Inner Sun

Exposing Yourself through Public Speaking

I masticated a bit over the title of this article but came to a conclusion that, that is what I mean and that is what I have to say. One of the cardinal rules to succeed in public speaking is to say what you mean, and mean what you say. 

May years ago, when I wrote my first ever book on public speaking, the HeART of Public Speaking, I placed on the cover an expensively purchased picture of a man speaking from behind a lectern to a highly engaged, happily laughing audience. The beauty of the picture wasn’t just in the fact that the audience looked extremely engaged, it was in the boldness of the fact that the speaker’s rear silhouette was butt-naked. I had my artist drape a gentle, heart-shaped shawl around the speaker and then the cover went ahead and said exactly what I had laid out inside the book. I loved it and so do those who still own that edition.

To succeed, to shine and scintillate at public speaking, one must do exactly that – expose your true self and then wrap yourself and your presentation with love.

How, you ask?

Well, you might have heard the saying that people would rather be in the coffin than do a eulogy. People fear public speaking more than they fear death. What we really fear is being exposed to scores of eyes that may not just see into us but that they may also see us through our charades. Our true selves might sometimes be timid, pretentious or arrogant. Or, worse scenario, people fear speaking up in the presence of large audiences because our agendas are unethical, and we say what we do not mean and mean what we are not saying. With scores of eyes watching our every move, every micro-gesture, every bead of sweat we can be called out for what we really are and what our true intentions might be. That is the fear.

This, of course, may not be everyone’s reason but the question remains the same – how do we expose our own true selves and yet be covered by a protective heart? Here are certain tips that I have picked up from failing, sweating and dying then coming alive a thousand times when in front of a large group of people.

First, recognize and live out ‘common humanity. Tell yourself that the people out there are people just like you. Some smart and some not so smart, just like yourself. Tell yourself that they, too, have doubts, fears, anxieties, challenges and aspirations in life just as you do. Tell yourself that they are here to hear you no matter how profound or ordinary your spiel for them may be.

Second, generate loving, agape, feeling towards them. Though love resides in the hearts the activation of the desire to offer kindness, compassion and love is a function of the prefrontal cortex. You consciously tell yourself to be kind and loving, then the forty odd million neurons residing in your heart go to work creating love for your audience. When that happens, you radiate kindness, and kindness begets kindness. Sure, there is a chance that there may be one or two thick-skinned, bitter lemon of a person in the room who will continue giving you the heebie-jeebies. Just go on without them, they will eventually turn into sweet lemonade.

Third, according to international speaker par excellence, Scott Friedman, be authentic. What does that mean? It means expose your true self. You don’t have to talk like your college professor or like Chris Rock. Just be yourself. Let your flaws, your stutters, your accent be seen, felt or heard. Let your heart lead you and speak from the heart. If there is something you don’t know or are not sure, say exactly that, “I don’t know that, and I am not sure about that.” That’s okay. You are neither Solomon nor Google.

Fourth, also according to Scott Friedman, be vulnerable. Yes, you do not wear a tight blue suit with a red cape. You were not born on planet Krypton. You can bleed, and you can hurt. Expose all those sides of you that can bleed and hurt. Most people in the audience will relate to you, offer compassion and a much kinder ear if you pretend not to be a flawless, man of steel. Should the thick-skinned, bitter lemon hurl a rotten egg at you, say “Ouch!” and then right away forgive her for she knows not what she does. She knows not that you are human too. Keep doing the right thing and keep creating value with your words.

Fifth,  is to become good at being light and funny as a speaker. Laughter is the shortest distance between two hearts, and humor is the vehicle that will drive you there. Some people are naturally funny, and others can get there through practice at public speaking. ‘Neuro-plasticity’, you know! The more you do something, the more you become that – in this case, funny. Just make sure to make yourself the butt of all your jokes otherwise, the thick-skinned, bitter lemon will stare you down to your death. Or, better still take up lessons from ‘the HeART of HUMOR.’

There!

Of course there is a lot more to public speaking. There is this fact that speaking in public is about, as I have already said, creating good value. It is about inspiring people, and about leading them to a new and a better place in their lives. You can do it. Yes, you can because the brilliance and wish to shine is in all of us. It is in all of us to help, love and cherish all those that surround us but, first, we need to have the gumption to expose ourselves, our true selves.

