Thursday, 23 October 2014

Be The Sunshine

Many years back I went through a training workshop on leadership by Marcus Child and Mark Robb, that deeply influenced me. And in this training there was a section on positive thinking. It would suffice to say that since participating in the program, I am a changed person. Thinking and speaking positively is something that I have strived to do ever since and now I don't really have to try any more.

However every now and then I do hit a roadblock. Even after so many years I still have a strong urge, at times, to tell people what they may be doing wrong. Because my deeply ingrained logic reasons 'what could be a better way to help people improve themselves, than to tell them what they are doing wrong?' But this logic couldn't be farther away from the truth. What I have experienced over the years is that when we criticize people, they become defensive, tense, and unhappy; they wilt like a plant would, in harsh winters. Generally the effect of criticism is the exact opposite of what we intend.

I must also share what does work with people, again and again and every single time. When I notice something good about people or their behaviors and point it out to them, something happens - it is like someone directed the sunshine at them, they bloom, feel happy, validated and their brain stores that information so deeply that they repeat the behavior again and again. Of course this is as true for me as it is for others. When someone points out something positive about me I feel no different. I feel energized, my spirit lifts and I tend to repeat the behavior over and over, each time remembering those nourishing positive words. It could be as simple as telling someone You have a lovely smile or I love the way you write your emails so carefully, always grammatically correct and without a single error! All we need to do is make genuine observations about what people do well and learn to admire these. I had no idea that just by noticing what people do well and sharing it with them, I could play a part in people's lives, in helping them see how good they are and in helping them believe in themselves more. Not to mention that pointing out positives in people helps me admire their capabilities and nourishes me as much as it nourishes them.

Like Ken Blanchard rightly said ’Catch people doing things right’ and watch how they light up!

