Tag Archives: success

Template living vs Life template!

1 May

Template living vs Life template!

One of the SwamyPals (a motley group of humans who have studied along / worked with or for / acquainted Swamy during this lifetime and for some unfathomable strange reason chose to remain connected with him, via an exclusive WhatsApp group) recently shared an article on the mid-life crisis faced by people. It’s one of those plethora of well-articulated, number list articles that can be sighted all over the www, which usually ends with an elegant invite to buy the article author’s book (how come even nondescript authors publish only best-sellers!) or sign-up for a signature training program that guarantees to change your Life, just like a million other lives or subscribe to his/er YouTube channel or at least follow on Twitter

1474812015120The problem with such articles – typically by western thinkers, philosophers, preachers (did ya know many popular leadership pundits / authors / trainers are preachers belonging to the multitude of congregations of Christian faith), trainers, pundits, et al – is that they’re always focused on templatizing humans, who are so diverse as a species that it’s utterly pointless to fit them into a template, for pretty much anything. Anyone who has gone through or have / know children going through formal education knows how horribly this templatization has gone askew. 

And the silly beings with an extra 6th sense that humans are, we invariably fall for such so-called deeper insights into the human psyche, supported by reams of research data or colourful Infographics from bigdata, and sign up gleefully for human software upgrade programs (it’s the Matrix, stupid!), generously offered as training modules by corporates – especially to the mid-lifers, i.e. Damagers, err.. Managers aka Supervisors, to ensure they never manage to get out of the BAUHumbug Template Living.

IMG_20161221_083334In the once-great culture of SanAthana Dharma (which, thankfully, is seeing a welcome revival), every aspect of living has been observed, analysed, contemplated and codified, to enable not only better living for all but also to remain undistracted from worthy pursuits of Life, while living vibrantly.

The SanAthana DharmA Life Template is so well crafted that it’s well nigh impossible to get caught in ridiculous things like early, late or mid-life crisis, if one is sensible enough to comprehend the purpose (context) of Life and apply the processes (content) of living. 

The human lifetime is practically divided into stages known as AshramA, each comprising of 24 years, which can further be divided into 12-year phases to enable a seamless transition from one stage to another.

Stage 1: 0-24 years ~ Brahmacharya AshramA 

~ the learning / student stage 

Swamily_PP10-12 ~ BAla ParvA or BrahmacharyA phase 1 – be a child – play, explore, be curious, learn using the senses, question everything, etc (mostly denied to all children, in this supposedly modern age, filled with a plethora of tools and technologies).

The UpaNayanam is an important event performed during this period to bring not only discipline in living (daily austerities to be performed, such as SanthyAvandhanam) but also to initiate the inward focus (through chanting of slOkAs, singing prayers and dancing, i.e. using devotion as a tool) at such a young age itself.

Formal education may also start at this stage, depending on the ability of the child and readiness of parents to actively support it.

12-24 ~ BrahmacharyA phase 2 – Learn life skills and ancient wisdom offered by the scriptures, under the tutelage of a respected Guru, in the Gurukulam (the present day schools don’t teach life skills & the boarding school is light years apart from the sacred learning space of Gurukulam), covering both physical (Hatha YogA, KaLari, sports, service to Guru, etc) and mental faculties (prANAyAmA, Mantra JapA, dhAranA, etc). Opportunities to practice the skills and earn (primarily to offer Guru DakshiNA) were also offered, to enable the transition to family life.

Swamily_PP2The focus of this stage is on DharmA (righteousness, ethics, values) & MOkshA (spirituality, awareness and practice of ways to attaining self-realisation). Artha (material aspects such as wealth) & KAmA (emotional aspects including sex) are kept aside through diligent practice of austerities and celibacy (where the current generation of students stand on those two is better left unsaid). 

At the point of transition to the next stage, the individual is offered a choice to either become a GrihasthA (housholder) or SanyAsi (ascetic). Nobody is ever forced to choose either option and the individual’s choice is respected and supported. 