I never let many copies of my first book, first edition, circulate in the marketplace because I was afraid. I was afraid that the cover was too brash, and it would scare away the conservatives. The thing is even though I’d written all about being brave, about being kind, authentic and open; I wasn’t brave, I was still a newbie to expressing myself courageously. Yes!

To wrap up, let me caution you away from that saying where public speaking gurus will tell you that to overcome your fear, you should imagine all your audience butt-naked. That, to me, is utter nonsense. Baloney! It is bound to scare the bananas out of you and sink you into the ground. It is best to, not just imagine, but be in your spiritual birthday suit when speaking in public. It is best to expose yourself as you are, bare your soul and your audiences will lift you up into the heavens. Have fun!

Check out my books, blogs and videos on Amazon/Raju Mandhyan.

 

 

Have You Ever Wrestled with Humor?

I bet you have more than once struggled and wrestled with humor.

You know it is important. You know as a trainer, speaker or a business leader it breaks ice, increases engagement and many a times earns you trust. Yet, at times it can pin you down and have you tapping on the floor to surrender and give up.

I know this. I have been there. There are times I’ve had the crowds rolling on the floor with laughter and then there are times that I have wanted to lie down on the floor and die.

Humor and pain like comedy and tragedy have subtle similarities. At the root level, these are both essentially the same. A person who has suffered great pain and tragedy in life also has the ability to transcend from it and convert it to comedy.

If you look through the history of those who have made the world laugh, you will note that they did, indeed, suffer great sorrow and pain before discovering laughter.

The bard, Shakespeare, created immortal masterpieces of drama but lived a personal life wrought in longing and loneliness. His every work is a constant dance between the tragic and the comic.

Charlie Chaplin, the lovable champ, grew up in a world surrounded by poverty and Dickensian angst; almost all of his movies depict scenes of glee and sadness sublimely mixed and exaggerated for theatrical effect.

The legendary Doctor Patch Adams, who proved to the world that, indeed, laughter is the best medicine, lived a life of hardship and struggle, until and even after he acquired a medical degree. His patients loved his clowning and humor because they knew that behind the facade, he deeply understood, felt and also shared their pain.

Now, as a business leader, when it comes to generating laughter if you have been to where I have and want to be more careful and funny at the same time here are some humble tips from my book, the HeART of HUMOR;

  • Know your pain, understand your pain and then recognize the human in you and let go of the pain through laughter and play. Transcend it.
  • Know the possible pains of your audiences and, gently, help them see a different and a lighter perspective of life. Do not play down their suffering but poke fun at your own and they will heal and laugh.
  • Have love and compassion for your audiences and your people. Love will lighten your spirits and hold you in a joyful state. Your audience will read and mirror your attitude and behavior. Laughter and lightness will become a natural by product.
  • Stay rooted to the ground by choosing your stories and words with care and caution. The world has becoming increasingly sensitive and demands political correctness. Stay away from making fun of caste, color and creed. Stay away from gender-related humor. If there is anyone that you need to make fun of then make fun of yourself. If you fail at being funny then they will laugh at your attempts and you will have still accomplished your goal.
  • Humor is about timing and absolute precision. The same joke that was great at meeting one may be a total flop at meeting two. The best humor is situational, quick and clean.

Lastly, yes, do try all your stuff at home. Good and funny stories after a few rounds of practice mature and ripen over time. You do notice that the previous tip, somehow, contradicts this tip. When you are able to strike a balance between then you can call yourself a professional humor wrestler.

So those are a few insights and tips on wrestling with humor. If you’d like to get some coaching into being funny then come join me for a session of “the HeART of HUMOR,” in Singapore on the 26th of April, 2018.

Together, we will peel apart the wraps of humor in speaking. We will dig deep into the sciences behind stand-up comedy; we will look into improvisation, stage acting, and storytelling and then practice methods that will become more than relevant to generating laughter, engagement and rapport in business scenarios.

Remember, when you wrestle with humor and lose, you still win because the joke is on you.

Click here to learn more and sign up. The HeART of HUMOR Workshop

Enjoy!

