Friday, March 27, 2009

Surviving or Thriving...

Doubt is a funny thing..its creeps up on us slowly...sort of a tiny voice that's in the background and it waits around for the right moment and then it rears its ugly head.

My doubt has been about writing, this voice keeps at me, asking me why anyone would want to read what I write...and here's the classic one.... what if i run of things to say?? ...what if I get a block?

Most times I push my doubts into some corner of my mind or try to ignore it and carry on. But its still there and sometimes I think what you resist will persist...meaning the more I try to push it away, the more frequent or stronger the thought. I can choose to prove it wrong by writing something I am pleased with and then when I get one of those doubts, I can discredit it with the fact that I wrote a good piece that day. I can look at the history and see what I have done and talk myself out of the doubt with past evidence. I can visualise a good outcome that I want to shift my thinking to instead of negative thinking. I know, that when I entertain a doubt i am actually feeding it with my that be used to create what I want instead of what I don't want.

But at times when the doubt keeps coming back or if it turns to fear...I find myself making a decision to face it and really see what this is about. In other words, I say to myself " Ok, show me everything, lets take this doubt and ride with it" Doubts are always around "failures " ... "what if you cant do this? what if you fail, what makes you think you can do this? who do you think you are anyway to do this? what makes you think others want to read this stuff? what if you are just deluding yourself".... see what I mean?

OK , so what if I have nothing to write and I never ever write again.... what will happen...?? NOTHING!!!...absolutely nothing. I will mope for a few days and get over it and my life will still go on as it is, I am still the wandering dog... I am still me.

I am not sure if its true for everyone , but I find that my doubts are in third party language ...they are not my sentences...they sound like if someone is speaking to me with words like "you" or "it" but not "I" . This tells me that I don't own them yet or perhaps they are words that someone else may have said to me when I was growing up. Well meant , probably stemmed from caring but coming from the angle of " what if you fail" Doubts feed on us and become fears. Fear as someone put it is False Evidence Appearing Real" , paralyses and stops us from doing what want to do.

When I was in my 20's I remember fainting because I had an allergic reaction to some medication. When I fell, I hurt my spine. I was rushed to teh hospital and I could not move, to do an X-ray, they had to move me with the sheets that i was lying on. I had tears sreaming down my face because i was afraid. The thoughts running through my head at that time was that I was too young and "what if I was paralysed for life?" I had to wait for my the results and I remember lying there in my hospital bed thinking " if they tell me that I am paralysed , I will kill myself" This was my first thought that I would rather die than be in a situation where I had to depend on others. I then decided to really think about what would happen if I was paralysed. I remember saying to myself that if people who were born with no arms and limbs can hold a brush in their mouth and paint /do match stick carving ..."I am sure I will find a way to do something useful, I will live and do a good job of it no matter what my condition"

The results came shortly after and I was told that I was badly bruised and that it would take time to heal but I was fine. This was a turning point for me. I decided that day that I was just not going to survive, i was going to thrive in any situation. So these days when doubt creeps into my mind, I look at it square in the eye and say " so what? I will still be fine, no matter where life takes me"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Choosing to dance in the rain....

In a few days, I will be a travelling dog. But before I leave, I have to get my head into that travelling space. When you travel often, you see all sorts of behaviours and people at airports.

Me .. i just chill and get into an auto pilot mode. Its one of those times where I don't push and pull against life.. I just go with the flow and let everything wash over me.

I see people getting really angry at airports and complaining about about how stupid the system is, that they cant take a bottle of water in the plane. Sometimes, I have friends who don't travel that much who complain endlessly about how they were treated at an airport. I have seen people shouting and getting really angry at airport security people saying things like" do i look like a terrorist? " " why are you being so difficult." Some airport security people deserve what they get but most are just doing their job to try and make this mode of travel safer for all of us.

Because I am in a "chill mode" I just watch everything like a drama or TV show without getting involved but sometimes I can see myself in some of those angry people. It may not happen at airports but every now and then , something may push me over and I get irritable. I don't have to jump up and down , waving my fists in the air, sometimes it just the tone or the way I snap back at someone. Yesterday, was one of those days. I wasn't sure why I was running out of patience but it felt like if everyone was out to irritate me. I remember saying to my assistant " I am a bit irritable today but I am not sure why"

She said the same thing to me a few days ago , that she felt down but didn't know why. I think of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar when I question my state/mood. In his book Guru of Joy, he says that we never ask the "why" question when we are happy.... ( have you ever asked yourself "why am I happy?" ...when you are joyful) We tend to ask "why" only when things don't go our way....why did this happen to me? That's an interesting thought.
Children start out by asking "what" questions when they first start talking ..."what this... what that?" and then slowly they learn why and then it never stops ... I remember conversations with my children that drove me nuts as we would end up going in circles with why , why and why. And I suspect, there is no end when you ask why can keep going and still not find a final answer. Maybe if we spent less time on why and focused on what we need to do, it might save us alot of time , for eg. "I am upset... what do I want to do about it" It brings the conversation to a totally new direction and I think it also lifts us from getting sucked into a dark abyss.

When I gave birth to my daughter, i was told about post natal blues. I quickly said " that does not happen to me. " But it did ...just for a bit. I recognised the emotion I was feeling, and that, in itself taught me a lesson, not to be so arrogant, to think that I can control everything with my mind. I thought of other women in the world and quickly realised that there were women in some parts of the world who had to give birth in the morning and go back to work in the fields in the afternoon. My gynecologist said she gave birth in the morning and was back at work with her patients in the afternoon. I recognised that if I had no choice, I would also pick myself up and do what i need to. I thought , maybe this was a physiological thing, that I needed some nutrients. So I took some vitamin B and evening primrose and everything stopped and I felt better.
Without knowing at that point, I must have asked the "what question" "what am I going to do about this?" and the answer came to me.

Its not always that easy, the more we struggle with something, the bigger the lesson and the more elusive the answer. Or maybe its about being that " just chill person" the observer without getting drawn in emotionally that helps us find the answer. I feel that the reason we get irritable or upset is because underneath the why question sits judgement...why is this person doing this, why does he think that of me... most times we wont ever know unless we are clairvoyants, and even then it gets coloured with our own filters about what the world should be.

Life is too short for wasting on pettiness. We have so much to do and experience before we die. If it rains, instead of complaining about it...go dance in the rain and jump on puddles. Its good fun try it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Confused Dog!

Today, a stranger approached me and started talking to me. He claimed to be a fortune teller and he said that I was going to have some pleasant surprises , there will be some change ahead ... I smiled and I said , I doesn't take much to know that there will be change , that's the only thing that is guaranteed to happen...Change!!!

Most people resist change, we don't actively go out and embrace change. This is because it disrupts our routines and causes confusion. A friend taught me that " confusion is a sign that you are learning something new" and yet we don't like that feeling of confusion can be overwhelming and gives us a feeling of being out of control. When I learnt this from my friend, it changed my perspective of confusion, I still don't like the feeling because of the way we have been programmed to think from childhood but i can recognise it and go """mmmm...that's interesting" or " hurray I am learning something new at last"

How many times a day do we get confused ? ...hardly if any .... what does it tell us about how much we are learning?? I think that the precursor to confusion is change. So the game shifts, we resist, we get confused and then we work through this change. Sometimes we go around in circles before we actually arrive at a place where we feel that we are back in control again.... a place we are not learning again. Looking at it another way, we go through a period of incompetence before we feel competent especially when we do something new. When we go through this time of incompetence , we hate it , we resist it , we say that we don't like the loss of control but its also because we have been taught to believe that its a sign of weakness or stupidity to be unsure of what we are doing.

