[5-Bullet Tuesday] Is “Work” Taking Your Life Away?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What’s I’m pondering: 

According to Fast Company, Barack Obama, when he was the President, always wore the same thing – a blue or black suit. This was part of his secret to getting so much done.

He wanted to leave his mind saved from Decision Fatigue, which happens when you use your mind for trivial decisions such as what to eat, wear, buy… This let him focus effectively when the time came for more important decisions to be made.

Some of you may find this idea extreme, but the point is that we must do something to pare down decisions as decision making during the day add up and cause us fatigue.

So, whether or not our offices are oval, we need to find ways to reduce getting fatigued making unnecessary decisions during the day.

As Obama says:

“You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

Read here for more of Obama’s productivity secrets.

What I figured–

“My boss is unnecessarily complaining about my work. It’s painful!”

“My boss asks me to do the things exactly as he wants. Why can’t he understand that I’m not him?”

“I am sitting idle since last 2 weeks since I have joined the team. I feel so unwanted!”

These are some real life dialogues from my interaction with people just last week. Most people in the corporate world are unhappy with their work life. And since work life is a large part of your overall life, they’re unhappy in their life in general too!

Lot of them don’t even realise that something is going seriously wrong with them, until they have developed serious anxiety issues, stress or even depression.

So, here is a system to know your Happiness Score, based on the 5 keys to being joyful at work (French: joie de travailler).

Rate yourself on a scale of one to five on each of the following happiness keys :

  1. Freedom– If your boss wants you to do something “exactly like he wants!“, it doesn’t look like a place where you are getting enough creative freedom. Moreover, you don’t know what’s in his mind. The only way I can create something exactly like someone else wants is when I am him, which is usually not the case!

Reviews and feedback is alright, and is required for improving the deliverable further, but there is a thin line of difference between constructive feedback and forcing someone to become someone they are not! This thin line is quite significant to determine your happiness score.

  1. Connectedness–Being connected to people in the team and outside too openly is important to your being.

If your boss or team culture discourages talking to people from other teams, there is a problem.

You should be able to talk to everyone without any fear, openly. You should be able to bring up the ‘elephants in the room’, without mincing words.

Are you able to discuss matters of significance with your team? Connectedness is a human need and plays a key role in our happiness levels.

  1. Interesting Work– “Just do it because I say so!“,says your boss.  Well, that’s not what makes the work meaningful.

I want to know the reason why we’re doing it, what value I am adding to whom in the process. The bigger picture of the impact my work creates to a larger cause to the society, community or industry is what determines whether the work will be interesting to me or not.

  1. Being of use– “I am on the team for two weeks without anyone asking me to do anything!“. This is commonplace at work, and it creates havoc in the minds of people who are sitting idle.

We humans enjoy being useful. We may not believe it but it is true. If you’re sitting doing nothing, it’s not at all a good news. It is a serious cause for concern. Take some action if that’s the case or even quit such a job. Believe me, you’d be better off.

  1. Well Balanced Life– “I come back so late that I don’t see my children during weekdays!” Well, is that worth it? I don’t think so.

Listening to some light music, yoga or exercise, morning prayer with family, reading something different, attending to family functions and conferences, pursuing hobbies, spending time with family, making memories.. those things ought to be part of our life too.

Well, now that you have rated yourself on 1-5 on each of the above parameters, add up your individual scores and determine your Overall Happiness Score. If your score is between:

  • 5 – 12: Situation is alarming and you need to take some steps today. It could be as drastic as moving out of the project, organisation or even that career.
  • 13-18: It’s concerning but you can possible do something to increase the score. Look at the areas where you are really low and see what can be done to address those areas.
  • 19-25: Congratulations! You’re doing well. Your life is under control. All you have to do is manage your scores.

If you’re wondering, “What about Money? Fame? Parties? .. Don’t they bring happiness?”

Well, most of these would bring instant but temporary happiness, which often leads to long term distress. Of course we need money to sustain ourselves, but beyond a certain point, money won’t add to one’s happiness. For lasting joy, one must focus on things beyond these material things.

What I’m watching—

It was Thursday and a rather stressful day at work, but I dared to shoo away the stress and watch this comedy play on the way back home.

