Saturday, 10 February 2018

The "Success Equation"

When we think of Success, the most common questions that crop up in our mind are

What does Success look like ?

Does Success come easy ?

How do we achieve and sustain success ?

The answers to the above questions lie nowhere else but in our approach - whether we pursue success as "madness" or  put a "method" to this "madness". The  moment we have a system/ method, success becomes a habit.  

Engaged in the mindless pursuit of "more", we always tend to live life in the fastlane, with no idea
about whether we are headed in the right direction or not. We completely lose sight of the real determinants of success and meander through life, thereby widening the gap between achievement and accomplishment. Ignoring the basic tenets we take shortcuts to succeed and sooner or later find ourselves at crossroads, all beaten, confused, tired and exhausted. This is exactly when we wish there was a system to success. A deep self-reflection and we can arrive at a "Success Equation", an equation which boasts of some very basic elements which if implemented sincerely could put us on course to success in all our endeavours.

The system/ method to life-long success is captured well by the following equation

To be able to make this equation a part of our daily routine, let's understand each element of the equation
  • Aspiration: This element is all about understanding our desires - what we want and where we want to see ourself in life. The ideal or the desired state is what describes this element. Our aspirations get manifested in the form of our dreams which leads to set goals for our life. This builds in us the intent to aim for something in life. If the aspirations align with our purpose and passion, then success will never ditch us.
  • Inspiration: This element is about identifying the trigger in our life - the ideal(s) which we want to emulate and be like. It's like the ignition that sets the fire within us. Inspiration is what we need to make a start on our journey to success. This is what gets our adrenalin to rush and gives us the first push towards our dreams and desires.
  • Motivation: This element is the perceived reward that keeps our interest alive in pursuance of our aspirations and goals. If inspiration is what gets us started then motivation is what keeps us moving. The motivation gets manifested in the form of mini targets or small success that we envisage or experience along the way. The motivation is what gives us traction and keeps pushing us continuously in the direction of our aspirations. 
  • Action: Perhaps the most important element without which the other three elements seem irrelevant. This element corresponds to the effort we put in to bring to fruition our intent. If the other three elements are all about Planning then this is all about Execution. This element builds in the requisite discipline to enable us to turn dreams into reality. 
So, let's look no further for the recipe of success because the Success Equation has all the relevant ingredients to make it happen for us !

Thursday, 28 December 2017

What's on Your Canvas for 2018?

Another year (2017) going by and another one(2018) knocking at our doors. The deja vu is all so familiar and again it's time for another set of resolutions.The same ritual of setting goals and then striving to actualize it will continue unless something done differently. The onset of new year also brings about a resurgence of ambitions and expectations that matter to us and our lives.

In the midst of all this, the million dollar questions that crosses our mind so many times are
  • Can we make this year any better?
  • Can we make this year count more in our life? 
  • Can we manage more luck, success, happiness and prosperity in the new year?
Standing still between the past (2017) and future (2018) and aiming to make our lives more worthwhile, our quest to make our impending "present" the best begins. Our search for answers and  solutions continues. A quick reflect back on our Canvas for last year could help give us an insight into the missing pieces. Those missed out or incomplete caricatures, landscapes, sketches and the missing colors speak a lot about what we need to do better this time around. A simple solution by way of mending the missing elements in the canvas will not only render the canvas complete but also  add great meaning to our life in 2018 and beyond.

Make the Canvas (of our life) ready for 2018 is just about
  • Identifying the pieces that are missing in our life in terms of our mission, vision, goals, or action items. Incorporating these pieces will not only complete the picture but make it holistic too.
  • Bringing to conclusion all those incomplete tasks that stand on the verge of losing relevance and importance if not catered to Now. Those goals and resolutions which just need an action plan and that first step to make it happen.
  • Adding more zing to those half-hearted tasks which are as good as any incomplete because of the lack of proper pursuance. Adding passion and purpose in our efforts will liven us and make our life an experience to cherish.     
Let's paint our best life on the canvas and splash it with all the beautiful colors of positivity and optimism to welcome more success, happiness and abundance forever in our lives. 

So, get going and create you masterpiece Now !

Monday, 18 December 2017

Have You Found Yourself Yet ?

It's so easy to lose ourself in the rigmarole of living life in the fast lane. Riding high and fast on the superhighways of information and communication we eventually find ourselves at crossroads. It's only when we get confronted with anxiety, confusion, exhaustion and stress we realize that we stand stranded in this maze of uncertainty and chaos. Every alley in this maze appears a mystery and whatever alley we take leads to hinterland, a place bereft of the ambitions and dreams that we wanted for our lives. We find ourselves participating in this mad rat-race where everyone is trying to outdo others and reaching for goals they never really set out for themselves. 

Sitting in the "nowhere land" and pursuing and engaged in meaningless misdirected pursuits, we appear clueless about our goals and dreams. Lost amidst the inner and outer cacophony, 
we ask ourselves ""How do I Find Myself Now ?" 

