Welcome rough days, look forward to rough days because you learn, grow and evolve massively on your rough days, if you follow the process of digging for diamonds. Growth diamonds are not available on good days. Another word for Growth Diamonds are Blind Spots, something about ourselves that impede our progress and cause us to have rough days and yet, we cannot see them. Growth is really moving from discovering one blind spot to another and it is a life-long journey. The moment we arrive at a place where we feel we have become the greatest version of ourselves and that there are no more blind spots to be discovered, that is the day we die spiritually, emotionally and mentally; though, physically we may continue to live for a very long time afterwards.
Beyond the basic necessities of life - roti, kapda aur makaan (food, clothes and shelter) - we humans crave to make a difference because that is our access to our Space of Grace where we experience unconditional happiness, happiness without a cause or a reason; happiness that is no longer because of someone or something. It just courses through our body on its own, leaving us feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, full of joyous vitality and energy. Instead of getting pulled into the chaos outside, we pull people into the peace within us and have people be soothed, settled and be at ease with themselves and with the process of life in our space. That is the moment that we have truly arrived.
It is our rough days that gives us the access to our blind spots; discovery of which supports us to make a bigger difference through our work and leads us forward with velocity towards our Space of Grace. So, receive your rough days with joyous gratitude as the gift of the Universe, which always has your back. If you don't feel that the Universe has your back, that is your first discovery of a blind spot.
There is a process to follow to go on a journey to dig for growth diamonds / blind spots and here it is for you:
1. The first step is to acknowledge to yourself that you have had a rough day and step into the commitment to dig for growth diamonds. For us to have the inner strength to do this on the rough days, we need a daily practise of Review and Reflection at the end of the day. With this daily practice, when the rough days arrive (which they surely will) our muscle memory will kick in for us to do the Review and Reflection. Without Review and Reflection, all our diamonds go underground and are not available the next day.
2. The next step is to journal or have a conversation with your coach. If you are journaling, answer the below questions as you have a conversation with yourself:
i. What am I feeling? - Identify a specific feeling, instead of just saying good or bad. High performers usually are not in touch with their emotions, which is what becomes the barrier for their further growth. If you struggle to identify the emotion, check out the range of 22 emotions on slide 24 in this presentation - Power to Create™. The moment you are able to exactly identify the emotion and allow yourself to fully feel it, you will feel release of tension from your body.
ii. What am I thinking that is making me feel this way? - All stress, tension and limiting emotions that leave us not feeling good are an outcome of limiting thoughts that we have about ourselves, about other people and and about life itself. Let's call this thought pattern - small mind.
We are, by default, hardwired with our special version of the 'small mind'. Some of us become victims of our circumstances, in response to the small mind; and end up becoming Low Performers. High Performers become fighters in response to their small mind, fight with themselves to hide the small mind from their own self, fight the world to get what they want at a huge personal cost and end-up with lots of success but feeling like an imposter (Imposter Syndrome). All the success and money they worked hard for does not fulfil them, there's an underlying unconscious tension in the body all the time and the heart feels empty.
Yet, there's a 3rd way to be - acknowledge the small mind, learn to rewire our default survival / fear sourced small mind to step up to our Space of Grace. Let's call our Space of Grace - Big Mind. When we make this choice, we battle with our small mind on the inside instead of its reflections in the world outside. We become the Peaceful Warrior, the Super Performer. We are in the flow and step into our zone of genius.
iii. What sensations arise in my body on account of the feelings I have and the limiting thoughts that are cluttering my mind?
This creates high level of self-awareness and a lesser probability of venting out our angst and frustration on people in our lives, at work and at home, and hurting them because of the rough time we have had.
iv. What's present in me, the absence of which would have made a difference?
v. What's absent in me, the presence of which would have made a difference?
vi. What do I now understand, which I hadn't understood before?
vii. What can I see now, which I hadn't seen before?
viii. What did I learn?
ix. What one action, however tiny, will I take as an outcome of this deep self-reflection?
x. What are my powerful questions which will lead me forward?
After doing this level of deep self-inquiry, you will find your power coming back, exhaustion melting and a resurge of energy to take on the world.
Without this process, there is a tendency of wanting to crawl into bed, stay there for long and call in sick. Don't do that. Also, don't do any other work till the time you clear your space through this reflective process.
3. This process of deep inquiry - self-driven or with your coach - will reveal growth diamonds / blind spots. The interesting thing about blind spots is that the moment they come in awareness, the work to go beyond begins. With the discovery of a blind spot, you have progressed from unconscious incompetence in that area to conscious incompetence. You can now create a structure of success to step up to conscious competence. Practise long enough and unconscious competence is not far away.
Therefore, the 3rd step is to identify your blind spot through the process of deep-dive reflection and put a structure of success in place to step up from conscious incompetence to conscious competence to unconscious competence (mastery).
If you have a coach, then your coach becomes your accountability partner, else find a committed listener who can be your accountability buddy. Without someone showing you the mirror, progress is not really possible and the whole exercise remains intellectual; instead of visceral. Only a visceral, in-body, emotional experience can result in a real transformational shift on the inside because intelligence may be in the mind but wisdom is in the body. Your mind may have thoughts but your body feels the intuition and your emotions, which are more competent guides to your true north pole than your thoughts.
Wishing you the joyous experience of ongoing growth towards your greatest self.
I have been a workaholic. When I wasn't so self-aware, I used to believe with pride it was because of my impeccable work ethics, high level of commitment to my work and passion for what I am doing. After enormous inner work, I came face to face with an ugly truth that I was a workaholic because of instant gratification that I receive at work for completing a task, because of a sense of achievement I feel at ticking off an item from my checklist. The real truth was that I was nicely enmeshed in the Activity Trap without even being aware of it. The real truth was also that it is emotionally easier to be working than to be dealing with emotionally difficult issues at home, it is easier to work on a task than dealing with relationships and one's own limiting habits which come in the way of personal mastery. So, I had worked myself to burn-out much before I was 40 that hopped off the corporate bandwagon on an entrepreneurial journey in search of a profitable, repeatable, scalable Business Model. That search forced me to go on an inner journey of self-discovery and growth because whether we like it or not, our businesses end up becoming a mirror of who we are as human beings. That is why, an entrepreneur is on a Hero's journey in search of greatness outside and inside. Without connecting to the Light within, a great business will not get built.
I learnt massively in my journey as an entrepreneur in the last 10 years. Here are some of the learnings regarding getting work done more efficiently:
1. Work less hours to produce more value and impact: I am more productive, creative, effective and efficient if I work for 6 hours with focus, instead of 12 hours. If I am working for 6 hours, I can write an article in 2 hours; while if I have a 12 hour schedule, I end up creating a similar article with lesser impact in 6 hours. And, if I have spent 5 minutes drawing out the outline of the article during planning stage, I get done much earlier. This seems to show up irrespective of the nature of work - meetings get wrapped up faster with quicker and more creative solutioning, problem solving is quicker, lesser mistakes while creating any artefacts.
I interviewed Andrew Barnes, Founder and Managing Director, Perpetual Guardian, New Zealand because I was curious about the 4-day work week he had implemented in his company. In February 2018, Barnes announced that Perpetual Guardian would be doing a trial of four-day work week, with staff receiving an extra day off work, on full pay, each week. Staff were not required to work additional hours on their four working days. In July 2018, at the completion of the trial, the trial had been a resounding success with productivity up 20%, staff stress levels down, customer engagement levels up more than 30%, revenue remaining stable and costs decreasing, therefore resulting in increased profitability. Staff engagement and work-life balance also improved.
Productivity graph between productivity on the y-axis and number of working hours on the x-axis is an A curve. You will increase your productivity by increasing your number of hours in the beginning; but after a point (lets, call that point - Point of Zero Returns), productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and creativity falls sharply.
For me, the Point of Zero Returns is around 6 hours. So, I work from 6 am to 1:30 pm with 2 half an hour breaks in the middle.
Pioneering researcher Nathan Kleitman discovered that our bodies operate in 90 minutes rhythm (Ultradian Rhythm) not only during the night but also during the day when we move from higher alertness to lower alertness.
