Thursday, November 6, 2014

The rapture of being ridiculous....without the fear of ridicule

Have you ever had a conversation in gibberish? Whispered sweet nothings, yelled expletives, expressed surprise or disgust using meaningless combinations of sounds. Try it out, and it will be one conversation you will thoroughly enjoy. You will learn how mere body language and meaningless sounds can evoke different emotional reactions in you, and in others.  In no time, you will be engaged as deeply as one would be in a dialogue with a Bangalorean auto driver (on the right fare!).

Conversations in gibberish were a part of a theatre workshop that I attended recently. The experience was amazing! Imagine speaking utter nonsense and drivel, and actually being cheered and encouraged to get innovative with dishing out nonsense.

Hey, wait a minute! That doesn’t fit into the world I come from – my corporate world. In this world, appropriateness is the order. Prim n proper does it. Neat, straight lines, perfectly boxed emotions, not allowed to spill over, lest they trespass the holy confines of propriety! The secure cover of a straitjacket can sometimes be suffocating as well. It keeps you safe, but it also doesn’t let you catch the wind in your sails. Theatre is one of the places to do just that - let your sails billow in the breeze, as you float on a sea of uninhibitedness. 

And, uninhibited we were. Encouraging the shy to express themselves in full swing is one of the multiple objectives of theatre training. One of the exercises included having participants act as experts on topics as bizarre as pigeon droppings to tantric sex, and the other participants asked the “experts” equally bizarre questions on these topics. The spontaneity of the responses helps develop presence of mind, and confidence in expression. The laughter is a welcome side-effect. Finding spaces that let you be ridiculous without the fear of ridicule is not very easy in an “appropriate” world. And, theatre gave me the sacred space to be ridiculous.

Theatre allows you to go “over the top”, and E-X-P-R-E-S-S yourself. So, if you’re feeling stifled with life and unable to crack the shackles of a humdrum existence, then theatre will set the stage for you to break free. One of the best ways to do this is to play an “over the top” character, and have the vicarious pleasure of living the character’s life. For a regular corporate “suit and tie” types, it can be a liberating experience to play a road ruffian – complete with a handkerchief around the neck, unbuttoned shirt and loud mannerisms. A totally new world-view, different thought processes, different body language and behaviour can provide a much-needed respite from routine and boredom. The study of mind-body connection tells us that our body language can influence our state of mind. So, if you alter your body language to play a comic character, you are bound to feel humoured and light hearted.

Just so I don’t give the impression that playing a character is a simplistic task, let me emphasise that “concretising” a character is one of the quite difficult, yet creatively rewarding tasks of getting into the skin of the character. It draws upon our imagination, as well as our experiences with different sorts of people. Concretising a character means delineating everything from the character’s personality, thought processes to body language and idiosyncrasies. From Sherlock Holmes quirks of breaking into intellectual monologues, to Charlie Chaplin’s goofy walk, every single nuance and detail of the character has to be created, calibrated and enacted. A well concretised character stays with the audience forever.

I feel that it would be great fun to play a character that is totally opposite to one’s self concept. I wish to play a “dumb belle” or a dimwit kind of character in one of my next plays. For someone like me who’s self-concept consists of adjectives such as self-assured and intelligent, it would be a complete antithesis, and challenge to play a dimwit. I am sure I will delight in the experience, as I take flights of fancy into my dimwit character’s world. My mind’s eye can already see the “desi” dimwit, with the silly grin, rapidly blinking eyelids and head scratching when she pretends to search her frugal brains for some intelligent answers. How about naming her Gulabo, Dhanno or Basanti ;-)

Playing this character would help me get out of my comfort zone, as well as build my empathy towards those who are different from me. In fact, theatre is an excellent way to build interpersonal intelligence and empathy. Theatre is also a great way to explore the Self. When we are given a character, an automatic alignment check exercise happens within us. We look at the character and find elements of his personality we resonate with and those that we don’t. The dilemmas and life situations of the character help us delve deeper into our own dilemmas and life situations. And, through this deep dive we learn and understand ourselves, and others much better. By getting into the skin of characters like a villain, comedian, fibber or hero, we are able to see shades of the very same villain, comedian, fibber and hero within us, or in others. In fact, the more different is the character from you in real life, probably the greater is your learning about human behaviour.

