I had to prioritize to pick up one task to do out of three on the list. I chose the one which was the toughest because I have seen what I resist the most gives me my greatest growth. Review your top 20% to see if you have chosen those tasks on the list that are uncomfortable and difficult. Chances are if they are not, your 80% impact may not come about; irrespective of Pareto's promise
If you are willing to have uncomfortable conversations, willing to be uncomfortable, willing to step out of your comfort zone, willing to go against your grain; the growth and freedom you will experience would be worth it. I travelled to USA for a training program to deepen my coaching skills. My usual style is to take copious notes, sit in the front row and ask the maximum questions. I took my coach's recommendation and dropped my usual style. In spite of having invested heavily for being at the program; I took no notes, managed to remain shut and sat somewhere in the middle. I came away with greater confidence in what I do instead of a notebook full of information, the secret joy of hearing my own voice and experiencing being significant. The self-awareness that I experienced as an outcome of choosing to act against my grain was the biggest gift of all, giving me 10 times the return on my investment.
Growth happens only outside the comfort zone. In the comfort zone, we have been lulled to sleep by routines and habits that the brain creates to be energy efficient. That is surely a gift because we use less energy to go about our life, though it has a dark side to it. When we are reacting and responding to life in an automatic fashion because of energy efficient routines and habits, we lose self-awareness and opportunity to grow further. Awareness and present momentness is heightened when the environment (outside and inside us) is different from the usual. In response to the change in the environment, the 'biologically trained for survival' brain shifts into super-alert mode which brings about deep self-awareness and present momentness creating a space for INSIGHTS.
Insights involves gaining sudden knowledge of a possible solution to a problem without trial and error. They are also called Aha or Eureka Moments. They can also be experienced as a reflective 'That's funny'. Access to insights accelerates learning, growth and evolution. We access insights by integrating new knowledge, acquired through continual learning, with what we already know and through inquiry & reflection.
As I sat there in the program, forcing myself to sit in the middle and not distract myself from getting present to what was within by taking notes or asking questions, I got present to so many fears hiding inside and insights that had me go 'Hmmm / That's funny / Aha / That's interesting / OMG'. Fear of being looked down upon. Needing people to look up to me. Needing people to admire me and give me attention to have me experience I am loved and wanted. Fear of being ignored. Fear of being rejected for not being good enough. That is why the neediness to be the best in whatever I did, that is why the yearning to be unconditional Love. Those are my dark truths I discovered in those few days, as I left the crutch of losing myself on the outside to hide from myself what was inside.
I crumbled when a mom, a local fellow participant, shouted at me as I stepped in closer to smile at her baby - Don't touch my baby! In that crumbling, I found my ugly truth. It wasn't racism in her but the racism in me that I got present to. I recognised how my nose-in-the-air and uber pride in my Indian heritage attracted the very thing to me that I was dumping on everything I saw in this foreign land. I remembered how I made everyone wash their hands before touching my first-born; stressfully paranoid about her well-being that made me insensitive about people around me, that I ended up hurting even people who loved me and I loved. The Universe always gives you back exactly what you give to the world. What you give is what you'll always receive. Newton did discover this secret when he declared his third law that every action has equal and opposite reaction. In our philosophy, we call it the law of the Karma. What you sow is exactly what you'll reap. And yet, in that instant, all I could experience was deep hurt and an almost unconscious reaction of making her wrong.
I ran away from my AirBnB in Los Angeles, where I was attending the training, at 10:30 pm on tip-toes because I had a visceral experience of fear in my body as I opened the door to step in to find the owner with 3 other men partying loudly in the lounge upstairs. I experienced fear in my body, though my stand for the world is Love. Some years before, I wouldn't have had the wisdom to honour what my body felt. That day I honoured the fear coursing through my body, I didn't stuff it under the carpet and pretend to be strong and brave when I didn't really feel strong and brave. I swallowed my pride and walked back to the hotel where I was attending the seminar to stay the night there. I knew fear attracts what fear fears. In that moment, I didn't have the strength to be Love and Childlike Trust and Faith. I was ashamed of it and yet that was the truth.
I knew that I had to have a conversation with the gentleman from whose AirBnB I ran away from and tell him the truth. The very thought of that conversation killed me with painful embarrassment. Though I knew I had done the right thing by honouring what I felt viscerally and yet I knew I had wronged the gentleman by not trusting and I needed to own that up. Finally, from the airport on the way to San Francisco, I called him and apologised for running away and for not trusting him. All he said was he was sorry he didn't create a safe space for me to be comfortable. I felt complete and I sensed he felt complete too.
That is what I always find - freedom beyond every uncomfortable conversation I am willing to have, freedom beyond every action I take to do what I resist and fear. In that trip, the wall disconnecting me from other human beings crumbled a bit more because I had done everything that was uncomfortable - borrowed money from dad at 44 when I had sworn at 16 years old never to take support from dad or from anyone else, hibernated a business that wasn't going in the direction I was inspired to take it to focus on the new business that filled me with passion, joyous inspiration and deep connection to my purpose of life, travelled alone beyond the cosy comfort of my home country, stayed in an AirBnB when staying at the hotel felt more safe, sat quietly instead of asking the most intelligent questions and taking copious notes.
Back home, saw the limiting patterns I was caught up with my spouse and challenged them. Good wasn't good enough anymore. I wanted an even deeper relationship, I wanted the relationship to live up to the original promise of physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth instead of the insipidness and monotony of daily existence. It took enormous courage to challenge the most fundamental of my relationships without knowing where this would land me. So much of unsaid hurt and upset had got collected under the carpet that I was scared of calling it out in the fear of upsetting the boat, in the paper-ghost fear of 'I am not good enough, I am not worthy' hiding in the basement of my psyche. In that standing up to embrace the truth of my being; the wall between me and myself finally sighed, crumbled and fell apart. The wheels of our relationship are beginning to turn a little differently. I have known the Universe to fulfil all our intentions and realise all our dreams only if we are willing to fully trust and accept with gratitude all that she gives us as her gifts for our growth because almost all the times, we have to become bigger than who we are to have the strength to fulfil our intentions and realise our greatest dreams in deepest communion with our highest self.
I acknowledge the shame of all my fears, neediness and yearning; and in that acknowledgement, embrace all of them. The embrace has finally started to feel authentic. I am willing to hold the embrace for as long as I feel the resistance. I have driven at night number of times in Delhi and Gurgaon on account of volunteering my time to assist in various programs and seminars that have contributed to me. I was always present to the fear lurking inside of what may go wrong. I drove fighting that fear, gulping it down. The other day I drove at night to meet my sister who had flown on a last minute decision to Delhi from Calcutta to attend an Army conference. I drove in such freedom that I had never known before, with an experience of a deep connection with fellow human beings. I knew in that moment that the wall inside me had fully crumbled and vanished. And, it was my task to do all that it took to stop that wall from building ever again and in that create a space for fellow beings to walk the path to come home to themselves.
