Welcome rough days, look forward to rough days because you learn, grow and evolve massively on your rough days, if you follow the process of digging for diamonds. Growth diamonds are not available on good days. Another word for Growth Diamonds are Blind Spots, something about ourselves that impede our progress and cause us to have rough days and yet, we cannot see them. Growth is really moving from discovering one blind spot to another and it is a life-long journey. The moment we arrive at a place where we feel we have become the greatest version of ourselves and that there are no more blind spots to be discovered, that is the day we die spiritually, emotionally and mentally; though, physically we may continue to live for a very long time afterwards.
Beyond the basic necessities of life - roti, kapda aur makaan (food, clothes and shelter) - we humans crave to make a difference because that is our access to our Space of Grace where we experience unconditional happiness, happiness without a cause or a reason; happiness that is no longer because of someone or something. It just courses through our body on its own, leaving us feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, full of joyous vitality and energy. Instead of getting pulled into the chaos outside, we pull people into the peace within us and have people be soothed, settled and be at ease with themselves and with the process of life in our space. That is the moment that we have truly arrived.
It is our rough days that gives us the access to our blind spots; discovery of which supports us to make a bigger difference through our work and leads us forward with velocity towards our Space of Grace. So, receive your rough days with joyous gratitude as the gift of the Universe, which always has your back. If you don't feel that the Universe has your back, that is your first discovery of a blind spot.
There is a process to follow to go on a journey to dig for growth diamonds / blind spots and here it is for you:
1. The first step is to acknowledge to yourself that you have had a rough day and step into the commitment to dig for growth diamonds. For us to have the inner strength to do this on the rough days, we need a daily practise of Review and Reflection at the end of the day. With this daily practice, when the rough days arrive (which they surely will) our muscle memory will kick in for us to do the Review and Reflection. Without Review and Reflection, all our diamonds go underground and are not available the next day.
2. The next step is to journal or have a conversation with your coach. If you are journaling, answer the below questions as you have a conversation with yourself:
i. What am I feeling? - Identify a specific feeling, instead of just saying good or bad. High performers usually are not in touch with their emotions, which is what becomes the barrier for their further growth. If you struggle to identify the emotion, check out the range of 22 emotions on slide 24 in this presentation - Power to Create™. The moment you are able to exactly identify the emotion and allow yourself to fully feel it, you will feel release of tension from your body.
ii. What am I thinking that is making me feel this way? - All stress, tension and limiting emotions that leave us not feeling good are an outcome of limiting thoughts that we have about ourselves, about other people and and about life itself. Let's call this thought pattern - small mind.
We are, by default, hardwired with our special version of the 'small mind'. Some of us become victims of our circumstances, in response to the small mind; and end up becoming Low Performers. High Performers become fighters in response to their small mind, fight with themselves to hide the small mind from their own self, fight the world to get what they want at a huge personal cost and end-up with lots of success but feeling like an imposter (Imposter Syndrome). All the success and money they worked hard for does not fulfil them, there's an underlying unconscious tension in the body all the time and the heart feels empty.
Yet, there's a 3rd way to be - acknowledge the small mind, learn to rewire our default survival / fear sourced small mind to step up to our Space of Grace. Let's call our Space of Grace - Big Mind. When we make this choice, we battle with our small mind on the inside instead of its reflections in the world outside. We become the Peaceful Warrior, the Super Performer. We are in the flow and step into our zone of genius.
iii. What sensations arise in my body on account of the feelings I have and the limiting thoughts that are cluttering my mind?
This creates high level of self-awareness and a lesser probability of venting out our angst and frustration on people in our lives, at work and at home, and hurting them because of the rough time we have had.
iv. What's present in me, the absence of which would have made a difference?
v. What's absent in me, the presence of which would have made a difference?
vi. What do I now understand, which I hadn't understood before?
vii. What can I see now, which I hadn't seen before?
viii. What did I learn?
ix. What one action, however tiny, will I take as an outcome of this deep self-reflection?
x. What are my powerful questions which will lead me forward?
After doing this level of deep self-inquiry, you will find your power coming back, exhaustion melting and a resurge of energy to take on the world.
Without this process, there is a tendency of wanting to crawl into bed, stay there for long and call in sick. Don't do that. Also, don't do any other work till the time you clear your space through this reflective process.
3. This process of deep inquiry - self-driven or with your coach - will reveal growth diamonds / blind spots. The interesting thing about blind spots is that the moment they come in awareness, the work to go beyond begins. With the discovery of a blind spot, you have progressed from unconscious incompetence in that area to conscious incompetence. You can now create a structure of success to step up to conscious competence. Practise long enough and unconscious competence is not far away.
Therefore, the 3rd step is to identify your blind spot through the process of deep-dive reflection and put a structure of success in place to step up from conscious incompetence to conscious competence to unconscious competence (mastery).
If you have a coach, then your coach becomes your accountability partner, else find a committed listener who can be your accountability buddy. Without someone showing you the mirror, progress is not really possible and the whole exercise remains intellectual; instead of visceral. Only a visceral, in-body, emotional experience can result in a real transformational shift on the inside because intelligence may be in the mind but wisdom is in the body. Your mind may have thoughts but your body feels the intuition and your emotions, which are more competent guides to your true north pole than your thoughts.
Wishing you the joyous experience of ongoing growth towards your greatest self.