 

The Link Between Laughter and Tears

“Humor and pain, like comedy and tragedy, have subtle similarities. At the basic level, they are essentially the same. A person who has suffered great pain and tragedy in life also has the ability to transcend it and convert it into comedy. If you look at the history of those who have made the world laugh, you will note that they did, indeed, suffer great sorrow and pain before discovering laughter. Shakespeare created immortal masterpieces of literature but lived a personal life wrought with longing and loneliness. His every work is a constant dance between the tragic and the comic. The legendary Doctor Patch Adams, who proved to the world that, indeed, laughter is the best medicine, lived a life of hardship and struggle. His patients loved his humor because they knew that behind the façade, he understood and deeply shared their pain.

InSights on InSights

InSights on InSights

A few years ago, NBC held a prime time talent contest called Last Comic Standing, where Dat Phan, a young Vietnamese-American became the champion and attained instant stardom. Today, he lives his dream of making a living while making others laugh. As a kid, he and his mother lived on the streets of San Diego and slept on bus stop benches. Growing up, he worked as a waiter, a busboy, and a doorman at a casino and a comedy club. Phan is not hampered by his past experiences. His hardships have become an integral part of his humor, as has his upbringing in a poor cross-cultural family. “I do whatever it takes to do stand-up,” Phan said in an interview. “There is an abundance of material in struggling and poverty and trying to make it. There is so much humor in that, it’s unlimited. You have to be able to see it. You have to be very creative. In the beginning, I didn’t do real well, I bombed dozens of times. Something sick inside told me to keep on trying because I had nothing to lose. I kept exposing myself to different audiences. I kept bombing and failing and being disappointed until I got just one laugh. And that laugh gave me encouragement to continue and pursue a career and a skill that makes others happy. The pain of my past has been my driving force and I believe that no matter how hopeless it seems there is always something to look forward to. In life, you can get to the next level if you’re willing to give up everything and give everything you have in your heart to make it!” says Dat Phan.

Kahlil Gibran rightly said: “The selfsame source from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.” Very often when we are laughing uncontrollably, we find tears streaming down our faces. And, quite as often, after we’ve expressed our pain through crying, we find ourselves laughing joyfully. Both laughing and crying provide cathartic cleansing. Our facial expressions also mirror this kinship. That’s why, at times, it’s hard to determine if one is crying or laughing. Somewhere in the depths of our souls and somewhere in the recesses of our limbic brains, laughing and crying are separated by a very thin line, just as comedy and tragedy are.”

When speakers, trainers and other facilitators play hopscotch over this fine line that divides comedy and tragedy using personal anecdotes and situational humor they create rapid rapport with their audiences and transfer new learning deeply and powerfully.

To make being funny a part of your skill sets, come look me up in April in Singapore, I am running a one-day workshop where you will not just know the science behind humor but you master a few techniques to consistently employ humor in most all of your interactions.

 

 

 

Compassion – A Leadership Competency

GROWING up in India, I went to a Zoroastrian School. It was a good school and as with most schools, it had all kinds of teachers. Some were nice and some not so nice. Some were passionate about their work and some regarded their work as just a job.

Of all the teachers, teacher D. N. Irani stands out in my memory – he was tall and lanky, with very little fat on his body. He wore his salt-and-pepper hair closely cropped and was always clean shaven. He was about the size and shape of Clint Eastwood, as Clint Eastwood looked in his 50s. In a light blue short-sleeved, bush shirt with khaki chinos and soft brown leather sandals he seemed to serenely glide from classroom to classroom.

In this school with its reputation of toughness, D.N. Irani walked tall and spoke slowly but always carried a big chunk of subtle influence. The boys would part in the hallways to let him pass, like Moses’ Red Sea, although nothing in his attitude or behavior demanded such from the boys.

Whenever other teachers or even the school head master was faced with a hooligan crowd in class they would always send for D.N. Irani to come and restore peace. And D.N. Irani never failed at quieting down a class simply by turning up quietly and planting himself in front of us like a mountain at peace. In the middle of all storms his mere presence would, somehow, make everyone see the bright and beautiful side life at school.

After seconds of gently staring us down, all he’d say is “You boys ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Go back to your studies; it is for your own good!” And, we’d all go back to work for weeks until the monkeys within us would get restless again.

