I was in conversation with someone who once upon a time was doing really well in life, stood out from the crowd and made a mark for himself. Life just unfolded for him and he was undoubtedly a high-performer. Everyone flocked around him and he enjoyed all the attention and success. But, there is a dark side to this standing out if not handled wisely & strategically. And these tips come from the person himself who reflected on his life journey & concluded that the following points are very much required to protect one's uniqueness and sustenance as being different from the crowd. Yes, to stand out, you must embrace the dark side of it too. To maintain confidentiality of the person concerned, I have refrained from using the name.
Here goes the tips:
1. Never stand out too early in life. People will start seeing you as a competition & will stop being your ally. You don't want insecurity to creep in other's mind because of you & your presence. So, tone down to be in the battle for long.
2. Learn to play politics. Of course not the dirty ones, but at least you should be able to save yourself from its clutches. Professional world is full of such politics. You must know to deal with such situations. Or else, it will kick you out of the game.
3. Simplicity is a gift not to be displayed in front of takers. They will stick like parasites if you show your simplicity as your weakness. Make it your strength and not allow anyone misuse you in the disguise of being simple.
4. Know how to handle your emotions. Being overly emotional will send across a message to others that your decisions are based not on rationality but on emotions. This will be enough an opportunity for your critics to highlight this as your weakness. And you know what happens next.
5. Have a mentor or a senior person who really appreciates your strengths & uniqueness. This will enable you to grow and have a strong foothold in your professional life. It will save you from much of the turmoil & unwanted hassles.
6. Develop the social intelligence to understand how to mingle with the crowd and harness their support. Even if you stand out, it is the crowd that decides your existence in the professional world.
7. Be prepared to face lots of challenges and roadblocks along the way. The path isn't easy. So, either do your home work well or make your strategies to be a long-term player.
8. Perspective taking, sharing & gaining mutual consent is the key towards your growth.
9. Choose your battles wisely. Never compromise on integrity & values.
10. Know these distinctions and communicate in a language that is commonly understood: tact vs rudeness, empathy vs. apathy, communication vs aloofness, assertion vs. dominance, intention to create vs. intention to win, inclusion vs. standing out.
Last but not the least, leaving you with this thoughtful quote from the book, Mastery by Robert Greene: "Often the greatest obstacle to our pursuit of mastery comes from the emotional drain we experience in dealing with the resistance and manipulations of the people around us. If we are not careful, our minds become absorbed in endless political intrigues and battles."
"Don't shut down your emotions. Embrace them. Your emotions are your internal compass telling you whether or not you are on track. Use them to help cultivate your passions or motivate you to change situations and circumstances that hold you back from achieving your goals."
The great philosopher Plato said, "Human behaviour flows from three major sources: desire, emotion & knowledge." We are sum total of what we think, feel and act. When you shut down expressing your painful side, you also loose the ability to express your joyous side. Many a times we are conditioned to not show our emotions. It is presumed as a sign of weakness. But, emotions need acknowledgment & expression. What is important is the creative expression of emotions. There are various ways to express one's emotions. Some may be in the form of journaling. I gave my emotions a creative outlet through expressive writing. Another form of expressing emotions that I recently realized is enactment of various emotions through living it in the moment & expressing it in physical form such as theatrical expression. I was so glad to have attended the workshop Ranga - Understanding Theatre by Arka Mukhopadhya. It enabled me to think and understand my ability to express my emotions in a creative way. It also connected me to varied forms of emotions that we can embody and live in the present moment to churn these emotions into creative manifestation of our essence.
There are usually 9 types of emotions called Navarasa, meaning Nine Emotions. The concept of Navarasa originates from Bharata’s Natyasastra. Look at the picture below to have an idea about the 9 emotions.
Why I brought this up is to point out one important aspect of being able to express emotions creatively. I won't go into the deeper aspects of this theatrical expression, but I want to delve deep into what we can do to express the emotions that we feel in a constructive & humanely possible way to help us grow holistically. What happens when we don't deal properly with our varied emotions. Either you break at some point or you are totally numbed which is again dangerous. Being in touch with your emotions help you to be authentic & real. It will release energy that will ground you & help you to be mindful. When you express how you really feel (in an appropriate manner), problems get solved, relationship issues get resolved, and life becomes better & easier. We hold back from expressing our emotions fearing many things. Holding back at the right moment is good; unnecessary projection may have negative implications. But, we need to release in constructive ways. We need to know how to release it, when to release it & what space do we release in.
