imagination, intelligence and integrity

Upon watching my video ‘Linking IDENTITY to INTENTION,” Rose, a friend, asked me a question. Raju, she said, after I have figured out who exactly I am; after I really and truly know IDENTITY and I have also cleared up what I want ion life: what my true INTENTIONS are, how do I traverse that journey? How do I exactly get from here to there?

Many years ago, I sat in the front row at a talk given by my friend Jim Cathcart author of the beautiful book, Acorns to Oaks. In the book, written more than two decades ago, Jim talks about how within every acorn there is a map encoded as to what size and shape of an oak tree it will grow into. I absolutely agree and believe that there is the inbuilt intention that evolves into reality through proper usage of our intelligence, imagination soaked in integrity.

However, before I get to those three enablers, here’s what Jim Cathcart was showing and telling us from the stage: He had planted himself onto a spot on the left side of the stage and said, “let us assume that this is the spot where you are at in your life. This is who you are now.” He then took five long strides towards the right side of the stage and planted himself on a spot and said, “let us assume that this where you want to be. This is who you want to be.” He walked back to spot one, turned in the direction of spot two, and said, “Every single day, every single moment start believing, behaving, saying, and doing things as if you were already on spot two. Think like the person you want to be, walk like the person you want to be, and talk like the person you want to be,” he urged us all. When you do this over a certain period, you will soon find yourself on spot two. You will become who you want to be.

I was blown away by his words. They stuck to me like superglue. I have never been able to peel the idea away. From that day on, I have walked from many a spot to another spot in my life. If my younger self from all those first spots were to see me now, he would never recognize himself.

This is not about the ‘fake it, till you make it,’ thing. This is something deeper and there is neuroscientific reasoning behind it. When you create an abstract, visual, distant dye to mold yourself into then millions of connections begin to spark off inside your head until you arrive at that ideal self in the future. This process works and it works beautifully. This is the core idea in the blog Linking IDENTITY to INTENTION.

Throughout the journey from here to there, you will need these three enablers: imagination, intelligence, and integrity.

Imagination is to make unseen connections between your thoughts, your strengths with what is visible but vague at times. Imagination to compare the processes, strategies and to learn from the experiences of others. The playground of life and work is constantly shifting. Streets get crowded and unseen hurdles come up. Stretching your mind a bit towards the unseen helps you see ahead of the curve when going from here to there.

Intelligence is to be able to place two and two together and make sure they end up as four. It is the correct and consistent assessment of actions and words we use. It is about keeping an open mind, learning, and not be dissuaded by slow days. It is about creating SMART goals and evaluating them frequently against the desired future and external influences.

Now many people who figure this out for themselves and begin to succeed with this strategy of linking IDENTITY to INTENTIONS sometimes forget to take care of others, of ethics and ecology. It is agreed that each individual is unique and the journey of each and every individual is unique yet it is a crowded, interrelated world. We, as individuals, do live in a vacuum; we are all interconnected by unseen strong and gentle strings. Pulling too hard or leaning too heavily on other systemic relations can create strain and cause harm. So think hard, maybe twice as much before taking decisions. Think far and wide, think of all interconnected relationships and play fair by universal values. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Rose, there is no other secret beyond this. This is as good as it gets. Many paradigms of success out there will drown and drain you. Keep it simple and follow this path patiently, persistently, and with a lot of faith in your own self. Persistence does not equate to hard-headedness, it equates to not how often you fall but how often you get up and get back. Yes, the discipline demands very resilient guts of steel and emotional sinew.

When you get to where you want to be, do remember to say thank you to my friend, Jim Cathcart.

Linking Identity to Intentions

Years ago, a friend of mine who had recently acquired life-coach training and a certificate, offered to get me out of the life rut that I was in at that time. Side note: most all of us are in some kind of a rut at some time. Often these ruts root from our own state of mind, and the actions we may or may not be taking. Anyway, so Coach sits me down across a cup of coffee and begins with a ‘how are you?’ and moves into unpeeling my internal hurdles to growth.

 

Linking IDENTITY to INTENTIONS

Even though I was familiar with many similar processes, playing a true participant was fun. Incognizant of my knowhow, she trudged on with the process and I smilingly followed her simple but well-intentioned lead.

Halfway through the session, she said, “Raju now we’ve got to define your being.”

What do you mean?

We have to articulate your uniqueness as a human being in one sentence, she responded.

Okay.

As a person, what do you really and truly care for, she asked.

Well, I care for honesty. I care for courage. I care that people ought to be compassionate and kind to each other, I responded.

What else, she went on?

Uh, I also do like when people speak and say exactly what they mean and mean what they. That is important to me; I said and smiled.

And, what do you want to be doing in the coming five to ten years, she asked.

