Some from my professional diary, some from my heart, some from my perspective, some from good reads, some from observation, some from life's stories, some from imagination, some from sweet nothings of life...
"Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well."
The powerful quote above by Maya Angelou sums it all. We all carry emotional baggage, our scars, our guilt, our fears, the pain of loss...The choice lies in us, whether we choose to be a peaceful warrior or a wounded soul all throughout our lives. When we live in the past consciously/unconsciously, we are doing no good to our present & our future. Life wasn't just meant to be perfect but it is a learning ground in which we experiment, we make mistakes and then discover who we are. Nobody can say that they haven't made mistakes. If they say, they are lying. Some people can move on quickly, not let the emotional baggage weigh them down. But some people take time, even years and even lifetime.
You may not be able to get over the emotional baggage completely but you can let it go slowly. The first process of dropping your emotional baggage is forgiveness. And the first one you need to forgive is yourself and then others involved.
Why emotional cleansing is important? Why healing is important? Because it will help you to see life from a different perspective: a clean space of gratitude & love for yourself & others. Only from a space of acknowledgement, you can create what you want to create. When your heart is filled with anger, guilt, fear, hatred, jealously, vengeance and other negative emotions, you can never be the best version of yourself. These negative emotions will weigh you down however strong you might be or think you might be. So, the first thing that you need to do is to love yourself unconditionally. Love yourself with the scars. Before expecting others to love you, you need to love yourself. You are enough. You don't need anyone else to fill your cup, you can fill it on your own. Once you learn to do this, you can then experience gratitude for everyone including the ones that hurt you or were a part of your baggage. Once you level yourself up to this space, you can enable others to mirror back good behaviour. The leader in you has to first embody that to inspire others to even dare to try.
Dare to walk the path that others have feared to walk & you'll see a new person born inside you along this journey.
Here's to a new beginning, a new perspective, a baggage-free life filled with love, gratitude & compassion for yourself & everyone.
It's an irony that the same progress in technology that was introduced to ease our lives, is in a way making our lives busier than ever before. We want to undo things at the click of a button, we want to make things happen in no time. We have lost all the patience, we have forgotten to enjoy our very lives that was meant not to strive but to live joyously & stress-free. As you rush in whatever directions you deem fit, do you realize the impact of not slowing down?
I hear from many that they have no time for themselves, their hobbies, their family...the list goes on. My question to them is provocatively simple: What are you rushing to & why? Whose choice it is? I then ask them to slow down & embrace its power. But the truth is, once you pace yourself up in a default mode of rushing, slowing down would really seem nonsensical & insane. They always have the fear of being behind, in the race which even they aren't sure of.
But the fact is, slowing down is the most precious gift that you can gift yourself in today's fast paced world. Sooner you realize this, you will be able to live your life mindfully & purposefully. What do I mean by slowing down? It broadly includes the following 3 R:
1. Reviewing of actions. Analyzing how far you have come, are you on track & is there anything that could have been done differently to take you closer to your path?
2. Reflection of thoughts.The thoughts which cross our mind with/without awareness shape our life. What thoughts are we feeding our mind with?
3. Refocusing our intentions. If we are too rigid in how we live our lives, we really don’t get a chance to live. Are our intentions powerful enough? Being able to focus on what's important & gracefully letting go the ones that don't serve our overall well-being is refocusing.
Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around manifold. By slowing down, you are actually speeding up.
"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they are supposed to help you discover who you are."
There was a time when I used to ask,"Why me, I just finished one, again another challenge to deal with?! I can never go as per my plan.I thought it to be my way. How do I handle this now?" I wasn't ok then. I wanted things to be as per my plan. But, life is uncertain. There's a plan bigger than our seemingly small plan which we realize over the period of time. After overcoming so many challenges at every stage of my life, now I have become better in handling challenges. I have learnt the art of accepting challenges gracefully, dealing with it by being in my best mental state possible and thereby averting further negativity. But, I wasn't like this before. I feared when I faced difficult situations out of the blue. Indeed, life teaches us many things. It's during the challenging period that we realize our innate talents & capacity to use our creativity and life skills.
We all plan, we dream and we also visualize. We want that to be our reality. Every morning we create intentions for ourselves, so that we can make those our reality. We take care of the four valuable sets: our mind, heart, body & soul. When things go as per our plan, we feel in sync with everything. But when things go haywire is when we demonstrate our true leadership depth. Leadership has many connotations. But to me, leading oneself out of challenges & difficulties is also leadership. Have you wondered why some people can deal with crisis very aptly and some can't? I have listed down few things that you need to take note of while facing with challenging situations, majorly from my personal experiences:
1. When in a challenging situation, it's ok to be fearful, feel pain and get upset. Remember, we are human being at the end of the day. Hiding our emotions will not help. Accept it.