A great business, personal mastery, a life that impacts all of humanity, loving harmonious relationships, happy responsible kids with their inner genius fully expressed are the outcomes built on the foundation of coming home to oneself. Have I reached? All I can say is that I am a work-in-progress, totally inspired by the ideals I talk and write about, hoping to live all of these ideals by the time my work is done this lifetime.
Wishing you the joy, fulfilment and freedom of the journey.
My caddy said you are hitting the ball too hard, that is why it is not going far. The funny thing is that I couldn't get a sense of that in my body. I was merely swinging the club. I couldn't do any other way because I had no awareness of it. I had to keep looking at the caddy for feedback till I got a sense how it felt different when he said I was hitting the ball vs when he said I was swinging without applying force. Not only was the feeling different, the outcome was totally different. In the first case, I felt pressure and stress in the body and the ball just carried through a short distance. In the second case, the body flowed rhythmically for an effortless swing followed by a deeply satisfying sound of the club connecting with the ball and the ball going the distance as never before.
Isn't that exactly how business is and every other area of our life? If we are working too hard, chances are we are using the wrong approach and we would not have results in alignment with our intention. Chances are also that we wouldn't even know our approach is not effective till somebody mirrors it back to us. Therefore, the critical importance of having mentors, coaches, advisors to not only show the mirror to us for us to know how we are unknowingly messing up but also for us to learn the right technique for maximum output with minimum effort.
The other day on the golf course during our weekly family game, my 9-year old son told me candidly after a rather insipid shot from me - "You are not serious about your game. You don't even have a coach." I was amused in that moment, though the truth of what he said hit me hard that immediately after the game, I set myself up with a golf coach :-) The investment in golf coaching is a stretch beyond my budget at the moment when more basic needs have to be met, I am still going for it because I realised I wasn't going to progress much without it. I will keep spending hours in the range practising and yet see no improvement on the course because I would be practising the wrong swing without even knowing it.
Golf is a priority, just as business and family is. For me, the progress in each is inter-related. I am a container and that container with the same content moves from golf to business to family relationships. If I give myself the permission for mediocrity in golf, I would not only lose interest after a point but I would also carry the mediocrity consciousness to other areas of my life. Therefore, golf is not only where I get to spend amazing time with my family in the greenest and freshest part of the city but also is a way for me to practise being a container for mastery consciousness. That is why excellence in my game is important for me. I may not be there as yet, but that is what keeps me going; otherwise I would have quit long back.
That is why one of my strongest recommendations to my clients is to pick up a sport to play for excellence because it is a wonderful practise ground for essential leadership skills needed to grow the business which cannot be learnt even in the world's best universities - mastery consciousness, unlearning and relearning, being coachable, failing and yet getting up to play again with retired hurt not being an option, focus, agility of mind, practising and practising to master a new skill, learning to have fun, learning to have relationship of equals with fellow players, integrity, greater self-awareness of the mind, body, emotions and the spirit leading to greater intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual intelligence. Since each one of us is a container, what we learn on the playground we carry to our businesses. Watch your business grow as you bring these leadership skills to your workplace.
The inefficiency that most people create when they pick up a sport is that they pick up a sport in which their family is not engaged. Doing that ensures that playing adds to your list of stress-creators as your spouse becomes resentful of yet another activity that keeps you away from home. And if your spouse is not resentful, you will play with a sense of guilt that anyway adds to your stress.
A sport is a beautiful way to hold the family together and coach your kids on leadership skills that cannot be effectively taught in schools nor in any afterschool program because it is the responsibility of parents and is not available for outsourcing. You wouldn't want to wait for them to go the best Universities to learn leadership skills either because it is too late by then. We humans learn best from our parents as we are growing and learning what it means to be a human being. In the age of shrinking time; eating food together as a family without the distraction of the device, praying together as a family, playing together as a family has to be consciously created by the leaders at home (parents). In eating, praying, playing together; kids learn to be centred in who they are as human beings and grounded in values which is what will ensure that they are leaders and lead themselves and people around them to joyous, deeply fulfilling success in the expression of their inner genius.
Though easier said than done. To get the family together to play, pray, eat together without the device takes real leadership depth :-) It took me 5 years to finally get the four of us to play golf twice a week as a family ritual. On the course, the challenge of being a parent (a leader at home) is most evident because you cannot distract yourself away from what is not working. Each one of us has come a long way. Earlier, it would be me losing my centre and my temper at the kids for being so competitive with each other that instead of focussing on their own game, each would wilfully disrupt the other's game. I remember one of the kids remembering to hum only when the other kid was trying to focus on their swing. It sounds funny now but it was downright frustrating and irritating then. The anger and the upset that the kids displayed most visibly when their shots didn't go the way they wanted them to. My spouse threatening to stop playing the family games if the kids didn't start behaving on the course. He confessed later how many times he stopped himself from slapping them. Well, the truth is, at those angry moments, I would have loved to do that too though I always held back like him and true to my container self, showed up exactly how I was in life then - withdraw all communication seething with anger within. That was how our weekly games were.
I was grateful for our weekly golf games even then because when I got my centre back, I recognised what a tremendously powerful training ground for leadership the weekly games were for all of us. Over the years, kids learnt that getting upset and angry only ruins their game, that it is more effective to focus on their own self than worry about what's happening with somebody else, that throwing the club on the ground after a bad swing only breaks the club and takes away the game from them, that there is a technique that they need to master, that it is better to sweat on the practise ground than bleed on the battle ground, that fitness is critical to play a great game, that eating healthy food besides regularly exercising was the way to be fit. Where else could I have coached them on these leadership skills?
I am learning to enjoy the game instead of playing with deadpan seriousness, learning to accept kids the way they are and not expect them to behave a certain way, recognising the need to be coached ongoingly, learning to forgive myself and not make myself wrong for not playing well, understanding that I cannot progress without building my own fitness & stamina and putting in structures for that, learning to not bring my upsets with the family to the golf course, learning to not get upset and angry :-) And, most importantly, learning that if you hold on to your intention for long enough through thick and thin, it gets fulfilled.
As for my spouse, he has learnt to love the kids unconditionally just as I have and comes back to play week on week at the cost of his games with his golf buddies. As a family, we have moved forward emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually over the last 5 years. And, yes, as a family we are going to graduate ourselves to 18-hole from 9-hole games :-)
Wishing you, your family and your business the joy of the game and the growth that it brings for you in each area of your life.
There's an outrage whenever an injustice shows its head in the public domain. Media - print, television, social - add fuel to the fire and suddenly everywhere we have indignation, anger, upset, sadness, righteousness in all of us. Experiments have proven that when the body has negative emotions, then the brain shuts down. That means, we have no access to innovation, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to solve something which is obviously a problem, at the time we need it the most.