Bawarchi Diaries” at Akshara Theater.

It was of course a tough call to attend because the office pressures always have a tendency to dominate our lives and keep us away from things we know will relax us and bring our focus back.

I’m so glad I attended. In fact, I figured that if you’re just heads down into work, you are losing out on the varied perspectives which off-track experiences like watching a play can bring.

Particularly, this one was an out and out comedy, about a cooking maid, Rajkumari, who goes to different apartments and encounters some quirky residents in each one of them. From a modern day father-son duo obsessed  with Mahabharat, to a man who speaks only in songs and advertisements, each apartment has crazy residents who drive Rajkumari mad.

If you missed it, don’t sulk. It’s happening again on 28th Sept (Saturday) at Akshara Theater. Tickets are available at venue. (Akshara Theater Phone: 011 2336 1075). Live it up!

(Lucky to have clicked the poster with one of the artists from the same play, Harshit Pahwa)

Quote I’m pondering —

In the classroom, the teacher had asked the little 5 year old John Lennon, “What do you want to be when you grow up?

His reply, “Happy!

Teacher said, “You didn’t understand my question, John.”

to which John said, “You don’t understand life, Teacher!”

What I’m re-reading–

Sometimes we feel so consumed with work and end up missing the little pleasures of life. Reading my own article from a couple years back was a pleasant reminder of that.

The question to ask ourselves is: Are we paying attention and looking for opportunities to change a simple, run of the mill kind of day into one that becomes a lifetime memory?

 Look for windows of opportunities that could change a usual day into a lifetime memory. If you look carefully, you will find them.                                                                                                                                                                                         

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


[5-Bullet Tuesday] What Do You Do Besides Work?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What I’m reading –

Reading a few lines from an unknown book can sometimes have such a profound impact on your life. I am reading “48 Days to the Work You Love” by Dan Miller.

In one instance, he quotes Shakespeare when he said, “A man with a toothache cannot be in love.

The attention demanded by a toothache stops a person from noticing anything else.

Similarly, we often get extremely caught up in our work life. It becomes so stressing and this pain overshadows the health, vitality and success we have in other areas of life. We stop meeting our friends, eat without thinking, watch TV incessantly and snap at our children when asked an innocent question.

We start doing exact opposite of what we should be doing. And it only makes things worse.

These lines from Dan, had a subtle overnight effect on me. So, this week was about doing what I always loved doing. Read on to see how I made this week count!

What Movie I watched —

If you haven’t yet seen Mission Mangal, you are really missing something.

In a world where most people are not happy about their work, thankfully there are people who are so madly in love with what they do.

But like everyone else, even they get de-motivated at times. And when we’re down on motivation, what works best is to connect with the WHY.  

That’s what Vidya Balan did in the movie when she celebrated the Scientist in each team member. It connected them with why they had become a scientist.

This tied them to a common thread and was the turning point for the success of the Mangalyaan project.

Other takeaway was how work-life integration is a much better approach compared to work-life balance. They constantly use learning from home at office and learning from office at home. Compartmentalisation doesn’t work.

They also show our very own Indian jugaad in a positive light.

There is a sense of iss-ness in it, a sense of being happy about who we are, at peace despite our financial status, our beliefs and our way of being.

We did make Mangalyaan happen in first attempt at a wafer-thin budget. We used everything Indian to make it happen.

The direction is flawless and the movie keeps going, without letting you a blink. Go watch the movie with your family, and feel proud of being an Indian.

What 500 rupee or less purchase I’m proud of –

I ran 10K organized by Coach Ravinder this Sunday.

What helps in such runs and even the daily exercise or walk sessions is this arm band for mobile. Just Rs 110 at Amazon, and a purchase you will never regret.

Besides keeping the phone safe, it’s a detriment for checking the phone every time the phone buzzes for a message or any notification. Go for it.

Quote I’m pondering —

“What are you doing?” shouted his mother on seeing him sitting alone doing nothing.

“I’m thinking,” he shouted back.

“You’re thinking?”, she asked

“Yes, Mom, I’m thinking,” he said fiercely. “Have you ever tried thinking?”