I am intrigued by the philosophy of “navras” – the nine different emotions that can be evoked in the audience by the performance of an artist. And, I hope to be able to dabble in all the 9 rasas as time goes by. But, for now my favourite is “Hasya Rasa” and I am happy to slip into a comic trance with my sahelis - Gulabo, Dhanno and Basanti…..want to join me?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Are leaders born or made?

This question has its roots in the nature / nurture argument, and is probably as old as the argument itself. Numerous studies and researchers have thrown light on it, but the truth is not as simple as an equation, as we logical human beings would love to have.

Imagine having an equation like 0.3 genes + 0.5 environment+ 0.2 life situations = Leadership

Wow! That would be the magic sauce for leadership. Since so much has been written on how leaders are developed, I thought there’s no harm if I add my two cents to it. So, here is my perspective.

Are leaders born or made? Let us examine this debate a little more deeply. If we assume that leaders are born – that leadership is all about what one is gifted with as inborn talents and native abilities, we are treading the path of the deterministic theory. This theory says that there is not much in an individual’s control, s/he is programmed according to his genes, and will therefore behave as his genes direct him. In my view, this theory devalues the role of a unique endowment called “free will” – which is the ability to choose our response to what happens to us. This is the ability that helps us make lemonade when life throws a lemon at us. Capable leaders choose to respond in a certain way when life throws a challenge at them. In doing so, they further their own development as a leader. To that extent, leaders are “made”.

Now, let us stretch this argument to the other extreme, and say that it is all about the environment the leader is brought up in, and it has nothing to do with his DNA / genes. This argument denounces the role of the Supreme Intelligence, the intelligence which decides the formation of the planets around the sun. It is this intelligence which decides that one child is born in famine stricken Ethiopia, and another is born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

I believe in the “Genius of the AND” (I picked up this beautiful phrase from Jim Collins book “Built to Last). Leaders are born AND made. It is a unique combination of innate talents, life circumstances and their responses to life’s challenges that makes a leader. So, it’s no longer about nature or nurture. It is about nature AND nurture.

Given this understanding of leadership development, what is the role of the leadership development expert. I believe the role is that of a diamond cutter. A diamond cutter does not create a diamond, but he can cut the edges fine, and polish it so that it sparkles from every angle – fully, completely – as much as it was meant to!

Here are a few sentences I like to remind participants whenever I conduct a leadership development workshop :

You are Blessed

The Supreme Master blesses with the mettle to lead mankind,
Only His hand creates the diamond that can mesmerize the mind,
We, mere mortals, can just make this diamond dazzle more bright,
And, with it, adorn crowns that promise to lead humanity towards light.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Power of Questions

Asking one great question is better than asking ten different questions!

The art of framing the right questions is at the heart of good interviewing for candidate selection.  Hiring the right candidate for your organization is an extremely critical responsibility. The quality of employees hired will determine whether the organization will be a winner or an also-ran.

So, how can you improve your ability to spot the right candidates in 60 - 90  minutes (that’s the average length of a typical job interview)? Frame the right questions to ask, and see your success rate almost double up! 

Is self awareness a common phenomenon?

Contrast the following questions :
Question 1 – What are your strengths?
Question 2 – Can you tell us about a successful project / assignment success in your last job, and how you contributed to its success?

Question 1 will elicit a response from the candidate in terms of what he thinks are his strengths. To be able to believe him, you have to believe that he has a very high degree of self-awareness, and therefore, what he is saying is true. Self-awareness, as we know, is not that easy to come across, so you might be better off asking him to describe a successful situation, and his exact contribution in the success. You can ask further clarifying questions – Why / how / when / who to better understand his behaviour. Then, you as the interviewer infer his strengths from his experience sharing. The inferences on strengths / abilities are based on your analysis of his experience.

Behaviour based interviewing 

The popular behaviour based interviewing technique focusses on understanding how the candidate has behaved / responded under different situations. The basic premise being “Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour”. Earlier interviews used to focus on hypothetical questioning, e.g., “How would you respond to an angry customer”? 

