I strongly believe that what you need exactly at the moment for your greater good, comes to you in different forms in disguise. So, just after my coaching session today, I had a gap of one hour or so. To relax myself, I thought of giving a call to one of my friends. She is someone whom I have known for many years now. And we talk on & off whenever we face any challenge or just a casual sharing about how things are in our life. Sharing is mutual & I acknowledge the fact that our conversations are intellectually stimulating, thought provoking & I always benefit from the discussions. Same goes for my friend too. So, today while we were discussing things, somehow a topic came up around coaching. And I asked my friend a question: "What kind of a coach you would like to have in your life given a choice?" Let me give you the context. My friend was struggling with some professional challenges and we were brainstorming to arrive at some possible solutions. To my question, my friend answered: "I would hire a coach who is well-known as an expert in his/her field, who has a proven track record in my area of expertise, who has many years of experience, who can tell me what I am supposed to do & how, someone who would guide me because he/she has traveled a path similar to me & someone senior. That would be my kind of coach, my mentor who would give facts, have strong data to support what he/she is saying."
Hearing this version of a coach from my friend pained me to the core. Because it didn't resonate with my essence of a coach or coaching for that matter. Had it been the earlier me, I would have instantly reacted to this difference and end up with something not so pleasant. But, I have evolved & transformed over these couple of years as a coach, as a leader & human being in totality. All thanks to my coaches, the coaching that I have consciously undertaken for my own growth, mostly because of my strong trust in the coaching modality & my coaches; a positive attitude backed up with my strong commitment to actions! Over these years I have become aware of myself & my patterns. So, I chose to just listen to what my friend had to say. I chose to understand my friend from her space rather than reacting to something inside me which triggered the pain in me. That needs to be dealt separately! I get that. I was aware of this and this helped me to manage my emotions well & turn around my responses. My current coach gave me a wonderful tool which is like this:
Over these years, since I have myself experienced the benefit of having a coach, since I have witnessed the transformation in me & how that changes my being & my actions, I have decided to always have a coach to enable me to grow to my next level. Coming back to the above spectrum in the above picture, many a times we choose to be in either of these two spaces depending on our personal experiences. But commitment doesn't fall into this spectrum although we might think it does. Commitment is absolutely different. Whenever I tend to move to either of these, my coach asks me this question: "What's your commitment? Are you reacting from the space of attachment to the outcome or from withdrawal due to neediness or you stand tall to your commitment?" For major part of my life, I choose to operate from either of these two spaces. But, that only temporarily satisfied my ego & didn't fetch me anything in the long run. So, as I became aware of this in me, I chose to stand up for my commitment to make a difference in my people whom I am drawn to serve without caring if they would approve of it or not. So, after my friend finished sharing her perception of who a coach is & whom she would like to hire; I shared who a coach to me is & what coaching is all about to make it more real.
I began this way: I firmly believe in coaching and I see that impact in me; which my friend agrees too. I never hire coaches based on how much experience they have or if they have expertise in my field or not. I factually & intuitively look for two things: who they are being (how authentic & genuine they are?) and will I gain by being in their presence & container? It's a matter of deep trust in my coach's coaching skills & not subject matter expertise, it's a kind of space that is built where I can freely lower my guards & talk about my deepest challenges/fears, secret dreams that I have & then take actions with self commitment & trust. It's a relationship where I don't have to look up to & feel inferior & intimated by who they are, but be inspired to raise to their vibrations. I don't want anybody to tell me what needs to be done because that would be a disrespect to my wholeness & resourcefulness that I am bestowed with. Neither do I want others to influence my decisions but honestly give me feedback and leave the choices to be made by me to me. We all are different and as a high potential, driven, ambitious person, I need a partner to partner with me to be able to be my side & support me to get to where I want to. I am not looking for tips, quick fix solutions, because I believe I am reliable & competent enough to find the answers myself. Just that I need a coach who is an expert in coaching skills which involves rapport building(to enable me to connect deeply with my coach), intuitive ability(to understand beyond data & facts), deep listening(to read what I haven't shared, pick up on subtle cues), questioning(to know the underlying truth, the real reason), feedback giving(to enable me to make the right choices & take actions accordingly), holding me accountable for my goals & dreams, someone who is committed to me, while I am committed to my goal. Because after all its my goal. I hire my coach to support me in achieving that goal. It's never the other way round. My coach doesn't have to attain my goals for me.