Stage 2: 24-48 years ~ Grihastha AshramA 

~ the family / housholder stage

24-36 ~ GrihasthA phase 1 – get married (this could happen in the previous phase too, for specific reasons), work or offer services using the skills acquired for a living, raise a family, practice austerities prescribed in the scriptures, sustain spiritual practices.(though the work part happens today as well, there’s no appropriate application of life skills, because none are taught. Married life too is in tatters, because there’s no practice of austerities, which are designed to keep one grounded, truthful, thankful, empathetic and humble).

Swamily_PP5PANigrahanam or KannikAdhAnam aka marriage / wedding is a key ceremony at this stage, followed by the ceremonies to celebrate various stages of family life such as pregnancy (Seemandham), child birth (PunyAhavAchanam), first anniversary of the child (Ayushhomam), etc.

Nuclear families or community living was encouraged to ensure a sense of belonging by offering required help and guidance to each other, utilising skills and knowledge and sharing material wealth.

The focus is on DharmA (through lawful citizenship and rightful delivery of services), Artha (essential to make a living), KAmA (essential to start & raise family) & MOkshA (performing daily and Thithi specific austerities and continuing spiritual practices).

36-48 ~ GrihasthA phase 2 – mentor / guide children, who by now will be already in the Gurukulam or getting ready to learn about Life, share knowledge acquired (though experience) and wisdom gained (through ongoing learning and contemplation) with others, take care of elders (who will be in the later part of Stage 3 or earlier part of Stage 4 by now),

Swamy_PP1The focus is on Dharma (not wavering from righteousness), Artha (to serve others), KAmA (to be compassionate) & MOkshA (preparation for self-realisation).

Serving others – in whatever way one can – is emphasised during this phase. Service can be offered using limbs (Karma yOgA – selfless action), mind (GnAna yOgA – opinionless contemplation), heart (Bakthi yOgA – egoless devotion) or energy (KriyA yOgA – lossless transformation). This is primarily to prepare oneself to let go of everything else.

Stage 3: 48-72 years ~ VAnaprastha AshramA 

~ the knowing / seeker stage

48-60 ~ VAnaprasthA phase 1 – pilgrimage to holy places, reading scriptures & listening to spiritual discourses, contemplation on the true purpose of Life (based on knowledge acquired and interpretation of scriptures), seeking the guidance of a Guru / Realised Master (for attaining self-realisation), serving the Guru, effectively utilising the experience to offer help / guidance / service to anyone in need, practice detachment from all attachments of Stage 2.

Swamily_PP7The focus is on DharmA & MOkshA. At the end of phase 1, the ceremony of Shastiapthapoorthy (60th anniversary of existence) is conducted, celebrating the lives of two individuals spent together as GrihasthAs and preparing / prepared to pursue the spiritual path to liberation / mukthi.

60-72 ~ VAnaprasthA phase 2 – Officially an elder now, one can continue to guide the expanded family by remaining a part of it (detached from the Artha and KAmA parts, obviously) and offer service to others, while remaining surrendered at the feet of the Master, to continue the progress along the spiritual path.

Alternatively, one can leave the household and become a member of the Guru’s Ashram or any active spiritual organisation – either as a resident (GrihasthA without material & emotional attachments) or as a renunciate (mendicant and full-time sAdhakA / practitioner of sAdhanAs in pursuit of Truth).

The focus is on DharmA and MOkshA with a judicious mix of all four paths – KarmA or action (seva / service), Bakthi or emotion (devotional practices), GnAnA or wisdom (tapping into intelligence by keeping aside the intellect) and KriyA / energy (inward journey & exploration).

Stage 4: 72-whenever ~ SanyAsa AshramA ~ the renunciate / self-realisation stage

This is practically the realm of ShivA… the supreme being… the omnipresent divinity known as the Parabrahmam.

In an ideal case, if one has passed through the previous 3 stages in the right way, then there won’t be anymore self or I or ego left.

Swamy_PP10Living is a joyful vibrant existence, moving from one moment to another, with utmost ease.

The physical and mental faculties are useful only for serving others.

Material aspects such as name, lineage, fame, social status, wealth all remain immaterial.

‘I am not the body, I am not even the mind’ awareness keeps identity facades away. 