In his renowned 1993 study of young violinists, performance researcher Anders Ericsson found that the best ones all practiced the same way: in the morning, in three increments of no more than 90 minutes each, with a break between each one. Ericsson discovered the same pattern among other musicians, athletes, chess players and writers.
You could experiment to find your Point of Zero Returns and scheduling your day in slots of 90 minutes interspersed with breaks.
2. The Anti-Routine: In conversations with most CEOs, I am almost hit by a palpable energy of stress and tension, even over a Zoom call, that they are vibrating with. Unfortunately, most times, they are not even conscious of this anxiety in the background present at every moment. This background continual hum of anxiety is a huge drain on creativity, effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. Since they all are High Performers, they are able to deliver massive results even with this huge drain on their system but it comes at a tremendous personal cost. I continually hear the desire to retire to give back to society, to contribute, to leave a legacy. I am left with a deep sense of loss because their highest contribution would be by staying on in the job much beyond retirement and lead their businesses from good to great. Their real legacy is the transformation they can be at the source of in the world through their businesses; transforming what it means to do business, what it means to lead and work, and inside of that what it means to be a human being. This can only happen with an inner shift form being a Fighter High Performer to a Peaceful Warrior Super Performer. And, one of the first things to let go is unsustainable long working hours to create time for what I call The Anti-Routine.
The Routine is the work schedule. The Anti-Routine is the play schedule reserved for family fun time, nourishing nurturing self through exercising, meditating and various other growth habits, playing a sport, learning a creative art and the one that usually gets missed - learning continually about self in search of blind spots.
Einstein credits his breakthrough scientific discoveries to his playing the violin. I can relate to what he is saying because all my major business breakthroughs haven't come when I was working. They all came when I was either meditating, playing golf, learning piano, exercising or on a vacation. It's only when we step outside the painting of our business can we turn around to see the full picture and discover which colours and lines need to be added or deleted to make our business our masterpiece work of art.
All human beings have a masculine (courage, strength, independence, assertiveness, driven to win) and a feminine (empathy, intuition, vulnerability, caring, nurturing) element. It's by bringing the two in balance inside of us do we rise up to our greatest self and become a great leader. Sports is a great way to strengthen the masculine element in us; while learning and investing in a creative art (painting, singing, learning a musical instrument, dancing etc.) strengthens our feminine element.
Discovering our blind spots is the piece of the Anti-Routine which mostly gets missed, and yet is the foundation on which everything else rests. A leader who knows it all, has answers to all questions, solutions to all problems and is already the greatest version of himself / herself is a leader who is not going to lead the business too far. Having a structure to continually look inside to discover places one doesn't want to go to and see things one doesn't want to see is ultimately what will lead us and our businesses from good to great.
3. The Perfectionist Trap: We all know the Pareto's principle and yet most of us don't apply it to reduce our work and increase our output. It has been statistically proven that 20% of the work we do gives us 80% output. and we spend 80% of the remaining time on finishing the remaining 20% work. I have personally experienced the Power of Pareto not only in my own work but also as I coached my clients to implement it in their own work.
Chase excellence, not perfection. Excellence is for the God inside of us, Perfection is for the fickle applause from the outside. At 80% output, assess if it is worthwhile to complete the remaining 20%. If you are reviewing product development, ensure your team co-creates with the customer instead of inside your Ivory Tower office. Such a co-creation will support you to stop at 80%. If you are reviewing sales, check if your sales team knows who their top 20% customers are. Figure out which 20% reviews will give you 80% leverage, mentoring which 20% stars will give you 80% growth, focussing on which 20% objectives will give you 80% velocity in your business. If you are chasing everything and everyone, nothing much may get created.
4. Intention Creation: I also discovered that articulating my 5-Years Intentions helps me to have clarity on the wins to be created in the first year, first quarter, current month, current week and the next day. Writing my intentions in the night for the next day work schedule gives me more horsepower to deliver on them with precision.
5. The Tough Nut: Looking at my task list for the next day as I sit down at the end of day to review and reflect on the day gone by and to create the next day, I use a simple method, which most of us know, and divide the list into 4 categories -
A - Important, Urgent
B - Important, Not Urgent as yet
C - Not Important, Urgent
D - Neither Important, Nor Urgent
I delegate C and cross out D from my list. I prioritize A and schedule it first thing in the morning, followed by B, which are my tough nuts to crack, before I open the doors to the rest of the world. If one is not being aware, what ends up happening is that we do C and D to get instant gratification and a sense of achievement in the first half of the day and push B so much down in the day that it gets missed out and becomes A the next day, leaving us forever in a firefight mode.
The above 5 may support you to get done faster and more efficiently through your work schedule. Yet , you may not be able to fully disconnect from work when you are not at work because you find yourself thinking about work when not at work. Then, even if you creatively force yourself to work less number of hours, you are still caught because your mind continues to stay at work though you have physically moved out. Here's How to Disconnect from Work when not Working:
1. First of all, make a commitment to stay in the present moment. This is a powerful first step because that brings you into awareness when you are not and acts as a positive force to shake you back into the present.
2. Second, practise Aana Paana meditation, the meditation technique Buddha taught for mind control. In this technique, you focus your attention on the triangular region of your nose and upper lip and observe your breath as it goes in and as it goes out. Practise with eyes closed daily and then begin practising it open-eyed so that even while you are listening to someone, you are present to your breath coming in and going out. This stops the chattering monkey called the mind from running in thousand different directions and gets engaged in the game of observing the breath. As the mind becomes still observing the breath, we experience being centred, grounded and present.
3. Have a solid Anti-Routine to immerse your body, mind, heart and soul - a hobby and a sport that you are in love with, along with an intense workout regime. The fact is that we are have far greater ability, expertise and wisdom to contribute, make a difference and live our purpose through our work at 50 than at 40, at 60 than at 50, at 70 than at 60, at 80 than at 70. Therefore, it is our responsibility towards ourselves and more importantly, towards the communities that we are a part of, to ensure that we have Olympic athlete fitness levels because only when we are at the highest level of health, fitness and well-being can we truly contribute, make a difference and live our purpose this lifetime through the work we do.
Retirement is an archaic concept which has no role to play in today's day and age. We are meant to have fun; live with passion, purpose and impact; and make a dent in the Universe through our work that we love, till the last breath of our life, whenever it may come.
4. Include an intense spiritual, emotional and mental work-out in your Anti-Routine to continuously be shown the mirror to your blind spots so that you remain agile not only physically but also spiritually, emotionally and mentally till the day it is time for you to transition to the next phase of your existence. Like one of my favourite wise people, Dr Wayne Dyer, said - We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience. Leading a business from good to great can only happen inside of understanding this truth, as Sara Blakely, the youngest self-made woman billionaire at 41 years of age, found. She credits her business success to listening to Wayne Dyer and applying his principles from the age of 16 years.
5. Immerse yourself in reading books and listening to podcasts by masters in business for Business Excellence, in your domain for Craft Mastery and in the mystery of life for Leadership Depth during your Anti-Routine. This is a powerful way to ensure your mind is not idle, which is when it will have a tendency to brood and ruminate over and over again about work; not allowing you peace of mind even when you have physically disconnected from work. Not only will you find greater inner peace but also learn, grow and evolve with velocity. Warren Buffett, who is world's 4th richest man in the world reads 80% of the time. Bill Gates, who is world's 2nd richest man, reads one book a week.
Wishing you the joy of the journey.
Is your business down and out because of the pandemic? Are you waiting for the pandemic to end to grow or start your business? I believe that there is no better time to start a new business or grow your existing business than now, even as Covid is raging around the world with a vengeance. I say so because a business is a construct for making a difference and you can make a much bigger difference when the situation is more challenging. Bigger the challenge, greater the opportunity to contribute and therefore, greater the velocity with which you can grow your business. In the last few months, my business has grown exponentially, and the members of Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™ have either built a strong foundation for scaling their business or have experienced commendable business growth.