My coach is an expert in coaching who shows me what I don't see, what my spouse doesn't see, what my friends don't see, what my mentors don't see & what I resist seeing & doing. My coach is such an expert who in a seemingly skillfully easy way inspires me, elicits the answers from me, draws me, pulls me towards an action oriented mode to be able to get to a space where I myself move forward to my goals. This in itself is an exceptional art & science that needs mastery & only coaches who have done deep work, committed to deep work on themselves, who have intentions bigger than self, an intention to creating an impact & to transformative service, who have strong leadership presence not necessarily in professional area only will be able to do that. And years of experience doesn't matter to me at all. I look for such coaches. And I model exactly that with my clients too. May be then I am not the right coach for those who are looking for tips, short-cuts, quick success, spoon-feeded strategies. For a transformation to happen, it takes time, commitment & doesn't come cheap. And I am ready to invest or create the money to work with my kind of coaches because I know it is powerful, impactful & life changing.
Here are examples of coaches who I look up to & who has made remarkable life transformations in their clients' lives & who has no background in any of the fields that their clients are into. They are skillful in the coaching skill and so in their result creation for their clients.
And as I shared all of these, my friend towards the end told me,"I didn't know that coaching is all of these. I thought coaching is all about self-discovery & nothing more than that. So, it never appealed to me because I thought to guide me, one has to be an expert in his/her field. Otherwise how will he/she guide me? I didn't know the art & science behind coaching. Thank you for the enlightenment!" I responded to my friend,"Buddy let me simply gift you a session or connect you to my coach & then you will have an experience of what it is. No amount of my telling will support you. Experience it and see for yourself." To which my friend readily agreed & we had a great laugh together.
P.S. This blog doesn't intend to demean any modality but just sharing what the essence of coaching is from the author's perspective who is a professional coach.
Love & respect,
If you really want to do a favour to the Universe, then don't hold back, don't hide your magic. Let the magic flow through you. And everyone has the magic in them. The only thing standing in its way is "YOU". Yes, you are getting in the way to creating a magical experience not only for yourself but for others who can benefit from your magic. It's a proven fact that people don't change unless they want to. So, unless you get out of your own way, you can't change. And by change, I mean changing from where you are, to being at the peak of your being unleashing all your gifts, stepping into your zone of genius, your seemingly unbelievable possibilities.
Every person I have come across in life, is endowed with unique gifts, their special magic. But many a times they don't see that in them, they don't believe in it, they don't trust the magic, they are fearful of stepping into their own hidden power, they wait for the right moment, they wait for their gifts to be perfected, mastered till they feel it worthy enough of showing it to the world and what not. I get it totally. But, alas that day never comes in their life. Only they hang on to newer fears and reasoning for postponing it. The irony is just the opposite of what they believe. Once you get a glimpse of your magic in you, which you will for sure; all you need to do is to take the magic wand and just play with it without any further delay. As you play, you become expert in that over time, you gain mastery & you grow. By holding back, you are doing an injustice to yourself, the Universe which entrusted you with that magic for you aren't using it because of your own inhibitions & fears.
