Live With Hope

Photo Credits : Lalita Raman

Photo Credits : Lalita Raman

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
To me this is an example of Hope in the face of fear, in the face of every moment of life.
In my coaching sessions with clients, when I coach with compassion and when their Positive Emotional Awareness is aroused, there is hope in their dreams and vision. Hope sees your ideal self – the self that you want out of life, the motivational core that focuses on your aspirations, dreams, purpose, and calling
I was at a Christmas Choir yesterday with the mood so joyous, and filled with hope. This is the festive season and typically during this time there is a joy, optimism and dreams are weaved.
However, what happens when there is negativity and struggle around us or we are in the midst of the same.
→Why allow negativity to get the better of us?
→Why not acknowledge that we are not feeling good yet not give up in taking a good look at the situation.
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” ― Pema Chödrön
For me Hope is …..
Heart – when we look within we find the answers. An awakened heart enables us to find the perspective and lead from within.
Optimism – to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what the situation, ask yourself what can you make happen? Living with rational optimism and positive affirmations makes life easier. What happens to us at every moment is not within our control but the attitude we take to it, is our choice.
Passion – without energy and enthusiasm about our life and what we do, life becomes boring and meaningless. Our purpose is our biggest energy driver in achieving our dreams.
Empathy – to understand another person’s condition from their perspective keeps their hope. Show compassion not only to others but to self to renew yourself and connect with others.
To live in despair and wallow in our sorrows doesn’t take too much effort. Being positive and living to dream, to aspire and make things happen is what leading from within is and makes life interesting and challenging, Isn’t that what hope is all about?
Never take away hope from anyone else or from yourself.

Fake It Till You Make It

One of my sister’s friends’ colleague Anita, submitted her resignation recently, since she had found another job. Whilst she was serving her notice period, she still kept hoping that she would be asked to stay in her current organization. She was almost nearing the end of her notice period when my sister’s friend asked Anita why she wanted to stay back. Anita did not have any job in hand. She had pulled a fast one since she believed in doing so, she would get a salary hike with her current company.

You have probably heard of “Fake it till you Make it” ever so often. I have always wondered about this statement.

Do you fake
→your values, authenticity, talents and skills?
→your job, salary, what you can afford
→your emotions, compliments and the way you articulate
→who you are

Fake it till you make it or become it seems to be losing its essence in the way people are using it. I have always understood “Fake it Till You Make it” as, to get over your negative self talk, to believe in yourself, to achieve your dreams and not have your inner critique take over.

From when did it become not being authentic, or being a hypocrite or lying about who you are or what you have?

There are many Anita’s I hear about or meet and I look at them and wonder

♣why do you do what you do?
♣would you rather put on a facade and continue the path of self-deception or be true to your inner self?
♣how long will you keep running away from your inner voice?
♣what would you be proud of yourself and who you are today?
♣what legacy do you want to leave behind in people’s hearts?
♣are you putting away your darkest fears and doubts by being who you are not ?

Psychological research shows that the self-fulfilling prophecy works for both negative and positive predictions, indicating, again, that the beliefs you hold have an impact on what happens to you. And in making something happen, you got to believe that it is possible and you are capable. This extends to your confidence with respect to public speaking, being able to deliver a presentation  or a project. The placebo effect works when applied to build and boost your confidence, when you have the skill set, and are adequately prepared.
We all have moments when we need to fake the confidence, to believe we can do it.By allowing yourself to build and applaud that skill that you have needs to be practiced without any intentional deceit or harm.

Reflective Questions

♣Are you doing what you are doing to establish credibility?
♣What are your core values? Does your behavior and actions reflect your values?
♣How are you living in alignment with your values?
♣Are you building or harming your character in getting over your negative beliefs ?

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Are You An Ode To Your Dogmas?

We are more than a decade into the twenty-first century and yet we live by dogmas…….

Beliefs rule our work and personal world. Beliefs are more often than not a lie. Beliefs lead us to act or think about something in a way not because we have experienced it but because it is just believed to be true.  Beliefs are not necessarily based on logic. Each of us have our belief system and some of them are acquired along the journey of life or some that is ingrained into us from childhood. Most of them we choose not to question.

