Leadership, Life, Transformation

Predawn #Day 11


It is uncanny why most of the religions have prayers early morning. Technically, this is neither morning nor night, and is a short 30-35 minute zone between the dawn and the end of night. Predawn may be the closest word for it. This time period possess great power if harnessed regularly, as many of the mystics have discovered it. You will feel strong uninterrupted flow of intelligence, brightness and clarity in this time. It is said that anything and everything that you conceptualize during these hours, you are bound to see the fruition.

I can vouch for the difference in my life since the adoption of this ritual in my daily routine. The day I have missed getting up in the morning, it is equivalent of missing the morning tea. You won’t be 100% during that day.

I started this habit inspired by Mr. Robin Sharma, who calls this as the prestigious 5AM Club. Mr. Sharma prescribes 20/20/20 rule for these hours, which for me is difficult to follow. It is primarily because my exercise benchmark is more than 20 minutes, if one has to see any benefits. Therefore I had to make changes to the Mr. Sharma’s and make it suitable for my life. You can learn more about Mr. Sharma’s rules through his website, robinsharma.com.

My morning rituals are as follows…

I wake up at least 30 minutes before the time. I have made this time to be 5.00 am on weekdays. In order to wake up early, I ensure that I eat early, latest by 7.30 pm and hit the bed by 10.00 pm. I also require 30 minutes of reading time with my daughter, my personal night audit and self reading. I keep my alarm at a walkable distance, so that I get off the bed to switch it off. If you walk back to the bed, it is dangerous; you may not be able to get up again. Also, I have realized that body is a wonderful machine and if you remind yourself to wake up at a certain time in morning, you would open your eyes exactly at the time you had told yourself about. The first day of the weekend (Fridays in Dubai), I wake up at 3.45 am, because it the days when a long run is scheduled. The distance for the long run is usually in excess of 20 kms. Because of this rigor, I keep my Saturdays easy and wake up at whatever time I can. I try not to wake up later than 7.00 am.

The first 15 minutes is devoted to meditation when I wake up. I follow Soka Gakkai International (SGI) methodology, which includes open eye meditation, chanting and prayers. The prayers are reaffirmations of my goals. These 15 minutes are the most intense time of the day and my most precious. It is daily reflection time, I have guidance to resolve issues, new ideas and way forward. Many a time if I have not been able to decide, I would literally sleep over it and depending upon morning guidance I would act. I have been happy with most of the decision made during this time.

Next phase is followed by exercise, which is either a run (3 days in a week) or a trip to the gym (2 days). On the days, if I don’t go to the gym, I would take a walk around the beautiful Dubai Boulevard. My exercise is not less than 45 minutes during the weekday and over 2 hours during the weekend. I have observed that if I mix exercises, it reduces fatigue associated with the regime and makes exercises more enjoyable. You also end up using different parts of the body, when you do multiple exercise in comparison to following a single regime such as running. Saturdays are my rest days, where I don’t do any exercise, but I do my meditation when I get up.

With these two morning doses for my mental/spiritual and physical self, I’m prepared to take on anything that may come that day. If I do get time after that, which is possible on Fridays and Saturdays, I would devote to writing my journals and reading spiritually uplifting books. The only rule is that during these hours you should avoid any distractions, whether it is through phone or calls or laptop. Just be by yourself during these hours.

It is important to reaffirm oneself and track our progress on a daily basis and I have found these morning time the best time to such activity. I have also found my will power to be the strongest, more accepting of instructions (to self) and full of energy during this time. During these hours I have found everything, possible and every obstacle, manageable. You would also find that anything that you decide during this hour to be the most beneficial in the long run, in addition to it being rational and practical. I would strongly recommend that if you developing a new habit, this morning time is the best time to reaffirm yourself and provided you continue this for at least 66 days.

No wonder that the early rising habit and a morning ritual is a common trait amongst all successful people, millionaires, sports personalities and leaders. It is not easy and would require persistence and discipline. However, once you taste its benefits, I’m confident that you would find every thing else trivial.

Do dare and challenge yourself for next 66 days, you would see a very different sunrise every morning. It will be worth the effort, and don’t sleep over it.


