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Category: attitude


Ever got the feeling that you are just faking it in life? As though most people around us are great, always acing their work, while we are struggling to fill our shoes?

We know that this is the imposter syndrome at play.

Is it normal? Absolutely. There’ll always be some level of self-doubt in us, which leads to this. A few famous personalities, nay Gods or superhumans, themselves had imposter syndrome!

1) Lord Rama when he was enlisted by Rishis Vishwamitra and Vashishta to fight some demons that were troubling them.

2) Lord Hanuman when he was asked to cross the ocean and go to Lanka in search of Sita.

3) Arjuna the greatest warrior of all, when he went to the Kurukshetra battlefield, was terrified of fighting.

4) Post the war, King Yudhishtira, Dharma raja himself went into depression and had to be reminded of his kingly duties!

If these maestros struggled with imposter syndrome, then why should we worry? Of course, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prep well before a test or performance or interview and so on. It might also be okay for us to cultivate comfort in expressing our lack of confidence, which in turn displays true confidence and provides reassurance even in professional settings. This approach can help us stay humble and grounded.

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Above and below

Saw this superb video today where legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan tells a lovely silly funny profound story in an episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati, or the Who Wants to be a Millionaire Indian adaptation.

So one day, number 9 gets up and slaps number 8. Why? Because number 9 says he’s greater than number 8. Number 8 is furious, but can’t do a thing to number 9. So he gets up and gives one tight slap to number 7 instead. Number 7 is stunned, but cannot do anything. Why? Because number 8 says he’s greater than number 7. So then 7 gets up and slaps 6, 6 slaps 5, 5 slaps 4, 4 slaps 3, 3 slaps 2 and 2 slaps 1. Phew!

1 gets up now, and menacingly walks towards 0. And poor 0 is cowering in fear. But 1 doesn’t slap 0, instead he goes and sits next to 0, and says don’t worry, we are together now, and you might be 0 and I might be 1, but together we are 10, and bigger than everyone else here!

Success doesn’t come from putting people down, but from propping people up. What a super message, isn’t it?

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I’m the king of the…

Who doesn’t like a little gossip? Or a little back biting. Pretty natural human tendencies these are.

If someone causes something to happen to us, we immediately transform into telltale narrators. “You know what he did to me?”, or “It’s because of her only that I had to do this…”.

But when Lord Rama was exiled by his own father Dasharatha and asked to go to the forest for many years, how did he break the news to his mother?

Not by cribbing about how his old man had lost it in his senility. Instead, he only said this:

Mother, my father has asked me to be the King of the forest, and I seek your blessings.

Can we imbibe such a pristine quality into our own daily lives, despite having nowhere near as miserable misfortunes?

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Assumed reality

Here are some questions, both relating to the same fact. Which one is true in your view?

1. “Why is my manager so damn demanding?” versus “Why am I not courageous enough to express myself and my boundaries?”

2. “Why is my peer / colleague not trustworthy?” versus “Why am I not being collaborative enough?”

3. “Why is my friend / family member not driven enough?” versus “Why have I not been able to inspire my friends and family?”

4. “Why do my children not listen to me anymore?” versus “Why am I unable to understand my children’s needs anymore?”

Two sets of questions, with the target (aka blame) of one being external, while the other probes the self!

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Emotional take

Why do we get angry? Or sad? Or jealous?

These are all emotions of the mind, as we know them. And we think our minds are making us emotional.

But if we stop to think why this happens, we’ll realize it is largely because of a conflict that occurs between our hearts and our minds.

When you have to leave for an important meeting and your lunchbox packing has got delayed, it instantly results in an expression of anger. But the emotion comes not because we are angry by nature, but because a situation has presented itself whereby our reaction is one where temper levels have shot up. The heart is chilled out most of the time, but given that the mind has seen a potentially troublesome scenario, it has dragged the heart into behaving angrily.

Most important is the need to stop reacting. Reacting clouds the intellect and kills any discriminative ability. According to Swami Niranjananda of the Bihar School of Yoga, we must substitute reaction with involvement. Remain involved, be in a flow state, experience the unpleasantness of what is happening, but do not react. Won’t happen in a day, but worth working towards, for me at least!