I grew up in India, and some of the common beliefs are

- if the husband dies soon after marriage, the wife has brought the bad luck
- widow needs to wear white
- if you are good you will go to heaven when you die
- a marriage is all about compromises
- if a particular dish is cooked in a specific way and this is a family tradition it is carried out from generation to generation without anyone asking why is it done the way it is done & is it necessary?
- crying is bad and makes you weak. Controlling your feelings makes you strong
- when a black cat crosses the road whilst you are walking it is a bad omen

In an organizational context beliefs can take the following shape

  • to join us as a coach or as a leadership trainer, you need to be trained by us. It doesn’t matter if you have been certified.
  • this is the only way to service a customer efficiently and it has worked for us for several years.
  • we will continue to service our existing customers with our existing products and there is no necessity to look at growing our range of products and services we offer to them.

Many of us become so intertwined with our beliefs that we practice it as a behavior & impose it on others. Beliefs are created by some data or knowledge that may have been gathered or gained without actually experiencing it or questioning the logic of the information.

Only when we separate our lives from beliefs and start living based on our own experiences, we start to be in control of our true journey of life.

Impact of beliefs

1. Fear – most people don’t want to question because they Fear that they will be excluded or thought of as unconventional. If I ask questions on their adopted practices, I cut my career progression.  In a larger context, if organizations refuse to break away from their conventional thinking they run the risk of not adapting. They short change themselves from creative thinking, growth, and development.

 2. Happiness – many of us for a large part our lives define success and well-being in terms of the external world. We live in this myth that our happiness is linked to the materialistic world. We continue to seek peace of mind from the external world.

Have you questioned if that gives you peace of mind, happiness and fulfillment?  Have you tried going on an inner journey?

3. Thoughts – Our thoughts reflect in our feelings and our actions. If we refuse to relinquish our deep-seated beliefs, they become our thoughts. These thoughts control us, dictate our actions and define who we are.

Would you like to be known by your beliefs or would you like to live your experiences?

Would you like to limit your potential by these beliefs?

 Let your fear, thoughts or dogmas not restrict your innate potential. Ask relevant questions

  • Have you asked yourself why is something done the way it is done?
  • What is stopping me from getting what I need?
  • Would you rather be part of a group who question, challenge and help you grow rather than agreeing with you on everything you say and do?
  • Are you a product of your beliefs?
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The Power Of “MINDFULNESS”

You must have had manic days where you have no time to drink water or take a deep breadth, when you have a million things to do and yet get pulled in different directions.  Some of the moments on these days can be those of elation, anger, sadness, exasperation, exuberance and sheer exhaustion.

Life throws many a challenge and it is entirely up to each of us on the choices we make. In today’s rat race, we forget many times that success linked to external factors creates a vacuum and our soul is restless.

With all the pressures we face in our day-to-day lives, we find it difficult to find the right equilibrium between our short-term financial goals and long-term calling.  Many of us become human doers rather than a human being.

Many of you have heard of mindfulness and probably practice it.  What is mindfulness? Is there some magic formula? Does one have to attain the state of nirvana? Is it about sitting in meditation on a daily basis?

Key to mindfulness is be aware and conscious of what you are doing and give your fullest to that moment in heart and soul.  If you can stay grounded and authentic, face new challenges daringly and with humility and be at peace with the present, that is mindfulness.

