Inner Sun

Trust in Spades: How to Give, Gain and Build

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Trust: How to give, gain and build it over time has been a challenge that scores of leaders struggle with at work and in life. In a world filled with strife, struggle for survival and fear of the unknown trust is a rare commodity and the only currency that can procure us progressive, productive workplaces and, probably, a more peaceful world.

The perennial queries have been:

How much can I trust her?

Why should I trust him?

Are they a trustworthy kind?

How do I make them believe in me?

How do we sustain this relationship over time and changing circumstances?

Now, usually, the answers to many of our work-life challenges lie in intricacies of our languages. So, it helps to look at what exactly is the meaning and maybe the etymology of the word trust is.

By the dictionary, trust is a noun which means “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something,” or trust is a verb which means “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” The key words stressed here are ability, reliability and strength. Likewise distant synonyms of the word trust are confidence, expectation and dependence.

Robert Kegan, in his book Immunity to Change, provides a workable formula to buy, build and grow trust in reflection and in response to the noun and the verb “trust.” Trust, he claims is the sum of an entity’s credibility, consistency and care for another entity and is inversely proportional to its’ own self-focus.

                                 ___CREDIBILITY + CONSISTENCY + CARE___

TRUST       =            ______________________________________

                                                                 SELF-FOCUS         

Credibility lies in your past performance but is depended upon today. It takes time to build and is built (Video) step by step. Everything you have done and are dong gets imprinted upon some memory and is tapped into again and again.

Consistency, across changing circumstances and times, is a matter of strategy, will and beliefs. As any manager or even a family head, you need to make efforts to become the person to go to. A certain amount of rock steadiness is needed of you to buy and build trust.

Care is the outcome of cognitive and affective empathy and compassion for others. We all have needs, weaknesses and thankfully, a consciousness too. As we all need care and compassion, a leader needs to make conscious, cognitive efforts to understand, feel and offer support to others.

The downside and the scary side of this denominator is that if all three elements are active and are performed with an objective to win brownie points or to serve an agenda other than the agenda of the person across you or an agenda that is not mutually beneficial than the trust equation collapses-drastically.

A few years ago while hosting an event I had the good fortune of spending a private moment with Tony Meloto, the founder and lead behind Gawad Kalinga of the Philippines. Gawad Kalinga, a very successful community building organization, is our version of Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines.

“Tony” I asked, “Gawad Kalinga is receiving so much funding and hundreds of volunteers are pouring in to help, do you not have security and trust issues with all these newcomers and walk in supporters?”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Don’t you have pilferage, conflict, personality conflicts and trust issues?”

“Ah, I know what you are implying! I have a straightforward philosophy and an approach to it. When volunteers come in, we take them for their word and trust their intentions to be good. We load them with responsibilities right away___without doubt, without malice. And, all these years this approach has worked and I feel that is one of the secrets behind our success.”

“Hmmm, wow!”

“Yes, wow is right, we hand out trust in spades, right away, and usually get it back in wheelbarrows,” he smiled.

I was and still am ashamed to have been coming from a sense of lack but I am glad I asked that question that day.

The first step of the formula to gain trust, today for me, is to give trust to the credibility, the competencies and the compassion levels in all my partners and colleagues. It is to set aside all my doubts and biases and take people’s word for what they can do and what they state their goals to be. It is to approach people with a judgement of charity and graciousness. Yes, surely, people can let you down but if I start with assumption that they can let me down then I haven’t really started anything have I?

The second step to build and accumulate trust in myself, across time, from my partners and teams is really do well what I am responsible and for what I am qualified and appointed for. My job description could be general or specific but I must focus on becoming the person to go for those needs by my partners. I must follow this habit of making effort of being he best I can be with a long-term consistency. I cannot build a reputation or a resume by being efficient and productive sporadically, I must be consistent across changing circumstances and times.

The third habit, not just a step, is to approach people with compassion and kindness regardless of what our work-life scenarios and our backgrounds call. In the Philippines, we uphold a value called “kapwa tao.” This means to regard all people as human beings and kindred spirits and to do unto them as you would have them do unto you.

The fourth habit is to deliberately and diligently reflect upon why you think, say and do what you think, say and do. Reflect upon your agendas and your true purposes. Run your intentions through the test of fire. If your thoughts, words and actions benefit you more than they benefit others than the previous three steps will never gain you anything, ever. People study and measure your words and actions to assess your true intentions all the time and the only way to clean up your true intentions is to really and truly clean them up.

