In search of meaning 04/21 Sri Lanka

I do have a race and it’s called the human race and right now I am ashamed of the behaviour of the human race. I wish I was buddy the beagle or Zimba the lion but not a human cause our behaviour is not worthy of a human being. I follow Islam which to me is a religion of peace as the word Islam means but it was this same religious extremism that has caused so much pain and I hang my head in shame.

My head has been buzzing with thoughts angry and frustrated it’s about to explode. It’s not anger towards anyone it’s towards my own inability to make things right. 04/21 was horrific for us Sri Lankans it was Easter Sunday and I only had 10 of my undergrad students present in class and they too were disengaged because of the stream of messages that kept coming and the disturbing photographs. It wasn’t fair it was a day of joy and celebration and I had been planning to buy my students tea and snacks from the cafe across the road they always complain that it’s beyond their reach financially. But it was forgotten as one buy one the number of suicide bombs going off became closer. I needed to get my students to safety and had them call cabs, parents and leave the building tired I finally left for the day only 10.30 a.m and the news was bad. Muslim Extremists had carried out bombings in 3 churches and 3 leading five star hotels. The sound of sirens filled the air the hospitals were crowded, there was a plea for blood donations. The nation was in chaos, curfew was clamped and search operations began. The security forces were quick to respond and the hospitals were outstanding. People not having anything to do gathered around the idiot box.

It’s almost three weeks and things have only got worse. Social Media is back and people are busy attacking each other. The post has my head twirling cause I don’t understand why people are being so petty. I respect those followers of Jesus Christ cause they have worked with such restrain even though they were the ones who suffered most of all. The cardinal has constantly been a role model for peaceful co-existence. The Tamil minority have stayed out of it altogether other than those in politics.

The politicians are all passing the buck and blaming each other for the happenings and those really effected are being forgotten as they all move towards securing their possibilities for the future in politics. While the media is going to town on the happenings social media has become a means of spreading racial dis-harmony and rumours. The information of extremism entering this beautiful land was shared many years ago and nothing had happened and the information of these attacks were also made available and was ignored or scoffed at, why the common man hasn’t still been told. The system is now broken and I feel we have no leader to stand up and be counted.

I am trying hard to make meaning of all of this in order that I might be able to create some sanity in a chaotic situation. Today just glancing through Facebook my eye caught this statement and translated it went something like this. “By not buying their products Muslim businesses are destroyed lets continue to boycott their products so we destroy them fully.” And a well educated gentleman had shared it. and there were so many comments. And there I sat in total disbelief at what was happening, this weren’t the Christians or the Muslim extremist. So I assume in future I walk in to a store or company to purchase a product or service, I first ask what religion do your owners follow. OK they are Muslims so I buy, if they told me any other religion I walk out. What rational was behind this behaviour. There was another post that went something like let’s boycott Etisalat cause it’s from the middle east cause that’s where Islam originated, So you also boycott Axiata cause Malaysia is a Muslim country and leave the company too, And are all non- Muslims going to leave Etisalat and how will they feed their families. I have friends who work at Etisalat in the gulf so are they going to leave their jobs and come back are all non Muslims working in various jobs in the middle east coming back as well. So you don’t pump fuel if you are not a Muslim cause it comes from the gulf. And Petrol stations not owned by Muslims don’t deal in fuel anymore cause it’s from the gulf until the Sri Lanka Government gets fuel from Canada. All those non – Muslims working in Bangladesh are coming back because there are extremist and they might be funded by the company you work for. I am lost and angry at those trying to make it a business opportunity for themselves and forgetting the bigger goal of helping those effected heal.

The vegetable shop I usually purchase from was empty and most of the helpers were off and I asked what was up and he said sales have dropped. The expats have left, no tourists, the restaurants are doing badly and some of the non- Muslims aren’t buying from him anymore. So I asked him its impacting the others. His faced dropped as he said I buy less vegetables from the whole sale market and I have had to reduce the number of daily paid staff to keep the business going for better times. So this avoiding is not just impacting him as a Muslim it’s effecting the entire supply chain.

