Do you remember how you felt when you last carried out a random act of kindness? And, how you felt when somebody did something kind for you? Did you not feel gentle waves of uplifting warmth, joyous energy and soothing restfulness wash all over your body?
At the beginning of our journey, when I ask a client - How are you feeling?; the usual response is - I think good. That tells me how disconnected he is from his emotional body because you cannot think feelings, you can only feel them in your physical body. If you are in touch with your emotions, you will know exactly in which part of the body is the emotion arising, and how exactly is it arising. It may be a tightening of the stomach or heaviness in the shoulders or stiffness in the neck or discomfort in the upper back or stinging in the eyes or a catch in the throat or various other expressions of feelings in the physical body.
As you exercise your emotional body to make it fit, you get reconnected with your authentic self, your Source. At that point, you may feel an expansiveness as vast as the sky above, as deep as the ocean below, spaciousness all around, a sweet homecoming; as the feeling spreads from inside to outside to everywhere. And, your productivity, performance, creativity and innovativeness rises to be at the peak.
One of the the simplest ways to reconnect with your authentic self is to do a random act of kindness and then keep doing them daily like a must-do just as you brush your teeth daily. The idea is to make it an automatic habit. Though in the beginning, it will feel ritualistic and forced, to mandatorily do an act of kindness to tick it off from your list but after a point, it will begin to feel genuine and something you cannot do without. This act is one of the ways you exercise your emotional body.
Just as you have to force yourself to exercise your physical body daily in the beginning but after the lowest point of wanting to give up, you experience an energy that has you wanting to exercise your physical body daily that you can no longer stop. It is interesting that the energy graph of inculcating any growth habit is similar to the shape of a hockey stick. Your mental, emotional and physical energy continue to drop till the lowest point but if you continue beyond that point using your spiritual energy of higher purpose and deep connection with your own self; your mental, emotional and physical energy suddenly turn around exponentially to support you to stick to the habit forever.
Based on experiments conducted by University College London, we now have proof that it takes 66 days to hold on to a habit daily for it to become automatic. So, play the Kindness Habit game daily for 66 days even as your energy dips to reap the benefit of a healthy and fit emotional body.
Of course, there are many other exercises to keep your emotional body fit. Let’s take those up in subsequent articles for discussion.
Coming back to Kindness, how do you define it? It is an act coming from a place of compassionate love and empathy for the good of others with no expectation of a reward in return. If the act is done for appreciation, acknowledgement or some other intrinsic or extrinsic reward, the act serves you no purpose and you stay disconnected from your authentic self.
The next logical question is why do we even care that the emotional body is fit and healthy. It is because the Being of the Human Being that we are is like a car with 4 wheels on a journey to reach its destination of fulfilment of its purpose of having been born. The 4 wheels are our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. If any of these bodies is weak, then the car is unable to drive forward with velocity towards its purpose and we feel a lack, a longing, an incompletion, something missing, a void in our hearts and souls that no material wealth or a loved one can complete or fill.
Interestingly, if we work on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies to become intimately connected with our authentic self, we will find ourselves becoming loving, compassionate and empathetic. The reverse is also true, if we work on practising feeling love, compassion and empathy viscerally not just playing around the idea in our head; we will automatically find ourselves becoming intimately connected with our authentic self.
That is the true purpose of our life - to find and reconnect with our authentic self, our inner Wisdom, our inner Light and live in the expression of our undeniable greatness. Not to undertake this journey leads us to an experience of pain from which we find no recourse till the time Pain has forced us to choose the path to our Highest Self. At that point, Pain has served its purpose and we no longer find ourselves in the grip of it. Each experience, painful or not, is a nudge from the Universe to drop our masks of being a Victim or a Fighter and step forward as Peaceful Warriors that we truly are, to fight the battles inside rather than their reflections outside to allow our inner Light to shine through to make our world brighter than we found it.
That is why Kindness matters in Business. Because it gives us access to our authentic self and an opportunity to step into the Light of our inner Wisdom for us to operate at the highest levels of productivity, performance, creativity and innovation. That has definite economic outcome higher than available without highest levels of productivity, performance, creativity and innovation in people engaged in making the business work. There is a direct correlation between Kindness embodied in the culture of a Business and Profitability generated by the Business. Interestingly, you cannot tell or mandate people to be kind.
Leaving you with a question - How do you create a culture of kindness at work and at home?
Your fellow traveller in this Journey towards Purpose, Abundance and Contribution through the work we do, communities that we are a part of and families we are blessed to belong to,
Why is it important to be aware of what Wealth really means for us? Because without that understanding, we will end up hoarding the wrong currency and never experience abundance inspite of having all the wealth in the world.
Sharing what Wealth means for me to support you to go on a voyage of deeper self-inquiry to discover your own truth and find a simple path to freedom, abundance and prosperity.
Wealth for me is:
1. Time Freedom - which is the ability to own my own time. That is why inspite of all the wealth and titles in the corporate structure, I did not feel abundant.
2. Ability to live my purpose through the work I do - So, I hung up my corporate boots, 9 years ago, to walk towards an unknown future seeking not only Time Freedom; but also greater meaning, purpose and impact through my work.
3. Time carved out daily for physical, mental / intellectual, emotional, spiritual growth and development - If I don’t prioritise and take out time for this, I feel poorer by the end of the day.
4. Eating, playing and praying together as a family
5. Being engaged and involved with my parents’ lives - The time, financial and situation freedom to visit my parents, who live 5.5 hours away, for a day once-a-week makes me feel prosperous.