Those in leadership positions need to surround themselves with smart thinkers...people who are better than themselves. This way they can be sure of getting good advice when they make decisions. But this means being comfortable with feeling incompetent and feeling out of control. I had to learn to give up any chance of control when I ran a technology company. I was working with young people who were more talented and skilled than I was, in their fields of expertise. I learnt very quickly that i didn't have to know everything, in fact it was good that I didn't because I offered an "out of the box" perspective as the "weirdo on the fringe" . For me , this is invaluable because it allows me to spot things that others cant see and often within this lies unique opportunities.

We know the future will change and one of the things I have had to learn is. to not go too far ahead of my team with my vision, sometimes I need to pace the rate at which my team copes with change as its a scary proposition for most people to make big changes. Change for the sake of change is not useful , it needs to be relevant. But I also don't want to be at the other end of the spectrum by not participating in life because of the fear of change and life go by from the sidelines. I have learnt from a young age that " either you catch life by the collar or life will catch you by the collar " ...that usually happens when you are least prepared for the change. We may get a litte tap on the shoulder or a nudge and if we still don't respond, something big happens to make us sit up and take stock. Reminds me of the time i met in a car accident. I was travelling so much and even though I knew that my car needed to be serviced , i didn't bother. One day, on my way to a radio interview, my car skidded when I tried to stop at a traffic light. I remember the moment when my car started to skid, I thought to myself" this is not happening to me". I skidded off the road, hit a traffic light and power box and my car ended up in huge drain. I nearly hit a pedestrian , who had to jump into the drain to avoid the car. My car was totally wrecked and although I only suffered a slight bump on the head, I remember the pedestrian telling me that he was inches away from his death. That really shook me up.... the thought that i nearly killed someone. I remember thinking to myself that night about what happened and trying to describe what had happened. The first words that came to my mind was " runaway car" and then I realised that my life at that time was like an out of control car and that I needed to stop and take stock. When I sat down to think about it , that night , i remembered all the little taps and nudges I received and how I chose to ignore them. The car accident was just a catalyst to make me stop the frenzy in my life at that time, it was an external manifestation of my internal world.

Instead of taking each incident that happens as something unconnected to the rest , I now try to see the bigger picture and usually a pattern emerges. This helps me to direct the change I want to incorporate into my life.

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson : Everything in the universe goes by by indirection, there are no straight lines"

Electric Dog...

Have you ever noticed that, there are times when you do something and everything just clicks in place and then there are other times when you put so much energy into it and it just fails miserably?

I think there are three parts to anything we want to do - body , mind and spirit. First there is the doing and we need our physical form or body to help us do that, then there is the believing - knowing that you can do it (mind) and the third part is the 'being' - enjoying the moment and involving your spirit in the whole process. This brings us into alignment with whatever it is that we are working on.

I understand this on an intellectual and emotional level but sometimes I forget to involve my whole being and instead I make it into a physical or a mind exercise without involving my spirit, These are times when I 'fail'. But do i really fail or is it a way to connect to my spirit? notice what happens when we fail, we get pissed off and then we start getting philosophical and turning it to a higher power, our spirit or something bigger than us. Maybe we are "wired" that way .....that whenever we go out of alignment with any one of these three parts of ourselves, we need to go back and find our spirit or our higher self?

When I was 16 years old , I decided that i wanted to take art as a subject in my final exams. I had to see my school principal to convince her that i could do it as it was not normal to change subjects at the last minute. My principal told to me that people study art for many years and still did not pass, she wanted to know ,what made me confident that I could do it. At that time when I gave her my reply, I had no idea what art was and if only she had looked at my art grades or talked to any of my art teachers, she wouldn't have agreed. But she did and I started out setting myself a challenge to learn art and excel at it. I remember asking someone to teach me. So i had two parts of me engaged - the doing part- because I was learning the actual process of painting and my mind because I believed I could do it. Pretty soon, I started enjoying the process, at this point I moved from 'doing' to 'being'. I have never looked back since then... everything started falling in place. Its like being the the 'zone' -when you exercise you get into a rhythm where you become complete, you lose track of time and you sometimes don't even feel your body anymore. Ever had that? Many athletes speak about this. Some people say that its because the endorphins kick in. Whatever the reason, when you are in the 'zone' - you almost float!

I think the secret to succeeding at what we do, lies in alignment. Alignment to self, alignment to one's purpose and alignment to a higher purpose or something bigger than the individual.

For eg. if I wanted to start a business, it needs to tie in with my values and not only serve me but also serve the higher good of others around me.

This is easy to see to from a business context , just like the 'x' factor in people, some businesses are thrive in any market condition, they have the 'x' factor. A close look at them will clearly show this type alignment at a company level. These are business that serve the individuals in it, the company/ its goals and community at large. They make room to allow people to be individuals and yet they are able to harness their individuality to build teams who then make up the company which then serves community. Representing the mind are the people within the company, the body is represented by the company itself which gives it form and structure and the spirit is represented by the purpose of the company. This can be sliced and diced in so many ways but it all leads back to alignment.

When people , businesses and community are in alignment , we achieve great success.

Business Leaders need to be aware of this and live it. Their very presence needs to inspiring so that other people aspire to be like them. This can only happen if they are alignment. When someone is aligned to their purpose, they act like a magnet that just draws everything that supports their purpose to them. It takes a bit of effort-I know that I tend to go off on my 'adventures' , get distracted and sometimes disenchanted. These are times when I need to stop and go within and find my core again. When I do, I emerge strong and solidly grounded to what I am here to do. Suddenly all problems fall to the way side and obstacles that seemed big become minor distractions. I become a powerful being ready to face the world again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The wandering dog salutes Earth Guardians..happy birthday..

Hip Hip Hurray to the three people I know who are born on the 24th . I have been told that anyone whose birth date adds up to a 6 is a champion of people. They have big hearts and go out of their way to look after the people they love. My friend refers to this group of people as 'Earth Guardians"

To my My best friend - who would do anything for me, who came to see me in another country with a broken ankle so that she could give me morale support through challenges I faced at that time. ...I have learnt courage and tenacity from you. You are a true warrior and you display integrity and compassion at the same time. and your laughter.... is infectious.

To my Best boss - for believing in me and trusting me to carve out the vision and strategy for a new business direction. Most of all for giving me space to be me. I have learnt to come into my own power and stand up for what i want. You remind me of a lion, just watching the world go by and every now and then something catches your attention, and you light up and go for it. I enjoy the almost 'child like' curiosity you display when you find something that interests you.

My best partner in crime - for being there for me when my dad passed away, for being so open to learning about new cultures.... You have this way of making me laugh in the middle of a "serious" discussion and by watching you ,I have learnt how to be a real friend. There is something Regal about you. You hold your place and have taught me to rise above the occasion.

So what if three people share the same birthday? - Some may say that its a coincidence... I don't think so ... I think people come into our lives to serve a purpose and we are in their lives for a reason too. We have something to learn from each other and when we have learnt all we need to , we move on. I have a saying that summarises relationships in my life " Life is good with you and life is good without you" On the surface, it sounds like if I don't care whether people come or go in my life. This is not what I am saying. Its about an attitude to relationships, one where I like to give space to the people I care about so that they are in my life by choice and not because they have to. It also reminds me about the impermanence of relationships so that i don't take the relationships I value, for granted.

We need more " Earth Guardians" in our lives because they help us lift from the everyday "grime" and make us extend ourselves for them but in the process we gain as much. After all , when we look back at our lives, all we will remember are good times we had with friends and loved ones and the times when someone reached out to touch our hearts.

I have a unique perspective when i see my three earth guardians- I have a view that the rest cant see. I wonder why I have three earth guardians in my life today and it makes me smile ...maybe that's just the way its meant to be.