  • Walter Isaacson 

That boy was Bill Gates when he was in sixth grade. This quote is from “In Search of the Real Bill Gates”

Question for you: How much time do you spend sitting with yourself doing nothing?

What I learnt –

We are working on a hilarious play for our Toastmasters Club Special Anniversary event. Coincidently, it emerged that a play had to be planned for our Office too, at a two days notice. Idea was to showcase what we do as a team in a comedy act.

Now, I’m no pro at plays but I was able to apply a few things I had learnt from our club play preparation. The office play went extremely well and we received accolades for that.

My learning was that everything is related to everything else. Keep learning whenever an opportunity comes. You never know where it will connect.                                            

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


[5-Bullet Tuesday] This Is How You Grow!

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Quote I’m pondering —

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”- Muhammed Ali

Video I loved watching —

TEDxSpit Video of Eisha Chopra. In case you’re wondering who’s Eisha Chopra, she was the supporting actress in the movie,“Neerja”.

In this talk, Eisha talks about her first lesson in Feminism from her Dad!She was an eight year old then.

This speech struck a chord with me and I recalled that time in school when my own Dad was temporarily out of work. One day, ourEnglish teacher, Mrs. Ohri, asked children to stand up one by one and share what their dad’s and mom’s did.

Perhaps, she wanted to give a nudge to the children to start conversing in English.

Most children told their Dad’s profession and that their mom was a “housewife”. That’s how it was back then in 80s.  Men worked and women mostly stayed home.

When my turn came, I stood up and said something that got the entire class and the teacher laughing.

In my broken English I had said, “My mother is a teacher and my dad is a housewife!

Everyone laughed and I was the butt of jokes for weeks after the incident.

Looking back, I realise there were many jokes I had cracked:

  • The obvious one: that I had used housewife for a man!
  • That: how can a man ‘not work’?
  • … even though his wife ‘worked’!

There was no respectable term for a man who wasn’t working, even though there were plenty for a woman who wasn’t working – home maker, house wife or just the lady of the house!

Feminism is not about woman versus man,it’s about woman equals man!

Trick I learnt to GROW—

Shuttl. Cult. DropBox. What comes to your mind when you think of these companies?

Well, chances are that you got a link from your friend to subscribe to these apps. They told you the benefits and how they’re loving it. Then, you subscribed.

No wonder then that these little known organisations until recently are so popular today having grown exponentially in no time.

The marketing technique they used is called the Viral Loop.

For example, Dropbox users who love extra cloud storage (at zero cost), are prompted to “Get More Space” by inviting their friends to use Dropbox as well.

This has worked incredibly well, creating an army of customers working tirelessly to grow these companies; an army that grows in size as each wave of new referrals sign up.

And while it gives these companies greater returns, it also saves them of the massive advertising costs.

Now before you share a referral for Cult Fit, ask yourself this question: in whatever I’m doing, can I consider creating a viral loop?

What I learnt –

Top 3 recommendations for standing out in the corporate crowd:

  1. Spikiness – being a jack of all and a master of “some” trades
  2. Your Network – how strong is your circle
  3. Consulting skills – your inter-personal skills

Behavioural nudges I’m trying –

Don’t ever say “Have a good day!” to your  dear ones.

That’s because this statement is moving you away from being a driver of your day to a victim of hope.

Instead change it with, “Make it a good day!”

See how this changes their “day” in a few days.

As for yourself, never say, “I have to do this.”. Instead, say, “I get to do this.”

Need I tell you the reason?

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


Your Guide To Actually Becoming Rich, Quick!


s I stepped out for a morning walk, I heard some shouts from the neighbour’s house. It was a heated argument between my neighbour and his beloved wife. 

The husband screamed, “Yes, I called you that, because you have made life so difficult for me!” The wife was quick to retaliate sobbingly, “You will never understand what all I have to put up with. Thankless creature!

Well, before you jump to conclusions, answer this:

When was the last time you had a quarrel with someone dear to you?

If it happened in the last few weeks, then perhaps you are not any better than my neighbour.

To be honest, neither was I.. until some time back.

Reality is that, when we’re under pressure, we all tend to become such nasty human beings who we otherwise abhor.