I have been a workaholic. When I wasn't so self-aware, I used to believe with pride it was because of my impeccable work ethics, high level of commitment to my work and passion for what I am doing. After enormous inner work, I came face to face with an ugly truth that I was a workaholic because of instant gratification that I receive at work for completing a task, because of a sense of achievement I feel at ticking off an item from my checklist. The real truth was that I was nicely enmeshed in the Activity Trap without even being aware of it. The real truth was also that it is emotionally easier to be working than to be dealing with emotionally difficult issues at home, it is easier to work on a task than dealing with relationships and one's own limiting habits which come in the way of personal mastery. So, I had worked myself to burn-out much before I was 40 that hopped off the corporate bandwagon on an entrepreneurial journey in search of a profitable, repeatable, scalable Business Model. That search forced me to go on an inner journey of self-discovery and growth because whether we like it or not, our businesses end up becoming a mirror of who we are as human beings. That is why, an entrepreneur is on a Hero's journey in search of greatness outside and inside. Without connecting to the Light within, a great business will not get built.
I learnt massively in my journey as an entrepreneur in the last 10 years. Here are some of the learnings regarding getting work done more efficiently:
1. Work less hours to produce more value and impact: I am more productive, creative, effective and efficient if I work for 6 hours with focus, instead of 12 hours. If I am working for 6 hours, I can write an article in 2 hours; while if I have a 12 hour schedule, I end up creating a similar article with lesser impact in 6 hours. And, if I have spent 5 minutes drawing out the outline of the article during planning stage, I get done much earlier. This seems to show up irrespective of the nature of work - meetings get wrapped up faster with quicker and more creative solutioning, problem solving is quicker, lesser mistakes while creating any artefacts.
I interviewed Andrew Barnes, Founder and Managing Director, Perpetual Guardian, New Zealand because I was curious about the 4-day work week he had implemented in his company. In February 2018, Barnes announced that Perpetual Guardian would be doing a trial of four-day work week, with staff receiving an extra day off work, on full pay, each week. Staff were not required to work additional hours on their four working days. In July 2018, at the completion of the trial, the trial had been a resounding success with productivity up 20%, staff stress levels down, customer engagement levels up more than 30%, revenue remaining stable and costs decreasing, therefore resulting in increased profitability. Staff engagement and work-life balance also improved.
Productivity graph between productivity on the y-axis and number of working hours on the x-axis is an A curve. You will increase your productivity by increasing your number of hours in the beginning; but after a point (lets, call that point - Point of Zero Returns), productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and creativity falls sharply.
For me, the Point of Zero Returns is around 6 hours. So, I work from 6 am to 1:30 pm with 2 half an hour breaks in the middle.
Pioneering researcher Nathan Kleitman discovered that our bodies operate in 90 minutes rhythm (Ultradian Rhythm) not only during the night but also during the day when we move from higher alertness to lower alertness.
In his renowned 1993 study of young violinists, performance researcher Anders Ericsson found that the best ones all practiced the same way: in the morning, in three increments of no more than 90 minutes each, with a break between each one. Ericsson discovered the same pattern among other musicians, athletes, chess players and writers.
You could experiment to find your Point of Zero Returns and scheduling your day in slots of 90 minutes interspersed with breaks.
2. The Anti-Routine: In conversations with most CEOs, I am almost hit by a palpable energy of stress and tension, even over a Zoom call, that they are vibrating with. Unfortunately, most times, they are not even conscious of this anxiety in the background present at every moment. This background continual hum of anxiety is a huge drain on creativity, effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. Since they all are High Performers, they are able to deliver massive results even with this huge drain on their system but it comes at a tremendous personal cost. I continually hear the desire to retire to give back to society, to contribute, to leave a legacy. I am left with a deep sense of loss because their highest contribution would be by staying on in the job much beyond retirement and lead their businesses from good to great. Their real legacy is the transformation they can be at the source of in the world through their businesses; transforming what it means to do business, what it means to lead and work, and inside of that what it means to be a human being. This can only happen with an inner shift form being a Fighter High Performer to a Peaceful Warrior Super Performer. And, one of the first things to let go is unsustainable long working hours to create time for what I call The Anti-Routine.
The Routine is the work schedule. The Anti-Routine is the play schedule reserved for family fun time, nourishing nurturing self through exercising, meditating and various other growth habits, playing a sport, learning a creative art and the one that usually gets missed - learning continually about self in search of blind spots.
Einstein credits his breakthrough scientific discoveries to his playing the violin. I can relate to what he is saying because all my major business breakthroughs haven't come when I was working. They all came when I was either meditating, playing golf, learning piano, exercising or on a vacation. It's only when we step outside the painting of our business can we turn around to see the full picture and discover which colours and lines need to be added or deleted to make our business our masterpiece work of art.
All human beings have a masculine (courage, strength, independence, assertiveness, driven to win) and a feminine (empathy, intuition, vulnerability, caring, nurturing) element. It's by bringing the two in balance inside of us do we rise up to our greatest self and become a great leader. Sports is a great way to strengthen the masculine element in us; while learning and investing in a creative art (painting, singing, learning a musical instrument, dancing etc.) strengthens our feminine element.
Discovering our blind spots is the piece of the Anti-Routine which mostly gets missed, and yet is the foundation on which everything else rests. A leader who knows it all, has answers to all questions, solutions to all problems and is already the greatest version of himself / herself is a leader who is not going to lead the business too far. Having a structure to continually look inside to discover places one doesn't want to go to and see things one doesn't want to see is ultimately what will lead us and our businesses from good to great.