Look back to the earliest memory of you as a child. If need be, pick up an old picture of yours when you were a kid & saw that magic in you, believed in your possibilities & did whatever you felt like & wanted to. Who were you then? If I recall my days of who I was, I will be amazed at my own magic. A carefree, smart, confident, fearless spirit, a performer, a singer, a dancer, a happy kind person, unrestrained in my being, a sportsperson, full of possibilities and creativity. But, I let my inhibitions, my fears, my ego, my attachment to outcomes, my neediness, my impatience, my withdrawals, my version of stories get in my way & didn't allow myself to bloom to my exceptional possibilities. I allowed my magic to fade with time. I let it simmer inside me without giving it an outlet to expand & bloom. The first time I woke up from my illusions was when I attended a coach & leadership intensive at Los Angeles. There were brilliant coaches across the globe and their being had an impact on me, on who I was. All my fellow coaches saw the light in me, but I was the one who refrained from seeing that in me & so my actions reciprocated what I thought who I was. And then thankfully, one of them walked up to me and said,"Priyanka, do a favour to the Universe and the people out there who are waiting for you to make an impact in their lives by not holding back yourself. Don't hide your magic." Those words were enough for me to question myself as to what was bigger for me: my fears, my inhibitions or my commitment to be who I am meant to be? And thankfully I chose commitment over everything else. Hence, my insight from that intensive was: "It's so beautiful to bloom into the person that you are." In a way, embracing your magic. That was my breakthrough moment because I decided to act on that realization & not just leave it there. From there on, there was no looking back. I made up my mind to give an outlet to my magic, no matter what.
If you have forgotten your magic let me remind you with these lines:
You are full of possibilities,
Waiting for its release;
Don't hold back, don't hide,
Embrace your magic & just dive,
Today is the day to start,
Your inhibitions, I invite you to part;
Stand tall to your magic, your commitment,
You are here to make a dent.
And by writing all of these, not caring & fearing if I get likes or not, whether people follow me or not; I am refusing to bow down to my internal inhibitions, my ego, petty needs & standing tall to bring my magic to this world whatsoever. And if this inspires you to move ahead in your journey, my magic gets a shout out, I will ever be grateful because I am walking my path for my magic to bloom.
Before I leave you in deep reflection, let me share few of my learning from the movie, The Lion King that I watched recently and I believe it had the magic that we needed to look beyond our fears & feed our possibilities:
Love & respect,
Power of journaling
After an onsite session today, my mind was totally blank. Everything was fine, the session went really well. It was productive & forward moving. Yet, the critic in me never stops working. I am not sure if this is how the mind of a passionate & driven person works! You work, you give your best, yet you aren't satisfied. You feel as if something is missing. Sometimes no amount of reward or applaud works. Sometimes it's just how it is; just being with that low feeling. And many a times we aren't aware of the exact emotion that is running through us. We give it different meaning based on what we perceive that emotion to be. But as I dived in, I realized it wasn't because of the session today but the exhaustion piling up from couple of days. And being a hands on person, always on the flow; I didn't realize that I had put myself down by not taking care of myself. Due to my busy schedule (my own creation again), I had missed my daily time for reflection & slowing down.
Sometimes small things like self-care, pausing, breathing right, eating healthy, sleeping adequate matters & makes a huge difference to our energy levels. Although everything was fine, I gave my tiredness the name of inaction & low feeling. The body too needs rest & I was not giving that to myself. As I sat down to journal my thoughts, I became aware of what was happening. Along with mental exhaustion, I realized there was physical exhaustion too. And instead of living in this moment, I went ahead & started thinking about the next thing that I had to do & prepare for. This mechanistic approach that I used to just switch from one mode to another, refrained me from experiencing the gratitude of the moment. I went way far ahead & so even caught myself with a headache. Our body is a great tool, only if we listen to it. My mind started working on another project that was ahead of me. And I was not doing all of these under any obligation but willingly because of my habitual thinking patterns. But this time I was aware. I caught myself since I was running away from acknowledging myself & my presence today. As a result of which, I found it hard to even experience the joy of the moment. Yes I find hard to acknowledge myself! Period!
The irony is, today itself I was coaching my client on how he was missing on looking at his progress & his constant focus was on his lack. "What he didn't do, haven't done, could have done etc.?" And he too said that intellectually he is aware of all of these but slips into this habit of looking at the lack. And so he never feels the happiness in the moment. It's true that we don't see our blind spots unless we do the work on ourselves to uncover it. And now I am just letting my thoughts flow without having any attachment to the outcome whatsoever. As I write, I get the clarity as to what is actually happening to me. It has nothing to do with drive or passion or thinking about another project; but a message that my physical being is giving me & that is: "Fill your cup. You have emptied it to support others that needed your energy & vibration. It's time to fill that up to be able to again start a new day with renewed power."
