Don’t separate Work and Play.

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I don’t separate work and play – it’s all living, says Richard Branson.

Why don’t most of us understand this fluidity of our lives which gives us fulfillment?Why do we chase professional success and fame leaving behind our partnerial, parental and even personal journeys?

We sprint with a professional cape on, while the other Ps – Partner, Parent, and Person in us wait for tomorrow that never comes.

Wait. Look back. Pick up all the Ps and change your race.

Go into a marathon with all the Ps – Professional, Partner, Parent, and Person within you.

This is a serious advice I am giving myself these days.

Do you agree?

Having ‘skin in the game’ means ‘investing your own money in the company that you are promoting’. In simple words, having ‘skin in the game’ means ‘owning the risk in the game’.

Do not own a part of your life.

Own the whole.

Invest yourself in all the four Ps – Person, Professional, Partner and Parent in you.

Politicians announcing wars have no skin in the game unless their children go to the war while the army men have their skin in the game.

Let all the Ps have skin in the game.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb says that the artisans whose survival depends on their reputation have skin in their game.

If being a responsible partner, parent, & person becomes a sign of good reputation, only then these roles will have ‘skin in the game’.

Own all your realms. Take risks, be volatile and vulnerable but value yourself as a partner and parent, as much as you value yourself as a person and a professional.

Do you agree?

Inner Innovation for SPICE

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Noted T.V. personality, chef, owner of Bizarre Foods, Andrew Zimmern believes that a good recipe for kitchen or life depends on in-depth detail. He says “If you find twenty on-line recipes for a pound cake, go with the recipe that even describes the size of the pan to be used. The person who confidently gives the tiniest of the detail has been there, done that”.

SPICE is such a detailed recipe to live a life full of meaning where we do justice to all the predominant roles that we play.

SPICE is not about how to get rich. It is about how to get real.

SPICE is ‘embracing your reality’ in total. Embrace the professional pod, the partner pod, the parent pod, and the person pod in you, all at once to create a life where none of these pods clamor for attention. They coexist in the space of all genders. If this coexistence and balanced inner innovation won’t take place, the existence of families will be in jeopardy. Happiness and mindfulness will become obsolete.

In this hyper-connected world, let us use all the ‘pods’ of our personality to cruise through the Hyperloop of life. The convergence of 4 Ps should be the motto of a holistic and heroic life.

Dig deep in each P to pick up the pebbles of purpose and action, the why and the how of your role.

Go to the professional piece and ask,

“Why am I doing what I am doing?”

“How am I going to reach the purpose?”

“What actions do I take to reach the purpose?”

“What I do not do?”

Dive deep into the Partnerial piece and ask,

“Why am I partnering with this person?”

“Is this out of love, need, convenience, respect, conditioning (social pressure), or mutual benefit?”

“How do I intend to make this work?”

“What do I do and what don’t I do to keep the partnership going from strength to strength?”

Dwell deep into the parental piece and ask,

“Why am I getting into this longest-term commitment?”

“What is the purpose?”

“How am I going to prepare for the parental stint in life?”

“What do I intend to do and what will I not do to make it work?”

Dab deep in the ‘Person’ piece to sum up the question,

“Who do I want to be?”

“Why do I want to be that?”

“How do I be the real me?”

This is a “↓ dig deep inside” action to be taken by all the Ps inside us.

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Then, there is a “↖↗↖↗ holding hands horizontally” action to be taken by all the Ps, creating the hyphenated connection. The hyphen symbolizes being equal in a hierarchy-less environment. All the Ps should be connected but none of them takes center stage or dominates the rest. This is what we need to achieve.

How to be a SPICE Person, Partner & Parent?

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How to be a SPICE Person?

Everything is amazing, but nobody cares.

We are ‘grateful’ for a second and we are ‘resentful’ for the remaining fifty-nine seconds in a minute.

This is so because We “adapt” within a second to whatever we were grateful, a second ago. We start feeling “deserving” within a second for whatever we were grateful, a second ago.

We start “sneaking” into others’ lives after a second and find reasons to be resentful.

Let’s schedule a “Gratitude Reminder” every night on our phones. {Earlier I thought of suggesting a ‘Gratitude Diary’ but then…..:)}

How to be a SPICE Partner?

If you tell a friend how lucky she is to have a comfortable life, she might agree on your face but would think to herself “Live in my shoes & you will know”.

When you ‘tell’ a person something, it is not accepted easily.