Here's how to do it:
1. You now have time to step outside your business and look at it as a whole, instead of getting lost in the business. When you are a part of the painting, you have no clue how to make it better because you have no clue how it looks like as a whole. When you step out of the frame and turn around to look at the whole picture, you will begin to notice the colours that are missing and the lines that would be better erased. You will get creative ideas on how to make it into a beautiful work of art. That's what a business is - a beautiful work of art. And, as a business owner, you are the artist. You can view your business, you work of art as a whole through a simple one-page representation called the Business Model Canvas. Here's a blank Template for you to fill in for your business by answering the questions in each of the 9 boxes of the template.
I once had a business owner, who had been in the business for over 15 years, reach out to me. His complaint was that - Even after 15 years, I am struggling. I am still doing Operations, still chasing customers, whatever I earn gets spent and not much gets left behind. I work so much and yet, I am making no progress. He was stuck in what I call the Plateau of Mediocrity. I dug below the surface and wasn't surprised to find that he had no articulated Business Model, even after being in business for more than 15 years.
I had an opportunity to study another business, which started their venture with a clear Business Model which they tested to validate with real customers and ended up breaking more than 10 business models in their 1st year alone. At the end of their first year, they finally discovered a Business Model that they had tested for profitability, repeatability and scalability; and laughed all the way to the bank from Year 2 onwards.
So, the first thing to do to grow your Business in the time of Corona is to step outside your Business and look at it as a whole, using the Business Model Canvas, to identify areas to innovate to create greater value and make a much bigger difference to your customer community from the ecosystem of your Business.
Here's an article in Harvard Business Review from Steve Blank, the father of the Lean Startup Methodology, to understand more about the process of using Business Models, start-up assumptions, how to build experiments to validate the Business Model assumptions to discover your way to a deeply fulfilling, profitable, sustainable, successful Business:
Why the Lean Start-up Changes Everything?
Better would be to read his book written along with co-author, Bob Durf - The Startup Owner's Manual.
2. The second thing to do is to connect with your customers even more deeply and understand what are their challenges, what would contribute to them in this time, how has the pandemic impacted them and their business, listening from a place of 'Being of Service' to identify how you can innovate your Business Model to serve them even more powerfully, in ways you probably hadn't even considered before.
The business of one of the entrepreneurs I was coaching is to bring together suppliers and consumers of a particular service for networking in a physical meeting space. The idea really worked well till Covid happened and she could no longer offer the service the way it was designed before. She was feeling apologetic about suggesting to her customers about getting them together online and looking at offering the online model at a discount till we had a business model review. Here are the highlights of our review:
i. Her customers still have the need and are irritated at not being able to work at the velocity with which they could work before Covid and Lockdown.
ii. Covid and Lockdown has given them exposure to and familiarity with the online channel.
iii. The key benefit they received from her Business Model was an opportunity to make a new set of connections from their industry in a single place.
iv. They were spending hours on the road from all over Delhi NCR to come for the meeting.
v. One on one meetings were a critical component of the value being delivered in the earlier physical model.
As an outcome of our review, she innovated her Business Model to launch a premium higher-priced version of her service through Zoom using Breakout Rooms in Zoom to enable one-on-one meetings.
Before our review, she had hibernated her business in quiet frustration at the pandemic. After the review, she was grateful for the growth opportunity that the pandemic offered her.
3. Use the situation to breakfree from the 'Activity Trap' that most entrepreneurs get caught in. It is this 'busy being busy' that kills our creativity and productivity; and leads us on the path to Mediocrity. Use the current Corona times and the forced 'lock-in' to free yourself from the tyranny of 'busyness' and use the freed up time to learn, grow and evolve to be the world's best in your domain; be a master of your craft and become a key person of influence in industry globally.
I not only completed a Certificate Program in Psychodrama and Expressive Arts Therapy; but also started a 2 years Post Graduate Diploma in Psychodrama (a type of therapy work done in groups) with Tata Institute of Social Sciences. I am a CEO Coach; and work with CEOs, aspiring CEOs, Business Owners, Start-up Founders and High Performers to support them to lead their business from good to great. How can such a theme of learning support my customer community for me to invest so much of my time training on a topic that seems so irrelevant at the first glance? You see my work is about coaching people to step into their zone of genius and that requires an inside-out approach. That means I have to work with my clients not only on their Business Excellence and Craft Mastery journeys on the outside but also on their Leadership Depth journey on the inside, which would include supporting them to be healthy and fit - physically, mentally, emotionally. psychologically and spiritually. Only then, would they get the courage and clarity to lead their business from good to great.
4. Strengthen your Leadership Depth to build momentum to lead your business from good to great. Without a strong foundation of Leadership Depth, Business Excellence is a house of cards that will fall down eventually.
How do you measure Leadership Depth? You measure it by rating yourself on a scale of 0 to 10 in the 5 areas of your Wheel of Life. Your Leadership Depth is the lowest score you got across these 5 areas:
i. Deeply fulfilling, successful, profitable business / profession supporting you to live your purpose of life; gifting you with impact, contribution and financial freedom
ii. Loving, harmonious relationships at work and at home
iii. Happy, healthy, responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed
iv. Nourishing, nurturing yourself to the highest level of fitness and well-being (physically, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually)
v. Making a massive difference through the work you do
Wishing you the joy of the journey to learn to lead from inside out; which is when you get the courage, clarity and support (at work and at home) to lead your business from good to great.
My daughter says that Mother Nature has grounded us for not listening to her. I am constantly awed by her wisdom. Let us use this time to reflect on where we are on our leadership journey and learn to lead from inside out.
5. As I work, meet and interact with entrepreneurs, I get present to why there's a Harvard statistic on 75% startups failing in their first year and Fortune statistic on 90% businesses failing in the first five years of their existence. The founders are passionate about their domain, they are experts and are technically very strong though where they miss is to learn the art and science of entrepreneurship. They miss that the 3 aspects of their personality needs to be in balance for the business to grow - The Entrepreneur, The Manager, The Technician - in the words of Michael Gerber of The EMyth fame.
Now that Mother Nature has grounded us for not listening to her and being naughty, let us use this time to learn, understand and apply the science of Entrepreneurship. Just because you are a great technology expert, photographer, consultant, baker etc. does not mean you are a great entrepreneur or a great manager. You have to learn the entrepreneurial and managerial domains, as well, to be able to nurture and scale your business.
Make a list of all that you now know you can do to lead your business from good to great, even in the time of Corona, and experience the joy of implementing wonderful ideas and watching your business grow.
Love and gratitude for who you are as a human being; and reverence for your commitment to make a massive difference through your work,
If you are a small business owner, you are the Brand. Hesitation and discomfort to market and promote yourself is akin to committing business harakiri. And, yet it is a common predicament faced by many new entrepreneurs and small business owners because it feels boastful and arrogant to talk about oneself, having been taught the value of humility during one's growing years.
As I started out, I faced the same fear. Infact, I would hide behind my company's name to write articles or to express my rather radical views over matters on social media. I posted quotes of other people with which I connected with, rather than share directly what I believed in. It took me a while to find the courage to own my voice, own who I was in the public glare. I bought my first company's domain name immediately but it took me many years to buy my name's domain name. Even today, I write articles extensively to support my customer community but have pushed the idea of making videos and podcasts right under the carpet. I knew I will have to go beyond that discomfort very soon, the moment one of my clients asked to be coached on how to overcome the hesitation to market herself. That is why I love coaching. It forces you to grow, whether you like it or not. I proudly tell everyone how I have build my coaching business only through referrals, which I feel is the platinum standard of building any business. Though, there's an ugly truth hiding behind it, that I hesitate to market myself or talk about myself. I rather have my clients market for me. That's a good strategy to build a hugely value-creating business and yet, it needs to be complemented by strengthening of the Business Owner's Leadership Depth for her to embrace her own Light, so that she can make a much bigger difference through the work she does, the business she runs.
Here's a 5-step process to overcome the fear of marketing yourself:
1. The first step is to acknowledge that you do have the fear of marketing yourself, of self-promotion, of putting yourself out there. Have the courage of self-awareness that this is only a secondary fear. It is arising out of the 3 core fears which are hard-wired in the minds of all human-beings as an outcome of our fear-sourced evolutionary process -
i. I am not good enough.
ii. I am not important.
iii. I am all alone.