The Banana farmers on TV were stating how they were struggling to sell their produce because sales has dropped and therefore the demand for bananas have also dropped. So bananas just rot in their homes and just think of the impact on them.

I sit here writing cause I am hurting not because I am marginalised because we are destroying our country. I only leave home if it is essential if not we prefer to stay home. Today was one of those essentials. I took a pick me as I usually do, but in the past few weeks many have cancelled my rides cause my name is that of a Muslim. And I told him my root and he happily drove us. Having dropped my daughter I went in to drop off some bills and then to the regular market in Colombo 3. Just as we turned in I said, if you are willing to wait I am going back home you can drop me home to which he agreed eagerly stating that he lived close to my home and could go home for lunch. So we drove back in quiet silence and as I was getting closer to home I mentioned the following I am a Muslim and I am going back to pick my daughter up at 5.00pm and if you would like you can take the hire. To which he responded very quickly and his words broke my heart. This is my first hire for the day no body is going out and some people think that pick me is owned by Muslims so they shouldn’t ride it and have deleted the app, what they have done is taken away the hires from us many of us have no way to feed our families or pay our lease. This wasn’t the first driver who shared their pain and my heart goes out to them so I don’t take back the balance and hope that little would help in their expenses in some small way. I don’t drive so much of my travel is through cabs now I don’t travel unless I have to which might be 1/4th of what it used to be. I don’t go to my favourite coffee bars anymore. I know I am not the only one which is robbing the employees of their tips and if it continues some might even close down.

I saw this post that said we were celebrating Ramadan, Ramadan is not a celebration we fast from sunrise to sun set to feel the hunger and pain of the poor and it is painful cause many of us have to work and this year we are not having Ifthar the way we used to. I have not fried or baked a single breakfast speciality in our home we have kept it to bare minimums. I have told the kids we are not celebrating the festival so don’t ask for new clothes in respect of those who lost their lives and still recovering in hospitals. And many of my extended family and Muslim friends are doing the same so don’t assume and make judgement on us. By all means punish those who break the law of the land including the politicians involved in these extremist activities and those who were enemies of Mother Lanka by selling explosives meant for quarries as stated by the Navy Commander, clothing and weapons to the extremists. We have no place for traitors. We stood together through 30 years of war and made it through and Muslims were kicked out of their own homes but we stood with the nation and even fought along side the Sinhala majority, we’ve been through the roughest Tsunami and we have worked hard to rebuild mother Lanka after many floods and landslides in the recent past, Sri Lankans came joined hands with the forces to rescue and rebuild Lanka.

The majority of Muslims don’t support extremists, I have no right to tell anyone what to do but let me share the downward spiral that the current actions are causing for the common man. Boycotting all businesses run by Muslims is up to you I guess we will all learn to survive. But just think these actions aren’t hurting the extremists,nor the politicians who’ve not had to cut down any of their family comforts. It might only increase with cheaper flights and hotel rates and more security. But the common man who already is squeezed by the weight of taxes. The families who were surviving on two meals or one meal a day please don’t take that away. It’s a time to stand together and make it work so that the economy picks up and tourist travel back to Sri Lanka and everyone flourishes not turn our backs on each other, we help each other rise above and never be complacent thinking all is peaceful.

Advertisements

How time flies!

it seems only like yesterday that 2018 dawned and I still remember the fireworks that lit up the skies and our Beagle Buddy staying close to my daughter in fear. But now we are at the end of the road called 2018 and stepping in to 2019. Having heard so many people say how time flies and the year is almost over! I decided to reflect on why we feel this way and for me the learnings have been meaningful. Time did not fly it was the same 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes & 31,536,000 seconds. So essentially it was the same as every other year. but why are people feeling like time flies, that it was only like yesterday that the year dawned and it’s almost over.