Digital Marketing, Life, Transformation

Money #Day 10

FLOW (4)

“Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the “gotta have it” scale.” Zig Ziglar

Money ranks high up in the priority list of basic necessities. It’s vacuum can spell catastrophe. This post is not about its excessive preoccupation, but about not disregarding the importance of money; contrary to the thought of infinite write ups available, which propose that the intent is supreme. If there is no commercial viability, the idea dies its own death, and so does the intent.

Money is important, and the earlier we learn it, the better it would for us to respect it and put it to good use.

Rule no.1 that would be universally true is that managing money, is a function of behavior and not statistics, budget or maths. This would be the most fundamental change that you would have to make. Behavior mandates that you strictly have few guideline rules for yourself, such as the one that I follow, inspired by Mr. Dave Ramsey: no debt. This is the rule that you would live or die for. Therefore, if it means junking your credit card, do be it. If it means carrying more cash in hand, I would do so. There should be one guiding principle for this behavior which is sacrosanct.

I have seen that you fundamentally need a shake-up if you want to change to a new habit or change behavior; easily would be the most difficult job in the world. I would not wake up on one side of the bed one day and find myself to be a changed person. There are rigors to be followed to instill this discipline. The benchmark is 66 days, which is the essence of my 66 days rigor. Changes at fundamental level change the lifestyle, which one should be ready for. This is on an average, however may take more or less depending on individuals.

Rule no.2 is that you should be able to know where your money is going. Mr. Dave Ramsey proposes budgeting as a great way to achieve this. He has been fanatical about budget, so much so that he takes this as a counseling tactics to get husband and wife on the same plane. And that is true, improper financial planning is reason no.1 for the couple to separate. And if they are aligned, it will restore understanding and financial success. Again, this is a function of behavior, where the husband and wife need to be transparent to each other, get committed and follow the budget. Budgeting also gives the picture, where the money is going and therefore your ability to control it. I would recommend that you also keep and expense tracking app and note the tiniest of spends that you are incurring. I feel that not just us, such deep discipline should be inculcated in our children as well. A good financial well being amounts to success and confidence.

Rule no.3 are goals, therefore one should have a set of goals. The most important goal is to save. Starting with at least 20% of your income and depending on your expenses. But by and large the thumb rule for saving should be 20%. This should be going first from your income to any instrument of your choice. And then one should put in the expenses, starting with the most essential ones to the least. Such as you would want to mandate are Food, House (rent) and maintenance essentials such as electricity, water etc. Mr. Ramsey proposes baby steps, which I would highly recommend, no matter in which part of the world you are in. His process are unique and if you follow them, you can expect results. The other part of the goals are life ambitions and essentials such as buying a house, kids education.

Rule no.4 is not to be emotional in making a financial decision. Impulsive decisions are recipe for disaster. You are much better off delaying gratification, thinking more about it, discussion with your spouse before making the decision. This is hard exercise, especially when it concerns the loved one, your kids or an immediate family. One needs to very rational in money matters.

Lastly, Rule no.5 is continuity. Like any other habit, if one leaves any of the plan midway, you will not get the benefits. Continuity in the long run multiplies and compounds and gives you superior results. This is the real key to financial success to be regular with your belief and practices. It would definitely require rigor.

Money requires a hard taskmaster to manage it.

I hope that you start your financial/money management behavior when you finish reading. And when you would look back, you may reflect this as the most important step that you would have taken towards securing success.

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PS: If you are interested in a budgeting sheet, please do leave your comment or subscribe to the mail.



Life, Transformation

Labyrinth #Day 9

FLOW (3)

Have you ever had a feeling of being consumed, completely? With no track of time, and hours pass like seconds? It means that you haven’t played Labyrinth yet.

Labyrinth may be in a position to beat Game of Thrones, if you ever thought GOT to be the ultimate gift to mankind. The unassuming innocuous board game has the capacity to consume you and have you split your hair, till to reach the end at least one time. The objective of the game is very simple to start from no.1 and reach 36, surpassing all the holes in between. There are two levers, one on the right had side and the other facing you. You can twist and incline the surface and make the ball move. You can’t touch the ball on the board and if you go into the hole, you start again.

There are holes which have had maximum number of people getting frustrated, these are no.3, no.6, no.16, No.23 & no.33. You would want to bet on people who are able to get by these easily.

The game requires umpteen amounts of concentration, no lesser than playing a video game. It requires immense hand-eye co-ordination. This would be exact intension that Dhriti would have got this game as a gift on her 7th birthday.