Behavioural scientists have proved that we humans don’t really know ourselves well. There is a huge gap between what we say we will do, and what we actually do. So, the way to understand a human being better is to find out what he actually did in a particular situation, because in all likelihood, if a similar situation reappears, he would behave the same way as he did earlier. Our predictability of an individual’s behaviour increases if we understand his past. So, a better question to ask is “Have you ever had a situation where you had to handle an angry customer? How did you manage it?” Then you as an interviewer analyse the response and identify the absence or presence of the required job competencies – in this case “customer focus”.

Learn to read the script of the heart and soul

When we hire a candidate, we don’t only hire his brains. We bring in the entire human being into the organization – mind, heart and soul. Indeed, exponentially high performances can only come from individuals who engage with their work, not merely through their minds, but through their hearts and souls as well. Learn to read the script of the heart and soul, again, by asking the right questions!

Ask questions related to passion and excitement, e.g., “Can you talk about a situation when you or your team were really excited about an assignment / project and then some obstacles came in the way? How did you manage the situation?” Along with his problem solving and resilience abilities, you will learn about the passions of his heart – how deeply does he engage with his work, does his face light up when he talks of exciting work – does the passion come through?

Similarly, ask questions about situations which may have stirred his soul. Today’s organizations have a lot of “brains at work”, but need a lot more soul. A question such as “Talk about a situation where you faced a dilemma in terms of a people related decision?”. This question may lead him to talk about his decision making principles – whether considerations of equity, justice and fairness are important to him or not. Again, observe closely to see how deeply did he engage himself with this dilemma. How important was it for him to be fair to people as well as do the right thing for the organization?

Questions which are framed well, and followed up with the right probes of why / how / when etc., can give excellent insights into the core of the individual you are about to hire.

Make sure you use the power of questioning to hire the right candidate!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Watch your tongue (Zubaan sambhaal ke)

A double edged sword, sharper than the knife,
No balm can make whole,
the wounds it wreaks for life.
Be sure you bring forth with it,
words of joy, laughter and love
like holy hymns, from the heavens above….
The tongue is known to be amongst the strongest muscles in the human body. If we ponder a little deeper, we realise that its strength doesn’t lie in the form of its musculature, rather it exists in its function. The raison d’etre of the tongue is twofold - eating and speaking. The first function (eating) is related to physiological survival, a very basic need for human beings. The second function (speaking), is related to a slightly higher order of human needs – the desire to express oneself and communicate.

How often do we pause to think and direct awareness towards the tongue? Awareness that the tongue could hold the key to a healthier and happier life, if only we could steer it better. 

We are what we eat! So, the kind of food we eat can influence our personality. If we eat sattvic food, then our mental tendencies will be sattvic. Similarly, rajasic and tamasic food will generate rajasic and tamasic tendencies respectively. Not just the kind or quality of food, even the quantity of food has to be right for the body. Too much food will not get metabolised by the body, and will merely accumulate as fat, leading to obesity.

And what happens to the tongue as soon as we smell delicious food? It starts drooling! It seems as if the food is calling out to us to eat it. Before we know, we have overeaten. And, with that comes the slew of problems – stomach ache, heartburn and not to forget the discomfort and uneasiness. Famous nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar talks about the practice of yogic eating, which ensures that we leave space in the stomach for the food to move around and get digested properly. To do this, we need to bring more awareness to our tongue, and refuse to surrender to it’s whims and fancies. This will surely go a long way in helping us lead a healthier life.

The second function of the tongue is speaking, and its one that is oft spoken of!

The great sage Kabir spoke
“Aisi baani boliye, mann ka aapa khoye,
auran ko seetal kare, aaphu seetal hoye”
Translation – “Speak such words that calm down your anger, bring peace to others as well as to you”

Again, just a little bit more awareness, a small pause, before the unbridled tongue takes over could help us have more loving and warm relationships. The Bhagwad Gita uses the excellent metaphor of horses to understand our five senses. It says, these five senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste) are as powerful as horses. They need to be reined in so they don’t go amok, dragging our soul along. If the horses are reined in well, the soul which is the passenger in this chariot will arrive safely at its destination, else it will just keep wandering around in circles at the mercy of the undisciplined horses.

Amongst all the five senses, I believe the tongue has the greatest power to create as well as to destroy. Eating primarily impacts our internal world (within our body) and speaking primarily impacts our external world, our relationships with people. Therefore, what the tongue decides to feed the body, and what it decides to voice out can impact our lives tremendously.