6. Challenging myself, physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and go beyond - Playing for black belt though I am as yet, at 45, only yellow belt in Karate has me jumping out of bed with excitement and a sense of a beautiful adventure. Playing to be a scratch player in golf though my current on-board handicap is 38 may sound like pollyanna optimism or plain Jane wishful thinking but choosing to invest in professional coaching with the country’s best coach, practising and playing makes me feel free and abundant. Inside of that experience of freedom and abundance, I witness high levels of productivity, performance and effectiveness at work and in all other areas of my life.
7. Building my will-power to wake up at dawn daily and be consistent with my morning personal practise - This has been a 30 year dream and I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on this dream.
See, dreams always come true. The question is - Are you willing to hang in with it for 30, 40, 50 years? Let only the God of Death separate you from your Dream, not the Jester that is the Mind.
8. Have joyous, authentic, emotionally uplifting, intellectually stimulating conversations - I have realised over the years that interesting conversations have more to do with me being interested in others than others being interesting.
9. Doing work that raises human consciousness, one person at a time - That is why I am so deeply in love with what I do (coaching) that it doesn’t feel like work. So, everyday is one big fun holiday for me. It can be for you too. Ask me and I will tell you how.
10. Read and write - I have integrated all that I love with my work. So daily reading the great masters of my field and writing an article or writing for my upcoming book is part of my Daily Top 5.
11. Going on vacations with the whole big extended family along with kids, spouse, parents, sisters and their families - This year all of us went on a cruise together. It took me 18 years to create this big bang vacation. Though 2 family members were missing on account of work commitments, I still feel the joy of having achieved a dream at 85%.
My next 2 plans are Kanatal (Uttarakhand) in November and Amritsar (Punjab) in March next year. By the way, I have learnt more about leadership and coaching, trying to get the whole family together on a vacation than all the classroom training I have attended :-)
12. Listening to music - This is such an easy win, though just realising that in working on the big ones on this list, I seem to have missed in creating one of the easiest. That is how most of us live life. We get so busy in chasing the big ones that the ones which we can catch with very little effort gets missed out.
13. Re-connecting with my heritage through learning to speak, read and write Punjabi (my mother tongue) and Hindi (our national language) fluently - Last month, I spent 3 weeks in Panchkula (twin city to Chandigarh, capital of Punjab and Haryana) where my parents stay. I usually make one day weekly pilgrimage there to check in on my aging parents and to do chores for them. I am usually so busy caught up in their lives that I don’t get to interact with anyone else. Or, we take vacations together that I hardly find myself really settling in there and experiencing the Punjabiyat of my heritage.
This time, my father had a surgery and I took off 3 weeks to be with him that gave me a chance to really polish my Punjabi. I experienced a strange sense of joy, a wonderful expansiveness, a delicious home-coming. We always spoke Hindi at home and as we grew up, God alone knows when, that suddenly we were speaking, thinking and dreaming in English.
I had a sudden rude awakening last year when I saw my kids struggling with Hindi. They were breezing through English exams but Hindi exams had them sweat. At that moment, I realised that I was stunting their growth as well as mine by weakening their and my roots; by alienating ourselves from our heritage, our languages, the very cradle of our creativity. Who we are would not grow tall in the world, live up to our highest potential if our roots weren’t strong enough; and our roots are Punjabi and Hindi. It’s great to know English. There’s a deep gratitude for the English language as it has been a window to the outside world for all of us in India. Though, while looking outside the window, we have forgotten to water our own roots. Then, how can we expect to fully flower and blossom to the highest that we are meant to be.
I cannot even come close to defining this strange joy I felt, a deep connection even with strangers as I conversed with them in my birth language. There was a melody and a sweet tinkling of gentle bells in and around me as I spoke and heard Punjabi with the hospital staff, our relatives, Dad’s friends; and my heart expanded with love for all beings.
I have always found that as we increase our connection with our own selves, our connection with all of Life expands. Can anything be more magical than that?
14. Giving back to the communities that I have the good fortune to be a part of - The big extended family that I come from, the village, state and the country I belong to, the religion that I am born into, the universal sisterhood of women that I am a part of, the condominium that I stay in, the schools and colleges I went to, the people I have worked with and those I work with, the various groups that I have joined for different reasons are all communities that I am a part of. Each of the communities have contributed to my growth and defined who I am. The only access for my ongoing growth is to give back to each of these communities for the cycle of energy, growth and evolution to be maintained.
So, though I buried myself behind books and kept myself isolated by my self-created walls during both my graduate and post-graduate schools for reasons that are part of another story, I felt the need to re-connect and contribute on my journey to complete parts of me which I had left behind in my past. This consciousness has me reach back to both the communities in an effort to reconnect with myself.
15. Playing sports - I grew up playing table tennis, lawn tennis, badminton, cricket, football, squash, pittoo (does anyone remember that game anymore), hopscotch, hide n seek, gallery and many more that I have smiling memories of. As I lost myself in the hubbub of Life (which really means I grew up), sports slowly vanished without me realising it. And, then golf happened that my love affair with sports started all over again and the wild excitement of being alive surged through my body once more, healing the wounds caused by the blows of Life.
Let me tell you a secret. Anything I love becomes a part of my Business Model, Parenting Model and Personal Growth Model. So, I play golf for work, play more golf along with kids and spouse as part of our family fun time and play even more to challenge myself to grow beyond what seems possible. You may want to try this tactic.
16. Become a person that I would like to give a thumbs up to when my physical body breathes its last and say - Life well lived, mate. Continue forth with your next adventure.
I am at different stages of collecting the above wealth; though the journey itself feels like as if I have found my way back home. Having defined what abundance really means has me experience freedom and prosperity like I have never experienced before; though I have a lot less cash at the moment than I have had at other points in my life.
The simplest way to discover what wealth, abundance, prosperity mean for you is to answer this question - If you had all the wealth in the world, what would you be doing that would have you be happy and at peace?