By Divya Thampi

Image Credit:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Changing Gears

Have you ever managed to change directly from 1st Gear to the 4th Gear in a Car? If yes, this article is not meant for you.
I presume you are also just like me who goes from 1st to the 4th gear while driving the vehicle of life. More often than not, most of this driving is on auto pilot.
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who was desperately wanting to make a change without going through this cycle.  What makes us then try and achieve change overnight without going through the “Gears”?
Myriads of examples came to my mind. Here is a sample of them
§  New Year Resolution
§  Learning a new subject
§  Acquiring a new skill
§  Going back to school for continuing education
§  Learning to cook
§  You can add more
Whether it be the New Year resolution that we make or any new habit that we want to acquire, or for that matter, any habit that we want to replace, it only helps to become aware of this cycle of change. Else, we are setting up a trap designed to crash.
Changing Gears is a metaphor I coined to help ease the process of #change I am undergoing. It works for me, and with this belief I am offering it for your use. Before you decide to throw it, I suggest you to apply its simplicity of use. You always have a choice of junking it anyways. Most of us know the importance of each gear in the mechanical world of motor vehicles, hence I will not elaborate on it here and share a few examples of my life to be able to relate to.
I have very recently going into a fitness regime which covers all the 4 dimensions of my awareness. (Refer 4 dimensions image). Before embarking on a journey, especially a long one, do you check whether your vehicle fitness for the long haul? I can see you nodding a “yes”. I did exactly the same. I checked myself (vehicle) to take stock of my current levels of fitness on these four viz. physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The physical one was done through a doctor. For the remaining three, I started writing a journal which captures key elements of the current state. As I started writing, layers within me started surfacing, rich in intensity, unleashing a catharsis in my life. The initial journal writing was designed for only 4 weeks, however, it has now become a part of my life.
The vehicle was now ready for the journey. Having ignited the desire of change, I stepped on the clutch of inspiration and put the first gear of influence. The vehicle roared to life. The immediate temptation was the race the engine of life and cover maximum distance in the shortest possible time. Acknowledging this temptation, the engine of my life reminded me of the mechanics. These mechanics are not alterable, unless you want a breakdown. The first 2 months has seen me journey the terrain of physical and mental fitness. Under random circumstances, I would have said to myself “that’s it, you could have achieve more”. However, with my new found awareness of change, I continue to appreciate and celebrate small victories of change. The results are visibly tangible. Gathering momentum releases its own dopamine of growth. Putting the vehicle into 2nd gear has given acceleration a completely different meaning on the road to change. Unlike roads with potholes, I am already on the expressway of change, with toll gates designed to give out “R&R” rather than collect usage fees. Isn’t that exhilarating? The dashboard of life is exuding vibrancy. The physical body is light and bubbling with energy. The mind is alert and churning out ideas of change. I truly believe I can touch the sky.
As I changed gears, my eyes fell on the horizon of #clutter. #Cluttering was impairing my mental fitness and it was visible on the dashboard of life. The indicators were blinking RED to the point of breakdown. You may be familiar with situations of not finding crucial papers in place or missing deadliness on important projects and simply, getting frustrated with the inefficiencies that clutter breeds. It was time for a pit stop at the motel called #De-clutter. During this halt, identifying, assimilating and acknowledging the #clutter details in every area of life put my vehicle in motion. Once the vehicle is in motion, it is a matter of maintaining lane discipline and speed in the right lane of change. Every single day, I give 15 minutes for getting in to the first lane of “De-clutter”. The first lane is the speed lane, where I am able to drive at the speed I desire. What started as a simple act of de-cluttering unravels change at its best. Change that leaves me energized and radiating with a sense of fulfilment and completion.
This simple act of awareness has reconnected me with the elixir of peace within. As Peter Senge says, “Small changes produce big results”. I am constantly looking for those small changes.
Let me share my final example to highlight the power of changing gears. I was introduced to P90X by my friend in Feb’14. A series of fitness videos by one of the most dynamic fitness legends in current times, Tony Horton ( I was so impressed that I took it upon me to master the game. I started working out in Feb’14 with only the stretching piece for the first 4 weeks. I was just igniting my engines of change. The stretches are powerful and I was getting back to exercise after almost a decade. The junk my metal had gathered resisted, objected, shouted. Yet the engines had to move. During this time, I was focused on moving the body and gently, I did. 4 weeks later, I could literally see my body expand in flexibility. Exhilarating!! Shifting gear to 2nd, routines have been created to help achieve total physical fitness. As my vehicle accelerates in physical fitness, I can see the signage of #Yoga and #Plyometric beckoning me to get into 3rd gear.
Each one of us has the inherent ability to make #change. Recognizing this ability begins the #change. I experienced #conscious adaptability of the body for the first time.
Learning to “change gears” is one of the best investments I made in navigating my vehicle through the narrow lanes, bylanes and expressways of life. These narrow lanes or bylanes or expressways are symbolic and represents the journeys of our life. In some part of our journey, we come across bumper to bumper traffic where life seems to be standstill while there are moments, when life is moving through the narrow lane of slow growth. Are you then ready to seize the moment when you hit the expressway of change, in your life? Be alert then and look out for the signs in your life. You are your own GPS.
One last question - How do you “change gears” in your family, organization, society and global community at large? Do you recognize these in them too?

(*Image Credit : Google)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

SOAR – A new paradigm for Parenting, Leadership, Society

I read an interesting article on SOAR vs. SWOT and felt it apt to share it with you.

This word had a magical effect on my thinking process, as it made me confront my parenting style. Was I doing SWOT of my child or was I helping her SOAR?
SOAR evokes strong images of the mighty Eagle, it so befits the magnificent bird. I then looked at SWOT. (refer the images shown below)


Between the above two acronyms, SOAR appealed to me more.  In this article, I attempt to explore the impact of SOAR on three areas - Parenting, Leadership and Society. 


It opened doors of possibilities given any situation my child faces and my role as a parent. It impacted my communication with her. It made me look the language, the words I use with her in moments of anger, irritation, tantrums. Well, many of you may tend to agree that your parenting skills are put to acid test during these moments, not to mention exams, studies, demands of a child moving into an adolescence age. Also, the bigger impact I thought it will have was on the language my child will pick up by seeing me using SOAR. The possibility of she using SOAR in her relationship, the roles she takes in society warms my heart.
I see a chain reaction by just the simple act of changing SWOT to SOAR.
Hence, this inspired writing to share with all parents who are interested in seeing their child SOAR. Everybody does. 


