ईंधन और ऊर्जा ( Fuel and Energy )

(Dedicated to the fighter in each one of us, and especially to those invisible souls who keeps on fighting despite all odds)

 

खून पसीने को बना तू अपना ईंधन
हर कदम दर्द से पैदा कर अपनी ऊर्जा ।
मंज़िल पे तू गढ़ा अपनी निगाहें
तेरे इंतज़ार में है कांटो भरी राहें ।।

त्याग को बना तू अपना ईंधन
हर बलिदान से पैदा कर अपनी ऊर्जा ।
चहरे पे अपने हमेशा रख मुस्कान
देखने वालो को तू करदे हैरान ।।

घैर्य को बना तू अपना ईंधन
अपनी दृढ़ता से पैदा कर रोज़ ऊर्जा ।
इस समाज का ना बन तू कैदी
तोड़ के बंदिशे उड़ चल ओ पंछी ।।

हर आंसू को बना तू अपना ईंधन
मन के सन्नाटे से पैदा कर तू ऊर्जा ।
नम्न आखो से ही देख तू रोज़ सपने
बोझ के तले कंधो को न दे तू ढकने ।।

हर कुकर्म को बना तू अपना ईंधन
अपने क्रोध से पैदा कर अपनी ऊर्जा ।
क्षमा और सब्र है तेरे पास दो हथियार
एक जंग ख़त्म तो अगली के लिए रह तैयार ।।

हर अन्याय को बना तू अपना ईंधन
मन की ज्वाला से पैदा कर ऊर्जा ।
पकडे रख अपनी आस्था की मशाल
छोटी सी लौ से ही एक दिन आएगा भूचाल ।।

हर काले बादल को बना तू अपना ईंधन
हवा की हर आंधी से उत्पन्न कर ऊर्जा ।
ना घबरा जब तक पाक है तेरा ईमान
तू है आसमान समां ले अपने अंदर हर तूफ़ान ।।

There Are Only Perspectives, No Truth. And Five Different Perspectives You Can Apply In Each Situation

Tom : “I am sorry I am a bit late to this meeting. My previous meeting ran over.”
Sara : “I am more worried about the missed deadline on the product your team is developing. Your team is slow.”
Tom : “It’s not my fault. Two members on my team reported sick last week and I can’t help it.”
Sara : “I don’t really care what happened. But I know I can’t count on your team. This makes me look bad.”
Tom : “You are not being fair, Sara. “
Sara (to herself) : “Tom’s lack of experience shows. He doesn’t hold his team accountable, and always has excuses for delays.”

How many times have we spoken or seen others speak such sentences? As we solve complex business problems, very often we “know” the truth (you are slow, this is not how things work here, etc) and base our actions on it. In this article I want to stress that there are no truths in the workplace (and life). There are only perspectives, and there can be many different perspectives depending on how you look at the situation. Once we realise that our apparent “truth” is only a perspective, it allows us to view the same situation differently to help us make better decisions.

How We Form Our Truth?
The first thing we must do is to take a pause and ponder about how we form our truth in the first place. We (human beings) gather inputs from our five senses – smell, touch, sight, sound and taste. Anything which is external reaches us via one of the senses. We touch something which is hot, and we “know” it is dangerous and not safe. We hear something from multiple people or from a reliable source, and are inclined to believe it as “truth”.

The quality, source and frequency of sensory information we gather has a big role in how we interpret it. For example – If you read an article with a lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes (quality), you are less likely to trust the content. Similarly, if you hear about the same thing from multiple people (frequency), you will be more inclined to trust it.

Once we collect the sensory information from the outside world, our brain make sense of it. It decides which signals to pay more attention to and which to ignore. Our brains also apply the collective influence of our memories, beliefs, thoughts and values to every new information, and derive meaning from it. I already wrote about Listening Filters and how they create the “truth“. For example – Growing up in a very hierarchical corporate culture (and society) in India, it still takes effort on my part to see and interact with people above me on the corporate ladder as peers in Amsterdam.

What if when you die, they ask "How was heaven?”

What if when you die, they ask “How was heaven?”

The Five Different Perspectives
The important thing to realise here is that the “truth” we form by the above process is only “our” truth, and not the absolute truth. Realising that different people can see and create their own truth in the same situation is the key to working together more productively. Seeing our own truth as a ‘perspective‘ instead of the truth leads to humility and a willingness to consider other perspectives.