Guru is experienced as ShivA, a magnificent presence, not person.

Guru’s place is the holiest of places, for the rest of living time.

Guru’s words are the only scriptures to be referred, shared and cherished.

Contemplation is only to realise the self and attain liberation.

Devotion is towards all beings, offered in the form of absolutely selfless service, using KarmA, Bakthi, GnAnA and KriyA seamlessly.

Silence is  the most preferred way of communication.

Being still is the most important sAdhanA.

If one lives like that, at this stage or even earlier, the creator will have no other choice but to descend and liberate the self. That’s the proven – time and again – outcome of the Life template

It has happened to innumerable number of beings in BhArat and it is a possibility, even to you and me, even in these modern template living times. 

facebook_1409910586On the other hand, 

Having sailed through mindless rote learning during BrahmacharyA… 

Having performed routine tasks and read & believed innumerable number list articles during GrihasthA…

Having indulged in more material pursuits during VAnaprasthA and getting further entangled with one more generation of progeny…

One may just be peering out of the barricaded window of an upscale old age home or a high-rise apartment where the neighbour remains a stranger… 

Still enjoying all material comforts that money can buy, pretending to be connected with the fellow senior citizens also living there, counting the number of days that have gone by after the last telephone call or email or WhatsApp chat of one’s child/ren, who is/are now a proud citizen/s of some other nation, where more such dime a dozen number list articles continue to be published.

Still remaining nostalgic about glories of a long gone past…

Still religiously visiting temples and praying for salvation…

Still reminiscing about the power and status one possessed once-upon-a-time…

Still debating the state of secularism in the world’s largest democracy…

Still complaining about the quality of food, compared to what one used to relish during the haydays…

Still yakking endlessly about countless mundane things…

Still getting religion and spirituality mixed up and confusing others too…

Still thinking one knows pretty much everything there is to know…

Still striving to live up to someone else’s expectations…

Still trying hard to be like someone else…

Still remaining ignorant about the real purpose of Life…

Still inching towards the inevitable death – only to be born again to continue carrying the burden of the humongous load of one’s own KarmA… and, in all probability… 

Still reading one more number list article by an intellectual about… whatever!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 200+ #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles.

You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

 

 

STOP to Start!

19 Sep

Swamy got a request to motivate students in a college recently. Swamy being what he is, a little bit of preliminary excavation happened, to understand the situation (not problem or challenge – always) better. What was supposed to be an hour or two long lecture on motivation (which, at least in Swamy’s view, is a sheer waste of time and energy on everyone’s part because motivating someone is near the top of the BAUHumbug list), may eventually blossom into a long-term intervention that will help the students get equipped to face the survival war zone called corporate career. But this post isn’t about that (though you’re welcome to avail Swamy’s Human Potential DISCovery + NURTURE offerings, for yourself or your organisation or institution). 

This kind of pointless flurry of activities happen all around us – especially so in the corporate training or learning & development space. 

80% of the training that’s offered to employees of corporates will remain ineffective because they don’t STOP before they start. 

Blinking..? Read on to know the Ws!

Anything a being – including silly humans – does in Life will be done better, if that being or the organization that the being is part of learns to STOP before they Start, well, anything in Life.

“S”trategy – What are you doing / going to do. To get to where you want to be. By when. 

Most people confuse Strategy with Why or How, but it is essentially the big What.

What do I / we want to be 10 years from now?

What will be the growth in our market cap 5 years from now?

What will our customers need 3 years from now?

What changes I / we must make to raise the bar of output / outcome by x% an year from now?

Consultants (yep, those suited, booted folks speaking jargolingo non-stop for hours to make you believe that your well-run business is doomed if you don’t adopt some vague cutting edge model with the tailored framework they’ll offer specifically to you for a pro fee of $300 / hour – oh, that’s a conservative estimate 😨) will vehemently raise their hands and voice that the last one isn’t strategy. Who gives a damn anyway, for it’s their business to survive on such hazy minutae .

