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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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Kinesthetic Charisma

Scores of times in my workshop InSpire Like a CEO, I have been asked the question, “At work and in life, how do you make an impact and sustain it?”

I have always answered that there are many ways, and many of them are being and doing things in a way that your presence and power is felt rather than forced upon others.

Then there is that usual question about “what about body language?”

Be, Do, Have.

Be, Do, Have.

I must confess that for both these questions the answer is not a simple one and it just can’t be a list of bullet points to follow. A few years ago I wrote an article Authentic  Impact, that will help but, well, here’s an expanded list of bullet points to back it up.

Yet before you scroll down, I want you to ponder and munch upon a thought that claims, “You are almost always communicating,” or differently stated “You are never not communicating.” What this implies is that your posture, your motions, your expressions, your eyes and the way you breathe all, always are making some kind of a statement.

The other thing that I need you to ponder and munch upon is the fact, that the first impressions you make can be lasting impressions and first impression are made in less than seven seconds. Well, that used to be the truth until the digital and the mobile world hit us. Nowadays, I hear first impressions, at least the online ones, are made in less than three seconds.

Well, in any case back onto real world impact here are my eleven secrets to building and possessing a powerful Kinesthetic Charisma.

 

  1. Trust Yourself

This is tantamount to ‘know thyself’ and ‘like thyself’ the way you are, whatever that way be. You see if you don’t like yourself then your discontentment with yourself oozes out of you like foul body odor. Yes, it does!

Thus, spend time with yourself. Talk to yourself. Accept things about yourself. Change things you can and learn to live with things you cannot change. The easiest thing to change about yourself is how you dress and the toughest thing to change about yourself, no not your height, is your worldview. In all cases accept and trust yourself as you are.

  1. When you Walk into a Room, Walk Right in

If you have chosen to be somewhere, with some people then be there a 100%. Don’t dilly-dally at the door or by the window. Walk right in and physically announce yourself. Your hesitations, your inhibitions will be construed as lack of confidence, lack of trust in yourself.

  1. Stand Tall before you Sit

Spend a little time spending standing tall and letting people size in and absorb your newly ironed suit and the length, or lack, of your physicality. Stand as if you are wearing a light, crisply ironed suit and you are unworried about the suit picking up creases. Stand tall, relax your shoulders, hang your arms by your side or hold a glass of wine, breathe normally and keep your chin slightly tilted up. Think Clint Eastwood even though you might be Danny de Vito.

  1. When you Shake hands, Shake Them Well

Oh no, that doesn’t mean squeeze, crush or pump. It means when shaking hands with a person of the same sex place your hand all in, wrap the thumb around and give it a reassuring squeeze. In your mind say to them that you like them and they will read your mind through the process of conduction. When shaking hands with a female, that is if you are male, offer an open hand and let them shove their hand all in. You just wrap around gently and close. Tell them with your eyes that you like meeting with them. Mentally announce, “Mucho gusto!”

  1. Sit Upright and Cool before You Talk

When you sit, find a good spot from where you can see everyone and everyone can see you too. Don’t hunch, don’t slouch, and don’t sink into the sofa. Push your butt deep into the chair, straighten your lower back, drop your shoulders and let your chest breathe normally. Yes, keep the chin tilted slightly. Look around as if to survey, to measure. Smile as you do it.

  1. Mind your Micro Expressions

If you haven’t yet, then please read up Dr. Mehrebian’s  55+38+7 rule and remember that it is only valid in certain laboratory conditions. But, yes, it does help to get the point through for many aspects of people interactions. Yes, of course, remember that you are almost always communicating. So if you see something or someone that you do not like then do not grimace or pout.  Hear yourself say it to yourself in your head that you don’t like something or someone in the room but don’t let your mind tell it to your face. Stick a smiley on your face and let it stay there.

  1. Talk only When you Know they want to Hear you

Talk when there is pause in the noise the world of business meetings usually puts. Talk when the cacophony levels drop. Talk when people are getting edgy because you haven’t added to the noise yet. Speak out your words softly, but let them carry a big stick. Speak up, enunciate and, for heaven’s sake, think it out before you spew it out. Read my book, the HeART of Public Speaking, to learn how to think on your feet.

