When You Answer Life’s Important Questions..

I am so excited to be on Editor’s page of The Scoop, our Toastmasters club’s magazine. After all, this has been a long and somewhat lost dream. This is certainly BIG for me to be the editor!

In the editor’s note, I share what sowed the seeds of becoming an editor in my mind long back. Sometimes, we get clues about what we want to do in the most unusual places and unexpected times. If you are still looking for what you are meant to do,  pay attention to these times. Because teacher appears when the student least expects it.

Read on for full story…


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Do What You Say!

Say what you do

Do what you say

A harmonious life

isn’t too far away

 

“Don’t play on the phone

Don’t shout, don’t fight!”,

said I, while talking on the phone

and was I polite?

 

Kids are either on the tab

or fighting or crying..

Boss is bad, ..no one understands.

…every moment, I’m dying!

 

Either they’re all insane,

or may be..,

just may be,

I’m doing something ‘not right’?

 

I thought all day,

..even sat to pray.

When I slept,

“He” showed me the way,

 

“Say what you do

Do what you say

A harmonious life

isn’t too far away”

 

All this while,

I was looking outside.

Practicing this mantra,

brought ‘peace’ to my life.

 

Just say what you do

Do what you say

A harmonious life

really isn’t too far away!


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What Is Your Happiness Score?

“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. Many if not 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 realize that something is going seriously wrong with them, until it is too late. They know it only when they have developed serious anxiety issues, stress or even depression.

John Lennon knew the purpose of life when he was 5 years old, and yet so many of us as mature adults keep forgetting that.

In the classroom, the teacher had asked the little 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!”

Life’s purpose is to be happy. And it begins where we are at – at home and at work. We spend a considerable part of our life at work. So, we must know how we’re doing on our happiness levels and whether we need to do something about it.

With that in mind, we created a system –Your Happiness Score(TM) – and tested it as well for months! We have seen the Happiness levels increase significantly every time we use this system, consistently on a daily basis. This is 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 it is when I am him. Which is usually not the case. Although 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 being someone they are not! This thin line is quite significant to determine you happiness score.
  2. Connectedness – “Don’t speak with Gopal and if you do take me along!“, my boss says. Well, that itself is a cause for concern. Being connected to people in the team and outside too openly is important to your being. 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. How are you doing on these things. Are you able to discuss matters of significance with your team? Connectedness is a human needs and plays a key role in our happiness levels.
  3. Interesting Work – “Just do it because I say so!“, says your boss. Well, that’s not what makes the work meaningful for me. I want to know the reason why we’re doing it, what value am I 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.
  4. 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 a havoc in the minds of people who are sitting idle. We humans enjoy being useful and being idle only makes us feel worse. We may not believe it but it is true. If you’re sitting doing nothing, its not at all a good news. It i a serious cause for concern. Take some action if that’s the case or quit such a job. Believe me, you’d be better off.
  5. 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. There is talk of the work life balance changing to work life integration, with the technology tools and changes in the work arrangements. But whatever we call it, we ought to do things other than just office work. Getting up in the morning, listening to some light music, some yoga or exercise, morning prayer with family, reading something different, attending to family functions and conferences, pursuing your hobbies, spending time with family making memories.. those things ought to be part of your life too. You can’t wait for the retirement to do all that. Life is a gift and we must live a portfolio life which is a mix of all of these things.

Well, not 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. The maximum your Happiness Score can be is 25 and the least is 5.

If your score is between:

  • 5 – 12: Situation is alarming and you need to take some steps today. Talk to someone you trust and make a decision. It could be as drastic as moving out of the project, organization or even that career.
  • 12-18: 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. Continue to do what your doing on areas where your individual scores are good.
  • 18-25: Congratulations! You’re doing well. Your life is under control. At these scores, all you have to do is manage your scores in days to come, so they don’t come down.

Some people would ask, “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.

Well, that’s what I think. What about you?

Are there any other parameters you would consider to come up with the Happiness?


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My Biased Opinion of My Son’s First Ever Public Speech!

“The next speaker is Tanav Sawhney.“, said Shreya, the Gavelier of the Day.

Tanav, my 9 year old son, emerged from the chair, walked in a confident gait, wearing his hat, and took the place to start the show. 

He noticed that the Gavelier had not invited him on the stage with the formal title and speaker name format. It was supposed to go in this case like, “The King of Pop, Tanav Sawhney. Tanav Sawhney, The King of Pop

But that didn’t deter him. In fact, he said it himself and proceeded with his speech: “The King of Pop, Tanav Sawhney. Tanav Sawhney, The King of Pop”

He was loud and clear.

He started by asking the audience, “Do you know who is the King of Pop?

(Technique 1) Surprisingly not many people knew that, but isn’t that such a great technique to start the speech – by starting with a question to get the audience’s brain to start exercising. It brings such a great engagement from them.