I would like to be reading, writing, studying the sciences and philosophies. I would like to be helping others get clarity then lead a happy and fulfilling life. Yes, that is what I would like to be doing, I replied confidently.

Right, she replied, so your uniqueness Raju is that you are a courageous, compassionate, authentic being who wants to help other beings get clarity then lead a happy and fulfilling life.

I smiled, and she said, could you articulate that sentence and then write it down on a piece of paper, please?

I did.

Then she asked me memorize that statement to remind me of who I was and what my intentions were. I must confess, that it felt good and uplifting at that moment but for the life of me, I could not ever remember those words as they were strung together. Though I kept that piece of paper, I could never recite that sentence from memory. Even as of this writing, those words sound beautiful but are a bit misty on my mind.

My Coach friend that day was trying to steel weld the link between my identity and my intentions. She was doing this because linking both these extremes integrates people. Knowing yourself correctly and knowing what you want precisely makes for a powerful partnership towards success.

Your identity is the sum total of all that you believe in and all that you value. These beliefs and these values, over your lifetime, have accumulated into a single entity…you. Your genetic structure, your environment, your influences, your education, and your experiences keep stacking up into becoming you. For a large part of your life, you have little control on these elements but overtime you begin to take charge. You begin to choose and carve out your own self. You begin to become a Michael Angelo to your own David-you. Yes, it does matter how early on in your life you pick up the chisel and hammer and how consciously, courageously, creatively, compassionately, and constructively you begin to use these tools. Therein lies self-mastery. Therein, your identity morphs your intentions into destiny.

In my experience, there are many schools of thought and a variety of processes, which will equip you with the abilities to carve out your desired destinies. There are many methods, which help you connect your identity to your intentions. I believe my Coach friend was using one of the better ones, back in the day.

For you, may I offer five questions, which will walk you through a similar process? Reflecting upon these questions deeply will help you ‘know thyself’ better. Answering these questions with courage and precision will propel you towards your desired. I suggest, take paper and pen and write your responses in simple and succinct words. Sketch your thoughts if you can and prefer.

  1. What are a few human behaviors that turn you on the most?

When I say, “turn you on” I mean, they either appeal or anger you massively. If they appeal to you then they are something you value. If they anger you then the opposite of those behaviors are what you value.

At this point, let me briefly define values. Values are strongly held beliefs about life, living; about what is right, wrong, or fair. Our values influence the choices we make and the actions we take. Some values are imposed and influenced upon us, while others are our true choices. It is possible that you may value wealth and it is possible that you will value commitment. The first is a terminal value, sometimes called a goal while the second one is an instrumental value.

Choosing a few from both types is fine as long as you reflect deeply, honestly and think through the pros and cons of each value. Do remember that who you are and what you want; your identity and your intentions are not stationary objects. They are in a state of constant flux; improving, growing, and evolving every day.  For example, years ago, personal freedom was something I valued. Today, I value kindness and compassion.

  1. What are those one or two things that most consume your time and energy daily?

What consumes my energy most is putting together sciences, philosophies, and practices of human behavior. Most of my time is spent in thinking, reflecting, writing, presenting and publishing principles for people development. I value growth and emancipation.

What might be consuming your energies might be business ideas, news, literature, discussions and studies. Thus, your values might be enterprise, productivity, wealth accumulation or even service.  You could be a parent whose life and times are filled with how to raise and nurture children. Thus, your values might be parental love or family.

Anything. As long as you know and recognize it as something, that occupies your mind and heart. That is what you value. There is no need to compare our values with others. This is not a contest. Everyone is unique. All we are doing here is acknowledging what we indulge in most of the time. 

  1. What do you dream about? More specifically, what do you daydream about?

What is that constant conversation that is going on in your head about the future? No, not about what happened in the past. What is it that you think about when you sit by a window and gaze into the clouds? What kind of reverie do you get lost in while you are wide-awake and calm?

When you reflect upon this question, be cautious of words like, ‘I should, I need to, I must, I have to, etc.,” Statements with words such as these are driven by values imposed and influenced by your environment and others. You want to listen to statements that lighten up your daydreams. Statements with words like, ‘I choose, I want, I love, etc.’

The thoughts during these quiet moments are a dance between your unconscious and your conscious mind. It is a challenging conversation to capture but when cued by this question it is possible to remember the essence of your daydreaming.

  1. What exactly, unconditionally do you want?

Yes, this requires a bold response. A very bold, clear, and perhaps even a radical-to-your-environment response.  Do note that as an individual in the game of life with another 7.5 Billion people, you do have to make certain adjustments; you have to abide by the rules of society.