  1. Speak from the Gut, Throw your Voice

Power up your voice and pitch it far and strong by backing it up with the air from your diaphragm. Don’t speak through nose, don’t mumble. Stand up, sit up, chin up and then speak up nice and slow. Raise up the decibels high enough for your words to be heard by the person most distant from you in the room. Speak as if you are speaking to that last person in the room. Speak…do not shout.

  1. Pause Between Thoughts, Examples

If you have done your thinking before speaking;  If you are composing, editing and structuring your thoughts well and if you are sitting up and speaking from the gut then your pauses and your pausing will be a but natural outcome of your powerful performance. Your pauses will allow you to think through the next bunch of thoughts, ideas and examples. Your pausing will allow time for your audience to digest and appreciate your proposals.

  1. Let your Eyes listen

You know I am teasing you with that one, don’t you? What I mean is watch people understanding, absorbing and accepting your ideas and examples. They will be nodding, smiling and turning towards you when you talk. That is listening to them while you are doing the talking. If you see less of nodding, smiling and people turning towards then it is time to change pace, change style, change content off your conversations.

  1. Stay Open

Just because you now know how to trust yourself, walk into a room well, shake hands properly, hold your chin up and enunciate well does not make you an Einstein, a Drucker or the Dalai Lama!

The whole process of “doing” things to become charismatic kinesthetically has an underlying promise by you to stay open, stay flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and what is being co-created in good conversations.

There you go! Eleven bullet points to acquiring Kinesthetic Charisma as a leader, as a CEO who would like to Inspire and influence his world.

Appreciative Leadership & Ha Long Bay

Individuals and Organizations are Mysteries to be Explored and Uncovered.

Individuals and Organizations are Mysteries to be Explored and Uncovered.

A few years ago, on a cruise, at early dawn we sailed into Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay. Not just the moment but the whole morning was nothing but magical, majestic.

The dark, dense water seemed to caress and draw the ship deeper into the bay. The giant rocks, strewn with shrubs, seemed to gently glide, bend and bow down inviting us to feel free and awed by the beauty. The sights were amazingly beautiful. The murmuring water was love-giving and the scents from the shrubs nourished our souls.

Today, as I relive the memory, part of me wonders why I didn’t find the dull darkness to be scary. Why didn’t the deep, dense water strike fear into my heart and why didn’t the jagged rocks remind me of the Titanic’s fate? I guess the answer to this mystery might lay in the fact that a part of me was expecting and looking forward to the sights, sounds and the smells of Ha Long Bay being beautiful and awesome. I also suspect that, over the years, the millions who visit and capture this beauty also undergo the same magic and majesty. They all come filled with a sense of wonder and an expectancy to witness the beautiful.

In a similar way, the underlying philosophies of ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ urge us to approach individual systems and organizations in a similar way, with the same wonder and a similar sense of being greeted by majestic beauty.  Appreciative Inquiry, a method of facilitation and developing organizations was first conceptualized by Dr. David Cooperrider of Case Western University in the 80s.

It claims, our default approach in looking at people, looking at teams and organizations made of people is to try and zero in on what is wrong with them and how do I, as a leader, fix that problem. It questions, what if we were to simply flip that first, defaulting assumption of ours and look for strengths, for resources, for successes? Wouldn’t that change our approach, our mind-sets and thus our behavior towards these entities, these systems and these living organizations?

Over the years, across the globe several leaders and change agents have discovered this secret and used it powerfully and fruitfully to turn individuals and organizations from good to great. It’s an approach, a way of life that adds power, beauty and strength into our initiatives to change and innovate.  The philosophical presumption is “individuals and organizations are mysteries to be explored and uncovered.”