When you ask “Do you think you are lucky?”, it is most likely to create a positive response, on the face as well as in the mind.

So “Ask, not tell” is the mantra.

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How to be a SPICE Parent?

Learning doesn’t begin on the first day of school.

Learning begins on the first day of life.

We know it, but do we follow it?

A newborn can develop 80% of his/her brain in the first three years of his/her life.

Guess what? This opportunity is lost after the first three years.

It is not a pre-school that matters.

It is a parent who matters.

It is a grandparent who matters.

Kids who are talked to consistently in first 1000 days know thirty million more words than kids who are merely watched over.

Make your home language rich.

Beware! It is not screen-talk that helps. It is face-to-face responsive talk that works wonders.

Talk to the new-born.

How to pack a ‘SPICE’ punch in your life?

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Pic Courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

Each one of us wants to be the best. Each one of us dreams of being the next superstar or the next billionaire. But to hit the perfect score, we must be able to hit the bullseye at each turn.

To be a holistic hero of your life, you need to hit the bullseye in all the life domains that you pick. You need to excel in all the roles that you have chosen to play. Let’s see how we can spice up our lives.

  1. Choose the right partner (a spouse, a teammate, a founder, a mentor, a parent): Whenever start-up investors are asked how do they decide to invest in an idea, they say that they primarily observe two things – the team and the technology. If the co-founder is alone, they would generally want him/her to partner with someone who could complement his/her skills. They check the ‘trust’ quotient between the co-founders otherwise.

The course of life depends on the choice of appropriate partner in various domains of life. The ‘right’ choice boosts up all the building blocks of our life while ‘not so right’ choice dooms our destiny.

Choosing a right life partner is the most crucial decision that decides your happiness on a day-to-day basis.

Never take this decision in haste or under pressure. Own this decision completely by thinking it through.

Your Partnerial excellence depends largely on the personality of the partner whom you choose.

  1. Choose the right workplace – If you wish to have a career and not a job, if you wish to earn respect as well as money, you need to find the right place to work.

Find a company with a culture that will not only accept you as a young mother(when you become one) but will also celebrate the value you bring to the workplace as a parent.

Find a great place to work that trusts you. ‘Trust’ is the key factor in making an organization a great place to work.

A great workplace is one where the employees:

  • ‘Trust’ the people they work for.
  • Have ‘pride’ in what they do.
  • ‘Enjoy’ the people they work with.

From the manager’s perspective, a great workplace is where they achieve organizational objectives with employees who give their personal best and work together as a team/family in the environment of trust.

Your professional excellence depends largely on the kind of work-place you choose.

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  1. Pivot proactively – Never feel rigid when you zero in on a subject to study or when you choose a profession. Be ready to listen to the changes that happen within you and make corresponding changes in your choices proactively.

A year or two studying chemistry can easily be replaced by the next few years in comedy/creative writing classes if that is what you realize about yourself. Do not get into studying chemistry because you do not want to waste these two years or because your parents will be mad at you.

Even after marriage, take your time to figure out if you both chose the right person. Though we do not cease to change even after getting married, we at least know the tributaries of our river. Share the various plans or dreams that you have for future.

Please try to make final pivot before getting into being parents.

Change your partner, if you must without procrastinating and foolishly believing that ‘Things will improve’.

There is no magic paint that can fill the cracks in the relationship wall.

The cracks emerge again after a few months, through the thick layer of freshly applied paint.

Your parental excellence depends largely on the common family vision that both of you opt-in for.

  1. Surprise Yourself – You would never know the depth of your potential unless you leave yourself free from your own thoughts about yourself.

People who are frightened of themselves will work for the people who are not afraid.

As a two or three years old, we were who we were – no fear, no self-consciousness. As we grow a little, we start seeing around, listening around and start to think “What will Mom think about me?”, “What will the teacher think about me?”, or “Oh! What will that stranger think about me?”

That is when we start losing ourselves and our real potential.

You enviously marvel at others and find them hugely better than yourself.

Rather than gaping at them, gaze inside yourself and grasp the dice that God gave you to roll.

The various roles on the dice of life are to be uniquely performed by you. No one can sing the tune of our life, no one can compose it either. Surprise yourself by composing it well without sneaking into listening to the songs that others are playing.

Don’t change your story according to the narration of others. Don’t let them prompt your story. Put your headphones on, close your eyes and write your story.

A Meta – Skill called SPICE

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Pic Courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

Future of the world is changing.

Future of the families is changing.

