Disruption is the Norm

Little girl is reading her book while wearing glasses, isolated over white

Life has a way of disrupting the best-laid plans, and sooner or later you are flung into the whirlwind of change. More so in the current context, where disruption and uncertainty are the norms.

Our age is marked by accelerated human evolution. New patterns are very rapidly replacing old ones. Today, no one remains immune to change. According to a recent Forbes article on ‘Is Strategy dead’ by Rick Smith, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has dropped from more than 80 years to fewer than 15 in the last century. Consumer behaviour has undergone unprecedented change. Babies today leave the hospital with a blanket, an iPhone, a Facebook page, and a Twitter handle.

While the industrial revolution was all about the business-to-people narrative, the dawn of the social media era has now shifted the focus to people-to-people – with communities, collaboration, and co-creation being the new buzzwords.

According to a report on the evolution of technology and the human race by Karl Fisch, Scott Mcleod and Jeff Brenman, the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004.

Today you have to continuously learn and relearn in order to remain relevant. The long-term strategy has given way to “just-in-time” decision-making.

On the other hand, this change has also created a whole new platform for the human capability to flourish. For confident and resourceful people, change spells opportunity. They’re willing to venture out of their comfort zones to embrace change and use it to their advantage.

Change is always exciting when you choose it yourself. As a choice, it’s not an unwelcome threat, but a welcome adventure. In this way, every new minute becomes an opportunity to work; to get closer to our purpose, or to learn from the experience.

Chosen change bolsters your resilience. It enables you to adjust to new circumstances and bounce back from adverse developments.

Change, if viewed as a positive step toward growth and opportunity, can invite balance and infuse vitality, aliveness, and zest in your life. But change, if mishandled, can result in an imbalance.

So how do we leverage all this movement, and use this change to our advantage rather than allowing it to sweep away all that is valuable to us?

Here are some things you can do to respond constructively to change:

• Become adaptable. Develop and put in practice an ever-ready and continually evolving repository of life and work skills to adapt and thrive in change

• Embrace change.  View it as an opportunity for growth.

• Be willing to take risks.

• Anticipate change and prepare for it. For example, keep a lookout for upcoming market trends and take courses or attend classes to prepare for the forthcoming developments.

• Use major crises to create breakthroughs.

• Engage in lifelong learning to stay abreast of change.

• Keep your principles intact despite the change. They are your anchor.

• Use change to break bad patterns or unproductive habits.

• Grow from your experiences of changing circumstances. Write about your experiences to ingrain and track your learning.

• Realize the rewards that come with change and celebrate them.

• Connect with your spirituality. Meditate daily to remain centered and grounded amidst the chaos of change.

This is the time to plunge into the vortex of change that we anticipate, create, leverage and thrive on.

Journey Within!

Conch shell on beach  with waves.

A small seed eventually becomes a mighty oak tree. Upon looking at the seed, it is difficult to believe that an ultimate mix of roots, leaves, flowers, and fruits are contained within it. Thus, all life carries within it the blueprint of its destiny.
Man is also born a seed, brimming with potential. But, unless we become conscious of this magnificence within us, we cannot actualize it.

Unfortunately, most of us spend our time looking outside – dividing ourselves into tiny egotistic silos of ethnicity, religion, gender, country, occupation, and so on -when in our truest essence we have the power to be the whole world.

Without taking the journey inwards, the real magic will not unfold.

This is not to say that we must forego our interest in the outer, but our preoccupation with it needs to be curbed. It is true, the seed draws light, water, and nutrition from the outside, but the magical transformations occur when all of these external forces work together in the inner.

So how do we seek our inner treasure?

1. Meditation – Daily quiet time; ideally early morning, and if possible near nature. This powerful habit is the launching pad for the  journey inward.

2. Establish keystone habits that will help you come closer to your vision – Keystone habits are mannerisms that form the cornerstone of the Ideal that you have envisioned for yourself. For example, if you want to be a singer, your keystone habit will most likely be to practice daily for several hours come what may.

