Be judgmental, at your own risk

Be judgmental, at your own risk

For all of us Relationship in all areas of our lives are critical. Being judgmental of people around you is not BAD but just ask yourself “Is it helping me become a better person? Is it helping me make my life better?”

Personally, I have been a very judgmental person till very recently and then something happened.

I was attending a corporate conference on “Machine Learning” a few months back. I was eagerly waiting for the Keynote speech by a renowned expert on the topic (obviously). Surprisingly, when he came up and started speaking, I lost my interest in 30 seconds. Why?

  • He was not a good orator
  • His command over English language was not great
  • He was using a lot of fillers like “you know”, “I am telling you”, “getting it?” and others

Of course, these are all my reasons. Being judgmental, I lost my focus from the content of his speech and I started focusing on things which I did not like. The next 45 minutes I was really uncomfortable, angry, irritated and also passed on some irritation to others by gossiping with colleagues sitting next to me “Disappointed”, “What a waste!” and other such statements. You can add your own favorites :)

Most importantly, I lost out on learning anything from the Keynote speech.

When I shared this with my friend, Chenthil, he told me to stop my act of “simultaneous criticism”. When I asked him, “what do you mean?” He said, “Listen to others without your filters. Don’t rush to criticize on the spot or else you will lose the message”.

Whoa! This struck me like a bolt of lightning!!

I realized that when I am criticizing others openly or in my mind,

  • I am getting a false sense of happiness or satisfaction about being Right, Smart and a know-all person.
  • I get an opportunity to look down upon others and invalidate them.
  • In other situations, like in a team meeting when I criticize somebody openly or even in my mind, I get to dominate the person. Or with a boss, I avoid his domination.
  • I get a false sense of Winning.

How I am operating while doing this,

  • Listening with filters on. Filters are my own, interpretations are my own. But the victims are other people. Really? Or is it me who is losing out?
  • I am only looking for mistakes or weaknesses in others.
  • I am just boosting up my own ego.
  • I create opinions about others and then frame them into those perceptions.

And what’s the impact on me and people around me? Am I getting anything GOOD out of this? What’s the impact on Relationships?

  • I am actually feeling very negative all this while. Losing my energy and creativity.
  • Suddenly I find myself “shut down” and not being able to share my thoughts openly.
  • I keep thinking about my own criticism. Feeling guilty about it later.
  • I distance myself unknowingly from the person who I criticize. Lose out on the Relationships many a times.

So, what is the way out?

  • Avoid focusing on the negative. There are positives also to focus on, always.
  • Am I projecting myself onto the other person? May be.
  • Am I trying to control the situation in my favour? By saying that the other person is not fit for the job and only I can do it perfectly. This could be an ego trap.
  • Am I focusing too much on other people? Am I hiding something in myself? Better bet is to focus on self.
  • Make a choice about how do I use my energy? By wasting it on criticizing others or using that energy for self-improvement.

Finally, do I care more about being right (by my standards) and grumpy? Or being open, free and happy?

The choice is for everyone to make.

I promise, I won’t make any judgement about it :)

8 ways to break the barriers!

8 ways to break the barriers!

Life is a game of possibilities, infinite possibilities. While you are reading this, just pause for a moment and think about all the alternate possibilities that exist right now to spend this moment.

Thanks for coming back and staying with me. Continue reading.

Deepak Chopra said,

You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.

Now, let us examine how well do we recognize these possibilities in our daily life? How open are we to look beyond the obvious? How alert are we even to realize that we have a choice? How we can make powerful choices to achieve breakthrough Performance?

Most of us have created for ourselves a pattern of living. It is our default mode of being, thinking and living. It is our own comfort zone. What we seldom realize is that it keeps us within the boundaries. It limits our possibilities. So, is there any way to break the barriers?

Here are some of the ways to break the barriers and create new possibilities:

1. Go beyond fear

False Evidence that Appears Real (FEAR). Fear gets in the way when we allow it to stop us from taking action and achieving something. It stops us from going out of our comfort zone. Except for the rare situations where there is a physical danger, almost always fear is “only a conversation in the mind”.

2. Go beyond limitations

Most of us have perceptions about self that are self limiting. Some people think they can never speak in front of a group or can never say “No” to their boss. On the other hand, for some other people these same things may appear as very easy. The trick is to become aware of our own thinking and imposed limitations.

