Volunteering

The month of April is celebrated as a National Volunteer Month! Earlier, my perception of volunteering was that it’s done to help others. I would do it occasionally an hour here or an hour there. Last fall, I had an opportunity to volunteer for an entire weekend. In order to prepare for it, someone explained me how volunteering can help one’s growth. Since then my approach has changed significantly. I find myself volunteering much more often and is very motivated to do so.

Volunteering for a non-profit has helped me break several barriers.
1. The cause is not focused on or does not benefit me, I don’t hesitate in my pursuit to influence others.
2. It’s much easier to take risks than at work
3. Meeting people from diverse background and connecting at a deeper level than a cocktail party

Overall, it gives me growth and helps others, so happy volunteering!

Power of Rituals

Rituals are a great way to create a new habit or break an old habit! When we are trying to do something new and it stretches our comfort zone, the mind starts getting overwhelmed and finds it very convenient to procrastinate. A ritual with very low expectations make it easy to get started.

I have heard one my most favourite author Echkart Tolle share that he always sat for a certain amount of hours to write his book. Somedays he had great ideas and somedays he didn’t but that’s how he wrote 2 best sellers.

I am starting to experiment with this as well and works great. I developed a ritual to try something new everyday about 5 years ago and that had opened so many possibilities. One of my new ritual is to write down 10 new ideas everyday first thing in the morning. What I am noticing is that I am getting better ideas and can’t wait for that specific time to write them down.

So what ever you have been longing to do, start with carving out a few minutes once or several days a week and you start building momentum soon.

Do One Thing New Each Day

About 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to listen to Scott D Anthony. Of many great things he shared on how to be innovative, the one that stayed with me the most was was to try or learn one thing new each day. He went on sharing several simple examples – sit in a different seat even if it’s the same meeting room, take a different route etc.

Initially, I started tracking by writing down what I did new that day. After about couple of years, this started becoming a habit. Everyday I would find myself doing something new or creative – however small it may seem. In last one year or so, this trait has expanded to talking to a new person (stranger) daily.

I feel so amazed with this habit. My mind is more open to opportunities and learning from people. I am less judgemental about ideas and people. Every situation seems to have become a learning opportunity! In general I have become more open minded and respectful to others. Using this as a template, I am able to develop other good habits.

I highly encourage you to try this and see how you feel! Happy Opening Yourself up to new possibilities!

Power of Specific A Goal

I wanted to learn swimming since childhood but didn’t have access to any pools. Had my first set of official set of lessons when I was 25. For practice, I would swim whenever I had opportunities yet I lacked stamina. I did recognize it, so wanted to get better and kept making attempts to get better for about 15 years.

In 2015, spring I tried signing up for Scuba lessons with plans to go diving in summer. The requirements was to be able to swim 4 laps (200 meters) and tread water for 10 minutes. When I tested my-self, I found myself at barely 1 lap and al most zero minutes of water treading. Obviously, I could not take Scuba lessons.

But that gave me a goal to work towards in swimming – 4 laps nonstop and 10 minutes of water treading. Immediately I got to work and started practicing 3 days. I found myself watching youtube videos to learn water treading, talking to other swimmers at the pool to watch and help me get better. I continued even when the weather started getting cold. I fell sick due to weather change, stopped for 2-3 weeks and was back at the pool as I soon as I recovered. Continued thought the entire winter of 2015-16 – rain or shine with temperatures as low as 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

With ups and downs, 2 steps forward and 1 step forward, I started making progress. By beginning of 2106 spring, I was able to do 10 laps nonstop and up to 20 minutes of effortless water treading. I went way past my original goal. Had I not been marching towards that goal (of 4 laps and 10 minutes) I would still be phanting after a lap and would not have started on water treading.

Take Away for you : Whatever you have been meaning to do, start talking to people about, set goals and take that FIRST ACTION right now. The first step leads to the second, second leads to the third and in no time you find yourself in action. Just start…..

Celebrate Failures

Just like most people, I have always considered failures as not such a good thing. As a kid, always strived to top in school and would get upset if that didn’t happen at times. While I had heard the the saying “Failure is the pillar of success” and understood intellectually, don’t think I was truly practicing it for the most part.

In last few years, this notion started getting better when I heard a speaker say that if you have not failed, you have not tried enough. Started playing with concepts such as “fail fast” – to try and learn quickly or stretch beyond comfort zone.

However, a recent movie has transformed this paradigm. Biopic of M.S. Doni, India’s cricket team’s captain, shows that when he wasn’t selected to play for the national team, his friends were very upset. Dhoni walked in with sweets and snacks in a very celebratory mood. When he asked the reason of his happiness on such a supposedly bad day, he went on to explain that he didn’t want to forget that day. He wanted to remember that he still had work to do, he had to get better at cricket in order to make it to play for India next time. What an attitude!

I have been blown away by this approach. Recently when my daughter failed at her swim test to go the next level and was upset, rest of the family reminded her Dhoni’s approach (all of us had watched the movie together) and we celebrated with samosas. It was nice to see a smile that evening on her face.

I believe celebration of whole hearted effort increases our ability to take risks without worrying about results. And of course, the more risk we take, the more growth happens…

Happy risking 🙂

Procrastinations..No more….