Tanav remembered all the techniques I had told him at different points when he was preparing the speech.

(Technique 2) First ten seconds in the speech are the key – the audience will decide if they want to stay with you or leave you, in those ten seconds.

Tanav had been able to grab the attention in those ten seconds. There was so much he did in that time – seemed such a natural progression.

There was pin drop silence when he was speaking. The audience was all ears. They had decided to stay with him. His question was followed by him saying, “For the next 2 minutes, I am Michael Jackson!”

Bold statement. Requires a lot of confidence to say that you will step into the shoes of the King of Pop.

(Technique 3) Entertain the audience.

Right after that claim, Tanav did a spin around but acted like he fell. That might have disappointment the audience a bit because they had made up their minds to see something great.

But it was part of the plan to fall, only to get up. “Let me try again.“, he announced as he wore his hat.

This time around, he was able to spin around, jump up and land on his toes. He remained in that pose for a few seconds.

Audience was all cheers.

(Technique 4) Educate the audience

Information and value bombs dropped all through Tanav’s 3 minutes and 10 seconds speech.

Tanav continued with sharing more information about Michael, his full name, his love for pets and his rather unusual pets – a chimpanzee, and a python, him being the first black artist to come on MTV, the Queen of Pop, his love for humanity, his most selling albums and so on.

There was bags full of information for the audience to go back.

(Tehcnique 5) Tantalize the audience.

While there was so much shared in Tanav’s speech, there was so much more for audience to go back and research on their own. Tanav’s speech was like a trailer for the audience’s mind to be at work even after the session has ended.

I can say with certainly that a few will definitely look up on Youtube and Google and learn and enjoy Michael’s songs.

And Tanav did complete justice to the trailer – He sang as he had mentioned about the most selling albums and even danced, showing his own love for the greatness of Michael and inspiring the audience to find out more.

(Technique 6) Play the part with all you’ve got and enjoy.

You learn best in moments of enjoyment.

Tanav sprinkled humor in his speech throughout. Like when he asked, “Do you know what is MJ’s python’s name?”

Then added, “It’s Madonna, the Queen of Pop!”

Hilarious.

The way to entertain the audience is to enjoy the speech yourself. Tanav was thoroughly enjoying the act such as when he acted like MJ’s chimpanzee and python, when he danced and on it goes.

His use of props – the MJ Hat, the black armband and even the choice of his dress showed that he is here to perform. Just like Him.

His moving from one place to the next when he shared MJ’s three most selling albums was very impressive – very experienced speakers forget that so often. He used the stage with such perfection when he pointed to three different places while mentioning, the people who are dying, the children in pain and people living in poverty.

Hat’s off!

(Technique 7) Give them something original. Something novel.

Tanav said, “His full name was Michael Joseph Jackson.” and then he added, “He is called MJ in short form, but I think he should be called MJJ..

The way Tanav emerged out of Michael’s body, and said, “I was trapped inside Michael for so long.”


With all the above going on in a ~3 minutes speech, it’s easy to forget the overall message the speaker wants to convey.

(Technique 8) There must be a single clear overall message for the audience.

As Tanav emerged out of Michael’s body, he said, “I am Tanav. I also want to help the people who are dying, the children in pain and the those living in poverty”

Then he urged the audience, “You also please help them, and be like Him and me.

I write Him in capitals because I feel the way Tanav said it, there was a double meaning in that, he meant not only Michael but also God Almighty himself. Tanav had pointed up above as he had said “Him”.

Something even he may not be able to understand himself also being a nine year old, but he will realize it as he grows.

(Technique 9) The last ten seconds are the final key

Tanav was at peace as he said “..be like Him and me.” His eyes slowly closing peacefully, and his arms and head stretching upwards and then back.

He remained in that pose for a few seconds before he said, “Thanks.

That made every soul in the audience believe in Tanav’s message.

He received the audience’s standing applause with such grace and then moved out of the stage with a moonwalk.

Video is attached. Please write your unbiased opinion in the comments below.


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If Toastmasters Was A Person..

On 13th June 2013, I took the first step.

Never could I imagine this step would end up being one of the best one of my life. After all, it wasn’t a big deal going to attend a Toastmasters club meeting as a guest.

Couple of meetings and something in it looked nice. I didn’t exactly know what it was but it was enough for me to decide that I would join as a member.

With each meeting, I sensed something was going right. Still not sure where it would take me but it was enough for me to keep going the path. I was enjoying each step and learning along the way. So, I kept going.