3. Go beyond the past

This is a BIG one. Starting anything new, say searching for a job or starting a new business venture; many of us refuse to even start, thinking about all the failures that happened in the past. Yes, we need to learn from past mistakes but why do we need to pull the failures from the past and put them into our future? We all know – Past success does not guarantee future success then why should past failures mean future failures?

4. Go beyond excuses

You know what? I want to lose 10 kg weight but I am starting on that next month BECAUSE….Sounds familiar?

I bet you will be saying the exact same thing next month as well. Am I right?

I invite you to do a quick exercise(!). Write down your top 3 important goals which you are unable to achieve or where progress is slow. Then write down the excuses you are making. Do you see a co-relation?

By clearly setting your priorities and then acting on it in Here and Now helps more than anything else.

5. Go beyond what people would say

Just count, how many times we stop doing what we want to because we worry about what other people would say.

Early part of this year, I visited my cousin brother at Baroda and it was kite flying time. I am not an expert kite flyer but I still went ahead and enjoyed the game. I would have missed out on a lot of fun if I had worried about what people around would say.

6. Go beyond perceptions

Let us look at all our relationships, family, friends, colleagues and everybody else. Do we notice that we have created perceptions and views about each one of the persons around us? It does not matter good, bad or ugly. We always look at people through those lenses. To create new relationships or improve the existing ones we need to drop the lenses or filters and see people “as they are”. Read my blog on the topic Be Judgmental At Your Own Risk

7. Go beyond rejection

I read somewhere – Rejection is God’s way of saying ‘Wrong Direction’. The key to go beyond rejection is not to take it personally. There are many reasons why rejection happens, and sometimes we don’t even know the reason or can’t find out. But one thing is for sure the reason is NOT – you are not good enough.

8. Go beyond strengths

Surprised? Have you observed, that sometimes your strengths keep you from fully expressing yourself? A friend of mine is a very logical thinker and is quite brilliant but is always in a serious mood. Even at a silly joke he would try and find logic. Does not work all the time.

In a nutshell, important thing is to realize these patterns. Now, do you want to go beyond current limitations and achieve better results in future? It could be a new job, promotion, new challenging assignment, something you always wanted to learn or do, make new friends and relationships, new goals and aspirations or anything else.

I invite you to identify which of the factors are stopping you and go beyond those to create new possibilities in your life.

Jump-start your career, here and now!

Jump-start your career, here and now!

Want to get a good job after college? Use these tips to jump-start your career!

Recently I was invited for a panel discussion on Careers in Management at a reputed management institute at Pune. I got an opportunity to interact with around 250 students who were very excited at the same time anxious and unclear about their Career Development. Through this article I intend to provide guidance to Fresh Graduates (from all disciplines) who are about to start their professional careers.

Most students go to college to get a degree and to gain the skills employers want. Getting good grades is not enough to impress most employers. Students that follow the strategies listed below will be better prepared to promote themselves to employers. 

Step 1. Self Awareness

The best place to start Career Development roadmap is by knowing yourself. It gives you a clear idea about your strengths & areas of improvement. Career assessments can help identify your skills, interests, values, or other traits. These are then matched to a broad list of careers. Assessments help you find careers that fit you best. These days there are some very effective Psychometric Tests available based on Five Factor Model (FFM) which have been found extremely reliable and useful in understanding yourself and your best career choices based your strengths and traits.

What Can an Assessment Tell You? 

An assessment is like a mirror and can tell you what may not have really noticed about your personality traits.

Take a career assessment to:

  • Understand the strengths (or weaknesses) you bring to your job.
  • Find out about specific occupations that are a good match for your unique blend of traits.
  • Learn where your skills fall short of the requirements for different jobs.
  • Decide whether you need more training or experience in an area.
  • Reflect on where you want to take your career, and where you want your career to take you.

For more details on the Personality Test, Click Here.

Step 2. Prepare Yourself

Explore careers related to your degree. 

Don’t wait until you are graduating to think about the workplace. The sooner you start Career Development journey the better. If you haven’t already, research careers related to your specialisation. Do you know what jobs you will be qualified for when you graduate? To help plan your career path, conduct several informational interviews with people who work with or hire people in your desired career. Ask them if your degree program and extra-curricular experiences have prepared you for the requirements employers expect.