Let me define what a solution is - It is a construct which
a. increases love, compassion and reverence in the environment
b. starts the work to solve the issue at the source, not at the surface
c. makes people more connected with each other
Look at a social problem as a business problem and suddenly, we have access. When we have a business problem that reduces productivity, performance and effectiveness; what do we do. We put on our creative, thinking hats and do process innovation. Do we wait for the CEO to do the process innovation?
Maybe that is where the problem is that we keep waiting for the government or someone else to solve the problem instead of experiencing any power within to solve the condition we spend hours complaining about or completely ignoring.
If you are in a developing country, running away to a developed nation is not the solution as the problems of your mother country still remain in your consciousness. You heal the problems in your consciousness only by being a part of the solution.
If you are in a developed country, putting your head in the sand as the proverbial ostrich doesn't serve you either because what ails your country ails you too, even though it may not seem to at the surface.
Making ourselves unconscious of what limitations and negativity surrounds us, unconsciously limits us and drains our power to live at the highest level of who we are meant to be. Complaining about what is not working around us only increases what does not work within us; and can only lead to disharmony and lack of joyous fulfilment.
I came across this poem that hit hard:
My Dying Conscience by Rashmi Trivedi
Sometimes in the dark of the night
I visit my conscience
To see if it is still breathing
For its dying a slow death
When I pay for a meal in a fancy place
An amount which is perhaps the monthly income
Of the guard who holds the door open
And quickly I shrug away that thought
It dies a little.
When I buy vegetables from the vendor
And his son "chhotu" smilingly weighs the potatoes
Chhotu, a small child, who should be studying at school
I look the other way
It dies a little.
When I am decked up in a designer dress
A dress that cost a bomb
And I see a woman at the crossing
In tatters, trying unsuccessfully to save her dignity
And I immediately roll up my window
It dies a little.
When I buy expensive gifts for my children
On return, I see half clad children
With empty stomach and hungry eyes
Selling toys at red light
I try to salve my conscience by buying some, yet
It dies a little.
When my sick maid sends her daughter to work
Making her bunk school
I know I should tell her to go back
But I look at the loaded sink and dirty dishes
And I tell myself that is just for a couple of days
It dies a little.
When I hear about a rape
or a murder of a child,
I feel sad, yet a little thankful that it's not my child
I can not look at myself in the mirror
It dies a little.
When people fight over caste, creed and religion
I feel hurt and helpless
I tell myself that my country is going to the dogs
I blame the corrupt politicians
Absolving myself of all responsibilities
It dies a little.
When my city is choked
Breathing is dangerous in the smog ridden metropolis
I take my car to work daily
Not taking the metro, not trying car pool
One car won't make a difference, I think
It dies a little.
So when in the dark of the night
I visit my conscience
And find it still breathing
I am surprised
For, with my own hands
Daily, bit by bit, I kill it, I bury it.
Ignoring the problems around us kills us slowly from the inside. Complaining about the problems reduce our power to fulfil our intentions and realise our dreams. And, yet there's another way, the way of a Peaceful Warrior.
Here's what you and I can do:
1. Shift our Energy State:
Based on Dr Hawkins’ research of 29 years as published in The Power of Intention by Dr Wayne Dyer -
a. One individual who lives and vibrates to the energy of optimism and a willingness to be non-judgmental of others will counter-balance the negativity of 90,000 individuals who calibrate at the lower weakening levels.
b. One individual who lives and vibrates to the energy of pure love and reverence for all of life will counter-balance the negativity of 750,000 individuals who calibrate at the lower weakening levels.
A negative energy state shuts down our creativity and innovativeness. In such a state, we cannot create powerful, effective solutions. Counter-intuitively, what helps in a limiting situation that upsets us is not to get upset and instead create tranquility, equanimity, love and reverence within.
Yes, I hear you when you say easier said than done. It is easier said than done because this requires a massive shift in our consciousness by dropping limiting habits across the 4 bodies (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) of our Being and adopting growth habits. I call this Leadership Depth. This is how you become a great leader, at work and at home.
Funny thing is we all know what are the limiting habits that we allow to reside in us and what are the growth habits that will speed us forward to the fulfilment of our purpose of life. Though, we are not inspired to take action. Let the knowledge, that when we shift on the inside, the world outside will shift, give us the inspiration. The world outside begins with our children. What limiting habits we are not able to drop, our children will inherit in terms of lethargy of the body, limiting thoughts and emotions and the consequent diseases. Why would we want to pass that on to our children?
The wealth that we are speeding to create for them will not stop the diseases, limiting thoughts and emotions from being transmitted to them. If we really love our children, let us leave a legacy of world class habits by inculcating them in ourselves that will transform the environment around us. Our kids will benefit not only by inheriting world class habits but also by a much more joyous environment around them.
Here are some growth habits we can consider adopting:
a. Stopping to give way to the pedestrians, accepting that the roads belong to them and not to the cars that are zooming past. I learnt this habit from Dubai, where to my happy surprise, a car stopped for me to cross the street though there was no traffic signal and it was the only car. The driver needn't have stopped for me but it did and warmed my heart as the driver smilingly waved at me to cross.
b. Smile genuinely at everyone, even at strangers. It was scary, at first, because of the instinctual fear at the core of who we are. Though, this habit fills my heart like nothing else to see the face of another human being transform dramatically and light up with a beautiful giving and receiving of authentic human connection. I especially love wishing, looking into the eyes and smiling at those who are habituated to being ignored - waiters at the restaurants, guards at our condominiums and malls, helpers at cinema halls and airports, housekeeping staff.
Having been a coach and a student of what creates greatness in a human being, my observation is that there is such a strong wall of resentment and fear between men and women in the world. Though, if you scratch the surface, all you will really find is fear of not being loved, not being worthy and a deep yearning to make a difference.
c. Give away 10% of your salary or 1% of your income to charity. Even in the lean years of my business, I followed this principle. It left me with such a peaceful sense of abundance that I hardly felt the scarcity or lack.
Yes, there are tons of more habits to make yourself beautiful and feel centred. Study the people who inspire you, people who contributed massively through their work and their lives and you will unearth a treasure trove of growth habits that will make your heart sing and feet dance all the way to what is the highest in you.
2. Find the Source Within
For every ill outside, I find it effective to find the source within by looking in the mirror and working on that.
Nobody follows traffic rules in the country. I ensure I wait at every red signal even if there is no traffic and it's pretty late in the night. I wear my seat belt. I don't use my mobile while driving. My children are watching me, even if nobody else is. I am watching myself even if kids are not in the car.
There is so much poverty all around. I support my 12 hours home support staff to find a job as I need someone for 24 hours. I use my day off to help her get a bank account even though she will not be working with me anymore.
There is so much pollution around. I get the children to walk back home instead of picking them up in the car.
3. Action on a Daily Basis
I was unconscious before. I worked on myself to become conscious of the fact that I am responsible for all that happens in my space. I continue the work on myself to take one tiny action at a time. It may not cause a revolution in the world but I know it makes a difference. It makes a difference to me. I come home to myself with every tiny action that I take. It feels good, I feel rested and embraced in the love and joy that is all around me.
