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!

I am just back from a fabulous yoga retreat in God’s Own Country, Kerala – life is not over if one has not experienced the energy & lush landscape of this region and that is the subject for another very important conversation 🙂  The retreat was intense and light – a balance that is difficult to achieve & enjoy!  The yoga and meditation ensured that each day had a rhythm of flexibility & surrender – so when we had 2 powerful sessions of personal inquiry, let us say, it was easy to explode, heal & soar.

Our amazing facilitator Hari led us through the understanding of 9 primary emotions, the Navarasas, that run common through all forms of Indian art & knowledge systems – paintings, dance, music, yoga, and Ayurveda.  The premise of the session was that because we have various conditionings that prevent us from totally experiencing these primary emotions, we develop secondary patterns that are repressive or oppressive.  Makes sense so far – yes?

Then he began to list the 9 emotions:

  • Shringara Love
  • Hasya Laughter
  • Karuna Compassion
  • Raudra or Krodha Anger
  • Veerya Courage
  • Bhaya Fear
  • Bibhatsya Aversion
  • Adbhuta Wonder
  • Shanta Peace

As soon as he got to the end, I nearly took off from the floor.  Do you see it too?  Yes that’s right – there is no happiness in that list!  For the remaining 50 minutes or so of the session, that is where I stayed.  As a coach, if I could have a rupee for every time I hear the words: I just want to be happy – well at the least, I’d be able to hire someone to write this for me 🙂  You know what I mean…

Just look around – the pursuit of happiness is not only the viral trend of the ages, it is also a possibly trillion dollar industry!  And it makes us most unhappy that we cannot be happy.  So imagine a possibility that it is not primary, basic, part of our essential nature to be happy.  What if happiness is actually a by-product and as such accidental?  What if we shifted our focus from wanting to be happy first and foremost to being happy when we are happy?

Basically, what this means is that totally experiencing one of these primary emotions can (maybe) bring me a moment or moments of happiness.  I met an old friend, we shared some old memories & fell into uncontrollable laughter….aah look, happiness!  I stand at the edge of the ocean watching the sun disappear at the horizon turning the sky into a palette of reds, golds & then purples.  Total awe….and then quiet happiness!  And we can go on…

As I am writing this, I just let out a big sigh!  When I shift the goal from happiness to something that comes naturally to me and something I can do easily, then I am in flow.  There is no effort, there is nothing to remember or strive for, nothing that makes me feel like I am missing out or incomplete.

WOW that is wondrous!  PS feeling happy I am 🙂 or as my beautiful friend Keerthi would say:  happy is coming!

About 10 years ago, I was visiting my friend Shilpa.  She was mother to a six year old and we were talking about eating out with small children.  As a non-parent, I was telling her that I always felt a bit sorry for parents whose children throw temper tantrums in public places.  And in her always wise way, Shilps said to me:  Kash, the magic trick is distraction!

Distraction you say!  Her mothering superpower was that she never got into a chat with her toddler about the reason for the outburst.  She would just say: Ooh, look at this shiny red car!  Or “Isn’t this cheese yummy!” And as soon as the attention shifted, all was well!

In recent days, I have been mulling on this pearl of wisdom and its more wider effectiveness – mostly for us grownup toddlers.  Have you set off in 2017 with an intention to eat better?  Or get on your mat daily?  Write 100 lines everyday?  Or read 47 pages?  Have you noticed that as you are cruising along, living your intention quite effortlessly, a serpent rears its evil head in your Garden of Eden?  And could it be that this is the serpent of boredom?

Chat to Self:  This is too easy.  Maybe I am not stretching enough?  Is this what <<<your favourite role model>>>  would do?

And the next thing you remember is that you are out of the flow, the intention has dropped and you have reverted to your favourite binge option (Netflix, chips, chocolate, shopping, your choice)!

So what else is possible?  I submit: distraction!  So the next time chat to self starts to roll in your head, distract yourself.  Ooh…look!!!  Find anything that works for you.  Here are some of my more effective shiny red cars:

  •  get up and walk for a few minutes
  • drink a glass of water
  • tick of a to-do item that is quick like paying some bills online, putting laundry away
  • get away from your device, close your eyes and take 5-10 breaths slowly

And at the other end…voila…you will notice you are back on track, intention in place & minimal damage done!

Write in and share with me how your shiny red car looks!

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