Procrastination happens when we find ourself making a big deal of for a project or task. I have been a victim all my life. I have read couple of books on productivity – Eat That Frog, Getting Things Done and attended a training at work as well. Things improved gradually, however there was still a large room for improvement in general.In this specific instance, I had this whole of 2016 to finish a bunch of work trainings (over 40 hours). Interestingly enough, I had not done much until last week, mostly falling prey to procrastination.

Late last week, I stood corrected about the deadline and found out that I needed to get all trainings done by November 30th – in less than 5 working days. I took up the challenge to meet the deadline and get out of this procrastination mentality in general. I have worked tirelessly to catch up (including on Thanksgiving day, weekend etc). I am finding my self approaching training with a more creative way to finish – instead of slogging through each, review at faster pace. I am able to consume the content at a much rapid rate. Attempting questions first to have focused review of the contents etc.I am already ahead and done. I also found myself wasting less time on other things and fully focused.

Overall, This didn’t seem much different from how I get work done on the day before vacation. I have heard this before and tried occasionally but if we approach our work as if we are leaving for a long vacation the next day, decisions are made quickly and more work gets done. Just that we need to strive to do this everyday!

I lost 35 lbs and I hate Salad

Until about 4 years ago, I was overweight with BMI 25, high cholesterol, had frequent back pains, fatigue and fevers. In late thirties, having settled with a beautiful wife and 2 awesome kids, I really wanted to do something in my career. But these health issues led to doubts, anxiety and further sickness. Conventional medication didn’t yield much results and needed to take the tablets for a long time.

At a dear friend Jyoti More’s recommendation, I met an Ayurvedic Practitioner in http://www.shubhamayurveda.com/. They key recommendation was to eat only when I would be hungry. Previously, I would eat at the right time regardless of my body needed or not, leading to indigestion, extra weight.

I lost a net weight of 35 pounds from the diet over the next year.I still ate regular food but simply followed my hunger. I never had to eat things I don’t like especially salad Most of the time, people go on diet and gain the weight back, just like a huge % of lottery winners go bankrupt quickly. Research indicates that, most of us lack the discipline to maintain our new found money or body shape. In my case, Art of Living came for rescue. I started their 20 minutes daily breathing technique in 2010 and because of that, I am still able to maintain my diet and sustain the wight.

At 41,my current weight is less than what it was in my 2nd year of college, have more energy than ever before and smile much more than I have.

Key Takeaway – Spend at least 20 minutes of time with yourself can align to your true power inside. I highly recommend Art Of Living because that’s what worked for me and I volunteer for the non-profit to make other people aware about their programs.

Why Trump Won

I have been Hillary Supporter and like most people shocked by the US election results. I was a big Donald Trump fan for his show The Apprentice and watched al most all seasons. I used be very impressed by how he would fire a candidate and make you feel that he picked the right choice. After one failed attempt to attend his talk in 2006, did get to listen and shake hands with Trump in 2012 in San Jose. However, I never supported him for President for his treatment of women, moral values for kids and lack of clear policy answers etc etc.

However, just before the elections, I listened to an interview of Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. He explained how Donald Trump became a primary candidate and defeated so many other republicans. Scott believes Mr. Trump’s persuasion way beyond the norm. Scott explains how we make decisions based on emotions and then justify them with facts. I still thought Trump would lose to Hilary in General Election. Turns out, Scott Adam’s theory helped there as well.

Here’s the interview I listened (it’s worth 25 minutes)

Here’s Scott’s blog today after results
http://blog.dilbert.com/post/152955248046/i-answer-your-questions-about-predicting-president

Here’s the book
https://www.amazon.com/How-Fail-Almost-Everything-Still/dp/1491518855

How I am different since then
– Starting to truly feel the emotion behind the action of the person across and it’s been a great experience, has helped me prepare for meetings (including executives) at work.
– Practice persuasion a little more and pay attention to other people’s persuasive skills.

The Biggest Risk of all

For the most part in my life, I have been a risk averse person and played it safe. In 12th grade, I realised 2 months before my exams that I am no where close to be prepared and neither would be. I decided to skip that year and appeared the year after. Similarly, I enrolled myself in Engineering with Electronics as a major in college. However, several of my senior students suggested to change the major (aka branch in India) because of poor staff and infrastructure. I switched to an easier major to Mechanical.Both instances are examples of taking a path of least resistance. Looking back at these two and many other examples, I see a pattern of taking the biggest risk of all – not taking a risk.

Until recently, I found my-self not taking action quick enough and stuck in paralysis of analysis. Starting this blog is one of the several first steps I am taking to break this habit.

Welcome!

Hi there! Thanks for visiting!

A few years ago, I read two questions somewhere
  1.  What’s the easiest thing to do?
  2. What’s the most difficult thing to do?

The answers I found were,

  1. Giving unsolicited advice
  2. Knowing Yourself
When I realised that I was good at #1, I embarked on a journey to know myself better. This blog primarily about that discovery.
If this does not suit your fancy or all these is too series stuff, perhaps it’s not for you.  Thanks for stopping by anyways.
Otherwise, welcome aboard!