We say things we don’t mean. Curse our loved ones and regret later. Apologising later doesn’t help as the harm is usually already done. It’s hard and sometimes impossible to bring back the trust and bond we held earlier.

It’s only during these stressful times or crisis situations that our value system is actually tested. And unfortunately, that’s where we mostly fail.

Why does it happen?

That’s because even though we talk about family values all the time, rarely can we put a finger on it. Even fewer chances that we have it written down, in black and white. The idea itself might sound ridiculous to you.

No wonder then, that we miss the point, act weak or chicken out during the times we need to recall our values the most! After all, when all is going well, there is nothing at stake – we can easily remain respectful, honest and fearless. It is the difficult times which truly tests our character and value system which is built over time.

Not having our “values” on top of mind lets our natural instincts to take over when push comes to shove.

You may agree with me by now that it is important to clearly define family values. The next question is how to do so?

How about taking a cue from the Corporate Core Values. Every organisation’s HR does it’s best in displaying them, replaying them, and celebrating them. It’s done so that people make the decisions in line with the Organisation’s values when the time comes.

I do remember the core values for my employer. It’s likely you remember your’s too! It’s thanks to the several measures that are taken so that employees don’t forget these.

Isn’t it, then, a shameful irony, that although we remember our work values, we don’t even have any personal (family) core values.

Don’t get me wrong. Not for a second am I suggesting to take your work any less seriously. All I am saying is that a disproportionate weight-age is given to our personal lives and relationships which is generally equally, if not more, important to us.

I am proposing for you to create your Family Core Values. It addresses the HOW of whatever you do.

It took me some convincing at home for my family to come on-board with this idea. After that, we had a few family meetings to agree on what we value in our family. Here’s our list:

  1. Courage over Comfort
  2. Respect at all times
  3. Honour ourselves to honour others
  4. Integrity even when times are tough

Next morning, I put these on my blackboard and began thinking how to make this an easy recall. Before long, I realised that the initials in a certain order make the acronym RICH!


– Respect at all times


– Integrity even when times are tough


– Courage over Comfort


– Honour ourselves to honour others

That’s how we become a RICH family overnight. 

I woke the children to tell them that we won a lottery.. we are now rich! Their little eyes opened with a ‘pop’. When I told them the acronym, they were exhilarated that our little family exercise had made us RICH overnight.

My five year old daughter suggested that we create a poster where we show our family values “RICH” inside a Heart shape and stick it in the play room. That would constantly remind us that we hold these values close to our hearts.

Well, that’s us. This was one of the best steps we have taken in this direction. Of course, we need to keep having displays, replays and celebrate our Family Core Values to reinforce it.

What about you, what is holding you back?

Take some time off and agree on your Family Values. Display them. Practice them. Celebrate them.

Don’t leave it to chance. This will make you RICH! Really really RICH! With something money can’t buy, and with something no one can ever take away. 

Husha busha! We all fall down!

Elections fever is on in the country in full swing. And it’s so contagious that not only are people talking about it, but they are living it as well.

It shows in everyone’s tone, pitch and moods.

Delhi-ites who are anyway (in)famous for wearing their hearts on their sleeves, are out of control these days, as Delhi goes to vote tomorrow!

Everyone seems to be at their best in terms of their Political Quotient – strategy, sharpness and shrewdness. It’s certainly not a good time to take a panga (Hindi for getting into an argument, or doing something objectionable that may raise eyebrows) with anyone unless you are ready to bear the brunt of their heightened aggressive state at this  time.

TV, Social media, morning walks and coffee conversations are all full of these discussions. There’s a lot of listening from here and delivering there happening too. Everyone is sharpening their own political savvy, grasping all they can from the myriad sources and then experimenting with it at every opportunity they get – at office, home, and other social circles. And why not? It is, after all, “Practice that will make them perfect”!

So, if you are feeling the heat of it all – One, you are not alone, and two, this too shall pass. 

Forewarned is forearmed, so don’t get taken by surprise if that happens to you. In fact, you yourself may be party to this, unknowingly! So don’t get carried away and keep in mind why this is happening the way it is.

Just hang in there. You don’t have much choice except for going with the flow. While you’re at it, perhaps enjoy it while it’s on. 

