[5-Bullet Tuesday] 15 Minute Family Ritual

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What I’m reading –

I recently read an article which claimed using 15 minutes daily in a certain way can change the course of your life over time.

I can’t agree more to that and have gained from that for several years. There are various things one could do in those 15 minutes, such as exercise, meditation, reflection or journaling.

However, I have often wondered that these are all best done alone and if there was something similar we could do together as a family that would be equally rewarding?

What family ritual are we following —

So, in addition to these 15 minutes alone, I now know a daily 15 minute ritual as a family that’s equally or perhaps even more rewarding.

I call it the Family Scrum Meeting – An informal way to understand what we’re all focusing on, what would make us happy or if there is somewhere we can help each other.

How do we spice up our 15 minute meetings –

Add some food for thought such as today. we started with sharing the origin of the idiom “Throw the baby with the bath water“. It brought many giggles and smiles as I explained the picture we see below.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." | Medieval, European history, History

Quote I’m pondering — Sohana, my eight year old daughter, shared a simple yet powerful quote in today’s Family Scrum Meeting:

Peace begins with a smile

What I learnt —

Tanav, my twelve year old son, shared that it would make him really happy if he studied with Mom or Dad. It was a pleasant surprise to know that he actually enjoys reading with us because he would hardly admit it otherwise.

PS: In the same meeting, Dinky, my dear wife, shared a beautiful idea – #LookForABook drive- Each one of us will identify a book that we’d like to read and then we would gift it to each other. That’s something nice to look forward to. If you have any book ideas for me, please let me know.

PPS: All the above was covered in less than 15 minutes. It was fun. Created memories. And most importantly, it brought us a little closer together as a family.

That is us, what about you.. What do you think about that idea? What other family rituals you follow that you think help strengthen your family bond?

I’ll look forward to hear from you. Until next time, Ciao!


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[5-Bullet Thursday] Why It Pays To Lighten Up

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Thursday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Poem I loved reading – I even recited this one to my children. Great sense of imagination and funnily relatable in today’s tough COVID situation. Give it a read to lighten your load a bit:

A man standing at the bus stop
reading the newspaper is on fire
Flames are peeking out
from beneath his collar and cuffs
His shoes have begun to melt

The woman next to him
wants to mention it to him
that he is burning
but she is drowning
Water is everywhere
in her mouth and ears
in her eyes
A stream of water runs
steadily from her blouse

Another woman stands at the bus stop
freezing to death
She tries to stand near the man
who is on fire
to try to melt the icicles
that have formed on her eyelashes
and on her nostrils
to stop her teeth long enough
from chattering to say something
to the woman who is drowning
but the woman who is freezing to death
has trouble moving
with blocks of ice on her feet

It takes the three some time
to board the bus
what with the flames
and water and ice
But when they finally climb the stairs
and take their seats
the driver doesn’t even notice
that none of them has paid
because he is tortured
by visions and is wondering
if the man who got off at the last stop
was really being mauled to death
by wild dogs.

—Denver Butson (Source: link)

What brought me a smile —

Sohana, my eight year old daughter, made this drawing. I really felt and even told her if that was a virus? Little did I realize that it was World Earth Day today and she had drawn mother earth.

She didn’t like my feedback. Sorry honey, didn’t mean to be mean. HAPPY EARTH DAY.

Who I’m following — Dr. Peter Fuda, the leadership speaker. If you don’t know him, here’s a video clip that may be a good start. See it if you  have 2 minutes 19 seconds to spare.      

Book I’m reading— Have you laughed at work today? at least smiled? The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up, this book is a great insight into why is it super important to keep the atmosphere happy and light.

the levity effect book review

Tip of the week — How to know a person:

Don’t we all want to know the other people in our lives better – be it our love interests, our grandparents, the leaders around us and so on. Well, here are three things which will tell you a lot about any person:

  • their writing
  • the things they give their time to
  • the people with whom they surround themselves

(Credits link)


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Lessons on Stoic Way From Grandpa’s Diary!

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s far back as I can remember, I have this memory of my Grandpa sitting down on a quaint chair with a fountain pen in hand and a diary on a brown mahogany table. Every afternoon.

A  lamp would lit up just his table in an otherwise dark room. While Granny would be ready to take an afternoon power nap, with curtains drawn or doors closed, Grandpa would be doing his afternoon writing.

Grandpa would write in the diary every day without fail.

I would usually be laying down with Granny playing a word finder game with her on her Hindi newspaper. I would be overjoyed in that simple game until I fell asleep.

I can’t imagine anything more comforting than the vivid memories of those times.