For decades I used to wonder what it was about D.N Irani that had such impact on hooligans like us.

Today, as a leadership trainer and a coach, I have come to the conclusion that we responded the way we did to him because in the marrows of our bones we knew that he really and truly cared for us. We knew that he wanted us to grow, to become better and discover our own worthiness as human beings. We also knew that he felt and shared the growing pains in kids at school and that the shenanigans we played were just a cover up, a distraction to soothe our angst.

Beyond being visionaries, strategic thinkers, and excellent at execution leaders need to have deep compassion for people they work. Compassion — that ability to see, hear, sense, understand and want to help out others with their concerns, challenges and even pain is that energy binds and ignites every other leadership competency.

Research studies in 2012, by Olga Klimecki and Tania Singer of the Max Planck Institute, Germany concluded that compassion and compassion training increases pro-social behavior and strengthens resilience amongst leaders.

Three ways to enhance and strengthen compassion abilities within us are:

• Be mindful all the time: That is keep your senses of observation, hearing and sensing perked up towards others, towards the surrounding and in the moment. Obviously this requires that we lessen our own urges to talk, consistently being doing things and grab at life mindlessly.

• Recognize common humanity: That is when in the presence of those that we interact with, we bring forth onto our minds the fact that they are just like us in many ways and we too, maybe, in many ways be just like them. I believe it is referred to as “kapwa tao,” in the Philippines.

• Stretch out to be of service: Not that we can always help others out of their dilemma but efforts, mental or physical, do bring up some results for others and, more importantly, also nourish our own natural needs to care.

Sometimes people may think that being compassionate is being nice yet there is a fine difference. In being nice one does kind things that provide relief without really sensing what others may be going through. Like a child helping out a homeless person. While compassion comes wrapped in feeling how they feel and wanting and making mental and physical efforts to help others out of their situation for good.

Besides the studies by Dr. Tania Singer and Olga Klimecki on Empathy and Compassion, Dr. Thupten Jinpa of Stanford another researcher on compassion claims that “having compassion frees us from fearing… it turns our attention outwards, expanding our perspective, making our problems part of something bigger than us, that we are all in together.”

The amazing thing is that it is a learnable skill. The path to it is not long but the way is slightly deep. You cannot just walk there; you have to take a leap.


(This piece has been inspired by the book, the HeART of the Close and is a feature on Business World.)

Inner Sun

A Minute to Arrive, A Minute to Leave

A FEW YEARS AGO, I’d taken up three speaking assignments in one day. The first was in Antipolo, a location 25 kilometers north from Makati City where I operate from in the Philippines. The second speaking assignment was in Makati City and the third, late in the afternoon, was at a convention center in Pasay City which was about 10 kilometers from Makati City.

I had calculated the speaking and the travel time well for all three engagements and also did make it to each one of them in time. But, I must confess that my speaking performance in each one of them wasn’t of the quality that I’d like to fondly remember. Getting from one venue and event to another had my nerves so frayed that on stage it was more about overcoming the wobbly knees from driving than from the fact that I was on stage. Though I don’t want to remember the day, I am sharing the story in hope of purging it from my system and preventing others from such mistakes.

I don’t quite know what it is about us humans and humanity itself that wants us to pack our hours and minutes with so much to do.

From the moment we wake up we get hooked to our smart phones, our tablets and every other thingamajig that we think will help us get productive. We also sign up for meetings, get-togethers, lunches, workouts and late night online sessions to fill our days. All these activities are frantically weaved in with reading news, posting, liking, sharing and commenting on every little beep on the blooming internet. We call it living it out loud in the Volatile, Uncertain, Changing and Ambiguous world.

In this messy scramble of commitments and appointments we claim that we can make it because we are of the 21st century and we are multi-tasking, multi-talented, omnipresent creatures lurching into future. No, we are not!

Research in neurosciences will tell you that we are on and off between tasks. That means we do one thing, we stop and then we do another. We do not do many things at the same time. We stop, we start, we start, we stop and eventually end up burned at both ends. Research by the Mindful Leadership Institute in 2010 showed that barely 2% of business leaders succeed at this, 47% are, usually, in a state of chaotic, mind-wandering and 70% confessed to constantly tuning out from the tasks at hand.