Wishing you the joy of pulling the thick dark curtain down between you and your light.
Acknowledgements: Rashmi Trivedi, author from India and Chief Manager with Indian Oil Corporation. Thank you for beautifully capturing our collective conscience through your poem, Rashmi. More power to you to keep making a difference.
Hat Tip to: Akash Gandhi who shared the poem with us in our college whatsapp group. Thank you, Akash for providing inspiration for this article.
There are two boys - Ram and Shyam. Ram loves studying and learning, enjoys the understanding he experiences of the world around him, has a sense of wonderment and joyous curiosity about all that he is learning, an awe for new things he discovers through the process of studying all the different subjects at school, each subject a window into a whole new world. Studying and learning is the end in itself for him. His total attention is in the moment; his whole Being fills up with intent, focus, joy and passion while he is studying.
Shyam loves studying and learning, he wants to come first so that he can get into the best college, get the best job for the best salary to take care of his aging parents and his kids when they are born, so that he can live the lifestyle he is used to living and even better it, so that he can give a break to his elder sister, who is supporting the household, to discover her passions.
Who do you think is living with greater joy and grace? Who do you think will create greater success and wealth? Who do you think will make a bigger difference to his family, communities, country and the world? Who do you think will be more happy, at greater peace with himself and the world, and more deeply fulfilled. And, why?
Shyam may get into a better college, get a better job, have more money in the short-term; though he will end up with an empty heart, if he finds time from his busy life to look into his eyes in the mirror.
I know it because I lived with Shyam consciousness up until 2010, tons of money in the bank, designation to show-off to the world, shiny cars, large beautiful condominium and a job that had begun to have no meaning along with everything else; though I began working with so much passion and enthusiasm. I studied to come first to get appreciation and approval of my dad, became a Vice-President with speed to bask in my father's pride and external applause from my family, friends & colleagues. I speeded for 36 years like this doing something to get something else; and then, I could not live with Shyam consciousness anymore, could not bear the heavy thud of my hollow heart, could not understand though I had everything I wanted including my dream job; and yet why it didn't fulfil. I stepped out of the corporate world in search of myself; did massive amount of inner work to figure my purpose, my meaning, my raison d'être and ended up as a coach to journey with people to come home to themselves.
I thought I did everything that I wanted. Now, I realise I did everything I wanted by clamping down and fighting the inner demon, the shameful secret fear in the basement of my psyche that kept telling me - I am not enough, I am not worthy, that something outside of me will make me enough, that something outside of me will make me worthy. I did everything that I wanted not from freedom; but from guilt, from the spirit of a Fighter, from the sense of rebelliousness, fighting the world outside instead of the demons inside. I drove on the roads of Delhi at night, dropped my corporate job, built my first business, over-functioned in my relationship with my spouse, emotionally cocooned myself in my relationship with my kids with an air of bravado, a pretence of being bigger and having more courage than what I really felt inside.
What got me to where I am is because I kept walking the path of inner growth, seeking out books, coaches and programs for personal growth and development while I re-built my life, personally and professionally. Somewhere along the journey, the wall finally broke connecting me to the Peaceful Warrior within, turning inside to fight my fears instead of fighting their reflections in the world outside.
Today I study even more massively than before, though no longer for any awards or recognition. I have studied and learnt more in the last 8 years and with so much more joy and passion than in the 36 years before; though the 36 years includes 12 years of school education, 4 years for an engineering degree, 2 years for an MBA and years of on-the-job studying & learning. The study that I do now is not even visible to others. It is for my own personal journey towards mastering my craft of coaching. I feel centred with Ram consciousness, experiencing the pure joy and deep fulfilment of learning, growing and evolving for the sake of the pure joy and deep fulfilment of learning, growing and evolving.
Doing something for itself and not for anything else.
Learning for the joy of learning, not because of the certificate you will get or a promotion that may follow. Working for the joy of working, not because you will get a salary or higher income for it. Connecting with another for the joy of a conversation and fulfilment of having made a difference, not because a sale may end up happening or another agenda may get fulfilled.
Why? Because when you do something for the sake of getting something else, you don't really enjoy what you are doing. The impact of not enjoying what we do is that it reduces our creativity, innovativeness, productivity, performance and effectiveness. You may create a good outcome, though not a great one. You may create a good business, though not a great business. You may create a good life, though not a great life.
Unfortunately, our rewards and incentive culture teaches us to do something for something else very early on in life. Drawing from hundreds of studies, Alfie Kohn demonstrates that people actually do inferior work when they are enticed with money, grades, or other incentives. Programs that use rewards to change people’s behavior are similarly ineffective over the long run. Promising goodies to children for good behavior can never produce anything more than temporary obedience. In fact, the more we use artificial inducements to motivate people, the more they lose interest in what we’re bribing them to do. Rewards turn play into work, and work into drudgery.
That is why it is important to not let financial independence or wealth creation be the end goal for your business. It will soon turn what you are passionate about into drudgery. Run your business for the joy of craft mastery (learning to be the master of your craft for the sake of learning to be the master of your craft), business excellence (to be of service to your customer community for the sake of making a difference to them and contributing to their lives) and leadership depth (to rise from evolutionary fear to transcendent love) instead of for wealth creation. In shifting this focus, you will create not only more impact but more wealth than you could have ever imagined.
Wishing you the joy of the journey to come home to yourself.
Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
After a point, getting your direct team to take action in alignment with your vision and in partnership with each other becomes the biggest bottleneck for business growth. One CEO I was talking to yesterday lamented how he had been driving home the point to his team during every Monday morning standing meeting on tough action to be taken and all he had received for the last few months is a yes from few who never took action and silent shuffling of feet from the rest.
Another CEO felt his team never kept pace with the massive amount of creative ideas for business growth that he was generating. Yet another CEO experienced a silent mutiny from his most powerful direct report because the CEO had been hired from outside, ignoring the CFO's ambitions to sit in the corner office. Another client shared how he felt his team just wasn't scaling up with action and there was a lot to ask for as far as velocity to respond to market situations and customer demand was concerned.
I am usually approached to transform the senior leadership team to become more agile, more open to new ideas, more quick to implement, more coachable, more receptive to feedback, more open to learning, have greater leadership depth, be more collaborative and more of a lot many other things to support business growth. It always turns out that I end up coaching the CEO to become more agile, more open to new ideas, more quick to implement, more coachable, more receptive to feedback, more open to learning, have greater leadership depth, be more collaborative and more of a lot many other things for business to grow.
Here are few ideas to help you transform your direct team to become powerful allies for each other and for you that together you lead your business from good to great for deeply fulfilling, joyous, sustainable success:
1. Your team and your organisation is your mirror. If you find something missing out there, it would support you to look in the mirror for the source of that. Start there.
2. The only way to inspire others to support you to realise your dreams is to really understand what their dreams are and be committed to support them to realise theirs, even if it seems on the surface to be conflicting with yours.