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Lucky stuff

At times, I need to travel for work.

Different countries, different clients, different flights.

Some people say,” Wow, so lucky, you get to travel so much.”

“Country A, Country B, Country C…so much fun!”

My travels are never like that.

Only “Airport A to Hotel A; Airport B to Hotel B, Airport C to Hotel C, and multiple client meetings, and back to the respective airport for a rinse and refresh”. And no friends or family.

Who’s definition of fun is that? 🙂

Everyone has some good stuff, and some bad stuff, and we each need to make peace with our stuff, without worrying about others’ stuff!

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Work leader vs life leader

People often suggest that one must keep their ‘work’ lives separate from their ‘life’ lives. Yes you can perhaps keep the work itself separate. Don’t do your office work at home, or don’t take your office calls from home, etc. But mentally, is it possible to separate this work and life this way? Not easy.

For example, if you are someone that is cool, calm and composed at home, it’s unlikely you’ll fly off the handle at work. And vice versa too. While we might be put in different situations (work vs home), we are the same people that are going through the various different scenarios. If I get angry easily, then it’s likely to come through irrespective of the surrounding.

Apparently (and hence), leadership is no different. Leadership requires self-awareness. To be a successful leader, it’s important to understand and work on one’s own personality traits. Personal mastery is the key to becoming a great leader

The focus of the leader is hence first not on his team or followers, but on him/herself.

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Leadership Secrets – part 4

Back to leadership today after a short Mahashivratri interlude! We all know there is no shortcut to success. And that it is hardwork that leads to success. Yes yes, true true. But there is a shortcut! Know what that is?

It is simply the ability to learn from mistakes. Not just our own, but also the mistakes of others. This is the true tried and tested shortcut to success. Incredibly, this works in spirituality as well! The Guru has gone through the exact process, and doesn’t want us to make the mistakes He was once aware of.

How does making and learning from mistakes link to leadership? Well, the third secret of leadership success is being open and willing to fail. Why? Because failure not only brings out the best in us, but it also teaches us the most important lessons in the path we are pursuing.

A nice example is that of a toy company called Spin Master. It’s first product was “Earth Buddy”, a minor hit. But the founder Ronnen Harary didn’t want to stop there. He realized that kids can be fickle consumers, and their toys may only be popular for a short period of time. In order to build a multi-generational brand, Ronnen gathered insights from experts in various fields, including video, animation, and apparel. He specifically learned from the mistakes of everyone in the field. This led to the creation of “Paw Patrol”, a brand based on anthropomorphic puppies as emergency rescue workers. Since its introduction in 2014, “Paw Patrol” has generated $10 billion in global revenue and become one of the most successful multi-generational children’s brands in the past two decades, with a presence in over 40 languages!

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Leadership Secrets – part 3

Collaboration was secret #1 of leadership. What was secret #2? Encouraging risk-taking.

Is risk-taking useful? Yes, massively so. This is precisely where innovation comes from. If we just sit and do the same thing over and over, it will likely not lead to anything new or radical. But risk-taking needs to be calculated, not random, not just for the heck of it.

A super story is that of James Dyson, a born entrepreneur, and also a huge risk taker.

He once created a product called the Ballbarrow, a wheelbarrow with a low center of gravity, like a giant yoga ball in front of a wheelbarrow, making it easier to work in gardens and construction sites. Unfortunately, the product didn’t sell and he was ousted from the company he founded.

However, James’ failed invention led to his greatest success story. While working on the Ballbarrow, he noticed the powerful suction of the turbine fans used to clean up the paint factory and he wondered why home vacuum cleaners couldn’t be that effective. This sparked his curiosity and he set out to create a vacuum cleaner without a bag, which was the root cause of lost suction in traditional vacuums. It took him 7 years and 5000 prototypes, but eventually, he created the game-changing Dyson vacuum cleaner. After launching the product at a mid-size retailer in Britain, it quickly gained popularity through word of mouth.

Today, James Dyson is one of the richest people in Britain and the success of his company is a result of its willingness to take risks and constantly push boundaries. Continued tomorrow…

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Leadership Secrets – part 2

Continuing from yesterday, what does collaboration really mean? Everyone wants everyone else to be collaborative around them, and they certainly feel they each are the pinnacles of collaboration. Is that true though?