Happy Birthday to my Earth Guardians... keep doing what you do, thank you touching my heart.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Celebrating Friendships

I have been thinking about friendships and how people come into our lives. Every now and then, you meet someone who feels like if you have met them before, like they are a piece of a puzzle that just clicks in place. Friendships are bonds we build and I haven't been that good at keeping in contact with all my friends. I am a lazy friend and if someone makes the effort to stay in touch with me, I am 100% there, otherwise I am the 'wandering dog out exploring". My close friends - are those who have managed to track me down and stay in touch with me regularly. I have read that " friends are family we are not born with" This is how I see my friends and in a "twisted" way, I think that if they are my family then they are part of my life forever...meaning...I dont really have to stay in touch and do all the 'social ' bits like having to reassure them that I am still their friend.This only works if all my friends think like me... what a silly expectation to have of others! I did when I was younger and sometimes even felt a bit hurt that someone would think that I am not interested in their friendship just because I dont stay in touch.

Friendship is one area in our lives where we have a lot of expectation. Whenever I hear the word expectation, I think of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's words " Expectations Reduce Joy" We expect our friends to do and not do certain things. When I think of " expectations reduce joy" in a friendship context , it helps me realise that each person is an individual on their own path and that I have no right to impose my expectations on them . That if I expect them to do or be something and if they dont, then it reduces my joy in life. Instead if I let them be, it makes the relationship more enjoyable. This also applies to what they do in their lives, at times we all do things that others dont approve, but in real friendship, its possible to love someone , tell them what you think and still love them through that 'learning period' in their life. ( and it is my believe that friendship is the foundation of every relationship including family members).

I have a girlfriend who stood her ground with me with regard to a major decision I was making in my life, she cried and said that she thought i was making a mistake and yet she let me do it and stayed connected to me to watch over me now and then. It took me 10 years to see what she was talking about at that time, she never brought it up again during the 10 years, she just stood in the background and supported me every now and then, when I needed her support.

This is the other thing that really touches my heart about friendships, the way friends rise to the occasion, do what they need to and then slip into the background again. No pomp, no bells, no glory, just being a silent supporter. I like being that kind of friend, even when I am off on one of my "wandering dog adventures" my heart is connected to my friends family and I make it a point to be there when a friend needs me...I haven't done that consistently in the past but its something I am making an effort to do these days.

And then there are other angels who just come into our lives and slip away, total strangers, like the old man who held my hand and pulled me out of a car accident, I still remember his words "I am here, dont worry, hold my hand and just come out" before I could even thank him, he was gone. or the guy who gave me a CD at the car park for no reason and when i played the CD, it made me laugh all the way to work.

In my world there are two types of friends , those who stay through time with me and those who come for a while and leave. But they are all family in some some way, a part of my life. I think the Indonesians have this worked out. In their country, someone older is called 'pak' (father) or 'ibu' (mother) and everyone else is either a brother or sister... imagine a whole country having that type of an attitude - everyone is family.

I read have read that what we see in another , it is a reflection of us because we cant possibly see it in others unless it is within us to recognise in the first place. And as I clean up my own thinking, I find that I see more goodness out there in the world. Maybe the quality of our friends and the quality of the day to day contact we have with other people is truly a reflection of our own inner thought process. Maybe all we do is bounce off each other and serve as "mirrors" to show the other people what they are doing. What is the main flavour of our thoughts today and what are we seeing in the people around us? ....And maybe the only work we have to do is clean up our own act to create a better life for ourselves and others in it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Laughing Dog

I read about a speaker who focuses on using humour to make change within organisations. In particular , his views are that laughter needs to filter through the organisation to help leaders connect with their teams.

The minister of Bhutan was talking about the same sort of thing when he talked about the Gross Happiness Index of their country, that he measured their success by how happy the people were.

Laughter and Tears are connected . Both evoke high emotions and pave the way for change. Ever noticed how you feel light headed after laughing alot and how sometimes we laugh till we get tears in our eyes. We also get the same sort of feeling after crying, some say that its the endorphins, our body's own morphine that get released.

I choose laughter over tears anytime (although sometimes we grow most in pain ... )
We take ourselves too seriously especially at work and it helps to ease up a little and laugh a bit. It builds bonds and bridges.

Somethings that made ( and still make) me laugh:

  • Having a water fight after work and coming back to the office to soak those who didn't want to play

  • Finding my office filled with balloon
  • Setting out a treasure map for hidden chocolates around the office

  • Kidnapping other people's toys and holding them ransom ( in a fun, light hearted way no meanness or cruelty to toys)

  • Themed parties

  • Playing hide and seek

  • Leaving notes on people's desk

  • Sending someone an anonymous card

  • Celebrating for any reason - birthdays, anniversaries, any kind of milestone

  • Sending messages to each other when we are stuck in really boring meetings and then trying not to look at that person /make eye contact so that you don't burst out laughing

  • Sending someone a cup of coffee or a cup cake

  • Sending surprise presents to people within the team with no card or sender information.

  • Taking over some one's office the minute they leave their office and pretending that its yours

  • Photocopying .... anything other than work

  • Plotting with others and pretending to see something that isn't really there

  • Playing follow the leader

  • Bringing in a card game or board game to play
Who says that adults cant play, they should...maybe this is why children are more creative, they don't have any qualms about playing a game or prank at any opportunity.

The people you work with won't remember the targets they achieved and their sales revenues after they retire, but they will remember the fun times they had and recollect them with their loved ones.

Making each moment count and making it memorable, is about "floating above the mundane and prickly parts of the day " by taking a step back to seeing the funny side of things and seeing the little child in each one each of us who wants to come out and play now and then.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

getting wings to fly....

Thinking about vocations... how we end up doing what we do?

Is it something that happens to us - something pre-determined or it is something we shape? Some people get to it with so much ease , others struggle with it, all their life. I sometimes watch people I know waste their life away because they are waiting for this one significant moment for everything to click into to place , for them to know what they are here to do.

Me ...I just do what is in front of me and I make it a point to do it well. That's how it all started for me and over the years it culminated into this body of knowledge and experience. Looking back, I can say that it was in a way something that happened and in other ways something I shaped. Maybe that's the secret- life plants a seed, we have to water it and look after it and let it bear fruit. I never had the luxury to actually stop and ask if what I was doing ,was my calling. I just did it to pay the bills but i made sure i did a good job of it. I think if one has the choice of being able to question their position, they are in a position of luxury. To question something is a mental excercise that requires one to take stock and review and that usually does not happen unless you are in a comfortable place where you can afford to take that kind of risk to make a change in your career. I am not saying that its not useful, sometimes people change course mid way in their careers to something totally different. I am talking about the 'doing' . To make something happen , we need to put physical action to thought in order fuel into fruition. My theory is that, this is sometimes where people fail. They get so caught up in ideals and they are not present enough in the moment to see the opportunities that lie ahead of them. Its a bit like the stories we hear about monks in training where they have to sweep the floor or do some other menial task like chopping wood or something. And that in the process of doing whatever they are asked to do in the moment fully and completely, they attain enlightenment. I heard a saying once in a workshop I attended, it went something like this : Give 100% , then Give UP ... give the situation up to God/ Universe /your higher self. To do my best and then to surrender to a higher cause fits for me. Its not really about prayer or religion -Its about our own personal journey -when we can lift ourselves to a higher vibration or purpose, we get wings to fly/excel in what we do.

In watching my own career, I know that when i lifted to do a more altruistic mission that involved serving others that my own career took off.... not just chasing money. We all need money and we all have to pay the bills and thats ok as long as that does not become the main focus. I think this is what its about doing /giving our 100% and then giving it up to a higher path /purpose....and keeping that purpose in mind ...keeping it alive.