Recognise you are not alone in experiencing these fears and a part of our human journey is to learn, grow and evolve beyond these primal fears to step into our highest potential, which is when we can truly live our destiny to live our purpose this lifetime, to make a massive difference through our work, through who we are as human beings.
2. After allowing yourself the humbling experience of looking into the eyes of your primal fears, the second step is to review and reflect on the impact of these fears on yourself, on your target customer community that you are committed to serve and on the world.
As I reflect with you as I write this article, I realise that the impact of my fear in the world is that we have lost VG Siddhartha (Founder, Cafe Coffee Day), Vineet Whig (COO, Encyclopaedia Britannica) and so many more due to their inability to manage the pressures of business and life, due to lack of inner strength to face the inevitable struggles of building a business. I am present to the fact that Business Owners and Entrepreneurs struggle to grow their businesses not so much because they don't have an understanding of Business Excellence or Craft Mastery but because there isn't any focus on strengthening Leadership Depth (you can call it Inner Strength), which is the foundation on which a sustainable, profitable, repeatable, scalable business is built with ease and grace.
Without owning my message to the world, and spreading that message with courage, clarity and confidence, I miss to contribute the only way I know how to the well-being and success of my target customer community that I am committed to serve. This missing to contribute leaves me feeling incomplete and unfulfilled. This missing creates a world, where people feel scared to own their impossible, unimaginable dreams and miss to joyously travel forth like peaceful warriors to realise their greatest dreams in deepest communion with their Highest Self.
Here I am owning my message that you can strengthen your Leadership Depth to Have It All:
i. Deeply fulfilling, successful, profitable business supporting you to live your purpose of life; gifting you with impact, contribution and financial freedom
ii. Loving, harmonious relationships at work and at home
iii. Happy, healthy, responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed
iv. Nourishing, nurturing yourself to the highest level of fitness and well-being (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually)
v. Making a massive difference through the work you do
and that Having It All is the only way to build a great business because it requires you to elevate yourself to be the greatest version of you.
My message is also that a business is a vehicle for making a difference. Your revenue is an indicator of how much of a difference you are making to your customers. Your expenses are an indicator of your operational excellence. A healthy profit is an indicator of your commitment to your employees.
So, my friend as you hesitate to market yourself, here are my questions for you to reflect on:
i. What is your message to the world that you hesitate to own and spread?
ii. What is the impact of your hesitation, and your fear to own and spread your message on you, your target customer community and the world?
iii. What will you do about it? which is the 3rd step
3. The third step is to ask yourself what will you do once you realise the impact of your hesitation and fear.
Here is what I am committing to doing to embrace my fears and market myself:
i. Start my Podcast
ii. Start my YouTube Channel
iii. Start working on my first Book
What will you commit to doing?
4. The fourth step is to remember that Grace is in Balance. It's easy to fall in the Trap of Self-Promotion when you become bigger than your message, you become bigger than the problem you are trying to help solve in the world, you become bigger than your clients.
The way to escape this treacherous fall is to always remember that you are merely a channel of your message, a channel to solve the problem and that you have a Creator who is so much bigger than you.
5. The fifth step is to do our daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual Review and Reflections; which are very important pit-stops for us to refuel, repair, recreate, reassess and re-ignite our passion to continue travelling in the right direction towards fulfilling our purpose this Lifetime.
Wishing you the joy of the journey.
Love, Gratitude and Reverence for who you are as a human being and for your very special message that the world is waiting for,
What is the single-most important reason why entrepreneurial ventures die? What is the single-most important reason why dreams never get realized? What is the single-most important reason why most of us never live our destiny to make a dent in the Universe? What is the single-most important reason why we never achieve what we most desire, professionally and personally?
Interestingly, the answer to all these questions is the same - Self-doubt. If there was only one enemy that I could shoot down for all my clients, it would be self-doubt. It is a great equalizer. It doesn't matter how successful, how wealthy, how accomplished someone is or isn't, self-doubt has sneaked its way and hid itself very cunningly beneath layers in the mind. It is the legacy of our evolutionary process of survival and is
a vestigial emotion found in all human beings; except those who have consciously worked on themselves to go beyond the clutches of this demon by inculcating daily growth habits. If we stop practising those growth habits, the demon raises its ugly head all over again by getting its nourishment from our default limiting habits.
Let's explore the relationship between self-doubt and business success. Building a successful business is about iteratively discovering a profitable, repeatable, scalable business model much before your passion and resources run out. That means having the inner strength to keep listening to a 100 NOs before that one YES. If you feed your self-doubt, you will give-up after the first few NOs. I echo what Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz say in their book, 'Go for No' - 'Yes is the destination. No is how you get there.' Learnings about your business model really happen in the failures you have. Without the failures, you have no chance of learning and moving forward to discovering your profitable, repeatable and scalable business model. The whole process from a start-up to a Unicorn is an iterative process, with falling down, learning from the fall, integrating the learnings to decide the next action, moving forward, falling down again, and repeating this cycle again and again till you find profitability on Mountain 2 of Building a Great Business; continuing the iteration to climb to the peak of Mountain 3 to discover the formula for Repeatability and Scalability; learning by continuing to fail and discovering the way forward to Scale on Mountain 4; and finally learning how to Corporatize on Mountain 5, again through failing. So, there's no getting away from failure, rejection, NOs if you are upto building a great business that is an expression of your purpose this lifetime. If self-doubt is one of your best friends that won't leave you, then the journey to building a great business cannot be completed because you will give up along the way, lose your motivation, your inspiration, passion, commitment, energy, enthusiasm, self-belief, confidence to keep getting up every time you fall.
Let's understand Self-Doubt for what it really is to get an access to find freedom from it. Self-doubt is really the emotional expression of what I call the 'small mind'. Our 'small mind' is our default limiting experience of ourselves, of others and of life itself. If we don't make a conscious effort, our 'small mind' runs the show in our life, creating limiting circumstances and limiting / no results in our lives. Our brain, by default, is hard-wired with negativity. And, our generic purpose in this lifetime is to learn, grow and evolve to our highest potential by rewiring our brain to be positive and growth-oriented to shift to what I call the 'Big Mind' by working at the level of growth habits across all the 4 bodies of our Being - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
The 'small mind' is a reaction to the 3 fundamental fears that we humans have:
i. I am not good enough
ii. I am all alone. No one loves me.
iii. I am not important.
Self-awareness is about being aware of our default core fears and the limiting thought pattern that is a reaction to those fears. Without this self-awareness, we will unconsciously continue to be a prisoner of our own fears and limiting thought patterns; and continue to bang our head against the wall of circumstances without being able to fulfil our intentions or realise our dreams to grow to our highest potential.
My core fears are a combination of 'I am not good enough' and 'I am all alone. No one loves me.'. My small mind is - 'I don't deserve the best. I am not worthy. No one loves, appreciates and respects me. Life is a struggle.', which is a reaction to my core fears. My default limiting personality is a reaction to my small mind - 'I work incredibly hard in my life but without rewarding outcomes in relation to the enormous hard work I put in. I don't experience love, appreciation and respect. Infact, I keep experiencing the opposite of that and the result is I am unable to unconditionally love, appreciate and respect; which keeps the vicious cycle going. I keep working hard playing to get the best but the best continues to be beyond my reach, without my realising how I am at the source of all this melodrama or Maya as we say in our culture.'
How does one get out of this vicious cycle? There are many ways though I have chosen to integrate the many ways after studying, interviewing or getting coached from the master entrepreneurs, the super successful leaders, the masters of their craft, the giants of their field. Not surprisingly, they all share similar growth habits that they inculcate in their daily lives to protect themselves from the ferocious grip of the 'small mind'.
The first step is to be aware of your core fears, your small mind. The second step is to make a commitment to live from your Big Mind and feed that. Our Big Mind is our creation, that we will create consciously; while our small mind is our default limiting way of Being which will continue to run our lives till we choose to consciously feed our Big Mind to win over our small mind by stopping to feed the small mind.