Choosing wisely, pausing to think if the food I am eating will increase my well being, or merely the size of my girth. Choosing wisely again, will the words I am uttering increase the love, joy and warmth around me, or will they merely serve to increase the already rampant verbal pollution in this world.

Awareness, awareness and still more awareness…..that is the only way to go. Wish me luck as I try to practice this awareness in my own life and with my own loved ones…….

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My lesson in life skills

Some of the loveliest moments in life are absolutely free of cost. This thought was reinforced when I recently volunteered with an NGO called Dream – A – Dream. They work with underprivileged children and one of their highly successful initiatives is called Udaan (teaching Life Skills – interpersonal skills, communication, empathy etc to underprivileged children between the ages of 12 to 18 years). Now! wait a moment, before you conjure up an image of me as “Ms. Life Skills Incarnate”, let me remove all misconceptions through a disclaimer “I am no expert at Life Skills, but I sure can talk endlessly about them!”.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon I walked into the activity centre of a small school building. The moment I entered I exploded with childlike glee. My eyes beheld a gorgeous view of 2 little girls, dressed in long, shiny skirts dancing unabashedly to Kannada movie songs. Rasathi and Revathi, were the two livewires in the activity centre. They were about 8-9 years old, and they captured my heart. Their energy levels together were not R+R = 2R, they were actually R X R = R square, because they energized each other through their antics. When I jumped onto the “dance floor” and started dancing along with them, they hugged me and starting shouting “Aunty, Aunty”. Some more children joined us in the dance. Only after a couple of minutes did it register to me that the staff was smiling and wondering who I was, though they soon realized that I was a volunteer with the NGO.

Imagine my joy when I heard some Daler Mehndi beats in Kannada music! It touched some Punjabi chord in me and I did a few Bhangra moves, much to the delight of the little livewires who followed suit. We also did a bit of “desi” Salsa and the little girls jumped into my arms as we tried out some twirls. They hugged me tight and I realized this was one of those moments when language becomes impotent. In great sorrow and in great joy language loses its potency and no words are needed to communicate. The bond between me and the girls was instant, love was flowing spontaneously and maybe I got a glimpse of heaven in those few minutes.

R square got a bit too fond of me though, and when I actually started teaching the older kids, both the girls stomped into the room and wanted to sit through the session. One of the boys told them that this session was for older kids and they should go out. Little did the poor fellow realize that “hell hath less fury than a woman scorned” as the two cheeky girls growled at him “Aye, Baai Mucchu” – (Hey, Shut Up). It was obvious that I had to step in now and firmly escort R square out of the room.

With R square out of the room, I could concentrate on the job that I was actually there for - teaching Life Skills There were 10 children in the room and all of us sat on the floor. Since this was a new batch, I explained the concept of Udaan to them. I spoke about how teachers at school taught them science and math, and then asked them about the teachers who taught them how to live life. Many of them have parents who work as auto-drivers, housemaids or have other jobs in the unorganized sector. Some of them also have parents who could be alcoholic or abusive and hence are not good role models. So, Udaan is intended to be one of the teachers that would equip these children with the skills to live life.

All the children had studied English so they could understand the language, but to explain deeper nuances I realized that Kannada was a much better medium to communicate. Thankfully, in my 10 years in Bangalore, I have learnt enough Kannada to be able to hold a conversation. Interestingly, this is where I realized the potency of language. Just as language can be impotent in intense, emotion filled moments, it can also be deeply potent in making strangers feel they’ve know each other for a lifetime. My broken Kannada and their broken English bound our hearts together. They accepted me as one of their own, and soon “our” group was breathing with a new sense of belonging to each other. I knew that the ice had been broken successfully, and I would now be able to do a much better job of imparting Life Skills.

As I looked at the children’s faces around, I saw my childhood and teenage years in their eyes – the shy girl in the corner, so unsure of herself, sitting in a huddle trying to become invisible, hoping that the teacher would not pick on her to answer the question. Or, me - the eager beaver, wanting to be the first one to answer the teacher’s question, because now I happened to know the answer. A young teenager, with kajal lined eyes and curls outlining her face reminded me of my teen years and the hours I spent in front of the mirror trying to hide the gawkiness of teenage. Yes, I did take a trip down memory lane and relived some wonderful moments through the children.

