How to fuel your creativity? – Here are 20 ways..

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” – Leo Burnett

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will” – George Bernard Shaw

The “creative genius” is in different states for each of us
For some it is perpetually active :)
For some it is seldom active
For some it is dormant
And for some it is asleep :(

In this post I am listing 20 easy ways to fuel / spark / re-kindle your creativity. I have personally tried all of these and they work!

  1. Do nothing for 30 minutes a day. Just lie / laze around and let your thoughts flow. You will be surprised at the impact this has over a 1 week period!
  2. Dream – Yes! Day-dream :). There is something about dreaming which sparks better creativity
  3. Take a walk “ALONE”
  4. Disconnect for 15 minutes with the electronic world (including mobiles, TV, internet, Google, Twitter, Facebook) – Refreshingly liberating and aids significantly in “creativity”
  5. Listen to music
  6. Talk to someone you love (parents, friends, siblings, children, spouse)
  7. Look at the sky for 10 minutes (especially early morning or evening) – I don’t know why! But this always helps
  8. If you’re a right handed person, use you left hand for 15 minutes a day. In 1 week, you will experience the difference
  9. Indulge in physical exercise – Run, Dance, play a game, do whatever to get your heart pumping and hormones flowing!
  10. Meditate
  11. Read something you’d never usually read
  12. Watch a program you’d never usually watch
  13. Learn something new (For e.g.: Cooking, A new language, Art, Ikebana, Puppet making, make-up, yoga, photography, etc.)
  14. Laugh – Indulge in anything which makes you smile
  15. Sleep – Sleep is the best medicine for so many things, and can solve many a problem (no matter how complex or complicated)
  16. Think about the HAPPIEST moment(s) of your life – There’s something about a good memory which sometimes sparks the best creativity
  17. Look at old photographs
  18. Re-live the “good old days” in any way you can 
  19. Take a shower
  20. Your turn. And be CREATIVE :)

Have you tried any of these? Did they work for you.. Leave a comment to let me know

I BELIEVE in you, do you?

There are few topics of genuine interest for people from the Indian male fraternity. Cricket, Bollywood (with special emphasis on the Katrina Kaif!), Politics, General Affairs (including the US, Japan, China, Pakistan et al), Cars, Gadgets and Technology (mobile and tablets included because I used this word fairly loosely and broadly!) and Women. Under the topic of women, a few sub categories get more interest than other’s. One of them is the topic of “a woman driving a car”. “They don’t know driving”, “They can’t drive”, “I bet it’s a girl driving that car”, “She can never get the parking right”, “Reverse parking and she? Pray for the owner of the other cars”. I heard all of these words (& more) for a large part of my growing up years (and continue to hear them even today!).  Somehow somewhere, I believed it to be true.  Consequently, I could not get myself to drive a car for several years.

One fine day, I decided I had to learn car driving. I can’t recall why, but this one burning desire consumed every waking moment of my life. And so I enrolled to a driving school. Unfortunately for me, during one of those learning sessions, I had a ‘head-on’ collision with a private bus. Fortunately for me, the car and I survived. Almost all the boys / men I knew said “I told you so! This is not meant for you.”. I listened to them and believed it. As a result, I stopped the lessons and driving.

After a few years, I mustered the courage to again enroll into a driving school. I completed the course and got my driving license. But the lack of confidence and fears persisted. So I rarely drove. After a few years, I got fed-up being dependent on others for ferrying me around. But I still lacked confidence, so I decided to refresh my driving lessons. Thanks to a friend who offered to risk putting his life at stake with my amateur driving, I lay my hands on the steering wheel.  I drove like an amateur. If I saw vehicles come near me, I’d steer away. If it was a big vehicle, I’d freeze and give way. If there was a junction in sight, I’d pray for it to be clear (along with a list of bribes to the Almighty!). If there appeared to be traffic ahead, I’d wish all the vehicles disappeared by the time I reached.

After a few patient days, my friend had THAT talk with me. He said “Why are you so scared? Rather, what are you so scared of? I’m the one who should be scared since you are driving. But I’m sitting here – happily next to you in spite / despite your driving skills. If you do drive, drive like a king. The road is yours to take. I BELIEVE in you, do you?”. That was the moment it all changed for me, and driving a car has never been the same again.