The answer lies in the way we live our lives. in a world that is overly competitive and the law of scarcity rules most people think and fear a lack and thus are driven to keep achieving so that they can hoard resources just in case the world runs out of it. tis scarcity mindset that Dr. Stephen R Covey used to talk about seems to be alive and well in all cultures. when all we do is run it feels like time flies cause we have been running and running. A mindless way to live our lives.

In the work world much of our organizations still have an outdated mindset that of if employees work late they must be doing a great job. Even though in reality they might only be only avoiding the office time traffic or a bad relationship at home. Something I have come to realize is that there are days that we genuinely might have to work late. But if we are mindful and focus on the present moment and do what needs to be done at that moment to further our KPIs and organizational goals. But when we get lost in the blame game, fire fighting, ruminating and regretting the past or worrying about the future that we get bogged down in our work as we trudge around half heartedly.

When we begin to appreciate and savor every moment in time, do our best we experience each moment. This is how we can stop feeling like time flies. It doesn’t its just that we are living on autopilot and miss the best moments in life. When our grand parents used to tell us to stop and smell the roses what it essentially meant was to slow down and enjoy and learn from each experience so that every moment was lived and appreciated for what it is.

If we want to make 2019 seem like time didn’t fly then we better follow the age old proverb of stopping to smell the roses.

Wish all of my readers a mindful and prosperous 2019!

A change in my journey

Being a management consultant, trainer and executive coach much of my writing has been to  do with organizations. But in the last few weeks I have seen and heard of situations that made me re-think of my own writing how can I create awareness and share knowledge which will enhance the quality of life.  My future blogs will evolve around real life situations and experiences. 

while Iam still trying to comprehend the  events of my last blog my heart is filled with sadness as I realized how little we care. not one comment no one had even bothered to read it. I also uploaded it to my facebook page nothing not a like not a comment.  Not a single idea shared even though I asked for ideas to be shared. The blog was on teenage suicide and the prevention of it.  But that has not deterred  me as my heavy heart kept asking the question “how can I make a difference?”

I believe we are born altruistic and over the years get nurtured out of our altruism for many reasons. I also believe that we still have goodness inside of us but are more reluctant to let it show. As I see the number of people still working to make human and animal lives better I still believe that there is hope. And my writing will from now on be an appeal to the goodness inside of you. 

It seems funny but it is the ideal time for change it is the month of December the month of HOPE and JOY. as the christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, it also is the closing of an old year and opening the doors to the new year. And for me I am driven by the belief that I have a larger role to play in society. In the belief that every life is worth saving be it human or animal.  

While I waited for the ideas to pour in on how to save young lives I decided to take the one course of action I hoped could bring about a better understanding of young lives and support them in their hour of need.  I have aways been a Girl Guide at heart something my mom instilled in my heart and mind and which took deep root over the years as I took my promise and tried hard to live it. 

To those who have never had the opportunity to experience it the promise we make is as follows; 

‘I promise on my honour to do my best, to do my duty to my religion and country. To help others at all time and to obey the guide law..’

The laws too are beautiful and are meaningful and if only they were a way of life to all the world would have been a better place.  The Guide law formulated by Lady Baden Powell seem even more apt today than it was in the day they were written and are as follows;

  1. A Guide is honest, reliable and can be trusted.
  2. A Guide is loyal.
  3. A Guide is considerate and helpful at all times.
  4. A Guide is a sister to every other Guide.
  5. A Guide is friendly and courteous.
  6. A Guide is compassionate to all living things.
  7. A Guide respects authority.
  8. A Guide is courageous and faces all situations with understanding.
  9. A Guide uses resources wisely.
  10. A Guide respects herself and seeks to understand all human beings.

To me these laws have kept me kind, compassionate and empathetic towards all animals. It has made me a better global citizen. 