If you think you know your grandparents well enough, then you’re lucky because as far as my Grandpa was concerned, he always guarded his emotions like those were the jewel Kohinoor.

And not only back then when he was alive, even his diaries which he wrote every single day and I unquestionably inherited, are apparently sans any of his feelings.

Now, I have all the Grandpa’s diaries (yay! my treasure!), but to be  honest it’s a little disappointing because I have lost my last hope of knowing what went through Grandpa’s heart on a day to day basis. Well almost..

The Leo I am, I haven’t given up though. Every now and then, when life grapples me with a challenge, when most people would look for solace or answers in Bhagwat Geeta or other religious texts, I seek my answers in Grandpa’s diaries.

Call it divine intervention or luck, I get taken to a page from Grandpa’s diary, which has just the answer I needed at the time.

For example, I recently felt that despite my devotion and sincerity in keeping the collective best interest in mind for a project, the partner’s would interfere and directly or indirectly nitpick me for past decisions for no fault of mine. All this showing me that there was something else in their mind.

This letter from Grandpa’s diary has a clear answer for what he would do in such a situation. 

Sure, that would have been a tough decision for Grandpa. But not making a decision is sometimes the worst decision you will ever make.

The slow daily pain is worse than the pain of moving on. This is beautifully expressed in this quote from Sri Aurobindo:

Progress: To be ready, every minute, to give up all one is and all one has in order to advance on the way.

I realize that it’s not that Grandpa didn’t have any feelings or was unaware of them, it’s just that he chose to act a stoic.

Stoics don’t consider emotions as a good guide for behavior. Therefore, Grandpa trained his mind to not fan any emotional flames. He practiced this daily until it became second nature for him.

He, like all stoics, would treat emotions like the weather. Just like during a hard rain, you may need to grab an umbrella and drive slower, but you still need to get to work.

The same goes for emotional storms. Grandpa believed that we can still act well despite feeling a “bad emotion.”

Well, that’s about me and my Grandpa, how about you.. How do you handle your emotions every day?

Do you get all carried away and turn red and blue or do you act like stoics and get the emotions pass you without causing any harm.

Find this out so that next time when emotions come to wrap you, you are able to deal with it a different way – the stoic way!

All the best.


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Secret Sauce To Success

 


Howdy, Friends.

A study was conducted in 2010 by Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. 

The objective of this study was to determine the 1 top trait that made successful CEOs successful. This study examined 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion.

The outcome of this study revealed that self-awareness was the most significant trait associated with leadership success. In fact, the higher level of self-awareness, the higher level of leadership success.

And why just CEOs, becoming self-aware could make every one of us successful.

Now the question is how can you become more self aware? You can do so by developing the habit of daily journaling and reflecting. 

It was like any other day on the 13th of March. I was sitting in front my laptop, when I suddenly heard a loud thud. What followed was the scream of my mother, and wife and me and my children running out to the door. Dad had had a fall, and to make it worse, he was just lying down there, looking disoriented, and speechless.

It seemed like time had come to a standstill. I felt ashamed of conveniently ignoring Dad’s complains since weeks about “feeling weak”.

I didn’t even have the time to think and we somehow managed to pick him up, rushed him to the hospital, and a long and difficult road to his diagnosis and treatment began.

One night, in the hospital as I was trying to get some rest, I recalled that my next Toastmasters project is “Focus on the Positive“. It was extremely ironical because by now I was full of negativity – What is going to happen next?, Is this it, Is he ever going to recover.

All the fears, anxieties and worries were bringing me down. But the project’s objectives were to write down my thoughts on a journal for at least two weeks – including me feelings, both positive and negative, record my successes and efforts and be grateful for three things every single day.

It is said that when the going gets tough the tough get going. I decided to take this Toastmasters’ project as a challenge.

The diagnostic tests were quite a pain moth mentally and physically, and what came out was what swept the ground from beneath our feet.

The doctors advised a therapy which is more famous for it’s horrendous side effects than it’s positive main effects.

I continued my journey of writing my journal – small wins, efforts, plans, gratitude and feelings.

One day I wrote down that although the therapy was tough, but the fact that three different doctors had given a consistent advice, was something to be grateful to God for.

This Wednesday was finally the day to get started with the first session of therapy for Dad. Despite staying positive till now, I did feel weak in my knees – were we doing the right thing? Is his body going to be able to take this therapy?

I looked at the pages of my journal that I had been writing for last 14 days and realized that most of those in the know – the doctors, and the ones who had gone through something similar, were giving us hope and confidence.