Make your list today and start your own journey towards fun, freedom and fulfilment.
I have found abundance in the way my Being understands it. May you find yours.
Photo Credit: www.thehansindia.com
A son of a coffee planter to a Billionaire Founder and Owner of India’s biggest coffee chain, Cafe Coffee Day, committed suicide earlier this week. His tragic end is a huge wake-up call for the Global Business Community and has learnings for all of us that we must pause to reflect and ruminate upon. And, hopefully, this helpless act of a powerful business magnate will trigger a transformation in the way we work and who we are as human beings.
1. His death is a reminder that a Business Model is not only made robust, profitable and sustainable by the business elements that define it; but also by the human depth of the founder and the leadership team, displayed by the fitness levels of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.
A business model’s effectiveness needs to be measured not only by the outer business elements, but also by the inner human elements of the people engaged in that business.
We mostly get carried away by what is visible - number of outlets, number of employees, turnover, number of cities, national vs global presence etc. - that we miss the foundation on which all of this is standing.
The foundation is the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of the person at the helm of the business, who is leading from the front. The business really ends up being a mirror of who she or he really is, what his / her personal, leadership and business habits are.
2. In the light of the above point, it is important that the leadership team at the helm including the CEO / Founder / Business Owner have a mentoring / coaching structure so that they are building themselves to be the world’s best physical, emotional, mental and spiritual athletes; without which a great business cannot be built.
3. The reason that the leaders don’t create a support structure for themselves is because as a society we tend to idolise those who have created ‘success’. So, the idols fail to realise that they too need to continuously learn, grow and evolve with the support of others.
Sooner, as a society, we realise, encourage and walk towards a relationship of equals between all, irrespective of all labels; the sooner will we all experience freedom to be and less pressure for all to put up a brave face to hide a sad reality within.
4. Don’t replace ‘building a sustainable business’ with ‘raising money’. Let the money in the business ecosystem be because the customers are crazy about your product / service, not your investors.
5. Just as highest levels of fitness across the 4 bodies of the Being of the Founder / CEO is the real foundation of the business model, so is Integrity. Without integrity, the business will fall sooner or later. Sooner is better because then there is less damage. Though unfortunately, mostly it is later where both direct and collateral damage is massive.
6. Create, own and enjoy wealth but don’t be owned by it. At the end of it all, you can take none of it with you. If you can’t take it with you, then all you really are is the custodian of all the wealth that you create.
So, why be perturbed when you have less of it or somebody takes it away from you or become jubilant when you have more of it. It is this emotional instability that causes so much of the stress and heartburn we have.
Yes, it is a lot of hard work to reach that balance. Yet, the struggle to reach there is totally worth it allowing you to experience ‘happiness without a cause or reason’, which is when happiness can truly be yours.
7. We are part of an energy system and every action we take has an impact. We cannot act as if what we do only has an impact on us. Imagine what Siddhartha’s 2 sons, one in college and the other as yet in school) and his wife must be going through.
Of course, the net worth of Cafe Coffee Day fell. Probably worse than the fall of the net worth, which is easier to re-build, is the widespread discouragement and disillusionment experienced by his employees and aspiring entrepreneurs.
8. You don’t need fancy foreign degrees to build big business. A local school and college is just as good. All that matters is the size of your dream.
9. One really doesn’t know what anyone around us is really going through on the inside. Choosing to act and speak from a place of loving kindness is probably the biggest difference we can make to people in our lives, known and unknown.
10. Being a Fighter is exhausting. What would serve us is embracing the way of the Peaceful Warrior, who knows that the real battles are really on the inside and, therefore, all battles on the outside are merely reflections of the chaos inside.
You can’t kill the reflections by shooting them. Shooting the attachment and being ok with owning nothing after building an empire ground up may be a lesson one is meant to learn and having learnt that, it is likely that no pressure on the outside can cause the balance to disrupt on the inside.
That is what stress really is - disruption of the inner emotional balance.
11. What has spirituality got to do with all of this? Everything because a spiritual perspective gives us a higher meaning and purpose to all that we do from moment to moment. It strengthens in us childlike trust and faith, giving us the ability to see the gift in all challenges along the journey of life and to receive them gratefully.
Loved the story of a doctor that I read in Mother Teresa’s Biography sometime back. His pregnant wife and unborn child were battling death. On being asked what he was praying for; he replied he was praying for the strength and faith to accept God’s will, whatever that maybe. This spiritual perspective is the only way to access emotional balance, which is necessary to create anything masterful, genius-level and extraordinary on a sustainable basis.
Siddhartha’s soul will rest in peace if we can learn and live the above lessons from his life and death because then, how he lived and how he died would not be in vain.
My 74 years old mother always has interesting stories to share that I love listening to, even at 45 :-) I listen to them with greater fascination and enthusiasm as I am growing older. There’s always a hidden gold nugget for me to take away, a truth beautifully wrapped in an engaging story presented in a whole new way that it sticks even more deeply than ever before. Here’s a recent story she told me that still has me smiling.
A king cut his finger and shared his plight with his wise minister, who responded by saying - “That’s good.” The king was furious and threw his minister in the jail. The minister smiled a knowing smile at his predicament and said - “That’s good.”
The next day, the king went for a hunt in the nearby jungle. He got captured by a tribe looking for a human sacrifice to appease the Gods. When their priest was getting him ready for the sacrifice, he saw his cut finger and turned towards the tribal leaders to tell them that the captive was not fit for sacrifice as he was not whole and complete. The tribals let him go.
The king ran as fast as he could towards his palace. And, the first thing he did on reaching his palace was to release his wise minister from the jail. He summoned him to the court and told him - I now understand why cutting my finger was a good thing. But, what was the good in your going to the jail?