3. The Perfectionist Trap: We all know the Pareto's principle and yet most of us don't apply it to reduce our work and increase our output. It has been statistically proven that 20% of the work we do gives us 80% output. and we spend 80% of the remaining time on finishing the remaining 20% work. I have personally experienced the Power of Pareto not only in my own work but also as I coached my clients to implement it in their own work.
Chase excellence, not perfection. Excellence is for the God inside of us, Perfection is for the fickle applause from the outside. At 80% output, assess if it is worthwhile to complete the remaining 20%. If you are reviewing product development, ensure your team co-creates with the customer instead of inside your Ivory Tower office. Such a co-creation will support you to stop at 80%. If you are reviewing sales, check if your sales team knows who their top 20% customers are. Figure out which 20% reviews will give you 80% leverage, mentoring which 20% stars will give you 80% growth, focussing on which 20% objectives will give you 80% velocity in your business. If you are chasing everything and everyone, nothing much may get created.
4. Intention Creation: I also discovered that articulating my 5-Years Intentions helps me to have clarity on the wins to be created in the first year, first quarter, current month, current week and the next day. Writing my intentions in the night for the next day work schedule gives me more horsepower to deliver on them with precision.
5. The Tough Nut: Looking at my task list for the next day as I sit down at the end of day to review and reflect on the day gone by and to create the next day, I use a simple method, which most of us know, and divide the list into 4 categories -
A - Important, Urgent
B - Important, Not Urgent as yet
C - Not Important, Urgent
D - Neither Important, Nor Urgent
I delegate C and cross out D from my list. I prioritize A and schedule it first thing in the morning, followed by B, which are my tough nuts to crack, before I open the doors to the rest of the world. If one is not being aware, what ends up happening is that we do C and D to get instant gratification and a sense of achievement in the first half of the day and push B so much down in the day that it gets missed out and becomes A the next day, leaving us forever in a firefight mode.
The above 5 may support you to get done faster and more efficiently through your work schedule. Yet , you may not be able to fully disconnect from work when you are not at work because you find yourself thinking about work when not at work. Then, even if you creatively force yourself to work less number of hours, you are still caught because your mind continues to stay at work though you have physically moved out. Here's How to Disconnect from Work when not Working:
1. First of all, make a commitment to stay in the present moment. This is a powerful first step because that brings you into awareness when you are not and acts as a positive force to shake you back into the present.
2. Second, practise Aana Paana meditation, the meditation technique Buddha taught for mind control. In this technique, you focus your attention on the triangular region of your nose and upper lip and observe your breath as it goes in and as it goes out. Practise with eyes closed daily and then begin practising it open-eyed so that even while you are listening to someone, you are present to your breath coming in and going out. This stops the chattering monkey called the mind from running in thousand different directions and gets engaged in the game of observing the breath. As the mind becomes still observing the breath, we experience being centred, grounded and present.
3. Have a solid Anti-Routine to immerse your body, mind, heart and soul - a hobby and a sport that you are in love with, along with an intense workout regime. The fact is that we are have far greater ability, expertise and wisdom to contribute, make a difference and live our purpose through our work at 50 than at 40, at 60 than at 50, at 70 than at 60, at 80 than at 70. Therefore, it is our responsibility towards ourselves and more importantly, towards the communities that we are a part of, to ensure that we have Olympic athlete fitness levels because only when we are at the highest level of health, fitness and well-being can we truly contribute, make a difference and live our purpose this lifetime through the work we do.
Retirement is an archaic concept which has no role to play in today's day and age. We are meant to have fun; live with passion, purpose and impact; and make a dent in the Universe through our work that we love, till the last breath of our life, whenever it may come.
4. Include an intense spiritual, emotional and mental work-out in your Anti-Routine to continuously be shown the mirror to your blind spots so that you remain agile not only physically but also spiritually, emotionally and mentally till the day it is time for you to transition to the next phase of your existence. Like one of my favourite wise people, Dr Wayne Dyer, said - We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience. Leading a business from good to great can only happen inside of understanding this truth, as Sara Blakely, the youngest self-made woman billionaire at 41 years of age, found. She credits her business success to listening to Wayne Dyer and applying his principles from the age of 16 years.
5. Immerse yourself in reading books and listening to podcasts by masters in business for Business Excellence, in your domain for Craft Mastery and in the mystery of life for Leadership Depth during your Anti-Routine. This is a powerful way to ensure your mind is not idle, which is when it will have a tendency to brood and ruminate over and over again about work; not allowing you peace of mind even when you have physically disconnected from work. Not only will you find greater inner peace but also learn, grow and evolve with velocity. Warren Buffett, who is world's 4th richest man in the world reads 80% of the time. Bill Gates, who is world's 2nd richest man, reads one book a week.
Wishing you the joy of the journey.
What is Wealth for You?
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.
Pearls of Wisdom
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,
How Being at the Highest Level of Fitness Gives You the Power to Lead your Business to Market Leadership?
To be at the highest level of fitness demands that you do so many things which are uncomfortable, difficult and out of your comfort zone. It needs you to push your body against the rebellion of your mind which is used to being comfortable and living an easy life. It is not so much your body that resists as much as it is your mind that comes in the way of your highest level of fitness.
