one-time watch. But, there was a thread in that show that got me worked up a bit – and not a lot of things do that to me now – thankfully.

One of the wedding planners is gay, and in the show, gay rights had not been legalized in India. Article 377 which in summary stated that any LGBTQ was illegal and a criminal act was still in effect. (On 6th, September 2018 – Indian constitution deemed article 377 invalid and accepted homosexuality as natural.) I have a lot of friends in the LGBTQ community and some very dear friends too, but I understood a lot more when I watched the show. In the show, the gay partner is reported to the police by his landlord and then jailed where the police officer abuses him.

This is the part where I struggled (and still struggle) to wrap my head around the whole concept. Can you imagine being punished for who you are? Being put in jail because you are who you are. Imagine having to live a double life 24 X 7. This is beyond my understanding.

I am a project manager by trade and maybe even by nature. If I were project managing earth then trying to round up the LGBTQ community into jail would never make it to any priority list, on the contrary, what this world needs right now is Love – in any shape or form, regardless of gender. There are so many other vital issues on earth that need to be tackled than spending precious resources trying to hunt down people who at the end of the day just want to have a normal life.

Let’s consider the following two fictional scenarios – we have a tree that is giving very sweet and a nutritional fruit in abundance. The unique thing about this tree is that it does not require a seed to grow, all it needs is a branch of an existing tree and once you plant it – it grows naturally.

And then we have another kind of a tree – which is not satisfied by its fruits, and it actively infects other trees to destroy them from having fruits by poisoning it. This tree is hungry for power and preys on the weaker sex for selfish reasons. But it grows in the typical fashion from a seed.

Which one would you focus on getting under control? Something that nature has deemed right or something that is twisted in its inner core and lives with harmful intentions.

In ancient history, homosexuality is celebrated and depicted on the walls of many ancient temples in India. Even transgenders figure in old Indian epic stories like Mahabharata. Makes me wonder what happened to those pure and loving thoughts? I asked my professor once – ‘Are there truly evil people? And his response was, ‘There is nothing evil – there is only ignorance.’

How can you contribute to getting rid of ignorance?

Not Enough

At work, we go through a lot of assessments – leadership, personality, etc. You will find a few statements common across these assessments and today I want to talk about one of such statements – ‘I have high expectations of myself and work hard but should be careful about expecting the same from others.’ I am paraphrasing, but you get the picture.

As long as I was an individual contributor, this was never a problem. And believe me I work hard, and I play hard. The picture was not so rosy once I became a people leader. And it forced me to examine why I had high expectations of myself and why others think I am a perfectionist when I know I am not.

Adam and I talked about this, talked about it some more, until at some point I told Adam, ‘In India if you get 99.6% you are considered a loser. That one question you got wrong can cost you a free seat in one of the top engineering colleges.’

Let me put things in perspective. When I was growing up in India – the system was that your %ages in Physics, Chemistry, and Maths would be totaled and then ranked with all the students who applied to that university. And then the cut-off would be the number of seats the university had. So let’s say if a university had 100 seats then the top 100 in the ranked list of %ages get a seat. Doesn’t sound so bad, right!

Imagine if thousands of students applied for 50 seats – yes, that’s the odds we are talking about in India especially if you do not want to pay tons of money for an engineering seat at a college. If you want a free seat (regular tuition) in one of the top engineering colleges, anything less than 99.6% was of no value. I got 100/100 in science in 10th grade – which was my saving grace.

I grew up in an unforgiving environment – and given the population of India there are various other incidents where you have to do your best – sometimes even that is not enough, you have to do better than the rest.

If you think, this is a horrible way of growing up then let me introduce you to a two-year-old in Hong Kong. We were at my friend’s wedding in Hong Kong, and one of his friends was telling us that his two years old cute daughter, will give an interview and is building a resume. She was taking piano lessons. She will be competing with thousands of applicants for a dozen seats at an esteemed nursery at an age where she is still learning potty training. Imagine growing up in Hong Kong. [Read more at this link ]

Growing up in such an environment shaped me to never settle for less – there is always more that I can do. Expectations at the end of the day are relative. I am grateful for the experiences I had for making me who I am today. Would I be who I am today if I had not had the experiences I had – Who knows?

How did your experiences shape you?

Hard Vs.Tough

I gave a talk on Leadership yesterday at an undergraduate class, my first ever talk as a leader officially. The students asked a lot of questions at the end of the, and on my way back I was thinking about the talk and life in general. That’s when I realized the difference between Hard and Tough.

Dictionary meaning of Hard is: with a great deal of effort.
Dictionary meaning of Tough is: strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.

I think Hard is more in the intellectual space and Tough in the heart space. For example, one might find equations hard to understand but if you work hard enough or a good tutor explains them to you-you will understand it. Whereas Tough to me is, you might know that ‘Be Kind to everyone’ but it is tough to do that in your life.

If something is hard to do, then you can do it by working hard – it’s a matter of practice and perseverance. Tough things in life are ‘harder’ to master even if they are not hard to understand.

I want to focus on the ‘Tough’ things because they are overlooked most of the time in favor of hard work. Everybody believes that you work hard, network hard you will get a promotion. Very few people will tell you that – if you authentically work on yourself – promotion will come to you. Why? Because it is easy to work hard but tough to work on oneself.