On September 09, 2016 in Vietnam, in association with Vietnam Marketing and Management, I will be conducting a whole day, interactive workshop on Appreciative Leadership.  This follows the Hospital Management Awards being held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 7 & 8, 2016. On that day not only will I accompany you on this journey but also guide you into being able navigate your own ships into magic and majestic landscapes like Ha Long Bay.

Vietnam Marketing:  http://www.vmi.edu.vn/

Appreciative Leadership: http://www.vmi.edu.vn/news/pid/49/search/page/1/id/4544

My upcoming public workshops:http://www.informa-mea.com/hrsummit

Advanced Selling Skills in Vietnam: http://www.hospitalmanagementasia.com/cacnhadienthuyet?page=5

InSpire Like a CEO: http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/Raju/inspire.html

Appreciative Leadership: http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/Raju/AL.html

Corporate Storytelling in Dubai:http://www.hrsummitexpo.com/

Posts on Facebook: https://goo.gl/MXQEqU

Talks on You Tube: https://goo.gl/dVclfm

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

Raju Mandhyan

www.mandhyan.com

 

 

 

 

Stop at Why: How Great Coaches Inspire Self Transformation

I have participated in hundreds of conversations on why not ask the “why” question in coaching and the itch to answer calls for this write-up.

Though I have covered what exactly is coaching in many of my previous blogs and it is covered in depth in my book, the HeART of the CLOSE. For this specific write-up let’s go with “coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential,” as stated by the International Coaching Federation at  https://goo.gl/MGM1KC

Now in the process most coaches and those that train others to coach will claim “ask all questions but stay away from the “why” question.” In response most newbies will go, “Huh? Why? But Simon Sinek claims that is the ultimate question to ask ahead of the what and the how questions!”

So, ask “why” or ask not “why?”Stop at Why

Well the answer, Charlie, is that both the parties are right and both of them are approaching the raison d’etre from two different windows. One is working inside out and the other is working outside in. The leader who starts with the why question is giving clarity, shape and existence to the purpose behind what she is dreaming of, speaking of and acting upon for her followers to understand, align and deliver the vision they together co-create. Knowing why we dream, say and do becomes of utmost importance.

On the other hand when a coach begins to partner with a client in a thought-provoking and creative process for her client to maximize their personal and professional potential then she, the coach, has no right to influence her client’s “why” but mostly work with her “what” and “how.” For a client to change, upgrade or even, sometimes, dump her “why” is totally and completely a personal choice. Should the coach make even the slightest effort to influence the client’s choice then the whole process loses purity and ceases to become a coaching partnership.

That is, essentially, the raison d’etre behind why a coach must stop at why when coaching others.

There are several other reasons why “why” isn’t that great a question to employ in coaching others and some of them are:

  1. Asking a “why” question can seem confrontational and overwhelming.
  2. Asking a “why” question can seem to be influenced by the coaches’ personal preferences and paradigms.
  3. Asking “why” questions require a client to dig deep and probe into their own, sometimes, unconscious beliefs also called “metaprograms” in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP.)

Thus, asking a “why” question can be intrusive and extremely over-whelming in a pure coaching partnership.

Though, I must confess, a professional/well-experienced/intuitive coach will employ the “why” question at times and with great effect and results. Consider this kind of a coach as a rare medicine man who can kill poison with poison at the right time, with the correct amount of the dosage.

There, that answers the question of why not to ask the why question in coaching. Thus, Stop at Why, that is how great coaches inspire self-transformation.

If you like this article then let me know and we can take up When and How to use Why or How to replace it with a What?

My books also available on Amazon: http://goo.gl/OZSMj8

Posts on Facebook: https://goo.gl/MXQEqU

Talks on You Tube: https://goo.gl/dVclfm

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

 

 

 

 

the HeART of STORY: Science behind Stories and Storytelling

What exactly is the science behind a story? Why do stories stir up so much of our emotions and our humanity? Why do they have such a lasting effect on us? What happens when we tell stories? What happens to people when they listen to a story? What happens to me when I tell a story?

