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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.