This act of asking ourself the above question triggers the process of "finding ourself" facilitated through more self-interrogation and introspection. This leads us to the realization that to find our true self, we firstly need to address the  root system of our lives, i.e. the building blocks that hold the key to our life-long success. These building blocks build shape our personality by providing direction to us and helping us identify a meaningful reason for our existence and survival. These building blocks stand same for all of us and all we need to do it to provide them our context 

So, before we find ourself lost in life, let's try to build clarity in life by strengthening the following key building blocks of our life:
  • Passion : This determines our orientation in life in terms of what excites us most, what makes us enthusiastic, what our hearts beat for. The passion is our preferred choice in life. Identifying the passion sets the tone for living a satisfying and happy life. Asking ourself the question "What thing/ task gives me immersed and gives me immense joy and happiness while performing it?"
  • Purpose : This refers to the sole reason for our existence and gives a clarity about where would we like to contribute. The purpose ensures we are making a difference in the way we envisaged for our life. The best way to determine Purpose is to ask ourself the following question - "What am i living for ?"
  • Mission : This is the most critical of the building blocks as it is the core around which our lives revolve. Mission refers to the guiding principles that we define for living our life. At any point in our life, we adhere to these principles while taking any action or decision. Mission is like the "nucleus" of our life. It's worthwhile to spend a good amount of time in defining the right "mission" for ourself. Our "Personal Mission Statement" acts like a compass in our life and keeps us on track always. Asking ourself "What set of statements/ principles would act as my reference point and guide me at every stage of my life ?" will help us define our personal mission better.
  • Goal(s) : These act as milestones in our life and act as key motivation to grow, evolve and achieve more in life. They give shape to our dreams and desires. The following few considerations would help the goals be more effective
    • Goals should align with our passion and purpose
    • Goals should be specific and shouldn't be too easy or too difficult. If it is too easy then it won't provide us with challenge enough and if it is too difficult, then we may get overwhelmed by it.
    • The focus should be on goal-setting and goal-getting both because without taking any action, goals may just remain unfulfilled dreams.
 Remember the below mantra 
Building such a robust life so that we never get lost in life is all about getting the above four building blocks right 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Successful Journey Needs A Destination !

To establish the right context, it makes sense to start with few important questions :
  • Is it important to know where you are headed, be it about any journey we undertake?
  • Is it crucial to begin the day with clarity about the tasks to be accomplished that day?
  • Is it important to live our life with a clearly defined set of expectations?
For sure, the answer will be a resounding "YES" though we do not always comply with it. A simple case in point is the way we live our life, more as a ritual rather than a mission; also those times when we mindlessly go through life's chores without any thinking about why we are doing them ?

And if asked why we are doing them, the immediate reaction is- "So what ?, how does it matter how i traverse the path as long as i am going somewhere?"

Little do we realise that this "somewhere" itself is the biggest problem. Quoting Lewis Carroll - "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there". This illustrates that "somewhere" may not turn out to be our "desired land". If all we want from ourselves is to be in a state of "motion" then it will only lead to "commotion". 

Why is Destination important ?

The most important reason that we need a destination is because our dreams is at stake. Every journey in our life is an unfulfilled dream till we reach where we desire to. Imagine the plight of those who embark on an expedition to Himalayas or Antartica or any other place without identifying where they need to stop ! 

At a personal level, think about the times when we step out of our home, we know exactly where we need to head. Likewise, every other journey that we embark upon needs a finish point too. Every Start needs a Stop and unless destination is identified it's only going to result in an abrupt stop. We can't expect ourselves to be "moving" without any movement, forward, backward or sideways. 

Don't we all yearn for few important things in life ? Don't we all yearn for a life well-lived ? Don't we all engage in a quest for success and happiness in life ? Then why not define what we seek and make the road easier to travel for ourselves!  

Summing up the need for identifying Destination - It gives direction and meaning to our lives. It also makes us more efficient and productive.

How to identify/ define Destination in Life ? 

If Destination is so critical for out life then it becomes imperative to identify it. Few ways we could do so is
  • Imbibe the habit of putting a closure to every task that we undertake 
  • Give the destination the shape of a well-defined goal
  • Link the established goals with relevant areas of our life
  • Visualize the dream state we want to achieve to enable us establish the appropriate destination
  • Be clear about the distinction between an intermediate goal and the main goal
  • Don't get overwhelmed with the journey itself as it needs to end at some point       

So, the choice is ours - whether we want to live an incomplete life laden with unfulfilled dreams and desires or we want a meaningful life laden with accomplishments and happiness!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

"Thanks to Thankfulness" - The shortest path to GRATITUDE

Technology has permeated every aspect of our life, promising to make us better, effective and more productive; the gaps have also been bridged in terms of seeking/ accessing information/ knowledge and everything is available at our fingertips now. Still the biggest irony that exists is that the parallel online world created to bring together and connect people across geographies, continents, countries, etc. has been created on a bedrock of loose human values. 

A case in point is – can we recollect easily the last time we appreciated something around us or in others? 

Isn't is hard to do so as there aren't be too many such occasions.  

The interconnectedness of people that promised camaraderie and togetherness has in fact created a more self-centered society where personal success and achievement rules the roost. We are seeing an erosion of fundamental human values and Gratitude is one of those key values that is diminishing. The “Thanks” or “Thank You” are hard to come and if they come, they are just so robotic.