That is how to Give, Gain and Build Mountains of Trust for yourself and within your communities.

Video on Trust

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Power of the Pause

TIME AND MONEY!

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There are in the world only two currencies-time and money. Discussions and forums, worldwide, about money happen in abundance but there are very few discussions about “Time Literacy” and the intelligent and optimum usage of time.

Time and Money

Yes, surely, from an extreme philosophical perspective there is no such thing as time and it is an abstract, a “construct” of society. But here on earth and in the marketplace of life for achieving measurable, tangible successes time, always, is money.

And, just like money it must be earned, saved and employed for personal and organizational growth and development. Unfortunately, like money, it cannot be accumulated and re-used as an investment. Through the banks of time we only pass once and this once must be used intelligently and wisely.

Now there are hundreds of opinions on how to use time wisely and productively. The top seven best practices being:

  1. Plan The Day!

Have a plan per day, per annum, etc.,

Just like if you were to invest a million dollars into a project, you’d need a budget and a forecast of how that money will be utilized.

Plan and budget a given unit of time. It can be a day, a year or even a life-time.

In my personal point of view, it should be a life-time.

  1. Set Time Bound Goals.

Get crystal like clarity on what exactly needs to be achieved and focus and work at one project, one task at a time. The idea of multi-tasking has been debunked a hundred times in recent months. Clarity and focus gives you speed, momentum and success.

  1. Optimize Technology.

Don’t do by hand, what can be done by a machine unless of course the quality requirements call for organic and low-tech processes. Also do make sure that you don’t drown yourself into technology such that the machine becomes your master. Yes, put that smart phone down if you are picking it up just for the heck of it. Yes, put it down a hundred times a day, its dope, not technology.  As and when you do pick it use it like you’d use a razor_to get a job done.

  1. Eat the Frog!

Eat the frog, says Brian Tracy. If you keep putting aside a job, habitually, because it is hard, dirty, difficult to do or it calls for you to have a paradigm shift but your meta-intelligence and mind says it must be done because it will give a great leverage in the future then, by golly, do it.

Putting up and managing a personal website for me was a yucky, slimy, ugly-eyed frog. One day I put my foot down and swallowed the amphibian in one sitting.

  1. Just Say No!

Ayn Rand said there is a virtue in selfishness. And, yes I absolutely agree with her. Selfishness that is not mean, deceiving, greedy but selfishness that looks after me and the limited, finite amount of the treasure called time.

Take a class in healthy assertiveness and don’t commit yourself to things you cannot do, don’t want to do and do not fit into the big picture of your life, work and higher purpose. Say no to a couple of beers if you’d set that time aside for a jog. Go, jog first!

  1. For Heaven’s Sake, Delegate!

Here’s where you swap money for time. Here is where your accumulated money may buy you someone else’s time_psuedo-time.

And, here is the most important lesson that I wanted to share with you when I typed in the title of this article.

I repeat, there are only two currencies life and they are time and money. The quantity of time is finite but the quality of it can be worth billions if you learn to use it right. The quantity of money circulating in the world in all its forms is still limited and its value is directly proportional to how you use your time.

A wise old man once told me, “Raju, when you are young you chase money and when you age you chase time. Instead if you chose to mind and manage time better when you were young you’d ‘automagically’ be wealthy when you grow old.

Since that advise, I have been living out these seven tips that I, today, share with you. Hope you like them. They are inspired from the contents of my book, the HeART of the CLOSE.

  1. Fret Not Over Failure

Finally, should you fail at budgeting your time, setting the right goals, optimizing resources and making great choices in life then realize and recognize this that your idea of success is subjective. In your failure lays the wisdom to succeed at your next attempt.

Fretting over failure is like gunking up and, unconsciously, corroding the time that still lies is in your bank and stays available to you. There, that is the seventh tip_fretting is a gross waste of time. One needs to consistently get up and get going because lady time, she awaits you to live out your life’s purpose.

 

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Five Ways to Slam Business Presentations

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In my line of work, I have always believed that crossing lines between art and science, society and business; and between one discipline and another catalyzes personal and organizational development.

Over the years I have mixed and matched theater skills with presentation skills, improvisation and business negotiating, humor and leadership among others.

Yesterday, on a lazy Sunday afternoon in my hometown, I barged into a workshop on Spoken Word Poetry run at the center for literature, GYaN ADAB in Pune, India.  In the past, I had attended presentations, watched scores of videos of Sarah Kaye and Phil Kay and have loved this art form. The possibilities of tapping into the nuances of this genre and using them for business and leadership communications are enormous.