Of course, it does. Every leader worth their salt aspires to make a change for the better. With the current trend in economies, the pressures on the leaders are more metaphorically than what astronauts face while lifting up from the gravitation of the earth. Well, at least they are in controlled environments, our leaders are not.
The leaders of today are in a whirlwind of change, some so wild, that leaders are twisted and tossed out by the whirlwind of stakeholder expectations. Given this situation, it is only an opportunity waiting to be seized to bring about the change desired. Who among you if you were to be asked about “weaknesses” are still smiling in a candid conversation either during vision setting or during your performance appraisal?  Most of us are fast to eject out of our seat with a smart reply ““I have none”, you tell me boss”. You just added to the whirlwind. It is during this phase too that exodus of performers happen across organizations.  

Now, how about looking at your boss asking you “Hey Steven, tell me more about your aspirations and the desired results you want to see happen?” I am sure for a moment your spirits lifted and prompted you to explore the potential energies that will be uncorked within you and across the organizations. This is the SOAR effect.

Well, that brings me to the last piece, does this apply to the SOCIETY we live in? 

We are part of the same society as the child is, the organizations are. We comprise the society. We co-create the society by our actions and inactions, by our choices. Also, it is only pertinent to note that we have been conditioned to look at the weaknesses and the threats more often outside us than within us.  

As I write this, I am looking at the media news, listening to the discussions at the coffee tables, meeting interesting people who are interesting until they start complaining about how the local corporations do not work, until my colleagues starts bitching about the screw-up the guy occupying the corner office is doing by unfolding the strategies to spurt the organization to growth. In fact, some of us including me have gossiped about how we can run the organization/society better.
Well, let’s attempt then to SOAR each other to raise the society to the desired results we want to see and live.
It is only apt to conclude ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
(*Images sourced from Google)



Thursday, 3 April 2014

Well-Being (Part 1)

I stumbled on this beautiful website called which had these 4 thought provoking questions to the reader. I attempt in this blog to take the first one in utmost honesty. Readers are welcome to attempt these questions too.

The question is “What does well-being mean to me?"

(*Source: Google)
At first, myriad number of possible answers were thrown by my intelligent rational mind. Most of them were bookish by nature.
For example, one answer that was given to me was “well-being” is being well. That led me to ask “What does "well" mean to me?
Again my intelligent mind told me, “Well” means physical fitness, being in the best of shape, eating healthy food, getting your 8 hour sleep.

It only led me to ask “if I do not do any of this, does it mean I am un-well?"
The mind said, relax, you are well. So much for deception
I like to call my mind “JHUMPO”* – meaning the jumper. You will not get this word in the dictionary, hence don’t even attempt to.
JHUMPOpedia search revealed the following on physical fitness and made me ponder on whether I do any of them even remotely.

1.       Do daily physical exercises
2.       Do daily stretching of my body
3.       Eat a solid blend of carbs, proteins and fats
4.       Eat more at home and less outside by the street side
5.       Eat at least two whole fruits without cutting them daily
6.       Keep myself informed on the latest in physical fitness exercises
7.       Run the Marathon (whichever part of the world you live) at least once a year
8.       Go for treks, hikes to the mountains
9.       Walk in the forests
Then I asked JHUMPO “what about mental fitness? Well, JHUMPO did a quick JHUMPOpedia search into its database and came up with fantastic answers, to share a few :
1.       You read fitness and health magazine
2.       You read the newspaper
3.       You visit TED videos and talks
4.       You do brain exercises?
5.       You visit various websites which stretch your brain
6.       You watch Television channels like Nat Geo, Discovery
7.       You talk intelligently
8.       You talk smartly
9.       You know lots of vocabulary 

