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.

 

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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.

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.

Digital Marketing, Leadership, Life

Momentum #Day 2

A Rolling Stone...Gathers Momentum

Few words caught my attention today. And since we are talking about our habits and 66 days, my theory is that I’m naturally getting attracted to these words as is my subconscious.

The first word is,

Focus

and the second word is,

Intensity

I picked it up from Dave Ramsey’s book “Entrepreneur”, a classic book and I highly recommend that everyone get a copy of it. I have been reading and hearing Mr. Dave a lot these day and he’s a great voice to echo at least early morning. His debt free philosophy is remarkable, which I’m following these days. But more revolutionary is how he lives this philosophy every day of his life, encouraging a number of people to experience this freedom. And it is a powerful state to be in. I’m planning to gift “Total Money Makeover” to both my brother and brother-in-law. Though, if you call Dave in America, you might get it for free (if you’re are a business owner) however, I would rather pay Dave royalty for the book as a tribute to the wonderful work that he is doing. The tenets of book “Entrepreneur” is universally applicable and doesn’t limit to a business owner. It exudes his passion on every page, and if you have heard Dave Ramsey on podcast (or his youtube channel), you will love it even more.

I always knew “focus”. Since I’m an introvert, I can focus more than the average on any subject. I could understand later that my focus comes from my nature of unravelling the mystery. Like a hunter waiting for the prey, I would wait till I find it easy and drag the kill. I also find it very spiritual to be focused and concentrate. However, the part I have been missing all this while was intensity. With both these what you would discover, as I have, is momentum.

But I missed out the most crucial point.

Continuity

The single most important factor in any day life, be it your family, finance, habit or work is continuity. This is the single most underrated, un discovered word in the universe. Continuity is why the tortoise prevailed over the hare, not because the tortoise was hard working. Continuity is magical. One small thing, done continuously over a period of time, persistently, delivers miracles. Small amount of money, invested continuously over a period of time becomes millions. You may equate this to 66 days of habit formation or 10,000 hours to achieve mastery, but if you are not consistent, you don’t reach anywhere.

So, we want to be very careful what we want to do on an everyday basis, thoughts or actions. We are a creature of our habits.

One small action, repeated over a period of time becomes a habit.

It is my firm belief that consistency is the single most important measurement of success. If one breaks continuity, one breaks momentum and moves further away from goals.

Dear God, I pray that I’m consistent with my actions and goals.

My night audit on day 1 went well and as I was relishing the feat with a amazing chocolates gifted by a dear friend and from Vivel Patisserie (http://vivel.com/), I was caught red handed by Priya. This particular experience went to my “I could have avoided section”. I was happy that I had a list of 12 in my “Good” list, significantly higher than a list of 7 in my “Bad” list and a list of 4 in my “I could have avoided list”. It was also good to rue over some of these points as I was dozing off to sleep. Maybe some of these have started to work already, within the realm of me that I have not connected to yet. Too surreal to think about it as of now.

Good feeling to have hit the bed with more gratitudes than regrets.

Leadership, Life, Transformation

Habits #Day 1

habits

Today is my Mom’s birthday; she still watches me from high above. I’m blessed. It is not surprising that I’m inspired to start something new, to make this day special. And test something that I read a lot today.

It is said that any habit takes 66 days to be a part of you. I have read a number of these articles including the elaborate article by James Clear, which is one of the top searches (https://jamesclear.com/new-habit) & research by Phillipa Lally (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09080401).

But is it really true? Therefore I’m going to try one to carry on for next 66 days and really see if this research does make sense. No more preaching, it is action time. And therefore, I come to the most fundamental question, which one to try?

There have been a number of the habits that I have been trying to develop over last few months and have successfully failed. The list is a long one…

  1. Writing journals

  2. Evening meditation

  3. Night audit

  4. Giving up carbohydrates

  5. Weekly session of gym for strength training

  6. Giving up biscuits

  7. Giving up coffee

  8. Eating candy

  9. Saying No

  10. Finishing people’s sentences

  11. Fidgeting

  12. Exaggerating

  13. Drinking from carton

  14. etc. etc.

The list is also a complicated one, which means if one has to test then, it should be an activity that can be done on an everyday basis. This therefore excludes 4, 5 & 13. At the same time, it should be a habit that would benefit me on the long run. Items 1, 2, 3 & 9 fall in that category.