Here's my Big Mind, it's my commitment to myself, my promise to myself how I choose to relate to myself, others and to life - 'I am love, gratitude and reverence. I am success and prosperity. I love, respect and appreciate myself and all beings. Therefore, I experience people's love, respect and appreciation for me. Life is fun and easy.' When I feel people walking all over me, I feel the grip of my small mind and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I know how to respond. When I feel unappreciated, unloved and disrespected, I feel the clutch of the small mind and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I know how to respond. When life throws challenges that throw me on the ground, my small mind wants to push me deeper into the deep ditch of dreariness and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I use my creativity to use the trying circumstances and people who have betrayed and cheated me as opportunities of tremendous growth. If my business hasn't extinguished as yet, it is because I chose to be Big Mind though to chose small mind was tantalizingly easier at numerous occasions. Each time, my business seems to be near its death-bed, my Big Mind helps me to keep the small mind and it's best friend, self-doubt, at bay and brings back my childlike trust and faith in myself, in my impossible unimaginable dreams, in my mission to make a dent in the Universe, in the Universe to help me transform the impossible into possible, the unimaginable into the imaginable.
So, the next important question is how to stop feeding our small mind and start feeding our Big Mind to nourish and nurture it to become strong and healthy. It is through the practise of growth habits. The below habits are your 1st stage habits. I call them Gear 1 Starter RYD (Realize Your Dreams) Habits. By practising these habits, you will awaken the Big Mind in yourself; and de-fang and weaken the small mind. When that happens, self-doubt no longer befriends you and walks out on you, leaving you free and in the joyous experience of - I am me and that's enough. No longer anything to prove, no longer caught in the anxiety of what will others say, nothing to hide, nowhere to go to prove a point, nothing to be embarrassed about. Just a blessed feeling of having arrived on the inside to make a difference through your work on the outside. You will observe success and wealth coming your way as by-products of your having arrived on the inside and having found authentic happiness not linked to any cause. Inside of this transformation, the journey to build a great business truly begins.
The members of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™, Centre for Transformational Leadership™, Mums At Work™, Centre for Personal Excellence™ and Centre for Coaching Excellence™ can click on the link below to access the online curriculum for the detailed note on these habits.
Gear 1 Starter RYD Habits
1. The Dream
2. Mirror Work
6. Read Your Book
7. Daily Inspiration
8. Buddy Call
9. Physical Exercise
10. Restoring your Word
11. Intention Creation and Scheduling
12. Keep a Journal
These habits are designed to strengthen you in the first leadership muscle - Agility of Mind™.
Wishing you the joy of living your purpose this lifetime through the work you do, the business you run and having the fulfilment of not dying with your Light intact inside of you.
Why is my Business not scaling up? That's one of the most frequent questions I get asked and the reason most of my clients sign up with me at Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™. The fact is Businesses are meant to scale-up and if they aren't, it is because we come in the way. The only way a sustainable business can be built is to lead it to its highest potential; otherwise it meanders along the Path of Mediocrity in the company of Struggle, Burnt-out and Purposelessness.
Here are 5 different types of Entrepreneurs who will not be able to scale-up their business and one type who definitely will. If you are committed to grow your business, identify which one of these limiting entrepreneurial patterns you come close to and build a conscious growth strategy to not fall in the trap of these default patterns by inculcating a recommended set of habits, routines and practices.
1. The Embarrassed Entrepreneur: Scaling-up requires a deep-down authentically spiritual belief in one's product / service that it is meant to make a dent in the Universe. Without that kind of belief, founders are unable to do whatever it takes to scale-up. They feel embarrassed, uncomfortable and overwhelmed to take the audacious actions needed to grow their business. They feel embarrassed, uncomfortable and overwhelmed to talk about their most expensive and highest value-delivering offering because in their words, 'it feels uncomfortably salesy', and end up spending 80% of their customer creation time creating and selling low-end products. Then, they wonder why their revenues and profits are not growing inspite of all the hard-work they end up doing. They want to walk on the path which feels in sync with who they feel they are, which is avoiding anything that puts them out of their Comfort Zone.
Growth Strategy: Sara Blakely, youngest self-made woman billionaire in the world, makes it a daily practise to embarrass herself to ensure she gets off her fear of embarrassment on a daily basis, which is what she credits her growth as an entrepreneur to. She shared how one day she started singing in the elevator full of people. That requires massive guts. No wonder from being a chipmunk at Disney World welcoming people for 3 months and a door-to-door fax-machine sales person for 7 straight years, she has been able to bootstrap a global billion dollar business without any external funds. You need guts to build a business of that scale and therefore, build a daily practise to embarrass yourself. You will learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, giving you inner power and strength to build a great business.
The feeling of overwhelm is the reaction of the body to what is uncomfortable to the mind. The mind dislikes being embarrassed because our fear-sourced survival-seeking reptilian brain considers it as dangerous, having been trained over million of years of our evolutionary process to consider 'fitting in' as safe.
We need to change the hard-wiring of this reptilian part of our brain for us to really take the powerful, bold, 'something that others will laugh at', 'different from what everyone else is doing' kind of actions to scale our business.
2. The Do-Gooder Entrepreneur: These entrepreneurs are usually found in the helping professions. They run their business for the good of others and are unable to monetise the enormous work that they do because they miss to look at their business through the lens of a Business Model and fail to apply the rigour of the science of entrepreneurship. They end up getting burnt out, not feeling good about themselves, drained of energy and passion which is why they started their business in the first place. They end up picking up a job or doing something else to generate income for them to survive and miss the opportunity to make an enormous difference, contribution, impact and financial freedom through the work they are passionate about. They also usually resist structures and discipling themselves. They are continually seeking to feel good and focus their energies on completing smaller, less value-adding, tactical activities which will give them instant gratification. What would serve them is to focus their energies and efforts on strengthening themselves on the inside such that the neediness to feel good doesn't drive their actions; and are instead able to create the willpower to do the strategic work to scale their business.
Growth Strategy: Daily do one thing that you resist, don't want to do, fear doing to get off seeking 'feeling good'. Create daily, weekly, monthly growth structures and follow them. Consciously choose to spend 80% of your time on the strategy side of your business. Write it in your soul that without monetising your do-good efforts in a structured fashion, you will limit your and your business' ability to scale, reach the highest potential and make a massive difference.
Challenge yourself to raise the price of your product / service beyond what feels comfortable; and then go ahead and give 10 times the value of this price.
3. The Needy Entrepreneur: Prospects end up running away from you as soon as possible because needy is creepy. You want customers, not so much to make a difference to their lives but because you are needy for their money as you need money to survive. You are running your business because you need money. A business scales and grows when it is focussed on making massive difference to its customer communities, instead of being focussed on generating money for you.
In the words of Steve Jobs, "Being an entrepreneur is not about money or fame. It's about solving problems for society and the passion for creating opportunities where people only see problems."
Growth Strategy: Like one of my coaches used to say, have two kinds of projects - the sexy project and the cash project. The sexy project is your business through which you are doing the work that you love. Leading it to its highest potential requires legendary patience and super-human perseverance. If you haven't committed to building your business and serving your customer community for atleast 20 years, you may just miss to experience the joy of seeing your dreams realised.
The cash project gives you the money to survive from one day to the next and gives you the space to work on your sexy project. Yes, you need to have a day job to manage your family expenses and your business that you are passionate about is the night job that you are working on. You can quit your day job when your night job begins to generate income equal to your day job.
This will ensure you are not needy for your customer's money; and are selling to solve your customer's problems or helping them realise their dreams through your product / service. This way you will have customers chase you, instead of you chasing your customers and begging them to buy from you.
4. The Uninspired Entrepreneur: You don't know why you are doing the work you are doing. You don't feel the connection with your business. You are passionate about your craft but don't understand its purpose. You feel listless, uninspired and lost around your work. You are cutting stones instead of building cathedrals through your business and the emptiness in your heart keeps you unfulfilled. Good money comes in whenever you make yourself get up and go about the business of running your business and yet there isn't inspiration to scale it, grow it to its highest potential, to its greatest version. You wonder if you are in the right business, whether you should explore doing something else that would fulfil you more. Funny enough, the hollow emptiness follows you in your personal life as well and you remain unfulfilled there as well. Whatever you do, nothing seems to fill the hole in your heart, stitch the tear in your soul, bring peace and harmony in your mind and deep restfulness to your body.