Why is it tough to work on oneself? Let’s take the most straightforward example out there – eating healthy. All of us are well aware and on a journey to eat healthy right? It is not hard to understand that we should eat healthy but tough to do it. Why is it tough to do it? Because we give in to the short term pleasure than long term gain. We have been trained to sprint and not for marathons. Or, is it because we do not have will power. Let’s call this our ToughHandler Muscle. We never work on strengthening this muscle – we work on building our physical body, family, bank balance but the essential thing ToughHandler – we forget. For some people, the concept of ToughHandler does not even exist. They are so engrossed in getting to the destination that they have forgotten to take care of the car that is going to get them there.

How to work on this ToughHandler Muscle then? First and foremost, is Awareness. If you are not aware of something how can you do anything about it? Well, now you know about it. Next practice it – how, whatever way calls out to you – Meditation, stay away from sugar for a day, for a week, for a month. The possibility of you failing to do this is high because you have started the journey and ToughHandler muscle is weak but with continuous practice, it will be strengthened and will help you prepare the marathon that life is.

How will you strengthen your ToughHandler muscle today?

Despite Humans

I was discussing with my parents on our weekly skype about a talk from Sadhguru about love and relationships. He talks about relationships in this quick 10-minute video. And what he said made me think. He says that these bonds do not have to be body-based or blood bound.

For example, Adam and I have a three-year-old Shiba Inu pup – Aki. And we love him to bits. Adam and I are also strangers in that sense, but we do like each other very much. For my parents, I am their blood – I came out of my mother’s womb but for me, they are not from my body, and they are the ones who defined love for me. And given the amount of travel I have done in my life I have stronger relationships with strangers than my cousins. And to date, some of my friends are more dear to me than my own family.

This whole concept that only if it is from your physicality can you love someone starts to sound a little far-fetched. Sadhguru expresses his view on adoption vs. fertility treatments. And he makes a clear point when he says that reproduction was a means of ensuring that the human race survives and now humankind is the only race that is not in the danger of extinction. On the other hand, there are so many species on earth that need protection from human poaching.

What we humans have forgotten is that we are a part of this big ecosystem called earth where we are not the center of the attention but just something on the side. Rest of the planet, trees, birds, sun or even earth do not care whether we exist or not – they carry on their life purpose in most cases despite us. Trees do not distinguish between humans when they give shade or provide fruits – they live their life purpose.

We, humans, have forgotten what our purpose is, do we even know why we exist. I am not asking this as a profound spiritual quest but as a simple ask – why do you lead the life you do? The very fact that this question is considered a deep and spiritual shows how much we have gone away from our roots. Human beings are different from other creatures in the sense that they have consciousness – they can make a choice. Trees have no choice in how they live their life but we do. And sadly, we do not even think about the choice which is our gift in this world. Instead, we live in a world of fog where the light of consciousness does not even penetrate – we might glimpse it a little by chance but never bask in its full glory.

We go about our lives living like a robot. We eat junk food without even getting in touch with how it makes us feel. For most of us, we are so desensitized that we are immune to the connection between us and what we eat, the world around us.

How will you connect your inner self to the outer world?

Reality(s)

Yesterday Wild Tiger Tees (a social enterprise of which I am one of the co-founders) went to festival for good in Columbus Ohio.

It is a cool festival about ‘Doing more good’ – all the booths in this festival have a social tinge to it like how Wild Tiger Tees empower youth experiencing homelessness, there were other missions like Passion works that enable less able people to express their creativity, etc.

Everybody comes to these events with their reality.
1. Wild Tiger Tees: We came to test our business model, spread word, get some business and honestly to have a lot of fun. I am very grateful that I love hanging out with our team, so a day with them seemed like a great idea.
2. Police at the event: For them, success means happy people. Nobody is upset or grumbling – then they can enjoy themselves.
3. Beer People: For some, it was an event where they can hang out, drink some beer and have good food – with not much inclination towards the social cause.
4. Aki (Our Dog): It was not the best event because of all the traffic and the noise from the music on stage.
5. New People: And some people were just new to Columbus and were looking to meet like-minded people.

Everybody came to the same event with their reality. It is the same event, but everybody got a different experience. If you asked a few people you will hear different versions of the same event based on their expectations and experience. For the person who is coming to make friends is looking for people he can hang out with, for a person who is genuinely interested in the social mission – he is looking to meet as many social enterprises he can.

Life is no different. We all live on the same planet earth, drink the same water and breath the same air. But, our individual lives are so different. We have different realities and different expectations from life in general. What this means is that we do not have the full picture of the events including life itself. Second, we get what we are looking for, so we miss out on a lot of other things. And our understanding of the events is never complete at any given point in time.

What does this mean for us? Awareness that our reality might not be the only reality. Next time we get into an argument with somebody or do not agree with their point of view – remember we only know our end of the story. It’s like we are all in one big house and everybody has a different view from their room windows, and when we meet for dinner, we are all talking about our room views, which is ok as long as we realize that other people are also thinking the same way about their view. People who have come to our room know what we are talking about, but people who haven’t won’t know much.

Observing things and not labeling them is one way to remain grounded in this reality – that we have different realities.

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)