3. Drop your masks and armours so that they can drop theirs. A great team is built when members can connect to each other with authenticity and vulnerability.
4. Do 10 times what you ask them to do. That is what leadership is and you are their leader.
5. Trust them so that they can trust you.
6. Become their coach. As their leader, it is your responsibility to be their coach to support them to reach their highest self and not outsource this responsibility.
7. Live your values, mission and vision instead of talking about it. Non-verbal communication has greater impact than the words you use.
8. Become coachable so that they become coachable. Being coachable means having the ability to look inside for the mess outside.
9. Give self-care the highest importance. Then only will you be authentically be able to care for others.
10. Be compassionate love and kindness so that they become compassionate love and kindness. This is the secret sauce of a company on the way to greatness.
11. Make personal mastery your mantra and grow physically, emotionally, mentally / intellectually and spiritually; so that your team and subsequently your organisation lives from mastery and excellence consciousness, making a dent in the Universe.
12. Lead with questions so that your team generates ideas and solutions, not you.
13. Constantly learn, unlearn and relearn so that your direct reports are eternal students and create a learning organisation.
14. Have the agility of mind to wrap your head 360 degree around any reality to have the ability to see the truth in every point of view, however contradictory. So that your team bring in understanding and reverence for their peers' views to collaborate with each other for business growth instead of running to you to solve their conflicts.
15. Learn to communicate in the world of others by using silence as your gift. Communication is 90% listening and 10% talking. In that 10%, only asking questions to allow for more listening to happen.
16. Be the world of integrity. What you say, you do at the time you said you would do it, the way you said you would do it; however much it hurts you, irrespective of to whom you may have given your word. Be like this and your team will never say yes and not do it.
17. Let humility and gratefulness be your essence that it powers others in your space to become stars; to have the strength and courage to remove the dark curtain of ignorance between them and their light.
18. Be the least interesting person in the room to give space to others to become leaders. Choose being interested instead of being interesting. Your leadership success will come from creating more leaders, not more followers because more leaders drives your business up and more followers only leads your business to a certain death in a future not so far away. Choose compassionate love and reverence over charisma, all the time.
19. Have the vision that brings tears to your eyes. Have a vision to make a dent in the Universe to give your team the invigorating, refreshing, exhilarating, rejuvenating energy of a crusade, of a revolution, of transformation, of building cathedrals overs cutting stones. Have a vision that has the power of giving you the purpose of your life so that it gives your team the purpose of their life.
20. Have relationship of equals. Have the same reverence for your office boy as for your biggest client. This is the energy you need to grow leaders.
21. Know you are here to be of service - to your direct team, to your employees, to your customers, to your family, to your community, to your country and ultimately to humanity. Being settled in this will centre you; with nowhere to go and nothing to prove. That will unleash productivity, performance, effectiveness, creativity, innovation at levels you have never experienced before in yourself and in your team.
Keep making a difference. There is a reason why you are born, there's a reason why you are in the position that you are in. It is to come home to yourself through the work you do.
Are you in perfect health and at the greatest level of fitness? Why does it really matter? Why is good not good enough? Why work so hard to create the highest levels of fitness? One is sauntering along Life, why give up the easy life to take on the additional pressure of one more burdensome responsibility - to create perfect health?
Valid questions. Let's journey together for the next few minutes to together inquire into all of these questions and many more that pop up as we move forward. Questions are like that, they have a tendency to simply pop up like jack-in-the-box. The power of questions is that they make us stop and step out of the speeding train of Life to reflect on what is our own truth. There's another word for that, it's called smelling the roses. Growth happens in those moments; such growth that we may change the direction of the train, even change the train itself. That change is deeply joyous and fulfilling because there's a visceral experience of coming closer to home.
The first thing to understand is that we have not one but four bodies that we are born with - physical body, emotional body, mental / intellectual body and spiritual body. Our physical body is the only house that we truly have this lifetime which is home for our other 3 bodies.
The 4 bodies together form the Being of the Human Being. The Being is the vehicle for the fulfilment of our highest purpose of being born on this planet. We absolutely have the choice to live a zombie-like existence and unconsciously spend all our breaths lost in the melodrama of life before the physical body disintegrates and a fresh new adventure starts.
Yet, we can make another choice - to live consciously, with full awareness moment by moment, living purposefully, walking definitely with joyous certainty that this is the path, this is the journey. To have the ability to make this choice, we need all our 4 bodies to be in perfect health and well-being and at the highest levels of refreshing, rejuvenating, energising, exhilarating fitness.
Let's look at how we can assess the health of each of these 4 bodies. Answer the questions below by rating yourself from 0 to 10 on a scale of 10, where 0 means totally unhealthy and 10 means perfect health, well-being and the highest level of fitness.
1. Physical Body: How healthy am I? How much joyous energy I have, to do all that I want to do?
2. Mental Body: How well can I focus? How well can I learn across a spectrum of subjects to integrate that understanding to what I already know to create a bigger impact through the work I do? How much clarity I have to know what my 20% is which will give me 80% of the outcomes I am committed to create so that I have an abundance of time to do all that I want to do? How centred am I? To what degree can I feel the soothing Stillness within me? How well can I hear my authentic inner voice in the tranquil Silence inside me?
3. Emotional Body: How happy am I? How connected am I in vulnerable authenticity to my own self and to all beings around me? How much courage I have to acknowledge, to myself and to others, each emotion that arises within me? How much wisdom I have to know that the source of each emotion that arises within me is me; that the others and the circumstances are merely triggers to open up the box inside me which hold all these emotions? How much understanding I have to know that the only way to let the emotions leave me is by allowing their full expression by giving myself the permission to fully feel them instead of pushing them under the carpet and putting up a show of bravado for the world?
4. Spiritual Body: Why am I doing all that I am doing? What is my purpose? Are my actions and responses sourced in fear; or are they sourced in compassionate love for myself and for others? Am I compassionate love, kindness and reverence; moment by moment? Do all beings experience my compassionate love, kindness and reverence for them? How well can I see, that what all is happening in the world is only a reflection of who I am being inside of me?
If you are less than 10 on any of the above questions, you have your task laid out for you. You would be less than 10 in any body because you are being held hostage to limiting habits in that body. You will be 10 in each body if you have with commitment, dedication, discipline, passion, will-power and with a powerful structure of success dropped your Limiting Habits and replaced them with Growth Habits.
Lets dive deeper. We, as humans, are nothing but a sum total of our habits. They are our automatic ways of responding to what's happening in the environment.
From The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg,
"Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often."
So, over a period of time, all we become is a mass of habits which create similar outcomes. If we are looking at creating different outcomes in our life, professionally and personally; like higher productivity, efficiency and performance and greater innovation and creativity; we have to step back to become aware of our default habits and work towards replacing them with new habits that support us to fulfil our highest intentions and realise our greatest dreams.