You are missing the connection with your purpose of life which is the source of all inspiration. We live our purpose of life through the work we do, through the businesses we run. Your purpose is the Big Why of your Business. Without the Big Why, there doesn't seem to be any point in doing anything. You are an acknowledged expert in your domain and yet you don't feel the joyous exultation of running your business
Growth Strategy: Drop everything to figure the purpose of your life, and create a visceral connection between your purpose and your business. You will suddenly rediscover the stars in your eyes, a song on your lips, a dance to your feet, love in your heart for what you do and who you are. You will find the energy to effortlessly do all the hard work you used to avoid before to build a great business.
5. The Know-It-All Entrepreneur: I have deep compassion for this kind of an entrepreneur, though this is the type I cannot coach because they are uncoachable. They are in a rut and they can't even see it. They have all the answers, keep working and yet never seem to grow, professionally or personally. They are always arriving but never arrive. They pretend to others but what is even more debilitating is that they pretend to themselves and don't even know it. Their business is going to fall off from a cliff to a certain death unless they wake up.
Growth Strategy: Make deep self-inquiry and reflection a habit. Practise vulnerability, though it is the hardest for you. Be authentic about your own inauthenticity. Recognise your fear of not being good enough and that your 'Know-it-all' is a mask that you are wearing to hide this shameful secret in the basement of your psyche from others and from your own self. Know that we all have that shameful secret hiding inside of us; and part of our human journey to live in the expression of our highest self is to arrive at a point where 'I am me and that's enough.' rings true and loud. Learn to be coachable and take support. We all can do with support. Infact, without support of our mastermind group and our coach, it's rarely possible to hit the genius level work in our lives.
What type of Entrepreneur should we be then? The Peaceful Warrior Entrepreneur, who knows in his heart and as much as in his soul, that he is here on Earth to make a dent in the Universe through his business which is an expression of his work and his mission this lifetime. The Peaceful Warrior knows that scaling up the business is an inside-out job, that work is needed to be done on the inside for her to grow her business on the outside. Therefore, she neither feels helpless nor wastes her energy fighting the world. She works on transforming within instead of complaining about what's on the outside. She focuses her energy to learn massively to be the best in the world in her industry, instead of chasing customers. She connects with people with vulnerable authenticity instead of networking. He learns to balance the feminine and masculine aspects of his Being, instead of negating one aspect. Today, most of the businesses are an extreme expression of the masculine aspect - the war approach, the aggression, the need to dominate. The Peaceful Warrior learns to access her feminine aspect to balance the masculine and feminine energies in her to run her business by relying on her intuition, being empathetic and vulnerable, knowing how to talk to the Universe to take support to scale her business; while being assertive, having crystal clear clarity on what she wants and going after it with confidence to create it, having methods, processes and structures to quantify the process of business building and being determined to scale-up her business, integrating the feminine energy of growing in Leadership Depth with the masculine energy of Business Excellence and creating harmony between the two aspects through Craft Mastery.
Wishing you the joy of the journey of the Peaceful Warrior Entrepreneur (PWE) because it is only the PWE who believes in having it all and creates it for himself; instead of focussing on one area of his life at the cost of other areas:
i. Deeply fulfilling, successful, profitable business supporting him to live his purpose of life; gifting him with impact, contribution and financial freedom
ii. Loving, harmonious relationships at work and at home
iii. Happy, healthy, responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed
iv. Nourishing, nurturing himself to the highest level of fitness and well-being (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually)
v. Making a massive difference through the work he does
Do you remember how you felt when you last carried out a random act of kindness? And, how you felt when somebody did something kind for you? Did you not feel gentle waves of uplifting warmth, joyous energy and soothing restfulness wash all over your body?
At the beginning of our journey, when I ask a client - How are you feeling?; the usual response is - I think good. That tells me how disconnected he is from his emotional body because you cannot think feelings, you can only feel them in your physical body. If you are in touch with your emotions, you will know exactly in which part of the body is the emotion arising, and how exactly is it arising. It may be a tightening of the stomach or heaviness in the shoulders or stiffness in the neck or discomfort in the upper back or stinging in the eyes or a catch in the throat or various other expressions of feelings in the physical body.
As you exercise your emotional body to make it fit, you get reconnected with your authentic self, your Source. At that point, you may feel an expansiveness as vast as the sky above, as deep as the ocean below, spaciousness all around, a sweet homecoming; as the feeling spreads from inside to outside to everywhere. And, your productivity, performance, creativity and innovativeness rises to be at the peak.
One of the the simplest ways to reconnect with your authentic self is to do a random act of kindness and then keep doing them daily like a must-do just as you brush your teeth daily. The idea is to make it an automatic habit. Though in the beginning, it will feel ritualistic and forced, to mandatorily do an act of kindness to tick it off from your list but after a point, it will begin to feel genuine and something you cannot do without. This act is one of the ways you exercise your emotional body.
Just as you have to force yourself to exercise your physical body daily in the beginning but after the lowest point of wanting to give up, you experience an energy that has you wanting to exercise your physical body daily that you can no longer stop. It is interesting that the energy graph of inculcating any growth habit is similar to the shape of a hockey stick. Your mental, emotional and physical energy continue to drop till the lowest point but if you continue beyond that point using your spiritual energy of higher purpose and deep connection with your own self; your mental, emotional and physical energy suddenly turn around exponentially to support you to stick to the habit forever.
Based on experiments conducted by University College London, we now have proof that it takes 66 days to hold on to a habit daily for it to become automatic. So, play the Kindness Habit game daily for 66 days even as your energy dips to reap the benefit of a healthy and fit emotional body.
Of course, there are many other exercises to keep your emotional body fit. Let’s take those up in subsequent articles for discussion.
Coming back to Kindness, how do you define it? It is an act coming from a place of compassionate love and empathy for the good of others with no expectation of a reward in return. If the act is done for appreciation, acknowledgement or some other intrinsic or extrinsic reward, the act serves you no purpose and you stay disconnected from your authentic self.
The next logical question is why do we even care that the emotional body is fit and healthy. It is because the Being of the Human Being that we are is like a car with 4 wheels on a journey to reach its destination of fulfilment of its purpose of having been born. The 4 wheels are our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. If any of these bodies is weak, then the car is unable to drive forward with velocity towards its purpose and we feel a lack, a longing, an incompletion, something missing, a void in our hearts and souls that no material wealth or a loved one can complete or fill.
Interestingly, if we work on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies to become intimately connected with our authentic self, we will find ourselves becoming loving, compassionate and empathetic. The reverse is also true, if we work on practising feeling love, compassion and empathy viscerally not just playing around the idea in our head; we will automatically find ourselves becoming intimately connected with our authentic self.
That is the true purpose of our life - to find and reconnect with our authentic self, our inner Wisdom, our inner Light and live in the expression of our undeniable greatness. Not to undertake this journey leads us to an experience of pain from which we find no recourse till the time Pain has forced us to choose the path to our Highest Self. At that point, Pain has served its purpose and we no longer find ourselves in the grip of it. Each experience, painful or not, is a nudge from the Universe to drop our masks of being a Victim or a Fighter and step forward as Peaceful Warriors that we truly are, to fight the battles inside rather than their reflections outside to allow our inner Light to shine through to make our world brighter than we found it.
That is why Kindness matters in Business. Because it gives us access to our authentic self and an opportunity to step into the Light of our inner Wisdom for us to operate at the highest levels of productivity, performance, creativity and innovation. That has definite economic outcome higher than available without highest levels of productivity, performance, creativity and innovation in people engaged in making the business work. There is a direct correlation between Kindness embodied in the culture of a Business and Profitability generated by the Business. Interestingly, you cannot tell or mandate people to be kind.
Leaving you with a question - How do you create a culture of kindness at work and at home?
