Leadership, Life, Transformation

Predawn #Day 11

6

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.

 

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.

Image and layout courtesy: canva.com

 

Leadership, Life

Running #Day 3

A Rolling Stone...Gathers Momentum (1)

Honestly, one of the few things that I have done consistently, is running.

Running was purely out of constraint, but there were other reasons as well. I discovered one fine evening, sitting on a bean bag, that I’m building a new kind of asset, which will become bigger and bigger. And, I decided immediately to take action. My weight had touched the highest ever, around 78 kgs. Fortunately for me, since I have been in sports all my life, I was quite certain that it wasn’t impossible to get back into shape.

I started squash, got fancy new rackets, shorts and shoes. I felt I had a new calling in my life and I was ready to conquer the world. But my calling was short lived. My dear friend Kartik, beat me every other game (he used to be a national level tennis player) and would make time, whenever he could.

Though I was defeated I was not down under. I took it as an exercise, to reduce my belly bulge. It was also then I realised, how much tuned to stamina my body was. In addition to getting frustrated with the crushing defeat, I was also not loosing weight. All my 1.30 hours in the evening to play, which I could have spent with my daughter, was going to waste. I needed to do something more.

I took to mild jogging, so that I could improve my stamina and that was the day of revolution. Everything changed for me. There was more running in my life, than squash. I realized, I didn’t need a partner to run, unlike squash. I could do it in morning all by myself and before Priya and Dhriti woke up, I would be back home. No more compromise with precious family time.

In year, 2012 I ran my first 10 km and since then I have ran few marathons and one ultra. Though, I could beat Kartik only a few time since I started running, I don’t regret a bit. It was for squash that I discovered running, met lovely friends and my morning was never the same.

A Rolling Stone...Gathers Momentum (2)

Running has more to do with mind than body. It is true test of the fact that if your mind agrees the body will follow. According to a research, a normal human has the ability to run up to 8 kms without any practice. There are few simple techniques which when practiced over a period of time, makes the running easy.

If one has the intension, one will make it happen.

I run 3 days in week with the weekend run being the longest one. The two other days are used for strength training and flexibility. This routine forms the basic component of my morning ritual. There is no better high than getting these endorphins flowing through the entire body and make you rock solid to take on the day.

More importantly, because of running I wake up at 5 a.m in morning or at times even earlier. I find this hour, which is just before the sunrise, the strongest to conjure up your dreams, reconnect with your ambition and reaffirm your values. During this hour, your dreams will transition to reality. And I’m not surprised that a number of religion also propose this hour for prayers.

My today’s run was a special with my group, The Dubai Creek Striders, we call it the “Peacock Run”. The beautiful peacocks that you see on your way around the Zabeel (Palace) 10km route, is the reason for the name. In this unique run, we run in group of 4, with people of different pace (time taken to complete a km), and all 4 have to finish the distance together, else the team is disqualified. Our slowest runner in the group had the best 10k timing as 77 minutes (1.17 hrs) but we finished in 70 minutes (1.10 hr). We came 22nd (out of about 45 groups), but we were delighted. At least one of us had a personal best (PB) for 10k. Hats off to Nice, who kept tugging along, didn’t stop a single time, though you could see the stress on her face. She finished strong.

Truly, if your mind agrees, body follows. Keeping the mind under check is the biggest obstacle.

Those interested in running, do read Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to run”. Caution, you may see yourself hitting the road when you a start reading and you may curse your self for doing so.

No sane person would run in morning, there are so many better things to do!

Day 3 is coming along fine, with a list of 9 for the good list. Since today is the weekend, nothing is bad. I’m going to try to add personal bookkeeping to the activity list after a successful 7 days of the 66 day challenge.