I urge you to find creative outlets for releasing your emotions. It can be through writing, art, drama, music, talking and many more. The way you release it determines your well-being & future consequences. Some emotions are hard to articulate. When we merge our emotional & logical parts, we create something phenomenal. And that's what my invitation to you all is.
"Allow yourself to release the emotions you have struggled all your life to contain."
"Self-avoidance only grants us more of the same pain."- Anonymous
Unraveling the truth behind human behaviour fascinates me. Why people behave, act and do the way they do always intrigued me. There's something that makes sense to them, something which they can see from where they are standing but we can't.There resides something in them that makes them who they are. There's an untold story in each one of us that loses it's track; it remains as an untold script that we try to lose sight of as we grow. These get hidden under the carpet and simmers till it manifests itself in different aspects of our lives. We use mask after mask to conceal our essence.There's this need for projection to protect ourselves from harm. When you try to unmask it, you get defensive about your own self. When that wall breaks, or there is a slight crack in it, you get triggered.
We often blame the outer world for what happens within us. We think that because someone did this to us, we are hurt; because someone said something to us, we are in pain. The pain is often perceived as an emotion which is triggered by something outside of us. But, the truth is, we are triggered because there's a part inside us that gets nudged; something that we dislike about our own self or something that needs to be dealt with in the first place that creates this feeling of restlessness in us. This will only make sense to you if you are open for an authentic self-inquiry. That something can be any of these: deep seeded self-esteem issues, fear of not being worthy, not being valued, shame, guilt, not being important, self-critic....The list is endless. That's the untold story inside you; a story that you have hid from yourself & the world. The truth that you find hard to accept & acknowledge. Hence, it gets manifested in the form of pain. Every time you feel it, you brush it off. You either run away from it, ignore or completely shut down. But remember, "Pain is weakness leaving your body." If we don't feel the pain, we cannot be strong. Only when we allow pain to surface, acknowledge it; we give ourselves an empowering space to fill it with strength.
The cup has to be emptied first. Without emptying, you cannot rewrite your story. Acknowledge your untold story. Set it free for you to embrace new realities; to drop the fear & accept love for yourself & everyone. There are few steps towards breaking free from your own trap. How do you feel the pain and make it powerful enough to build you?
1. Love yourself unconditionally. Acknowledge the person you are without guilt, shame or critic. Let yourself feel the pain if any and thank yourself for bearing it all the way. There is love and only love at the core. Love that core and drop all fears.
2. Be grateful for this life and the experiences. It has made you who you are.
3. Don't judge yourself or others. Be in the profound space of acceptance.
4. Journal how you feel. Feel the pain. Let it come out. Write you untold story, partner with self and tell it.
Unexpressed emotions will manifest in other forms. You may not even realize how emotions affect us and our well being. It is important to let it loose and break free from it's shackles.
"Once we get the pain's message & follow its advice, the pain goes away." I invite you to ponder upon the untold story inside you.
"When you show deep empathy toward others, their defense energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it.That's when you can get more creative in solving problems."- Stephen Covey
Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another's shoes, being able to understand other's state of mind. When you drop your perspective, your judgment, your views (both conscious & unconscious) and simply listen to the other person's perspective, recognize, experience the outlook or his/her emotions as they are and can not only acknowledge those emotions but truly feel them within & offer your support, that's deep empathy. For a person to be truly empathetic, he/she should have compassion, respect for the person, creativity of mind, leadership depth, clarity, openness at heart along with emotional & spiritual intelligence. Many a times, we just don't understand the other person, because we just use our judgement and bring our angle to it. The moment we do this, we disconnect from the person. We shut the other person from opening up to us. We come across as intimidating, distrustful and cold. And who would want to open up to such a person?!
Empathy is power. It helps in understanding a person in depth, build fruitful relationship, develop meaningful communications & this in turn results in better problem solving. It is important to develop empathy not only at personal level but also at professional level and unleash it's power. Empathy is very different from sympathy. Empathy opens up the doors to possibilities. To be able to lead, influence, nurture or even help/support another, one needs to be empathetic. That's the key to leadership & people excellence. Without this, deep understanding cannot be created which in turn will result in not so great scenarios.