I can almost feel those moments when i was in sync with my own higher purpose, during those times I was 'floating' ...nothing can discourage me...I had 'wings' to rise above the day to day grind.

I read about a young man who took his life because he found his work very disappointing and he felt imprisoned by it. Reading his views on life, I realised that what he lacked in his life was a higher purpose and this is why he drove himself to his own death. The higher purpose does not have to be religious or spiritual in nature , although some people need this type of grounding...but it needs to serve humanity and we need to be grateful and thankful for the opportunity to serve humanity in anything we do , no matter how small. If your vocation is just a means to an end, then its not really a vocation , its just a job to pay the bills.This I believe is what makes some people stand out and "shine" over others. This is what separates us from ordinary to brilliant.

Monday, March 16, 2009

..." Me Time"...

We like it when we get a special treat. We like the pampering and the fact that it makes us feel special. Some of us are givers, we get a buzz from giving and others like receiving. I am not sure if its the same with everyone, I enjoy watching some one's face light up when they receive a present.

Last Christmas, my kids and I decided that we weren't going to give each other presents. We were in Australia and we chose gift cards from the Rotary Club tree and bought about ten presents for the needy. There was an 81 year old who wanted some lipstick and chocolate, a 90 year old man who wanted toiletries, a 10 year old who wanted a beach towel...etc. We had fun buying these anonymous presents and wrapping them up. My kids did most of the "run around" in the shopping centre and they took all the presents to the kiosk before we left Australia. In this case we never saw the faces of the people who received them but we made sure that they will be happy by taking special care to buy things that we would like. I think if you give someone a present , its got to be something that you would give yourself/ a loved one, why bother otherwise?

Speaking of giving ourselves presents, this is one thing that I am not good at, I find that I end up giving so much of myself to others, being a mother, an employer, a daughter, a friend ...that I sometimes forget to look after me. If someone were to ask me what i want, I always say "nothing" - this is true because I don't really need "any-thing". I am blessed and I have more than enough in my life. I think its because I want my presents to be meaningful. Its about what i feel when I receive it. I hate those "token' presents where someone feels they have to give you something and there is no "heart " in it, then it becomes just a "thing" I asked my previous assistant once to send someone a bottle of wine.I chose the wine and in my mind I had imagined a nicely presented bottle of wine. She was going to just send it in bubble wrap in a plastic bag. She felt that the receiver was going to unwrap it anyway and that presentation did not matter but it does... we don't have to be wasteful with the wrapping of presents but for me its needs to be presented well because it represents the thought behind the present and if someone has put some thought behind getting another a present, then it shows.

But even better than presents , I prefer 'experiences" - I remember one birthday, my long time friend and business partner insisted that he wanted to give me a present. I asked him to come to my house at night after dinner, with his children and wife, and I also asked to them bring some nice fruit with them. When he arrived, we laid out a blanket on the grass in the garden. The night before, I had noticed the full moon and i was thinking to myself that it would be nice to spend sometime outside in the moonlight...and this is what we did, we had a picnic under the moon, eating fruit and oh yes...howling at the moon...that's what dogs do...i even have pictures of us howling at the moon. We had a really good least I did! ( I think the others thought that i was a little strange)

We remember the special moments more than the actual present in itself. Maybe its because we remember being present in the moment. This is something we rarely do, our thoughts drift from the past , to the future and even when we drive, cook, take a shower...we are on auto pilot and our thoughts are elsewhere. Ever wondered how you got to a place ..after you get there... sometimes it seems like the time just passes us by. This is why when we do something that takes us into the moment, we remember it for years to come.

I think this is especially true for children, because what they will remember are the special moments. I try to mark out each occasion and make it different so that they can remember it for eg..I always make "valentines day special for them ...why cant kids celebrate valentines day, who says its for sweethearts alone? One time,I set a table outside for both my children , put flowers on the table, prepared a special menu, created menu cards and pretended I was the waiter so they could feel like they were in a special restaurant. Sometimes , I would leave love notes for them when they woke up or have a string of hearts or flowers leading up to their presents.

I remember another time when I had to have my tooth extracted and I told my children before i went to bed that I expected the tooth fairy to arrive and take my tooth away, then i put it under my pillow and went to sleep. ( I was 49 years old then!!!) when i woke up in the morning, I found some coins under my pillow, a trail of flowers leading up to my bed. Nice..very nice!!

This is what we take with us when we die -memories - times we had with people we love. I am learning that giving to myself is as important as giving to others . Giving is a two way street and has two sides to it, its about giving to others and ourselves and it is also not always giving but also about being gracious enough to receive and giving others a chance to give us their gift. I find that when i make time to do some of the things that makes my soul happy like painting, reading, walking, cooking and hosting parties at my home, and now..blogging ( which is really writing) - I give myself a gift - quiet time for me to hear my thoughts ( except when i host a party, although when i cook, I am lost in my own world). I know this time is good for me. Its a balancing act, to find that mid point between giving of myself to others and giving to myself. I do this in micro movements like Sark says in her books. I do small things for myself, making that one hour to walk on my treadmill ,for example. I was reading a book called "bursting with energy" and in his book, Frank Shallenberger talks about the 5/10 rule. He says just start the exercise, just for 5 mins and if you don't feel good and want to stop after 5 mins - stop or do the same for 10 mins and stop if you don't feel good. He says that most times, we wont stop. He is right, its in the starting to do something that is sometimes difficult , as the rest looks after itself. Its about " me time" - about presenting myself to me and being present in the moment. Maybe that's why Deepak Chopra's had this ancient quote in his book:

"The past is history, the future is a mystery and the present is a gift." For me to share my gift to the world, I need to give myself the "gift of me" first.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Letting the People you love Fly <3

I gave someone I work with a card recently for her birthday and its essence was " Live loud" and be authentic and let your voice be heard.

We spend too much time trying to change someone from what they are to what we want them to be and we do this in the name of love. What gives us the right to say that we know better than someone else about what they are meant to be or do? And when we do that , where are we coming from ?... our own ego and our perception of what they should do ....or are we really looking at it from the other person's point of view- their place on this planet?

Its a difficult one, because its hard to be maintain that kind clarity in thinking on a consistent basis....but its something I work on and I try to be conscious of it and aspire to do more of it.

The best way to learn this lesson is when you become a parent, children have a way of thrusting the toughest lessons our way. Reminds me of a conversation I had with someone recently, where I said that things in life, especially when it relates to children are not so black and white and we wont really know if we are doing a good job of it by looking at the results piece meal. Whether someone succeeds or fails is a life long process, we wont know this as long as we are living. Besides even the words, success and failure in themselves are stuck to specific points in time, sometimes success leads to a failure and vice versa many times have we read about people who "failed" miserably who end being a fantastic "success"?

For me, this also applies to the people I work with. I hate it when they get judged by others as a success or failure. At work, we think we have all these "clever" models to put people in "boxes" and label them. I have seen many situations where someone is 'labelled' as not succeeding at something who then turns out to be a raving success or the other way around. I am not saying that we just let the people we manage grow like "wild flowers" and leave them alone. But there is a balance somewhere in there and as leaders we need to find it.

We need to be honest with them when we find that they are giving mixed signals and are not congruent with who they say they are ( when they are not authentic), we need to guide them when they are missing out a perspective or view point and are drawing the wrong conclusions. And most of all we need to facilitate their own learning so that they can navigate in the direction that they wish to head in.

Letting the people I love - fly is a recognition of the fact that each individual has to make their own mark on the world. When they do, I want to stand back and watch them with pride from afar hoping that one day, they too will help others find their own wings.