Spoken Word Poetry, or Slam as it is colloquially called, is a powerful blend of creative writing skills and highly engaging delivery skills. It is poetry and storytelling in one and it hits you right between your eyes and can steal your heart away.  It is raw, romantic and unleashes the authentic you to your audiences of one or many.

Don’t start reciting or speaking until your audiences’ attention has turned towards you. Get up on center stage or across the boardroom table, stand silently until it is time to speak. Doing this allows your anxieties to quell and for people to wind off whatever they might be involved with and give you their eyes and ears. This doesn’t take long and that is why it is called the Five Seconds to Start Rule.

Further quell your anxiety and ground yourself deeper into the performance by planting your feet flat on the ground and keeping them still while you smoothen and calm your breathing. You may slowly look around and relax your upper body. This is called Keep your Feet Still for a While.

When you do look around, depending on the number of faces in your audience, make eye contact with an optimum number of people in the room. Do not just glance over people make sure that you let care and warmth ooze from your eyes. Throughout your performance and delivery look at people and let your feeling show through. This works in two ways; they sense your feelings and recognize that you care and you can keep tab on how the transaction and transfer is occurring. The number of smiles, nods and wide-eyed interest are your measures. Call this the New Insights into the Old Fashioned Eye Contact cliché.

As you speak make sure that your voice comes from the depths of your diaphragm and that you roll your “Rs,” stress your “Ts” and “Ss.”  Since Slam is dependent not just on the quality of the content but on engaging delivery too, it helps to Enunciate Your Words and project them far into the back of the room with or without amplification.

Kudos to the workshop facilitator Shantanu Anand! I loved his analogy of how to add pauses to your presentations and end your slam on a high note.  “Have you seen an old-fashioned locomotive come to a halt on steel rails?” he asked. It doesn’t drop down with a thud like a sack of rice and it doesn’t screech to halt like careening motor car. It roars into the railway station and grows larger in sight while chugging to many slowdowns and stops before its huge, iron wheels grab onto the steel structures beneath it. It comes in “chug, chuggh, chuggghh, pause; chug, chuggh, chuggghh, pause; chug, chuggh, chuggghh, thumping halt!”

In this way when slamming down your Spoken Word Poetry or a Business Presentation take time to bring your spiel to a slow, pause and power-filled halt. Punch and Pound out your Last Few Sentences to increase impact. If the sentence is long shorten your pauses and if the sentences are short then lengthen your pauses. Like “ask  not  what  your  country  can  do  for  you  but ask   what   you   can   do  for   your   country!”

Here’s one of my tiny attempt in print and someday I will render it live because that’s the way to slam!

It is time that you let me out. Long have you been in the habit of keeping me in.

You do realize and recognize that chaining me down makes me wanna’ burst out all the more.

An enemy of yours I am not, my love.

When you will, eventually, unleash me you will learn that I am not anger but your true and trusted love, meant only for you, meant only for you, by you.

You, you nincompoop!

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There!

That’s a little bit about Spoken Word Poetry and how to Slam all your other Business Presentations.

Above all, have fun! 🙂

Five Ideas to Improve Meeting Productivity

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The whole world is constantly participating in meetings. “Let’s have a meeting,” “I am in a meeting,” “Call you right back after the meeting,”

Five Ideas to Improve Meeting Productivity

They are statements you hear all the time. Sometimes, it makes me wonder if most everyone I know is so often in one meeting or another who then, in heaven’s name, is minding the, proverbial, store? Who is building the bridges and who is baking all the bread in the world?

The truth is that a lot of time, across the world, is being wasted in and during meetings. Should we be able to salvage all the wasted energy from the din and noise generated during meetings then we would have no energy crisis. We’d be cutting down lesser trees, digging up lesser oil and, leaving lesser carbon foot-prints on the face of this lovely planet. The air will be cleaner, the oceans will start cooling down and the birds won’t always have to fly south.

A typical meeting usually starts late and it involves catching up with others, waiting for the late-comer, listening to his excuses and a traffic-report of the city; bringing him up to speed, ordering coffee, re-reading the minutes of the last meeting, plugging the computers, logging onto the net and rushing through the true agenda so as to catch up with the next meeting at another venue…ad nauseam.

If this is even partially true for you then here are five quick ideas to bash up the beast of bad meetings. Five ideas is a good number because it represents the number of sensory inputs and outputs and research in the field of neurosciences has shown that the conscious mind can only juggle and manage seven plus minus two chunks of information at a given moment.