Tough decision to make today.

An old Swedish proverb says, “The pillow is the best advisor.” It is only later that I got the true meaning – if you sleep over a problem, you will get the best advise in the morning. Though I’m inclined to hit the bed today and go as the Swedes say, I have made my decision.

I would be maintaining a night audit records for next 66 days, which will have my positives and negatives for the day. Because I have been in travel industry for a long time and love Hotels (& technology), my natural inclination is for the night audit. For those who don’t know, Night audit is performed is a key hotel operation where the auditor takes the stock of status of the hotel with respect to the guest, how many checked in, how many checked out, how many rooms occupied and how many vacant. It is one of the better ways to check the status quo so that one is prepared for the next days.

My night audit would consist of the good, bad and points that could have been avoided, before sleep. I would follow my night audit for the next 66 days, assuming that on 67th day it would become a part of me. This is assuming that I fall in the bell curve, which may also not be true. I would be using a Evernote to manage these audits in 3 simple headers…

a. I did good

b. I did bad

c. I could have avoided

Because Evernote is available across devices for me, I won’t be looking for a reason. I would have liked to add my spends and earning (monetarily), but have decided to have this a nice to have. First the three simple points, and depending on progress the spends and earning.

The second habit that I will practice for next 66 days is to say “No”. I read somewhere that “No” is a complete sentence; it is big and profound one. “No.” doesn’t need any reason; just like it is for my 8 years old daughter. For Dhriti, “No.” is followed by a full stop. It is uncanny how powerful it is and how these young ones teach you.

So all the best to me, this would be a good journey. And as the cliche goes “Worth the experience!”

Leadership

What did you hustle today?

Today was different. The third day of my new found commitment. And there were learnings.

“What will you hustle today?”

My friend, from college, who jumped into his own venture announced “We will survive, now that is not the question. We are looking at expansion.” I was very happy for him. Took him 3 years of tumultuous journey, from one co-founder abandoning the ship, to funds drying out.

We figure out. We hustle and we survive.

“Never reduce a target. Instead increase action. When you start rethinking your target, making up excuses, and letting yourself off the hook, you are giving up on your dreams”
– Grant Cardone

We hustle and we make it a habit.

Leadership, Life, Personal Development, Transformation

Personal Everest

 

Everest-West-Ridge

I’m Robin Sharma’s latest fan. “Stay centered on your personal Everest.” was his last message on the first news letter. These are powerful words (thank you Robin Sharma) and have stuck to me since I read it 3 day ago. Big revolutions start small.

Spectacular success in any field doesn’t come by luck. The thumb rule says 10,000 hours or 10 years of minimum devoted time required to master any discipline. Overnight success is a misnomer. Motivation may provide the initial push; discipline and dedication will carry you through. It is hard but not impossible, what you like will define your purpose and you will find a way. I don’t remember much about my crossing my first marathon finish line, but by first 10k. My dedicated 2 months preparation to conquer 10k, is filled with inspirational memories. The terrain was rugged and I fell twice. The distance was the longest that I had ever ran. The glory of crossing the finish line led me to complete half-marathon, full-marathon and the ultra distance.

Personal and professional greatness is one step at a time and required discipline. It requires getting out of the comfort zone and honing the skill again and again till it becomes a part of your subconscious. This journey is a lonely one.

I have started with a few steps that have proved beneficial.

#1) 5 AM Club: Morning starts at 5.00 AM without fail irrespective of weekday or weekend. This time is what I don’t share with anyone.

#2) Meditation: 30 minutes of meditation and prayer, crystallize the thoughts for the morning

#3) Journal writing: Heeding to this advice by Mr. Robin Sharma, sets the mood for the day. The journal has challenges, guidance and affirmations.

#4) Exercise: On alternate days, I go for a morning run.

Careful not to do too much, and focus only on activities that add 1% to you everyday (and therefore your climb to your personal Everest). Take time to imagine, reflect, plan and think. Regularly, you would need to pull yourself out of your comfort zone and encounter melange of doubt, hesitancy, escape & limiting belief.

This is not impossible but difficult. “Stay centered on your personal Everest.” Thank you Mr. Sharma.