It kept getting better. Today, after being in a relationship with Toastmasters for 5 years, I sometimes think if Toastmasters was a person, she would be

  1. Kind – After all, Toastmasters is the only place where I learnt that there is a way to give feedback to transform lives without being rude or angry!
  2. Empowering – Toastmasters lets me try out my wings, with all sincerely, without mocking, or laughing or shaming!
  3. Open– Toastmasters is the epitome of openness – It welcomes people and ideas from diverse professions, ages, religions…!
  4. Curious– Toastmasters encourages me to have that childlike quality to know more, do more and be more, always!
  5. Running her own race– Toastmasters teaches me to compete with only one person – myself, and be the best version of ‘me’!
  6. Joyful– Toastmasters validates for me that we certainly learn best in moments of enjoyment!
  7. and let you Be – Toastmasters lets you be! It doesn’t force you to change, or to be someone else. There is something very special about letting one be!

Above qualities are also the qualities I look for in my friends. If Toastmasters were a person, it would certainly be my best friend!


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Will I Die Undone?

I believe we’re here for a reason,
but I’m scared each day of every season,
for clock is ticking fast, the baby we held is now our teenage son!
what if I can’t find it (the reason)
and die undone?

I am a writer, no a manager, crap… a painter, husband, papa and son,
all combined into one
but from all of the above, the sole reason for my existence can be none!
what if I can’t find it (the reason)
and die undone?

I seek God for an answer
… isn’t seeking God itself the reason?
I meditate: read Gita, Quran, Guru Granth and Bible
I was so close to the answer
but didn’t realize when it took me away from my dear ones

I was, after all, praying and reading from winter to fall
paying little attention to anything else
until my little two year old doll
was hurt on her face.. so badly, hit with a ball
that’s when I realized

I needed to come back to life, …my life.
and play the roles, all of them, even if I master none
I am a writer, a manager, a painter, husband, papa and son
and if I do justice to each of these one
There is no way I will die undone

I still believe we’re here for a reason,
and I’m living each day of every season,
playing all my roles well and having fun!
Alas! I found it,
I will not die undone!

Why You Need to Bring Your Office Home!

“What should be the frequency of this meeting?”

“How about once every six months?”

“No, that’s too less, we do need it at least once in three months.”.

Nothing unusual about that dialogue right?

Not until I tell you that is a conversation between me and my nine year old son, Tanav.

Yes, we do plan and have meetings at home. Just like office. In fact, I just finished a meeting with Tanav, my son (see below an earlier recording)

Office meetings are generally considered a waste of time, too lo..ng and boring.  But no matter how much we complain about them, if they’re right way – they help in planning, reviewing progress and resolving issues. In acknowledging people for their work. Meetings are, indeed, an essential for any organization…including the home organization

Strike the right chord and get insights that are impossible to get otherwise. You will discover a whole new person in your family member! 

[bctt tweet=”Don’t live with strangers in the house all your life and call it a family!” username=”mohitsawhney”]

These meetings can take your relationship with your family on the growth trajectory .

Human mind is complex. It has inhibitions. It doesn’t share easily. Not even with people who are close to us!  Expecting others to open up in a normal setting, is out of question. We have to book a time, a place and tell the participants (in this case our son or daughter or wife), that you need them there!

..And why just meetings? There is quite a lot of good stuff we need to bring home from office! 

Organizations have a set of systems meant to make things happen smoothly and improve. 

But home sweet home? Do we have any systems? If you’re like most people, your answer is a No.

In the absence of any system for family to be cohesive, performing and improving, we just rely on God Almighty to take care of our home affairs. But , God only helps those who help themselves!

“I am putting in all the efforts and time in office to earn and save only for the family.”, you might say. 

Well, thanks but your family needs “you”. Your time. Now. Not later.

If you don’t give the time now, your connection with your folks is broken… forever!

Now, if you tell me: I really don’t have the time.

Okay, then here’s another tip: Go Lean.

Organizations are shouting about going lean: which means reducing waste. But your family organization? You are the CEO. Or co-CEO or whatever of that, no?

So get your act together and go lean. Here’s what I mean:

  • No Phone on Weekends. (basically this means using phone as a plain simple phone, that too if it’s absolutely needed!)
  • No TV on Mondays.
  • No Facebook App on the Smartphone. And yes, No Whatsapp too!
  • No Technology in the Bedroom.

You get the idea. Reduce the wasteful activities. That will make time for useful ones.

[bctt tweet=”Oh God! Today, give me the strength to say ‘no’ to things I may do only to regret later. ” username=”mohitsawhney”]

By the way, yours truly has done all of the above. Of course, one by one though.

When I shared the idea of a No Phone Day on Saturdays, it seemed impossible. Everyone resisted. Initial few weeks were tough. The cries and frustrations were all so visible on everyone’s faces. But soon, good things began to happen.

Tanav, my nine year old son, opened his bookshelf after ages! We have played several board games as a family.  Not so long ago, he was hooked to Clash of Clans. We had no idea how to get him off!

And the best part was yet to come: Tanav, my son, loved the idea so much that he himself proposed to have Sunday’s too as No Phone Days!