Unless we step down from the high pedestal of truth we often end up placing ourselves on, we can’t see all the other perspectives out there. I believe there are (at-least) five different perspectives which can offer tremendous insights to us. However, it is not always easy, nor are we often willing, to view a situation from these perspectives. They might lead to some uncomfortable moments, but the process can often result in new insights and learnings. These not only can lead to better results but also help us become more human in the process.

As I write down the different perspectives below, I will also specify a few questions we can ask to uncover each perspective :-

First Person (My) Perspective
The first person perspective is how I see and perceive things. The biggest clue about the first person perspective is the usage of pronouns like We, Us, Our, I, Me, Mine in our thoughts and language. This is the most natural perspective for all living creatures, and we listen and think in first person perspective by default. The first person perspective leaves you with ownership, authenticity and often attachment to your point of view.

Questions to Uncover First Person Perspective
1. What conclusion am I arriving at?
2. Is it the truth, or just my opinion?
3. What reasons/proof do I have for my opinion?
For Example – Sara’s (in the above conversation) first person perspective could be – “Tom is a difficult person to deal with because of his immaturity. I can’t trust him or his team as he is not accountable.”

Second Person (Your) Perspective
The second person perspective is seeing things from another person’s point of view. Listening to someone and making efforts to understand her perspective shows respect. The second person perspective calls for seeing and feeling the world as another person does. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with it. The second person perspective has a lot to do with listening and it can have a massive impact. Second person perspective leaves you with empathy and humility.

Questions to Uncover Second Person Perspective
1. How would this situation look and feel to him/her?
2. How would he/she interpret the situation? Can I step in his/her shoes?
3. Can I feel how he/she might be feeling (anger/joy/frustration) right now?
For Example – Sara’s second person perspective could be – “Tom is new to this job and he must be finding it difficult to make demands from his people. He must be really stressed out and might need some help to manage his priorities better. I might only be making matters worse for him. Instead, can I help him somehow?”

"Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." - American Proverb

“Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” – American Proverb

Third Person (His/Her) Perspective
Another perspective could of a related third party. If you are talking to your colleague, a third party perspective could be of your manager or another colleague. For example – In a workplace, a third person perspective could be of a colleague whose work will/might be impacted by what you are talking about. Seeing through the third person perspective leaves you with a big picture view, more options and opens up blind spots.

Questions to Uncover Third Person Perspective
1. How would my boss think about this situation?
2. How would the sales head think about this conversation?
3. If I were him/her, how would I have described the situation?
For Example – Sara’s third person perspective, from the point of view of another colleague, would be – “Tom is trying hard to keep everyone happy, and failing at it. And Sara is not making it any easier for him by making demands without understanding his situation. How will they make this project succeed? If they fail, it will hurt our team and we will miss our targets.”

Stranger (Witness) Perspective
The fourth perspective calls for viewing the situation from the point of view of a witness. A witness is someone who neither has any stake in what you are discussing nor does he knows either of you. The witness perspective is purely objective, and the witness observes the proceedings just like a camera would. Taking this perspective leaves you with detachment and objectivity. You see things as they are, without any judgement and attachment to either side or to a specific outcome.

Questions to Uncover Stranger Perspective
1. How would a stranger see and report my situation?
2. If this were a movie, how would I describe it?
For Example – Sara’s stranger perspective could be – “Tom is acting like a typical newbie, and is going to make the same mistakes everyone makes. People around him are too busy in their own lives to help or assist him grow through this phase in his career. Sara or Tom’s manager can step in to help, but do they even realise the need for it.”

God / Compassion Perspective
The fifth perspective calls for looking at the situation from a place of love, kindness and compassion. With this perspective, we look how we can make things better for every party involved, and worse for no-one. We attempt to listen to our inner voice (consciousness) in this perspective. How does it feel? Is there something which I know but am unwilling to acknowledge?

Questions to Uncover God Perspective
1. Would I want this conversation to be aired on TV, or reported in tomorrows’ newspapers?
2. Do I hear an inner voice saying “this doesn’t feel right” or anything else?
3. How would Jesus / Allah / Buddha / Krishna do in my situation?
Disclaimer – This perspective has nothing to do with religion or our religious views, but is rather an invitation to stand in a place where we want to see everyone happy. It is about feeling instead of thinking, and using our heart for mutual well-being instead of our brain for personal gains and business results.
For Example – Sara’s fifth perspective could be “Tom must be going through a hard time, and might even be carrying his stress into his personal life. And I am not making it any easier for him. Can I help him manage his priorities better? Can he seek some training or help? The same holds true for me too. Going after business goals are fine, but it doesn’t have to be at the cost of stress and unhappiness.”