The minister smiled and replied - Oh, King. If I weren’t in the jail, I would have accompanied you to the jungle and would have got captured along with you. After letting you go because of your cut finger, they would have sacrificed me. Thank Goodness, I was in the jail because of which I am still alive.
I smile as I look back in life at every situation that felt like the worst possible circumstance to be in. It always turned out in a way that changed the direction of my life towards something better, bigger, brighter. Whether it was a job that I didn’t get or professional growth that didn’t come at a satisfactory pace or a relationship that didn’t work or sickness or the struggle of building my business or NOs to my numerous requests / ideas / proposals. Each situation that I have resisted and fought hard against turned out to be a gift that I only saw when I gave up the struggle after getting tired of fighting and banging my head against a wall.
I had an opportunity to sit with my 75 years old dad and his equally young friend for a day and a half at the hospital waiting for a battery of tests that Dad had to undergo. In our culture, parents’ friends are like your own uncles and aunts. And, Kharbanda Uncle had us, at the same time, laughing and in deep awe of the insights that we discovered in his stories. He kept Dad and me in great cheerful and positive energy inspite of the fact that we had recently discovered that Dad has a large tumour ticking away like a time-bomb in his brain.
Will share two insights from the many that I took away from those conversations. He spoke about the concept of “akaaran khushi” which translates to “Happiness without a reason”. He said that as long as our happiness is for a reason, then it is not true and will not sustain. Real happiness is from deep inside and is for no reason. Our purpose as humans is to learn to evolve from being happy for a reason to being happy for no reason.
The second insight was that our physical tiredness begins the moment we allow dislike for what we are doing enter our mind. Liking or disliking what we are doing or what we have in our circumstance is our choice. The moment we allow our mind to embrace what there is; tiredness, exhaustion, stress and hence dis-ease leaves us.
Within 10 days of discovering Dad had a brain tumour, my sisters and I found ourselves outside the operation theatre. Fortunately for us, our mother has taught us to trust Nature and the process of Life. And, to make the choice to be happy and grateful, trusting the goodness in everything that comes our way. She had another story for us to remind us of her teaching.
One set of parents came crying to the doctor - “Save our only son. Doctor, save our only child.” The wise Doctor pronounced that the son would take a long time to heal. The second set of parents, their emotional energy centred and peaceful, came to the doctor and said - “Our son is not well. Please heal him.” The Doctor responded - “Your child will heal fast.”
That reminded me of a real story I had read of 2 cancer patients with the same prognosis, on the same treatment protocol, in the same hospital, at the same stage of disease. Though there was a big difference in their Being. I don’t use the word attitude because it is skin-deep. Attitude comes from who you are as a Human Being. You may practise to have the right attitude but it doesn’t shift a thing till it doesn’t come from deep inside you, from your very Being of the Human that you are. So, the story goes, the first lady was sad, angry and upset with her cancer diagnosis while the second lady was happy and cheerful inspite of her cancer diagnosis. Few months later, the first one died because of cancer; and the second lady won the battle against cancer and survived.
So, my sisters and I spent the 7 hours, that Dad was inside getting his surgery done, in deep joyous conversations deepening our connection with each other even further after many years of being lost in the maze of life. The doctor who was conspicuous in hardly speaking a reassuring word to us or even smiling kindly at us to allay our fears before the surgery, came out smiling from the Operation Theatre and pronounced that the surgery was successful, they had been able to remove the entire tumour and that Dad was in a stable condition.
I have lot more stories to share. Let that be the material of my next conversation with you.
Love, gratitude and reverence for all of Life and that includes you,
I believe that the next stage of evolution of the human consciousness is through business. Its through building great businesses that the leaders at the helm of those businesses and employees who are part of that journey find themselves on their own journey of inner transformation. Both the outer journey of creating a great business and the inner journey of personal transformation are intrinsically inter-connected. One journey cannot happen without the other.
Michael Gerber does genius level work in making the complex business of building an extraordinary business into a simple step by step process. In all the research on why 9 out of 10 start-ups fail, there's very little that captures the human element. There's very little that tells the story from the heart, mind and spirit of the business owner. That is why The EMyth connects, educates and inspires a shift needed for the founder to get the business out from the '9 out of 10' statistic to '1 out of 10'.
This is one book that spends more time telling you what and how to make that shift instead of merely stating 'why' of failure. It also gives a whole new perspective on the 'why' that leaves you with quite a few 'aha' moments.
The EMyth is one of the essential reads from the recommended book list in the entrepreneurship program I run for business owners. Running a business without having read this book is like committing entrepreneurial hara kiri.
Here's an extract from the first quarter of the book to give you a taste of what this book is about.
Wishing you the deeply fulfilling joyous journey of building a great business.
The first stage of stepping into authentic leadership is building your Agility of Mind leadership muscle. As I work with leaders to step into discovering what is authentic leadership and making that a way of life to lead their lives, professionally and personally, from good to great; I find that from good to great is a 5-stage journey. Each stage is about elevating one’s consciousness by developing a specific leadership muscle. Each subsequent muscle requires the preceding muscles to be at the highest level of fitness.
Here are the 5 muscles in the order in which they need to be strengthened. Actually, the right word really is ‘can’ be strengthened and not ‘need’ because human consciousness can only be elevated in that order as below:
Gear 0 - Good Life. Good Business. A vague sense of emptiness; and disconnect with oneself and others. Living life as a Victim or a Fighter. Stress and not being at the highest level of fitness is an accepted part of life.