2. Do not react, but take time to sync in and then use your presence of mind to respond best to the situation. Spontaneous reactions will only worsen your situation.
3. Get in touch with your support system. Yes, you don't have to do everything on your own. Your support system includes your family, helpful friends, relatives and any other resource that you think might help you in overcoming the challenge.
4. Check for the things that you can immediately delegate, postpone and look for the urgent & important things in your list. There will be certain things that you may feel is important, but sometimes to deal with the current challenge which is unexpected, needs immediate resolution. So, use your intellect and decision-making skills and attend to it first.
5. It is very important for you to see the big picture then. Prioritize what seems the best for you at that moment. Don't expect perfection but just prepare a quick mental lay-out of what you want & dive in.
6. Last but not the least, give yourself the access to the innate power inside of you during difficult times, trust me you will be surprised at it's efficiency.
When you take the rein in your hands, when you move forward with an intent to resolve, you create your path towards resolution and even the universe conspires to help you in achieving that. Challenges are never offered to you with an intent to destroy you but to make you & help you discover yourself. But, we often see the negative side and ignore the positive aspects. Whatever I am today is because of the challenges that I have dealt with and faced in my life. This is an art which you develop over time and keep getting better at it.
As I blog today, let me confess that I am writing this sitting beside my mother who met with an accident, fractured her wrist and had a minor operation last Saturday. I was devastated for a while. I thought I won't blog for a while, but my inner voice told me to keep walking the path that I have committed to. I am grateful to God & all those who took care of my mother in my absence, because of them today she is fine.
Sooner we learn the art of living, better our leadership depth will be. Let challenge churn out the hidden best in you.
When you blame & criticize others, you are avoiding some truths about yourself; you are losing out on the opportunity to improve yourself. Yes, we have an innate tendency of blaming others. That's our coping mechanism of dealing with our hidden fears about ourselves. That way we protect ourselves from emotional harm, pain & embarrassment. But the truth is, we are harming ourselves more by doing this. Blame is a negative energy, it creates fear, stress which shuts our ability to think wisely & beyond the petty issues. Blaming only projects our inner restlessness and we lose the creativity to find solutions for the problem at hand.
A joyous peaceful person, a wise individual, a great leader rises above the blame game and sees past it. He/she creates an intent of looking beyond and not just winning in the moment. This not only dissipates the negative energy but enables others to mirror the positive behavior. It needs lot of effort to rise above the gratification of winning trivial fights & proving others wrong. But, when your intent is good, then this difficult process becomes easy. You become capable of transferring your negative emotions into something positive. Once you start practicing this, you become agile in doing this with much grace & ease.
Who will gain at the end of this blame game? The one who plays will never, because the energy will all be wasted in playing this useless game of just satisfying each other's ego. The one who cuts the flow of negativity, the one who doesn't replicate the negative behaviour but embraces wisdom to drop the ego & looks into the problem with an attitude of solving it, with an intent of finding a solution which will serve both, shall be the one who will gain immensely.
Easier said than done, in the heat of the moment, we all tend to loose the patience & wisdom. But, this craft mastery has to be done if you want to be a leader par excellence, a human being beyond the triviality. Falling isn't bad, but every time you falter, when you intent to go back to the righteous path is what determines your essence.
"Oh my God! How could I share that side of me? Did I even talk about that secret? I feel so ashamed. I feel so embarrassed to have even spoken about that." Have you ever experienced feeling these thoughts? Well, you had a vulnerability hangover. Never mind, that's one of the best thing that you can let it happen for you. It isn't shameful. It isn't weakness but your courage. Now that your rational mind is playing & judging you, you are feeling embarrassed. But don't be. Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up & be seen for who you truly are. To talk about how you are feeling without hiding anything. Isn't that courageous?!
When you talk about vulnerability, you have to quote Brene Brown. She says,"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity & change." Do watch out the TED talk by her on The Power of Vulnerability for better insights.
We always talk about our success stories, our achievements; but we hardly dare to talk about our fears, insecurities, our weakness because we fear losing the power, the hold, the control that we have on our emotions, on ourselves & even more the world around us. Many a times we live in regrets, in shame, fearing that if we let ourselves seen, we will be hurt. We project ourselves differently and that's when the conflict inside the mind arises.