The answer lies in what a professor, unknown to me, at the Ateneo de Manila University makes his students practice when they enter his classroom. He invites them to sit down, be still and then just be silent for one whole minute. His claim, as I have heard my son share the story, is that when we move from one venue, one event to another we must let our minds catch up with our body.

My “mind” enter my body? That is exactly what I hadn’t done on that day when I’d zoomed from one speaking engagement to another and then to another. I was a maniac driver on the road and a zombie pontificating on stage.

Today, I practice a habit called “one minute to arrive.” Get up in the morning and take a minute to arrive and appreciate the day outside. Sit at breakfast, take a minute to arrive, smell the food and appreciate the company. Enter the car and take one minute to arrive and be amazed at the wonders of technology. Enter a business meeting and spend a whole minute to take note of the place, the people and the potential in the room. Connect everything to an inner quietness, a greater awareness, and curiosity for what is and what else may unfold. Some people call this grounding while others call it quiet time. Regardless of what it is called, the beauty lies in the fact that it increases our calm, our clarity and our abilities to become creative and productive.

The same practice can also be applied to leaving a room or a meeting. One can just sit up after all the talk is over and let all the little and big conversations come together in our heads then let them find their way into our deeper memory. Call this “a minute to leave” and has similarities to a respectful “paalam” in the Philippines.

The beauty behind this practice is that our forefathers knew of it and, thus, created words and rituals to remind us of it. Another truth behind this practice is that science is quickly catching up on its mental, emotional and performance benefits. Practice it for a day and it will impact you. Practice it for a few weeks and it will become a good habit. Hang on to the good habit and it will become a trait of being present in the here and now. Think of it gently, “a minute to paalam.”


This article was featured on Business World

Freud On Humor

Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud has a take on humor that stresses that our attitude towards life needs to be funny. Freud believed that as we grow, the dreary grind of life and the entrapments of rationalizing all that exists make us slowly cheat ourselves of the inner child within us. Thus, our lust for humor, laughter, and life are also desires to reclaim the lost pleasures of childhood. When we were children, no effort was needed to bring laughter into our lives. We had no need for canned jokes, stand-up comedy, or anything else. We laughed at everything and we did so for sheer pleasure.

Tales and Techniques to a Funnier You!

To be funny requires that, at the start of every single day, we loosen our girdles, de-starch our collars, let loose our hair, twirl our mustaches, and get down from our high horses of authority and pretentiousness. It is possible for each one of us to be funny, but we must also develop a deep, burning intention to be funny.

Having the intention to be humorous is the first step in mastering humor. Your intention is the driving force that will enable you to practice the different techniques that will result to a funnier you. Every artistic expression and every talent demands constant practice. Methods and disciplines have to be followed to convert a technique into habit, and eventually, into a vital part of your personality.

The late Robin Williams in his early days would barhop in search of work. While performing, Robin used to appear completely natural and extemporaneous, but backstage before the show, he’d tell his director or manager all the steps he was planning to do. All his apparent talent, besides being natural to him, was also in fact method, practice, and determination!

In one of my creativity workshops, a participant shared a story about this monk who entered a monastery with a desire to achieve higher consciousness and enlightenment. But, being a well-educated urbanite, the wannabe monk saw no relation between higher consciousness and the wearing of an orange garb and the shaving of his head. Thus, he chose not to follow the seemingly superficial methods towards attaining elevated consciousness.

Years went by without him wearing the orange garb, though he meticulously studied and practiced the Buddhist principles. Decades later, older and still restless, he found himself nowhere near higher consciousness and enlightenment. Finally, out of sheer frustration, he had his head shaved and put on the orange garb. Suddenly, he was literally enlightened: his body glowed, his spirits soared, and every cell in his being was filled with wisdom and profound spirituality. He attained the kind of spiritual awareness and enlightenment he had been seeking all his life. The heavens seemingly opened up for him and he felt as if he were reborn. But suddenly, in the next instant, he collapsed and died on the spot.

Mastering creativity and humor is just like that—you will never know when the brilliant light will shine upon you. It will daze and dazzle you as you move towards it when you study the theories, beliefs, and techniques. But it definitely requires an intense desire to succeed and a severe dedication to attaining that success.