Let’s dig deep and examine why gratitude is eroding and what could we do to cultivate it

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is the basic quality of appreciation or being grateful.

Why is Gratitude important?
  • Gratitude builds holistic health and personality by positively impacting our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspect.
  • It shapes the growth of society as connecting together is a key tenet of a flourishing society
  • It complements the interconnected nature of the virtual world that we live in. Our parallel online world needs real values to build lasting relationships.
  • The new smartphone generation needs to imbibe basis human values like gratitude to build a holistic personality.
  • Gratitude acts as feeder to many more essential human values like kindness.

How to cultivate Gratitude?

The simplest way to cultivate gratitude is to make a transition from “Thanks to Thankfulness”. Practising the following would help us achieve the same 

  • SATISFICING which means finding delight in what’s given to us. This builds in the quality of being grateful for what we have. This further triggers our orientation towards the much needed concepts of decluttering, minimalism and essentialism. Maintaining a “gratitude journal” is an easy way to do so. The journal entries act as a reminder to us that by default there are plenty of things that we need to be grateful for in our life such as the beautiful body, the nature, the family, the friends, the sunshine, and so on.
  • MINDFULNESS which builds awareness of the present moments and makes us appreciate the beauty that lies in each moment. This generates feeling of gratitude and makes us grateful for each moment.
  • EMPATHY which is the foundation of human relatedness. Empathy propel us to connect with others at a deeper level and establish an emotional connect. It’s this deeper connection that builds in us feelings of gratitude.
  • CONNECT MORE – One of the major downside of technology is that the opportunities to meet face-to-face are very few. This lack of physical connection inhibits our basic human tendency to relate to others. Establishing more face to face connections will kindle the feelings of gratitude.
  • A LITLLE EXTRA – Once we imbibe the basic feeling of empathy and start connecting more (at a physical level), offering a little bit extra through our intent and action will develop more gratitude.      
For all the readers looking for more scientific explanation about the benefits of gratitude, here's the link to a wonderful article

So, what are you grateful for today ?

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Discover Your Operating Zone ?

Remember playing a juggler? The times when “busyness” becomes second nature to us and we assume we can manage multiple things together. This “fool’s paradise” is very short-lived and brings us the realization that “Work More- Achieve More” mantra is misleading and applying it only results in “Worked Many – Achieved None”. The ramification of this “juggling act” that we perform at times, impacts our overall productivity and our efficiency takes a hit.

During these times of utter distraction, achieving “flow” i.e. , state of being fully immersed in the task,  does seem quite daunting. The mere realization that “we are most productive when we work in our most resourceful state” could help us establish the context based on the right premise and makes this task achievable. The first step towards achieving this improbable but not impossible task of “flow” is to understand our “Operating Zone”. 

The "Creative Zone" is the most resourceful state and should be the "desired state" for anyone wanting to be more productive in life.  This zone puts us in a "flow" mode and we tend to generate lots of ideas and innovation.

The "Neutral Zone" is the transitionary stage where the realisation to move out of the status quo happens and mental preparation for the Creative zone happens.

The "Comfort Zone" is where no "need" occurs other than to be where we are.

 So, to move ahead and build forward momentum, it's essential to identify our "operating zone" and then take appropriate action for our growth. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

RAS - The Genie Inside Us !

Is there a way to turn all our dreams into reality?

Possibly yes, but only when we
  • get hold of a magic wand and "ABRACADABRA" our way to success
  • call to our service Aladdin's Genie

The possibility of us finding a magic wand or Alladin’s lamp is next to impossible but lo, there exist a genie inside each one of us which when invoked has the power to transform all our dreams into reality and put us on path to goal accomplishment.        

This genie is very much an integral part of our physical self, our identity and is known as RAS (Reticular Activating System). Remember the coincidences that appear in our life and leave us in wonderment when what we seek appears all around us (whether it’s a new car we have been longing for or  a new holiday destination we have been exploring or anything else that is being sought by us). For a moment, it appears as if some supernatural power is at play but in real all that’s happening around us is a manifestation of the genie called RAS. Rather than rubbing of the lamp, this genie (RAS) just needs to be fed with our goals, things we intend to achieve in life.

RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a network of neurons located in the brain stem. It connects with other parts of the brain and to the spinal cord. In addition to being responsible for sleep, wakefulness and breathing, RAS is also responsible for many other functions like eating, elimination of boy waste and bringing things to our attention. Every moment, our brain is  bombarded with million of bits of information but only few thousand gets processed by it and what should get processed is determined by RAS.   

RAS  acts as a point of confluence where all our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, value and external influences meet. Based on what is fed by us in our conscious mind (in the form of goals), RAS filters the incoming sensory inputs (except smell which goes directly into brain’s emotional area) and sends to the subconscious mind only the information that aligns with our goals and focus. This is how coincidences occur with us as our subconscious start seeking in the environment what we have established as intent in our conscious mind.

So, to invoke the genie inside us so that it fulfills all our dreams, all we need to do is to establish goals effectively by writing them down. It’s only when the genie(RAS) sees the real intent in our goals that it starts weaving it’s magic in our life !