Hypocrite Dog!

My daughter once said to me when she was 4 years old, when I told her that she could not come to a party because it was for adults " we are not animals, we are people too, only smaller, we like parties too, why cant children come?"

And the answer " that's how things are" just wont work with her, her sense of right and wrong is very strong and she wont accept some lame answer. She was two and when someone reached out to give her a hug and kiss, she burst out into tears, when i asked her why, my daughter said " She didn't ask my permission"

Another time she was talking about how kids get carted around from one house to another when parents get divorced. Her solution, the kids should stay in the house and parents should take turns to move in and move out to be with the kids. She said " why should the children suffer when parents don't want to be with each other anymore" " why do they have to move from one house to another and have no place to call their own"

Some of her observations make me laugh but it also makes me think. One time she asked me if kids from broken homes could ever have a chance of finding a long term partner in their adult life considering that these kids haven't seen any kind intimacy because their parents don't have good relationships. This time when I laughed, she looked at me straight and said, "I am serious, tell me"

And just when I think she is all grown up, she will do something that reminds me that she is still a kid... (well... early teenager) ... like getting out the car with bare feet.

I believe that both my children keep me young, they challenge me and laugh at the things I say...making me realise how ridiculous I sound at times. They hold the mirror up to me because they expect me, as the adult to be congruent between what i say and what i do. And they are quick to point it out when I don't. My daughter suggested that I should write something about the hypocrite dog...ha..ha... because she feels that I don't follow some of the things I say, this is true at times... ( she says that if family is so important why am I blogging instead of spending time with her ). Maybe I write about things because it helps me clarify the messages I have to hear the most...makes sense to me. I also believe the people I work with and my friends are my family and my blog is a way of reaching out to my extended family, its my sanity piece.

When I talk about work and important meetings/conference calls, sometimes my children say "so what?" No matter what role I play at work, to them I am just their mum.

My daughter comes to my office almost everyday after school, even when I tell her not to. She leaves me alone to work but she doesn't understand why children cant come to the workplace to see their parents. In some ways, I agree with her, why is the work world so stuck up on titles and why do people find it strange to see a child at work with a parent? A colleague was telling me about how in some places in U.S they have pet friendly work places where people can bring their pets to work. He said it is believed that pets in the workplace help to create harmony in work environment. But pets cant talk and they don't have an opinion ( unless you understand dog talk! and some of us do) I don't need 360 evaluations when I have my children come to see me at work as they give me such blunt feedback on what I do/not do. And I value their perspective more than some consultant person because children are more honest and more connected with basic humanness than most of us as adults.
Work to me is a part of life and if its a part of life then, we need to see aspects of our life in the work place - our favourite things, paintings, family members dropping in and music. We talk about work life balance - we don't need to talk about that if we drew more of our life into the work place instead of compartmentalising everything and making the work place into a sterile, barren place that sucks the life out of us. I know that when one of my children come to my office to see me, they are find comfort in knowing where i am , even if they don't really talk to me much. In the same way, as a mother, I feel I can work longer and better if I knew they were somewhere safe around me.

Despite all the names they call me, its really heart warming and makes everything I do seem worthwhile when I sometimes hear them say ( just before they fall off to sleep) in their sleepy voice " Nite nite mummy, I love you , thank you for being my mummy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

catching love...

Someone I know, told me the other day "love like you have never been hurt before". I understand what the person meant ...its about loving without a care and being open to opportunities to love. But is there are right time to love. A close friend, shared his criteria with me, Right Time, Right Place and Right Person. He said that if all three don't fall in place then it may be a good time to practice some good judgement. Right Time - meaning if you are available and if the other person is also available and not attached to someone else. Right Place - meaning they have to be at least in the same time zone otherwise you are always having to play catch. Right Person - compatible but challenging enough.

I believe that there are times in our lives when we need to be with someone and times when we need to be alone. I am a big believer in the concept of creating a vacuum when there is too much "noise" and if i don't feel centered. This means i clear everything out to see whats left in order to set my priorities again. Sometimes it takes a day or two and sometimes it may take months. Its a scary thing to do for most of us especially when applied to relationships - its about being able to make an empty space to really listen to your heart. Most of us get uncomfortable with empty space, we rush out to fill it again quickly. Notice what you do when you throw out a piece of furniture, we fill that space up quite soon with other pieces. We do the same thing when we find ourselves alone, we pick up the phone and start calling someone, we start doing our e-mails, listening to music or we start reading a magazine or book....even in our thoughts and dreams we are never alone...we are thinking of what someone said to us or dreaming about things that happened during the day. When are we really alone?

I sometimes wonder how people make time or space for a partner in their lives when its already so full to the brim. The opposite polarity to all this is that fact that there has never been a time in history where we are more connected to other human beings than at this point in time. We get bombarded with friend requests from face book, linked in, instant messaging, sms's, skype...sometimes we even get the same person using a few modes of communication at the same time. I was travelling in U.S and we were in a bus being taken to another venue, when i turned around and saw my colleague , he was asleep but he was still holding on to his blackberry, reminded me of a child who falls asleep with his toy. He woke up to see me looking at him, I laughed and said that i do the same.

Are all these tools helping us connect with others or are they creating a buffer around us to protect us?... we no longer have to call someone to say " I am sorry, I cant make it to lunch", we can just send a message. In my parents' world, it was rude to make a phone call , we had to go personally to talk to to someone face to face. When i was growing up, if i said to my dad that i rang someone to tell them something, he would say "why didn't you go personally to tell them" These days when i ask someone to talk to another person, they send a message or e-mail. When i ask" did you talk to this person", they say yes and when I ask about their findings they usually say" i don't know yet, I am waiting for a reply"

I think our many tools for communication are similar to all the household gadgets we have, they are meant to save time for us but we are hardly there to use them because we too busy. We are absent from our lives and relationships. My daughter would say that this is true of me. We are caught in the "busy-ness" and the noise. I sometimes wonder if it because we are really busy or are we just afraid to connect with others at a deeper level because we are protecting ourselves in some way?

Loving like we have never been hurt implies that we are still holding on to the pain that goes with loving someone.How about loving like if its the last time to be with someone instead?Maybe if we did that more, we will have less politics in the work place, less relationship strives and misunderstandings. ... less extra marital affairs...i think the reason people have them is because they can do exactly this like if it is going to be the last time to be with someone because of all the uncertainty around such a relationship. Really, how would we respond if we knew that we never going to see a particular person again? would it color the way we saw them and how we dealt with them? Of course!

The truth of the matter is that life is a one time journey, it opens up windows at different points in our life to love fully and experience our hearts almost bursting with love. Catch love as it passes you and infuse it with your magic and send it along its way.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Being a STAR!

The toughest part of any manager's job is managing people, it can also be the most rewarding. Today was not one of those days where it was rewarding. It was about about pushing and pulling and helping the people I manage see that there is more to life than instant gratification. Its all about perspectives and how people get stuck in one view point, or get manipulated by others around them to believe that they are " the next best thing to sliced bread!"

The discussion stems around " I deserve more" " my package needs to be better" " I am better than ...." These people forget that there is a whole army around them that helped them succeed. When the "I " is bigger than the "we" its a problem because the very word company to me means more than one ( unless of course if you like your own company !) More than one also means doing what's right for the group versus the individual.

We see this behaviour in families, in social groups, in the work place and in schools. Its partly due the fault of the others around them who helped create this "Me Monster" and partly due to the limited view point of the individual who is vying for special treatment.

Every now and then, its good to take stock:

1. Who brought me here to where I am / saw my potential?
2. Who do I have to thank for this?
3. Have i shown any gratitude to this person? Is it enough? How would i thank this person if the situation was reversed?
4. Have i made this person proud of me/have i given this person any reason to regret giving me the opportunity he /she gave me?
5. Am I hogging all the 'limelight'?