When you day in day out follow a vigorous and rigorous fitness routine, wake up and force your body to work out when the mind would rather have you snuggle in for an extra snooze in the mornings, you snub the rebellious mind and break free from its tyrannical hold over you.
This daily ignoring of the cries of the mind and doing exactly what it rather not do teaches the mind to be agile and fit; besides letting it know that you are the boss. For the mind to be fit, you have to identify and embrace every resistance it holds within its nooks and crannies by doing exactly what it resists. Then, look for all that the mind fears and embrace all your fears by doing exactly what the mind fears. That’s how you unleash the enormous power of the mind to increase your productivity, performance, creativity and innovativeness.
Only then leading your business beyond the dreary corridors of mediocrity to the freedom of masterful business excellence in the vast expanse of the open skies of your unlimited potential is available to you.
When you can conquer your mind by adhering to a fitness routine of a world-class athlete, then you release enormous energy and find yourself in the joyous experience of amazing levels of strength, stamina and health that you haven’t experienced before. People make the mistake of thinking they need to manage their time better. Actually, you need to manage your energy better. You may not be able to increase the number of hours available in a day but you can for sure increase the amount of energy that you have. Greater your energy, greater your effectiveness, efficiency, productivity and the blissful joy of living your purpose through your work.
And, it has nothing to do with age. At 45, I have more energy than I have ever had in all of my life. It is because I not only have a rigorous fitness training schedule comprising of yoga, martial arts and cross fitness training; I am also very mindful of what I put inside my body. What you eat and drink has as much impact on your energy levels as your exercise regimen.
My coach is 83 years old and is sharper than people much younger to him, so much so that he has me on my intellectual toes sweating my mental muscles during our sessions. My karate coach’s super coach is 73 years old and is still teaching students to reach the highest level of expertise in Karate, doing 100 continuous push-ups along with his students much younger to him during their sessions. My father at 72 has decided to learn golf and is sweating it out on the range.
The fat on your body or any lifestyle disease that you have picked up along the way is a sign of hidden potential waiting to be unleashed. It is a barrier to you living your greatest and most fulfilling life. It comes in the way of your productivity, performance, creativity and innovativeness at your work and in other important areas of your life; and stops you from leading your business from good to great. Sickness and poor health are the biggest time stealers. Rescue yourself from these time wasters by taking responsibility of your health and well-being; and doing whatever it takes to be at the highest level of fitness. You can only work on your emotional, intellectual and spiritual fitness if you have laid the foundation of physical fitness. Being fit at all the 4 bodies of your Being - physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual - is your access to your genius.
Don’t give in to your mind’s excuses for not jumping out of your bed to train yourself to be as fit as an Olympics level athlete. Your body has so much more capacity, ability and wisdom than what your mind credits it for.
Wishing you the euphoric joy of perfect health, fitness and well-being so that you make a massive contribution to the world through your work and as a result to yourself.
Who Are You?
So, the story goes that an old woman was very upset about the new way of life that the Prophet Muhammad was propagating that whenever he would pass her house, she would run up the stairs to throw garbage on him from her balcony. And, all he would do was shake his dress and walk on to the Mosque to pray. Morning and evening, he would pass her house and get greeted by garbage. He never changed his route. All he did was shake off the garbage from himself and move on. One day, no garbage fell on him. Overflowing with love and in deep concern, he walked into her house to check if she was well. So, to be a Muslim means to be pure love for all beings, irrespective of what others do to them.
Rama and Bharata are having an argument just outside a forest. What are they arguing about? Rama says the kingdom belongs to his brother, Bharata; and Bharata says the kingdom belongs to Rama and wants to go to the jungle for 14 years in place of Rama. But, Rama wants to support his father to be Integrity, to honour his Word and goes for the 14 years vanvaas / exile instead of laying claim to the throne. So, to be a Hindu means to be love, reverence and integrity.
Young Nanak's father sends him to the fields to shoo away the birds and prevent them from eating their crop. Even at such a young age, Guru Nanak is overflowing with love and instead of shooing away the birds welcomes them into his farm. The legend has it that that year, their farm had the maximum produce. So, to be a Sikh means to be love and generosity.
Jesus Christ has been brutally nailed to a cross. And, inspite of that pain, all he could think and say about his tormentors is - Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. So, to be a Christian means to be love for all beings, inspite of the pain caused by others.
There were many Buddhas before Gautam, during his time and after him but they didn’t spend their time teaching others what they had learnt. But, Gautam, the Buddha spent his entire life, from age 35 when he attained enlightenment till he left his earthly body at 80 years, teaching people the meditation process that he used for attaining enlightenment, the process that India had lost and he had re-discovered, the meditation process of self-transformation through self-observation.
Gautam, The Buddha, is breathing his last under a tree and the crowd is milling all around him to be with him. One person pushes everybody aside and asks Gautam to teach him the meditation technique because he didn’t trust his disciples to teach him correctly. Even, on his deathbed, Buddha taught what he had discovered with so much love, without a care about the discomfort that his own physical body was in. So, to be a Buddhist, means to be love and to give away all the knowledge one has for the benefit of others.
So, if we are a true Muslim or a true Hindu or a true Sikh or a true Christian or a true Buddhist or are true to whatever other religion we belong to; we are humans destined to be love. We may choose to be Love this Lifetime or may take many Lifetimes to embrace the real essence of who we are. Everything that is happening in our Life - the best, the good, the not-so-good, the bad, the ugly - is pushing us in the direction of being our highest self, our highest idol who we revere and pray to. Praying is not about asking for what we want, praying is asking for the strength to be like the God that we pray to. We are made in the likeness of God and God is Love.