Identify skills most in demand by your potential Employers 

Our market research across Employers from various industries shows that following are the Top 3 critical skills they are looking for while recruiting Fresh Graduates: 

  1. Communication skills
  2. Industry Awareness
  3. Analytical/Problem Solving skills 

It is of paramount importance for students to develop these skills before they get ready for Campus Recruitment season or searching for jobs on their own. It helps immensely if you can get guidance from Industry Experts via Mentoring programs, Career Guidance workshops and 1-on-1 Career Counselling from Professional Coaches. 

Create a network of peers, seniors and Industry Experts

In today’s world, your people network is your social power. The more active you are in your social networking, the more your chances of being visible and knowledgeable about the world around you. Today there are some excellent social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and other students specific social media platform that can be of great help to you. Join a career-related student group, professional associations, or other groups that can help you to build your network, including online career-related groups. When possible, choose college projects related to trends and topics in your desired career.

 Step 3. Think Big and Go for it!

For students of the 21st Century, there are plenty of opportunities across industries and sectors. India being a fast growing economy the college students of today can take benefit of growing industrial and economic activity across industry verticals. The Internet technology makes it possible for global opportunities to be tapped from India or from anywhere else in the world.

As an entry level employee, you’re part of the new workforce, the generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and new business owners. While your goal might not be CEO of a large corporation, you might just have the next idea for a startup or mobile application that can be become Google or Whatsapp of tomorrow. Who knows!

Find a mentor. The mentor works as a guide from within the context of the work environment. The perfect mentor is someone who works well with you and who has been there and done that. The best mentor/coach makes you aware of your unique strengths, gives you guidance, builds your self confidence, helps you in Career Development and inspires you to pursue your Big Dreams.

In summary, I recommend you, the college students, to become self aware, then start preparing yourself to develop critical skills which are highly in demand, create a powerful network of peers, seniors and industry experts, get a Mentor, think big and just go for it!

Remember, there are no limits but infinite new possibilities ahead of you.

The question is , are you ready for this thrilling ride?

Adventure called sabbatical…

Adventure called sabbatical…

A lot of friends and colleagues who liked my previous article wanted me to write more about my sabbatical experience. For many, the previous article Living inside out! gave glimpses of start of a journey but they wanted to know more. So, here I am, writing about my sabbatical time, hope you enjoy reading it.

I had been thinking about taking a break from work for a long time, I guess since December 2013. It is at that time I spoke to my wife about it and she was cool with it. But the fact is even though I wanted it I did not have enough courage to act on it. I must tell you, I had a few passionate and emotional discussions with my close friends about this topic but went back to my comfort zone to continue with my routine. There were times when I was totally frustrated at work, sad and emotional, even broke down when it became too much but I kept dealing with it in my own ways. There was an impact on my health as well, I suffered from severe eye strain, frequent headaches and did not feel very good.

Slowly, I started taking action along the way. I was desperate to get professional help. I Googled for Life Coach and found a few profiles. Went through those and I found my Life Coach Milind ( I started working with him on my goals and challenges.My goal was simple (on paper) – find a way to start doing what I love doing.

Needless to say there were many challenges starting with my own beliefs, comfort zone and old habits. I was extremely fortunate that my family was super supportive including my parents. I want to share this with you – one evening I sat down with my parents and told them that I want to quit my job and start doing something that I love to do, something in Training area. Frankly, I was expecting a lot of questions, words of caution and dose of wisdom. But both my Mom and Dad just simply said “Great. All the best.”  I was shocked and asked them what made them believe that I am doing the right thing. What they said will remain the best compliment of my life. They said, “So far you have done very well in your life so we are sure whatever you will do in future you will do well. And we are sure you have taken this decision after giving a good thought. Go ahead, we are with you.” I can’t explain what a relief it was for me and such a great motivation.

Then I requested my Manager for a long leave and he was considerate enough to grant me that.

My wife was my continuous support and sounding board throughout this time. I can’t thank her enough for that. My Life Coach Milind was another big pillar of support for me. He kept me on track, in action and always optimistic. He shared his own journey and it was inspiring all the way. He used to often quote

Doing what you love is not necessarily a recipe for an EASIER life,

it’s a recipe for a more INTERESTING life.