An important lesson I learnt very early in life is to never forget where I came from no matter how successful I became. This I feel is very grounding and gives me a sense of perspective. It is also very know how life has rewarded me in such an unbelievable and magical way.
Knowing where we come from gives us roots that hold us steady while we soar high into our potential. This gives us a sense of self and serves as a reality check. Its a journey, and as with any journey there is starting point and an ending point but it's what we do in the middle that really sets us apart and makes the journey memorable.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

mirror ..mirror...

My sister and i watched a movie on TV when we were young and it was a story about a little boy who set out to prove himself and did it. Whenever, he had to do something difficult, he had this voice inside his head that said " You can do it Duffy Moon" From then on, if ever, I was struggling with something, my sister would send me a message or card that would say " You can do it Duffy Moon" and it makes me laugh but it helps to remind me of the movie and its a kind of anchor for me to remind me that someone else believes in me and that keeps me focused on what i want to achieve.

My dad was very interested in palmistry and he would always want to read our palms when we were young and he always said the same thing to me "you can be anything you want to be, even the Prime Minister or President because your palm shows that you are very clever, you will succeed in anything you do as long as you set your mind to it."

What an affirmation for a child to have.... And I have done some pretty amazing things and always at the back of my mind, I can hear his words. Can i do more ? sure! can I do anything i set my mind to ... sure! I remember one time in school I had a grade that put me in 2nd place in my class, I brought home my report card and he asked me why I didn't top the class, I remember saying to him that the person who topped the class was so clever and he asked me , does she has two eyes ...yes... two ears...yes... one nose ...yes .... a brain...yes ... whats different between you and her? He said that she wasn't smarter, I could do it if I wanted to.

Having someone believe in another person is so important because it spurs them along.It gives them that last ounce of energy to cross the finishing line, it did for me. Its also important to me because it represents something else, its about believing in humanity. I feel that every time we see potential in another being, we look beyond them to see what they can be. When we do this we don't just do it for that one single person, we do it for all humanity. If it is true that what we see in others is what they become esp. if they believe that of themselves , then we have alot of work ahead of us to clean up what we have created around us. As parents or business leaders we hold the power to shape other people's future and life at large. We can reaffirm the goodness in others and look for that in our day to day lives. How does it hurt us anyway to see someone's potential and to tell them that? Imagine if we had teachers in school who saw our potential, where would we be today? We always remember that one teacher who saw potential in us and made time to tell us that, I do.

We are quick to criticise another and spot what does not work. Sometimes this is useful as it helps someone see their blind spot. But what about helping someone see their "blindspot" as far as their potential is concerned? What if we make a choice today to see what works in the people we meet today and make it a point to tell them? When you want to light up a dark space even a small light/flame will do as it will illuminate that space. Similarly, if we look for what works and make it a point to mark it out and encourage it, we have the potential to propagate that and like a boomerang it comes back at us and helps us get to our own potential... neat huh?

one step at a time...

Even though I don't show it, I am sometimes a bit of a "worrier" on the inside. I worry about my kids, the people I work with ...all the people i love or care about.... my pet, other people's pets... the list goes on. I know that worrying stems from fear and I know that fear is a lack of confidence in life. Its not that I don't have confidence in life. I do, in fact , I think that life is BRILLIANT most times...and that's the catch..."most times". There's a song (forgot the name of the singer) but I remember the words " some days are diamonds and some days are stone"

When I get into one of those rare 'stone' days, these little worries that sit inside me , suddenly start taking centre stage and becoming really big. When I tell anyone this, they are surprised because they assume that my life is great and everything is perfect. I think the problem lies in wanting perfection or everything to be working all of the time. Whenever I get asked the question of how I balance my life, my reply is that I don't, its not always balanced... some days are great and some days aren't so great. This is the way it is for most of us, but sometimes we see snippets of someone else's life and we assume that this small part is reflective of their whole life.
Especially when we read about people and their lifestyle in the media. The media has a way of "glamorising" life's of celebrities and young people in particular fall prey to this and assume that if they had that kind of a lifestyle then life would be 'perfect'

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it makes us 'soft' because we don't embrace the challenges that come our way, it makes us resent the life we have and envy someone else's. The reason why someone is famous or has an interesting life is because of what they do with it and how they live it. When we compare, we stop living our life and start wanting or longing for something that sits outside of our life. This makes us not live in the moment. What we do in each moment is what determines whether we have a great life and if we are absent from our life because we spend our life longing for something or someone, the opportunity to be great passes us by.

Here is what I have learnt in my travels through life and it works:

1. When we want something , we stay in the 'wanting', we get what we want by doing
2. Be happy for someone else's success, jealousy and envy makes our vibration dense and stops us from lifting higher and opening up to our full potential
3. Be happy with what we have now, success attracts success
4. Visualising what we want in detail helps change our mindset to attract opportunities that are in line with what our visualisation
5. Accept the 'stone' days as opportunities to grow and accept that everyone has some kind of "cross to bear" meaning we all have challenges to work with , it could be a health challenge, relationship challenge, money challenge ...depends...if we look closely enough, everyone is working on some life theme or pattern.

We need to make everyday count, the fact that we wake up in the morning and can still see, hear, smell, taste, feel, walk in itself is quite fantastic. My dad lost his vision and hearing in his old age, which affected his mobility, watching him go through his life, made me aware of what a gift it is to just have these faculties working. Sometimes I would close my eyes and ears to try and get a feel of what his world was like. He wasn't always positive but there were days when he would hold my hand and tell me that he is happy because he has everything he wants in his life.
This is what i choose to remember of him.

The people around us get an experience of us by the way we live our lifes. We have choice in each moment to make it count for them and for us. Make today count, Sark in her books, talks about micromovements, small little movements that we can make towards our goals. This is what i do when life gets a bit overwhelming, (after i have scared myself with the big picture ...) I settle down to think of what micromovements i can make towards the life i want.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Can dogs see colours...?

I woke up today, thinking about our world view" - how we see the world...our perspectives.

There are a number of factors that influence this - our upbringing, education and training, our own experience , view points of authority figures etc etc. ....we don't really have that many original thoughts!

What gets us into trouble is when we think that our world view is the "correct one." I used to work closely with someone with strong finance skills and we always argued because he would look at something from a totally different perspective to mine. Most times we agreed to disagree and tolerated each other. We would also have judgements about each other, he would say that I was a "naive" and that I was too " optimistic" and that I was not being pragmatic. I would say that he was rigid and was looking at things only from a finance perspective, which was to me at that time , a narrow view of the world. ( actually I used to call him a "wet blanket.") This was until i read ,Edward De Bono's , Six thinking Hats, where he uses coloured hats to describe the way someone thinks.

I know I tend to wear green and yellow hats, I am always focusing on opportunity, growth as I tend to have an optimistic outlook most times, sometimes I wear a red hat because I am involved and quite passionate about things which also means that I can get quite irritable when someone does not see my view point. I used to dislike those who wore a black hat to ask the " what if it does not work " questions , i felt they were pouring cold water on my ideas. In a non-biased world without personal agenda, a leader needs to draw in people with various strengths to make sound decisions and appreciate inputs that are different to his/hers.
When we hold meetings, its interesting to see what coloured hats each person tends to wear and we can make the group thought process more robust by adding the hats that are missing.