Being on the journey of transformation from our Evolutionary Fears to being Transcendent Love is the purpose of our Life. And, it is in living this purpose through the work we do, the businesses we run, the relationships that we belong to that we find our way and come home to ourselves.
May we all connect with our Light within and experience the homecoming.
Inspiration: Shri S N Goenka
After hating cooking all of my life, 7 years ago, as a young mother, came face to face with my commitment to nourish and nurture my children to health and fitness through the food they eat. My commitment turned out to be stronger than my dislike of anything to do with the kitchen and I signed-up for an Ayurvedic Cooking Course (Health through Food) with Art of Living to learn what to do in the kitchen besides telling the cook what to make.
My commitment held me for 7 long years, which is the time it took me to travel from dislike to disinterest to curiosity to deep interest and engagement in nutrition and its implementation through cooking the food we eat. The journey has taken me through Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Western scientific research.
The more I study, the more I am moving from deep interest towards loving the science of food not only for fulfilling on the primary reason of getting started on this journey but also for self-preservation and for supporting my clients. After all, my clients can only lead their business to deeply fulfilling success and impact when they are at their optimum level of health and fitness.
Couple of interesting observations before I move forward towards the reason I started this article:
1. Love is the inspiration but it is commitment that gets you to take action inspite of the resistance to stepping out of your comfort zone.
2. Results only get created in the magical space just outside your comfort zone.
3. There is no overnight success. You can create any results you can dream of as long as you are willing to make a long-term commitment to creating those results. I have a lifetime commitment to the well-being of my kids, a lifetime commitment to impact the world through coaching and a lifetime commitment to play the game of mastery in all that I do. What are you committed to?
4. Kids are the biggest personal development and growth program you can invest in. I have grown, evolved, learnt so much more as a 13-year old parent.
5. Though, if I hadn’t invested massively in my own growth and development with numerous master coaches, I wouldn’t have known that being a parent is the opportunity that God gives us to grow our own self - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
The real reason I started to write this article was to make a summary of the key ideas from the book I read recently: How Not to Die (prematurely) - Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. I strongly recommend reading this book to take your health and fitness in your own hands. Doctors and modern medical science may help you control and manage the symptoms of your body but healing yourself to perfect health and well-being is something only you can do.
The book covers the food that we should eat and the food that we should avoid to prevent and / or reverse:
i. Heart Disease
ii. Lung Diseases
iii. Brain Diseases
iv. Digestive Cancers
vii. High Blood Pressure
viii. Liver Diseases
ix. Blood Cancers
x. Kidney Disease
xi. Breast Cancer
xii. Suicidal Depression
xiii. Prostate Cancer
xiv. Parkinson’s Disease
Dr Greger also lists the 12 things to eat daily for optimum health, fitness and well-being. The list is an eye-opener and helps you to take your and your family’s health in your control.
Here are few excerpts from the book to get you interested enough to start your own journey towards greater productivity, performance, effectiveness, creativity, innovation and mastery because the pre-requisite for all this is your perfect health and fitness. Reminding you once more that disease is a choice we make and is not the default outcome of going around the sun for more number of years.
1. Now, however, we know that as soon as we stop eating an artery-clogging diet, our bodies can start healing themselves, in many cases opening up arteries without drugs or surgery.
2. There may be no such thing as dying from old age. … Until recently, advanced age had been considered to be a disease itself, but people don’t die as a consequence of maturing. They die from disease, …
3. Back in 1903, Thomas Edison predicted that the “doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame in diet and in the cause and prevention of diseases.
4. The pandemic of chronic disease has been ascribed in part to the near-universal shift toward a diet dominated by animal-sourced and processed foods - in other words, more meat, dairy, eggs, oils, fizzy drinks, sugar and refined grains.
5. To see what effect an increase in meat consumption might have on disease rates, researchers studied lapsed vegetarians. People who once ate vegetarian diets but then started to eat meat at least once a week experienced a 146 percent increase in odds of heart disease, a 152 percent increase in stroke, a 166 percent increase in diabetes and a 231 percent increase in odds for weight gain. During the 12 years after the transition from vegetarian to omnivore, meat-eating was associated with a 3.6 year decrease in life expectancy.
6. Even vegetarians can suffer high rates of chronic disease if they eat a lot of processed foods. Take India, for example. This country’s rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke have increased far faster than might have been expected given its relatively small increase in per capita meat consumption. This has been blamed on the decreasing “whole plant food content of their diet”, including a shift from brown rice to white rice and the substitution of other refined carbohydrates, packages snacks and fast-food products for India’s traditional staples of lentils, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. In general, the dividing line between health-promoting and disease-promoting foods may be less plant- versus animal-sourced foods and more whole plant foods versus most everything else.
7. … it wasn’t the weight loss and it wasn’t the exercise that reversed cell aging - it was the food.
8. It turns out a more plant-based diet may help prevent, treat or reverse every single one of our 15 leading causes of death.
A heart-healthy diet is a brain-healthy diet is a lung healthy diet. The same diet that helps prevent cancer just so happens to be the same diet that may help prevent type 2 diabetes and every other cause of death on the top 15 list.
Unlike drugs - which only target specific functions, can have dangerous side effects, and may only treat the symptoms of disease - a healthy diet can benefit all organ systems at once, has good side effects, and may treat the underlying cause of illness.