Here's an example. A simple discussion between Manager & team member around some project completion issues. The names are randomly selected & doesn't refer to any specific persons.
Rohan (Manager): What's up Mohan?
Mohan (Team member): Nothing, just feeling unwell.
Rohan (Manager): Oh! Go to a doctor after office. Tell me more about the project. Where are we with it's progress?
Mohan (Team member): Trying hard to meet the deadline.
Rohan (Manager): What's wrong? We were supposed to complete it by this week. I trusted you and you were really keen on picking this up. But, look at you. You have disappointed me.
Mohan(Team member): The client keeps changing their requirements and one of our team members had to deal with a personal loss. We are short with resources.
Rohan (Manager): No excuses please, just hand over the project to me by this week. That's it.
Do you think the outcome of this discussion could have been better had the Manager listened to his team member with empathy & accordingly guided him towards a creative solution? Of course, this could have been better. But, many a times we just don't care to be empathetic. Empathy is a choice that we make because we know its power.
What are the four key elements of empathy?
1. See their world.
2. Understand their feelings.
3. Communicate understanding.
4. Appreciate them without judgments.
The empathy map was originally created by Dave Gray. An empathy map is a collaborative tool teams can use to gain a deeper insight into their customers. This tool can be used by HR professionals, business leaders and people managers to have better understanding about their team & people.
Empathy can be practiced only when you genuinely care for people, respect their individuality and truly want to make a difference. When "Us" becomes more important than "I", empathy starts manifesting its power.
"Only equals make friends, every other relationship is contrived & off balance." - Maya Angelou
A relationship is always formed between equals. When I say equals, what I precisely mean is that both the persons/parties forming the relationship hold equal importance, value and have the same relationship goals. An imbalance in one, will ruin the relationship or lead to a very short-lived one. Even if you try to drag it for a while, it will collapse eventually. Before getting into any relationship, be it personal or professional, know yourself & your worth. Do ascertain your value. Make a clear interpretation of your likes, dislikes, purpose, boundaries, interests, expectations, limitations etc. Once you know your value, you can then form a relationship of equals by building relationship with those who truly deserve you/your expertise.
Never get into something that doesn't feel right for you but you think you will make it right. That doesn't work. Never compromise on your core and stick to anything in the name of kindness, commitment or your goodness. Your first commitment is to yourself. You need to first protect yourself from all the hurt, harm & manipulation.
This world is full of people waiting for you to embrace your goodness only if you polarize yourself from the wrong ones & free yourself from the shackles of undeserving relationships. Only thing you need to do is to find the right kind who would value you, be happy & grateful to have you in their lives and vice versa.This is applicable both in personal & professional life.
How do you realize that you are not in a relationship of equals? Here are some points for your consideration which I had experienced personally & professionally:
1. The moment when you get a feeling that you are not being valued for who you are, you are taken for granted & used for some ulterior motives. Don't ignore that feeling. Our essence, our being always gives us cue only if we pay heed to it.
2. When you are the one giving and emptying your cup with nothing to receive back.
3. When being in that relationship you drain your energy.
4. You start feeling less important and you don't feel good about yourself. Only thing you start noticing or made to notice are your flaws/limitations.
5. When you do more than what you are accepted & acknowledged for.
6. When you don't feel happy from the inside.
7. When there is nothing to be hopeful about & nothing to look forward to.
When you realize that you are not being treated as equals, that's the time to stand up for yourself. You can gently articulate how you feel & give the other person/party time to reflect upon. You can then draw boundaries and take actions accordingly. Still if nothing changes, you need to move out completely even if that may be hurtful for a while. You need liberation & you need to set yourself free. This is the time to be grateful for the fact that you found out that this isn't a relationship of equals. Pain for a while is better than pain for a long time. After all, these are part of your experiences in this journey called life. Never let another person demean your self-worth. You are valuable, lovable, precious and made for the person that truly deserves you. You don't have to fit in for another's best interest. If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will. If a person cannot see your value, it is their loss not yours. Another person's inability doesn't lessen your worth & being. Value yourself, love yourself. Raise the bar, never lower it to fit in.