Idea One: Email everyone, a substantial time before the meeting, a five-point agenda that is more illustrative than narrative. Use sketches, diagram and flowcharts because pictures are easier to remember than words. Assign expectations and tasks for every individual. Keep it simple and to the point.

Idea Two: During the meeting issue a little more detailed version of the same illustration to everyone with their roles and tasks color segregated. Allow space for that individual to make and takes notes. Look up Edward De Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ and use the science behind Five of those hats. Throw out one of the hats or use it as a pan to collect penalties from the late-comers and hecklers in meetings.

Idea Three: Choose one big, hairy goal for the meeting and less than three minor goals to be achieved as outcomes of the meeting. Hang a large sign of the big, hairy goal where everyone can see it before and during the meeting. The large visual aids focus, and like bees to honey, such that everyone will keep directing their conversations to the big, hairy goal. The minor ones will easily fall in place just like dominoes do. You have heard this, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”

Idea Four: Allow a few minutes before the meeting ends to stamp “Done!”on the big, hairy goal sign and the small illustrative notices that you sent out. Capture the outcomes of the meeting in an illustrative format and sketch out the measures and the next, big hairy goal for the next meeting. Oops, scratch out the last sentence! Your every meeting should be good enough for you and your team never to meet again.

Idea Five: All research, option generation, plans, milestones, measures are elements of cerebral thinking but true choices are made from the depths of our hearts. Treat each other with respect, kindness and empathy so as to nurture their emotional sides and also allow deeper experience and wisdom to evolve. Sure, shoot down the late-comers and the hecklers too!

Practice these five ideas if you like or chuck them out the window. It is best to just roll up your sleeves and bake that bread, build those bridges or chill by the beach instead of participating in meaningless, chaotic meetings.

Here’s hoping your meetings are always lean, mean and the rest of the year be happy, healthy and and very productive for you and your teams!

Raju Mandhyan
www.mandhyan.com
Unleashing Comunication Excellence!

When and How to use Why, or, How to Replace it with a What

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Exactly a year ago, I wrote “STOP AT WHY: HOW GREAT COACHES INSPIRE SELF TRANSFORMATION,” and I left the question “When and How to use Why or How to replace it with a What?”

So, just to recap;

  • When you use “why” you hit the rock bottom of your client’s beliefs.

    WHEN AND HOW TO USE A WHY AND WITH A WHAT?

  • When you use “why” you challenge their deep set values.
  • When you use “why” you enter the zone of their conscious and unconscious programs.
  • When you use “why” you, often, challenge their personal charades or “rackets” as some schools of thoughts like to call it.
  • When you use “why” you are, often, throwing them into an arena where they can get defensive.

Of course all these do not count if you have acquired massive and loving trust where the client is open and feels absolutely safe with you or, if the client is high on self-consciousness and open to being coached.

Now to work into the ability of how to replace “why” with a less edgy, less sharp “what” or a “how.”

Let’s take a very simple example of “Why are you late?”

You’d get a response of “because I…yadi, yadi, ya!” Or, worse, you may get “What’s it to you?”

Now try replacing “Why are you late?” with…

“Traffic on the streets?” This will give you a yes or a no. If you get a “yes” you get labelled as “understanding” and he/she relaxes, smiles and unwinds. If you get a “no” then the fact that you gave him/her an option out will be followed with the real reasons that made him/her come late.

Now, let’s take a much complex and a serious example of “Why are you always late?”

This one is bound to push all the red buttons and he/she can give you hell in return. So be cautious and replace “Why are you always late?” with something that gets you the answers you need without cornering your client and, often, empowering them a bit. Here are the options;

  • You have been late often recently, what are the reasons?
  • What has been making you come late these last few days?
  • Any ideas on how you can make it on time for these meetings?
  • And, a supportive one, anyway we can help you come on time?

You get the drift?

As a coach and a business leader, or even a supportive parent, it takes time an effort to refrain from using “why” carelessly and by default. It takes deeper mental effort and time to think through your query and reframe it in such a manner that it draws no blood, so to say.

Beyond just taking effort and time, it also requires a long-term dedication to changing the way you communicate and lead others. It takes practice, and it takes patience, and it takes powerful intention to coach and empower others benignly.

Using “How” and “What” instead of a “Why” is like shaving with the grain rather than against it. It converts relationship friction into traction. So spend a little time every time to flip your “Why” into a “How” or a “What,” it’ll do you and your relationships a ton of good.

Those are my ideas on why not to ask why often.