Most people tend to work from their preferences and strengths. If someone could follow us around and record what we say , I am quite sure that we will repeat a thought /view we have many times to several people. I listen carefully to what people around me are saying about their world view especially when I interview someone for a job to work with me. I ask them " what kind of a world do you think this is" Sometimes I get answers like " you cannot trust anyone" "its a dog eat dog world" Its also interesting how someone "owns" a sentence, whilst others say it in third party language , when they don't own the sentence , it tells me that its either an idea that they are processing and have not internalised yet or perhaps its a mindset that they have inherited from a parent or grand parent.

I also believe that when i hire someone, I hire their great grand parents because some of the values and beliefs they bring with them to work are not theirs alone. I guess the question we need to ask is , if some of these beliefs are still relevant and how it supports our world view today. I used to work with someone who had quite an abrasive way of dealing with her team members, I could tell that she still cared about them but it just the way she learnt how to communicate with people around her. One day, I sat her down and asked her at what age she learnt to communicate the way she does and who she learnt that from, we spoke about how she would have needed to learn that as a "survival strategy" for the environment that she was in at that time. She realised on her own that she learnt these strategies when she was 12 and at the age of 28, she didn't need them anymore to survive as her environment had changed and that she needed to update her beliefs. If we don't update our beliefs, we become outdated and not relevant.

My world view ... well, its a dog's just joking .... its my playground and test bed for ideas...a perfect place for a wandering dog...well most times! Ever heard of the saying " Be realistic...Plan for a Miracle?"...this is true in my world, what I put out in terms of my thoughts or world view is what I get in return.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Birthday...the wandering dog salutes you!

I believe we are surrounded by angels and angels come in many forms. One of my angels come in the form of my sister, she is my best champion and I am very blessed indeed to have her always there, when i need her the most.

I think of the time, i first got my driving licence and my allotted car park was on the 5th floor of this huge office building. She would sit next to me and say" you are doing great, you are good driver"...even when I was stuck on a slope for three traffic light changes one time!!

When we were in school, she used to wait outside my class for my break to start so that she can have recess with me, we used to talk all the way to school and all the way home. When we got older, it was all the way to work each day because her work place was near mine. I cant remember what we spoke about but we always talked ..lots.
One time, when we were teenagers and I had a "curfew" to come home by midnight, of course I wasn't home in time and she turned back all the clocks in the house so that my parents wont know.
When I needed to move countries and make that difficult choice of packing up to come home, she was there to help me pack and lighten my load.

That does not mean we don't irritate each other, I am quite sure I wind her up quite often esp. with my sense of timing and my lack of tact. This whole idea of tolerating someone intrigues me because its different for different people. Some people save their best behaviour for others and are impossible to live with at home, whilst others put up with anything from those who are in their "inner circle" ( friends or family members) but wont tolerate much from others outside this circle. How do we make these distinctions? who's in and who's out?

My own personal way is to let people in and give them the trust from day one. This is because I believe that what i put out into the world in terms of expectations is what i will get in return. If I start out by trusting someone and giving them the benefit of doubt and practice generosity of spirit, then this is what I create in my world.
Others may disagree with this and I know a number of people around me who feel the need to be my " watch dog" because they are concerned that I might get hurt because of the way I open up to people.
I have worked with someone for many years and he believes that trust needs to be earned not given. I sit on the opposite side of that spectrum where i believe that trust needs to be given till someone abuses that trust. An outside observer to this relationship with my work colleague , pointed out to me that because we were both working so closely that we were actually "bouncing off" each other and that if i became more discerning, then this guy I work with, would become more trusting. The more trusting I was, the more distrusting he became because he was "protecting me" This turned the responsibility back to me because I was a co -creator of this experience and if I wanted the dynamic with him to change, I needed to change something about me. There is a quote that says " If I change, my world changes" Instead of "pushing, pulling and struggling with the people around us, we can look and see what trigger within us, they are responding to and what will happen if we changed it slightly. I can never sit at the opposite side of the spectrum of trust but I can and have moved slightly, to practice more care in the way I allow people to enter my world. And then there are others who have been a part of my world from a very early age, like my sister. And in some ways , she is my world. I am really proud and happy that my sister chose me as her cause to champion. That she chose to "watch"me at times from afar just to make sure that I am OK, giving me space to be the "wandering dog".
Here's to my sister, who has taught me the value of real friendship because she is my best friend first before she is my sister. Happy Birthday "AG", I love you lots.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stars for anyone who has sat an exam ..

When I was young, I never studied for exams... I might do a little work in advance but I would never look at my work the day before the exam, instead I would watch cartoons. This drove my family up the wall. But it was my way of dealing with the stress. At some level, i must have known that fear paralyses me and that if I got myself into a "fear based state", I wouldn't have been able to do my best.

I can only remember one time in my life when i got stressed out about an exam because I really , really wanted to do well. I was pursuing an adult education program and I remember going to the exam hall and looking around at all the people who seemed like they knew more than me.
I could not think, I was more worried about the others and at break, a friend came to see me( maybe he knew that I was going to lose the plot!) The minute I saw him, I burst into tears and I said , " I cant do this, all the others are so well prepared, I might as well just quit now, because I am going to fail" He looked at me and said " Since when, have you ever been afraid of failing, why are you thinking about it now, you are smarter than most people in that room, you are going back in that room and you are going to complete this exam and you are going to do well!"

I returned after lunch to complete the exams and I am glad I did because I did well. But what if I didn't?..... Examinations are based on one view at a specific point in time. Yes , it does influence what we do as a result of it but who says that this is a bad thing.

We set out in life saying that we want to do something , most times we do something totally different , life's like that. We don't ever fail, its our perspective and value judgements that make us do this to ourselves because we are stuck in one view point at a specific point in time. But if we look at the bigger scheme of things, maybe this is exactly what was meant to happen, maybe this will open the door to what we are really meant to do.

At 50, when I look back at life, I can see that every turn, every detour was helping me get to where I am today. There have been times when i thought that i have "failed" especially when my marriage ended. Louise Hay , in one of her books, says that relationships don't fail, they succeed, when you have learnt all you need to learn from each other , you have to move on. I really do believe that this is the case with life. Our view of success is very narrow and we dissect it into small pieces and look at it one piece at a time without looking at how it all fits in or looking at the whole. Reminds me of that story of a frog, sitting in a well and looking up and saying " all this sky is mine" - not knowing that there is a much bigger "sky" waiting outside.

We have to go through many "exams" in life and we wont know if we have "done well" because that's not for us to decide. You can only do your best in each moment and have the confidence in life that there is something bigger waiting for you out there. That you too will make your mark on this world and that most people who are successful in life are successful because they have "failed" many times. We cannot ever forget that and lose perspective of the bigger picture.

I was sent this quote yesterday by a friend :

What is the secret of SUCCESS....? "RIGHT DECISIONS" How do you make Right Decisions....? "EXPERIENCE". How do get Experience....? "WRONG DECISIONS" by Dr Abdul Kalam.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flying Dogs... of course!

Virtues - that's an interesting topic

When i think of virtues, it makes me think about qualities i like about me but also qualities I aspire to have.

Instead of thinking about just words to describe a virtue, in some cultures they choose an archetype /figure who is the embodiment of that virtue. This way when one thinks about that particular figure (alive or mythical), they automatically relate to the virtues that go with that archetype. This is why we have many mythological creatures like Pegasus, griffin or dragons in the stories we were told when we were young.

Aside from mythological creatures and archetypes, we have been taught from childhood that certain qualities resonate with specific animals, plants or people for eg. lions as courageous, an oak tree as strong or a dolphin as friendly. Looking at it another way, we have been taught from a very young age to " stereo type" people based on our first encounter with them. I believe that the more we do this , the more it becomes our reality. If we see someone as evil or difficult , then that person has to become that to fit into our reality but more than that we become stuck in one view point of that individual. Life is not flat with one dimension, it is multi-dimensional and dynamic. When we can acknowledge that we have changed over time, why cant we give others the same break?