Didn't you ever feel good after talking to a friend about something that you never wanted to share with anyone? Didn't you feel light when you spoke about yourself, your emotional state and some not so good stories to someone you trusted? Then why to shy out. Be vulnerable, be seen. Courage doesn't lie in hiding, but the accurate measure lies in your capacity to be vulnerable. So next time you share something about yourself not known to anyone; give yourself a pat on the shoulder.
We may say that it is good to be vulnerable around people who responds you with empathy and understanding. But again if we want them to empathize with us, we have to be first vulnerable. Vulnerability is powerful. It is contagious. Try it out to experience its magic.
Only if you let yourself be seen, you can see. Create that space first for yourself. Have the empathy & understanding for yourself first and then let it out.
The big question is,"What are you focusing on?" Because what you focus on, you will see, capture & your life path will be formed accordingly. Interestingly, different people look at the same thing differently. The same situation is seen differently. Ability to put focus on the right things is very important. Otherwise, one fine day you will realize that, entire life you laid your focus on things that truly didn't matter or had nothing to do with your true development & growth as a human being. You will feel that it was a sheer waste of time. Focusing on the positive aspects and staying away from the negative aspects is the key to your happiness. It requires conscious training of the brain & mind. And once you practice this, it comes to you naturally.
Some questions that you honestly need to ask yourself.
1. Are you focusing on what you couldn't do, your difficult past, your challenges & reminiscing on that to create a perfect negative system to not move forward?
2. Are you focusing on letting other's down, criticizing them, making fun of them with an intent to crush them because you know you can't be better than them?
3. Are you focusing on pulling the other person down so that you can move up?
4. Are you focusing on just taking as much as you can from whatever you come across because you fear that time is running out for you?
5. Are you focusing on amassing awards, recognition with the intention of being in the top without any creative output?
6. Are you focusing on proving yourself to be right in front of others so that they revere you & follow you?
7. Are you focusing on accumulating wealth and ignoring every other aspect of your life?
8. Are you focusing on pleasing others at the cost of your self-esteem & integrity?
9. Are you focusing on other distractions & ignoring your loving relationships?
10. Are you focusing on yourself and how you can create what you want to create in this world, that which you are meant to do and leave a mark for everyone to cherish & be grateful for your contribution to the world?
If you are doing all of the above from points 1 to 9 (probably many more very similar to these), then it is high time that you ask yourself this question: Why are you wasting your energy on things that will not truly serve you? What will you get out of this chase & focus? If your focus if on point 10, then you are very much on the right path because to be on 10, you have to have that awareness that all the points from 1 to 9 are just futile pursuits and will take you nowhere except for digging your own hell which anyways one day you will fall into.
Focusing your energy on right things, on right people, on right thoughts, on right activities will enable you a life of contentment, purpose & fulfillment. By the way, greatness lies not in doing what is common but in doing what is difficult & challenging. Are you still looking for happiness & fulfillment?! It's time you set your focus right.
"Overcome every limitation and soar as high as you can." This has been my mantra for life. Doesn't matter how old I am or at what stage of my life I am. I love to soar like the eagle & will overcome every limitation that comes my way...
One day after a hectic day at work, I sat down for an honest talk with myself. I asked myself, “What is it that I really wanted to do? Do I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I was doing? Am I really doing justice to the gifts that I possessed? Have I explored my zone of genius? Have I unleashed my truest potential?”. All these questions fogged my mind and I was so confused. A little voice inside me said, “You haven’t explored yet. You are living in your comfort zone. You are living a default life that just happened.” And I just got blank. I was filled with vacuum when I realized the truth. In this humdrum existence, I had long back shunned my power to create, my power to go beyond, lean on the edge & create miracles. “You can live an exponential life, what’s stopping you?!”, screamed my inner self.
I tried to analyse and find answers to all these questions. A part of me always knew what I wanted, but many things held me back. Many a times I externalised the reasons for my current state of affair. Sometimes I blamed myself too. Sometimes fear of the unknown held me back. Sometimes fear of losing out on other aspects haunted me. Other times it was my lack of awareness & inaction which held me back. But, after having an honest scrutiny of myself without camouflaging any aspects, I realised that it was nothing but my lack of real commitment to anything that held me back. And the reason for not being committed fully to anything was because I wasn’t aware what I wanted to really commit to. As I pen down my vulnerable side, let me also confess that at that time, I was seemingly having a decent career as an HR professional, a good family life and overall living a happy normal life like everyone does, in fact to the outer world it was like the greener pasture that they secretly longed for. But, here I am talking about GOING BEYOND; a life of deep self-awareness, infinite possibilities & unraveling of my innate gifts; thereby creating an exponential life for myself & others too.