The list went on and on. JHUMPOpedia said that since I do all of this, I am well.
Even as I was beginning to recover, came two more questions which rattled me to take shelter and seriously do some soul searching. The two questions which rattled me are,
1.       What about emotional fitness?
2.       What about spiritual fitness?
Emotional fitness made me squirm in my seat since I realized this whole idea of well-being was going deep and getting serious. Here are the options that were given to me.
1.    When was the last time you forgave any person from your heart?
2.    When was the last time you sought forgiveness from any person whom you have hurt knowingly or unknowingly?
3.    When was the last time you expressed your love to your family members and friends?
4.    When was the last time you met your childhood buddies and had your childhood banter?
5.    When was the last time you did an act of charity which gave you satisfaction and left your heart warm?
6.    When was the last time you had a heart to heart talk to a stranger?
7.    When was the last time you felt like a kid and just giggled till you had to hold your pot belly out of pain?
8.    When was the last time you paid a visit to your ailing relative and just sat by and spoke to him/her?
9.    When was the last time you said a heartfelt “Thank you” to your local traffic policeman for doing whatever he can to manage the chaotic traffic?
I warned you this is deep. The next one is the jewel on the crown. Go for it I say.
Spiritual fitness made me look up in wonder at this great cosmic creation of which we are a part. If you are a non-believer in the concept of GOD, I am fine with your choice. You will still benefit from reading this section.
1.    When was the last time you spoke to GOD?
2.    When was the last time you took care of the EARTH?
3.    When was the last time you expressed gratitude to the little acts of kindness you have received, knowingly or unknowingly?
4.     When was the last time you planted a sapling and nurtured it until it grew into a tree?
5.     When was the last time you saw a butterfly and were in awe of the colours it flaunted?
6.     When was the last time you got drenched in the rains and looked up to say thank you?
7.     When was the last time you read and quenched your thirst from the great wisdom books like the Bible, Quran, and Bhagvad Gita?
8.     When was the last time you went to a church, temple, synagogue, mosque only to realize that you are a spiritual being who has taken a physical vehicle?
9.    When was the last time you experienced the light and silently nurture a desire to spread the light?
As you reflect on the above, you may have your own reflections to write about. Do comment and share your questions while I now reflect on the 2nd questions to write my next blog. Take care.

DISCLAIMER: *JHUMPO and JHUMPOpedia is a pigment of my imagination and bears no resemblance to any character dead or alive. If there is any person or entity with a similar sounding name, please note this is purely a coincidence and at no point, do I mean any disrespect to you.

Thursday, 27 February 2014


Today more than yesterday, man likes to keep himself busy, often crowded by unimportant task/activities that help him tick time away. How often I have fallen in this trap only to realize the emptiness it brings at the end of the day. In a way, I choose to befriend mobile chaos. I present a few indicators of this in my daily life and probably, yours too.
Though, I am a very tech-savvy person, I realize that my mobile has now taken over my life literally. So it accompanies me to the loo, walks with me on the street and also participates with me when I am talking to my loved one face to face. I also see this repeating during my meetings/conferences/training programs which I conduct. It grabs our eyeballs and our minds literally. So even during meetings/conferences/training programs, I have to think more to capture the audience attention since the beep...beep is ubiquitous. The height of tech-dependency became obvious when I noticed that even during funerals, people are busy playing on their handsets. It gets irritating at times. I have given a stare during such occasions only to be laughed at within the larger group. It seems to me it is now an accepted behaviour in the society.
To check my dependency on my mobile, I decided to experiment living without a mobile. I started with “one hour” on a Sunday as a pilot project. I experienced withdrawal like symptoms. Questions popped in my mind on whether I missed out on any action or what if I have missed out an important call or simply my habit loop of checking the mobile every few minutes (not seconds). Over 3 Sundays, these symptoms subsided as I grew comfortable. This has motivated me to go the next Level - level II –
1.       No mobile calls/messages on a Sunday.
2.       No calls/messages from me to anyone after 10pm on weekdays
I must confess it appears daunting to me, yet I look forward to the results of both these experiments. One of the rewards I want to claim is my beep-free Sunday time with my family. While I struggle, I am encouraged by the fact that I now check my mobile once every 3 hours on a Sunday. It has been a mixed bag so far, yet the results are beginning to show on the quality of time I am earning with these tweaks in lifestyle.
The biggest return to me is the improved quality of time I am earning with these changes. During the days, when I am not flipping my mobile, I realize the world also does the tango with me – I now only get calls during the time I am reachable. Encouraging indeed!! I also see that I am increasingly re-using my brain muscles to remember numbers rather than completely relying on a gadget. Thirdly, which is also dear to my heart, I also see my child observing that daddy is not glued to his mobile and  hence, I hope to see her (a microcosm of the next generation) really valuing eye to eye contact and full human level communication which can never be replaced by any technology. Lastly, I am fully able to be the master of technology in my hand rather than the other way round.
On a closing note, I propose a new idea to you my dear readers. Read it carefully.
How about celebrating one day of the year as a “NO MOBILE USE DAY”?