Some people say that old dogs cant learn new tricks. I think that this is true if all things remain the same but if the playing field changes and if the change threatening in some way, even those who are fixed in their ways will find a way to change. We don't go out of our way to embrace change as human beings, we spend half our time, resisting change. I have a belief that "either you catch life by the collar or life will catch you by the collar"

The current recession is forcing many people to change their ways. We don't have a choice with this, if someone loses their job, they have no choice but to deal with it. How we deal with it is what will set us apart from ordinary to legend. We create our own stories as we go through life, we choose whether we want to be like some mythical character , strong, courageous and formidable. or let life beat us up.

Me - I want to be a Flying Dog, a Japanese mythical creature, a cross between a dog and a lion. They are found outside temples and buildings. The story goes that if they have their mouth open, they are there to scare away evil spirits and with their mouths closed - to keep the good spirits in. Reminds me of these two huge statues ( a bit like fierce armed warriors) that stand on either side of a hotel entrance in Asia. When I asked the hotel what they were, I was told that they were "Door Gods." I really like the concept of a "Door God. " I think a good leader is a bit like a "Door God", a guardian of an organisation, facing the external world and only letting whats good and useful to come in.

We need to choose our thoughts wisely as it has a way of turning back and becoming our reality. If we are in leadership positions, we also need to shape the thoughts of others consciously as group thinking is powerful and it shapes communities and economies. Now is the time to make that choice because the world needs it badly.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Relationships Matter

Someone I knew in 2001, showed up in my life again after all these years. I really connected with her at that time and yet I did not make the effort to keep that connection.

A good friend and ex-head hunter sent me some photos of a small luncheon he organised. It was on teacher's day with his old school teachers, mostly retired. My friend is 50. He told me that as he gets older he is more interested in giving back to people who have touched his live in some way.

I want to do that too and I often start out with the best intentions of wanting to reach out to people I know but somehow I get busy....
If I were to think of what my friend does that others don't, he actually follows up on his intention. The reason my friend was a successful head hunter was because he stayed in touch, he built a friendship with the people he dealt with and he genuinely cared about them. Its the caring that fuels the intention.

We cant say we care about someone and yet not make the effort to connect with them. Relationships give us reason to get up in the morning and get out into the world.

Relationships also matter because it provides us and those we are in a relationship with a feedback mechanism to improve ourselves especially those that challenge us. Most people tend to move towards others who are similar to themselves and move away from those who are different. But who can we learn more from?

A good friend, Gary Yardley , taught me that I have more to learn from my prejudices than my preferences.

Today, I will energise my intention with action and reach out to people i have meaning to contact. I will also really push my boundaries to find common ground with people who are different from me

.......whats the use of being a pet dog when you can be a wandering dog!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

when a dog's had enough!!!

Yesterday's lunch time talk and discussion naturally went to different types of pet behaviours.

This reminds me of a dog I used to have that was so "proud." If I were to give her food by just leaving the plate of food and walking away, the food would still remain there till the end of the day. One time I gave my dog a shower and then walked away absent-mindedly, and when i got back to that part of the house about an hour later, my dog was still standing there , all wet and cold..."waiting to be towel dried"

I always thought this dog was unusual but I have heard from other people about their pets and how they also demonstrate this behaviour.

There are two things that come to mind when i think of this and how we behave at work with each other.

The first has to do with pride...actually a stronger word is more appropriate ...Ego. So many battles are fought at work because of ego and we sometimes lose perspective of the actual event when we focus on ego and how it hurt our pride or " lost face"

The corporate world is in the trouble it is in now because of ego. When we start thinking that we are "bigger than the company" , when our individual needs become bigger than the company's, this is what happens. This is how 'territory wars" and "border conflicts" arise between offices in different locations. These battles are serious and they taken very personally.

The second , has to do with how somebody feels"wronged" and has to find a "scape goat" to pin blame on because they are so far down the track that they have to demonstrate to others that they were right and someone else was wrong. Usually the one getting hurt is the one with the least "power." A leader needs spot this and not allow it to go on as it is destructive to the very fibre of the company. Titles don't give people permission to abuse their "power" and pick on others with "less power"

So the question is, how do we navigate through these situations, intact, without getting 'hurt."
( I am only focusing on the aspects relating to how you manage your own thoughts, not on the do's and dont's of navigating through a corporation as that's the easy part)

1. Disengage - refuse to get sucked in as far as possible , its very hard to attack someone who is unarmed and not threatening in anyway
2. Once you have said your piece, walk away and focus on more constructive things. There are people who live off other people's energy like an "energy vampire"
3. Being aware when you are getting drawn into an "ugly situation" - sometimes we need to go in and make a stand but we need to still stay in our own sense of integrity.
4. Modelling good behaviour - others will take cue from you and will instigate if allowed
5. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Guru of Joy) in one of his workshops says , that that is no room for E-Go- it should GO.
6. Project what you want in your life instead of focusing on this one thing that is "not working" at this point
7. Forgive and let go anyone who is irritating you - they don't know any better , if they did, they would have done it already. Most people are good at heart, although there are some bad apples ( being mild here!!)
8. Count your blessings - its still a good life and things that come into your life to challenge you , help you to take stock , they help you decide on your core priorities are and to stay on course

I always find a way to say "thank you " in my mind to the person who has challenged me because they are helping me become a better person...after all isn't life all about that...being the best person you can be in your own eyes?

Sometimes I "push and pull " against life and fight the wars of everyday living, but when i step back, and ask "what can i learn from this situation " or " how can I turn this into something useful in my life and the lives of others around me?" I get a different perspective of things. A "warm and fuzzy" perspective and it makes me smile.

In N.L.P. , we learn to change of our perspective of incidents and also reduce the power it has over us. When my kids come come from school or have had a bad dream at night , I ask them to picture the event again but this time watch it , like if you were watching TV but with a cartoon background music or in "fast play" . Sometimes we hum a fast tune together. Its really funny, we always land up laughing. Laughter in my view has the same charge as crying/ tears. This is why we sometimes laugh till we get tears in our eyes and you feel kind of 'high' after that. Some people say that its got to do with the endorphins, natures own "morphine"....

We take ourselves and our job titles too seriously, we rely on these external titles to make us feel powerful, but we are more powerful than any title if we come from the heart.
Reminds me of when i was running a technology company and was speaking to a friend and he said " I am an ASP ( Assistant Superintendent of Police) and I said so am I " an Application Service Provider" ...he didn't think it was very funny!

Soldier on , my friends, there is still so much goodness in life and it far outweighs the occasional "ugliness" we see.... Besides those who operate out of ego tend to do a good job of digging a big enough hole to bury themselves in it , all on their own!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

the dog's way

Lessons from watching my pet... dog ..of course

1. enthusiasm and hope - every moment is a new opportunity to get a treat, some love or be taken for a walk - always be ready for an adventure!

2. sleep things off - when tired or things get weary - sleep is a good healer

3. watch the world go by - dogs have this habit of sitting in a comfy spot and they watch everything...sometimes with the corner of their eye - there is much to learn from just watching, you see more when you are an observer

4. Have some alone time - knowing when to stop and make some "me" time

5. Know your friends - dogs watch their friends closely ( to look after them) but they keep a closer watch on people they are wary off

6. Tenacity - ever seen a dog with a bone ? they never let go when there is something to be gained

7. Save it for a rainy day - they know how to stash "goodies" away for meagre times

8. Loyalty to the person who looks after you - dogs never forget a friend

Everything around us has something to teach us, depends on our view of life. Enjoy!