Independent to Interdependent!

Young gently hold each other by hands.

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne, 17th century English poet, and churchman.   We are all dependent on our fellow humans, and they are dependent on us.  We are individuals with our own unique traits, but we are also tied to other individuals through bonds of family, religion, culture, community, nation, and many other commonalities.  Our happiness depends to a large extent on how well we strike the balance between our independence as individuals and our interdependence with others.

Healthy relationships provide a foundation for pursuing common goals.  They also give you the confidence to pursue individual interests on your own.  But if you don’t cultivate healthy and strong relationships, achieving balance will always seem like an uphill battle.  Strong, healthy relationships don’t just happen.  They require a huge investment of time and effort before they become reality.

Invest your time and heart in relationships with others who are close to you: your spouse, your children, your extended family, your colleagues and your friends.  Enhanced relationships lead to Life Balance and to joy in living.

The balance between independence and interdependence has become critical in this age of diversity.

We all need to learn to make choices that lead us to invest time and effort in building trust, appreciating diversity, and valuing and respecting others.
Stephen Covey’s advice:  “Seek first to understand; then to be understood.”  We must first seek to understand people who are different from us before we can expect them to understand us.

Once we understand our own place in this interconnected world, we are better equipped to balance this interdependence with a healthy level of independence.

A healthy understanding of others is impossible unless you have a healthy understanding of yourself.  Healthy independence requires a good relationship with yourself.  A good relationship with yourself enables you to cultivate good relationships with others.  It is an inside-out approach.

Ambition vs Greed!

Spiral staircase inside of the Cathedral.

Being ambitious for your family, community, country, humankind and yourself is a good thing. It reflects that you are a miracle and are accepting responsibility for contributing to your and others wellbeing.

On the flip side, being greedy reflects wanting much more than you need, and giving a lot less than you can.

Sometimes, there is a fine line between ambition and greed. For instance, some people will go to extremes to become powerful and famous. All at the expense of their family and life balance. They believe they are working so hard for the benefit of their family, however, what they do not realize is that the family needs their presence too, and not just their possessions. Khalil Gibran beautifully said: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Be ambitious, yes. Because your family; the world, and your soul needs you to be. However, be on guard for not crossing the line into becoming greedy in the guise of ambition.

Suffering is Optional!

Joyful mother playing a daughter on the eve of the new year.

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” said the Dalai Lama, quoting an old Zen saying.

Life inevitably brings pain and temporary defeats, even on the road to success. Develop a good sense of humor; nothing is better for softening blows.  Learn to laugh at yourself.  When you see the humor in embarrassing situations, they cease to be stressful.  The person who can laugh often can keep going when others fail.

You can’t win all the time. Michael Jordan considered the greatest basketball player of all time, scored on fewer than half of his field goal attempts.
Great athletes know that they will fail often on their road to victory.  They also know that every failure carries the seed of success.

Every failure makes room for future success if you let every failure teach you a lesson.  In a particular week, you may miss your deadlines or have an argument with your spouse. This may make you lose hope and become fearful. Respond with faith and persistence, and it will go away.

Respond to your temporary defeat by affirming that though this week did not go as planned, you still felt centered and balanced as you kept your principles and core values of family, health, and spirituality at the forefront.

Where to begin?

Sartene, Corsica island, France. Ancient town cityscape

Every time you read a newspaper you are confronted with so many issues human beings are facing. You want to help but find it overwhelming; you feel your help may, after all, be just a drop in the ocean!

What to do and where to begin? There is no one answer but one thing you don’t do is nothing! You start with your family, neighborhood and your community. Perhaps you are already involved in some charity work where you can put more energy because it is part of your circle of influence and you know how your contribution is making a difference.

To impact the world we need to start in our backyard beginning with our family and extend our reach to causes we are involved in, our neighborhood and our communities.

How will you be remembered?

Grandparents and Grandchildren Walking Along BeachToday marks a year since I lost my Dad. Actually, it was not a loss. He was always a gain; still remains so, and will continue to be forevermore. 

He was a man of few words who taught through action, not words. He was confident and strong yet humble and gentle. He never missed a moment to say a kind word; provide positive feedback or notice something good.

He served one and all and found it a joy and a blessing to get the opportunity to contribute. He had very little need for recognition; fame or credit. For him, making a positive impact was the biggest reward.

He was insightful and wise; an effective leader in the community; a family man, and a sound businessman. For my Dad, his greatest happiness came from making others happy! He was always a joy to be around.

I miss you, Dad. Thank you for your love and inspiration!

These are just some of my fondest memories of my father. Thus, I find myself asking: “What kind of memories will my children have of me?”

How about you? What kind of memories will you leave for your loved ones?



Cat foster mother for the ducklings. Cat in a basket with kitten and receiving musk duck ducklings.

Respecting others no matter who they are – rich, poor, strong, weak, man, woman, black, white – reflects more on who you are, then who they are.

Our natural instinct is to be judgemental of others with whom we engage – he is wasting my time; she has an ulterior motive; or why do they not just get to the point?

It does not mean we get into a long-winded discussion. We can keep things short; yet respectful. Giving respect to another human being, irrespective of who they are is a sign of respect for self!


Effective Leaders

Young girl in greenhouse watering potted plant smiling

We are all leaders in some areas of our life – as parents, employers, MDs, CEOs, COOs, supervisors, mid managers. 

Our children are sometimes deaf to what we say to them. However, they observe and absorb what they see. Our teams learn from example and what they see as much as from being coached and mentored. To be a great leader, you want to lead by example and inspiration as much as by mentoring and coaching.

There is so much richness within each person to be discovered. Until it is discovered, it will forever be absent. It is the role of effective leaders to nurture this richness.