Within many firms, it’s all about the money. And there is often only so much of a pot to share, capitalists, as most of us are. Collaborating could mean someone else taking the credit and the pot. But Guy argues that collaboration even in large companies and in cutthroat verticals can have positive effects, i.e. synergies such that the sum is greater than the parts. He gives the example of P&G – the global consumer company. Founded pre-Civil War (1837!), they have 60+ brands of which at least 20 are worth over a billion dollars.

In the 1990s, Crest – P&G’s toothpaste brand – was struggling to compete with Colgate in the toothpaste market. Crest researcher, Paul Sagel, saw an opportunity to create a teeth whitening product that people could use at home. He came up with a solution, but couldn’t figure out how to apply it to teeth. During a lunch with colleague Bob Dirksing, who was working on a plastic product for Procter & Gamble, Bob suggested using plastic wrap. They tested the prototype and took it to the CMO, who greenlit the product. In just 6 months, Crest Whitestrips hit the shelves and made $300 million in revenue in its first year.

Crest Whitestrips is proof that collaboration can bring success. Paul and Bob’s combined expertise created an incredibly successful product, showcasing the value of a collaborative culture in organizations. When collaboration is encouraged, great things happen. Continued tomorrow…

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Who changed who

When Mahatma Gandhi was young, he used to loiter around with good-for-nothings. His mum didn’t like this one bit, and used to reprimand Gandhi ji. “You will become like them only, and probably soon take to smoking and drinking.”

To which Gandhi ji replied, “Have faith in me ma, I don’t hang around with them so that I can become like them. I’m hoping that they will become like me instead!”

We each in daily life encounter all sorts of people, some negative some positive. While it might be easy to categorize the ones who party and booze and smoke as the “bad” ones, this is barely scratching the surface. Look beneath, even for the “good” ones, you will find so much “bad” lurking there – anger, jealousy, greed, fear – you name it.

How to be “good” then? By being mentally strong, having faith in oneself, and living a dharmic life as guided by our scriptures.

Faith in oneself is key. Just like a bird doesn’t give two hoots about the branch it is sitting on. Because her trust is placed on her own wings.

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Risky business

Many people look at risk from a financial perspective. If I make 100$ investment in a stock for example, then will my capital grow through time? Or would it get obliterated?

One could also look at risk from the perspective of losing something other than money, such as a job or a relationship. It’s always a worry for many employees. Should they open their mouths and speak up? Or is it too risky, potentially leading to a demotion or worse, a sacking?

While the risk of doing something, anything, is always large, there exists another very big risk. This is the risk of not doing anything at all. Optimists will gravitate towards doing something, while pessimists will prefer to watch from the sidelines.

Even in spirituality, risk exists. We are often saddled with the weight of the questions, “Am I good enough?” and “What will people think if I…?”

Coming out of this stage requires a lot of courage and self-compassion. The greatest risk is this: not letting go of what people think, and not standing up for how we feel, what we believe in and who we are.

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Good and Bad

Here are some outstanding lines from the Ashtavakra Gita:

He who has known that adversity and prosperity come through the effects of past actions is ever contented. 

Notice how it says both adversity and prosperity. Not only prosperity. It’s not only the good experiences and things we have which lead to contentment. Instead, it is the knowledge that both adversity and prosperity come from past karma – that’s what leads to true satisfaction. If something bad happens, it probably resulted from something much more than just what we did an hour ago. If something great happens, it too probably resulted from something more than just last hour’s effort. We must think not just about the outcome, but of the million billion incidents that had to all happen since we were born, in order to bring that specific event to fruition.

He who knows that happiness and misery, birth and death are also due to the effects of past actions becomes free from care and is not attached even though engaged in action.
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Somebody who’s a somebody

We all want to be noticed and recognized, even seen as someone who is really cool – intelligent, charismatic, principled, caring, dynamic, interested in other people… and maybe a few more things!

But how to be like this? Is there something that can be done? Yes there is, and it doesn’t even need you to open your mouth to utter a single word. How incredible is that!