Expect to see enhanced drama and prudence from spouses, in laws, bosses, and colleagues..everyone! Bear in mind that some are doing it consciously and some unintentionally.

You may be seeing interesting patterns of what is happening around! It may seem that India’s political scenario, the office happenings and what’s happening at the home front isn’t much different.

In this politically charged, highly polarised climate, here are some scenarios that are likely to happen:

  1. Those you always thought were your closest confidantes, say something that crushes you and shakes your age old beliefs! For example: your soul mate tells you that ‘You never understood them!’
  2. You may catch someone talking behind your back first time ever!
  3. You get new labels – ‘The biggest con’, a trickster, a liar, thoughtless or it could even be ‘a traitor’.
  4. Your dear ones bring back and blame you for 1-5-10 or even 20 year old incidents.

Well, IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT! Stop being a Pappu and know where exactly is all this coming from!

Moreover, if “Chowkidar Chor Hai” (Gatekeeper is a thief – Rahul Gandhi’s pet phrase for Prime Minister Modi), then all this isn’t all that bad either.

This is the time when politicians bring even the dead back to earn some brownie points, so bringing the past can’t be considered unacceptable either!

It’s politics, it’s rhetoric, and it’s the climate these days. It’s alright to make a few below the belt attacks to grab attention, don’t you think?

While the politicians will form real alliances and win constituencies, the ordinary people like you and me would only ‘get over’ this once as time passes. Well, only to repeat it five years from now.

There is some good news though. You can also expect the ‘apologies’ coming your way, after all. All varieties of them – genuine ones and forced, conditions applied and unconditional!

Good and Evil coexists in us. The word for this is Agathokakological: Shashi Tharoor

If it is getting too tough on you, even after knowing why it is happening, then here is what you should do:

If you see your child playing in the mud, what would you do?

To get your child out of that, you would get into the mud yourself, get dirty, even play a bit in the mud and then try to convince your child to get out of there. You will have much more chances of getting them out of there that way.

You’re loved ones are not much different. They are not bad people. Every one has a good and an evil side (Agathokakological). Dirty politics rubs off on people and enhances the evil side. So, go where they are, play with them the game they’re playing right now.

When they are tired of it all, they will come out while holding your hand.

Five Minute Journal: Know What Type is Your Bad Boss!

Quote of the day: [bctt tweet=”Life is either a Daring Adventure or Nothing at All! – Helen Keller” username=”mohitsawhney”]

I am grateful for…

  1. ..the timing of my next career move. It just couldn’t have been any better than this (at least, that’s what I think!). Thank you, God for that! In a world where we are habitual of complaining when things don’t happen in harmony, I’m glad I recognize and appreciate the glory bestowed by God when it all played out so beautifully and in synchronization. It’s unbelievably bizarre and somewhat surreal. Thank you!
  2. ..Walking down the hallway of the office yesterday, I met this guy who was frustrated with his Boss. Well, nothing unusual there, most people are! However, in talking to him, a clear distinction emerged among Bad Bosses. There are two varieties that one has to watch out closely for: There are ones who are nasty because they have an evil, vicious, and cleverly designed nefarious strategy, and then there are the others, who are nasty because they don’t know any better. Understanding this subtle difference can help you determine which type of Bad boss are you dealing with (God forbid, but Shit does Happen!). This will make a huge difference in the way you would deal with them and emerge a winner. 
  3. ..Read an article where the writer had written at the cross-section of politics and economy. The article was about how Jet Airways, which is in dire straits at the moment, is not being given a preferential treatment. This is unlike what happened in the case of erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines. Kingfisher Airlines eventually couldn’t survive the bail outs and the loans it was bestowed upon by Big brothers (nexus of Banks and Political parties). Anyway, besides it being a nice article, the LIGHT BULB moment for me was that I also have a similar style of writing – at the cross section of personal and work lives. Thanks for igniting in me the light once again to write in my own unique style and be of some service to myself and the society.  

What would make today great?