Labyrinth was not an instant favorite. When the young ones ran out of Monopoly, Guess Who, Labyrinth was used as a new novel challenge, which of course I had to demonstrate. The first attempt was not more than 6. Predictably, the kids got bored in 30 minutes, and that was when I introduced the game to the adults, who were couple of drinks down. Sadly none of them could better my score.

The following night, after challenging Dhriti, I decided to have a go at it. It was late in the night at 10.00 pm. There were many success on the way by 11.00, more determination by 12.00 and at 1.00 am I decided to take the break. By this time I had been able to cross no.27 but got into the 31st hole. I went to the balcony which has a wonderful view of the Burj Khalifa, with no thoughts on the game.

I thought I was taking it too hard.

It was getting too late and in the interest of a peaceful morning, I gave myself another 30 minutes to complete the challenge. I tried to reflect upon what had not gone right.

All this while I have been focusing on not getting into the hole and never focused on the black line.

This could be my only chance and I went back to the board, letting my subconscious take over. I was not trying to move the ball, or make my hands stable. Nothing at all. I was only looking at the big broad black line, and my subconscious was doing the rest. I crossed No.31 and finally reached no.36. I tested my hypothesis by going back from no.36 to start. Though it took me couple of times, but the hypothesis was correct.

When the mind agrees, body follows.

When you focus, every inch of you is dedicated to the goal.

Isn’t it uncanny that if you your life has happened the way you wanted it to. You may not realize that very second, but when you look back, you will find that it went exactly the way you have thought about it. But all this while you have been focusing on the hole and not the black line.

To which Mr. Steve Jobs in his famous address said “Dots connect.”

When you don’t focus on the holes, life happens. Maybe, there are other ways of conquering Labyrinth, but this is the most novel one.

Life greets you in the most unexpected circumstances.

What are yours and how did you welcome it?

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Life, Transformation

Flow #Day 8

FLOW (2)

Have you experienced Flow?

It is effortless, joyful, and never tiring. It is frozen in time and you would like to go back to it again and again. It is a sweet music; when you are in Flow there is stillness; no past or present. It is only pure existence. You control time; you are in your zone.

This moment is of infinite possibility. There are no barriers; there is only flawless rhythm. In this moment you are not defeated, yet you don’t win, you are not on psychotropics but you are high. And there won’t be anything in the world that can get you that high. This is not the dark zone of addiction; it is zone of complete brightness. In Flow, you can achieve anything. This is your best self.

When you are in Flow, you are not asking about you. This moment you don’t feel deprived or hurry or feel anxious about someone getting ahead of you. You are the giver and you want to fill your space with abundance for everyone. Each and every soul in this universe.

When you are in Flow you control time and everything else around you. And you discover your true self, which is pure joy. You have got addicted to it, and you would feel like gong back to it again and again.

The Flow is the most powerful state of our existence.

I was listening to John O’Leary’s interview on Ziglar Podcast. Honestly, before this interview with Kevin, I didn’t know about John and therefore I listened to him as if I were reading a new book out of the shelf, with all my attention. John survived a 100% life threatening burn and now talks on how to live. Now that got my attention. With a pure focus on 100% devotion to the present, John was in complete flow. His purpose is to make you discover how to live to the fullest. Which you won’t if you are living accidentally. If you discover your significance and contentment, you would discover joy, which will put your life in full momentum. I could gather very little from one session and like a book, I would have to go back to it again. I would also encourage you to listen to it; the talk does give you a perspective.

FLOW (1)

To be in the Flow is to be connect with yourself, your purpose and your goals. My purpose of getting John in our conversation was to bring the fact that the Flow that you have discovered is not accidental. It can be a very part of you, if you live the life full of joy, in the present and thereby creating value not just for yourself, but for everyone connected to you. All you need is to be mindful, now, and make it the best moment that you ever had. It is a child like playfulness, where the time is not a concern, where your net worth doesn’t matter. And the only purpose for them is to discover the joy.

From tomorrow on, my first few words when I wake up would be: May the Flow be with you.

It has been 8 successful days of my personal night audit and I realized it is similar to creating journals. From today, I would be adding new section to it:

What could I have done more today?