 

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Links to upcoming events in your neck of woods:

Choice Clips from ExPat InSights:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjf3sHaZBSo

 

 

A Bird in Hand

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A Bird in Hand.

 

“What do you want, birdie?”

“What exactly are you saying little birdie?”

“Are you hungry, or just dazed birdie?”

She just stayed there atop my index finger and kept blinking, opening and shutting her mouth as though she were talking to me. There was no sound but I could swear that she was trying to say something to me.

It was a full three and half minutes since I’d rushed out of a classroom full of a hundred and fifteen teachers-in-training at the Presidio in San Francisco. We had spent nearly four days conversing about mindfulness, emotional intelligence and compassion for leaders when I heard this bird crash into the huge glass windows and drop into the bushes.

There was another classmate in that room, Ahmad Faiz Zainuddin from Indonesia, who I first asked to go help the birdie in distress but he’d hesitated and I’d jumped into action instead. He happily took pictures with his phone.

When I reached her she’d just stood up, and was looking really lost. I slowly moved towards her and thought of stroking her with the back of my fingers. Surprisingly, she easily let me. That gesture, for me, usually worked with dogs and I was awed that a little bird fell for it too. I turned my hand around wanting to pick her up and carry her into the sunshine when, deftly, she hopped onto my fingers and stayed there.

A good number of my classroom companions were watching and I was amazed that such a tiny bird was offering me her trust. I’d seen dogs, cats and sometimes, even, butterflies endear themselves to people but a bird? This was a first! I felt honored and extremely responsible at the same time. I had to do something about a bird in need. Maybe the crash into the glass pane had numbed her such that she had no idea what she was doing. Maybe she was thirsty, hungry. Where could I find an edible worm instantaneously? There was nothing around except beautiful sunshine, a breeze and a lot of green fauna. Then, after nearly three and half minutes of chatting soundlessly with me she, suddenly, upped and flew away.

Today completes exactly sixty days since that beautiful experience. For every single moment since that day I have been wondering, why did that happen to me? What was the bird trying to say? Why me? Was there a message in that incident? What is the meaning of all this?  Why would such a scared, helpless, beautiful creature trust me?

Thus, this morning I sat myself down, quietly and firmly, for a very long time. I ran through my head all the images of that moment and the millions of thoughts before and after that. I browsed through all little and big conversations I’d had with friends to come to some conclusion about the bird. The billions of neurons in my head, heart and gut needed to know. I needed to know. I kept the pressure on, upon myself, for hours. I’d heard and I know that insightful answers evolve when you think really hard about something or don’t think about it at all. Finally, after a long time thought integration occurred and I had an answer. Aha!

The answer was that I did not need to have an answer. I do not need to know the answer even today. I can live without giving meaning to every incident, every conversation. Not everything, every being, every perspective that surrounds me needs to be known by me, thus controlled by me. In fact, isn’t it I who constantly reminds myself to just “be.” 

All experiences are journeys of exploration and they do not need to have a singular, intelligently defined destination. In fact, the very reason I was in that class with a hundred and fifteen others was to explore mindfulness not knowledge and intelligence. Being mindful means being aware, awake and open-hearted to everything; open to constantly changing and multiple perspectives from all directions, all the time.

Thus, I step back from wanting to give shape and meaning to a moment of life; a moment that a bird spent with me. I can live in a space and time that is changing and ambiguous because it keeps me vulnerable and open to life itself. I think that is what the little bird told me that October morning in beautiful San Francisco.

I also think that I ought to stop theorizing about a bird in hand.  I need to surrender to not knowing the how and why of a little bird’s momentary trust in me. I ought to let a bird hand be, just that, a bird in hand and not worry about the hidden two in the bush.

Raju Mandhyan

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Subtle Influence, a teacher’s story.

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Growing up in India, I went to a Zoroastrian School.  It was a good school and as with most schools, it had all kinds of teachers.

Some were nice and some not so nice.  Some were passionate about their work and some regarded their work as just a job.

I remember them all, the stuff they taught us and the way they taught us.  As I now train, facilitate and coach others in personal and organizational development, the subject of learning and the quality of learning transfer often comes up.

Of them all a teacher called D.N. Irani at the Sardar Dastur Hoshang Boys’ High School, stands out and apart in my memory.