Evolve to Gear 1 by strengthening A. Agility of Mind™ leadership muscle
Evolve to Gear 2 by strengthening B. Being of Service™ leadership muscle
Evolve to Gear 3 by strengthening C. Communicating in the world of others™ leadership muscle
Evolve to Gear 4 by strengthening D. Delivery on your word™ leadership muscle
Evolve to Gear 5 by strengthening E. Excellence™ leadership muscle. Great Life. Deeply Fulfilling Successful Profitable Business. Loving Harmonious Relationships at Work and at Home. Happy Responsible Kids with their Genius Joyfully Expressed. Nourishing Nurturing Me-time. Highest level of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual fitness. Making a Difference. Creating an Impact. Making a Dent in the Universe. Peaceful Warrior.
The above is the journey from being a Victim or a Fighter, both limiting ways of Being, to being a Peaceful Warrior, a Gear 5 Leader.
The way to evolve is to work at the level of habits across the 4 bodies of our Being - physical, emotional, intellectual / mental, spiritual. Bit by bit working at the level of habits across the 4 bodies of our Being, we grow from inside out, get connected to our own authentic self experiencing coming home to ourself. Our consciousness evolves when we go beyond understanding a concept intellectually to experiencing it viscerally and living from there.
Before moving forward, let me explain what is a Distinction. Imagine an Object inside a ball. How many points are there on the ball to view at the Object? Numerous, isn’t it? At each point on the ball to view the Object from, won’t the Object look different. At two points on the ball, the views will even be contradictory. Then, which view is the Truth? What if I tell you that the Object inside the ball is Reality. View from which Point, alternatively which Point of View of that Reality is the Truth?
The point that you choose you stand at determines what you see. What you see determines your actions and therefore your outcome.
How do you decide which point to stand at?
The point from where you can access your inner power (Power to Create™) to fulfil your highest intentions and realise your greatest dreams is the point to stand at to view the Object called Reality. That Point of View is called a Distinction. My job as a coach is for you to discover the Distinctions on your own as your own Truths so that you become them instead of you learning them by heart because I tell them to you. Though I will still tell you the Distinctions so that you know what you are looking for. You know you have discovered a Distinction when you get an INSIGHT (sight turned inwards instead of outwards), an AHA or a Eureka moment when you discover something about yourself that you hadn’t known before and that gives you the missing key to unlock part of your inner power. The discovery may be as quiet as a ‘Hmmm’ and silence afterwards. Coaching is a skill for you to access insights, uncover Blind Spots and discover Distinctions to live from a place of power.
A leadership muscle is a state of consciousness defined by a level of physical, emotional, intellectual / mental and spiritual fitness achieved through letting go of limiting habits and taking on growth habits across the 4 bodies of our Being. By consistently working on habits on a daily basis, Distinctions associated with that leadership muscle begin to become a way of life.
Today, lets discuss what is Agility of Mind™ and its relationship to Leadership Development. This is the first stage of leadership development. Your Agility of Mind™ leadership muscle is fully developed if you can live moment by moment the below 5 Distinctions, or 5 Distinct Ways of perceiving reality:
a. I am responsible for all that happens in my space.
b. Being able to experience one’s own self as whole, complete and perfect with nothing to fix or change. Living in the authentic experience of - I am extraordinary and I love myself. Being able to make the choice to be happy and fulfilled, irrespective of situations and people.
c. Being able to see 360 degree view of any reality. Being able to stand in a place where you can see that your deepest beliefs are really your points of view; and that contradictory beliefs are just as valid. To live in the joyous experience of - Your point of view is just as valid as my point of view.
d. Being able to recognise your own upsets and have the agility of mind to drop them by recognising that the source of your upsets is not out there but in here, that you are not upset because of how people are and how they are not or because of adverse circumstances. You get upset because your expectation didn’t get fulfilled, what you want to communicate you could not, your intention didn’t get realised. When you can understand that your expectations, communications, intentions belong to you, not to others; then you can laugh loudly when Upset tries to take you in its grip.
Being able to recognise your Small Mind™ hiding behind every upset and strengthening your Agility of Mind™ to shift it to your Big Mind™.
e. Recognising all your complaints as your Small Mind™ in disguise and being able to use your Agility of Mind™ to see positive aspects instead of giving in to complaining.
There are 3 levels of competencies in strengthening your leadership muscles. Before we start our journey of inner leadership development, we are unconsciously incompetent.
a. Starter: This is when we live from the Distinctions of the Leadership Muscle or Gear of Evolution only 20% of the time. The reason you progress is that 80% of the time when you are not living the Distinctions, you are aware that you have fallen off your path and get back every time. You fall off and yet you make the choice to come back to the path. This level of competency is also called Conscious Incompetence.
b. Champion: At this level of expertise, you are living from the Distinctions of the Leadership Muscle or Gear of Evolution 80% of the time. The 20% of the time you fall off, you make the choice to come back to the path of living from the Distinctions. This level of competency is also called Conscious Competence.
c. Mastery - At this level, you are living from the Distinctions of the Leadership Muscle or Gear of Evolution 100% of the time, without even being in conscious awareness of it. You become the Distinctions. This level of competency is also called Unconscious Competence.
Inner Leadership Development can only happen at the level of habits across the 4 bodies of our Being. Let's explore few daily habits that will support us to strengthen Agility of Mind™ leadership muscle to elevate our consciousness to Gear 1 of Evolution:
i. Exercising - Yoga, Martial Arts, Functional Training
iv. Acknowledgements - Viscerally experiencing your wins
v. Gratitudes - Viscerally experiencing your blessings
vi. Buddy Conversation - Experiencing being listened to by a committed listener
vii. Reading Books if you don’t read books and stopping to read for some time, if you are an avid reader.
viii. Identifying what you resist, fear, hate to do, get embarrassed doing, don’t want to do, makes you uneasy and uncomfortable; and then doing exactly that.