What a powerful way to end the day and reflect upon the following morning. I’m quite certain that our amazing subconscious works in most mysterious ways to make you get there.

It would be an exciting journey to discover how to ignite the power of this latent force to the fullest and to get in Flow. 

Do share your perspectives on how you get into your Flow and how do you share it with others.


innovation, Life, Transformation

Specificity – II #Day 7

Rise & Grind (2)

Specificity has been knocking my subconscious since discovered it in a podcast. It has stuck to my thoughts like a morsel stuck between my teeth. I decided, one post is not enough.

I cannot help categorizing Specificity as a behavior rather than a narrative style. As humans, we tend to look for a simpler rendition of the universe, best represented in two dimensional format as Gaussian bell curve. The universe sits where the bell is, our representation of reality. However, there are few who only exist on the either side of the bell curve. They also represent reality, but have got lost in the average. They are the outliers, the exceptions and don’t conform to the norm. In real life, such outlier are rare. They are masters and experts and have helped widen the definition of our perceptions. Quite certainly, the journey for such souls won’t have started to discover the “Interestingness” of their subject of choice. For these the “interestingness” is the outcome of the journey. The journey that would have taken time, sacrifice and passion, resulting in the mastery of the craft.

By no means, I’m implying sensationalism. I do hate sensationalism and I find it to be a byproduct of consumeristic, media hogging world. Where everything and anything is vying for attention, so that it can be sold, else it would be shelved. The winner outshouts the competition, seduces the consumer and rules the stock market. It is quite a winning formula and secret to domination of the bell curve. This is where the large majority resides, breathes and gets pampered, compared. No less than the crafty headlines of Times of India or Mr. Arnab Goswami emotional rants (it connects with the voice of the nation) or TV Channel Aaj tak, which has a lion share of the eyeballs. They all have reinvented Specificity of different kind. They all believe in departing from what is the norm. Specificity would come naturally to them.

Specificity is opened new perspectives, to be critical and appreciate the point of view. Like a child, who would play with the Lego brick the same way every time, in this new phase, I have been reading as if it were my second book of the favorite mystery series. Just like my daughter would look forward to open the box, appreciating everything about it from the sound of Legos coming crashing down to the brilliance of color of the brick, reading for me now is an act of deep attention, with single minded focus on each written word.

It is taking me longer to read these day.

I have got at least one feedback that I have become slow; I have been thinking aloud. Determined to discover Specificity, I am, like cubism, breaking the thoughts, putting each of its parts in every possible dimension. My position is uncomfortable, because I always believed in the finiteness of time. And then there is pleasure to explore the terrain that you resists the most. Like explore a new place without a map, where each step is a milestone, where everything is new and everything is unprecedented. There are no qualms even if the whole thought starts to breakdown. I discovered that this is the most efficient use of time.

Stillness is beautiful.

This is the first week of 66 day ordeal and good part is that not a single day has been missed. Therefore today I reach my countdown in fifties.

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innovation, Life, Transformation

Specificity #Day 6

Rise & Grind (1)

I don’t like being alone, especially in a car, every morning when I’m driving to work or travel to new places. I would fill up with the empty spaces of time with music. Familiar tunes, would rewind few memories or the app algorithm would make you discover the new ones. And as I would get closer to my destination, I won’t feel the emptiness of traveling alone. Rather I would be in car for longer, waiting for the song to get over before stepping out and continue humming as I walk.

That was past. About 5 years ago. What a waste of time it was, in reflection.

I discovered “Automobile Industry” during one of these drives. Thanks to Siri and Carplay, which make the navigation of the content easier. I figured out a number of people had become masters of their favourite subject just be devoting time during the time they were in the car. For them, listening to these podcasts was same as attending lecture in their university days.

Consider the following statistics and it should be able to graduate in your subject of choice.

The average drive time in the car in a day is about 2 hours. A subject in college would mandate close to 3 hours per week. With an average of 14 weeks in a semester, You would have taken a total of 42 hours. 

Therefore, if you are diligent, you can complete one semester of your favourite subject in 21 days. However Maths never decides the outcome, behaviour does. I decided that day to make use of my “Me” time in car and put it to use to make my networth look better.

Goodbye radio and welcome podcasts. My mornings never go dull without them.