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

To conclude, asking the above questions and viewing our situation from multiple perspectives can be tremendously liberating. It can provide us with options which weren’t visible to us before. Getting lost in what we believe to be the truth (first person perspective) can bring us stressful days, broken relationships and health problems.

All of this can often be avoided by taking a look at the above five perspectives. It can often ease up any emotional build up (stress, anger, over-excitement) and prevent us from doing something in haste and from our limited viewpoint. It might not solve every business problem we get stuck in, but we can surely finish with better results and make more informed choices after considering these five different perspectives.

How To (and not to) Deal with an Emotional Employee

As I wrote previously, every human emotion is valid. However, the story behind them might not be, and we always have the choice of how to respond to an emotion. If we want to master how to deal with others’ emotions, our own emotional mastery is the prerequisite.

Studies have shown that emotions like frustration, cynicism, enthusiasm, etc are as contagious as germs. I believe each human being acts like a tuning fork. Every emotion is like a wave, which when reaches others, either accentuates or dies down depending on whether the frequencies match or not.

When two people are emotionally reactive, even a small argument can quickly escalate into a fight. When we learn to master our own emotions, it gives us an opportunity to deal with any situation confidently. It will dampen any emotional waves and allows collaboration, even in the face of disagreement. We can strengthen our relationships with others, even in the most stressful and difficult situations.

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. - Dale Carnegie

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. – Dale Carnegie

1. Learn to Notice Emotional Build Up
Emotions are like storms. Just as we can forecast most weather storms before they strike, we can always notice and predict “emotional” storms too. If an emotional outburst of an employee is a surprise, then there were some signs we missed.

Emotional reactions don’t come out of nowhere. Just like storms, they build up over time. There are always signs, physical and behavioural, which we can observe and watch out for. If we notice these signs, we can get an advance notice of emotional build-up in people.

For example – If we notice tightening of muscles and a red face, the person might be getting angry or frustrated. If we notice a trembling voice, sweating and defensive body language, someone might be feeling scared or anxious. If we notice smiles, laughter and a relaxed body language, the person might be happy about something in his/her life.

2. Act Early. Validate What You Notice
When we notice physical signs of emotional build up in others, we must act early and validate our assumptions. Obviously, we can’t read another’s mind so whatever we assume about another’s emotional state might or might not be true. So the most prudent way is to state our assumption as just that, and ask the other person for validation.

For example – If your colleague has been quiet and detached since a few days, you can approach them and say – “I see that you have been quiet lately. You seem a bit tensed too. Am I right? Is there something which I don’t know, or can help with?” Never walk up to someone and pass a judgement, “Why are you sad? What’s upsetting you?”

Remember our assessments about others’ emotional state are just that – assessments. Mistaking them for truth could trigger an emotional reaction and make them defensive, which we don’t want to. What works for me is to state my assessment tentatively, and to always ask for verification.

3. Listen And Acknowledge. Don’t Judge And React

It is only human to be emotional. When someone opens up about their emotions to you, it is an act of courage. Don’t dishonour that act by rushing to judgement or suggestion. Just like our own emotions, acknowledge them by listening and understanding their point of view. Try to stand in their shoes and sympathetically feel what they feel.

Challenging others’ emotions is often counter-productive and makes them feel alienated and disrespected. If their emotion is directed at you or they feel your behaviour led to the emotion, you might be tempted to justify yourself. But that never helps anyone. If you can stay calm and relaxed, any emotional attack will eventually diffuse itself.

Emotions are the result of an internal fire. Reacting emotionally only adds fuel to that fire. Instead, let we can let it run out of fuel by allowing others to express themselves fully while we listen empathically.

Remember, mastering your own emotions is a prerequisite before handling others' emotions.

Remember, mastering your own emotions is a prerequisite before handling others’ emotions.

4. Let The Storm Pass. Take A Time Out
When there is damage due to a weather related storm, we don’t rush out to do repairs while the storm is still on. We wait for the storm to pass before assessing the damage, and doing any repairs. Similarly, if we notice an emotional storm, it is always best to wait for it to pass before jumping in to help.

There have been many instances when I have been sucked in to respond to an emotional employee. I have always regretted it later as it only made the situation worse. Taking a time out often works for me. A few moments to breathe often allows both parties to stay with their emotions and come to peace with them.

I believe the best way to understand someone else’s emotions is to observe our own. Becoming aware of our own emotions can help us empathise with others. When we feel compassion for others’ emotional states, regardless of whether we agree with their reasons or not, then we are ready to take the next step — which is asking the right questions and coaching them.