3. Identify your gifts and excel at them – Do not carry generalized notions of your gifts. Take time to articulate them; speak to others and welcome feedback. You will be pleasantly surprised by the insight you gather. Once you have a good picture, write them down and ensure you hone these gifts. For example, you can do so by taking a class; practicing them regularly or even volunteering your skills.

4. Identify your self-empowering beliefs – Think of your most empowering beliefs and foster them daily through regular visualization and affirmation.

Team Morale

Vietnamese mid-adult woman standing in front of cheering business group during a presentation.

Team morale is often a leading challenge for companies worldwide. So how do you, as a leader, create excitement and confidence in a team?

1. Align your company with a bigger purpose – Instead of emphasizing what you do as a company; focus on why you do it. Forum for the Future’s, Stephanie Draper, argues that if companies are to move beyond incremental environmental change, they need to create a strong sense of purpose.

2. Display integrity at all times – Integrity creates trust, which in turn boosts morale and engagement. We all like to work with people we can trust. So, as an individual and organization, keep your promises and act from your highest self at all times. If you make a mistake, admit it and never back away from doing what’s right.

3. Create a stimulating workplace – Whether it’s providing breakout spaces to socialize and collaborate or offering healthier food options, or onsite yoga classes or individualized training sessions, make the office a place your employees come to where they feel connected, empowered and productive.

4. Build engagement and connection – Find out what your employees are most passionate about and then create opportunities/platforms where they can connect and feel a sense of belonging with others. Whether it’s volunteering for a favorite charity together or going out for group treks create a roster of regular events for people to connect with in an informal space.

5. Encourage a culture for a free and uninhibited flow of communication – Create a culture where people are not afraid of expressing their doubts, ideas, and concerns. Allow free flow of discussions without frequent interruption and judgment to enable participation from each team member. The report of the Columbia accident investigation board found that the Columbia space shuttle disaster could have been averted by NASA had it not ignored the valid concerns of low-level employees.

6. Offer opportunities for self-development – Instead of mandated standard training programs, take time to profile the individual skill set of every employee and then help to bridge the performance gaps. An organization that provides a good learning environment with an emphasis on identifying and nurturing individual skills is more likely to have a motivated workforce.

7. Define clear end objectives and guidelines – Based on Gallup’s work with companies worldwide, only about half of the employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. Once you set clear goals, ensure everyone is clear about their individual role, relative priority, and timing of that goal, as well as the team’s role in reaching it.

8. Don’t micromanage – Bosses tend to micromanage when they fear accountability from their team members. And this distrust further builds an expectation of poor performance from employees, creating a vicious cycle of bad outcomes. The best solution is to hire the right people, set clear goals and then let them figure out the best way to achieve them.

9. Foster creativity – Each one of us is born with special talents and abilities. People feel most productive when they are working on a project which actualizes their creative potential.

10. Acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate – We all seek approbation and praise. Hence, take time out to pinpoint, share and celebrate individual successes with the entire team. This not only builds individual confidence and self-esteem but also nurtures a sense of belonging and connection.

11. Resolve issues promptly – Do not allow tensions, altercations or differences in opinion to linger or fester. Resolve the issues promptly by taking a fair overview of individual viewpoints, and then taking just action – giving a clear basis for the action taken. And ideally, address all such issues behind closed doors. Do not rebuke an employee in a public forum.

Special Day!

Mother and baby elephants at watering in african savanna

Every day is a special day. At the beginning of each day, we get an opportunity to draw a new picture of our life.

Every first of the month is extra special. We are given an opportunity to start anew – a new day, a new month, and with it, a new life.

For me, today is a day of immense gratitude because it is my Mom’s second birthday since her passing, and a vivid reminder to me of how she was and still is, a powerful inspiration in my life.

You can travel the world many times over, but there will only ever be one mother in your life. If your mother is still alive, cherish her, for you will only truly realize her true value when you see her empty chair.

For me, ‘Mom’ absolutely personifies the best of all words in the English dictionary!

Time is life!

word "today" from wooden letters on a white background

Ask yourself:

Am I clear about my purpose?

Is my time spent in alignment with my purpose?

Am I organized and methodical?