The Moto which is “BE PREPARED” is still relevant.   The one idea that haunts me is how can we reach the children specially the ones who have no support system at home. where the communication between children and parents are strained.  

In a light bulb moment my mind says “What if teachers became the back bone of the support system?  But how do we reach so many schools and Iam just one person? “

My idea hinges around the Girl Guide Association of Sri Lanka .  If we can make it a community project train up a pool of resources who can approach the schools through the guide company and train the teachers on essential counseling first aid.  Wouldn’t that be our best chance to reach  as many teachers as possible. We could even take it further to community guiding companies that the Association has. The solution seems compelling but there is so much to be done. The hope that we can become a candle to lives in where the candle is fast going out. 

There is much to be done but I have crossed the first hurdle the association has agreed to support this project. Now to find funding Iam praying that many organizations will be willing to fund the endeavor. That the different associations already involved in suicide prevention will support us in this journey.  That we can make every life count. 

Iam excited with the hope and the passion burning inside of me.  That my purpose is taking more meaning.  Its a journey for all of us not for one of us so we can create a better world with a future generation that are better at problem solving and decision making,  people who are empathic and caring and lives that are purposeful and meaningful. A world where people are more tolerant of differences. A world that is mindful instead of mindless.

When Society fails


it had already been a long day of teaching and I was looking forward to a quiet evening but alas that was not to be.   Messages going too and fro among daughter and her  class mates and then a few calls revealed that their class mate had passed away. And given that she lived not too far away and my daughter had plans to go to school the next day we decided to attend the funeral the same evening.  As the calls and messages were exchange there was talk about her having leukemia and a rumour that she had committed suicide.  I could feel chill go down my spine this was too close to home.  My heart sank my daughter is only 15 and the girl who had passed away only turned 15 on the day of the passing away.  How could life have been so cruel as to grab her life this young.  if the leukemia had killed her I could accept that it was a part of life but suicide I could not fathom it felt like a vibrant rose had withered early plucked away from the family.  Many question kept going on in my mind. 

With all this information reeling in my mind I decided to take my daughter to the funeral    we ended up in the child aunts house where the mother was crying in shock among the hush hush discussions it was revealed that she had truly committed suicide.  While the question still lingers as to ‘why’ my bigger question is how do we avoid it?  Her cousin committed suicide 6 months ago in the same manner is what I hear from the neighbors. While it seems juicy gossip my bigger question is how could society have failed so badly to identify and support these young lives?  What the priest said in his sermon made so much sense. When its time to go we all have to go but we shouldn’t plan how we go and he was talking about suicide. Years back I would have been very intolerant with suicide cause I had this belief that suicide was cowardly but now my world view has changed. Iam more empathic more kinder towards those struggling to make it through the day.   Its easy to gossip and to condemn, to say ‘how can they be so selfish, how will those they leave behind face society’.  my question is if society was so judgmental why didn’t they become more mindful and therefore spot these lives that were struggling to make it through the day and support them? 

Aren’t we as society responsible to watch out for others and be altruistic?  I watch out for my kids stay involved in their life eves drop on their sibling chats and the chats with friends. But I too need to do more I am torn with guilt that I hadn’t used the power of knowledge that I had gained over the years in order to create the knowledge that is required to watch out, to seek out, to spot and to support young lives struggling to make it through. 

In an extrovert driven society where the loud, the social, the right look, the right brand, the right size, the right background seems to win how have  we become so blind to the fact that there are introverts who also need to be heard to be made to feel comfortable in their skin accepted and appreciated. I feel its time with stepped up as adults to create awareness about bullying, about mental health, about sadness, about the loss of support systems, the struggle with loneliness, divorce, & its impact on children, substance abuse, self confidence and self acceptance.  We can no longer turn a blind eye saying my child is okay everything else is immaterial to me.  What we must be aware is all our children are venerable and we are all responsible. 

I have got no fool proof plan but I know we need to start as parents and reach out to the teachers so we become the guardians of young lives. 