The journey to your highest self, to the highest expression of your inner genius is a journey which is both deeply fulfilling and joyous. Wishing you the strength to choose that path.
May you choose this gift of Life. That is my intention for you. That is my prayer for you.
Further Recommended Reading:
1. How to use Gratitude as a Leadership Tool for Business Growth?
2. How Reverence for all of Life Supports you to Lead your Business from Good to Great?
3. Without Integrity, nothing works; not even your business. Why, and What to do about it?
4. Why Must You Deepen Yourself in Mastery Consciousness to Lead your Business to Market Leadership?
Met an ex-colleague after 10 years. He looked younger than he had then. He retired few years ago after contributing massively to one of the largest multinational IT companies. Originally from India, now an Australian citizen, living for most times in Singapore, he keeps coming back to India. Though, he is on multiple boards, is a serial entrepreneur successfully and profitably running several businesses of his own, is a mentor to numerous start-ups; he is most passionate about a give-back project he is doing in Udaipur (his place of birth, his home town) of bringing world-class technology education to a local college.
I love having joyous, real, authentic conversations - as much with the drivers of the electric rickshaws, drivers of Ubers / Olas as with my client community from around the world, with the people from the various communities that I have the privilege to be a part of, with anyone with whom I have the fortune to share a bit of a journey this lifetime, whichever the context. And, from all these conversations, I uncovered a secret that I will share with you today. You will find it hidden in the brief story I told you about my ex-colleague above.
Our degree of happiness is a function of how deeply we are connected to our roots, how much contribution we have made to the communities that we come from. We are tribal at heart and our tribes define us. It is only in coming home to our own village that we can find our way back to who we are as human beings.
No tribe is better than the other, just that my tribe gives me a sense of belonging that no other tribe can; just as it is for you. I can only have deep respect for all tribes if I can reconnect to the deep respect within me for my own tribe. I can contribute to other tribes powerfully when I have contributed to my own first. Just like, only in finding a deep connection with my mom and dad can I find the deep connection with my own self; and then only can I uncover a deep connection with all beings in the world.
The reason the programs I run create massive outcomes for my clients is because apart from coaching them to create business success; among other things, I also work with them on their relationship with their parents if I smell a disconnect. There always is a little bit of disconnect, that is part of our coming into adulthood. Unfortunately, this disconnect is part of our human design.
Even as a coach with all my deep understanding of human behaviour, psychology and the rest of it; I will still end up creating disconnect in my kids’ hearts. Though the story should not end there. The story must continue with me working on myself and creating an environment for the kids to work on themselves to remove the disconnect. It is important to remove the disconnect because it comes in the way of our experiencing ourself and other people in our lives as whole, complete and perfect; which is the source of troubled relationships at work and at home. This is also a hidden source of stress which messes up our health, well-being, productivity, performance, creativity, innovation and impact.
It doesn’t matter whether our parents are with us or have transitioned to another realm, it is always possible to reconnect powerfully with them with love, gratitude and reverence; not from a sense of obligation but from a deep visceral sense of joyous embrace of the source from where we sprang forth.
A deep connection is only the first step to come home to ourselves. The next step is to contribute to our mom and dad. In doing that, we will find the energy and strength to contribute to our own self by nourishing and nurturing our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual bodies. That will get us reconnected to the primal need to contribute to our tribe, the communities that we are a part of, our country’s consciousness that flows through our blood. In that contribution will we experience being whole and stand tall to let our inner Sun shine brightly to light up the world. In our doing so, our children will learn to do the same, the people who are entrusted to our care at work will learn to do the same. From there will spring forth unimaginable levels of health and fitness, performance, productivity, creativity, innovation and the massive impact that we are meant to make through our lifetime.
I highly recommend to all coaches, leaders and parents to understand this part of the jigsaw puzzle called leadership development. Before moving forward, let me tell you that another phrase for leadership development is “elevating human consciousness”; in people entrusted to our care at home and at work, by elevating our own first.
And, yet, beyond physical tribes, we belong to intellectual, emotional and spiritual tribes that may as well be globally dispersed. We can only find higher connection by laddering up from physical (our roots), intellectual, emotional to finally, spiritual tribes.
We are meant to belong to each other, though first we must belong to our own self. When we evolve to experiencing ourselves as whole, complete and perfect, we will find every relationship whole, complete and perfect. The problem is we are seeking relationships, external success, wealth, fame, creative hobbies, sports and everything on the outside to make us experience wholeness, completeness and perfection on the inside. That’s what we are really seeking.
The only way to get there is not by trying to create something outside of ourselves, it is by going within to do the deep inner work to evolve from the stressful forceful ’survival consciousness’ to the restful, joyous, soothing, tranquil, equanimous, lyrical, poetical, melodious, gently flowing ’abundance consciousness’. That transformation within shifts you from good to great, professionally and personally.
May you choose this gift of transformation. That is my intention for you. That is my prayer for you.
This perhaps is the most frequent question I am asked by my clients. Here is my answer to this question, trusting it will serve not only my clients but all in the world of business to generate big sales and become prosperous.
1. If your intention is to sell, you will not close the sale because people don’t like to be sold to.
2. The only reason someone buys a product / service is because they have a genuine need for it; not because you are a smart salesperson who managed to hoodwink them into parting with their money.
3. The purpose of a sale is to fulfil a need, not to make the sales person earn money.
4. If to whom you are trying to sell does not experience an authentic human connection with you, he / she will not trust you. Without TRUST, a sale cannot happen. Whenever a sale falls through, ask yourself the question - How do I rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much the potential customer trusts me?