It dawned on me that we were following the right steps, and as someone has said, if you follow all the right steps, there is no way you will get a wrong result. My gratitude notes reminded me how blessed I was with so many people on our side genuinely helping us through this difficult time.

All that gave me courage to go ahead as we had planned. We went to the hospital, got him the treatment, and kept the focus right.

It’s been four days since Dad’s first therapy session. None of our worst fears have come true so far. Fingers crossed. We’re able to hang in there and look forward to better days ahead for him.

Negativity can come in anytime uninvited, but it is still important for us to focus on the positive. After all, what we focus on grows.

Tara Leigh Cobble has expressed that beautifully in this poem:

Two natures beat within my breast. The one is foul, the one is blessed. The one I love, the one I hate. The one I feed will dominate.” ― Tara Leigh Cobble

Friends, when life seems tough, when uncertainty looms large, when it looks like the end of the road, I urge you to use this secret sauce and write down your anxiety inducing thoughts and stay focused on the positive.

PS: This speech / script was used to deliver my Focus On The Positive Elective project from Toastmasters – Engaging Humor path.

Are You Driving Your Days Or Are The Days Driving You?

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t was a colleague (Minal’s) last day at work last week. The Project Manager, Gemma, put together a fun “online” farewell meeting. It was meant to be a little break from work for all the team, fun and of course wishing the best to our outgoing colleague.

To make it fun, Gemma had come prepared with the idea of playing Pictionary. It was really fun and although I thought I had played almost every possible online game since the Pandemic hit last year, but I hadn’t played online Pictionary.

It was a simple format. The person who would be given a word would share their MS Paint and draw on it while everyone else guessed. The one who guessed the exact word first would win. Each person would be given two minutes to draw and get others to guess the word.

There was of course some playful cheating as well – most of us just couldn’t keep our mouths shuts and kept giving verbal hints.

Best Games Kids Can Play on Zoom Virtually with Friends | MommyPoppins - Things to do with Kids

The word I got was “zombie”. I was somehow able to draw something and give some hints to get someone to guess the word. All well there, but the kind of person I am, I would think and analyze quite a bit – why did this word come to me, is there a sign from up above. 

Was this because I’m, off late, living my life like a zombie?

I do see my self floating around aimlessly sometimes. I’d jump from one task to another without finishing the previous one off. I’d feel unaccomplished at the end of the day, unsure whether I achieved anything worthwhile. I’d have strong feeling of FOMO through the day. I’d keep switching between personal and professional commitments being anxious about whether I was doing justice to both.

Have you also ever felt that way? 

If you have, then I’d like to tell you that the one thing that can surely help you is journaling.

And while there are endless formats, apps and diaries that you can pick, but the one that works best for me is a One Pager Template.

I have used this to do things which I thought were impossible for a person like me. Seriously. And I am reminded of this template every time I feel I’m going slightly off track.

Pin on Suicide/Please don't til you read Riverboat of truth/Greg Calise and Wes Penre papers

I have curated this template through my years of experience, training and reading scores of books on personal development.

This time around, I converted this into a MS WORD format to make it handy reference for myself and my friends. All you have to do it take a print of this. It is already in A4 print ready format.

It is so simple that you may not believe how powerful it could be. However, don’t ever underestimate the power of simplicity.

Here’s it for you. One Pager Template – Mohit Sawhney

Fill it in the morning (during your Holy Hour) and keep it in your pocket through the day. Pen things on it as you pass through the day, and just before you close the day.

Few days down the line, you may be surprised at your achievements. You will see your zombi-ness shift to intentionality, and most of all, you will see yourself contented and happy. That’s when you can come back here and drop me a “thank you” message.

Until then, enjoy driving your days.


References:

  1. The connection, contribution and vitality heads come from Jonathan Fields, “Good Life Project” book.
    • Your Vitality Bucket is about optimizing your state of mind and body. Things such as attending theatre, playing soccer, going to a place of worship or exercising are some examples.
    • Your Connection Bucket is about cultivating deep and meaningful relationships. Calling up a dear one, listening closely to what they’re saying, being empathetic with your customers are some examples.
    • And, your Contribution Bucket is about the way you contribute to the world. A good life happens when all three are full. Writing a blog others would find useful, doing a task, teaching students at your alma mater are some examples.
  2. If you’re confused why Challenges are clubbed with opportunities, well that’s because opportunities come disguised as challenges. The great people ask, WTOH, or “What’s the opportunity here?”, and then gradually the opportunity unfolds. Robin Sharma says – “a problem is only a problem when viewed as a problem.” Start looking at your challenges as opportunities and see how it changes your life.