Yet through all those demands, all that noise and traffic you need to pin your destination so you can chart out a map. If you will not be able to spell out the exact coordinates of your destination then there is no way that the map will take you to where you want to go.

Yes, at a later stage, a strategy will have to be devised and goals will have to be set. For now, it is important to sit back, run through all the knick-knacks that make up for your life and decide on what in heaven’s name do you really want.

At this stage, the conversations between your conscious and unconscious mind need to be taking place in the cerebral cortex without the irrational fears that lurk in the unconscious.

  1. What are the things, in your current state of affairs, which you are willing to let go?

An eagle atop a cliff, when she wants to reach a higher point, needs to leap off the cliff. She needs to let go of safety, security, and comfort.

All our ideal, future states are always a distance away in time and in space. Thus, the travel from here to there has a cost, effort and time involved.

Think about this very carefully and logically. The things that you may have to let go of may not be ‘things’ in the literal sense. They might be hard-held beliefs, habits, or affections to safety and comfort. It is best to diligently list down ones you must part with.

Many years ago, I wanted to be more involved in my work in the other parts of the world but I kept hovering around and getting involved in India. The reason was that my affections towards an elder sister kept drawing me there. I knew what I wanted. I also could not let go. It was a value clash between what my heartfelt happiness with and what my head knew was better for my professional growth.

Answering this question carefully will let you leap off a cliff and land you onto the echelons of your choice.

Questions one to three will give you clarity into your own identity and self-knowledge. Questions three to five will solidify your intentions.

When these two sides are established and you dig in your heels with resolve then building a bridge between your identity and intentions will become an intuitive, automatic process. Every single moment, every single day, every little action you take will be a fruitful one.

It will be like laying bricks between two well-aligned pillars.

All through this process, your values and visions gain higher resolution. You become emotionally calm, confident, brave, authentic, and even compassionate towards all others who are on journeys of their own. The difference will be that you will ‘know thyself’ and know why and where you are headed.

Here are the five questions, all over again,

  1. What are a few human behaviors/factors that turn you on the most?
  2. What are those one or two things that most occupy your energy and daily time?
  3. What do you dream about? More specifically, what do you daydream about?
  4. What exactly, unconditionally do you want?
  5. What are the things, in your current state of affairs, which you are willing to let go?

Indulge and immerse yourself in these questions. Put your heart and mind into answering them such that you will never have to memorize stuff like,  “so your uniqueness Raju is that you are a courageous, compassionate, authentic being who wants to help other beings get clarity then lead a happy and fulfilling life.”

Have a good flight!

Enjoy the video on You Tube here: Linking IDENTITY to INTENTIONS

#values #visions #self-awareness #identity #intention #authentic #success

Freedom to Choose, Victor Frankl

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For the longest time, I have not just studied this process but over the years I have experienced and played with it a thousand times. The practice has converted the process into a way of life, my life.

The process was born out of Victor Frankl’s words and research as described in his wonderful book, Man’s Search of Meaning. According to Frankl, while the environment that surrounds a person has an impact, he is totally free to choose his own path. Even in the most critical, toxic surroundings, a person always has the freedom to choose his response towards all stimuli, thus towards his life.

What exactly is the process?

Every time, we are exposed to any stimulus, we respond or, often, we react. Not that all external stimulus is harmful and toxic yet responding automatically, quickly and unmindfully we give up control, we end up letting the environment and circumstances take charge and begin to shape our destiny as they please. The external stimulus might be made up of sight, sound, taste, or touch like good music or a beautiful aroma but the moment it grabs and draws us away the future is decided by that stimulus.

On the contrary, every time we are exposed to any such stimuli if we give those oncoming stimuli a moment, a ponder, and take time to mindfully analyze and choose it then we begin to have control over it and, thus, we begin to design our own destinies with faith and confidence.

The process thus involves being mindful of all the stimuli that come towards us and unto our consciousness through our senses without and within. All that comes towards us is really, first, just data. As soon as it hits our senses, we employ cognition and we categorize and label it to be either sight, sound, taste, touch, smell or even a thought-a memory from within. We then check our feelings about this incoming data. Either we like it or we do not or, at times, we make puny efforts to be neutral to it. Finally, once we have sensed and felt it and categorized it we act upon it.

All this happens in fractions of a second; consciousness, recognition, the feeling it derives and the action we take. The actions we take may be verbal or behavioral. The crux of the process lies in expanding this process. That means taking a fraction of a moment longer to recognize sense and then act upon it. Just a wee bit longer every time. This is what those with a monk-like attitude towards life do; this is what great leaders do. Instead of simply, automatically reacting they give incoming stimuli a pause, a breath and an extra thought thus converting most potentially loaded situations to positive and constructive outcomes.

