We live in a world where we need to measure everything, quantify and know the pros and cons of all that we use, we own and we experience.  So, it is not just enough to go dancing – it helps to know that it improves flexibility and the social interaction is good for our emotional wellbeing!  Magazines and portals tell us in great detail the benefits of each asana we practice in yoga – how it makes your body, mind and even soul better.  Breaking up our food into proteins, carbohydrates and fats is so the last century – now we know whether our food has the requisite micronutrients, minerals, phytochemicals, and so on!

And it does not just stop there…we wish to measure how happy we are and whether we meditate intensely enough too!  This last week I was suddenly struck by the absurdity of this quest and decided to ponder on it a bit – as one is wont to do while lolling in the pool on a May afternoon in Pune.  And I finally hit on an insight that analogous to an Osho quote that has stuck with me over the years…

Osho said:  There are things in this Universe that are known, those that are unknown (which means they can be known eventually) and then finally those things that are unknowable (these can be experienced, never known)

And I have come to the same conclusion about our response to our things, our relating and our experiences:

  • There are some that are and have value in being measured (how much rent can I afford based on my income, how much time do I need to spend in the gym to feel healthy, how much food do I need to cook to feed my family)
  • There are some that are measurable even though I have not measured them yet (what is the shortest amount that I need to shower to feel clean, what is the optimal length of an afternoon nap for me, how much chocolate is enough to satisfy my sweet tooth)
  • And there are some that are immeasurable (the benefits of a yoga class, the length of the shared laughter with a friend, the pros of meditation)

And then I decided to delve a little more! Could it be that even what we measure or seek to measure, can be used, related to or experienced as immeasurable?  How does life feel when I can just be present in this moment and use, relate or experience?  Is measuring or wanting to measure just a need to feel assurance – assurance that we are not being cheated, short-changed or harmed?

Hmmm…am I totally ready to stop measuring completely?  No.  I still want to make sure my time, money and resources are well spent.  The biggest takeaway – and my experiment for June – is to introduce more and more moments of “immeasurability” into my daily life.  I choose to experience and relate to life with a sense of trust and wonder – an openness to immerse in the mystery!

 

Disruption (n): an unexpected interruption in a process, event or activity

When we hear the word disruption, we normally think of technology or business or both together! Isn’t disruption a larger reality for us? Do we not live in an age when we need to constantly refresh and reinvent our way of working, relating with each other and making our unique voice heard in the world? What was a mantra for success a few short years ago does not even exist anymore!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it reasonable to have one career (leave alone job) from graduation to retirement?
  • Can I expect to live in just one city or even one geographical region in my lifetime?
  • Will my college degree and education be enough to ensure me a livelihood for life?
  • How do I make new friends?
  • Are owning a home, a car and a retirement fund priority for me? Or would I rather gather experiences, knowledge and a network as a measure of wealth?

Now just check how a younger-you would have answered these same questions? This is disruption – something that did not even show up on your radar is now the norm! And it seems that the speed of disruption is just getting faster.

So, how do you future proof yourself? There is a master skill that can help you flow with each new disruption while enabling you to hold and shape your uniqueness. This master skill is facilitation. Simply put, facilitation is the process that enables you to make learning, consensus building and creativity easy first for yourself and then others! It comes from the root word: facilis, to make easy.

Facilitation is both an art and a science. It is possible to learn the structures that make you a good facilitator and then as you practice it on yourself and others, it starts to develop in alignment with your own style, your unique response to life!

The metrics of success & fulfillment and the methods of achieving them will forever be in loops of disruption – with facilitation you have the ability to ride each wave with confidence and ease.

In August this year, I will have been a Coach for 12 years!  In the beginning, I started this work to fill a specific gap – to create and deliver a process of nurturing leadership deliberately and on a sustainable basis.  Or in simple words, I became a coach because I felt that companies in India were not promoting leadership development within their organisations.

Over twelve years, everything changed – as it must!  Three shifts impacted the way I viewed my business the most:

  • companies worldwide, and especially in India, began to see leadership development as the responsibility of the individual not the organisation.  Each person needed to map and manage their own personal and professional growth.
  • more and more professionals preferred to be free lancers, entrepreneurs or stakeholders rather than employees
  • the ecosystem that provided emotional and physical wellbeing to the individual eroded and shape-shifted!

This meant that I needed to continuously shift the way I deliver my products and services to the marketplace.  My focus on wellness grew from being a conversation point to an anchor – each event I host includes movement, breath work and stillness with no exception at all.  I moved from working with company contracts to having conversations with professionals on their own volition.  It fit to supplement my one-on-one coaching sessions with more group processes – like weekend immersions, residential retreats and multi-day series.

