SPICE is challenging 5 mindsets !

5-must-DOs

  1. As long as I have an excellent heart, I am fine with weak kidneys and a suboptimal liver. This is ridiculous but this is how we normally live our lives. We believe that we can only excel in one dimension, one realm of our lives, not in all or more dimensions. Out of various realms of life – persona, professional, partnerial or parental, it is possible to excel in one of these. SPICE intends to fix our fixation with one-dimensional life.
  2. Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed. This is ridiculous, again, but we normally differentiate between genders like this. Men are physiologically and psychologically better programmed for professional pursuits and women are similarly better suited for partnering, caregiving, parenting, and family building. SPICE wants to break the ‘separate spheres ideology’ that men should excel outside the home and women should excel inside the home.
  3. Is a ‘list of deathbeds regrets of women’ available? Well, no, no one ever thought about it. We only have such lists for men. Ridiculous, but true. The realms in which women are expected to excel are not given the importance that they deserve outside the home. Partnerial and parental skills are ‘lowlights’ and professional skills are ‘highlights’ of life. All the work that goes into raising a family, sustaining a marriage, fostering self-improvement and solving world issues is just a side dish on the plate of life. SPICE strives to bring women perspective in the professional arena with the dignity that it deserves.
  4. If you are a marathon runner and a CEO learning from running can improve your skills as a CEO and vice-a-versa. But people are ‘domain dependent’. They fail to recognize the same idea when it is presented in a different context. They feel that transfer learning happens amidst machines only. SPICE ventures boldly into the importance of transfer learning between various realms of life.
  5. You are 65. Please retire from work and life. Ridiculous once again. But followed by most of us. We retire from living by the time we become platinum and wait gloomily for diseases and death to strike. This is our worst service to ourselves. SPICE embraces life after 50 as the beginning of a robust second-half of career and life after 75 as a dignified dotage plan.

Are you ready to incorporate these changes into your mindset? If yes, excellence is waiting for you. If no, don’t complain about your present.

 

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.

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?

 

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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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Persona or Person

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Pic courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

We always see the persona, not the person. Persona is ‘cool’ while a person is ‘useful’.

A persona is a mask which tells you a part of the story, while a person is a story.

Persona is magnetic, but the person is authentic.

Persona is our present to the world while the person is our present to ourselves.

The lesser the gap between the persona & the person, the happier we are.

Check your ‘professional persona’, ‘partner persona’ and ‘parent persona’.

If we accept our vulnerabilities, we can merge these personas with the person that we are.

Happy Striving!

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