In similar lines, how many of you have forgotten to take care of yourself? If you have, it's time you don't put yourself down but rejuvenate yourself. Only from that space you can serve more powerfully. And the self-care can happen right from the simple act of giving self-love to oneself by just breathing deeply. Take care of your mind, body and soul to be able to multiply your energy & strength. Had I not chosen to sit in this discomfort & pen down what was happening, I wouldn't have arrived at this conclusion today. Yes, journaling is powerful! It is a great stress-buster. It gives clarity of thought & centers the mind. And sometimes just acknowledging your thoughts & emotions allow your mind to calm down. Just acknowledging the fact that it is there & letting it go, is enough to do the work. A small pause, slowing down, makes a huge difference. And journaling enables one to do that.
Love & respect,
The path to mastery is being here & now, earnestly & conscientiously performing your life tasks
"The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage." - Carrie Jones
How would ultimate success look like to you? "Metaphorically, it would be like standing at the peak of the Mount Everest with my arms wide open and feeling the breeze on my face. I will see the world from the top most point, I will hear an unusual calmness that I have been longing for & feel peace from within, a sense of freedom that I had never experienced before. And when I experience all of these, I will be sure of being successful." So, literally there was a starting point and an end point. A line segment, from point A to point B, that I had defined for myself to experience the feeling of being successful, free and calm. My happiness was attached to an outcome that I had defined for myself! Anything short of that won't make me happy.
The spotlight of my life was not on my present moment, but into the future. And as I craved for that experience, it went further & further. My present looked gloomy to me because I started to draw the line from the past and stretch it in a similar way that I am habituated to do. Picking on the excuses, explanations for not being able to make it happen despite of the desire, feeling frustrated at the results that I was creating for myself. Oblivious of the fact that the best that anyone can do is here & now, performing fully, to the best of your ability right here, right now! No dragging of lines from the past, or fixating on the future; but living the moment like painting a fresh new canvas everyday with renewed zeal & vigour, is the key to real happiness, a master's journey! And there is a master in each one of you only if you allow yourself to see that.
It is rightly said that when you live either in the past or the future, you live your own sweet lie, your cooked up story, denying the here & now. And so you loose out the possibility of creating the future that you desire. Because it is in here and now that your power lies. You can't go back and change things in the past nor can you guarantee that this is exactly what will happen in future. Here I am talking of future in a broader perspective. Power lies in this moment to create a new beginning from where you are and just perform earnestly & conscientiously what you want. It is in the process that you experience happiness, a sense of contribution; a feeling of worth and peace within. But can we accept whoever we are at this moment?! Can we shift the spotlight not to the past or to the future but to the present moment?! Are we ready to perform in the hot seat and in the moment experience everything that we are wanting to?! For that we need courage. Yes, courage to perform our life's tasks with the believe that we are self-reliant & we make a difference by just being who we are at this point. Psychologists say that the greatest needs of human beings are to feel worthy & to have a deep sense of belonging; community feeling. And we all do things to secretly meet these two needs. We focus more on the future & the past because it is easy to help us evade from our responsibilities & not muster the courage to act now.
Our feeling of worthiness comes from external achievements, rewards, recognition and eventually because we fear to be disliked and focus only on recognition as a sense of worth, we loose the freedom to live a life created by us but live a life defined by others where they are the guiding star who has the power to either give/take away recognition from us. And eventually we don't feel like making any contribution, nor get a sense of belonging to the larger community when we get rejected, when our growing expectations get rejected in the process. True feeling of worth comes from self-acceptance, building deep unconditional relationships with people & from that space contributing to the world right now, in the present in whichever way you would love to. This feeling is something created by you and is not dependent on anyone else but you.
If you really want to create an outcome, you do it no matter what. You don't pick excuses from past nor dwell into the future. But, sadly we spend most of our energy not on the now but every other thing. Once we get lost in this trap, until we muster the courage, we can't get out of it. We then constantly live in excuses fabricated by us; stories we create to cover everything up. We live a life of lie. And when we encounter someone living a life of freedom & real happiness, we detest or don't buy in because secretly it reminds us of our incapability and cowardice.