D.N. Irani had a remarkable way of teaching, behaving and carrying himself when he traversed the corridors of the school.  He was tall and lanky, with very little fat on his body. He wore his salt-and-pepper hair closely cropped and was always clean shaven.  He was about the size and shape of Clint Eastwood, as Clint Eastwood looked in his fifties.  In a light blue short sleeved, bush shirt with khaki chinos and soft brown leather sandals he seemed to serenely glide from the classrooms to the library and the to the faculty room.

When approached in the corridors or in class D.N. Irani never seen seemed hurried or tense; he always heard everyone out fully before he responded.  No sounds, no momentary movement or novelty in his surrounding would make D.N. Irani flinch.  He remembered faces and the conversations he had with those faces even if all the faces of the boys in a highly populated Indian school looked much alike.  In this school with its reputation of toughness, D.N. Irani walked tall and spoke slowly but always carried a big chunk of subtle influence.  The boys would part in the hallways to let him pass, like Moses’ Red Sea, although nothing in his attitude or behavior demanded such from the boys.

Whenever other teachers or even the school head master was faced with a hooligan crowd in class they would always send for D.N. Irani to come and restore peace.  And D.N. Irani never failed at quieting down a class simply by turning up and planting himself in silence. In the middle of all storms his mere presence would, somehow, make everyone see the bright and beautiful side.

What is it that D. N. Irani did for him to be so respected and revered in the tough Sardar Dastur Hoshang all-Boys High School?

D. N. Irani had presence. He was grounded and totally at ease with himself. When he looked at you, he saw all of you, in appearance and in demeanour. When he listened to you, he heard everything you said and everything else you made the effort to tell him.  He rarely interrupted and did not jump to conclusions while watching and listening to you.  He never passed judgment about people and their issues until he had gotten maximum information. He was never hasty or mad about expressing his point of view.  And when spoke,  his expressions and opinions were unequivocal and stated in simple, direct language with a mellow tone to his voice.  Even when his statements  were not in your favor, you always felt he gave due respect  to your individuality and humanity.

Today as I look back, I am more and more convinced D.N. Irani’s sense of seeing, hearing and kinaesthesia (which is feeling, touching and smelling) were razor sharp. He cognitively and deliberately made efforts to always keep his senses alert, alive and empathetic.

You see, everything we are, think and do is devised, developed and deployed by our five senses. Researches and scientists talk about genetics–our DNA and our traits–as codes in our birth cells  transferred from our parents.  These codes may be in chemical or energy form but they’re all accessible and recognizable through appearances, sounds and behavior. They are also referred to as visual, auditory and kinaesthetic codes.

Everything we learned from the time our mothers conceived, carried  and nurtured us has been  written and is stored in our brains using these codes. From our formative years through our youth, and into our adulthood, everything we learn and everyone we interact with happens through the function of our five senses.  Our knowledge, values, principles and belief are all stored in our memories.  An inventory of this storage is maintained in the format of our five senses and a combination of these five senses.

In his classic book, How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Gelb talks about Arte/Scienza – the art and science of improving the quality of our thinking.  Michael Gelb suggests we improve vision by studying art, landscapes and beautiful sights. He recommends   listening to classical music, sounds of nature, inspiring speeches and creative stories to sharpen our sense of hearing and our minds.  To improve our sense of taste, smell and touch, he encourages activities that alternatingly  soothe and  stretch these senses, thus strengthening and sharpening them.

Stronger and sharper senses improve our ability to think and we become more aware and sensitive to other people and to our surroundings; therefore, improving our ability to interact with our world.

Individuals like my former teacher, D.N. Irani, knew this at an  intuitive and  cognitive level.  Perhaps they had no chance to explain these paradigms they lived by, but they became living examples of this acute awareness and practice.