As I look back to connect the dots of my life, I have been fortunate that I’ve had people who believed in me at the most vulnerable and decisive moments of my life.  From my family, friends, teachers, colleagues and managers at work – they all had their way of saying this to me “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”.  6 simple words, but truly powerful and truly transformational. I speak from experience here!

Coming to women at the workplace, it is no different. Almost every working woman I’ve come across (irrespective of age, irrespective of ethnicity, irrespective of seniority, irrespective of past successes) has a lot these moments in her career. Moments of self-doubt, uncertainty, questions and fears around her capability, competency and value. Not once, not twice, but very many times. And to help her cross the chasm during these moments, many times all she needs to hear is “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”. Trust me, it can shape, influence and steer her career in unimaginable ways.

Pause and Reflect

When did someone last tell you ““I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

When did you tell someone “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

When did you tell a woman “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

When did you tell a working woman “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

You have a chance today..

“I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

 

Originally published here

Video

To Recognize, Respect and Reward “THE Coach”

A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” BY Tom Landry

A few days back, I was watching the presentation ceremony of the CNN IBN Indian Of the Year Award for 2013. To those of you who don’t know, the CNN IBN Indian of the Year Awardrecognizes the Indian(s) whose contribution to the country in a calendar year has strengthened the foundation of our society and has helped build Brand India in the process.”For more details, click here

To be honest, none of the winners really surprised me. They were all achievers in their own sphere of work and had made a mark. Until I heard the announcement of the Winners of the Outstanding Achievement Awards. Cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar has been declared as the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2013, in the Outstanding Achievement category. The reason isHe has coached many young cricketers at Shivaji Park in Dadar, Mumbai. He is the man who first spotted the exceptional talent of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin came to Achrekar as a young student and it was under his keen supervision that Tendulkar’s ability was nurtured. Achrekar was always a hard taskmaster who ensured that his star pupil would make rapid strides in the game. Indian cricket owes Achrekar a debt of gratitude.”

At this point, let me make a disclaimer. I am NOT a cricket fan, nor do I worship / idolize any cricketer. I RARELY watch cricket matches (Like once in a year maybe!). Neither have I ever really played cricket. Oh wait! I did play cricket. Twice. The first time when I was a kid of about 10 years and I was bowled out on a duck :(. The bowler was mighty pleased. No prizes for guessing why? And the second time was when I played a corporate cricket tournament (in my early 20’s) in which as per company policy every team was supposed to have 1 woman employee and 1 employee above the age of 40 years. My friend was the captain of the Cricket team, and begged / pleaded / coaxed / bribed / bullied me into playing the match on his side. We closed the deal with these terms and conditions – No matter what the outcome was – I would be treated to an ice-cream, and we would continue to be friends! Thanks to my stars, I was last in the batting order. Unfortunately for me, my batting turn did come :( and we needed 2 runs to win, 1 run for a draw and 2 balls were left. Sigh! The nail biting finish. After some last minute “coaching” (grilling and quick and dirty practice sessions from my captain friend) I was on the crease. As the ball came towards me, I became numb. Everything blurred. And the ball went straight to the wicket. Clean bowled for a duck.. Again! And that ended my cricketing career. I was certain that I did not want a hat-trick. True to his word, my captain friend treated me to an ice-cream and we are friends even today. I had to endure his somber and morose expression at the ice-cream parlor when I was digging into the ice-cream. Honestly, I couldn’t care any less.

The other thing that I do know about cricket rather well is this. To shut up and flee when there are any “cricket related” discussions or banters in my vicinity.  And to let the “men in my life” have the TV remote and the “last word” as far as cricket is concerned! You’d think I’m wise, right? yes, I think so too :)

Sorry to digress, but coming back to my post. My interest piqued when I heard the announcement citing the award to Ramakant Achrekar. Simply because I HAVE NEVER REALLY SEEN or HEARD an AWARD being given to a COACH.

Why NOT?” I wondered…”Did it actually take the God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar to retire from his glorious cricketing career to honor his coach?