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What Good Are Your Generic Management Skill?

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ad is unwell. He was discharged from hospital just last Thursday after 9 nights 10 days at the hospital.

As he has extreme weakness and breathing issues, we are having to set up the ground floor room to make it more convenient for him during this difficult time. We otherwise are at the 1st floor but there isn’t an elevator in our old ancestral house.

There were two people who were here to help us today in this mission-  both well know- one for electric connections, Sanju, and Ram for general help for moving things around and arranging / overseeing resources.

Where as the electrician, Sanju, has a specific skill, Ram does not have any specific skill – his skills are more generic: Arranging or leveraging available resources, managing the resources etc.

Ram could quickly arrange a rickshaw at a reasonable price, get the traction on the seemingly mammoth task of moving the fridge from a distant location to where it was needed. He also offered a helping little hand to the electrician to pass the drill machine for example, to the rickshaw puller to move the fridge around.

He also provided some experiential advise across all these broad range of areas. While both are valued individuals, but if I were forced to choose one among the two, I would go for the general manager.

The reason is simple – The general manager can help arrange an electrician in no time, where as the other way round is unlikely.

I gave 320 bucks to the electrician and two old wallets I don’t use. He was happy with that and quickly moved on to the next gig elsewhere.

I gave my old suit (the one I wore at my wedding) to Ram, the general manager, three nice shirts I don’t wear any more, and offered him a job once he returns from his village. He’s visiting his village for a wedding where he could look the smartest wearing this suit. He was immensely happy, and so was I.

A lot of us are into generic project management or operations.  Some of us feel miserable with the fact that we don’t have a specific skill. Well, don’t.

You might be undermining your unique ability of management.

Management: simply means “manage men tactfully”

Well, don’t get me wrong or think that I’m sexist. That’s just an easy way to remember what “management” means. In fact, it’s not just managing people, its about leveraging and managing all resources.

As the resources are always scarce, if you have this ability and are constantly honing it, there is no way you will be redundant, irrelevant or out of a job. In fact, you’re better placed than many of those who are skilled in depth in a specific area.

Few other points to ponder:

  • Hard skills are relatively easier to replace but soft skills are not.
  • Soft skills are more human, where as hard skills can be automated.
  • Soft skills can make you stand apart from competitors.
  • Soft skills are harder to find or even identify but once confirmed, the employer wouldn’t let you go.
Skills approach
You will need more and more of Human (generic/ soft) skills as you rise the management ladder.

Now say cheese and get back to doing what you do best. Until next time, this is Mohit signing off.

Changing the ASP.NET Configuration of Your Domain

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here are a zillion reasons for the websites to go down. But it’s heart breaking when the site does go down, isn’t it? What makes it worse is when neither you nor the support team is able to give you a quick response to what went wrong or what would fix it after all.

My site, actually all the three domains I actively manage went down for no rhyme or reason – it never rains, it pours!

Reaching the Godaddy support isn’t a grand experience these days. I recall the old days when having a website was a either considered a luxury or a business, and the support teams from Godaddy would go all out to sort it out for you.

Things have changed now. Perhaps that’s because every Tom, Harry and you know who has a website and the cost saving for Godaddy and other such companies is more important than customer satisfaction.

To make it worse, every one from Godaddy support is apparently working from home (thanks to COVID-19) and the phones got disconnected four times, leading to a fresh start each time.

Besides, every time the approach taken by the support agent to fix the problem was different. That’s like each doctor advising a different treatment for the same disease, make the patient so anxious, nervous and clueless which way to head.

Thankfully, the fourth person fixed the assumingly monstrous problem in a minute.

“Please check if the website is running now.”

I was happily surprised with his confidence and the site did come up after all.  💜

“What magic did you do?”, I asked

“All I did was change the ASP.NET version. If you’re facing such issues with other domains, try toggling or changing to the latest ASP.NET version.”

I did try this same thing for my other site howiseverything.in and that was brought up in minutes too.

All the best with your platform building. Ciao

If Your Life Was An Airplane

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magine, the pandemic is over. You’ve got yourself vaccinated as well. Now, you are finally ready to use your savings from last year. You decide to go to your dream destination. Well, yes, what ever it may be for you.

You have got the flight bookings and hotel reservations done. Now, you’re at the airport with your family. Waiting for the boarding to start. The announcement is made, and the boarding starts. You are walking towards the plane…

..But what’s that. Something doesn’t seem right. The plane in front of you has a HUGE body, and the wings are too small. You notice that the fuel is leaking from behind.

Would you get on that flight?

May be not.