The way leaders are deciding to take their countries forward, the way partners are deciding to raise their families has a new narrative.

Prime Minister of a developed nation like Canada talks about equality, empathy, globalism, and forgiveness as his philosophy. He apologizes with aplomb. He cries and puts his vulnerability out there.

Players like Serena Williams play their roles as a tennis player and a parent like a symphony.

Indian boxer Mary Kom continues to fight with her three children being an integral part of her daily vision of life.

Satya Nadella runs Microsoft with the energy of empathy fuelling the core businesses. He admits that the father in him has shaped the leader in him for the better.

Walls between the masculine and the feminine are breaking and they need to break to make it an ‘and’ game.

We need to put our cultural ‘learned helplessness’ behind us and embrace a more inclusive self-view. Our cultural trappings have built edifices of stereotypes which need to be toppled over and new bridge be built.

The stereotypes like “When husband earns enough money, why is the wife working?” or “A married couple must have children” or “A mother who holds on to her career alongside her children is selfish and aggressive” need not be a part of growing up of the next generation.

The way a man or a woman would etch their roles as per the script of the society is divisive and oppressive for a woman.

We need a social re-engineering of our thoughts about expectations from men & women within marriage and family.

We need to accept the learnings from ‘partnering’ and ‘parenting’ experiences as meta-skills. A meta-skill is a set of practical knowledge which can be applied to various circumstances including ones which we haven’t experienced yet.

Life should be a process of accumulating and applying meta-skills but we fail to optimize their use.

Their suboptimal use causes us to feel less happy as we age and feel less fulfilled. The cross-functional exchange of skills will refine and strengthen our competence as a professional as well as a partner and a parent. My ‘father pod’ can teach my ‘leader pod’ and the opposite is equally possible.

Use of meta-skills like parenting and leadership across many areas of life makes our life wholesome. Spice helps you develop a toolbox of meta-skills to make our passage through life-fulfilling.

 

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SPICE” helps us to dive deep into the reservoir of our meta-skills as a partner (with a sibling, co-founder or spouse) and as a parent (with a cause, a mentee, children or old parents).

The real-life experience that we face as a partner and parent, if journalled properly and the learnings sieved out, can give valuable life learnings. These are raw material for developing meta-skills but we fail to project them and process them as valuable.

The extract from juices of life, concentrated in our parenting and partnering pods needs to be highlighted as an elixir for staying happily human.

Travel experiences are valued while real-life experiences with real people at home are neither documented nor considered relevant. This is so because no one considers them worth synthesizing and worth applying in professional processes which is a dumb decision.

All people possess experiences, but most of them fail to process & integrate them into more usable form in various domains of our lives. Every partner knows about relationship conflicts, trust issues in not only their lives but in lives of their friends, friend’s relatives, families. This information can be processed into ‘wisdom’. Every parent knows about parenting dilemmas and solutions adopted by so many fellow parents that these real-life concerns can be a great value-add in the personal and professional arena. Various failures in handling children, handling relations can be processed and analyzed to be used in managing egos and team dynamics in offices. These experiences are a goldmine of wisdom if processed, analyzed and integrated into our learning for future use.

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Pic Courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

SPICE helps us to process the valuable insights from partnering and parenting and integrating them as a meta-skill in our professional and personal lives. Similarly, the professional skill sets can be used on the domestic front.

My mission is ‘I’, My passion is ‘I’.

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What is Excellence?

Excellence means greatness. The very best. It is the quality of being extremely good.

You excel when you show your actions to be above the ordinary. You excel when you surpass the set standards.

How do we define ‘above ordinary’? How do we define – ‘set standards in areas of relationships – with partners, with children and parents, with oneself?

If a sportsman breaks an established record, we clearly know that he has excelled.

If a CEO achieves a turnaround and the company enters the Top- whatever list, it shows an ‘above ordinary’ performance clearly.

What about an athlete who comes from an Indian village without basic amenities, practices diligently, wins the state championship and improves her timing in the national championship. But she fails to win the nationals and Olympics is obviously a distant dream. Then, is it right to believe that she is on her road to excellence?

Earth is made up of various landforms – plains, plateaus, hills, mountains and mountain ranges.

Plains are flat pieces of land at the sea level. They can be considered the ‘beginning’ of a journey to the top.

Plateaus are elevated landforms. Plateaus do not have peaks. Their top is like a ‘table’. These are like launching pads for the journey up and ahead.