Today, when I take stock, I can honestly say that my work is to support transformation – shifting one’s life response from outside in (in reaction to external stimuli like expectations, role model benchmarks, peer pressure) to inside out (powered by one’s core value, life purpose and vision)!  I do that seamlessly through an entire suite of services and a small set of beautifully handcrafted products.

When someone asks me what I do, I can simply say: I inspire & nurture transformation, one conversation at a time!  And the experience of this transformation is one of alignment – an alignment of who you are with what you do and how you live your life!

And then it immediately dawns on me that the work I share has done its “work” on my business and my life – I am simultaneously living transformation and sharing it.  And that is truly magic.

There are things in our lives that we know, and we know that we know them – and yet, once in a while, something happens that reminds us about the truth of those things in a breathtaking way.  Yes?  With me so far….hate to lose you with the first sentence itself!

My insight and the topic of my blog is the miraculousness of the mundane – simply put, the awesomeness of the ordinary stuff that happens in our life quite easily!  I have three instances from the last month that just squeezed my heart with joy so intense that it hurt a bit – really.

  1. On the 10th of September, we became primary humans to 2 puppies – a boy & a girl – who pooped, barfed and licked their way into our hearts.  And please note, we are rational, non-parent adults who normally keep a healthy distance from all little ones (human or other species) – so this very ordinary love that happens to people every day has been a revelation for me.  Those 2 little stinkers who are always hungry, chew everything, eat mud and have the most heart melting eyes have turned me into a gushing lunatic.  Be warned – puppy videos on social media might happen any day now!
  2. Since the 12th of August, my dad has been unwell – really unwell, Big C maybe unwell!  And as I see him struggle with the changes in his body and his mortality, I find myself seeing him totally for the first time.  Not just as my father, and how he served me in that role, I see him as a person.  I see his life, his pain, his struggle to find his identity and to be successful in his life & his relationships – and I discover a love for him that is deep and yet detached.  I am able to love him free of any expectation towards me, as a father, as a provider or role model – I am able to love him for all his strengths and his foibles too.  Again, very common stance, I can honestly say that I love my father!
  3. I have been walking between 5-6 kms on a treadmill about 4 times a week since March this year – every day, the trainer despairs that I do too much cardio and not enough weights.  He only reinforces what I read on social media and in the news – cardio has diminished returns in sculpting and toning the body.  And yet I persist – because I know for sure that at the end of each of those “walks”, I feel incredibly good inside.  My mind chatter calms down, I can focus better on my tasks, I have few food cravings and I sleep really well – all this personal “evidence” holds more weight than “expert-speak” and so I persist.  Ayurveda has been propounding it for thousands of years and I can say confidently now that walking up a sweat keeps me well – body, mind & soul!

Hope you take a moment today and pay attention to what might have given you joy recently – some people call that being grateful or counting your blessings.  I am sticking with my version – finding the miracle in the mundane!

The month of May has been very blissful for me in many ways.  Usually, this is the time we take off for the mountains and I usually go off the grid to refresh and renew for the busy monsoon season.  This year, we stayed home and instead, I got to enjoy the use of a totally empty gym, traffic-free roads, a bumper crop of mangoes & litchis and time to catch up on my reading.  There is one other thing I did this month and that was creating a brand new, grounds-up manual for a course in Facilitation.

Writing a manual is like writing a recipe – you are telling someone (the reader) how to do something!  What makes it tricky is that this person will spend many days in front of you – so the manual needs to be complete and tell the entire story and yet ensure that it needs the face-time interaction to enrich it and give it depth.  The final ingredient in this sauce is to consider the synergy of the group – the manual needs to encourage the user to seek input & support from the others using the manual at that time.  These are the 3 components of a killer manual:  precision how-to instructions, a deeper layer of insight through live interaction also called the workbook or playbook part & the underlay of group synergy structures & frameworks!

And hey, this was a manual on facilitation so what emerged organically was that the act of writing the manual was also a facilitation!  How so, you might ask?  Well, facilitation comes from the root word, facilis, which means easy.  So simply put, facilitation is the process of making something easier!  In the context of learning, facilitation is the process of enabling learning – creating a space where the participant taps into their own experience, creativity & insights to learn.  For 21 some days, I became the facilitator & the facilitated – there was a space created where I could ask these questions:

  • what does a facilitator need to know?
  • how does a facilitator need to be during facilitation and in preparation for it?
  • what is the USP of this brand of facilitation that I am sharing?
  • how can I make sure that each user can gain insights & benefit from this work in a way that honours his or her own style?

And the understanding, the learning, the insights I gained started to unfold as the pages of this manual.  Soon, it will be time to share this manual and the Foundation Course with 10 amazing participants.  And I know that as I facilitate that process, I will also witness countless more insights emerging from each individual and the group as a whole.  It promises to be a transformation!

PS Check out the details of this intimate, intense course and I look forward to seeing some of you in the room!

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