My thoughts took me to the recent Bollywood movie “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”. The one thing that really stood out for me in the movie was the role of the coach in the success of Milkha’s journey and life. It was a coach who identified the “running talent” in a young boy. It was the coach who provided the required guidance, the required technique, the tricks, the tools, and the support (moral, emotional, mental, physical) – especially in those vulnerable moments. It was the coach who believed in him. It was the coach who gave the much needed inspiration and motivation at those critical moments. It was the coach who pushed him to frontiers which he never knew existed. It was the coach who never ever gave up on him. And it was the focus, efforts and dedication of the coach (along with his own efforts) which took Milkha to the victory stand.

And yet, in real life

Why do we fail to RECOGNIZE the efforts and contribution of the people who “COACH” others?

Why do we fail to RESPECT the the efforts and contribution of the people who “COACH” others?

Why do we fail to REWARD the the efforts and contribution of the people who “COACH” others?

After all,

It is the RIGHT COACHING which transforms an individual / team from good to GREAT

It is the RIGHT COACHING which takes an individual / team to the pinnacles of SUCCESS

It is the RIGHT COACHING which truly makes a DIFFERENCE

Now, let’s get personal?

Can you go down memory lane and think of all the people who coached you? The coach(es) who believed in you even when you gave up? The coach(es) who nudged you and pushed you till the finish? The coach(es) who were “hard” on your for your own benefit? The coach(es) who guided you, who molded you, who made you give your very best…

Pause and Reflect

Did you say THANK YOU to those who coached you?

Did you give REGARDS and RESPECT to those who coached you?

Did you push for you coach(es) to be REWARDED for all that they did for you?

If not, you can do it today..

The video of Ramakant Achrekar’s moment of glory is below

2014 : What I’ll be blogging here?

So its a new year! The time when everyone embarks on all new things
New Year Resolutions
New Year Wishes
New Year Changes

Well, as I mulled over what I’ll be doing here on my blog, the one thing that I was clear that I would continue to write..

So, how frequently will I post?
Once a week

And when will I publish a post?
Every Thursday at 3 PM IST

So what will I be blogging about?
Well.. The focus will continue to be on areas of professional interest which range from Marketing, Social Media, Leadership, Innovation, Strategy and Business.

So is there a specific plan for the postings?
Well yes!
Week 1 of the month – A post on Social Media
Week 2 of the month – A post on Marketing
Week 3 of the month – A post on Leadership
Week 4 of the month – A post on Innovation / Strategy / Business

Will I do anything different this year on my blog?
Well, there will be a few surprises along the way. So wait and watch.. And do follow my blog to know what these surprises are!

Till then, continue reading..
And LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE
Its one life to LIVE

Happy New Year 2014…

Why should one lead?

Lead to create
Lead to provide
Lead to protect
Lead to propel
Lead to create and generate value
Lead to nurture people
Lead to fulfill a dream
Lead to bring a positive change
Lead to make a difference
Lead to structure / re-structure
Lead to align / re-align
Lead to create a law or policy
Lead to solve a problem
Lead to question and answer
Lead to bring hope
Lead to show the way
Lead to be the light
Lead to leave a legacy

Leadership and Passion go Hand-in-Hand

“Passion is the genesis of genius.” BY Tony Robbins
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” BY Oprah Winfrey
Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.” BY Joseph Campbell
There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.” BY Federico Fellini

So what is PASSION?

According, to the Wikipedia, passion is derived from the Ancient Greek verb πάσχω (paskho) meaning to suffer. Passion is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. The term is also often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love – to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject.

yes, I have to agree that passion is an important ingredient in the journey of life.. And one can be passionate about anything – People (Family, Friends, etc), Hobbies (Art, Writing, reading, Cooking, Food, Dreaming, etc.), Specific causes (Empowerment of women, Wealth Creation, Primary Education, Affordable healthcare for general masses, Quality of eduction, etc.), Creating and building enterprises…

So is PASSION important in Leadership?
Absolutely YES!

The BEST and most SUCCESSFUL leaders are I know are fired by passion – By day and night! In thought, word and action

Leaders exhibit passion…
Passion to solve a problem
Passion to serve a customer need
Passion to lead
Passion to learn and un-learn
Passion to create value
Passion to generate wealth
Passion to make a difference
Passion to build world class enterprises
Passion to nurture and groom next generation leaders
Passion to leave a legacy

PASSION and LEADERSHIP go Hand-in-Hand

I can’t help but end with one of my favorite dialogues from one of my all-time favorite movie “The Legally Blonde” – The graduation speech given by Elle Woods. And I will sign off leaving you with the excerpt of this.
On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise Professor quoted Aristotle “The law is reason free from passion”. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law, and of life. It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct, you must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.