The children were enthusiastic, willing to learn, absorb and share. The session was interactive, and the children really enjoyed it. When the session was over, I walked out with a deep sense of fulfillment of having made a difference, in however small a way. As I pen down this experience, I have been there for the last 3 consecutive Saturdays by now. And, every time I wrap up a session I feel recharged to take on the world for a complete week.

The great poet Khalil Gibran wrote on “Giving” and said “It is when you give of yourself, that you truly give”. While I was the teacher for the children, I believe I walked out as a learner learning the life skill of “giving”. The reward of truly giving is joy, a wondrous joy which can only be experienced and is difficult to communicate through words.

As an end note, I would like to quote a few verses from Gibran on “Giving”
“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
………….There are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
……………There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
………………..And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

……..In truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness. 

A Rendezvous with Old Age

“Senescence”, they call it! That’s quite a heavy word for something that gently tiptoes into your life. Old age is technically known as senescence - a gradual deterioration of bodily functions. It starts very innocuously, like a gentle trickle of raindrops on your window pane, their sound barely discernible. A wee bit of pain in the back, a little creaking of the knee joint. Disappearing as mysteriously as they had appeared, just like the raindrops that gently tapped on the glass, and then evaporated into the ether.

Rain can bring respite from the scorching heat or it can ruin a bright and sunny picnic day. Likewise, old age can bring relief from the raging desires of youth or become a roadblock to the fulfilment of those very desires. It is actually a unique, personal experience for each individual. For me, the raindrops of old age seem to be the harbinger of the spring of contentment. If youth is the spring of desire, red, deep and passionate, then old age is the spring of contentment, mellow and calm.

Malcolm Muggeridge in his book “A twentieth century testimony” makes a very interesting observation. He writes ….

"When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known and being praised, ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, exploring and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer. In retrospect all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called "licking the earth."

Rare and blessed are those enlightened beings who aim for salvation from their very first breath on this earth. For most of us lesser mortals, the definition of success changes and evolves as we pass through different stages of life. Fame, money, status, being desired by the opposite sex, power etc., may imply success during youth. Whereas old age may evoke different desires like wanting to leave a legacy, compassion, giving back to society, and these may become the new yardsticks for measuring one’s success in the later years of life.

Youth has its own energy, its vibrancy as well as its foolishness, which are to be enjoyed and lived fully. Old age brings greater method to the madness, and a deeper sense of humour that looks back at one’s own foolishness in youth and lets out a loud guffaw.

My greatest delight as I edge closer to completing forty years of life is the “lightness of being” that is slowly, but surely washing over me. Bathing me in its warm, golden radiance, lifting me higher and closer to an abundant way of thinking. The petty quarrels, jealousies, anger, insecurities seem to be losing their grip on me. Ten years ago, they would cause me many a sleepless night and outbursts of rage or tears. Now, they don’t appear to be as powerful. I am able to forgive and let go much faster than I would have when I was younger. Fear, the most basic human emotion, also seems to be giving way to faith. In fact, fear begins to exit, when faith begins to enter. Paradoxically, as my body starts to become weaker, my soul seems to become stronger.

In time, the raindrops on the window pane will become louder. The small aches and pains will give way to the greater difficulties of old age. And, one day it will start pouring cats and dogs. The window pane, no longer able to withstand the force of the rain will shatter. I hope, along with it will shatter the veil of Maya and the iron gridlocks of greed, anger, ego, desire and attachment that hold me prisoner.

If I am blessed enough, then I will slowly rise higher, and higher still, on the wings of consciousness…….. towards eternal freedom. Maybe, I will become Wordsworth's cloud - "The cloud that floats on high over vales and hills" or I might become his golden daffodils....

A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. ....... 

Many a sad heart with glee I shall fill....
as they daintily dance with the daffodils......

Monday, March 17, 2014

Much aKnow, but Do nothing

The Information Age. Knowledge at our fingertips. Answers are just one Google search away. Big Data – measured in zettabytes and yottabytes, giving all kinds of information and analyses ! This is the age of “Everything you ever wanted to know about Everything, and didn’t know who to ask”

Want to lose weight?
Hundreds of websites / books / magazines will give you information on how to lose weight. Having read most of this, many of us still suffer from obesity!