In essense, if you don’t know what you want to be that’ll get you where you want to be in a certain amount of time – in future, obviously – whatever you’re about to start (or already doing) is going to sputter someway along like an automobile that ran out of fuel on a deserted road where your fancy mobile costing a bomb couldn’t find VoLTE signal to call for help!

Pic: The starting line-up for the 10km run, Chennai Marathon 2015 – Mrs & Jr Swamy are seen alongside the head of Isha Vidhya – a rural education initiative by Isha Foundation, to support which thousands of Isha Yoga meditators participate in the annual event. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“T”acticsHow are you going to do what you want to do to get where you want to be, by whenever (years or months or weeks or days or hours…).

Leaders (genuine ISI certified or generic ISO certified) spend tremendous amounts of time, effort & energy in Strategy, instead of Tactics, which is neither smart nor wise.

Contrary to popular belief, this is what leaders need to focus on and invest their energy, thoughts and action in, not the former one (though that’s important – to begin with), nor the latter (which we’ll get to know shortly anyway, won’t we). In fact, those who get immersed in the latter aren’t leaders at all, because they inadvertently cause more harm to realising their own vision. 

How will we become the No.2 player in our chosen space? (leave the No.1 to those who love high BP & excessive cholestrol & be joyful

How will we differentiate our product / service from the umpteen pretenders?

How can we navigate around the known roadblocks to get to where we want to go?

In a nutshell, this is the pacing of the marathon (Swamy’s long-distance runner bro & s-i-l will be delighted ;), without which, your chances of finishing the marathon (far more important than winning – ask any Olympian, if in doubt) are as slim as those models on the ramp with ridiculous waists that can’t hold that barely there clothing!

Pic: Swamy Jr Akash PC Iyer setting the pace in a segment of the 10km run, in the Chennai Marathon 2015. This was his first Marathon. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Operations – Ops is the Oops part of whatever you want to do, to get to wherever you want to be, by whenever.  

This is the breakdown of your S, i.e. What, based on the T, i.e. How, into actionable bits and pieces that can be comprehended, owned and acted upon by individuals and/or teams. Usually misunderstood as the plan, since Managers love to have as many plans as they can (isn’t that why they’re aka Damagers :O).

The crux of Oops, ahem, Ops is action, not the plan. 

In the IT services space (just as an example – other spaces aren’t that different), customers got so pissed off by the quantum of planning, which is grossly disproportionate to the quantum of action, they embraced a new model called Agile, almost en masse’ a few years ago. Reason is, Agile is all action – daily and hourly. Accountable action. That’s what Ops should be, not reviewing based on a plan what didn’t happen and why, a week or month or half-an-year later. But Agile is just an example. Ops is action. Period.

Pic: A sea of runners in action, in support of Isha Vidhya, at the Chennai Marathon 2015.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, what the heck is the P then? Before that, let’s do a quick rewind to see if you’re ready to STO-P!

S(trategy) – What do you want to do / be, by when. S is envisioning (& articulating – for the benefit of believers / followers / doers to comprehend) the entire marathon, not just the start or stop.

  • Top-10 best-selling book in 3 years 
  • Medal at world championships 
  • 50% market share 
  • 100% placement for students

<fill your S here>

T(actics) – How do you go about where you want to be. T is comprehending (& detailing – for the rest of non-suit types to know) how to compete & complete the marathon.

  • Define the reader demography for the Top-10 bestselling book.
  • Will the style be third-person storytelling or first-person narration of events and facts. 
  • Ebooks or paperback or both. 
  • First of a trilogy or stand-alone. 

<detail your T here>

O(perations) – What are all the things that need to be done by when to get to where you want to be to be whatever you want to be. Oops, that’s how detailed Ops has to be, but not necessarily that confusing. 😀

  • What is the daily fitness routine? Each for how long? At what time?
  • What’s the change in daily diet? How many times to eat? What? When?
  • Which are the tournaments / competitions that are useful for progress? How to register? What’s the fee? Where will the registration fee come from? Who’ll do the travel & accommodation booking?
  • When do the reviews of progress happen? What will be reviewed? How to get instant feedback on changes to be made to the routine?