Article inspired by my book, the HeART of the CLOSE, which contains a section on sales coaching.  Further work on Appreciative Inquiry is taken up in my workshops on Appreciative Leadership.

 

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Stories as Drivers of Engagement and Innovation

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Stories may be truths wrapped in roses, rainbows, and rhythm, but they also create the future–that which is possible and which can indeed be beautiful.

When organizations slow down or arrive at a difficult bend in their developmental journey, people within the organization need hope.  They need new dreams and fresh inspiration.  Success stories from the past empower us, but it is the stories into the future–stories yet to be lived–that catapult us into action and success.

Corporate Storytelling by Raju Mandhyan

These words are etched on the mental corridors of workers in this company that supplies milk and milk derivatives to nearly half the world.

Individuals are shaped by different experiences yet our shared values enable us to combine our strengths to make us innovative and successful. There are just four simple truths that guide us: spirit of co-operation, doing what is right, challenging boundaries, and making it happen.

These values are images that are colorful and crystal-clear to the farmers and managers of Fonterra of New Zealand. The clarity and vividness make these values a dynamic living image.  It is the vision and the story that serves as the springboard for creating an unfolding future, a future they continue to create.

Made up of over 400 members, this co-operative has been around for over a hundred years. They have been steadily growing for decades and have consistently and continuously become efficient and innovative.  Why? Because where they have come from is clear in this organization, and where they are heading to, is just as crystal clear.

The vivid, colorful story of the future in their minds drives them to easily implement relevant changes every day. The living, dynamic, future-projected story is a compelling magnet. It becomes a self-driven desire to change rather than something that the organization members need to be cajoled and pushed into. Furthermore, this story of their future is easily communicated and has the potential of naturally turning viral in the organization.

As a leader, in any position, of an organization if you’d like your people to stay engaged, empowered and enthused…

  1. Pick out a colorful incident from the history of your organization. If it was about a person, a member of your organization who drove change then tell it from the perspective of how her beliefs and actions impacted profits of the company.
  2. Pick out the period when one of your companies’ product had made it well in the market-place, then tell the story about the persons behind the ideation, the design, the production and the promotion of the product. Why and how did the product do well because of these people.
  3. Pick out a project from past which succeeded rip-roaringly then tell the story about the values and the purpose of the whole organization that made it such a success.

This is a process of blending two different things to build a story that inspires and drive up the overall performance of your organizations.

Hope you like it. It is taken from my book, the HeART of STORY, and is an integral part of a workshop I run on Corporate Storytelling.

 

Raju Mandhyan

Author, Coach and Trainer

www.mandhyan.com         Unleashing Inherent Excellence!

Change the Way you Look at Things, The Things you Look at will Change

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by Carlos Castaneda

Zig Ziglar shared this story a few decades ago,

“Growing up on a farm, I’d have to be up way before dawn and one of assignments was to milk the cows. The cows did not know that it was their job to let me get milk from them. My assignment was always tougher in the winters of the great state of Texas. The milk inside the cow, in my mind, was usually frozen. I hated the job and hated the cows.

Over time I realized the more frustrated I was at the job and the cows, the harder my job became. And, I am sure the cows also went out of their ways to make my life miserable too. Then I decided to change the way I looked at my job. I decided milk was good. It brought health and nutrition and income for the family. I began to look at the cows with kinder eyes. I even went out of my way to have a chat with the cows before I even touched them.

“Sally,” I’d say to the eldest of the cows, “you look good today! It seems like you had a good night’s rest.”

“And Martha,” I’d say to the youngest, “that smile on your face is gonna’ take you places, y’know!”

“You cows have no idea how much we enjoy and appreciate all that you do for us. If not for you guys, our breakfast tables would be dull and boring. Thank you. Really, thank you!”

He had no measure for it but Zig Ziglar was sure that on the days he appreciated the cows and thanked them for being who they were, he usually picked up a few extra quarts of milk.

People at work and, in life, aren’t any different. All of us need appreciation and grace from each other. All of us need to learn regard each with respect and kindness. When we look at each other, when we behold each other our eyes need to zero in on the potential and grace that lays hidden in each of us. Yes, it does!

The moment we seek, zero in and stay positive about that hidden potential our attitude and our outlook becomes the water and sunshine that unleashes that potential. When we change the way we look at people, the people we look at will change and grow into and fill the frame we perceive them through. This is powerful medicine. It is the truth and it costs nothing. Nothing at all! In fact, it is like oxygen to your own wellbeing and happiness.