Your fellow traveller in this Journey towards Purpose, Abundance and Contribution through the work we do, communities that we are a part of and families we are blessed to belong to,
Why is it important to be aware of what Wealth really means for us? Because without that understanding, we will end up hoarding the wrong currency and never experience abundance inspite of having all the wealth in the world.
Sharing what Wealth means for me to support you to go on a voyage of deeper self-inquiry to discover your own truth and find a simple path to freedom, abundance and prosperity.
Wealth for me is:
1. Time Freedom - which is the ability to own my own time. That is why inspite of all the wealth and titles in the corporate structure, I did not feel abundant.
2. Ability to live my purpose through the work I do - So, I hung up my corporate boots, 9 years ago, to walk towards an unknown future seeking not only Time Freedom; but also greater meaning, purpose and impact through my work.
3. Time carved out daily for physical, mental / intellectual, emotional, spiritual growth and development - If I don’t prioritise and take out time for this, I feel poorer by the end of the day.
4. Eating, playing and praying together as a family
5. Being engaged and involved with my parents’ lives - The time, financial and situation freedom to visit my parents, who live 5.5 hours away, for a day once-a-week makes me feel prosperous.
6. Challenging myself, physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and go beyond - Playing for black belt though I am as yet, at 45, only yellow belt in Karate has me jumping out of bed with excitement and a sense of a beautiful adventure. Playing to be a scratch player in golf though my current on-board handicap is 38 may sound like pollyanna optimism or plain Jane wishful thinking but choosing to invest in professional coaching with the country’s best coach, practising and playing makes me feel free and abundant. Inside of that experience of freedom and abundance, I witness high levels of productivity, performance and effectiveness at work and in all other areas of my life.
7. Building my will-power to wake up at dawn daily and be consistent with my morning personal practise - This has been a 30 year dream and I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on this dream.
See, dreams always come true. The question is - Are you willing to hang in with it for 30, 40, 50 years? Let only the God of Death separate you from your Dream, not the Jester that is the Mind.
8. Have joyous, authentic, emotionally uplifting, intellectually stimulating conversations - I have realised over the years that interesting conversations have more to do with me being interested in others than others being interesting.
9. Doing work that raises human consciousness, one person at a time - That is why I am so deeply in love with what I do (coaching) that it doesn’t feel like work. So, everyday is one big fun holiday for me. It can be for you too. Ask me and I will tell you how.
10. Read and write - I have integrated all that I love with my work. So daily reading the great masters of my field and writing an article or writing for my upcoming book is part of my Daily Top 5.
11. Going on vacations with the whole big extended family along with kids, spouse, parents, sisters and their families - This year all of us went on a cruise together. It took me 18 years to create this big bang vacation. Though 2 family members were missing on account of work commitments, I still feel the joy of having achieved a dream at 85%.
My next 2 plans are Kanatal (Uttarakhand) in November and Amritsar (Punjab) in March next year. By the way, I have learnt more about leadership and coaching, trying to get the whole family together on a vacation than all the classroom training I have attended :-)
12. Listening to music - This is such an easy win, though just realising that in working on the big ones on this list, I seem to have missed in creating one of the easiest. That is how most of us live life. We get so busy in chasing the big ones that the ones which we can catch with very little effort gets missed out.
13. Re-connecting with my heritage through learning to speak, read and write Punjabi (my mother tongue) and Hindi (our national language) fluently - Last month, I spent 3 weeks in Panchkula (twin city to Chandigarh, capital of Punjab and Haryana) where my parents stay. I usually make one day weekly pilgrimage there to check in on my aging parents and to do chores for them. I am usually so busy caught up in their lives that I don’t get to interact with anyone else. Or, we take vacations together that I hardly find myself really settling in there and experiencing the Punjabiyat of my heritage.
This time, my father had a surgery and I took off 3 weeks to be with him that gave me a chance to really polish my Punjabi. I experienced a strange sense of joy, a wonderful expansiveness, a delicious home-coming. We always spoke Hindi at home and as we grew up, God alone knows when, that suddenly we were speaking, thinking and dreaming in English.
I had a sudden rude awakening last year when I saw my kids struggling with Hindi. They were breezing through English exams but Hindi exams had them sweat. At that moment, I realised that I was stunting their growth as well as mine by weakening their and my roots; by alienating ourselves from our heritage, our languages, the very cradle of our creativity. Who we are would not grow tall in the world, live up to our highest potential if our roots weren’t strong enough; and our roots are Punjabi and Hindi. It’s great to know English. There’s a deep gratitude for the English language as it has been a window to the outside world for all of us in India. Though, while looking outside the window, we have forgotten to water our own roots. Then, how can we expect to fully flower and blossom to the highest that we are meant to be.
I cannot even come close to defining this strange joy I felt, a deep connection even with strangers as I conversed with them in my birth language. There was a melody and a sweet tinkling of gentle bells in and around me as I spoke and heard Punjabi with the hospital staff, our relatives, Dad’s friends; and my heart expanded with love for all beings.
I have always found that as we increase our connection with our own selves, our connection with all of Life expands. Can anything be more magical than that?
14. Giving back to the communities that I have the good fortune to be a part of - The big extended family that I come from, the village, state and the country I belong to, the religion that I am born into, the universal sisterhood of women that I am a part of, the condominium that I stay in, the schools and colleges I went to, the people I have worked with and those I work with, the various groups that I have joined for different reasons are all communities that I am a part of. Each of the communities have contributed to my growth and defined who I am. The only access for my ongoing growth is to give back to each of these communities for the cycle of energy, growth and evolution to be maintained.
So, though I buried myself behind books and kept myself isolated by my self-created walls during both my graduate and post-graduate schools for reasons that are part of another story, I felt the need to re-connect and contribute on my journey to complete parts of me which I had left behind in my past. This consciousness has me reach back to both the communities in an effort to reconnect with myself.
15. Playing sports - I grew up playing table tennis, lawn tennis, badminton, cricket, football, squash, pittoo (does anyone remember that game anymore), hopscotch, hide n seek, gallery and many more that I have smiling memories of. As I lost myself in the hubbub of Life (which really means I grew up), sports slowly vanished without me realising it. And, then golf happened that my love affair with sports started all over again and the wild excitement of being alive surged through my body once more, healing the wounds caused by the blows of Life.
Let me tell you a secret. Anything I love becomes a part of my Business Model, Parenting Model and Personal Growth Model. So, I play golf for work, play more golf along with kids and spouse as part of our family fun time and play even more to challenge myself to grow beyond what seems possible. You may want to try this tactic.
16. Become a person that I would like to give a thumbs up to when my physical body breathes its last and say - Life well lived, mate. Continue forth with your next adventure.
I am at different stages of collecting the above wealth; though the journey itself feels like as if I have found my way back home. Having defined what abundance really means has me experience freedom and prosperity like I have never experienced before; though I have a lot less cash at the moment than I have had at other points in my life.
The simplest way to discover what wealth, abundance, prosperity mean for you is to answer this question - If you had all the wealth in the world, what would you be doing that would have you be happy and at peace?
Make your list today and start your own journey towards fun, freedom and fulfilment.
I have found abundance in the way my Being understands it. May you find yours.
Photo Credit: www.thehansindia.com
A son of a coffee planter to a Billionaire Founder and Owner of India’s biggest coffee chain, Cafe Coffee Day, committed suicide earlier this week. His tragic end is a huge wake-up call for the Global Business Community and has learnings for all of us that we must pause to reflect and ruminate upon. And, hopefully, this helpless act of a powerful business magnate will trigger a transformation in the way we work and who we are as human beings.
1. His death is a reminder that a Business Model is not only made robust, profitable and sustainable by the business elements that define it; but also by the human depth of the founder and the leadership team, displayed by the fitness levels of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.
A business model’s effectiveness needs to be measured not only by the outer business elements, but also by the inner human elements of the people engaged in that business.
We mostly get carried away by what is visible - number of outlets, number of employees, turnover, number of cities, national vs global presence etc. - that we miss the foundation on which all of this is standing.
The foundation is the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of the person at the helm of the business, who is leading from the front. The business really ends up being a mirror of who she or he really is, what his / her personal, leadership and business habits are.