This is human intelligence, our power to choose and gently have an impact on all the interactions and all the moments, ahead of us. Moments that make up for the miracles, we create. By making this habit a consistent practice, we make it our way of life and influence others and our environment.

Love and Leadership

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A few years ago, at a convention of the Asian Professional Speakers Singapore, the usual topic of what makes a good speaker great came up. And, as usual, words like integrity, service-orientation, professionalism, value-creation, mastery of the craft, etc. were thrown into the discussion.

Love and Leadership

Then out of nowhere a small voice, like from under the table, says “to be able to deliver a really good keynote, one must love the audience.”

And, bang, every other word that was dumped onto the table gets withdrawn back and people go, “Yeah, that’s right. We ought to love the audience, the people we talk to!” “Yep,” adds another, “when we love them then we feel comfortable with them, they feel good in our presence and the creative energy goes aflame!” “We get into the zone, into the flow,” adds the original, small voice happily, still as if coming from under the table.

Over the years, and across the thousands of times I have spoken to an audience large and small, I bring the memory of that conversation with my friends at the APSS to the desktop of my mind every time someone hands me a microphone. “Love the audience, the people Raju,” I say to myself several times over. As many times, I look up, look at the audience make eye contact and connect with someone a smile crinkles my eyes and he or she smiles back. It feels good. It softens me. It eases my spirit, caresses my ego, and, in the bargain, allays all anxiety. As I take the steps up towards the lectern or the red circle, a desire to serve, to be open, to become vulnerable engulfs me. I feel light and happy and empowered all at the same time. The neuroscientists will claim I feel loved, thus a rush of the dope, oxytocin floods my brain cells that is why I feel light, happy and empowered.

When I feel that way with the microphone in my hand on stage, my words, my voice, my gestures, my eyes, my larger bodily movements spark of the same sensations through and across everyone who can hear, see and sense me. The neuroscientists will claim that those are mirror neurons reflecting and mimicking the activities in my neural networks.

I do not care what the neuroscientists say but I am feeling good. I feel, light, happy and powerful. My people, who I love, feel light, happy, and empowered. It becomes a dance. It stays a dance of learning, co-creating, and growing.

This is not true just for people who grab a microphone, step up on stage and make the audience sway to their words. This is true for any individual who wants to serve, lead, and change the world. To connect, engage and influence our worlds we ought to truly care for our worlds, our people. The deepest of our intentions then works for the benefits and betterment of others. Call it to care, call it empathy or call it compassion, it really is love in its agape form.

Most all the time the people we want to connect, engage and influence is usually looking and sensing behind and beyond our appearances, our communication, and our behaviors. They are, usually, looking behind and beyond our skills, our abilities; they are looking at our intentions, our deepest desires towards them and their worlds. Once they hear, see and sense benevolence and good intentions then they not just simply sway with us but begin to march towards a brighter future.

You may have heard this from Mary Lou Angelou many times before and it makes for precision when it comes to public speaking and love. It makes for massive sense when it comes to leadership and love. Here it is, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Beyond your words and well-manicured behaviors, people will always see and sense what exactly is going on in the deepest parts of your heart for them. When they are convinced that what is cooking in the heart-pot of yours they will lick their lips, raise their faces up into the air, and love you back for loving them truly and loving them right.

So on this day of love and love-giving, take a moment to reflect upon what are you trying to change around you and among your networks. Are you changing it out of the true and deep love for the recipients of that change?

Reflect deeply and truly and if the answer from within you is a resounding yes then go, grab that microphone, step up on that lectern, look the ZOOM camera in the eye and state your case. When your case is loaded with love, you shall shine, you shall lead and you shall change your world.

On February 24, inspired by my book-the HeART of Public Speaking, I am running an open to the public webinar on how to connect, engage and influence your world on virtual platforms like ZOOM. Send me a message and I will send you a free invitation.

Live well, love much, and laugh often even if your voice sounds as if it is always emerging from under a table.

Do a Good, Clean Job the First Time Around

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Growing up in India in the 70s, I used to run many errands for mom. One of them was to run to a neighborhood vegetable vendor for our daily needs of chilies, mint, garlic, etc. Those were the days of no refrigerator at home and we bought fresh, ate fresh, and were, of course, total vegetarians.

This specific vegetable vendor used to display his wares from a concrete platform the size of a double bed, with no walls but with just a thatched roof for cover. There were times that I used to reach him way before he would be ready to sell from his shop with no walls. He would make me wait.