Want to learn how to manage anger?
Training programs, meditation techniques, stress management workshops are aplenty. Even after going through all these and learning all about anger, many of us still struggle to control that unbearable urge to let someone “have it” from us! Weight loss, anger management are just two typical examples of what many of us struggle with in our daily lives. There are others – procrastination, laziness, shopping binges to name a few.

Is this a new affliction or is it as old as mankind itself?
Knowing something in terms of possessing the required knowledge or cognition about it, and yet not doing it! Not making it a reality in our lives! I like to call it “Much aKnow, but Do nothing”. I think it’s as old as mankind itself, and I also have a hunch that it is an affliction which is partial to the “Knowledgables”.

Image courtesy of khunapix /


(image courtesy of khunapix /

Uh-umm, now who are these Knowledgables? The Knowledgables are a sub-species of homo sapiens blessed with great intellectual horsepower. This horsepower includes the ability to gulp and digest large and complex mounds of information, or the ability to verbatim regurgitate the sonnets of Shakespeare, alongside the proper recitation of Sanskrit shlokas. The ignorant are free from the curse of this affliction, simply because their ignorance immunizes them against it. They can always be forgiven for not KNOWing what to do. Since they don’t know what to do, they can’t be expected to do it!

Picture this conversation
Ms. Gyan Devi : Oh, I just read this amazing book on positive thinking. It talked about the body-mind connection, and how physical exercise lifts up our moods, and releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Isn’t it interesting? We must exercise!

Mr. Sabjaanta Sharma: Yes, I already know that, in fact there are some scientists working on this, who have proved that we can even delay our ageing process by exercising. I am also planning to start exercising.
One month later – Gyan Devi and Sabjaanta are sitting together at the office cafeteria gorging on double cheese pizza, with an extra large banana milkshake to lubricate the ride of the pizza down the oesophagus. They are talking about how work pressure and tight deadlines leave no time and energy for exercise. They bemoan their circumstances, and how everything is beyond their control. The only choice they have is to give up the thought of exercising.

The Mirror
Did we just see a mirror? Is there a Gyan Devi and Sabjaanta inside us? The one who says “Ah! I already know It” yet, can’t DO It. Like I said, this affliction is as old as mankind itself. It’s simply become more starkly visible, and increasingly paradoxical in this Information Age. So, the big question is how to convert knowledge to action and make it a reality?

Screw it, just Do it
Sadly, there is no magic bullet, no secret sauce. It’s as simple as Sir Richard Branson says “Screw it, just do it”.  There is however a way of learning to train your mind. For this, you first need to understand that you are separate from your mind. This means that you can channelize your mind in the right direction, and so YOU are the Boss and not your mind.

We underestimate the power of our surroundings on us. Change your surroundings to change your mental processes. This is not to undermine the importance of self-discipline and will power. Those are necessary, and nothing will happen without them. Changing your surroundings is like giving a booster shot to your self-discipline and will power.

Feed the mind visually – Find inspirational pictures of people who have overcome obstacles in life, or have had achievements in areas that you are looking to achieve in – athletics / academics / business / innovation / fitness etc. Looking at their photos at the start of your day is a great way to inspire yourself to follow in their footsteps.

Start small – Make a small promise to yourself. Keep it, come what may. Your confidence in your own self increases. Often times we bite more than we can chew, meaning trying to do too much , too soon. That is a sure recipe for disaster. Crawl, walk and run is usually a good way to start on a change program. Appreciate yourself for the achievements that you make, it increases your self esteem.

Find a support group - Surround yourself with “Can do” people. We are the average of the 5 people we spend the maximum time with. So pick your friends wisely. They could be people who have similar goals as you, or are people who are positive and upbeat and can inspire you!

De-clutterDecide the 1 or 2 things that will exponentially enhance the quality of your life, and focus on them. Our mind can concentrate only a few things at a time, so don’t create a laundry list for your life change program. For a year, decide one or maximum two priorities that you will focus on – exercising / specific relationships (parents / kids / significant others etc.) / hobbies etc.

Review progressReview your progress quarterly on your priorities. Make required course corrections, and KEEP MOVING. You will slowly, but surely begin to take the LEAP from KNOWING to DOING!

Good Luck!