Mindless Narcissistic Behavior and Organizational Disaster

 

img_20180813_111627

I still remember the first day I heard the word Narcissism  it was at a workshop on ‘Mastery of Self’ conducted By Omar Khan in Colombo. I remember the story he shared so vividly and the definition of a Narcissist and it went something like this “A Narcissist is  a person for whom there is no one else but themselves.  With all that is happening in the world I still believe that people are born altruistic and are conditioned to be Narcissistic. May be experience and circumstances teaches us at a young age that one has to look out for one self. At a young age I believe it does not happen for any other purpose other than survival.  But this breeds a habit and this habit follows humans in to adulthood as well and habits are often mindless behaviors and as we go into society we display these behaviors and don’t see anything wrong in it.

When Mindless Narcissistic behavior is compound by greed and jealousy it compels people to hoard for them selves than share with others. When leaders have the mindless Narcissistic behaviors it is recipe for organizational disaster.  The saying people join organizations for the brand and leave because of the boss becomes real. The words of Dr. Stephen R Covey ” the scarcity mind set teaches us that there is only so much and if I share I have less” this is the mindset that brings about dysfunctional  competition where teams compete for what they see as limited resources and want to win at all cost.  What Chaos it creates  among teams and the leadership  sees nothing wrong in it only that he is busy building for him self through all this chaos. Great team members leave this secures his place in the organization.

Mindful leaders ensure that teams have functional competition which creates new innovation and creativity. Where employees feel engaged and motivated and organizations thrive and grow.

Its not enough to have highly competent leaders in an organization it is more important that have the right attitude and mindset.  Just as our country struggles with Mindless Narcissistic leadership that has taken the nation to the brink of disaster behind the failure of many organizations is the Mindless Narcissistic Leadership.

Leaving not just a trail of destruction along the way it also reeks havoc in the hearts and minds of those wounded by  Narcissistic  actions of the leader. Its time for us to hire Leaders with a balance of head and heart in order to ensure that the organization thrive and succeeds. That employees feel engaged and motivated are proud to be a part of the team. It goes back to the fundamental idea of hire for attitude and train for skills.

How I learnt mindfulness through prayer

pexels-photo-337901.jpeg
Photo by Pavlo Luchkovski on Pexels.com

Like many people for many years I lived on auto pilot much of what I did was through habit than with  real thought and the more competent I became the more I did it through auto pilot mode. it began to breed complacency and I lacked enthusiasm. Life seemed monotonous and stale I knew something had to change. And then I turned to Almighty cause I knew somewhere in my subconscious that he would have the answer and thus began my journey of prayer and connect to living mindfully.

I found that initially my mind was so used to being on auto pilot that focussing on prayer was also difficult and distraction was constant. Initially I lost count of my steps in salah(five time prayer) and had to restart just so that I can complete it accurately. But as I became more and more present to my prayer I began to realize the power of Salah (5 time prayer) and Dua (request from Almighty) For me all of this became a conversation with Almighty and enjoyed the moments of presence. As I became more competent in prayer I had to force myself to continue to remain mindful and present and I still struggle. But Iam more centered and bring my mind back to the present. Being mindful and present in the here and now has made my life more meaningful and my relationship with Almighty much richer.

This mindfulness I now bring in to all my work being present for myself and those I work with and that helps me become aware of non- verbal communication. Understand the joys and pains of others. This insight of being mindful has helped me be more Human while remaining professional. Mindfulness influences my leadership style and improves my Emotional Intelligence. It has also made me a more effective trainer, consultant & executive coach.

While the principle of mindfulness is over 300 years old in a world of constant distractions it seems an ideal tool to make the best out of the here and the now.

 

Eight fold path of Buddhist Philosophy excellent management tool.

2017-05-10 18.33.31.jpgIam not a Buddhist but reading through the noble 8 fold path of Ancient Buddhist philosophy talks about right mindfulness but right mindfulness is not possible unless on follows the  7 preceding steps of the pathway to meaningful living and the cessation of suffering.