On those cold, wintry mornings the cows, I hear, also returned the favor to Zig Ziglar  with a “Thank you for a warm hand on a chilly morning.”

Listening With a Willingness to Change

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Listening by Raju Mandhyan

It sounds like a mouthful compared to active listening, deeper listening or, even, empathetic listening and yes, it is.

After having had thousands of discussions and practice sessions in communications, coaching, sales and other leadership workshop I realize I can put this in a nutshell.

When wanting to listen and listen well, what do we do? We sit up. We shut off other thoughts. We pay attention to the lips that pour out the words. We turn up empathy and, yes, we smile-nod-twinkle and go uh, uh. Yeah!

Or, again, there are times when we are doing all that externally and internal parts of our self are going “what time is it, I wonder?” “is she wrapping by now?” “this is not what I came here to listen!” “he has no idea what he is talking about!” “I am so much better a thinker-communicator-what have you!”

Active listening is all bright-eyed, big smile and nodding approval kind of a listening. Deeper listening is reading between the lines and “feeling” things rather than just hearing the words. Compassionate listening is, really, getting ready to say “Oh dear, I know exactly what you are going through but let me tell you about the time… yadi-yadi-ya!”

Real listening is all of the above on the surface. Underneath, deep inside you the communicator, leader or a coach needs to be ready to give up all that is bright and beautiful inside you. You need to be ready to surrender all beliefs that you hold dear. You need to forego everything else that you have been planning to bring to the table.

  • You need to surrender your position of listener-leader and be a follower.
  • You need to give up the idea of wanting to offer wisdom, create value.
  • You need to accept, lovingly and respectfully, the thought that what is presented may be better and productive.
  • You need to become ready to let go of all that you think make up you.
  • You need to be listening with a readiness and a willingness to change. Yes, change!

Listening with a readiness and willingness to change from the depths of your thoughts and the bottom of your heart, you need to be ready and willing to change. That is listening.

Any movements towards change can only come about if the cornerstone of our interactions is an honest-to-goodness willingness to change. All this, mind you, happens in fractions of seconds. That fraction of a second will make you a leader that was ready to change.

Inner Sun

The Night of the Jitters

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Leticia Ramos-Shahani

I was once invited to compére a dinner function where there were several speakers. The chief amongst them was a lady Philippine presidential candidate. My job was to stay within the theme of the evening, introduce the speakers, and keep the transitions lively, entertaining and contextual.

Easy? Yes, if not for an audience of over a 400 people!

Weeks and days before the event, I gathered the material, read the resumes of the luminaries, prepared my lines and timing. On the day before the event, I had everything down to a pat. But at night in bed, the next day seemed bigger and scarier than most other days.

I tossed and turned restlessly until late into the night. Finally, when I did sleep, I had a nightmare. In the nightmare, I was up on the stage next to all the speakers. The lights were strong on my face. Awed by the crowd, I was in a state of shock. Suddenly, from nowhere the lady chief guest walked up to me, handed me the microphone and said, “Raju, it is your turn! ”

My turn! I grappled with the dozen or so pages in my hands and walked up to the lectern. At the lectern, my papers flew from my hand and circled around me in slow motion. The microphone turned into a cobra and stared me down. And, when I looked down at my finely dressed audience they had changed. In their place were people of all kinds. I saw fishermen, street hawkers, and gaunt-faced ladies with cigarettes dangling from their lips. On the floor there were hundreds of crawling babies screaming at their mothers to stop smoking and pay attention to them. My wife was in the crowd begging everyone to calm down and listen to me, the speaker!

The back of the hall had somehow changed into a railway compartment with dozens of big, African-American men playing basketball in it. Big, burly men with beer mugs in their hands were watching the game while the train of my speaking moment was hurtling away towards nowhere!

In the nightmare, I heard someone knock at the door of the railway compartment. Covered in cold sweat, I woke up with a scream in my throat! As I sat up in bed, I recognized the absurdity of  the whole situation. The demons of anxiety and fear were playing games    with my mind.

The knocking on my bedroom door was real, and I walked up to it and opened it. There stood my little 7-year-old daughter, crying for her mother. I picked her up and held her against me. My fears subsided and a smile took over my jitters and doubts.

I was overcome by an inner peace and calm. I went to sleep assured that tomorrow, I was going to perform for a crowd not go to war with the world. My fears were gone and the material that I had been working upon became mine. The next day I dazzled the crowd and the lady chief guest at the dinner  function.

 

Note: I post this in honor and the love I, like, many have for the late Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani of the Philippines who just passed away this morning of 20th March, 2017.