That’s because you know that the teeny weeny wings would not be able to lift the weight of the plane. Moreover, the fuel needed to keep the engines running would run out any moment in the air.

But, now consider your own life, your relationships and work. Compare your life to an airplane.

The body represents the tensions, worries, liabilities – all the baggage you carry with you.

The wings are the skills and capabilities you have. They provide the thrust to lift your life upward.

The fuel is the cashflow which is absolutely needed to keep your engines running.

And the engines? The engines are the sales and marketing needed to keep your like going be it business or even personal.

They say that time flies, but the good news is that you’re the pilot. So, when you sit in the cockpit – be clear where you’d want to land, and then keep moving in that direction.

You will be off course like most airplanes are 90% of the time, But as the pilot, you have to keep correcting your course.

Happy journey.

You Can Win, Without Taking it on the Chin

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lose your eyes and think about your life..

What are the elements that make it happy, peaceful or successful?

Now, think about that one thing that is absolutely essential to your life, and yet you struggle to do it day after day.

Yes, the one that makes you scream, shout, and despair. The one that you must get done before getting on to other important things in your life.

It’s something that you think about almost all the time. It could be anything. You can’t get it out of your head.

For Amy Porterfield, the successful podcast host of Online Marketing Made Easy, it is her podcasting itself. She used to call everyday as the podcast day. Scrambling over the topic, recording, copy, editing and on went the list ..every single day!

For me, it is the cleanliness drive. I just can’t get on to anything worthwhile without seeing my house in order – the work desk, the bookshelf, the room, the other room, the fans, the looking glass, and my list goes on and on.

For you, it may be something else. But you get the point. You just can’t seem to finish it and yet can’t get it out of your head. How frustrating. Most of the time, you have to get on with other things anyway, but that’s excruciatingly painful.

That’s where this idea of Mega Batching comes in. I heard this from Amy herself and she transformed her life applying it to her podcasting.

And, I, of course, applied it to my Safai Abhiyaan, my cleanliness drive. Given that we’re still continuing without a help at home, looking back, this is just what I had needed in the first place.

It’s a simple idea, but works wonders. At the heart of it, it is all about bundling (batching) similar things together. So, what ever it is that you are cringing about, break it down into sub-tasks that must be done in order to complete it.

For Amy’s podcasting, the sub-tasks were, her topics selection, outlining the podcast content, reviewing it, creating show notes, writing emails to her subscribers list, recording the podcast, editing it and final review.

For my cleanliness drive, it was my brooming, mopping, mosquito spraying, dusting, doors cleaning, cleaning the tops (fans, spiderwebs et al), mirrors, clothes arranging and books arranging.

Well, I never thought I’d be doing a job description for your house help 🙂

Anyway, you get the point. Make an exhaustive list of the work that must get done in order to call that overall task done – Podcast or cleanliness drive or what ever it may be for you. Spend good time in doing so because you could very easily miss out on something. If you do, it’s fine though, you can always add to the list.

The next step is to combine the similar things together. If all the sub-tasks look similar, well they aren’t.

Topic selection is very different from recording the podcast.

Brooming is way different from mopping.

So, Amy focuses on just topic selection on Day 1, just like I now focus on just brooming on Day 1. Basically, you batch the activities something like below.

  • Monday mops
  • Tuesday tops (fans, spiderwebs..)
  • Wednesday mosquito spray, books at bay, clothes away
  • Thursday broom (wrappers and papers)
  • Friday dusting Yay!
  • Saturday doors or shall I say Saturdoors 🙂
  • Sunday broom (small dust)

It was a huge mindset shift as I am used to seeing all of the above happening everyday since I was born. Perhaps so are you. But then, whoever said that all of this has to happen everyday. 🙂

Amy has something similar for her podcasts.

The real killer is the multi-tasking. This concept heavily relies on the principle that multi-tasking is the world’s greatest time-waster. It takes the brain a HUGE amount of time to switch from one activity to another. To add to that, it is very frustrating and stressful.

I can totally relate. The daily switch from broom to mop was killing me.

If you’re thinking some of this is not evenly placed in terms of time, then you could combine a few things but make sure they’re similar. I have two days for brooming as I think that works better for me.

This approach makes me walk out of this mindset after having done the decided sub-task for the day. Yesterday, was Tuesday Tops day, and I did the fans. When I saw clothes or wrappers on the floor, it frustrated me much less, because I looked at the sparkling fans and was reminded that the floor is for another day.

Try this out in whatever you do. You will of course need to make few adjustments and will learn in the process but I promise if would be far more enjoyable and satisfying.


If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.