Firstly, as I tell the story, I begin to relive the experience. I relive the wonder and the excitement that is part of the truth in the story. As I use my left brain to recreate the setting, the context, and the characters involved, my right brain jumps in to participate by offering images, colors, sounds, and textures.  Then, both my left and the right brain begin to have fun together and go to play. The whole exercise of storytelling becomes a whole brain activity for me, the storyteller.

The second amazing secret behind this whole activity where the brain goes to play is the fact that this sense of play is also very contagious. How is it contagious? It releases endorphins and other sweet smells of bliss and fun that draw in and attract other people to join.  Because this activity was started by the left brain setting up a logical scene and then was ignited by the right brain firing up a party, the minds of all those around fully participate in the thrill by suspending their wariness and dropping their normal cerebral resistance to novelty.  This phenomenon is quite similar to when we see people dance and we are drawn in to join the dance.

When we see a bunch of people on the street joyfully laughing and playing, our own spirits light up. If inhibitions are holding us back, we feel like dropping them and jumping right into the fun.  In storytelling, the listeners’ minds begin to likewise log in, plug in, and salsa with our imagination and train of thoughts. They do this regardless of how much or how little they know about the story background or about the storyteller’s experience. This is because as we create and put up verbal holograms/holographs in the conversation space, the listeners also set up movie screens in their minds and watch movies of their own making, with themselves as the main character.  The movie we are putting across through storytelling inspires and projects a parallel movie in their minds.  The images, colors, sounds, and drama in our conversations spark multiple, similar, copies of scenes running in the minds of our audience. This is magic in action.

1-SciencStory-721x1024

Illustration 1: When you start telling a story, it helps others recall and relive their own stories, their own experiences.

This is exactly why the streets of Hollywood glitter with gold. Because in our minds and in the minds of countless audiences, we all think and believe we are part of the magic and mystique that rises out of Hollywood. In my mind, I am Peter Pan or the Lone Ranger and you must be Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

This is synergy and co-creativity in action.  This is the real story behind the power of storytelling.

Now, the third most powerful thing about stories and storytelling is the fact that they impact the deepest part of our brain and our emotions. They cut through our cerebral defenses and sink in. What are cerebral defenses and  why do they have to be surpassed? The human brain of a newborn baby comes with some pre-embedded coding towards his traits and character. These are acquired from parental traits and characters. This is genetics. Right after birth, the newborn baby’s brain starts to absorb and accumulate data from what he sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes. This data gathers fast, accumulates rapidly, and integrates really swiftly in early childhood. All this data is acquired and stored in the form of pixels, sound bytes, touch and other modalities of sensory inputs.

Most of the data that is primarily absorbed, accumulated,and integrated acquires importance over time. They maintain their importance throughout our lives. We call them our values and beliefs. We can be, and we do turn emotional about our values and beliefs.  Emotions burst out from thinking of things sensitive to us—images, sounds and smells that have been around us, within us for a long time. Our emotions, thus, are the stories of our lives.

All forms of communication address and tap into recent memories that are not ancient or primal to us. Storytelling is the exception.  All other forms of communication connect with images, sounds, and smells acquired not so long ago that reside in our recent memories. This neighborhood of our “recent” memories is a highly congested, constantly active desktop of chaos and novelty. And the older and tender memories of our growing years fear and avoid such chaos and congestion.

When narrating and listening to stories, the sights, sounds, aromas, textures, and flavors from our growing-up, formative years begin to surface.  They burst through the fear of the current, cerebral chaos and part through it like an old, bearded man once mythically parted the sea to get his people across to the other side.

Every time we tune into a story, the chaos and the confusion of cognition fall away to make a path so our emotions easily dance with the emotions expressed by the storyteller, as we see and hear them. Every time our emotions are happily touched, we become eager to do something, to take action, to build new things, and to stretch our limits as individuals, communities, and organizations.

 

Check out my book, the HeART of STORY, organizational and leadership storytelling…

 

Tango Together, Slowly.

Tango Together, Slowly.