Leadership and Decision Making

“Decision Making” Skills are important for any leader; and sometimes this can be the one and only thing that truly DIFFERENTIATES you from others, and DETERMINES your level of success..

For any leader, the following aspects of decision making are key:
(1) Speed at which you can make decision (under normal circumstances)
(2) Speed at which you can make decision (when in the HOT SEAT)
(3) What do you rely on for decision making (data & analysis or intuition or a combination of both)
(4) How you communicate your decisions with those who need to know?

In an attempt to understand what others had to say, I did some research. And found some great quotes which I am sharing on this blog.. Some of them are really food for thought from the wise!

“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.

The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.

If this sounds too mystical, refer again to the body. Every significant vital sign- body temperature, heart rate, oxygen consumption, hormone level, brain activity, and so on- alters the moment you decide to do anything… decisions are signals telling your body, mind, and environment to move in a certain direction.”
― Deepak Chopra,

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
― Peter F. Drucker

“The greatest accomplishment began as a decision once made and often a difficult one.”
― Michael Rawls

“You will rarely make wise decisions if you surround yourself with fools”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

“Many people fail in their career, business and relationship, and others get stuck because of their inability to make quality decisions.”
― Nkem Mpamah

“Accepting trial and error means accepting error. It means taking problems in our stride when a decision doesn’t work out, whether through luck or misjudgment. And that is not something human brains seem to be able to do without a struggle.”
― Tim Harford

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome’. You must be willing to fire.”
– T. Boone Pickens

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” – – Dr. Robert Jarvik

“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.”
– Jim Rohn

“It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.”
– Antony Robbins

“More than anything else, I believe it’s our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny.”
– Antony Robbins

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.”
– General George S. Patton

You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”
― Michelle Obama

Your PRIORITIES can make all the DIFFERENCE

Looking back at my life for the past few years, the one thing that has made a REAL DIFFERENCE is CLARITY on my PRIORITIES.

I don’t think I was so clear about my priorities till a series of events (which included loss of a loved one, becoming a mother and a couple of other “life-changing and thought-provoking” events) compelled me to introspect and reflect on my own life.

As I go down memory lane and look at my own life; and also see people around me, I note the following:
(1)    A vast majority of individuals DO NOT have clarity on their priorities in life – Be it as a part of their personal life or professional life. So if you ask yourself or someone to list the Top 3 Priorities for the day / week / month / life / home / work, majority will struggle to respond. And those that do will not be so sure about their answer.
(2)    Those individuals who do have clarity on their priorities in life don’t translate these priorities into everyday action. For e.g: In my priority list, health and fitness was a TOP Priority. However, if I looked at my everyday routine, I had not really factored any time for any physical exercise. So, there was a fundamental gap between Thought and Action.
(3)    A vast majority of individuals have too many items on their list marked as TOP Priority. And hence over a period of time (say monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) – They are not able to show or see or demonstrate any visible / tangible difference in progress. And hence wonder what went wrong and where?

The other important aspects about PERSONAL PRIORITIES are:

  • Your priorities are personal to you – No one can decide them but YOU!
  • Your priorities WILL change as you journey through life – Be aware of these changing priorities and model your life accordingly!

How can CLARITY on your PRIORITIES help YOU?
Having clarity on your priorities can help you in umpteen numbers of ways. From my personal experience, the most important one’s are:

(1)    Focus: If you are clear on your priorities, it enables you to focus better on what you’re doing. Simply because you know what’s TOP on your priority list and what’s not can be truly empowering; and can aid you to focus on the task at hand.

(2)    Decision Making: Decision Making becomes a lot simple and easy if you have clarity on your priorities. You know whom to say Yes / No to and Why?, You know what can / can’t wait and Why?, You know

(3)    Letting-Go: Many times we hold on to things simply because that’s how it’s always been or because we don’t know any other way or because we don’t know what else to hold on to. But the minute you have crystal clear clarity on your priorities – You will recognize what you really need to hold on to, and letting-go becomes a lot easier – in the emotional and intellectual sense.