10 Keys To Mindfulness

  1. Is it just about sitting in a corner and meditating I think not. It is anything you choose to do with clarity and a deeper understanding. It is about being present in whatever you are doing and being aware of your presence and ways every action of yours would impact others.
  2. Being conscious of your values no matter what you do, you lead with your values and from your inner self.
  3. Are you giving the attention of your time ? Give your full focus in whatever you are doing be it working out, having a dialogue with somebody, or listening to someone.  Staying focused without allowing your thoughts to wander.
  4. What is my inner talk ? to journal and reflect on one’s day while walking or hiking or even whilst just being, enables clarity.
  5. Am I whole-hearted about in every thing I do? being involved in mind, body and soul in whatever we are engaged in at that moment in time? The ability to give our whole and undivided attention to those that I care about.
  6. Can I go on a journey inside ? Ability to be silent and quiet in the frenetic lives that most of us lead. To be comfortable with the silence within you where there is serenity and nothing awkward or nothing to fight or argue about. A place where your mind is at rest and you are comfortable with the silence and the solitude and one that gives you clarity and peace.
  7. Am I Being in the now to me this does not mean forgetting the past. I look at it as using experiences in the past and leveraging on the strength that it has given me to deal with the now. We are what we are today as a result of our life experiences and we should take a leaf of every experience that has made us who we are today and leverage of it to deal with what life has to offer us.
  8. Am I planting a seed for my future  every moment is a choice and each of these choices paves the next moment and several such moments in our journey of life.
  9. Am I human ? In that I am grateful for what I have, gratuitous to others, realistically optimistic, not do unto others what I would not to self
  10. Am I courageous and willing to try? Belief in self and not have the inner critique and fears pull me down.

Various studies and research have shown that mindfulness meditation significantly improves the effects on brain and immune function. It has positive effects on physical health, emotional control, sleep control, coping styles, anxiety and concentration.

Research and studies have also shown that we’re often happiest when we’re lost in “The Moment”. The more we allow our mind to wander and control us the more lost we are and chances of being less happy.

There is always peace and serenity within us and it is only a matter of finding it in our solace.

References

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10 Hurdles To Emotional Learning

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity ~ Dale Carnegie

When I say Emotions, you almost immediately associate ‘Anger’ and ‘Sad’ as the synonyms.  Emotion is the mental state and this could be positive or negative.

There are seven major positive emotions : desire, faith, sex, enthusiasm, hope, love, romance.  And the seven major negative emotions are : anger, fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition.

Our brains harbor a lot of emotions and it is the negative emotions that is worrying.  The amygdala  is most commonly associated with fear and anxiety.  Each of us have a chronic or habitual emotional level that determines the overall well-being or satisfaction.  If a threat is perceived,  the amygdala tends to hijack the reasoned response process.  We have certain triggers-things that cause us to have an emotional reaction and elicit our innate ‘fight of flight’ response.  This limits our capacity to think clearly and causes us to move to default behaviors that may not be skillful or effective.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the cognitive ability involving traits and social skills that facilitate interpersonal behavior.  The four main components of EI are : Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Management.

Our emotional level, thus is the manifested frequency level of everything and anything that is real (perceivable) to us in our world and actual life’s experiences.

Have you wondered as to Why are these negative emotions triggered?

1. Change  results in discomfort and stress – a lot of us expect life to be easy and when challenges and hurdles come along, it overwhelms us and may cause negative reactions.

2. Human Being rather than Human Doing - we forget many times that what really matters in each of our lives is what we are, what we build and what we share.  Living life with a passion and being your true self is the most important.

3. Relationships – many times we tend to chase people though they may have shown no interest in building and maintaining relationships. In our busy lives we ever so often forget to make time for those who matter the most.  We allow our pride and ego to be the mainstay of relationships and taking those, who have been with us through thick and thin,  for granted.  This leads to disappointments and triggers a lot of negative emotions.

4. Allowing our mind to control us – life is not perfect and sometimes we allow a bad moment, or a bad day to take control of our state of mind and the reactions to other unrelated events of the day.

5. Help – not asking for help when you need it desperately.  Each of us need help and cannot survive in isolation.

6. Know when to walk away and when not to give up - many times we hold onto things without asking ourselves the utility value in the same.

7. Surrounding ourselves with people who make us unhappy and drain our energy out – ignore those who hassle you, stalk you, embarrass you and step beyond the boundaries of decent behavior on social media and in real life.

8. Not being accountable & responsible - not walking the talk which leads to distrust and guilt. We loose our identity by not learning to say,  ‘No’ resulting in over committing and under delivery.

9. Not taking a break- many of us get into the rigmarole of  doing too much without pausing. In that we live without enjoying the simple pleasures that life has to offer. We are stressed out, irritable and a vicious circle ensues.