There are not only default limiting individual habits but also organisational habits (of a particular organization) and social habits (of a particular society). These need to be studied deliberately, consciously to bring them and their impact in full awareness. Only then, can we take action to re-create and assimilate growth habits to lead ourselves, our business and our society / country from good to great.
What does all this mean in context to the 4 bodies? How do we turn up the health and fitness knob to 10 for each body?
1. Physical Body - If tiredness, exhaustion, loss of energy, discomfort, physical pain or dis-ease shows up (it usually does in that order); it is time to thank the Universe for the wake-up call. There are 2 ways of growth - through pain and loss, or through insights. Pain and loss is always a signal for personal growth that we have been turning a blind eye to. At this point, we can push the pain and loss under the carpet and bring out our swords to fight the world. Not a great idea though.
There's another way - that of the Peaceful Warrior - who looks for the gift in the loss and pain. Note that the physical body is only a house for the other 3 bodies and if anything shows up on the physical body, it is because one of the three bodies it is housing is bleeding. So, to be in perfect health, well-being and at the highest level of fitness in the physical body, we need our other 3 bodies to be in perfect health, well-being and at the highest level of fitness.
Here's how to bring the physical body to a 10 on 10:
a. Learn the science of how food impacts your body through the ancient Indian science of Ayurved. I am struck by this question raised by a westerner - Why is the impact on our health of what we eat is not studied by modern medical science?
As per Ayurved, humans have 3 body types and the food that is best suited for you is determined by the type of body you have. Use the food you eat and how you eat it support you towards health and well-being. Is it at all exciting to be making the rounds of the inhospitable hospitals, smelling of despair and death? How about creating such fitness levels that going there is not a part of our schedule?
Art of Living offers a 3-day Health through Ayurved program. It just turns one's understanding of food and eating on its head. I loved the program.
Add it to your bucket list. Do this or any other Ayurved program available from various other organisations for busy executives. If you are in India, you are very fortunate because it will be very easy to locate a good one close to your location.
And, if you are like me, who has a preference for learning through books than through online programs, here is a book that is on my reading list:
The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies: A Comprehensive Guide to the Ancient Healing of India by Dr Vasant Lad.
This is what Dr Deepak Chopra of "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind" has to say about the book - Readers of my work will find this book an invaluable resource.
It would also be effective to study Naturopathy as well to bring in the learnings into our daily life.
b. Yog - This is an ancient science of asan (specific postures) and pranayam (breathing exercises). This is the only exercise regimen that I know that integrates work at all the 4 bodies - mind, body, emotions, spirit. We will discuss Martial Arts in a little while too.
I have been practising Yog for nearly 20 years though consistency of practise has only come about now. All that I can tell you is that it is such a beautiful experience to feel the stiffness of the body melt away as you move from asan to asan.
The secret of the consistency in my practise is my Yog Coach, who comes like a clockwork and leads me forward from easier to tougher asans to support flexibilty and agility of the physical body. As the physical body becomes more flexible and agile, the mental and emotional body becomes more flexible and agile. I have become wiser to no longer offer excuses of having slept late, sickness, tiredness as reasons for not doing my practise because I have come to realise that Yog actually supports to ease away tiredness, sickness and lack of sleep.
I do Yog 5 times a week for an hour. Without it, it feels like I haven't brushed my teeth. I am contemplating yanking it up to daily which means for those 2 days (when my coach takes his weekly off), I would need raised energy levels and commitment to do it on my own. That's the next level of growth though I recognise my asans wouldn't have progressed towards perfection (and the work continues) if it wasn't for my teacher showing me how I needed to improve. On my own, I wouldn't have figured.
c. Martial Arts - While Yog grows you through the slowness of the practise, martial arts grow you through speed. And, you need both kinds of growth. I recently started Karate along with my kids. We love jumping around, kicking and punching together. Thanks to Yog, I have more flexibility than my kids at 44 which is supporting me in Karate. Where I lack is the enormous stamina that Karate needs and builds you up for. My Karate coach's super coach is a 73 years old Black Belt Dan 10 (the highest level). That gives me hope and inspiration :-)
The increase in my strength and stamina that I experienced as an outcome of learning Karate is helping me enormously on the golf course.
d. Sports - There are two ways of playing sports. The first is for fun and the second is playing for excellence. When you make the latter your intention, the first also gets covered.
My recommendation is to make the 2nd your intention and involve your family in the whole process. In fact, what would create velocity and magic in your journey towards perfect health, well-being and highest levels of fitness is if you make your family and your organization partners in your adventure.
When you make excellence the intention of the sports that you choose to take on, all the four bodies benefit and grow as an outcome. You not only then have to make physical fitness as your articulated intention but also have to bring in focus, attention, love, passion, purpose into the game. The game becomes the practise ground for leadership growth because when you learn to become a container for focus, attention, love, passion, purpose on the playground; that container stays with you and shows up in all areas of your life giving you outcomes you would have only dreamed of before.
Leadership Depth is really an outcome of all your 4 bodies being in perfect health, well-being and at the greatest level of fitness. The Universe uses loss and pain to wake us up towards greater Leadership Depth; if we don't make the choice to wake ourselves to live with moment-by-moment awareness to grow consciously across all the 4 bodies our Being.
e. Get yourself a family doctor who is preferably from AYUSH (Ayurved, Yog & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy): A family doctor has a relationship with your family, a commitment for your family's well-being & health and time to fully hear & understand you; unlike most doctors in spanking new hospitals who come in your life for a transaction and move out again.
Don't get me wrong. I have deep respect for Modern Medical Science and its stupendous diagnostic power. Our family doctor (who is a homeopath) leverages the diagnostic reports to fine-tune his medication. A big challenge with modern medicine is that they come with huge side-effects, unlike its authentic AYUSH counter-parts. Though, have the wisdom to reach out to your allopathic doctor when the need arises. The idea is to integrate all the knowledge available for our health.
My vision is that fundamentals of AYUSH are taught in medical colleges in the MBBS undergraduate program with each of the five ayush healing methodologies available as post-graduate programs alongside surgery, radiology, pathology etc. and hospitals become integrated centres for wellness to support people to stay healthy rather than step in only to cure once sickness has already taken root. If Indian Tobacco Company can become ITC and progressively reduce its dependency on cigarettes for its growth by successfully diversifying into food, fashion, hotels etc; the day is not far off when hospitals also awaken to the need to be integrated centres for health and healing.
2. Mental / Intellectual Body - Here's how you create health and fitness in your mental body:
a. Read atleast one book a month, if not one book a week which I would recommend to anyone committed to massive growth. For maximum benefit, read books that you don't normally read, that are tough for you. Ensure you are reading across a wide cross-section of books related to personal mastery (leadership depth), business excellence, craft mastery, biographies of people who inspire you, fiction, literature.
b. Work with a coach who will send you on regular inquiries through socratic discussions and mess up with your mind by getting right inside your thinking. That would support you to become hugely aware about your own human design, your blind spots and massive insights that will accelerate you forward by simply slowing you down.