Wait I did, while he would very ceremoniously sweep, clean, wash and mop his whole shop. Wait I did, while he swept and watered the whole area surrounding his platform. He would then open his new stock delivered in freshly washed gunnysacks. Slowly, item by item, he would dunk them in water and set them up in tiny heaps for a single purchase. All the time washing, cleaning, and rinsing everything around him and his hands every so often. Wait I did, while he tied back the knots on the gunny sacks of stock and then light up some incense sticks and bless his abode and business. He would then stick the incense sticks into a potato and place it in a strategic location of his empire. Tucking his loose, white trouser bottoms under his legs, he would then, proudly, plop himself down in a lotus posture in front of his fine and fresh display. He’d put his hands together and announce that he was now open. He’d say, Namaskaram!

All this while, parts of me would wonder why doesn’t he just hand me the darn things I needed before the whole rigmarole. At the same time, parts of me would be spellbound by his rituals, his ceremonies, his discipline, and his dance of being clean, tidy and organized. Mom would insist that I buy all our needs from him rather than all the other vendors in his neck of woods. I did not understand her insistence then but years later, I did. He was not the biggest vendor, he was not the cheapest vendor on that street but his goods were always fresh, just rightly priced but his self-discipline was endearing and because of that, he, his goods and service could be trusted.

That was a long time ago. Now that people have moved on to buying fresh, buying from smaller vendors, buying closer to the source that is clean, tidy, and trusted I am wondering how popular and successful this vendor from my childhood would have been? He would not have needed all the noise, the buzz, and the big neon lights that many need. He would not have social media buzz to plug their products and services as we all do. He would have been a natural draw. His following would have been huge and totally organic.

My friend from Singapore, Philip Merry says, “Your number one (often overlooked) marketing tool-Do a good job the first time around.” That was true back in the good old days; it is true now and will be true forever into the future. When we do a good, clean, tidy, organized, value-creating job the first time around, the world does light up our brand, in neon lights, across the stratosphere.

I remembered this story and the lesson it brings forth when Patricia Aliphon spoke about how she keeps her presence on social media tidy and clean. “KonMari,” she called it. To me it sounded like Namaskaram!

It strikes me that no matter what we do and what we put out into the world, it must be clean, it must be tidy in presentation, and it must do a good job the first time and every time.

Many businesses took a beating last year. Matter of fact, all of us did. Most all of us are scrambling back onto a world that acquiesced new rules of play and the words tidy, clean, and good have become crucial parts of all conversations and conversions. We are doing the same with our offering to our market. We are not just concerned with being cheaper, better, and faster but we are disciplining ourselves towards being tidy, clean, fresh, and creating real value in real-time. And, I am betting almost all of you are on a similar journey. The little improvements we make towards our service and offering do, authentically, enhance our presence and influence on our worlds. From that tiny vegetable vendor in India to all of you across the world, Namaskaram!

P.S.

On February 18, we are running a free webinar on Authentic Influence™ for Entrepreneurs. We will be happy to have you all over to talk about how we are all bouncing back and bouncing back higher.

Here is the link: https://www.innersuninc.com/product/authentic-influence-for-entrepreneurs/

 

Or, you might want to download a FREE book on Five InSights into Success, here you go:

Mastering Happiness

Back in 2008, months into the financial crisis, I used to walk around with my head hung low and heave cold sighs over the fact that I had been foolish enough to let my life’s savings disappear. It was as if I were walking around with a large, dark, gloomy, turban of doom.

“Now that it is all done and you cannot undo it, why don’t you just DECIDE to let it all go and DO happy instead of waiting for miracles to happen?” said my son to me.

His words crashed unto me the way a fresh, new wave splashes when you think the all-around stink and staleness will sink and suck you in.

Not ‘BE’ happy but ‘DO’ happy. That did not just get me thinking but it had me getting up and going to go grab a fistful of my own sky.

There are three basic reasons that push people down the unhappiness ravines:

One, we fail at securing safety, survival, belonging, recognition and fulfillment needs in reality. In essence, we slide down Maslow’s pyramid of needs at life.

Two, we consistently and constantly berate ourselves at why we may have failed. Thus, we keep regretting past actions and convert our present day  into living hell. We do not let go.

Three, we constantly try to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ of our lives even though we may be way up on Maslow’s pyramid of needs. We keep comparing, envying and wanting.

Now I agree, 2020 has been one large, unhappy year for the whole world. We, as a civilization slid down the happiness scale head first. The reasons were real. They were acts of nature.

Inspired by the neurosciences and neuropsychology, and my personal practices may I suggest five easy steps for you to not just pursue but master and sustain personal levels of happiness.