5. If you think all you have to do to make a sale happen is to create a snazzy website, a cool visiting card, create hoopla on social media and send messages to all your family, friends and various groups you are a part of on WhatsApp; you will soon shut shop as many numerous startups that I have seen go bust with either their passion or their cash burning out much before they found their profitable, repeatable, scalable business model.
6. Understand if you are starting-up, phase 1 is about discovering working in which field will fill you up with joyous passion that no amount of downs in your business can dim its intensity. It is about discovering what your purpose is, what makes your heart sing, feet dance on their own to a song that never stops.
Having found such a business idea, your next job is NOT to sell. The next stage is about deeply understanding your target customer community. Selling becomes the pretext to facilitate that. You don’t sell in this stage to earn money. You sell in this stage to design your product / service that has customers chase you, instead of you chasing the customers to buy from you. This 2nd stage is about discovering a profitable business model, not by closing the sale but by connecting with people in your customer community, inviting them for a conversation to make a difference to their lives through the 1st iteration of your product / service, making a difference to them if they say yes to having that conversation with you, proposing to them if it feels what you have to offer will contribute to them.
You learn at every step how to design that Blue Ocean product / service - when they refuse to connect, when they say NO to your invitation for a conversation to discuss how you could make a difference to them through your product / service, when they say NO to your proposal. Every NO here is more valuable than the one chance sale that you may make in this stage, because you are getting valuable information on what the customer community really needs.
Please don’t try to close a sale at this stage because this stage is not about closing the sale. This stage is about really understanding who your customer is, what does he or she wants (Can someone innovate the English language to get us one word for He and She?), what does he or she needs, what are his / her hidden desires, what is her / his problem that you are trying to solve.
Business building is an iterative process. There is no such thing as overnight success. Legendary success is created over 10 to 20 years. If you cannot enjoy the long-drawn step-by-step iterative ambiguous process of building a great business, it may be better to pick up a job instead.
7. Assuming you have discovered through the iterative process the product / service that has your customer community chase you because you are solving a problem that they really want to solve and are willing to pay you money to solve it. At this stage, your business model is profitable.
The next stage (Stage 3) is to make your Business Model repeatable and then scalable. How do you make your Business Model Repeatable - by ensuring that with the same input, you get the same output which is a 'super delighted customer who can’t wait to talk about your business with his family, friends and colleagues'. Yes, this stage is about defining processes so accurately that you can pick up anyone from the road and they can run your business.
Scalability is built into the business model by making yourself redundant. Please understand making yourself redundant is not about finding the right resources. Let me keep this burning topic for the next day to discuss.
How do you close a sale at this stage? You do that by having a pre-defined step-by-step process on how to make a sale happen based on your experience of successfully doing it. You figured that process at the end of stage 2 and continued to refine it in stage 3. It is time to train your people on that process.
Closing the Sale becomes a completely different process in stage 4 (Scaling up) and stage 5 (Corporatizing) of the business-building process.
Here are few excerpts from the book by my favourite teacher of Starting-up - The Start-up Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank - interspersed with the teachings of Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™ on building a great business.
Wishing you deeply fulfilling, successful, abundance-creating business that contributes to your customer and employee communities, and to you and your family.
Have you ever experienced that you have so many ideas to solve a problem and yet when you give them all to your people, nothing happens. Nothing gets implemented. The problem remains just as unsolved as before, even growing bigger. You end up being frustrated and irritated because you did tell the solution and you know that your solution will fix the problem in its bud and create amazing results. But, the people to whom you give your ideas to continue to resist you and resist doing what you tell them to do.
And, then, you begin to face the same problem with your kids. They have so many more opportunities than you had. And, yet, they are floundering these opportunities and the resources that you are working hard to provide to them. Leave alone being grateful, they don’t even listen to you. You know exactly what they need to do. If they did exactly that, their lives will begin to shine. And, yet, they continue to resist you, resist doing what you tell them to do.
What’s happening here?
So far, while you were an Individual Contributor at the workplace or your kids were not pre-teens as yet, your brilliant ideas supported you to create success because you were implementing them. Now, that your role has changed. Instead of an Individual Contributor, you are a Leader at work and at home. Your success is a function of other people (your team or your kids) implementing your ideas, your old model of Being will not only not support you to create the success that you dream of, it actually will hinder you from moving forward as you will come face to face with a wall of resistance from those who you are privileged to lead, both at work and at home.
You may use the brute force of your charisma, the power of your personality and conviction to get people to follow your lead but that’ll take you only that far. You may end up leading your organization to climb the tree but flying to the moon will escape you.
If you are committed to creating impact, making a massive difference, making a dent in the Universe by leading your business from good to great, have loving harmonious relationships at work and at home, raise happy responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed, nourish and nurture yourself to connect with your highest self; then listen.
Yes, LISTEN and not tell. Yes, LISTEN and not TELL. Don’t tell them what to do. I know your ideas will make them fly so high, but they cannot fly with your ideas. Just as a baby bird can only fly with her own wings. They can only fly with ideas that are their own. They can’t see with your Light. They can only see and walk with their own inner Light. Giving them all the knowledge and information to convince them to do what you are telling them to do is making zero difference to them because they are not listening. They are not listening because they haven’t become leaders as yet and don’t know how to listen. The constant chatter in their head about the limiting view of themselves, of you and of life itself are 3 big walls that does not allow anything to enter.
You are privileged to be a Leader. It is your privilege to grow beyond the default design of a human being, become aware of your own chatter in your head and STILL it, so that you can LISTEN. It is your privilege to drop your 3 walls so that you create a space for them to drop their 3 walls. Then you can really step into their world and communicate in their world so that they really understand what you are saying.