This same concept is applicable in your professional life too. Choose an organization, a role with which you have the relationship of equals. Never compromise and choke yourself. If you do, it will one day burst out in an uglier form than you anticipated. Sooner you realize and take action, better it is for you.
Leaving you with this thought: "If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value." And when you don't value yourself, you will always be attracted to people who don't value you either. So, make the right choice now.
"Don't seek approval. This may be the toughest suggestion for you to follow & the most important. Whether you are a teenager seeking approval from your peers, a middle-aged parent seeking approval of your kids, or a man or woman seeking the approval of your partner, it all amounts to the same thing. You are giving your personal power away every time you seek validation from someone else for who you are."-T. J. MacGregor
Validation simply means approval. We need validation for our work, we seek social validation; getting a thumbs up has become so crucial for our existence in today's world. It has become so obsessive that even if we know that the task we have done is great, unless & until we get a validation, we feel very poorly of our self. As if getting a thumbs up is the approval stamp for our work & existence as a whole. This isn't abnormal, this is quite human. We all like it. We all like to be liked. We love follower-ship; as & when we post something in the virtual platform, we like to be validated for what we posted. But, when we define our existence, our worth with validation; the problem starts happening then. If you regularly seek validation, then you give the power to others to judge you and your existence, this becomes very needy & anything needy is always creepy. This affects your choices because then you operate from a space of pleasing others and not doing what you are supposed to do. Even if it may conflict with your inner values & feelings, you may do stuffs just for the sake of getting validation. And then one day you realize that these are all futile. You just wasted your time & energy on things that really didn't matter to you. There will be lack of fulfillment & even loss of self-worth.
The question that you need to ask yourself is, "Why the need for validation?" Do you feel you are not good enough? Is there deep-seeded self-esteem issues? Don't you love yourself and your uniqueness? Is there an iota of doubt about your potential & capabilities? The more you seek for external approval, the more you will lose yourself in the process because it will act as a distraction for your growth & development. You will always remain unhappy because you have given the power to the external world to define your worth. But the fact is, your value is who you are. The person inside you. Unless you give validation to that you, you will always be hungry for some external validation. Only when you aren't aware of who you truly are, when you don't feel good about your own self, you would keep juggling between the need to be good for the world; to be liked by them & the person who truly you are. But, when you are confident of yourself, when you love yourself, when you know your uniqueness, you would just be fine. Likes or no likes, it doesn't matter. You will keep walking that path.
"He who controls may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still." Lao Tzu.
So, how to stop seeking for validation from becoming faulty habit detrimental to our own growth & mastery?
1. Acknowledge your need for validation. Try to figure out the underlying quest for seeking for approval. You will discover the truth if you truly give yourself the permission to analyse this emotion. How do you feel? Why do you feel the need for approval? What is the root cause for this longing?
2. Don't feel ashamed about anything that you know about yourself. Even if you don't feel good about these aspects, remember that everything that happens is a part of the building process of who you are. Accept these experiences with gratitude. Love yourself unconditionally.
3. Dig out the diamond in you. Only you can and no one else can do it for you. Discover your strengths, your uniqueness. Define your self-worth.
4. Practice positive self-talk. You are the judge of what's cool & good for you.Own yourself & hold that power. Do not hand it over to others.
"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond & to know one's self." - Benjamin Franklin
Many a times we spend our lives in illusion. We don't even realize that there is a diamond hidden inside us, just waiting to shine. Many a times we ignore that diamond to be mere pebble and just live life longing for diamonds that don't belong to us. As a child, we do experience that preciousness in us, but sooner we let it lose it's brightness. The glimpse of that diamond is sometimes reflected at moments we never realized or moments we never thought was possible. But, we are scared to even accept that. We fear humiliation, mockery, failure, uncertainty and biggest of all the inward journey towards polishing of that diamond. We cover up our diamond with curtains stage by stage. Either those curtains need to be removed by us or we need to take the help from someone who can support us in doing that & let the diamond in us shine & glow the way it is meant to be.