So, here I was soaking & basking with glory at the same time, with this awareness. Finally I could see the limiting belief that was holding me back. “If I fulfill my deepest desires, secret dreams; I will not have time for my loved ones, for my family & for the people whom I cared.” So, what I did was I compromised on my intrinsic desires thinking that I am doing a great sacrifice. But, alas I wasn’t doing good either to myself or to any roles that I was donning. When I come from a place of scarcity in expression of my own gifts, genius; how can I even function effectively in my other roles?! Unknowingly, I was transferring this limiting belief to my son too. It is rightly said that children don’t do what they are told, but what they feel & see for themselves. I was scared when I realized what role model I was setting for my child.
Two values went hand in hand for me: balance & fulfillment. I was unable to figure out a path that would provide me with both at the same time. Law of attraction says you attract what you think and belief. A shift in mindset enabled things to fall in place. I chose to travel the path of a coach. I still remember my introductory lines while in the coaching program: “I want to first experience deep transformative coaching myself. Thereafter, I will give this gift back to my clients & serve them powerfully.” The journey to transformation was a different experience altogether. Every little step that I took led me closure to my exploration & self-growth. It opened the gates to immense possibilities, abundance & miracles. And today, here I am amidst you all as a coach supporting people to align with their unexplored gifts, transform into their real being & live a life not of compromise but inspiration & fulfillment.
PS. This is about my own transition from an HR professional to a professional full-time Coach. This article of mine got published in Going Beyond ICW 2018, a newsletter published by ICF (International Coach Federation), Delhi NCR chapter.
"What next? I have reached the peak of my career and I don't see any further growth? I have been handling this profile for many years and I don't find the excitement in me to do the same repetitive work? At this level, I can't change jobs quickly. What do I do? I have huge debts to pay? My health doesn't permit me to travel a lot and this is taking a toll on me. I am stressed and don't see a way forward." Does this or even some parts sound familiar? I know that a specific segment of professionals who have reached a certain stage in their career will be able to relate to what I am saying. Leaving you to reflect upon this inquiry to yourself: What did you create inside & outside of you that you are feeling this way?
Many a times, we start our career with a particular intent. Achieving what we set out for propels us to achieve more of it. We keep running, till we reach this stage of realization & awareness. We never stopped at the pit stop to recharge ourselves or reflect if the direction we are heading to is the right one or something that we really want to walk the rest of our lives. Years later we figure out that we are doing something that we never thought of. How did the twist and turn happen? How things changed and became routine, remains a mystery! Finally you reach a stage where you are shrouded by fear, helplessness, uncertainty and hopelessness. That's when you stand at the cross road of your life to chose what you want to do about this situation. This is the stage when you need to get lost to find yourself yet again. Welcome to the Stagnation Blues!
This is a premium club for all the high-achievers who flew their way through many things in life and finally landed here. These are the times when you tend to forget everything. You forget your strengths, you also forget that this is a cycle that you must face, be prepared & deal with so that you come out not only successful, but attain exponential success beyond this point.
First & foremost, acknowledge yourself for the journey that you have traveled to reach this far. What an incredible bundle of experience resides inside you! While you were busy in your craft mastery, leading others, making ends meet, supporting the needs of the professional as well as the personal world, you lost yourself. Now is the time to remind yourself of that person who was in you, when you first embarked on this journey. Then reflect on this quote by Marshall Goldsmith,"What got you here won't get you there."
After the acknowledgement, now it is time for gratitude for self & every experience that you were a part of in your life. The big question to your apparent challenge: What do you do to enable yourself to have an exponential growth beyond this stagnation? How do you progress in your career? How do you smoothly transition into something that you have been longing for but many things were getting on your way?
Here are some useful tips for you to reflect, journal & accordingly take actions :
1. Find your Ikigai. It is a Japanese tool that will help you figure out that compass/center which includes answers to questions like: what do you love? What you are good at? What you can be paid for? What the world needs? This exercise will enable you to see through what brings meaning to your career & life.
2. Do a SWOT analysis. Then write down an action step for each.
3. Look for external support to help you see your blind spots, help you leverage your strengths and lead you to exponential growth.