10. Focusing on past – allowing our past to continue to dominate us to such an extent that we become victims of it.  We focus on the negatives, loosing ourselves in the problem.  More often than not,  we repeatedly point to our unhappy circumstances to rationalize our negative feelings. This is the easy way out. It takes, after all, very little effort to feel victimized.   But the negative thinking and behavior hurts only one person the most and that is “You”.

So how do we deal with our Emotions especially those that trigger a negative response.

Adaptability is all about recovering from the anxiety  & adversity that change initially brings & then having the flexibility to move ahead vigorously.

I find that one way to practice this idea is to write or think about a good experience. Not only does this remind me that there’s life beyond bad feelings, but it also serves as an emotional anchor.   I find my memory can become a positive emotional reference point, to remind me of the range of possibilities when I am at my worst feeling down and out.

Refer my post on Twelve Ways to Inspire Yourself When You Are Feeling Down and Out

The role emotions play in shaping thinking accounts for a large part of why we see a failure of good thinking in most leaders.  You are free to choose behaviors that are truly in your own best interests.

We all have so much to give. We just need to consciously choose to access and share it.  When we give good vibes, good thoughts,  and a smile, we generally get it back.  Recognizing emotions is the basis of self-knowledge and interaction. An emotion comes up to the conscious level when we are ready to manage it.  I like to think emotions as colors, some simple, and yet others are blends.

Emotional memory management enables us to manage our emotions in a way that will produce more positive outcomes.  It is the “habits of mind” that reveal intellectual character.  Please watch my video on “Emotional Blindspots‘.

The 3 core development steps for all Leaders are:  Knowing Yourself, Choosing Yourself and Giving Yourself.  What do you think ?

Daring To Live On The Edge

I love anything that is daring and adventurous. Some of my crazy adventures in the past have been Sky Diving, Bungee Jumping, jumping off a cliff into the water without knowing swimming, crazy roller coaster rides….

I love hiking and between October-March every year I go for treks every Saturday and Sunday, since the weather is perfect where I live. My love for hiking are many and I had mentioned these in one of my earlier blog posts Re: “Top 5 reasons to Hike

I have always disliked going downhill (just like in real life ;) ) and although I have improved remarkably over the years in terms of taking that right step while treading downhill, my mind treads the path downhill with apprehension. Most of this has risen from my innumerable falls and accidents therefrom, on the downhill.

Last Sunday, I decided to hike up Sharp Peak on my own.
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I have hiked up Sharp Peak twice before but along with friends. I enjoy treks with a group of friends but not sure why this time, I decided to enjoy my solitude and hike up this peak on my own. The weather was on the hot side, 28-30 C.

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The hiking route has several patches of rocks and stones and it is a steep path with no railings to hold. It is challenging but a true enjoyment for a hiker and once you reach the top you are treated to some spectacular scenic views of nature. I would say the scenic view in itself is worth the effort.

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Going down Sharp Peak can get tricky especially because of the uneven path filled with sharp rocks and stones. I suffer from a bad back and I am still recovering from a shoulder surgery which I underwent 10 weeks back. However, I have not allowed any of my personal mishaps to deter me from living life with hope and enthusiasm.

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I have always taken the help of a friend’s hand whilst going down a difficult hill but this time it was different. I decided to overcome that apprehension and the fear, let’s say I decided to “Move That Stone” in my own mind and I achieved it. The best part was I did not fall and although I was sun-burnt I did not meet with any accidents.

So what was different this time – I started off with apprehension but I guess I found my feet and I was in the Zone. To me, zone is emotional and it is about making that connection. I felt a flow of focus and concentration take over me and what I saw were the rocks in front of me and the path I should choose to make my way down.

I felt at peace and exhilarated when I reached the bottom of the hill.

What Did I Learn

In hindsight, all I can say is being conscious of my fear I used it thoughtfully and purposefully and I harnessed my fear correctly.

Each of us is the only one who can come to terms with our fear. Fear can be our biggest friend or enemy. The choice is ours to make.

It is not the doubt and uncertainty that cripples one but It’s the actions one takes or fails to take that determines how we overcome that emotion. What one thinks and does has the biggest influence on our results.

….And I am returning to the drawing board this Sun which will possibly me the last of my big treks till the onset of fall and winter.

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Images : Lalita Raman