  1. ..I have realized that some of the really important personal tasks keep living in the To-Do lists. This happens when others are driving their priorities through you and you yourself are not focusing enough of what’s important to yourself. I am planing to pick up one such long overdue and yet very important (almost life altering potential) task today. Amen. 
  2. ..Fill my emptying fuel tank. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Not only dull, but also tired and demotivated. Having you foot on the accelerator all the time is not a winning strategy when you are running a long race. It’s important to regularly stop – to check the tires, fill the gas and then continue the journey. My tanks are emptying too – To start with, gotta get myself a new pair of glasses (One I have is on the verge of breaking and besides I guess I need another one for farsightedness. Isn’t it funny, I’ll be farsighted and nearsighted both at the same time!Leaderly Quote: Having a bad boss isn’t your fault.
  3. ..In Business, it is common practice to make well thought out investments to reap greater returns in future. Not so common when you are offering your services i.e. when you are an Employee. What investments are we talking about for salaried people, most would say. You’re getting it all wrong. No matter which industry you work, in order to remain relevant in the ever changing job market and disruptions happening in business worlds, one can’t ignore investing in oneself – upgrade/ enhance/ diversify your skill set alongside your current job. There will never be a perfect time. Enough of the build up (word for it is “circumlocution”), I am enrolling for the PgMP certification today.
Daily affirmations. I am …fearless! 
Amazing things that happened today…
  1. ..Back in touch with my batch mates from St. Stephen’s. Quite a bit of catching up to do though. Well, not only about the years that have passed in between. Honestly, I just wasn’t present most of those 3 years to know much about them back then. There’s always a first time.
  2. ..Glad to have done with my glasses – a new frame for my old glasses. Not bad at all. Feel accomplished.  
  3. ..Ended up having some much much needed time with self as I was working from home today. Or, perhaps I feel so now that I have had a mug or two of the Bira Extra Strong Beer.
How could I have made today better?
  1. ..Schedule.  Morning Ritual. Missed you. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. 
  2. ..Baggage. Could have dropped it. Made a fresh start. Even more so, because it’s getting heavier.
  3. ..Could put more intention into the mix of things. More laughter. Smile. Love. After all, I can!

5-Bullet Friday: Unbelievably Simple Ways to Building Rapport!

Hi All!

Here is your weekly dose of “5Bullet Friday,” a list of what I’m enjoying or pondering.

What I’m reading — The 5AM CLUB by Robin Sharma. Read a few chapters and although I am not too fond of non-fiction being written in fiction format, the book has some good takeaways. Reason I bought this book is not hard to guess – I am moving toward getting up at 5AM, and having a much greater control over my mornings.

What I’m watching — Video on Building Rapport by Tony Robbins. It has amazing insights and powerful methods on building rapport. For example: having your palms casually placed and facing the roof, during an interview can increase your chances of being through by over 50%!

Resource I’m excited to explore — A friend of mine gave this e-book to me: The Creative Writers Workbook, by Catchy Birch. Thanks Adi for this for it seems like an unexpected treasure for me. This book is simple read with many cases studies to illustrate the point that writing and creativity can be mastered by consciously working towards it. That there is no point waiting for the right moment to come when you will get into the mood. Do things that cna set the mood for you today and everyday. It will help remove the obstacle biggest of which is the fear of ‘getting it wrong’.

I have read a couple of chapters and can’t wait to read the rest of it. Here’s an extract from the book:

Karen, one of my students, set herself that very task. She has two young children and works part-time as a computer programmer. As a teenager, she wrote short stories and poetry. For years she had been trying to find time to do this again, but somehow it had never happened. After discussing this in class she agreed that ten minutes a day would be considerably better than nothing. She decided to spend ten minutes of each lunch-break writing (in her car to make sure she was not disturbed). She used an old A4 diary for the purpose and filled a page each day. By the end of six months she had written over 80,000 words, which she is currently crafting into a very promising novel.

I’m looking forward to: applying the technique Tim Ferriss professes instead of doing the new year resolutions. Forget New Year Resolutions. Conduct a ‘Past Year Review” instead. Read this post for more.

Quote I’m pondering. ..In fact not just pondering, this quote was enough to give me to get up and get going on a cold winter morning (and I mean not just literally!)—

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer could have done them better. The credit belongs t othe man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives to do the deeds; who errs, who comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strives to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

(- Originally from Theodore Roosevelt, mentioned in The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma.)