A few months have passed, and Tanav has just recently proposed to have Mondays as No TV Days! Can you beat that!

Today is Day 1 of No TV Day. Excitement abound. Tanav is busy cleaning his study table, and Sohana, my 4 year old daughter, my bookshelf.

It’s going well. We haven’t switched on the TV. Not as yet. It’s not easy but we will face this challenge as a family.

..That my friends is Sawhney Family Organization going Lean. When is Your’s? 


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Little Something That Will Make You Actually Overcome Your Interview Phobia

What do you like reading?“, asked  the interviewer.

John Maxwell“, I replied (..well, I possibly have read more John Maxwell’s books than he’s written!).

The follow-up question came, “What do you like about John Maxwell?

I froze.

I started babbling.

It was like losing in the home ground. Being beaten at something you always thought you were so good at. 

Not that I didn’t know the answer, just that I didn’t know where to start. 

I had a zillion thoughts run past my head instantaneously such as “Does he think that I am lying?


Truth be told, I have suffered big time from job interview anxiety. 

It was serious. So much that I would think that I am a gone case. The only one or the chosen one!

It’s a bit like when you’re sick and don’t know the diagnosis. You often think that it’s just you.. until you know more. Reality is that whatever you’re going through has likely been experienced already by someone somewhere. 

However, I used to be so scared of the subject, that I would avoid talking about it. I would brush it aside if it ever came up. I was almost certain that there’s something wrong with me only. I kept it a secret because I feared being made fun of.

When I did, after all, opened up to talking about it, I realized that there is a world out there full of people who fear the interview: the interview phobics.

I know the feeling. You get blacked out, freeze or get defensive and eventually get caught in the trap of your own words. You feel cornered. You feel ashamed. You think that you have lost the golden chance. Guess what, the moment you have such feelings, is when it’s over.

If you can relate to this, read further..

Let’s take a step back: What is an interview anyway?

It’s the phenomenon of finding the right person for the job, and the right job for the person – It’s a two way street. a bit like finding a match in an arranged marriage. 

When you are out looking for a match, would you look for someone perfect – most beautiful, with top education and a fantastic family background?

(If you are, then, at present the only person who’d fit the bill is Manushi Chillar. She’s Miss World 2017, studying MBBS and seems to have a decent family. But then, she’s too good to be true, for  you, isn’t she?)

Or instead would you look for someone who is right for you? Someone who may not be (in fact should not be) perfect, but would adjust well to your life and circumstances. Remember, you aren’t perfect either.

Interviews are no different. They are seeking the right fit not the perfect one. So, you don’t have to be perfect. No one is! Just be yourself. Relax. Let go that feeling of being overwhelmed.

Besides, you are also evaluating them. It’s not a one way street. Not all the employers are right for you. Speak your mind, make mistakes but always give them the sense that you’re an equal. No marriage can ever happen with consent from one side. So, don’t act subservient*

Tell your story, hear theirs, and yes, it’s okay to be nervous. I have been on the other side and trust me, both sides are!

So, next time:

  • If you notice them scrutinizing your appearance, mannerisms, do the same to them! Remember you’re here to decide too.
  • If you think you are not well prepared, check their readiness. Chances are they aren’t prepared either. Ask questions such as “Could you tell me more about your company culture?” or “Please explain the job requirement to me in detail“, or “Please explain to me the growth path for my role” or “What are the organization’s plans for 2018” or “How does the organization deal with personality eccentricities?” Yes, you have all the right to ask. Actually, you need to know some or all of this before you consent to marry.
  • Be authentic while being positive. Expect the same in return. If they are rude or cold, you are not be in right hands.
  • Pay attention and don’t be desperate. Remember it’s the marriage of equals. Desperation will only reduce the chances of developing a bond. Hopefully, you’ve been through college – Hard-to-get girls/ guys always had multiple proposals and could pick and choose. While the desperate ones (lots of names popping up my head), got only one thing – rejection.

Wait a second… is that the Shehnai that I hear playing from a distance. 

Amen!


REFERENCES/ NOTES:

*Subservient is a word that has stayed with me over the years. I first heard it around 10 years back in the context of onsite-offshore teams. The speaker strongly advised offshore teams to not to act subservient. It’s meaning as per Webster is: useful in an inferior capacity, subordinate,  serving to promote some end, overly submissive

I Was Dying..

“First, I was dying to finish my high school and start college.

And then, I was dying to finish college and start working.

Then, I was dying to marry and have children.

And then, I was dying for children to grow old enough so I could go back to work.

Not too long after, I was dying to retire.

And now, when I am dying…

..suddenly I realized that I never lived!

Please don’t let this happen to you.

Appreciate your current situation and enjoy each day.

Learn from children.

Live before you finally die.”

-an old friend