The one unifying diet found to best prevent and treat many of these chronic diseases is a whole-food plant-based diet, defined as an eating pattern that encourages the consumption of unrefined plant foods and discourages meats, dairy products, eggs and processed foods.
Treating the cause is not only safer and cheaper but it can work better. So why don’t more of my medical colleagues do it? Not only were they not trained how, doctors don’t get paid for it. No one profits from lifestyle medicine (other than the patient!), so it’s not a major part of medical training or practise. That’s how the current system works. The medical system is set-up to financially reward prescribing pills and procedures, not produce.
9. The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families.
10. Three hours after eating 50 grams of broccoli sprouts, the enzyme that cancers use to help silence our defenses is suppressed in your bloodstream to an extent equal to or greater than the chemotherapy agent specifically designed for that purpose, without toxic side effects.
11. In the Gene Expression Modulation by Intervention with Nutrition and Lifestyle (GEMINAL) study, Dr Ornish and colleagues took biopsies from men with prostate cancer before and after 3 months of intensive lifestyle changes that included a whole-food, plant based diet. Without any chemotherapy or radiation, beneficial changes in gene expression for 500 different genes were noted.
Within just a few months, the expression of disease-preventing genes were boosted, and oncogenes that promote breast and prostate cancer were suppressed.
Whatever genes we may have inherited from our parents, what we eat can affect how these genes affect our health. The power is mainly in our hands and on our plates.
12. Such lifestyle medicine pioneers as Nathan Pritikin, Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esseltyn Jr. took patients with advanced heart disease and put them on the kind of plant-based diet followed by Asian and African populations who didn’t suffer from heart disease.
… Their patients' heart disease started to reverse. These patients were getting better. As soon as they stopped eating an artery-clogging diet, their bodies were able to start dissolving away some of the plaque that had built up. Arteries opened up without drugs or surgery, even in some cases of patients with severe triple-vessel heart disease.
This suggests their bodies wanted to heal all along but were just never given the chance.
Let me share with you what has been called the “best kept secret in medicine”. Given the right conditions, the body heals itself.
… But what if you kept whacking it in the same place 3 times a day - say, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It would never heal.
13. Dr Ornish reported a 91% reduction in angina attacks within just a few weeks in patients placed on a plant-based diet both “with” or “without” exercise.
14. Plant-based diets are the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.
15. Research suggests a few extra daily servings of fruits and vegetables can reduce both the number of cases of asthma during childhood and the number of asthma attacks among people with the disease.
16. Foods of animal origin have been associated with increased asthma risk. A study of more than 100,000 adults in India found that those who consumed meat daily, or even occasionally, were significantly more likely to suffer from asthma, than those who excluded meat and eggs from their diets altogether. Eggs (along with fizzy drinks) have also been associated with asthma attacks in children, along with respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath and exercise-induced coughing.
Removing eggs and dairy from the diet has been shown to improve asthmatic children’s lung function in as few as 8 weeks.
17. Researchers out of Australia tried removing fruits and vegetables from asthma patients’ diets to see what would happen. Within two weeks, asthma symptoms grew significantly worse.
… Researchers repeated the experiment, but this time increased fruit and vegetable consumption to 7 servings a day. This simple act of adding a few more fruits and vegetables to their daily diet ended up successfully cutting the study subjects’ exacerbation rate in half. That’s the power of eating healthfully.
18. Supplements don’t appear to work. Studies have repeatedly shown that antioxidant supplements have no beneficial effects on respiratory or allergic diseases, underscoring the importance eating whole foods rather than trying to take isolated components or extracts in pill form.
19. … the key is starting early. High cholesterol and high blood pressure may begin hurting your brain as early as your twenties. By your sixties and seventies, when the damage can become apparent, it may already be too late.
20. … regardless of the carcinogens that could be lurking in the environment, your greatest exposure may be through your diet.
21. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is about 8 times less than that of the United States and about 20% of its population lives below the poverty line, yet cancer rates in India are much lower than in the United States. Women in the United States may have 10 times more colorectal cancer than women in India, 17 times more lung cancer, 9 times more endometrial cancer and melanoma, 12 times more breast cancer. Men in the United States appear to have 11 times more colorectal cancer than men in India, 23 times more prostate cancer, 14 times more melanoma, 9 times more kidney cancer and 7 times more lung and bladder cancer.
Why such a discrepancy? The regular use of the spice turmeric in Indian cooking has been proposed as one possible explanation.
… The low cancer rate in India may be due in part to the spices they use, but it may also stem from the types of foods they are putting the spices on. India is one of the world’s largest producers of fruits and vegetables, and only about 7% of the adult population eats meat on a daily basis. What most of the population does eat every day are dark green, leafy vegetables and legumes such as beans, split peas, chickpeas and lentils, which are packed with another class of cancer-fighting compounds called phytates.
… High phytate intake has been associated with less heart disease, less diabetes and fewer kidney stones.
22. Humans evolved eating huge amounts of fibre. … Because plants don’t tend to run as fast as animals, the bulk of our diet used to be made up of a lot of bulk. … Our bodies were designed to expect an ever-flowing fibre stream, so it dumps such unwanted waste products as excess cholesterol and estrogen into the intestines, assuming they will be swept away.
But if you aren’t constantly filling your bowels with plant foods, the only natural source of fibre, unwanted waste products can get reabsorbed and undermine your body’s attempts at detoxifying itself.