4. Don't let fear crumble you. Take actions despite of fear.
5. Believe in your professional strengths and upscale it if needed.
6. Ask yourselves powerful questions and set on a mission to uncover the answers.
It's time that you stop in the pit stop and take an overall look at your being to make a fresh start towards your destination. The more you put the fears under the carpet, the more you run away from acknowledging this phase; the more you will find it hard to overcome. Take your stagnating career to an exponential growth & progression before it takes its toll on you. Let yourself bloom fully. See past the shadow.
Quite often, we spend our years in changing the environment, we try to change our behaviour forcefully and sometimes, we even try to change the circumstances. We also try to boost the endorphin hormones by using distractions & instant gratifications. That's our way of using our coping mechanisms while facing with problems, difficult circumstances, even while dealing with life as a whole. Well, this strategy works but not in the long term. For a lasting transformation, for a fulfilling transformation, we need to work from within.
When I was young, I came across Gandhiji's quote: "You must be the change that you want to see in the world". I didn't really understand the depth of this. Even if I understood from a certain level, I couldn't co-relate to my mind which usually looks for scientific validation or rationals of some kind. You may attribute this to my science background during school days. Science was one of my favourite subjects. That's a different topic altogether and hence I shall not deviate from today's topic. But, what my point is, today I understand the very essence of the quote. My coach explained me that and I thought I will replicate this in my blog in my own simple words for everyone to understand.
At the very essence of this existence, lies two powers or you may call it polarity: one is LOVE & the other one is FEAR. At the core of every being, the fear is predominant by default. I also learnt about this fear aspect during the conscious leadership workshop last year. Fear is inherent in us. It acts as a protection mechanism. It saves us. But this fear acts as a deterrent to the truest manifestation of our self. Fear creates limiting beliefs and thoughts. Mind it, that our mind keeps on swinging from one place to another which we may call small mind to bigger mind. At the slightest trigger of circumstances, our small mind that carries the limiting thoughts arising due to deep seeded fear becomes apparent & powerful. This in turn creates negative emotional state. What happens when we have negative emotions? We shut down and the inherent coping mechanism comes to play.
Enneagram talks about 9 personality types with each representing a view that resonates with the way people think, feel & act in relation to the world, others and themselves. I wouldn't go deep into the Enneagram now. These are deep coping mechanisms adopted by individuals and accordingly they behave in a particular way which is again very much what Myers & Briggs talks about. And when we behave in a certain way, we create our circumstances in every aspect of our life. So, circumstances don't create us, we create it.
The crux of the matter is, if we want to change our circumstances, we need to look deep within. We need to deal with what's there inside us. We need to work on converting that fear to love which is a much powerful energy & source of thoughts.
So, do you want to spend years changing circumstances or do want to start the transformation from within? Indeed the journey of transformation is beautiful. It is refreshing & brings a new perspective to our lives and how we look at things. I invite you all to start this journey, the younger you start, the better life circumstances will be for you.
Introverts are predominantly concerned with their own thoughts & feelings rather than with external things. They are happy & comfortable with themselves. They don't feel a compelling need to be known by others. They are oblivious of the fact that while they are comfortable with who they are, people who don't know them much are making judgement & perceptions about their personality. What to the introvert is privacy, to the other is arrogance; what to the introvert is being happy on their own, to the other it is selfishness; what to the introvert is focus within, to the other person it is seriousness & aloofness. Isn't this interesting? Yes, the illusion of perception will drive you crazy.
People make judgement about others & box them into certain categories when you apparently don't fit into their world of familiarity & commonality. When you are hard to crack, you are tagged. Whose limiting belief is this when you make judgement about another person? Does it boil down to the inability of the person who judges, to see beyond or to the person being judged? Well, I know there will be varied answers to this. Anyhow, many introverts I know and have spoken with have been bullied in their life. Either in their early childhood, in college or at workplace. I can relate to the introvert because I am one of them. I can see the world inside an introvert but also understand the extroverted personality too.
In fitting in, we loose our true traits. But do we realize that greatness lies in accepting the person as he/she is and not tagging the person with your perception?! You see what you want to see. When you don't see similarity, you shrug off the person from your world. But when you truly know them, you realize that may be your judgement about them was incorrect. May be your own perception camouflaged the wisdom inside you to see the beauty of the person. The person seemingly looked different, didn't fit in your idea of a "must be" person and hence you lost out in seeing the beauty inside.
Next time you judge, ask yourself why are you judging in the first place and not accepting the person for who he/she is? Is the non-conformity in their aura intriguing you? And to all the introverts including me, why are you limiting yourself from an abundance of connections that's waiting for you? Drop the illusion of perception and watch the magic happen in your world.
Life & Leadership Coach