Having read the simple but meaningful book the Noble Eightfold path by Bhikku Bodhi I was convinced much of it is what will keep employees motivated to achieve goals.  I have take the Time to look at the 8 steps and to correlate it to an organization and motivation.

  • Samma Ditti – The right view

Understand the nature of reality and the path to transformation. This to me is about the first step towards self motivation. When organization invest in helping their employees carve out a life purpose or life mission or organization has a strong mission and vision it becomes the compass that drives  drive individual and organization performance. A better way to lead your team that the regular carrot and stick.

  • Samma Sankappa – right Intention

This includes the right thought, attitude and acting out of love and compassion. when members of your team spend time developing the right thoughts and attitudes and act out those thoughts and attitudes all members of the team act in a manner that is cohesive, progressive and productive. Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of highly effective people talk about the see, do, get cycle.  which meant that how we see the world our paradigms and perceptions is how we act or behave and our results are based on it. Thus the right attitudes, perceptions and beliefs  which creates the right intension of your team members will build stronger teams.

  • Samma Vaca – right speech

This includes honest communication in a non – harmful manner.  Much of the relationship issues that arise are due to misunderstandings during communication. A Stephen Covey states in his 5th habit if we can take the time to seek first to understand and then be understood the relationships will flourish. Taking the time to be empathic towards your fellow team mates and communicate in a manner that the others in the team feel that they are genuinely cared for, give improvement feedback in a manner that  is growth fostering and doesn’t destroy self – confidence and self – esteem will lead the way to a highly motivated team.

  • Samma Kammanta – right Action

Action that is non – exploitery of one – self or others. Leaders need to ensure that they neither exploit them selves or their team members. This essentially being mutually respectful towards each other,  time, energy and private time. This helps promote better work – life balance and thus enables teams to function effectively.   Its being conscious regarding calling employees during off days, family time and holidays unless the office is in crisis and cannot find an alternative to solve the crisis. It should never be the default to call the employee who is on holiday. This also applies to oneself as the leader as well.

  • Samma Ajiva – right Livelihood

A livelihood based on non – exploitation and ethical in nature. Just as a strong tree needs deep root system to stand strong and tall, in order to ensure that one is passionate regarding once livelihood it must be in keeping with their personal values. Thus helping one to have no cognitive dissonance  which creates inner peace.   This applies to the larger organization as well, when organizations are driven by values it creates congruence throughout the organization. In return creating a workforce working together towards common agendas.

Today organizations talk about talent management very simply putting the right person in the right job which creates a high level of motivation. This is the same concept that was discussed 2500 years ago.

  • Samma Vayama – right Effort

Consciously directing all our energies to the transformation path. We call it the equity theory where people by nature want to put in the right amount of rewards. By creating a performance driven culture where reward and recognition is based on performance employees will remain highly motivated. A simple mechanism of creating a culture of unbiased performance drive is what an organization needs to have employees out in the right effort.

  • Samma Sati – Right mindfulness

Includes being mindful of the things one does, their thoughts, feelings, the relationships and the reality and is a culmination of the above seven concepts. It is easier said than done when leaders and management focus on developing vision for the organization, treating employees fairly, managing talent and improve communication within the organization employees can stop worrying about non – value adding actions and focus on results.

  • Samma Samadhi – Right Concentration

This means to focus on attaining the highest level of mindfulness. From an organizational point of view it is when employees know that they are an asset and that this asset is appreciated for their contribution, they feel that they are adding value to the organization, there is belongingness and are rewarded fairly that they can focus on the work process and forget about the rewards.  Creating the right environment for the team is the primary role of the leadership and this will help employees concentrate on the work at hand and achieving goals.