In a book called 92 ways to talk to anyone, the author says the following:

Just ensure great upright posture, a heads-up look, a confident smile and a direct gaze. It's the ideal image for a somebody who's a somebody!
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Smells like team spirit – part 2 of 2

Leil Lowndes, author of the bestselling book “How to Talk to Anyone92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships” begins his book with the following:

You see, nobody gets to the top alone. Over the years, people who seem to "have it all" have captured the hearts and conquered the minds of hundreds of others who helped boost them, rung by rung, to the top of whatever corporate or social ladder they chose.

Scottie Pippen says emphatically when journalists question him back then, “My time will come.”

I don’t know if his time came or not, whether his pay was revised or not. But that is one damn good attitude to have.

And even if MJ was undoubtedly the best player the game has ever seen, he surely couldn’t have done it without his team (spirit).

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Awesome Inferiority

Watch any toddler for a while.

Apart from all the cuteness, what is most striking?

Their complete lack of ego.

They know that they do not know.

They also know that everyone else in the room knows more than them.

Their inferiority complex actually leads to their superiority in learning.

Why do we, as adults, then fear an inferiority complex?

Not that we need to feel inferior about everything. But it is probably a great tactic to enhance learning.

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Focus chokus

Focus is a great thing. But it can also be a greatly destructive thing. How? When we are focused only on the short run.

Feel like you want to sleep right now so as to get a full 8 hour shuteye before that important morning meeting? Sleep will probably evade you for the next hour, if not more.

Want to perform really well in your music audition today? All the nerves will probably get to you.

Desperate to find a life partner? The chances of making a mistake in the process just goes up materially.

Instant gratification is not good. Our scriptures talk of enjoying the journey. If everything is instant, then where is the journey? Before you can even wear your slippers, the ride is over! No wonder all this focus is choking us.

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The Gods who are weak

Almost everyday there is a point when I feel tired. Maybe mentally if not physically. But often physically too. Especially if it’s a Monday. Strength seems to always be coming back towards Fridays though. ?

But weakness isn’t good. Here’s what Paramahamsa Yogananda has said once:

You are all gods, if you only knew it. Behind the wave of your consciousness is the sea of God's presence. You must look within. Don't concentrate on the little wave of the body with its weaknesses; look beneath. As you lift your consciousness from the body and its experiences, you will find that sphere of your consciousness filled with the great joy and bliss that lights the stars and gives power to the winds and storms. Awaken yourself from the gloom of ignorance.
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Upset? Upset!

A columnist in the newspaper recently deconstructed the upset wins of Japan and Saudi in the 2022 Soccer World Cup.

Of course, the upset was to the incumbents, not the winners.

He theorized that the upset victory came due to two reasons, and both are applicable to me in my daily life.

1. Preparation. Being the underdog helps, because they do not expect the game to be easy. Apparently the Saudi coach screamed at his team to get their act in order instead of just gawking at their idol Messi and waiting for selfies with him after losing the match. They had a solid gameplan, knew the exact formations to take against their formidable opponents, and then it was execution to the T.

2. Globalization. Most of the best European soccer leagues have players from all over the world, rather than just from Europe. It reminded me of Indian cricket IPL, where players come from all over the world. This results in spectacular exchange of best practices. The community builds and grows together. This is useful even from a 9-to-5 work perspective. If there’s a scope to learn from people across various regions and cultures, then why not? With the internet at our fingertips, learning is not a luxury, but a function of our own desire.

Upset? Or not so much?

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Cry me a river

Here’s a thought provoking para I read recently:

I also wasn’t used to being yelled at. My mother and father never raised their voices. If we did something wrong, they let us know about it, but they never screamed or shouted. I felt tears welling up and my face turning red and hot. I had to force myself not to cry. I said I understood, and we would do better in the future. As I found my way to the parking lot, I vowed to myself, This is never, ever going to happen to me again.

What is insane about this para is that it could happen to anyone. I’ve certainly felt like this before, and it almost feels shameful to think about.

But guess what? It is really common. This experience above? It’s taken from the autobiography of Blackstone’s founder Steve Schwarzman. This happened to him not when he was some just-studying lowly-intern who recently took up his first ever job. Nope. He’d already become very successful, and very rich, and had made an excellent name for himself. And still he had to face the ire of a client. Happens to the best.

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