5. Coach. Inquire. Ask the Right Questions
The next step is to ask coaching questions and help them understand their own emotions. By genuinely inquiring and listening to others, we can help them clarify their thoughts.

Coaching via asking open questions is about respecting people as individuals, and giving them a free choice to act in a way that is consistent with their values.

Coaching someone doesn’t mean fixing other’s problems. We don’t get to be a superhero through coaching. Coaching is about letting others find their own answers – ones they already know but have become masked behind their stirred emotions. Coaching begins with genuine care for your employees and colleagues. It is a skill which requires practice, and you get better at it with each conversation.

Depending on the emotion, the coaching questions you can ask will differ. Here are a few examples –
Sadness – What are you sad about? What did you lost? Why did that matter so much for you? How could you grieve or mourn for your loss? Is there something I can do for you to support you?
Fear – What is scaring you? What are the chances of that happening? How does that impacts you? How can you prepare better for it to minimise the damage? What else can you do to feel at peace?
Anger – Who hurt you? What boundaries did they cross? How can you express your complaint and act in a way consistent with your values? How can you put the issue behind? What would it take for you to forgive them, or let go?
Guilt – What did you do? What damage did it cause? Who have you hurt? How can you make amends? Have you apologised? How can you be at peace? Can you forgive yourself?

Don’t Allow Yourself to Use the Word “TIRED”

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine, who has been a state level Taekwondo Champion for the state of California. She was telling me about her strenuous training program which she used to follow when she was training. Among other things, the one thing which she told me was that she was not allowed to use the word “tired” even if the trainer asked her to do 300 push ups. She said “tired” was the word which they could use only after they turned 80.

The Role of Language in Shaping Our World

Language plays a very important role in how we feel and go about our daily lives. The way we use language can determine the results we produce in the near and distant future. Researchers at Stanford University have proved that the way we use language shape how we see the world.

It is often said that what you say is what you get. Saying that you are tired will actually make you feel tired and you will have all the symptoms to prove that. But we don’t realize that it was our word which caused it in the first place.

So when someone asks you “How are you doing?” and you reply with, “I am tired” or “You know how Mondays’ are.“, we are actually contributing towards the impending tiredness or exhaustion by saying these words. The same goes for all the negative thoughts that come into our mind and out of our mouth, like “I don’t have enough money“, “I am not lucky” and so on.

Remove these words from your vocabulory

Remove these words from your vocabulary

Words can Take Power away, or they can Give Power

Whenever we say something, we increase our belief in it. We give power to outside situations, individuals and circumstances which is always disempowering. Athletes, like my friend in the example above, are not allowed to use such language because the trainers are aware of this fact.

On the other hand, when somebody asks you, “How are you doing?” and you reply, “I am doing great!!“, you will actually feel a smile on your face and some adrenaline rushing through your body. It is impossible to say I am doing great without actually feeling good.

If you are stretching your limits while doing a task, instead of saying “I am tired“, next time try saying, “Let me check my physical limits.“, and you will gain the strength to go that extra mile and achieve the impossible.

Do you see a connection between what you have been saying and how your life is turning out?

One of the quickest ways to improve your way of being is to change the words you use, to others and to yourself. When I say words, it includes the spoken words and the unspoken thoughts too.

Just by changing the words we use, we can release a lot of tension and create joy. So the next time you speak, be aware of the words that come out of your mouth. Be aware how others’ negative words make you speak out negative words too, and vice versa. Try to catch yourself when in a negative emotion and speak powerful words instead.

Speak words which profit others, depicts hope, courage and inspiration and which create positive images. Then notice the difference in how your surroundings and people react.

Use more of these words

Use more of these words

Some of the danger words which we should cut from our vocabulary are –

  1. Should / Could – These words, spoken for ourselves or for others, implies judgement and makes people defensive and tense.
  2. Try / Maybe – These words leave ambiguity and leaves an option for you or another to escape commitment in case things get difficult.
  3. Always / Never / Nobody  / Everybody – These words generalise opinions which are rarely the case and can cause people to react unexpectedly.
  4. Bad / Disastrous / Terrible – These words spread panic and can lead to more mistakes, stress and confusion.
  5. Nothing is gonna change / That’s how it is done here – Using such phrases creates a culture of resentment and cynicism which ends up killing all enthusiasm and creativity in people.