The philosophy might be 2500 years old and yet is so apt for todays management of a sustainable and successful organizations.  It offers simple tools of leadership, Motivation, Team work, effectiveness and productivity. Every religion and philosophy offers such profound tools to drive a business and yet we forget the wisdom of those ways and then struggle to achieve business strategy.  This was my contribution to helping bring to light the wisdom available that is even more important in todays business context.

 

Mindfulness at work

20170416_162431_HDR

A common lament I hear from friends and colleagues is ‘How I wish I could practice mindfulness but I don’t have time’.  This is a misconception the practice of mindfulness does not mean that you suddenly give up life and go off to a meditation center in some far away place and practice mindfulness mediation or spend 2 hours in meditation before the day begins. Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere.

Mindfulness is deliberate paying full attention to what is happening around you and within you  (your body, mind & soul). Thus mindfulness is all about paying full attention to the present without criticism and judgement.  when one looks at ones work day isn’t that we are  all aspiring to, to stay focused, productive and effective.

My study takes me down the path of figuring ways and means of how we can be more mindful at work. My experience goes back many years when  I was working with a particular client on a specific project and the only time I could call and discuss any of the work that was being done or needed attention was after closing hours because beyond that was when they started regular work. One might wonder what they did at other times, they were busy with meetings. Why do they spend so much time the reasons were amazing the meeting leader had no agenda, they were served tea and snacks, the chairs were comfortable and thus they drifted from one topic in between discussing the objective of the meeting. And before they realized it the day was gone they were working late once more. The new CEO that took over the company create a mindfulness practice that shortened the meeting time by leaps and bounds. He implemented a simple and yet effective plan. He decided to take away all the chairs and stopped serving tea and snacks.. All he left was Flipchart boards and markers. He also introduced a new concept that made a world of difference. He wanted the agenda of the meeting circulated in advance and in the event it was a emergency meeting it was mandatory that the meeting leader put up the agenda of the meeting on a Flipchart so that all those who walked in knew exactly why they were there. This CEO had implemented mindfulness even without realizing it. This to me was an excellent practice of mindfulness at work. Due to the factor that they had to stand through out the meeting and didn’t have sustenance helped them to focus on the job at hand, disband and get back to work.  All he did was create a environment where the participants had to pay attention to the current discussion and solving the issue at hand.

My second example is taken from a garment manufacturing facility based in one of the free trade zone. The General Manager of this plant shares the improvement over the years. during the early years of the factory the visit from a principle was a nightmare beacuse they  spent many hours preparing for the visit the previous day. And in order to ensure that all went off well they would play a particular pre -planned song in order to let the employees the representatives of the principle had just turned in from the gate. Everyone on the floor suddenly begins to scramble around putting things in place.which caused a huge amount of stress for all involved.  Finally after many years of this same struggle the facility introduced 5S and subsequently Lean management. The principles of 5S and Lean created a culture of mindfulness because employees began to operate with awareness of what they were doing. They learned to follow the traffic light system used in the factory floor, they made sure they did not clutter surroundings, they ensured there was a better flow of the line, they avoided heaping garments in their work space. This put an end to the chaos and stress that was brought about by the visit of the principles. Instead the factory made it a way of life.

Both these two examples are proof that mindfulness can be practiced any time at work. whether it is listening to a fellow employees grievance, while answering an email, at a meeting, during a sales call, helping a customer or during production.

Thus we need to realize that mindfulness is a way of life and not some distant practice that can be followed by the saffron clad buddhist monks only,  It is what our brain is made for, focus on one thing at a time and be aware of what happens around you and within you.

Mindfulness is a way of life and is a great practice to use at work. It helps us step out of Auto pilot and live consciously. Which will be the key to continuous  improvement and success.