By now I am sure you know what I mean by this "diamond". That is your authentic core, your individuality, your gift, your light, your uniqueness....whatever you may like to call it. That's "YOU", the only "YOU". It's presented to us in a very raw form. Just like the dark carbon. Only when it is polished, put under pressure, the diamond gets cut from that carbon. But, we very often ignore that diamond. Why is it so? What comes in the way of this realization & its manifestation? Let's explore the diagram below to understand.
The diamond is our TRUE SELF, our CORE, our SOUL. But, we mask it with the FALSE SELF called EGO. EGO is a false and manufactured state of consciousness in us that only perceives reality from one particular point of view. The ego is not who really you are.It is your self-image, your social mask, it is the role you are playing.Your social mask thrives on approval.It wants control & it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear. It is nothing but a mental, physical & emotional coping mechanism developed for dealing with the fear of the end of it's own existence. It does not integrate or acknowledge complimentary views or its oneness with Nature. This compartmentalization of perception sends misleading information to our thoughts and feelings, and gives rise to dynamics such as “me vs you” and “us vs them”. When we can can embrace our uniqueness as an expression of Nature's wholeness,our authentic natural self expression can come forth.
What you perceive changes your self. And how perceptions are formed? We receive stimulus, we use our filters, we interpret. Frustration, fear, distortion, resistance are the fuel for the false EGO that creates the false perception of what you are. The ego prefers a satisfying untruth to an unsatisfying truth because the ego demands instant satisfaction and the settling of all dust. The choice is ultimately yours, to choose fear or self-love; to choose your small mind or big mind. Self-discipline & self-awareness is the key.
Leaving you with this quote: "Your ability to listen to & take action based on your inner voice-regardless of how you feel, other influences or temptations you face is the key to self-mastery."
“The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy. Learn to use the power wisely.” David Cuschieri
Why it is said that sky is the limit? Why is this metaphor used? What's your first thought when you hear this? The sky is the limit because there is limitless possibilities that you can ever imagine or think of. If that is the case, if our mind is so powerful and has the ability to take us to possibilities we hardly imagined, then what holds us back? Why all of us don't excel? Why we live a life of mediocrity & not of mastery? Why we don't become exceptional leaders but settle with being just good? Why we don't excel but just limit ourselves to benchmarks already set? Do you see that the conditioned mind possesses you? How high have you set your sky? Have you even set it? If not,why?
Many a times we don't even realize this and live the way we do by blaming our circumstances, attaching our undesirable outcomes to various things that our mind had captured all the way long. Stories that our mind found impactful, interesting, self-serving, common, certain etc., we kept accumulating & thus forming our belief systems. This is nothing but mental conditioning. From a young age, we condition ourselves. Other environment, our parents, our friends, our own experiences, our facts registered in our so called memories, all play a huge role in determining what beliefs we hold on to tightly and what structure we fall back upon as common behavioural pattern, habits etc. We hardly pay attention to what is happening in our inner world. Thus resulting in conditioning & perception building because of which our mind is unable to free ourselves of our own limitations. Slowly this turns into habits which becomes hardwired in our system. Here's an interesting video on mental conditioning. This is a very common story, I am sharing this video with credit. Do watch this for better clarity.
Now the next question is, if conditioning is so powerful, how do we reset our mind & fly high? I have researched, studied and applied Tony Robbins's (the great Coach & NLP expert) technique on how to reprogram your mind and found this self-transforming for me. You may even try this. The steps are simple only if you allow yourself to dive deep into self-inquiry & introspection :
1. Decide: First get very crystal clear about what you want in life. What do you want in your profession and in your personal life? Make the decision that you are not willing to settle, that you are not willing to live the way you are living right now, and set your sights on what you want. This way you empower your mind to focus with precision & clarity.
2. Commit: Stop all the excuses that you would want to throw yourself to. Just commit. Drop the fears & self-doubts. You have to battle it out: your inner world vs your commitment. Small steps at a time, tiny actions to take daily but not to give up.
3. Resolve: Observe what results you are getting from the actions that you are taking, analyse what is working for you & what isn't and then do what serves you. Resolve is finding solutions to what may come your way in achieving what you have committed to.
Each stage is important and many people give up when things get hard, uncertain and uncomfortable. It is at this stage that one must check for creative solutions, actions and make the required shifts. In order to manifest sky is the limit, you must hold on to the path.You can revise your actions, the steps, but you got to keep flying.