  1. Accept Changing Realities. Not just that change is a constant outside but also inside of you. Your world and you are in a constant state of flux and what is true today may not stay true tomorrow.
  2. Focus on What Works. In most circumstances, in the most broken-down systems, there will always be a speck of life, hope, and possibility. Focus on that little good and start weaving your life from that edge.
  3. Relive Positives of Life. Make a cognitive, willful effort to remember and rejuvenate positive and happy incidents from the past way more than delving on failures and sorrow.
  4. Think, Therefore You Are. If you trust that, to achieve happiness and ‘do’ happy is in your hands then it has an autotelic effort on your mind and your personal productivity.
  5. Physiology drives Psychology and Vice Versa. When sad do physically fulfilling things. Most people, when anxious by default take a walk. When physically stressed rest your mind. Meditate.

Practicing, immersing and making this five-step process a living mantra for yourself will build your happiness muscles. You will stop expecting to ‘be’ happy someday or ‘have’ things happen in life that will boost your happiness quotient. Practicing these five steps meticulously will help you not pursue but master happiness for life. You will habitually focus on DOing things right and productive and happiness generating.

Sometimes it makes me wonder, ‘what if “our fathers.” per Lincoln would have written, “preservation of life, liberty, and the mastery of happiness,” instead of ‘pursuit of happiness’ back in in 1776 when they drafted the American constitution?’

Think about it.

 

 

Watch the video on Mastering Happiness here

Download the powerpoint on Happiness and Engagement here

Attend a free conference on Happiness on 12/26/2020 using this link:

Same Kind of Different

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some years ago, I was attending a forum on Neuroscience at the St.Lukes’ Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines. After a few lectures, the conversations progressed to how the brain shapes and molds itself. Called neuroplasticity, as many of us have now become familiar with, is the fact that how we willfully think and how our capacities and resources respond and grow, in tandem.

The conversation then moved, in some weird way, onto fatalism and fate. The energy in the room began to wane, until an elderly person stood up and said, “Then what the Indians, they have no faith?”

The people on panel, on stage, had no idea how to come up with an answer to that one keeping in mind that the forum was on science. There were some two hundred odd people in the room and some of them knew me, as a speaker and a coach, and they began to look my way. The elderly person asking the question, of course, unaware of the Indian in the room. My jaw had dropped and the neural synapses in my brain had begun to run amuck. I had no idea what to say or do. Millions of deities and the millions of rituals I knew of began to spin and dance around my head urging me to say something. I was dumbstruck.

Thankfully, a young neuro-smart savior from the stage asked the elderly person, “What makes you say that?”

“Well,” replied the man, “when one of our travel companion had a heart attack in India, the Indian doctor declared that his chances were extremely slim. He will not last the night, he added.”

“What if we pray?” asked the Filipinos of the doctor. “Yes, you may” said the doctor, “but trust me the chances are zero to none.”

This incident had led the elderly person to conclude that all, billions of Indians have no faith. It was simplistic thinking and no offense was intended. The whole room smiled and heaved a sigh of relief. I was thankful and relieved from defending the faith of a whole nation. Whew!

Today the memory of that awkward moment and the realization of how people jump to conclusions and acquire biases brings a smile to my face. I do wonder what causes people jump to such conclusions so easily. What is the genesis? What can be done about it?

I do not have any answers yet but, over the years, I watched Filipino friends try their utmost to save and care for the sick and the dying. They go on an all-out battle against the forces of nature, against the imminent. They sell their homes, sell the shirts off their back and bruise their knees from kneeling and praying to prevent the unpreventable. They get together in groups; invite friends and neighbors to plead unto the skies on their behalf. After all their efforts, if their prayers are not answered, they humbly accept their fate. They mourn rightly and bounce back very, very quickly. It is an amazing trait and I have watched it in awe and appreciation many times in my life. In the India of my childhood, my memories are of our families being a little more pragmatic about death but continuing to mourn and taking a wee bit longer to bounce back into life.

The bigger realization and take-away I have from this insight is that I, religiously, refrain from making sweeping and generalizing statements about any community or culture. The way I go about it is something you might want to consider in looking at our diverse world:

One, when I come across a behavior or a practice that is new to me, I step back and try to explore it a bit more and try to understand why people say and do, what they say and do. I give it time.

Two, when I begin to see a picture that is a lot clearer and precise as to what people of a different culture are saying and doing then I make an effort to understand what is about myself that finds things different.

Three, I move forward with caution, care and courtesy towards the novel belief or practice until I find a connection and a commonality from which point synergies can be developed.

This practice over the years has built my persona. The influences towards this practice have been the sense and the sensibilities of the two beautiful cultures I have been part of for decades. I truly believe that ‘We are all the same kind of different.’ What remains important is kindness and courtesy towards all others. Treat others as if they were a reflection of your own selves. ‘Pakikipagkapwa-tao,’ we call that belief and behavior in the Philippines.