23. Interestingly, the immune boost provided by the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli not only protects us against the pathogens found in food but also against pollutants in the environment.
24. … there’s already something that can boost your immune system for free and by so much that you can achieve a 25-30 percent reduction in sick days.
… What is it?
25. Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Burden of Disease Study involved nearly 500 researchers from more than 300 institutions in 50 countries and examined nearly 100,000 data sources.
The results allow us to answer such questions as “How many lives could we save if people around the world cut back on fizzy drinks?” The best answer! 299,521. So soft drinks and their empty calories don’t just fail to promote health - they actually seem to promote death.
But apparently soda isn’t nearly as deadly as bacon, ham and hot dogs. Processed meat is blamed for the deaths of more than 800,000 people every year. Worldwide, that’s four times more people than those who die from illicit drug use.
The study also noted which foods, if added to the diet, might save lives. Eating more whole grains could potentially save 1.7 million lives a year. More vegetables? 1.3 million lives. How about nuts and seeds? 2.5 million lives.
Worldwide, if humanity ate more fruit, we might save 4.9 million lives. That’s nearly 5 million lives hanging in the balance and their salvation isn’t medication or a new vaccine - it may be just more fruit.
26. The two most prominent dietary risks for death and disability in the world may be not eating enough fruit and eating too much salt. Nearly 5 million people appear to die every year as a result of not eating enough fruit, while eating too much salt may kill up to 4 million.
… Humans are genetically programmed to eat ten times less sodium (salt) than we do.
27. Higher consumption of vegetables may cut the odds of developing depression by as much as 62 percent. A review in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience concluded that, in general, eating lots of fruits and veggies may present “a non-invasive, natural, and inexpensive therapeutic means to support a healthy brain.”
Trusting the excerpts from the book interested you enough to take a conscious look at what you eat and pick up the book to figure out how to eat healthfully so that you immensely enjoy your life and contribute much more through your work on account of delightful levels of health, fitness and well-being.
Here’s me wishing you a deeply fulfilling joyous journey of discovery towards greater health, productivity, performance, innovativeness and creativity.
What are You Learning this Year?
3 years back, I picked up golf. 2 years back, I was still struggling with golf so continued learning golf. Last year, I committed to Karate. This year, I am giving myself up to piano and western classical music. Today, I had my first class in the same music school as my kids. My class was earlier than my teenage daughter’s so I was already practising when she strode in. She marches upto me, looking as much amused as bemused; not really knowing how to react as she sees me struggling with the piano keys and promptly announces matter-of-factly: “Here, you are not my mother.” Before it registers, she has already vanished into her singing class. I had the music notes to worry about than to think about what she said. See, she doesn’t see adults learning around her except her funny mom who picks up a new thing to learn every year.
Couple of parents watched me enjoying the struggle of learning and said you are an inspiration. I know the idea of learning inspires them but they are unlikely to be inspired enough to commit themselves and their time to something that they will have to battle with because that is what learning is. Battling your grey cells with new information to process. This battling, this struggle is the exercise what our brain needs the most to stay young, healthy and fit right till we breath our last. That’s what the researchers at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital have found.
I spoke to my best friend to share the excitement of the new thing I am learning this year. She shares how she struggles to get her kids to their badminton class. She acknowledged it is possibly because she herself is too lazy to do anything herself. I know it is not as much as laziness as the ennui of existence that catches up with you.
I admire the parents who bring their kids to the golf course for their classes because I cannot find enough commitment in me to just sit somewhere while the kids experience the joy of learning. I leave for the golf course at the time I said I would because I love practising and playing. I have never had to push the kids to attend their class because I would rather that they do something out of love, rather than because I am pushing them to do. Their love for golf has only grown as I left them to figure out that for themselves.
Though, I have learnt this the hard way. Few months back, my daughter told me how I had killed her love for Art by buying her books on famous artists and history of World Art. I listened to her in numb silence because I finally understood why she didn’t want to do anything with Art anymore after being such a prodigious and a passionate artist. My over-providing for her and giving her more than she asked for or was ready for is what killed her love for Art. I had also inadvertently killed her love for piano and maths earlier on. I am learning to give her space to discover herself and find her inner commitment. Being left to her own devices to figure out things, she came back to piano after 4 years.
Having burnt myself, I realised how only love and inner inspiration can drive learning. External motivation, grades, rewards, incentives and punishments only kills the inherent genius in kids and in people. That is why having grown up with external motivation, grades, incentives, rewards and punishments; by the time we have grown up, we are left up with zero inner inspiration, passion and joy of learning. That is why, we age.
Dying is inevitable, aging is not. We age by choice by not keeping alive love, passion and inspiration in us. I read someplace sadness is not the opposite of happiness, boredom is. Boredom sets in when we are not learning, growing and evolving; when we are not challenged to grow beyond who we are at this moment. Joy is in increasing our fitness across the 4 bodies of our Being - physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual - by taking on learning something to mastery.
What are you doing this year to grow? Which hobby will you re-invest yourself in? Which creative art or sport will you commit yourself to mastery? Which mountain will you scale or new land will you discover? Your age, your health, time, money - nothing is a barrier. The real barrier is inside your head.