2. In the light of the above point, it is important that the leadership team at the helm including the CEO / Founder / Business Owner have a mentoring / coaching structure so that they are building themselves to be the world’s best physical, emotional, mental and spiritual athletes; without which a great business cannot be built.
3. The reason that the leaders don’t create a support structure for themselves is because as a society we tend to idolise those who have created ‘success’. So, the idols fail to realise that they too need to continuously learn, grow and evolve with the support of others.
Sooner, as a society, we realise, encourage and walk towards a relationship of equals between all, irrespective of all labels; the sooner will we all experience freedom to be and less pressure for all to put up a brave face to hide a sad reality within.
4. Don’t replace ‘building a sustainable business’ with ‘raising money’. Let the money in the business ecosystem be because the customers are crazy about your product / service, not your investors.
5. Just as highest levels of fitness across the 4 bodies of the Being of the Founder / CEO is the real foundation of the business model, so is Integrity. Without integrity, the business will fall sooner or later. Sooner is better because then there is less damage. Though unfortunately, mostly it is later where both direct and collateral damage is massive.
6. Create, own and enjoy wealth but don’t be owned by it. At the end of it all, you can take none of it with you. If you can’t take it with you, then all you really are is the custodian of all the wealth that you create.
So, why be perturbed when you have less of it or somebody takes it away from you or become jubilant when you have more of it. It is this emotional instability that causes so much of the stress and heartburn we have.
Yes, it is a lot of hard work to reach that balance. Yet, the struggle to reach there is totally worth it allowing you to experience ‘happiness without a cause or reason’, which is when happiness can truly be yours.
7. We are part of an energy system and every action we take has an impact. We cannot act as if what we do only has an impact on us. Imagine what Siddhartha’s 2 sons, one in college and the other as yet in school) and his wife must be going through.
Of course, the net worth of Cafe Coffee Day fell. Probably worse than the fall of the net worth, which is easier to re-build, is the widespread discouragement and disillusionment experienced by his employees and aspiring entrepreneurs.
8. You don’t need fancy foreign degrees to build big business. A local school and college is just as good. All that matters is the size of your dream.
9. One really doesn’t know what anyone around us is really going through on the inside. Choosing to act and speak from a place of loving kindness is probably the biggest difference we can make to people in our lives, known and unknown.
10. Being a Fighter is exhausting. What would serve us is embracing the way of the Peaceful Warrior, who knows that the real battles are really on the inside and, therefore, all battles on the outside are merely reflections of the chaos inside.
You can’t kill the reflections by shooting them. Shooting the attachment and being ok with owning nothing after building an empire ground up may be a lesson one is meant to learn and having learnt that, it is likely that no pressure on the outside can cause the balance to disrupt on the inside.
That is what stress really is - disruption of the inner emotional balance.
11. What has spirituality got to do with all of this? Everything because a spiritual perspective gives us a higher meaning and purpose to all that we do from moment to moment. It strengthens in us childlike trust and faith, giving us the ability to see the gift in all challenges along the journey of life and to receive them gratefully.
Loved the story of a doctor that I read in Mother Teresa’s Biography sometime back. His pregnant wife and unborn child were battling death. On being asked what he was praying for; he replied he was praying for the strength and faith to accept God’s will, whatever that maybe. This spiritual perspective is the only way to access emotional balance, which is necessary to create anything masterful, genius-level and extraordinary on a sustainable basis.
Siddhartha’s soul will rest in peace if we can learn and live the above lessons from his life and death because then, how he lived and how he died would not be in vain.
My 74 years old mother always has interesting stories to share that I love listening to, even at 45 :-) I listen to them with greater fascination and enthusiasm as I am growing older. There’s always a hidden gold nugget for me to take away, a truth beautifully wrapped in an engaging story presented in a whole new way that it sticks even more deeply than ever before. Here’s a recent story she told me that still has me smiling.
A king cut his finger and shared his plight with his wise minister, who responded by saying - “That’s good.” The king was furious and threw his minister in the jail. The minister smiled a knowing smile at his predicament and said - “That’s good.”
The next day, the king went for a hunt in the nearby jungle. He got captured by a tribe looking for a human sacrifice to appease the Gods. When their priest was getting him ready for the sacrifice, he saw his cut finger and turned towards the tribal leaders to tell them that the captive was not fit for sacrifice as he was not whole and complete. The tribals let him go.
The king ran as fast as he could towards his palace. And, the first thing he did on reaching his palace was to release his wise minister from the jail. He summoned him to the court and told him - I now understand why cutting my finger was a good thing. But, what was the good in your going to the jail?
The minister smiled and replied - Oh, King. If I weren’t in the jail, I would have accompanied you to the jungle and would have got captured along with you. After letting you go because of your cut finger, they would have sacrificed me. Thank Goodness, I was in the jail because of which I am still alive.
I smile as I look back in life at every situation that felt like the worst possible circumstance to be in. It always turned out in a way that changed the direction of my life towards something better, bigger, brighter. Whether it was a job that I didn’t get or professional growth that didn’t come at a satisfactory pace or a relationship that didn’t work or sickness or the struggle of building my business or NOs to my numerous requests / ideas / proposals. Each situation that I have resisted and fought hard against turned out to be a gift that I only saw when I gave up the struggle after getting tired of fighting and banging my head against a wall.
I had an opportunity to sit with my 75 years old dad and his equally young friend for a day and a half at the hospital waiting for a battery of tests that Dad had to undergo. In our culture, parents’ friends are like your own uncles and aunts. And, Kharbanda Uncle had us, at the same time, laughing and in deep awe of the insights that we discovered in his stories. He kept Dad and me in great cheerful and positive energy inspite of the fact that we had recently discovered that Dad has a large tumour ticking away like a time-bomb in his brain.
Will share two insights from the many that I took away from those conversations. He spoke about the concept of “akaaran khushi” which translates to “Happiness without a reason”. He said that as long as our happiness is for a reason, then it is not true and will not sustain. Real happiness is from deep inside and is for no reason. Our purpose as humans is to learn to evolve from being happy for a reason to being happy for no reason.
The second insight was that our physical tiredness begins the moment we allow dislike for what we are doing enter our mind. Liking or disliking what we are doing or what we have in our circumstance is our choice. The moment we allow our mind to embrace what there is; tiredness, exhaustion, stress and hence dis-ease leaves us.
Within 10 days of discovering Dad had a brain tumour, my sisters and I found ourselves outside the operation theatre. Fortunately for us, our mother has taught us to trust Nature and the process of Life. And, to make the choice to be happy and grateful, trusting the goodness in everything that comes our way. She had another story for us to remind us of her teaching.
One set of parents came crying to the doctor - “Save our only son. Doctor, save our only child.” The wise Doctor pronounced that the son would take a long time to heal. The second set of parents, their emotional energy centred and peaceful, came to the doctor and said - “Our son is not well. Please heal him.” The Doctor responded - “Your child will heal fast.”
That reminded me of a real story I had read of 2 cancer patients with the same prognosis, on the same treatment protocol, in the same hospital, at the same stage of disease. Though there was a big difference in their Being. I don’t use the word attitude because it is skin-deep. Attitude comes from who you are as a Human Being. You may practise to have the right attitude but it doesn’t shift a thing till it doesn’t come from deep inside you, from your very Being of the Human that you are. So, the story goes, the first lady was sad, angry and upset with her cancer diagnosis while the second lady was happy and cheerful inspite of her cancer diagnosis. Few months later, the first one died because of cancer; and the second lady won the battle against cancer and survived.
So, my sisters and I spent the 7 hours, that Dad was inside getting his surgery done, in deep joyous conversations deepening our connection with each other even further after many years of being lost in the maze of life. The doctor who was conspicuous in hardly speaking a reassuring word to us or even smiling kindly at us to allay our fears before the surgery, came out smiling from the Operation Theatre and pronounced that the surgery was successful, they had been able to remove the entire tumour and that Dad was in a stable condition.
I have lot more stories to share. Let that be the material of my next conversation with you.
Love, gratitude and reverence for all of Life and that includes you,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.