My son, 3 years old,  played a huge part in making my sabbatical thoroughly enjoyable. He was the happiest person on the planet to have me at home all the time. On one occasion I heard him telling somebody, “my Baba (father in Marathi) does not go to office anymore and always at home.” and then some of the days he used to ask me to get ready and go to office.  :-)

It took me a few days to adjust to the sabbatical state. What I mean is, no emails to check, no long calls, no immersion into the laptop and spreadsheets. Yes, I did miss the lunch gossip and tea breaks :-)

You won’t believe but I kept checking my office emails for almost a month before my ID was disabled as per the policy. It was a huge relief!

During my early days of the sabbatical, neighbors used to raise their eyebrows when they saw me at home all the time. The typical question, “Hey, no office today?”. First few days I lied to them saying “Working from home”.  Then after a couple of weeks I gathered enough courage to tell people the truth that I have taken long leave. Now the next question, “What are you going to do with your long leave?” I used to say, “Relax!”. It was a lot of fun.

During this time, I enrolled myself into few a Training programs, learned new skills, met new people and came to know many new things about the world around me. I attended a few Transformation programs which helped me see my way of being, thinking, beliefs and life overall in a new light.

In nutshell, six months of sabbatical was an experience of a life time and I won’t trade it for six months salary :-)

Living inside out!

Living inside out!

While the cricket fever is in the air, all of us know that “inside out” shot is very effective in cricket and beautiful to watch. The key is for the batsman to have the courage, read the bowler’s mind, read the length of the ball, dance down the pitch and hit the ball powerfully in high orbit to smash it outside the boundary for maximum!! What a delight for the spectators.

Have we ever thought, are we living our life “inside out” or is it “outside in” most of the time? Most of you would agree with me it is the latter one. Right from our childhood, we are encouraged to live “outside in” and till the very end of life or at least till the time we choose not to live that way. Life purpose is seldom given a thought.

You may wonder, what do you mean by that? Let me explain what I mean. We encourage a child to behave the way we want it to behave under the notion of teaching them good behaviour. In schools, teachers encourage and expect every student to follow a certain way of behaviour, for example, paying attention in class, studying well for the exams, scoring well and so on. The society around us also encourages this “fall in line” behaviour. We all have been through this and it has helped us a great deal, no doubt. This way we learned what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. But did anybody ask us, what is it that “you would like to do”? Did anybody encourage us to start this inquiry? If you answered “Yes”, may be you are among the rare lucky few.

The journey of “outside in” continues through our adulthood through our college days into corporate life. Now, the players are different but message is pretty much the same – Do what is expected of you or else pay the price. I am not all hinting at being undisciplined, reckless, irresponsible or being rebellious or anything like that. The point is – am I thinking for myself or just following the expectations of others what I call it as “Outside in” living.

I stumbled upon this question by accident a couple of years back, when I was on an assignment in a foreign country, while I was learning ways to be effective in the new culture, new work environment and my new role at work. These were all “What and How” aspects, the “outside in” aspects. What do I need to do to be successful and then How do I do it in quick time. But then came the not so obvious “Why” question which led me to “”inside out”” thinking. The nature of it’s inquiry is very gentle but persistent; it won’t stop you from doing anything but will ask the final question if you don’t ask upfront. And then this “why” question will keep nagging at you gently.

I realized that during our life time the “outside in” expectations keeps coming at you in various forms like what is meant to be a good child, good son, good brother, good student, good employee, good husband, good father, good friend, good citizen and the list goes on. And never gives one an opportunity to find out what it is like to be a “good me”. Now, this inquiry is deep and in many ways very personal for every person. In my case, it led me to a space where I started asking myself “what is it that makes me happy in life?” “what kind of work I would like to do?” “what contribution can I make to the world around me?” “what will give me fulfillment?” “what is my life purpose?” and many more such questions. And the answers don’t come easily and quickly.

Leap and the net will appear.

– Zen saying

I decided to take a break from work and spend some time figuring out the answers to these questions. It was not an easy decision for me to make especially with the “outside in” mindset. I had to go beyond the fear of uncertainty and anxiety. But when I did, it started giving me glimpses of the outer world around me which I had never seen. The glimpses of my inner world which was waiting to be discovered. The journey to live “”inside out”” is amazing, enriching, endless, scary at times but fulfilling nonetheless. And I am just getting started…

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