And, as always, please give me feedback. Which bullet above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

Have a wonderful weekend, all!


Which Are The Moments That Make You Happy?

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

Shouted Tanav, my 10 year old son.

It seemed as if whatever Deepti, my wife, was answering was falling on deaf ears..

In fact, it was worse. Every time Deepti suggested something to do to him, it was met with a loud “No!”, “No!”, “No!” and then the set of same questions came yet again:

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

The dramatic effect soared greater heights with every new iteration. Deepti’s attempt at maintaining calm was fading away. Tanav was on a roll (well, literally) on the floor, and the overall audio-visual effects accentuated the impact!

As you can guess, the situation was soon out of control.

That’s a common story at our home. Every other day these questions set come back. And, I don’t recall even once when any of the options presented by me or Deepti have been received in a welcoming way. Not once.

“Why’s that?”, I have often wondered, but never have I found a convincing answer!

But I have kept searching for the answer. They say, “What you seek is seeking you!” and I finally found the answer in an unusual way, and without even realizing it.

What happened is that I myself ended up being in a situation where I didn’t know what to do. With my life.

Deep down within myself, I ended up shouting out the same set of questions:

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

I asked friends too. And each time someone advised, I too, like the kids, was infuriated and shouted, “No!”, “No!”, “No!” and, before long, the set of same questions came yet again, and again and again.

I was trying to find what was the right thing for me to do. However, I couldn’t find any help with that!

It was yet another meanigless morning. I was struggling to even find a reason to get dressed for work. The sameness of my days was haunting me so much that I was tempted to ask myself, “Is it yesterday or today?”

I paid little heed to the words emanating from the kitchen. It was Mom, who has a habit of singing old, long lost phrases while working in the kitchen:

Kiya karo kuch kiya karo udhaed kae bhi siya karo. (Hindi)

Do Something. Anything.  Even if it means to unstitch a cloth only to stitch it again. (English translation)

Although I had hardly paid any attenton to that, but I believe that phrase had a seminal impact on my ‘decision’ in the evening.. a decision to do something.

I decided to stand for the position of President and VP-Education for our Toastmaster’s club. Something that was out of my comfort zone – a stetch goal but not an unrealistic one. I felt better. Happier.

I considered why I would be the right person for the job. How will I serve the members. I prepared a speech. (You can find the speech here!) I did this. I did that. I had a purpose. I was busy working toward that.

I understood the way out of the situation when you don’t quite know what to do. In that sutuation, no matter what anyone suggests to you- your boss, your spouse, your friend, you will never find happiness in that.

Even if.. the suggestion came with the best of intentions.

Even if.. it was the right thing for you to do.

Even if.. it was the most fun thing to do.

“Why?” you’d ask.

Well, simply because it was their decision and not yours! That’s it!

The only way out of the situation is to decide yourself. Do listen to others, but then (and don’t delay too much!), after all, decide yourself – it’s fine if that decision is impeccably right, or downright wrong. Decide to do something. Decide to not do something. But decide. And yourself.

“Why?” you’d ask again.

Because more than the coutome, you will be happier that you decided: Something. Anything. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. Whether it will succeed or fail. It’s your’s after all. That’s why you will cherish it.

After the election process was done, I achieved my goal of being a part of the Executive committee for the club.

I reached home and shared the news, “Know what sweetheart, I am the VP-Education for this term“. Of course everyone at home cheered.

A little later, Dinky, my wife asked me, “Are you happy?

I said, “Yes I’m happy I am the VP-Education! But I’m even more happier for the moment when I decided I want to be so!

Coincidently, I held that position before as well, but that time it was just offered to me and I took it. The happiness didn’t last a day. It was all over even before it started. This time is different though. It’s my baby. I love it.

As for my real babies, I had barely finished writing this blog, when Sohana, my 5 year old daughter asked, “What should I do?”

I put my laptop aside and said “Well, as for me, I have decided to go out for a walk, may be you can decide something to do too!

Next thing I see is that Sohana and her brother are wearing their jackets and boots to step out in the chill to play in the park.