Gumption, Resilience and Innovation for Tough Times

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Back in April 2020, at one of my open to public webinars on Emotional Intelligence, I had more than 2000 attendees and a large number of them were public school teachers. I was happily surprised. You see we had not positioned the webinar towards the teaching community. We had wanted to fill our Zoom room with business executives and business owners. We wanted them to weather the crisis and the oncoming challenges with calm and equanimity. My assumption is that the teaching community turned up in numbers because they wanted to learn the subject since changing times would demand a lot more from them than they had been used to giving in the past.

My suspicions about that are further validated because for the last several months, from across my home, I hear a female teacher conduct online classes. I hear her speak, explain, cajole, and applaud children. She goes on full throttle for hours and hours for several days in a week talking about math, the sciences, and values. It is just amazing and mind-blowing to see her expel so much passion and energy. Hats off to her and hats off to the nobility of her passion and profession.

In Delhi, a former diplomat and his singer wife, Virendra and Veen Gupta, took to the streets and beg

an to conduct free classes for underprivileged children who have little access to electronic devices and the internet. Paper and pencils in hands scores of children walk miles to come sit and learn under a tree in India.

The COVD-19 growth curve has not flattened across the world but it has flattened. Humanity has gathered gumption, garnered the ability to be resilient, and innovate thousands of products and practices in the last six months. Online learning platforms, organic classroom and office-dividers, re-usable and biodegradable masks, and partitions have come up from across the world.  Retailers and malls have turned their stores inside out. A huge amount of business and work gets conducted in open spaces, on streets, under tents and trees.

Our spirits are indomitable. We will go on to, of course, win this war with gumption, resilience, and abilities to come up with new ideas to surge ahead. On November 21, I will be running another free webinar on how to act courageously, with tenacity, and with a focus on innovation and growth in these changing times. Hoping that though they are not business-focused, the teachers who inspire the world will join us for GRI.T². That is gumption, resilience, and innovation for tough times. In the webinar, we will skim over the philosophies but dive deep into the possibilities and practices of changing the world one innovative action at a time.

Facilitation and Midwifery

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Ever since I took a deeper dive into the art and science of process facilitation, I have not been able to shake off the apparent similarity between a facilitator and a mid-wife. Yes, that is correct; it is a hard image to erase once it gets etched onto your mind.

A year or two ago, the image increased resolution and clarity when Certified Professional Facilitator Theresa Ratnam Thong of Malaysia said; “Sometimes my clients just call me and ask me to just be present during their proceedings. They just like for me to be around.” “Like a holy ghost,” she added laughingly.

A mid-wife does not carry any intention of becoming a parent to a child that she helps bring forth into the world. She was not there when the desire to conceive came about. She will not be there once the child develops into an adult and into a productive citizen of the world. She begins to turn up, support, counsel, observe, listen, guide, energize, nudge, advice after conception, and all the way until the newborn catches a glimpse of a new sunrise. She walks away from this creation with a little token of gratitude from the parents and a lot of satisfaction from having helped bring forth a new life. The intention, the outcome, the short and long-term benefits of this new creation belong to the family.

The knowledge, skills, and behaviors required of a proficient and professional midwife are not far apart from that of a process facilitator. They need to acquire and maintain updated knowledge in the field. They need to own and operate many soft techniques and tools that contain and care for the process and the outcome. They need to plan, prepare, and collaborate deeply and trustingly with the parents.

The three essential things that both these angels of change and co-creation need to consistently do are:

One, become really and truly good at what they do. Day in, day out all the immersion into acquiring new knowledge, building skills and minding behavior needs to have one singular focus and that is to serve the needs of the client, the customer, the need for creative construction.

Two, stay flexible and fluid to the dynamics of change. Keeping the client-desired outcomes in mind the facilitator must live and thrive in the moment of what constantly emerges. Fuel the emergence gently when it is virtuous and empower the client to stretch and own the change when it is not.

Three, strive to stay invisible in the present and become redundant in the long-term. No better glory in driving change when the change recipients come and claim that they did it on their own and they can continue to evolve and grow on their own.

The service quality and mindset of this mid-wife in rural Pakistan are worthy of applaud and emulation. The way to let others shape their own tomorrow is to be there when they need you and become invisible way before, much before they begin to lean upon you.

Essentially, between facilitation and midwifery, go be holy and be a ghost too until a new vision and a new life takes form.

 

Raju Mandhyan

 

Forgiveness and Leadership

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I hear it is a good thing. I understand the world expects it of me. I also trust it heals and sets me free. Yet, I have been holding off talking about this for a decade now. I was under the impression that forgiveness was the stuff that preachers and pastors talk of. Yet, every time I helped nudge a leader back into form, back into productivity, the work that, mostly, needed to be done was for them to let go of something that was weighing them down so that they could go on to something that would heave them up. They needed to let go. They needed to forgive.