All the thoughts that are racing in your head telling you why you cannot pick-up something new to learn are the barriers you are choosing. You can change the clothes you are wearing, so can you change your thoughts to support you to travel in the direction you want to explore. You are not your clothes, you have clothes. You are not your thoughts and emotions, you have thoughts and emotions. Just as you choose your clothes, you choose your thoughts. And, the thoughts you choose determine your lifestyle; determines the quantum of happiness, peace and fulfilment in your life.
You are bigger than your thoughts, bigger than your emotions, bigger than your circumstances. Stand up to walk towards the Life of your choice. God did not send us to Earth with a destiny already written out. We are made in the likeness of God - as a creator, a creator of our Life. (S)he sent us here with an empty whiteboard to write our destiny. We can also rub everything to draw something new.
You don’t believe it. That is why you won’t create it. Suspend your disbelief, resignation, cynicism for a moment and step into your dreams lying hidden inside you, with childlike trust and faith.
Now, let's have a conversation.
References: What does it take to be a Super-Ager?
The reason most people end up not fulfilling their intentions, realising their dreams, achieving their goals is because they fail to recognise the difference between Outcome and Process / Input Goals.
Outcome Goals define what destination you want to reach and by its very name are not in our control. We cannot guarantee that the outcomes we want will get created. Inspite of that, the first step to create a fulfilling life is to define the outcome goals. Happiness is really the experience of growth. If you review your outcome goals, you will realize the achievement of these necessarily means you have to grow as a human being. That is why impossible, unimaginable goals that fill your heart with joy, cause your eyes to shine like bright stars, which make you want to sing and dance are the best goals because of the massive growth you would have to undertake to realize these goals - growth across all the 4 bodies of your Being (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual), growth in leadership depth, growth in business excellence and growth in craft mastery.
The mistake most people make is to get attached to the outcome goals because the outcome goals are merely indicators of how much growth we are committing ourselves to and to define the inputs required to achieve these goals. The inputs required to achieve the Outcome Goals are called the Process or Input Goals. These are our daily actions that we need to take to make our desired outcomes a reality.
Intention is for the future and attention to be firmly fixed in the present moment to fulfil on any intention. Once the Outcome Goals are defined, give them up to the Universe because the future is not in our hands and bring your focus totally to the present moment to work on your Input / Process Goals.
A powerful way to create the future is to define your Top 5 Outcome Goals for the year across the 5 areas of your wheel of Life (deeply fulfilling successful career, loving harmonious relationships, happy responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed, nurturing nourishing me-time, making a difference) as a new year dawns and identify Top 10 Process Goals to take action on daily to ensure the achievement of the Outcome Goals. Write them on a 1-pager along with your Personal Inner Commitment, Strengths and Values.
Read this 1-Pager daily 3 times - as soon as you wake up, after meditation and just before sleeping. This is a powerful way to remind yourself of what is your commitment to create (Top 5 Outcomes) in that year, strengths that power you to create, who you are committed to be irrespective of circumstances or other people or outcomes (values), your life’s purpose (personal inner commitment) and Top 10 Process Goals (what you need to do to achieve the outcomes you are committed to create in a specific year).
As you review and reflect on your 1-pager at the end of the year, one of the 3 things would happen:
a. a foundation gets laid for the Outcome Goal to be achieved,
b. an Outcome gets created but different from what you had intended though this Outcome serves your growth more powerfully that your original Outcome,
c. the Outcome got achieved.
What is the most powerful creative force in the world without which you would not be able to achieve your goals, fulfil your intentions, realise your dreams?
Gratitude. Not thinking gratitude but feeling gratitude in your heart and in your body. That is when it is truly authentic and powerful. If there is a drop of water in a glass and I am grateful for it, the glass will fill up with water. If my glass is three quarters full and I am discontented, experience scarcity, lack because of the emptiness in the glass, yearn for the glass to fill up, complain verbally or non-verbally about what is not there, continuously focus on what is not available to me, the glass will soon become empty. It is interesting how what you focus on grows and what you don’t focus on slowly disappears. I encourage you to experiment with this idea in your life to arrive at the truth of it.
Feeling gratitude is actually turning your focus into the positive aspects in other people and in your environment, in your circumstances. When you focus on the positive aspects, they expand. You cannot feel gratitude and not feel joy, love and peace. This year, make a commitment to deepen your experience of gratitude for what is there and what is not there. Commit to experiencing the perfection in the Universe. In an interview, Amitabh Bachchan, Indian movie actor growing in his superstardom even at 76, said that he is grateful when his intention gets fulfilled and he is even more grateful when his intention doesn’t get fulfilled because then the Universe’ intention is getting fulfilled.
There is huge power in childlike trust and faith in the Universe, which centres you emotionally, mentally and spiritually freeing you to focus deeply in the present moment to take powerful effective action to create the reality of your choice instead of getting caught up and wasting time participating in the emotional drama of life.
Be grateful if your Outcome got created. Be grateful if your specific Outcome didn’t get created and some other Outcome got created because this is what serves your growth at this moment most powerfully, if you would only open yourself to recognise that. Be grateful if a foundation got laid for the Outcome Goal to be achieved because the foundation, which may seem like a baby step at this moment is the most important step for the achievement of this Outcome goal. Without the foundation step, this tiny little first step, the Outcome Goal will not get achieved ever.
Review your Outcome and Process Goals at the end of the year. Based on your learnings during the year, you may want to shift your Outcome Goals and change your Process Goals to create your Outcomes with even more velocity.
Enjoy your journey of creation. Have fun along the journey.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.