It is common knowledge amongst my friends, clients and really everyone who gets to know me a little that I have had a very long standing and dramatic relationship with food and my weight.  I remember going on my first diet at 13 and it has been a non-stop journey of a few successes, lots of failures and frustration, lots of tears and recently, some laughter too!  So why I am talking about this personal detail on my Leadership Blog post?  Mainly because I recently had a huge breakthrough and a life-altering realization about food – specifically the way I eat!

And I wanted to share the mechanics of this breakthrough with you…first; shall I finish sharing the breakthrough story?  So six weeks ago, I woke up and realized that the reason I was struggling to lose and keep weight was that I was eating too much…well too much “dense” food.  What is dense food?  Grains, dals and beans mainly because I am vegetarian.  And the way to fix it was not to eat less dense food – the way to fix it was to STOP altogether for a short period and then keep the quantity down to a fistful a day.  So for ten days, I had no grains, no dals, no beans and no dairy – just fruits, vegetables and nuts.  After ten days, I added some dahi and one chappati or a bowl of rice to the mix.  It has been six weeks and I know that I am on the right track.

What is worth sharing is the mechanics of this insight – this AHA moment.  Imagine 43 plus years of tinkering with my diet, finding so many ways that are either torturous or actually counter-productive to change the way I eat.  And then one bright second, one instant and then there is this understanding.  It is transformational, it is a paradigm shift – imagine that my lunch is a salad.  Not a salad with bread on the side and croutons on top – just a salad full of vegetables.  Imagine that dinner is soup.  Imagine that this feels right, it is complete and fills me up.  THIS IS HUGE.  For someone raised to believe that the center of the meal is a grain, this is huge.  It is almost religious.

The takeaway is that you need to prepare for this AHA moment – and yet you cannot make it happen.  That process is spontaneous and you wanting to make it happen actually can become an obstacle.  So, how does one prepare?  Exhaust yourself with tinkering – it might seem pointless because you can just do nothing and wait for the insight, the moment of clarity.  In my experience, the work and the failures are the preparation.  You have to experience all the failures and you have to feel the despair before you are willing to experiment with a solution that is totally out of the box.  The trick is not to give up when you are faced with a challenge that is difficult to master – keep working on it with new ideas, new proposals and new perspectives.  This is the groundwork for breakthroughs.  This is the analog preparation for the digital and instant breakthrough!

We see this everyday at work and in our daily lives – we keep addressing new challenges with a fixed number of solutions.  Solutions or ideas that are known, that have been tried and tested and come to mind easily.  This approach will not really work when you want to grow, or do things in a different way or diversify into new businesses or markets.  This is the time when breakthroughs are the only way.  This is the time when you as a Leader have to encourage “fast failing”.  You need to encourage your team to keep looking at ways to succeed, acknowledge failures without blame or shame and move onto the next new idea.  This repetitive cycle of new idea-failure-acceptance of failure-new idea is the analog preparation.  And as you move through this cycle, the momentum lifts you in an instant, digitally, into a breakthrough.

What do you think?  Are you ready to move towards the digital experience?