I love my conversations with my coach, Clarence Thomson. I love my Aha, Hmmm, That's funny, Gosh, OMG moments. I love that I get the space to really be authentically myself and can show up with all of me, without my armours and masks. I love that relaxing sigh of having totally emptied out.
c. Get present to your limiting thought patterns and consciously work towards letting those thoughts to drop away. Your coach will work with you on this.
My favourite books for growing the mental intellectual body are -
i. Loving What Is (Four Questions that can Change Your Life) by Byron Katie
ii. You can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay - a great book on limiting thought patterns and their impact on the physical body.
iii. The Four Agreements (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz
A great system for uncovering your blind spots and defining your growth strategy is Enneagram.
Here's an article for the details on this - Breaking Free from the Box
d. Exercising, sports, yog, martial arts are all great ways to keep the lethargy away from the mind.
e. Have your mastermind group to constantly challenge you to be bigger than who you are. Remember you are an average of 5 people you hang around the most. Judiciously decide on your mastermind group.
3. Emotional Body - The only work that I know of, that works exclusively for the health and well-being of the emotional body, is by Brandon Bays. She healed her basket-ball sized tumour naturally by accessing the hidden emotions at the source of it and releasing them by giving herself the permission to fully experience them instead of denying her emotions. Her guruji is from Lucknow, India from Ramana Maharishi's lineage.
I did a one-year program called the Journey Practitioner with her and her team; through which she teaches the process that supported her to heal her tumour naturally. It was only towards the end of the year that I finally accessed my emotional body pushed so deep under the carpet by years of being a Vice-President, Director etc.
It was interesting that I heard her say Namaste more times in 10 days than I had heard in the entire year before inspite of living in India. I, oftentimes, wonder at the loss that we have allowed ourselves in India to experience at not really claiming our vast, deep, rich heritage to humanity as our own and living from there.
Here's her book to guide you further on this - The Journey by Brandon Bays. She brings her work to India in partnership with Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri, who herself is based out of London.
I integrate this process in my own work as a coach. It is always beautiful to see, feel, hear, experience, support people to access their pain of being a human being and letting it drop off to authentically connect with themselves.
For more scientific understanding of the relationship of emotions and thoughts to physical health, read Molecules of Emotions (The Science behind Mind-Body Medicine) by Candace B. Pert.
A book that finally pushed me to break the wall between me and myself is Real by Catherine and Duane O'Kane. Here's a quick overview of the book for you to inspire you to read the book for yourself - Real (The Power of Authentic Connection)
4. Spiritual Body - After exploring many meditation techniques, I finally came home to Vipassana. Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It was re-discovered by Gautam Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a way to connect with your highest self.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves limiting emotions and thoughts, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.
The technique was brought back to India from Myanmar by Shri S N Goenka, a wealthy businessman of Indian origin. He learned the technique to heal himself of physical ailments that modern medical science even from the western world could not give him relief from.
It is taught in a 10-day Silence Retreat in monasteries, where you live like a monk for the duration of the program. What led me to it was zero hype about any Guru. When I landed at the rustic Rohtak monastry for my program, I was brimming over with curiosity about the Guruji who is teaching this meditation. There were no idols or pictures decorated with garland of flowers to satiate my curiosity. Only at the end of the first day, I found out about Shri Goenka though he didn't call himself a Guruji but merely a teacher of the technique. He has passed over. The program is run in numerous locations in India and around the world by assistant teachers through his video recordings. I was blown away by his simplicity, intellectual depth and deep understanding of Life; that totally connected with my own understanding so far. I love the total focus on self-transformation through self-observation without using any chant, image, mantra as a crutch.
As recommended, I meditate twice a day for an hour each and I intend going back once a year for the 10-day program for re-immersion. The practise, more consistent now than a year ago, has had amazing results for me. The chattering monkey mind has slowed down, I experience greater equanimity than before, my anger has come down dramatically, and I have had breakthrough ideas during meditation that have resulted in huge business and personal growth I could not have created without those ideas. I also experience greater focus, the clarity to choose the 20% for 80% results, and a visceral experience of love and compassion for all beings.
Though, what I have to share is that these results came in because of my work on the other 3 bodies that had me ready for Vipassana and give me the strength to plough through meditation everyday. I am certain even 2 years ago, I wasn't ready for Vipassana.
If you are not in perfect health, well-being and at the highest levels of fitness; now you know what you need to do to reach there.
I find that integrating work on all the 4 bodies as above helps me to support my clients grow professionally and personally, lead their businesses from good to great while having it all - deeply fulfilling career, loving harmonious relationships at work and at home, happy responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed, nourishing nurturing me-time and making a difference in the world.
Inviting you to start the journey to come home to yourself to live your purpose and experience joyous, equanimous fulfilment.
With a deep Namaste (which means from the Light in me to the Light in you).
Further Recommended Reading:
1. How to Lead your Organization to Success
2. What has Spirituality got to do with Business
3. From High Performance to Super Performance
4. How to Build a Successful Business - An interview with a Gear 5 Leader
5. How to Lead your Organization from Good to Great
An ex-client reached out for support in deciding between settling abroad or staying in the country. A client wanted to decide between a corporate job or starting out on her own. Another wanted to figure out between taking a break from work to explore his passions or continuing to work. We are inundated with choices throughout our lives and on a daily basis. It seems the choice we make determines what kind of life we'll have. That puts in an inordinately high amount of pressure on making the right choice that has us so confused that we are stuck in analysis paralysis and find ourselves with no energy to take the actions because all the energy has been spent figuring out what choice to make. Then we have no outcomes, there is no progress, no sense of fulfilment because there were no actions.
In fact, even what seems like minor choices; like which book to read, choosing screen over reading, choosing to smoke over sitting in the anxiety and discomfort of not choosing etc; have significantly high impact on the direction our lives take.
How do we choose wisely, how do we make choices that support us towards growth which, if we slow down and reflect, is the only doorway to sustainable happiness? Put this assertion to test right now. When did you last feel a sense of happiness? I am not talking about a general sense of 'life is good' but an authentic visceral experience of joyous happiness. In which body (physical / intellectual / emotional / spiritual) of your Being had you experienced growth that you can link that experience to?
Taking the reflection a level deeper, we will realise that ultimately all that we are doing moment to moment is making a choice - choosing a specific thought, a specific emotion, a specific action over other thoughts, emotions and actions. Progress would be when we are able to choose consciously over choosing unconsciously.
Most times, we are making choices giving ourselves very logical reasons for making the choice though the choice is actually an emotional one with our hidden fears and intentions as the driver. Progress would be to be aware of the emotional reasons and the hidden fears & intentions that are driving us to make the decisions that we are making. When there is self-awareness and the inner power to choose consciously, then we will find ourselves making choices that are wise because they are effective, make more time available to us to do things that really matter and support our growth towards our highest version of ourselves.