(4)    Expectation Management: Many of us live our lives living up-to “expectations” of others. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe it is also good to live of our lives up to our own “expectations”. And your expectations of yourself become a lot clearer if they are driven by your priorities of life!

(5)    Saying NO: NO are two simple letters, but form an extremely powerful word. NO can make our life so simple if we just use them more often. And yet the fact is that most of us complicate our lives way too much simply because we find it so hard to say NO. And why are we conservative in the usage of NO? – Because we are not used to saying it or we worry too much about the implications of saying NO.

But when you have clarity on your priorities, it is a lot easier to say NO. Simply because you know that what’s being asked of you does not figure in your priority list, so it’s better to refuse! This one benefit is probably the most liberating!

The fact is all the above are critical for anyone playing a LEADERSHIP ROLE. And hence being clear on your PRIORITIES is of paramount importance for any LEADER

Call for ACTION Now
(1)    Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 priorities for your Personal Life
(2)    Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 Priorities for your Professional Life (Ignore if you don’t have an active professional life)
(3)    For each of these priorities, ask yourself

  • “Are these PRIORITIES taking you closer to your GOALS”
  • “Are you taking any specific action on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc.) to address these priorities?

(4)    If yes, Great! You are on the right path. Best Wishes and Good Luck to you
(5)    If no, then Pause & Reflect. And make the required course corrections. It is NEVER too LATE!

As I end, I’d like to leave you with a few quotes on prioritization from the wise.

Action expresses priorities.” BY Mahatma Gandhi

Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.” BY Scott Caan

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” BY Stephen Covey

Leadership and the Art of Delegation

One of the most important characteristics of “great leaders” is the fact that they have mastered the ART of DELEGATION. I call it art because art is usually considered as something which involves SKILL and IMAGINATION, and trust me! You need both to master DELEGATION.

As I look back at my own career, and observe the delegation patterns of some of the leaders I have worked with, I recognize the following:

* Knowing what task to delegate and to whom is a great virtue for any leader. Simply because when a leader delegates work, he / she should have a realistic assessment of the capabilities of the individual the task is being delegated to, should trust him / her and should be willing to take complete responsibility for the outcome of this delegation.

* The BEST leaders delegate at least 80% of the work. What this simply means is that they have identified a “competent, trust-worthy and efficient” next level leadership : Which is an important aspect of growth and succession planning

* Knowing what NOT to DELEGATE is also very important for any leader, as this is a clear reflection of the “individual VALUE” you bring to the table as a leader. If all your work can be done by your next level of leadership, then either you are “redundant” in your role OR you are ready for the next rung in the corporate ladder

* As a leader, you should be cognizant of the co-relation between “delegation”, “responsibility”, “authority” and “ownership” – And should be able to clearly distinguish these in your own mind, and to those you have delegated work to.

* Many leaders have been at the firing line simply because of wrong decisions in DELEGATION! As a leader, if you get this wrong – It could cost you your job and your reputation!

Awesome Quotes on Entrepreneurship

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I love quotes.. In the recent past, I’ve been doing some reading and research on “Entrepreneurship” and came across a couple of AWESOME quotes.. And so this blog was born..

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” BY Steve Jobs

“This defines entrepreneur and entrepreneurship – the entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” BY Peter F. Drucker

“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” BY Nolan Bushnell

“Entrepreneurship rests on a theory of economy and society. The theory sees change as normal and indeed as healthy. And it sees the major task in society – and especially in the economy – as doing something different rather than doing better what is already being done. That is basically what Say, two hundred years ago, meant when he coined the term entrepreneur. It was intended as a manifesto and as a declaration of dissent: the entrepreneur upsets and disorganizes. As Joseph Schumpeter formulated it, his task is “creative destruction.” BY Peter F. Drucker

“Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.” BY Anita Roddick

“What is great about entrepreneurship is that entrepreneurs create the tangible from the intangible.” BY Robert Herjavec

“To me, entrepreneurship means something different. I think of it as identifying and valuing opportunity.” BY Glenn Hubbard

“My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.” BY Ted Turner

“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” BY Niccolo Machiavelli

What’s your favorite quote on Entrepreneurship? Leave a comment to let me know