Till that time, you will say, they will resist because they haven’t as yet learnt to LISTEN. It’s your privilege to grow your inner leadership, to increase your leadership depth to listen, understand and lead your people at work and kids at home to their own ideas, to their own solutions so that they can implement them. Your job as a leader is no longer to be a star performer, it is to create a space for star performers to grow to their highest potential.
Next time, someone comes to you with a problem, create a space of listening by asking questions. Not questions to make them wrong but genuine questions, sourced in deep love and care for who they are as human beings. As you ask questions which uplift and expand them, their inner wisdom will trigger and yes, they will come up with solutions that are much better than yours. That is our privilege as leaders and as parents, to raise our people and our kids to become better than us by letting them find their own answers and solutions rather than creating fixed structures for them to follow based on our own knowledge and information.
As leaders and parents, it is our privilege to do 10 times of what we ask our people and our kids to do.
As leaders, it our privilege to unconditionally give our love, acceptance and care to our people as we would give to our kids because just as we are custodians of our children, we are custodians of our people. They have been placed in our care and it is our privilege to provide them a space of loving kindness, total acceptance and gentle caring for them to throw the lampshade off their inner Light to fearlessly shine brightly.
As leaders and parents, it is our privilege to coach our people and children to fulfil their highest intentions and realise their greatest dreams; not by telling them what to do but by leading them with questions and guiding them to uncover their inner wisdom to find their own answers, their own solutions.
To be such a leader, it is our privilege to be on an inner journey to come home to who we authentically are.
Wishing you the self-awareness, courage and strength to be on such a journey.
Further Recommended Reading:
1. How to use Gratitude as a Leadership Tool for Business Growth?
2. How Reverence for all of Life Supports you to Lead your Business from Good to Great?
3. Without Integrity, nothing works; not even your business. Why, and What to do about it?
4. Why Must You Deepen Yourself in Mastery Consciousness to Lead your Business to Market Leadership?
I went to watch the final day of the top golfing event of the country yesterday - Hero Indian Open. I followed the leader of the first 3 days. After a dissatisfactory tee-off at one of the holes in the back 9 of the golf course, he beat the ground with his club. At that moment, I had an inner knowing that he will not win the tournament. After almost being an easy winner based on first 3 days performance, he ended up 4th earning only USD 80,850 instead of USD 291,660.
My 10-year old son was volunteering at the event and had the fortune to be with the 3-ball that the tournament winner was a part of on one of the 4 days of the event. I asked him to describe his experience and he described the tournament champion as having so much humility, being kind and cool even after a particularly bad shot.
I heard other stories of other players cursing or throwing their club down or at the caddy, when a shot didn’t go their way.
I have seen this as much in Business, as in Sports and in all other areas. Your craft mastery only takes you forward that much. Beyond a point, how much of an expert you are no longer counts. Of course, it is what gives you entry to the top league in the first place but to be the leader of the top league and to stay there; you need something more.
After you have worked your way up the pyramid, everyone is now working just as hard with almost similar resources. Let’s call Craft Mastery (being a master of your domain, a super expert) the first lever in the game of Life. You have to put in the 10,000 hours of purposeful, persistent, deliberate practise (made famous by Ericsson) for you to reach at the top of your industry.
Once you are top 100 of your field, what then gives you the leverage to be number 1? It is no longer Craft Mastery. What got you to Top 100 or Top 1000 league will no longer take you forward.
What, then, is the second lever? Compare the 2 players above, the one who could have been number 1 and the one who did become number 1. Notice the difference between the two players’ response to an adverse situation and their way of Being. Observe the stupendous difference between their earnings. That is what the second lever does - push you to Top 10. I call the 2nd Lever - Leadership Depth which is who you really are on the inside. Humility, kindness, still calmness in the face of chaos are all characteristics of people who have worked hard at growing on the inside. Their success and prosperity on the outside becomes a mere reflection of the shine inside.
You can beat the ground, people around you, yourself but all that will not get you to win the tournament of life.
Lets say, you made it to Top 10. The 2nd Lever will no longer take you forward. You need a 3rd Lever. What could that be? For fans of Bollywood and Indian History, what made 21 soldiers fight a heroic battle at Saragarhi against 10,000 to 12,000 Afghans? What made the Indian Women underdog hockey team win in Chak De, one of my favourite Hindi movies?
Let's take an example from Business. Under JRD Tata’s leadership, the assets of his business assets grew from Rs 62 crore in 1939 to more than Rs 10,000 crore in 1990. He is a founder of many landmark Indian businesses - Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata Salt, Voltas and Air India - contributing significantly to the economic prosperity of our country.
What is common between the 21 Sikh soldiers of Saragarhi, the Chak De team and JRD Tata that had them be so successful in their own domains?
Each one of them were not playing their game for personal wins, they were instead standing up for a cause so much bigger than who they were.
There are JRD Tata’s words - If I were to attribute any single reason to such success as I have achieved, I would say that success would not have been possible without a sustained belief that what I did or attempted to do would serve the needs and interests of our country and our people and that I was a trustee of such interests.
The Chak De Team weren’t playing for themselves. They weren’t playing to earn money. They were playing for the freedom of the spirit of womanhood, which they experienced being denied to them. They were playing for their country, for the sense of belongingness to their country beyond the region, state or religion they belonged to. The Saragarhi bravehearts were fighting for the honour of their community, for the honour of their country.
That is the 3rd Lever. I call that lever Business Excellence or Sports Excellence, depending on the domain. As long as you are running your business or playing professional sports to earn money for yourself and your family, so much of your inner power is denied to you. When you can evolve to be a stand for a cause, have your work be a way for you to live your purpose to make a difference in the world; you have unlocked the 3rd lever.
Wishing you 'all the 3 unlockings' to experience deep joyous fulfilment and abundance at levels unimaginable before.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.