Adam Grant’s Ted talks is of a special interest. Mr. Grant takes a very special spin on the subjects and I admire his opinions in the area of work psychology. He and Mr. Malcolm Gladwell talk about creativity in one of the podcasts, where he and Mr. Gladwell  touched upon Specificity. 

If I were to represent the universe, while we are absorbing more and more content, we are discerning lesser and lesser. Our attention span is only about 5 secs on average for a piece of content, which makes it more diffcult to differentiate the content. What then sparks creativity

Mr. Gladwell says, “Specificity is something I’ve become increasingly interested in as a trait of interestingness. That all the interesting people I know are people whose speech and thinking have a great deal of specificity to it.”

He further states, “Quality of being specific and being able to illustrate your larger points with that kind of precision is the quality of what makes something interesting. Ever since I’ve come to understand this, that has informed the way I look for ideas.” And this point stayed with me to the point that I wanted everyone to take notice. Even though it means repeating the words verbatim, there is a merit in repeating. The idea of Specificity is profound.

And from the same podcast flashes another moment of brilliance, which is Mr. Grants perspective. He says, “Ideas survive, not because they’re true, but because they’re interesting.” and adds, “What makes an idea interesting is when it departs from conventional wisdom.” And makes you think, “Well I knew about it all along, but it is kind of opposite of what I have thought of.” 

It is an engaging discussion, free flow of ideas, spontaniety, chemistry and humor. I do understand the notion of being interesting and unconventional, but the idea of Specificity is new. I’m intrigued and contemplating to try it as a habit because it is very contrary to my normal self. It means slowing down, putting in details and gather more prespectives.

I wish every new thing you want to try comes easy as your second nature. This is not interesting part of this trial.

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inspiration at work, Leadership, Life

Mentors #Day 5

Rise & Grind

Have you seen Whiplash?

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious Jazz drummer, and has fanatical obsession to become the greatest. He is determined to follow his pursuit, practicing so furiously that you can see blood coming out of his blisters. Would he be tough enough to go through the rigors of his idiosyncratic and relentless mentor, Terence Fletcher (J.K Simmons)? Whiplash, the title comes from a difficult jazz piece that is repeatedly played.

Terence Fletcher’s character is one of the most memorable (J.K Simmons received an Oscar for best supporting role) and his commitment to supreme perfection has made him the most revered and feared in the field. His methods are not traditional, because he believes that conventional teaching doesn’t make his students realize their true potential. Fletcher won’t mind abusing his students verbally, emotionally and physically in an attempt to make his students the best that they can be. His band Shaffer’s jazz band has always won accolades because he runs them as per his olympic level commitment.

The price Andrew has to pay is high. Andrew withdraws from a budding relationship, because he thinks that the relationship will come in the way of his commitment. He has absolutely no one in his life. Fletcher is also fired from his position, when one of his students commits suicide. The film questions few important aspects of  our society from there.

What is the kind of excellence that one would need to achieve which can be revered even generations later? Later in the film, when Andrew meets Fletcher again, Fletcher confesses, “Truth is, I don’t think people understood what I was doing at Shaffer. I was there to push people beyond what was expected of them. Society is ok with mediocrity and that is a tragedy. But that is what the world wants.”

One of the classic statement in Whiplash is, “Two most damaging words in the English language are the too-easily uttered good job, because they can keep people from pushing themselves to become the best they can be.” This would be ironical in today’s HR parlance.

The climax of the movie is such that it would make you watch it again and again; you will goosebumps and rush of adrenaline flowing through your body. Very few movies come close to it. Damien Chazelle has excelled in his craft.

Many of us would find hard to get mentors, who would push us to the limit of insanity to make the best version of what we can be. They push us harder than what we can push ourselves and make us achieve that we can never achieve by ourselves. The only way one can repay the debt of the great mentor is to pay it forward, by making more imbibe success and making it their second nature.

It would be unfair to paint such a ghastly image of a mentor (I would be dreading if I had taken Terrence Fletcher as my mentor). However, there is no better way to quantify the impact they bring to your life. Bill Gates had Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs. No matter how successful you are you would need a mentor, who would coach you to get ahead.

Nonetheless, if you haven’t watched Whiplash, I would strongly recommend that you watch it and watch it alone. Because, let me warn you that there are chances if your wife is watching with you, you may have to compensate by watching 2 or more chick flicks.

Leadership is a lonely sport.

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