When you are ready to uncover deeper truths of life, you are given subtle hints. If you are conscious and mindful, you will be able to pick on the cues at right time. So, thankfully I picked on the cues that Universe was sending across me. Instead of feeling happiness and freedom only after climbing the mountain top, I realized wisdom lies in daring to let the spotlight shine on me now, shine a light on the here & now & from that space earnestly & conscientiously perform. It is in every performance that I derive that same metaphorical experience of being at the top of the Mount Everest.
What would you like to choose: run away from the spotlight adopting the escapist route or let the light shine on the here & now?
Love & respect,
How do you think you will lead an organization when you forget to lead yourself?
"Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power."
Success on the outside has no value when there is no success inside. And ironically, because of various reasons and excuses, we tend to forget the inward journey. Or let's put it this way, in this humdrum existence & superficiality, we easily tend to get lost. We are more involved in making the outside world better than making our inner world radiant & vibrant. We start doing things for people who are important to us without even really understanding what they want. Best of all, we forget what excited us, what made us alive as a child & what we truly wanted. We forget/refrain from asking ourselves this question: "What's my real reason for being here & how can I muster the courage to act on it?" And so, like a rudderless boat, we keep sailing to eventually reach nowhere & keep leading others to the same destination. The way we lead ourselves in any area of our life is the way we lead ourselves in every aspect of our life. The basic dynamics never change however hard we may do otherwise. And we inspire our younger generation who is observing us, to lead in the same way. We do everything to look good from the outside, but sadly we do nothing to beautify our inner world. And what does your inner world consists of? Your powerful mind, your pure soul & your body that is an anchor to both of these. All of these has to grow in tandem. You can't do away one & outgrow the other.
For major part of my life, my focus was on the journey outside. May be that's why I was addicted to exploring new places, new routes & never satisfied. Hardly did I realize that there was an untapped place inside me that I never knew existed, and so never traveled to, until my intuition awakened me to do so. My quest is getting quenched as I walk the inward journey, unlike other times that made me more thirsty. This truly proves the adage,"You don't get enough of what you don't need." As I walk this inward journey, I find inner joy, purpose, fulfillment, forgiveness, gratitude, peace & meaning in my existence. Many more to uncover. And I am sure you must be wondering like any logical & highly driven leader/person: How do these have an impact in my productivity, creativity, performance, my aspirations etc. etc? How does this even impact the organization & the practical world that we live in? Yes, I too did have these thoughts of getting real, practical & not just talk spiritual because I didn't want to go to a no man's land & meditate there with no awareness of what I am doing & how it affected me. But, I realized there is so much power in these simple things as we call. It has the power to better our external world. What's the science behind this: tap your mind, you change your mindset and with a transformation there, your actions change and so does your results (inward & outward). Tap your physical energy, you tap your infinite vibrancy, vigour & zeal just like the younger you. Tap your soul power, you tap into the power of the Universe, your intuition, the collective power & can transcend to your highest self. And then, from that space what do you think you are going to create?! An entire new world, a world that you wanted to live, living your deepest dreams, having deep connections with self & others, mastering your skills & gifts, enabling self-leadership & discipline, personal growth & heightened awareness. As you tap into your infiniteness & potential deep inside, you carve out possibilities for yourself that you have never imagined. You are guided towards the miraculous outcomes effortlessly. And as you grow, you enable the growth in others too. And all of these intangibles lead to tangible results in your outer world. You kindle your inner fire to light up not just your world but the world of those whom you lead, nurture, inspire & care for.
Leadership is so easy only if you allow simplicity to creep in. But, in today's complexity, simplicity is hard. Sadly our focus has always been on complexity. And so we make every bit of thing complex to get the kick, drive and what not. Simplicity is hard because we have cultivated the habit of hoarding; hoarding everything that comes our way. As a result we can't identify the essential and do away with the rest. The famous artist Michelangelo quoted,"Every block of stone has a statue inside it & it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." To uncover that masterpiece in us, we have to dive inside to discover that by making our way through every complexity that we have created for ourselves.