Explore the limitless possibilities in you. First step is make up your mind, Decide.
"Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light."- Dan Brown.
In the picture above, do you see how the same animal is viewed differently by different people only because they are feeling different things owing to the position that they are at and accordingly forming their opinions based on their limited understanding of the entirety?!
This is a very basic & simple example of how we see things from our perspective. Perspective is our mental view or outlook. Sometimes, we tend to forget that there can be numerous perspectives to the same situation. We view things differently, we view our life's experiences differently. If we knew other's perspectives, we would know & understand them more. But here we falter. We get fixed and rigid in our mental views & hence the conflict arises. This then leads to getting defensive, protective about what we think, see & believe & eventually restrict ourselves from both convincing others & making our views accepted.
There is a very important correlation between understanding other's perspective & ability to convince others. The more you understand other's views, the more you will be able to convince them of your views. Many a times, I hear stuffs where people complain about not being able to convince their team of an idea or a boss about a campaign, a proposition etc. What could have been the underlying issues here? Why do you think successful companies take into consideration customer perspective before shelling out money in any ads, projects or investment? They consider & understand the perspective of the party that they are going to sell to and hence the convincing bit becomes easier for them.
This can be applied to anywhere. Understanding your employees', team's perspective can go a long way towards increasing productivity & happiness. Understanding other's perspective is a key leadership skill. Understanding other's perspectives will enable you to hear & react to things very differently.
What do I want? What am I scared of? These two questions will enable you to view your & other's perspectives. The fact that perspective is just a perspective & not the total reality is often ignored. How different our relationships, leadership acumen and understanding of people will be when we broaden our perspectives & enlarge the lens through which we view others & life?! What can you create in your professional & personal world with this insight? What actions are you willing to take from this moment?
Our subconscious mind largely determines our success & happiness in life. "Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition & emotion will one day become a reality." - Earl Nightingale
Our brain is divided into three parts as can be vividly seen in the diagram below:
Our conscious mind comprises of the neocortex part of the brain whereas the limbic & reptilian brain form our subconscious mind. The conscious mind controls our brain only 5% of the day, whereas the subconscious mind has a hold of our thoughts 95% of the time. And you have 70,000 thoughts approximately per day. So, who holds the maximum power to control your thoughts?! Obviously the subconscious mind. Here's a diagram that shows the functions of both the conscious & subconscious mind:
Have you wondered why whatever you fear, think of the most negatively & feel the most becomes the reality? On the other hand, if you have dreamt well, believed in your dream, embraced it to the core, visualized it & felt it with great passion & trust, effortlessly embraced it without attachment, your subconscious mind paves the way for making it a reality. Yes, your subconscious mind is your hidden friend. Tapping its power can bring about massive changes in your life.
When we dream or want to achieve a goal, this positive thought/desire first encounters the conscious mind which thinks rationally and tries to gather facts, patterns, behaviors generated in the past & accordingly makes an analysis of whether it would be good to go or to give up. Many a times, our conscious mind reminds us of our past failures, limiting patterns & other limitations which leads us to a logical reasoning of not pursuing something that we aren't sure or certain of. However, if we can consciously surpass the conscious mind & get access to the subconscious mind by planting conscious positive thought to it, the subconscious mind accepts it as a reality & opens up the doors to limitless possibilities of our growth & development. Many breakthroughs were attained by using the power of the subconscious mind.
How do you tap the subconscious mind? Follow the following tips:
Tip #1: Create the thought that you want the subconscious mind to manifest.
Tip #2: Get your thoughts over to your subconscious mind. Repetition of desires positively also known as conscious feeding of positive thoughts. This needs to be done everyday when you wake up & before you go to bed.
Tip #3: Getting output or feedback from the subconscious mind. Allowing creativity to manifest, being in touch with insights from your mind & taking creative actions accordingly.
This is an ongoing process. One has to have faith, trust and be willing to embrace the process & not give up for it to bear result. "Happiness, success, excellence: They are not something you get for knowing the path, they are something you experience by walking it."- Dr. Steve Maraboli.
Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. Befriend your subconscious mind to create magic in your life.
Life & Organizational Development Coach