Hills are steeper than plateaus.They do not have a summit. They are gentler in slope than mountains. They could be termed as ‘set standards’ in the journey towards the top.

Mountains are large and show off a summit. They could be termed as being ‘above the standard’ or nearing the ‘excellence’ in any journey of excellence.

Mountain range is a series of mountains connected to each other and are formed in the same age. The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world.

There are thousands of unclimbed mountains yet, which will be conquered in coming years. It is similar to many areas of greatness where we have not yet ventured into our lives.

So, climbing a set of mountains in a mountain range would be ultimate, unbeatable excellence. Conquering a mountain summit is equally excellent which a handful of people can do.

There are many professional and amateur rock climbers who specialize in only one aspect of mountaineering i.e., rock climbing. If mountaineering is the whole life, rock climbing would be a part of it – the one that is visibly popular. So, people pick up rock climbing more often and fill their social media platforms with rock climbing pictures.

We are often told – Do what you love. Be what you are passionate about. The options given are to choose from career choices. You are expected to be passionate about doing something – engineering, automobiles, internet, coding, sports, medicine, music, art, writing, speaking, business, politics, or many other fields.

thumb-alphabet-i-9-_youmasti-com 2But, I am passionate about myself. Myself means my whole person, my individual self that comprises of my internal team – the professional in me, the partner in me, the parent in me, and the person in me.

I am passionate about my whole being and I wish to divide my passion into all the members of “my internal team” that I have chosen.

I do not wish to pour all my passion, all my love into my professional piece or my parental piece. I wish to sprinkle my passion, shower my passion, dab my passion for my whole being.

I am passionate about being a writer, an educator, a life coach.

I am passionate about being a mother and a daughter.

I am passionate about being a human being.

I wish to scale up my Professional Aravali, climb up to my Partnering Alps, try to access my Parental Karakoram and strive to touch my Personal Himalaya. I wish to be a mountaineer, not merely a rock climber.

For this, we need to change our lexicon of life. For this, we need to add SPICE to our lives.

SPICE is Sum of Partner, Parent, Professional, and Person In you to Create Excellence

The Pull and Push of 2Ds – Determination & Destiny

Life is a 2D game between our ‘determination’ and our ‘destiny’.

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We think about it every day.

How will the day go? How will the week go? How will the year go?

How will the narrative of life play out?

For me, it is a 2D game between our ‘determination’ and our ‘destiny’.

Our determination refers to all that we can control and add to the narrative of our life that we wish to see unfold.

Our destiny refers to all that we cannot control but it gets added to the narrative of our life, changing it, for better or worse, whatever.

Sometimes, determination and destiny work in opposite directions with varying intensities.

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Situation 1

Sometimes, determination and destiny push in the same direction, of course with intensities that they like.

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Situation 2

We do not see the fruition of our efforts in situation 1 while the situation 2 surprises us because of the secret sauce created by determination and destiny together design what we cannot imagine.

So, what do we do?

Stay ‘determined’ and keep ‘showing up’ to do our part.

If our push of determination weakens when the destiny decides to push with its full force, we will regret it big time.

Hence, let’s show up each day with our determination to excel as a professional, partner, parent and person.

That’s what we can certainly do.

This astounding story of Maria Sharapova will tell you what a delightful mix of dedication and destiny can do!

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Before her birth, Chernobyl disaster happened in Russia, a mere hundred km away from her parents’ home. Radiation affected every inch of life – big mushrooms, contaminated water, dying life.

Her mother conceived her and stayed for a while eating those ‘big’ mushrooms, drinking that water before they left. Maria believes that it caused her to rise to a ‘big’ 6 ft 2 inches with indomitable strength.

They moved to Sochi, a Russian town where a tennis clinic was run by Yuri Yudkin. He saw a four-year-old Maria and declared that she is different. He told her father to get out of Russia if he wanted her to become a world-class tennis player.

But where?

Yudkin sent them to a Moscow camp where Martina Navratilova had come to see the young kids play. “America is the place”, she told Maria’s father. He listened. He decided to leave.

But how?

Visas were difficult, almost impossible. The father went to the visa official.

Guess what? The officer’s daughter was eight and loved tennis.

He said, “Are you sure you want to take a six-year-old to the USA to train? Only you two can go, not the mother”.

“Yes”, the father said.

The officer issued the visa.

In between Chernobyl, Sochi, Moscow camp and Embassy, the little girl practiced every day.

Destiny is needed but determination and dedication are needed 24X7. Who knows when you meet your visa officer for the future?