Don’t separate Work and Play.

IMG_1133

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

IMG_0949

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.

IMG_0006

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 pack a ‘SPICE’ punch in your life?

IMG_0089
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.

fcad950b-0bdc-4ed1-9844-c449c4df74c3

  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.

My mission is ‘I’, My passion is ‘I’.

Himalaya.png

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’.

IMG_6235.JPG

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.

1.png

Situation 1

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

2.png

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!

maria_sharapova__pencil__by_abrem008-d881sck.jpg

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?

 

What happens if you are not a SPICE Personality?

A SPICE personality doesn’t focus on one role while underplaying or ignoring or cheating in other roles.

IMG_8064 (1)
Pic courtesy – Swaraa Lodha

A SPICE personality is someone who strives to excel in all the prominent roles that he plays in his/her life, as a partner (to the spouse/friends/peers), as a parent (to children and one’s parents), as a professional and as a person.

A SPICE personality doesn’t focus on one role while underplaying or ignoring or cheating in other roles. He/She strives to strike a balance in his/her life by playing to the potential as a parent, partner, professional, as well as a person.

What do you lose when you are not a SPICE personality?

  1. You become a linear thinker who focusses on riding only the parental wave or the professional wave. You get obsessed with being the super boss or the supermom (super dads?). While believing that you have no time for other roles. You compartmentalize and box yourself and that leads to resentment and feeling of loss later. Many Indian women friends of mine gave up their careers because they were expected to focus only on their families. Society and parents judge women harshly when they think about a work deadline and the husband wants hot breakfast. A young dad recently told me, ‘Recently, I massaged my two-month-old son. My wife was surprised yet happy but my mother did not approve of it.’ I gave him a high five to start giving a bath too to his baby.
  2. If you focus on your profession only, you become a peak professional but a reluctant parent or an absent partner. You will get the professional spotlight on you while your close ones get relegated to dark corners or feel neglected. Steve Jobs followed Zen which means attention while designing life-changing products for Apple but could never pay attention to empathy in relationships. It has caused a lot of pain to his children and friends.
  3. You lose touch with authenticity. There might be a team of associates and subordinates who agree with your views and decisions owing to your authoritative position, not the genuine respect.

But think about your partner or your children. Do they love you and respect you for who you are or because that is conditioned and convenient? Mahatma Gandhi was respected by all Indians while their family suffered a lot due to his ideologies that gave his wife and children no freedom.

A one-dimensional success puts you on an inauthentic road where you feel you have arrived while your close ones might not be sharing the same idea.

This success gives euphoria but fulfillment remains far away.

If you give all your time and energy in raising children and building a family while ignoring your own self, that again makes you feel incomplete and used. Your children might be the most adorable and accomplished and you would try to take solace in thinking that it was worth it, your own interests and dreams will haunt you and cause bitterness. A retired teacher once told me,’Being a parent is a thankless job. My students valued me more.’

  1. Focusing on only one part of your persona is akin to putting all your money in one bag. Rather than having a balanced portfolio, a skewed portfolio spikes danger. If your professional success, for which you sacrifice all the remaining roles, takes a beating for whatever reason, you will be completely crestfallen. You will not get any cushion to ease the blow.

If you focus excessively on the words of a song and not the melody and music arrangement, expect a dud.

Why do we need ‘SPICE’ in life?

Excellence in life comes from summing up the skills that we create and develop in both settings – at home and at the workplace.

bc389d69-ccd9-4b84-9d8a-d47cd98e7bca
Pic Courtesy: Memory Makers

I am a woman, a wife, a mother and a professional. I have pivoted my profession so that I can savor some special moments with my daughter who is in her high school and starts college next year. This pivot has made me pretty available around the house which has not been a usual sight for last fifteen years of our family history.

So, I experience some conversations like these :

  • “Look at these napkins. I just don’t like the color. Also, why can’t we have of the tray of face towels and hand towels by the side of the wash basin in the dining area?” asked my husband, irritated.

We have had this discussion once before where I told him that it will be a hassle at home to have a lot of small towels for washing, drying, folding and replacing every day.

I come from ‘Keep it simple’ school while he comes from ‘Make it grand’ school. Alas, the twain doesn’t meet.

Anyway, to avoid a hat-trick of the same discussion, I took the grand decision. My husband uses three towels every day from the stack with pride and loves the arrangement when guest come over.

  • Though he watches videos and travels by cabs, he considers the phone to be a menace (All the incoming calls are on reject mode on his phone). As a result, I generally book these cabs because he doesn’t like the hassle.

“Why do you give the house number? Give only the number of the building? He asks each time he hears me talking to the driver.

I have explained it to him that it is needed if you want the cab to be waiting for you just outside the building, not the compound. Still, he asks the same question every time thinking I need some correction.

  • Recently, my daughter was debating with me about the trouser she should wear for a formal school event. It is a very tough decision for a teenager to make and I was trying to scrape for all the patience in me to keep having a ‘dialogue’ with her.

The father entered the discussion to offer advice. As he was not regularly a part of these decision-making sessions, he found our daughter to be rude and unnecessarily angry for no reason. She settled for a trouser quickly to close the discussion in presence of a foreign entrant but the parting shot came from this new entrant on the scene, “What is the point of writing all these Parenting Books when your daughter is so ill-behaved?”

db907bce-bb40-4c2f-9ec5-8e231dee3283

That set me thinking. Such thoughts, opinions have been around for so long that we assume them to be acceptable.

Anyone who takes on domestic and parenting responsibilities by staying at home becomes a collector of such thoughts, opinions, beliefs that start changing you the way age does – silently, subtly but substantially.

The partnering and parenting domains are considered as an operational hazard by those who are passive participants in these. But they reserve their right to judge, instruct and advise.

sPice framework is neither about women leaving professional roles and falling off the leadership cliffs nor about how to stick to the ambition. It is about valuing the work of everyone who is ‘working’ away from meeting rooms and office desks and creating a skillset which is professionally relevant and ‘lifely’ must.

Why is ‘Leadership’ offered a pedestal and ‘Parenting’ offered a Sigh?

Why is ‘Leadership’ celebrated and ‘Parenting’ tolerated?

Why ‘Leadership’ is a life-long learning but ‘Parenting’ is a gap in the resume?

If leadership skills help a person and an organization discover himself and contribute meaningfully, parenting skills do the same, rather more profoundly.

With artificial intelligence taking the mechanical aspect of our jobs away, humans would be left to focus more on the ‘human’ aspects of our jobs – that which can’t be executed by machines.

The creative, collaborative, and communicative skill set required for us to succeed and stay relevant has deep roots in our skill-sets that make us effective parents, caregivers, and homemakers.

Excellence in life comes from summing up the skills that we create and develop in both settings – at home and at the workplace.

Follow @ www.drswatilodha.com