Here are five practices to enhance your sensory acuities, heighten  your awareness and improve your ability to live in the moment;

  • Start with a clean state of mind. If any recent visual, auditory or kinaesthetic experience is on your mind–perhaps an unappealing sight you have just witnessed, a song humming in the back of your mind or the scent of pungent food- then consciously let go of the experience using the Reasoning Brain. Let it all be erased from the desktop of your mind.
  • Enhance visual acuity. Whenever you see an object delve a  bit more on its shape, size, and color. Think of it as visually studying something in detail. This works equally well when observing  human facial expressions.
  • Enhance auditory acuity. Listen to music and  distinguish the sounds of the different instruments involved. Make an effort to mentally dissect the high notes and the low notes of the   This works equally well when listening to another person. Listen for pitch, power, percussion, pauses and the parlance. It’ll help you better discern messages they may not be actually verbalizing.
  • Enhance your kinaesthetic acuity. When for example, you carry a puppy, feel his weight, his fur, his nails, his bones and all the features th

    Subtle Selling Strategies from the Neurosciences and Neuropsychology

    at make up a puppy. Feel his body temperature, the moisture or the coarseness of his fur. Pay attention to his smell and breathing. Note how of all this impact your thinking and feeling towards the puppy. This also works well when you are in the presence of another person. Take note of their presence, their skin, their scent and how all this impacts your feelings and opinions about this person. You might have heard the statement, “there’s something fishy about him.” It doesn’t mean he smells like a fish. It means his presence, behaviour, and communication gives you an uneasy, suspicious feeling.

  • Integrate the data gathered from all sensory inputs when dealing with others. When talking to strangers, notice how their appearance and the quality of their voice make an impact on you.  Observe how their scent influences your impressions. Integrate data from all these sources, but be aware the impact on you does not truly represent them. Gather all this data and then let the Reasoning Brain investigate them objectively.

Enhancing sensory acuity is firstly, about becoming conscious of all the inputs and noting their impact on our three brains and secondly, about cognitively segregating the useful from the non-useful data. Sensory acuity can store up good knowledge and wisdom in the triune brain. High quality cognitive knowledge and empathetic wisdom will turn us into D.N.Irani, a person of subtle influence and power.

Taken from book, the HeART of the CLOSE, available at Amazon

Creating Collaborative Learning

“Learning to learn is the most important ability one must acquire to succeed and excel at anything,” said Noel Mendoza on ExPat InSights, then a Director of Application Services  at Hewlett Packard, in response to my question of what got him to where he was today.

Creating Collaborative Learning by Raju Mandhyan

This was something that had been impressed upon him by his father who had, for years, been a professor at the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines.

The statement made a home run with me and brought to assimilation everything about learning and facilitating that I’d been thinking of.

Today, to me, learning is more than just accumulation of data, know-how or mastering a set of skills. Learning is becoming open and accepting to a multitude of things and a diversity of perspectives.

In class and across all developmental conversations it becomes our moral obligation to create an access and an environment for our clients to acquire such learning abilities.

Of the many steps, we as learning and process facilitators must take “creating collaboration” to learn and develop among our audience and stakeholders is the first step.

What is collaborative learning?

It is the state and the atmosphere where many dialogue, share, challenge, resolve and, often, come to a consensus about a subject at hand and own the outcome individually and collectively.

There are many ways to create this state and atmosphere and here are just five tiny steps:

  1. Set steady and, yet, soft objectives: This means have goals but be open to serendipitous outcomes.
  2. Build trusting and open communications: This is best done by being a laughing, talking role model yourself first and then acknowledging and appreciating candidness of others.
  3. Take on real life challenges: In the book, The Power of MindFul Learning, author Ellen J. Langer claims there is no better classroom than the classroom of life. A facilitator’s task is lead the class out, spiritually, onto the streets on Monday morning and just help capture the learning.
  4. Flex and dance: No single approach or technique will work. What will work powerfully are good and right intentions towards the client and the facilitator’s ability to flex and dance towards shared the steady and soft objectives.
  5. Seal the deal: No, not really needed if the whole process has been deep and invigorating enough. Yet, allowing for mental atrophy, it is prudent to capture the outcomes, colorfully and visually, on paper. Oh, okay iPad!

These tips are just a preview into the vast field of Process Facilitation and Learning Facilitation. Come October 17, 2017, consultant and trainer Beth Hoban of the International Association of Facilitators, Philippines will run a half-day session on Creating Collaborative Client Relationships.

Please do come and learn to flex and dance towards better learner-client relationships.

https://www.youtube.com/user/ExpatInsights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC750ZBn_vQ

https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethhoban/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1456410221316887/?ref=br_rs