 

Living mindfully

20180130_061650.jpg2018 has been a good year so far and I feel very positive regarding the rest of the year to come. How ever as a country we are in turmoil with the local government elections churning unexpected results and thus destabilizing the government of Sri Lanka and plunging the Sri Lankan rupee in to further devaluation. Being human my usual reaction would have been to go in to the circle of concern and ruminate all the possible repercussions of this event. But at the end of the day would not be able to come up with any meaningful solution because the solution was not under my influence. I couldn’t understand why people were spending so much time on social media updates on the political situation and the media was going to town on it. 12th February dawned and I chose to avoid focussing on the outer circle of concern instead I stayed focused on what I can change.

For me it was all about being mindful and living mindfully. I did feel fear, the human talent development industry is highly dependent on the countries stability. But I experienced the fear and reflected on it and identified where it stemmed from and then moved on to chose what I can do about my fear. That for me was the only way I could stop going into a hopeless cycle of purposeless mind chatter.

The logic is simple man/woman by nature likes to focus on the circle of concern cause this enables them to Blame their misfortune on someone else and this liberates them from being responsible for any change. But Living mindfully means to focus on the Circle of influence and do the things that will help you to achieve the results that you are looking for no matter how bad the economy or the political situation in the country is. But when the organizations leadership focuses on the circle of concern and they begin to spend countless hours discussing it.  Their teams too begin to be influenced by it and make it  a scape goat for poor performance.

In this time of uncertainty it is imperative that leaders lead mindfully by following three very simple steps.

!. Lead with present focussed consciousness – this does not mean that they do not have strategy or contingency plans it only means that they focus on what can be done in this moment n order to ensure they are executing those strategies or those contingency plans.

2. Become self aware of oneself, your actions and the impact it has on the others – As leaders we become role models for our teams and this most often is an unconscious  process and thus our thoughts and actions as leaders have a ripple effect. thus living mindfully means also to be self aware  of once actions and thoughts and the impact we are having on others.

3. Pay non – judgmental attention before making decisions. This avoid mental biases and make our decisions more practical.

Mindfulness  even though sounds simple is one of the toughest practices to inculcate as our mind is like that of a drunken monkey and constantly  keeps drifting from one idea to another.  Our focus drifts into mental vacations and the added addiction to distraction.  But Right mindfulness is the best way for leaders to stay focussed and result oriented this will set precedent for all those to follow and avoids the ability to make excuses for complacency and low performance.

Leaders the ball at this moment is in your coat how you play will determine the results you get from your teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness a simpler way to live

The term “Mindfulness” was coined by the British scholar T. H Rhys Davids in his effort to translate the Pali word “sati” (Thanissaro, 1987, as cited in Dhimam, 2009)

Kabat – Zinn (1998, as cited in Chaskalson, 2011) defined mindfulness as a means of paying attention with purpose, to the present moment in a manner that is non- judgmental to whatever arises in the present moment and in the field of your current experience.

Mindfulness is also defined as our ability to pay attention to the present moment, to oneself, to those we are interacting with at that moment and to our surroundings.

As stated by Shapiro, Wand & Peltason (as cited in Reb & Atkin, (2015)) Mindfulness consists of 3 core elements Intention, attention and attitude, these are not separate processes instead they are 3 intertwined elements of a single cyclic process. In mindfulness, Intention knows why we are paying attention, the element of attention means attending to what is happening in the here and now and the third element of attitude includes curiosity and open mindedness.  Making no endeavor to change our experience instead to accept our current experiences with openness, curiosity and care.

We spend much of our time regretting all the mistakes of our past or being nostalgic about the good things of the past that we pass by the present without enjoying the moment.  Or we worry about the future or day dream of how great the future is going to be that the opportunity to make the best of the moment passes and we don’t even realise that we lost the most precious moment of our life.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t create purpose for life or have compelling goals. It means that while we live with purpose and pursue goals we live mindfully by focusing on what we can do at this moment in order to get us one more step closer to our goals. This does not only mean our private life but it also go for our KPIs and objectives set by the organisations.

Life becomes simpler when we live mindfully and focus on getting the best out of this moment.

Make life simple live mindfully!