How will a leader at the top lead an organization to the next highest level when he/she has never walked the inward journey to lead oneself towards excellence?! And the impact of this percolates down to not only the leader's life, but every life that he/she touches professionally & personally. It depends on the leader's choice to embrace Kaizen (a Japanese concept that means continuous incremental improvement) in his/her life. What kind of game he/she wants to play, it all depends on that. A game of mediocrity or a game of infinite excellence?! When the leader is ready, positive transformations starts happening in his/her life & other's lives too. Takeaway is: Self-mastery is the DNA of leadership mastery.
Love & respect,
"I keep a lot to myself because it is difficult to find people who understand me, not judge me & take advantage of me".
These are the exact words expressed by one of the executives at the top after a deep conversation around current challenges. Most of the successful & driven people that I have come across share the same piece of concern. What is your greatest challenge at this point in time? And to this they just say, "Combating loneliness. It's lonely at the top. It doesn't feel great. You miss being just heard genuinely. Most of the time it is the role that is being heard to & not the person embodying that role. You miss expressing yourself the way you want to. It looks like I have lost the freedom to experience myself." Being alone is one thing & feeling alone even when you are surrounded by people is another thing. And here I am referring to that latter feeling. It sucks and is painful! More so, research says that loneliness has been associated with problems like attention, stress, cognitive function & in worst scenarios also lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
WHAT PROPELLED YOU TO BE IN THIS SPACE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
When you let the external world decide how your life would turn out to be & allow it to define success for you, this is what happens gradually. You drift away from the very thing that you are craving for: that is deep connection. You can't have enough of what you don't need. Driven people are focused on getting things done, they are go-getters who achieve things quickly & are always on the look out for the next thing to tackle. They don't settle for low-hanging fruits but strive for the next big thing. They have an innate desire to stand out from the rest. Slowly this becomes a habit and a drive that becomes hard to resist. You start seeing everything from a lens of success & big picture pre-defined by the world & your influencers. And as you grow, you start playing the role of a self-critic to yourself. You lose sight of what truly matters for you. Yes, success is what is important for you but when success at all cost becomes the defining mantra for you, you slowly start losing that connection with yourself & others that truly matter to you. You outgrow your friends, communities, people in your life as you grow. You feel disconnected to most of the groups that you were a part of because of the journey that you have had. You cannot leave, nor you can cling on to. You are somewhere midway oscillating between the two extremes and trying to figure out how to combat this. Leaving is painful & hanging in there is unfulfilling! And thus you slowly loose the connect and feel lonely despite of being a part of so many groups, communities and the like. There can be numerous reasons for you to have arrived in this space. Some might be due to voluntary choices that you had to choose from what you had; some might just be an unconscious pattern of life that you follow through. But the fact is, this space isn't serving you because it is taking up lot of your time & energy. Loneliness is depleting & so something needs to be done to combat that.
COMMON MEDIUMS ADOPTED TO COMBAT LONELINESS
Numbing oneself from feeling this loneliness with other distractions such as forming new unfulfilling & unavailable connections, going the virtual way, being busy in the social media, partying, travelling etc. All these are nothing but tactics to run away from loneliness to eventually land up being more lonelier. Inability to figure this out leads to stress and anxiety. This is a vicious cycle, a never ending one & it is up to you to decide to cut it once & for all.
When you are not comfortable with who you are, with your own self; when you have gone to that spectrum of your being that becomes so unfamiliar to you that you start doubting yourself & your very essence is where the first disconnect starts. When you are connected deeply to who you are, you are connected to the source of every origin. And from that space, no amount of loneliness shall be experienced. But when we go afar in the journey and get lost amidst the crowd is when we feel lost & lonely. We fail to see connections within & outside of us.
SUGGESTED GROWTH STRATEGY FOR HIGHLY DRIVEN & SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE TO FORM DEEP & FULFILLING INNER CONNECTIONS WITH SELF & OTHERS
Wishing you a life that is fulfilling, abundant & having meaningful connections for you to be able to experience the authenticity & greatness within.
Love & respect,
Life & Organizational Development Coach