Do I have effective systems in place?

Do I manage time or does time manage me?

Do I plan and use my most productive time to do the most productive work?

Our life is made up of the time we have. It is our most precious commodity – once gone it’s never to return. Time cannot be banked – once Apr 26, 2018, is gone, it is gone forever!

How do we best manage this most precious commodity?

The first step is to have clarity about your purpose, goal, and role. Next, commit to spending time on your most important activities that achieve your purpose and goals. The more you involve yourself in activities that carry the greatest meaning and value, the greater your chances of experiencing real growth. This may mean giving up some things you are habitually involved in. By doing fewer nonessential activities, you free up more time for the essentials. You can thus increasingly focus on areas that are consistent with your goals, objectives, and purpose.
If you have too many priorities, you have no priorities!

Here are some practical tips to inspire you to manage your time well:

• Do your most important work first thing in the morning – as the first hour goes, so goes the day!
• Don’t shuffle papers; make quick decisions. Some people look at the same sheet several times because they are not decisive.
• Avoid too many interruptions. Some interruptions are necessary for business, but you also need to carve out some uninterrupted time to get important work done.
• Delegate effectively. And be clear in your instructions upon delegating.
• Use deadlines to achieve results. By establishing timelines, you can increase your productivity levels.
• Do just one thing at a time. Finish the first item before you move to the next (as much as possible). Jumping from task to task makes you lose momentum and focus.
• Be decisive. “Sit, walk or run. Just don’t wobble.” Goes an old Zen saying. That’s another way of saying. “Don’t waffle; be decisive.”
• Break large tasks into smaller steps. Breaking big tasks into smaller chunks makes the task more manageable and allows you to get going. Remember, you chew an apple one bite at a time.
• Make waiting-time more productive. A lot of time during the day gets wasted in ‘pause’. Make good use of waiting time by spending it planning or reading the important material.
• Write down your goals every morning. Writing brings clarity, and clarity helps focus. By writing your goals each morning you become very clear about where your focus should be.
• Eliminate clutter. Too much clutter results in a lot of wasted time looking for things. A clean desk with a good filing system, not only saves time but increases effectiveness.
• Emphasize results, not activities. Just because you are busy does not mean you are effective. It is not how much time you put in, but what you achieve that matters.
•Prepare a time spending budget. Keep track of where your time goes. This will not only help you understand your habits but most importantly, help you manage your time allocation.

Lifelong Learning

books on wooden deck tabletop

Lifelong learning is pivotal to adapting to change. Mastering skills required to meet shifting demands, help you build the confidence needed to face changes head-on. So, be attentive and open to continually learning from every experience.

Furthermore, enhancing your skills, and broadening your education, can spark creativity. Let me illustrate with an example:

Gerry was almost fired as an architect. A partner in his firm told him that he did not have what it took to be an architect. He first, craftily negotiated a three-month grace period by fully trusting in his abilities. He then made an irrefutable offer – if he failed to prove his worth during this period, he would be open to termination. In the end, through an arsenal of learning, diverse skill sets, and unbound ingenuity, Gerry proved his worth so convincingly that he not only retained his job but was eventually offered a partnership in the firm.

How did this turnaround come to be? Gerry opened himself up to all feedback; committed himself fully to improving his weaknesses, and wholeheartedly believed in his own capacity to excel. This full-tilt effort enabled Gerry to move forward toward greater opportunities. Every positive change he made, immensely increased his chances of inviting more success. All, despite the trying circumstances he faced.


Butterfly larva on a green leaf taken closeup.

Change can be life-transforming in a positive way if you embrace it wholeheartedly.  But the embrace can’t be tentative.  You must be willing to make the change as permanent as the change that turns a caterpillar into a butterfly.

The caterpillar goes into a cocoon thinking it’s the end of its existence.  But in reality, it’s preparing for a new beginning as a totally different creature: a butterfly.  Change is necessary for this marvelous metamorphosis.

In our lives, too, drastic change or major crises are sometimes necessary to create breakthroughs that bring about transformation.

Make a clean break with the past. Despite the initial scare, it is wonderfully rewarding.