I have my script ready for times to come when this question would be asked.

Well, as for me, I have decided to ___, may be you can decide something to do too!

Only pre-requisite: Be upto something yourself too. Soon, it will rub off on them. Fill the ____ with what you have decided to do at the time. Such as:

___ : write a poem for family

___ : read Becoming by Michele Obama

___ : go for a morning walk

I thought they might be perplexed with that response. To which I would simply respond, “It’s okay sweetheart. Now Decide. Commit. Believe. Act.

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When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time?

Find something to do. Anything. Be of use. Serve. Act. Mantra to live a happy life.

The years’ that go wasted are the only ones that add up to our old age.

I decided to stand for the position of President and VP-Education for our Toastmaster’s club. Definitely it is out of my comfort zone. But then, opportunity for growth doesn’t sit in the comfort zone, does it?

This was indeed the first time I intentionally decided to stand for these positions. Although, I have been VP-Education and President earlier, but that was more of a by default selection for a declining club. Not my decision. (Someone else’s decision will never hardly ever make you happy! Read more on that here!)

So, this is something new I’m up to. For some, this may be a big deal, for some not so. Doesn’t matter. It’s enough to nudge me into some anxiety which is often the predecessor to the creative thinking process.

If one stand for the EC (Executive Committee roles), one has to give a short (2 minutes) speech to convince the members to vote for them.

Here are the scripts for the speeches I prepared for the two positions (of course to be given in the Toastmaster’s style with the body language and voice modulation)

Part 1 – Script: President Campaign Speech

How many of you have had an out of body experience?

Well, I had one yesterday.

Actually, I was supposed to prepare a two minute speech on Why should I be the President. In other words: Why should anyone vote for me?

In order to do so, I thought let me forget about everyone else, and see if I myelf would vote for this guy called Mohit Sawhney!

So, I stepped out of my body and carefully considered the following:

  1. Does he put his heart and soul into whatever role he plays – in his speeches, during his evaluations, other roles he plays, The Scoop magazine..?
  2. Are interactions with him enagaging and uplifting?
  3. Does he bring something new to the table?

Since I got some promising answers, then further considered the following additional questions:

  1. Has he any noteworthy achievements?
  2. Is he committed to make everyone’s experience a delightful one?
  3. Is his own value system aligned with that of Toastmasters: Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence?

You seem curious about the answers I got. Well, but today, my answers aren’t as important as yours!

  • Vote for Mohit if you think you have enough reasons to believe that you’d answer in a YES to all of these questions.
  • Vote for Mohit if you believe he would be justify the role of the President.

Part 2 – Script: VP- Education

Since I was having an OBE experience (which is not easy to come by!), I thought I’d use the opportunity to consider a difference aspect:

If there is one reason I wouldn’t vote for Mohit, what would it be?

Instantly came the reply: There isn’t anything too great about him!

He seems to be having his own fears and vulnerablilities. He seems to be unsure and still on his own journey of self discovery.

Well.. then I thought a bit further and asked myself: Is there anything wrong with that?

Isn’t it okay to be fearful, as long as you have the courage to face up to your fears.

Isn’t it okay to be vulnerable, as long as you have the integrity to stand up to your true self!

… and isn’t it okay to be unsure, as long as you keep taking risks to grow yourself and people around you?

I leave the decision up to you. And I leave you with this quote from Zig Ziglar:

You don’t have to be great to start,

but you have to start to be great!

It’s quite an experience to see the Elections at Toastmasters clubs. It give the flavor of a real (government) election. Late entrants, secretive talks, some expected and a lot of unexpected winners, sadness in the eyes of the one’s who lost and “Of course I won. I’m the best, after all!” written all of the winner’s faces. 

The best part of the Toastmasters election process is that the results are declared there and then. One doesn’t have to wait and see the twists and turns as the votes are beingcounted. That quick result takes care of the anxiety levels to an extent.

When I reached home and shared that I am the VP-Education, of course everyone cheered. Dinky, my wife asked me, “Are you happy?

I said, “Yes I’m happy I won! But I’m happier for that moment of time when I decided I’d stand for the position.

It is in the moment’s of decision that your destiny is shaped – Tony Robbins

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