Here is the structure that you can use to reach such a state and consciously make powerful choices:
1. Figure out your purpose of life, your personal inner commitment and your highest values as the place to start from. This is your Pole Star.
Once you can clearly see your Pole Star, you will begin to make choices that are effective and have the wisdom to lead you forward in the direction that serves you and those you are responsible for the most.
2. Discover your hidden fears, and unconscious self-sabotaging beliefs & intentions. It is our human design to have them. Having the self-awareness to recognise what they are and the courage to acknowledge them to yourself and to others gives you the power to create your greatest life.
3. Once you discover what you fear, what you resist, what you know would serve you and yet you don't want to do that; do exactly what you fear, what you resist, what you know would serve you and yet you don't want to do that.
This conscious battling with your inner demons removes the curtain between you and your inner wisdom, your intuition, your inner guide. As the inner demons lose power, you will have a visceral experience in your body as to which choice to make.
You will pick up a book and you will know whether it is the right book to read. You will review a growth program and you will be able to feel it in your body if it will serve you. You will have an inner knowing whether staying in the country is what would support you or leaving the country. You will know whether it is the right moment to drop your job and start your own business.
The funny thing is that most times you will find yourself making choices that seem counter-intuitive and will have people in your life question you. There will be such deep clarity and knowingness that doubt will find no place to rest in your body.
4. Your inner demons are really default limiting physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual habits. Be bigger than who you are right now to cultivate world-class growth habits across the four bodies (physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual) of your Being. Without that your inner demons will win the battle every time.
5. As you make any choice, be in the inquiry of its wisdom by asking yourself the following questions:
i. How does this choice feel in my body? Do I feel a surge of energy or a sinking feeling in my stomach?
ii. What is my emotion when I am considering making this choice? Does it fill me up with joy or with the emptiness of excitement? Learn to distinguish between authentic joyous happiness and excitement, which is nothing but fear in disguise.
iii. Do I have clarity and focus while I am considering making this choice? Is my mind still or is it racing in 1000 different directions?
iv. Is my choice sourced in love or is it sourced in fear? Will it serve my family, my organisation, my customer community, my country or will it just serve me?
v. How will this choice support me to fulfil on my purpose of life?
vi. How is my choice an expression of my personal inner commitment?
vii. How will my choice support me to live my highest values?
viii. What are my articulated intentions? Does this choice support or come in the way of my articulated intentions?
ix. What will be the impact of making this choice? Will I end up breaking any word to myself or others if make this choice?
x. Does this choice support my growth towards personal mastery or will it impede it?
Somewhere during this inquiry, you will get an inner knowing of the perfect choice for you. Once you know the perfect choice, take immediate action to implement the choice for maximum benefit.
If things don't turn out the way you envisioned and more often than not, it will be the case; guard yourself against regret and self-criticism because that comes in the way of actually benefiting from the choice you made. Sometimes, the pain associated with having made the specific choice is the gift that you need the most to move forward. Accept it with grace, learn from it and use the learnings to create an even greater life.
My kids are in Grade 7 and Grade 4. My younger one just started with his exams. Their half-yearly exams are underway at the moment. The subject that they both run away from and struggle the most with is Hindi. Considering my husband is from Himachal and I am from Punjab, Hindi becomes my kids' primary mother tongue followed by Punjabi and Himachali / Pahari.
As I began to reflect on how my kids were struggling with their primary mother language and began wondering how could I support them, it struck me I didn't know how to read and write in Punjabi and that my fellow Punjabis will probably laugh at my spoken language. I further recognised that I had lost touch with Hindi myself.
So began my journey to re-discover my heritage so that my children can grow taller because they have stronger roots. Without owning our roots, we are unlikely to reach our maximum growth because nourishment only reaches through the roots.
I told my kids that I will speak to them in Hindi at home. Yesterday was the first evening and there was a laughter riot as I searched for Hindi alternatives for common words. I lost so many ice-creams to them that in the end they stopped counting how many English words were creeping into my Hindi monologue. I am not the kind to give up easily. I intend to google my way up to Hindi mastery.
If I decide something, I never waste much time to implement the idea with maximum energy. Sending love to Jeff Bezos because thanks to Amazon, I have Premchand, Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray and Harivansh Rai Bachchan on the way home. Bedtime stories for my kids in perfect hindi most beautifully sculpted by the masters of the language.
I am super excited about my new project. To confess, more than the kids who have already extracted a promise from me to behave and talk normally in front of their friends :-) My mind is racing ahead and another project is already taking shape - to learn Punjabi and connect my kids to 50% of their heritage. I trust I will have inspired my spouse enough to immerse in his Himachali heritage and gift that to the kids.
I wished my home support staff 'Suprabhat' instead of Good Morning when she came in the morning today. She promptly responded back with her usual Good Morning along with a cheeky smile; used to my strange ways by now. I guess it will take a while for me to create a culture at home for her to not feel inferior because she doesn't know English. Up until now, I was thinking about how to get her to learn English because she is a keen learner and understands the value of English in India. I am grateful for the wisdom to understand that without the deep connection with our own roots, we cannot truly grow.
There are multiple benefits of being multilingual. Here are a few to inspire you:
1. According to research conducted by Julia Morales of Spain’s Granada University, children who learn a second language are able to recall memories better than monolinguals, or speakers of just one language.
2. Being multilingual leads to improved listening skills.
3. A study from 2010 shows that bilinguals have stronger control over their attention and are more capable of limiting distractions.
4. Recent research found that individuals who speak two or more languages, regardless of their education level, gender or occupation, experience the onset of Alzheimer’s, on average, 4 1/2 years later than monolingual subjects did.
5. Language learners also show greater cognitive flexibility (Hakuta 1986) and are better at figural creativity (Landry 1973).
6. Another research found that bilingual children are more creative in their problem solving than their monolingual peers.
7. Bilingual students consistently score higher on standardized tests in comparison with their monolingual peers, especially in the areas of math, reading and vocabulary.
8. Studies show that bilingual children show superior performance on non-linguistic tasks.
9. The results of the recent study showed that bilingualism is highly correlated with the breadth of vocabulary knowledge and reading skill. In other words, bilingual participants have a larger size of vocabulary knowledge and they enjoy better word reading skill.
We are in a unique place being born in India because most of us have atleast 3 languages that we can call our own - Hindi, our mother tongue or state language and of course, English if you went to school. And, if your spouse is from another state, you have 4 language to play with and learn, grow and evolve.
Lets not deny the huge advantage that this places us and our kids in. We are tremendously lucky and let us now claim that enormous good fortune as our own.
I will keep you posted on our journey with Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Munshi Premchand, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Amrita Pritam, Krishna Sobti and many more masters that we discover along the way. Would love to hear about your journey as you undertake to reconnect with your roots along with your family.
Wishing you and your family the joy of coming home to yourself.
Amazing Benefits of Language Learning
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.