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Twelve years ago, on the way back from Malaysia, after a pre-certification session for Celemi I picked up a book called, ‘The Power of Mindful Learning’ by Professor Ellen J. Langer of Harvard University. Though that was twelve years ago I must confess, in a way, I haven’t put the book down yet. I keep revisiting it to align my work to the subtle and sublime insights, from the book, to learn and how to help others learn better.

Read more

I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli! I hate the sight of it. I hate it’s name. “Brocolli?” What is that? It sounds like some tropical disease. Like, “He’s got brocolli between his toes. She’s got brocolli in her armpits.  But then again, we do know its good for us. Its green and healthy for our insides and for our cancer fighting cells. And, some claim, it adds and multiplies brain cells.

Similarly, in my work-life there are things that I know that there are things we must do which will be good for us. Like learning to and keeping proper accounts. Learning to and keeping proper records and files of projects and programs. And, for professionals and small business owners like me, learning to build an active website and sustaining, nurturing it over time.

I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli!

I knew this. I was told this, many a times, years ago by colleagues and friends in the industry and yet I kept thinking _assigning this to a professional or a professional team would be the smart thing to do. And, boy was I ever wrong! Nearly every other year, I’d look for to outsource this work and they’d come back and pick my brain, have me do the thinking, the brainstorming and making the website work for me and my business. ” At first I was doling out money in spades and getting aesthetically impressive returns. Then I tightened my fist and began to get function but no charm and no ease. All through, in the back of my head, I kept thinking…”I wish I was computer savvy. I wish I understood the internet as well as they do. I wish I were Generation X or Y or Z. I wish I weren’t a late-bloomimg baby boomer baby! Grrr!

Website building, maintenance and the world of internet marketing loomed over me like a huge clump of rotting brocolli.

Yet, a small voice kept telling me, “Go ahead, take a bite and start chewing. Go ahead, roll up and your sleeves, tie a nappy around your neck and dig in!

So, two week ago, I rolled up my sleeves, put a nappy around my neck, put on my reading glasses, plugged in the earphones and hauled my lap top closer to me and began clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, taking a power nap in between, and clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, listening until it began to make sense, until it began to take shape.

What you are browsing through right now is a still a rough draft, a skeleton of what is yet to come and grow. In essence, not only am I learning to eat my brocolli but I am also learning to plant, grow and make it flourish organically. That’s the way to go when it comes to learning and succeeding at something you consider hard and something that you figure you can set aside and a let divine intervention resolve it for you. No sirree! It doesn’t happen that way.

Can this same principle be applied for accounting, book-keeping and or maintaining records. Yes!
Nothing is more empowering and liberating than tackling any and all kinds of huge, ugly brocolli clouds that loom over you and slow you down. Hate that brocolli? Eat it first! It’s good for your soul;)

Inner Sun

An Unbalanced Life.

Most everyone is focused on living a balanced life. What exactly is a balanced life? Twenty fours divided equally between work, play, family, personal needs and service to the world? Or, is it stress at work, peace at home?

InSights on InSights

I didn’t start out to be…but over the years, I have become a serious learning addict. I started out as wanting to teach, train and inspire others but the process required taking in, processing, reflecting, accepting, experimenting and acting upon concepts and applications. Over the years, my capacity to do all this_ taking in, processing, reflecting, accepting, experimenting and acting upon grew massively. Today, at the close of nearly fifteen years of doing this the neural synapses continue to cut deeper pathways and the pleasure I keep getting out of this continues to grow. This, little act of putting out a blog is a part of the journey.

Some people may ask, why do this, to what end and purpose? To that I’d respond “Great question, many times I ask that of myself too!”

The answer is simple: If one is a farmer then they farm so that they can eat and feed others. If one is a mason, then one builds so he has shelter and others have a home. And, if one is an architect then he builds bridges so people can cross and get to where they have to go. At the core of my heart, I love teaching and this little act of blogging is one of the necessary tasks of a modern day teacher. It is supposed to challenge me then nourish and develop others at work and in life.

Yeah, that’s the insight on these InSights!

Appreciative Inquiry