Instead, you can use powerful words and make them work for you :-

  1. Declare a Commitment. 
    1. I commit to exercising 3o minutes daily.
    2. Let us commit together to make this company the best place to work for.
  2. Make a Promise
    1. I promise to finish this report in two days.
    2. I promise to never drink and drive again.
  3. Make a Specific Request
    1. Can you finish this report before Friday or not?
    2. If you like it, can you share this article on facebook today?
  4. Offer Support
    1. Is there anything I can do to help you with this task?
    2. I am just a phone call away, if you need me.
  5. Offer Hope
    1. You will make it through it. You are stronger than you think.
    2. Believe in yourself, not the critics. I know you will prove them wrong.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. – Lao Tzu

So the next time, instead of saying –

  • “I can’t exercise more, I am tired.”, say, “I am not tired, let me do one more round.”
  • “I can’t work outside because I have asthma”, say, “I will work to prove I am bigger than my asthma”
  • “I can’t do this because I don’t have enough money”, say, “How can I earn enough money to start doing this?”
  • “I am not feeling good, it is going to be a bad day”, say, “Today is going to be a great day and I am raring to go”
  • “My life sucks”, say, “Today is a new day. Let’s make the most of it!!”

Do this and you will see that your days will get brighter and dreams will turn into reality. Break the pattern of using words which suck power out of you, and instead form a new habit of using words which give power to you and the people around you.

Why We Should Break the Safety Wall Around Us (to be Happy)

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. ” – Seneca

We all have build ‘safety walls‘ around us that are unconscious to us, and are strengthened over time. They determine what we can and cannot do, what we try and what we don’t. Almost all our actions are determined by these safety walls.

But rather than being safety walls, they are more of a trap where we are stuck in a state of presumed comfort and our each decision is determined by these walls. They make us believe that life is tough outside of these, and there might be unforeseen dangers. So unknowingly, and only in assumption of some ‘danger‘ we don’t risk going over these walls.

I have found myself in similar situations many times. No matter how many fake assurances I gave to myself that I was doing good, the fact is that when you are in your comfort zone, you are still while life is zipping by.

When the world is moving ahead and you are still, you are on a decline.

If we stay in this zone, over time, our excitement and energy levels begin to come down. We feel more and more lazy and tired each day, and our eating habits (and with it, our belly too) go out of shape pretty soon.

It might look like life is going on FINE, but in reality we all know that we are not moving ahead while our limited time on this planet is passing by.

Be Vulnerable

The first step towards breaking the aforementioned safety walls around you is to become aware of the fact that you are trapped in your habits. Are these habits and patterns are running your life on auto-pilot? Or are you in control of your life?

Once you are aware of this trap, you can take steps towards breaking these so called safety walls and explore the ‘real‘ world outside. If you have to really live (rather than just exist), go outside and be vulnerable – to your fears, anxiety and become comfortable with them. Only then you will feel liberating and peaceful.

Outside of these walls, what I have found is that there are opportunities rather than dangers, there is excitement rather than boredom and joy rather than frustrations.

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. – Randy Pausch

Have Faith

When you step out of your comfort zone, there will always be a little uncertainty and fear. But consider that these are more of an illusion created by your brain rather than real, and move on ahead. Have faith in life and face your fears by taking small steps.

It will do two things. One is that you will realise that your fears were more perceived than real, and two, you will expand your comfort zone. Very soon you will be comfortable in situations you weren’t before.

Dream Big

In our safety zone, we all tend to believe that we have something to loose if we step out and try something new. But take a moment and think, what do we have to lose?

We all have our limited time on this planet, and nobody knows when ours is ending. Life is a gift given to all of us, and when we stay in our safety walls, we are just waiting for it to get over rather than truly enjoying whatever it has to offer.

So do something, almost anything you like and the way you want to do it and see what happens. When you let go of whatever is holding you back, you will experience what real freedom and being alive is about. So dream big, and go for them, step by step.

If you win, you WIN! If you loose, remember that you didn’t had anything to loose anyways!

Stay Young, Die Young

I have always felt that age has nothing to do with being twenty or sixty. I can show you many 80 year olds more energetic and active than many 20 year olds. When you step out of your comfort zones, you experience being alive and that is what being young is.

Wouldn’t you want to stay young all life and die a young man, irrespective of your age? We should all strive to live our lives waiting for Mondays rather than Fridays, waiting for mornings rather than evenings, and waiting for beginnings instead of endings.

Each day is a gift, and we should be grateful for it everyday we wake up. Life is giving us this gift daily, and we must strive to make the most out of these gifts before they run out of. There is not a second to be wasted, not a moment to be spent without feeling alive.

Make out the most of what each moment has to offer. Because we never know when life will stop giving us this gift!