Then I must also confess that every time I, personally, wanted to reach upwards I had to let go of something that was holding me down and grounding me downwards. That something was usually a disappointment, a trauma, a grudge, a failure or even just an unqualified, irrational, hallucinated fear. And, all of these causes and ‘uncauses’ had to be managed and let go of before any and every leader could climb upwards. And, by the way, everyone has leadership potential in them and thus everyone is a leader or a leader in the making. Yes, you too.

I bear grudge to a former boss who thought that I was way too green behind my ears and treated me likewise. I bear a grudge against a business partner who sabotaged contracts because of our differences in ethnicity and backgrounds. I resent customers who take their business to others because they are blood-related and not because they serve and deliver better.

From an authentic leadership perspective, all these reasons are shallow. They are ‘uncauses’ to be holding grudges, resentment and even anger towards others. An executive within an organization and a leader in social and business circles grows, blooms and inspires others when she can overcome malice, move on to a better place and better productivity for all.

How?

Not just conceptually but in practice, in reality. Literally.

How?

First, on a piece of paper briefly describe a grudge you hold against another. Practice precision and brevity in the description. Yes, okay to be emphatically expressive but be succinct about it. Let the written paper rest. Walk away from it for a while, maybe for days. There is a good chance that when you get back to it, you will have or will begin to separate fact from mental fiction. You will become objective about the incident, the behavior and the people involved.

You see there is a fine line that divides the objective truth and the conjured up, victim perspective, truth in our minds. It is similar to the fact that rational thinking nodes and the romanticizing nodes in our brains are not very far apart. Giving our thoughts and emotions a little space and time allows them to segregate.

Second, when you recognize the difference between self-generated illusions of hurt and deliberate damage done by another then make a cognitive effort to place yourself into the shoes of that another. Think of answers to questions like:

Forgiveness and Leadership

Forgiveness and Leadership

  • What background do they hail from?
  • What kind of experiences and exposures have they lived through?
  • What are they trying to shield, protect or prevent from happening?
  • What might be their real agenda behind their behaviors and their machinations?
  • What might they be afraid of?
  • From their point of view, what might you represent for them?
  • What might you, consciously or unconsciously, have done to annoy, hurt or scare them?

Third, visualize what your issue might look, sound and feel like to an absolutely open-minded and neutral witness to your relationship. The way to go about it is to think of critical incident or an issue occurring between two of your friends and what might the opinion of a teacher, a coach or an elder be about that incident.

  • What would a teacher, coach or an elder have to say about the grudge you hold against another.
  • What would she say or do?
  • How can you emulate the words and actions of a person you consider kind, compassionate, and a clear thinker?

 

As you will yourself and as you stretch your mental and emotional muscles to go through these three steps the person and his actions that caused you ire become less and less important to you.  The clarity and heightened resolution of that anger begin to fade away. Eventually, the target of your ire begins to fade and begins to reform, rebirth in your mind as another individual, another ordinary, simple human being just like you.  You might also want to share your thoughts with a friend. You might try rehearse a conversation and a dialogue with the one you want to forgive. You need not take this up in reality. You are only taking this up to cleanse your neurological system of toxicity. Just the process lived out vicariously helps a lot.

It is a slow, steady process. It requires persistence, faith in your abilities to succeed, and a certain mental discipline. It cannot be achieved in a day. It can be achieved the same way you acquire and build a new habit, or a new muscle.  The more such forgiveness muscles you build the stronger a human being and a leader you become. Just like a good fitness regime that needs to be supported by a good diet the ability to forgive requires that you choose your thoughts, words and actions again and again. When you find yourself sinking into anger, resentful and depressive thoughts about a person or incident go for a walk, a run or a trek. Mind the choice of your words and conversations with others. The more recklessly you talk ill of others or of negative incidents the more they flourish and solidify in your own mind. We are all auto-telic. We have malleable brains and we shape them by will, thought and behavior. We become what we constantly think about. Think about being angry and upset over a past grudge and you become a depressed and angry person all across.

  • Leadership is about being aware, being agile, and grasping moments that will innovate, change things.
  • Leadership is about journeying over a distance, over to a better place-a vision of a brighter future.
  • Leadership is about including others, millions of others, and enrolling them to move forward by moving yourself.

All this can be achieved with grace and with gumption. Grace to accept and gumption to let go. A leader, all leaders need to stay light and unburdened and they need to move on ahead with deliberation and purpose.

At the end of it all. At the end of all your striving and struggling if you are unable to let go of nasty, toxic memories; if you are unable to forgive others then forgive yourself for not being able to forgive others.

Alternatively, better still, start the whole forgiving process by forgiving yourself first. Yes!