<list down your O here>

Pic: Wow, we’ve done it. Swamily, all 3 of them (their 2 charming 4-legged daughters couldn’t register to run along) have completed the 10km run in the Chennai Marathon 2015. Swamy & Mrs can’t run, due to major surgery in their left legs, so they walked the distance. Jr ran & walked the distance, for the first time in this lifetime. 
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You’re ready for P, only after filling the <your> segments of STO. No kidding! ✋

All right, you’ve now got the (aha, finally, something truly valuable, in this lifetime) Strategy, Tactics & Operations of something you want to accomplish. Is it time to start? Not so fast, dear reader.🙋

Do you know Why you want to do whatever you want to do to be wherever you want to be?

P is the Why. Big Why, i.e. Purpose.

Without clarity of Purpose, however fantastic your vision is, whatever level of insight your detailing has, whichever depth of detail your action plan has.. won’t still get you to wherever you want to be by when you want. 

Gandhi had clarity of Purpose. He got India freedom from the brits, once and for all.

Bolt had clarity of Purpose. He will remain a living legend, the greatest sprinter ever, for a long time.

Sadhguru had clarity of Purpose. His creation – the only Dhyanalinga on this planet – will sow the seed of liberation in all seekers who set foot in his space, for a very long time.

Pic: Swamily’s Purpose for participating in the Chennai Marathon – raise awareness about & support Isha Vidhya. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What’s your Purpose! Why do you want to do whatever you want to do?

That’s the P of STOP. The last but the most important piece of the puzzle. 

That’s Why you need to focus on the P first.👍

<fill your P here>.

That’s how you STOP before you Start – the Life Marathon!

Note: Isha Vidhya is an official Charity partner of the Chennai Marathon in 2016. Swamily will be participating to support Isha Vidhya, naturally. You too can!

Be joyful & spread the cheer 😃

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

3 MGRs!

10 Sep

MGR (M G Ramachandran aka Puratchi Thalaivar) is a revered matinee idol & political leader in TamizhnAdu. And a BhArat RatnA as well. This post isn’t about that near mythical mass leader, who many pretenders still try to emulate & miserably fail. 

MGR #1 – Minimum Guarantee Return

This MGR #1 is the #1 reason why mediocre movies are made – especially in kollywood – still. 

Someone with spare change spends X crore (obviously, undeclared / non-declarable income) to fund a movie. That crap movie makes Y crores in theatres. If Y is greater than X, even by a minuscule margin, then that’s MGR #1. The same thing happens in education, media, fashion, healthcare, etc. 

While this MGR certainly makes a number of humans involved with making crap happy (it keeps the survival wheel in motion for thousands, obviously), he, err.. it also guarantees a steady stream of more such never-ending crap.

Humans (ahem, that includes you, presumably) who play it safe all life, whose aspirations are limited to settling down comfortably, who don’t dare to go beyond the bar set at the lowest possible height, who routinely (& religiously) follow instructions from others are all MGR #1 devotees. That’s a significant chunk of human species. Bummer. 

MGR #2 – Minimum Gestation Return

A lot of people want more money. And fame. And a lot more. 

Pretty much all of them want all of thay now (living in the present, yaar). 

No 99% perspiration 1% inspiration model for these folks in a tearing hurry.

If they work, they expect a promotion or rise in an year; to be a damager, umm.. manager in 2; to buy a home by year 5 (car was already bought in year 3) & get admitted at Apollo hospital for a surgery (they’ll spoil you with choices) within 10. Well, they don’t wish for the last one, but will get it anyway!

Those who think they can write, want to be a bestselling author with their first ebook. Those who yak endlessly, imagine being sought after like Clinton or Obama for paid speeches. Those who code, want to be Zuckerberg with their first app. Those who invest in the market want to be Buffet or Jhunjhunwala in a month. 

The problem with this type is they aren’t willing to accept the hard fact that anything useful & valuable & respectable takes time. A significantly long time.

Universe took billions of years. Earth became habitable over millions. Humans evolved over several hundred thousands. Animals took a few thousand years to know not to trust humans & stay far away. Kamal, Rajini, Annie, Sly, Statham, Jackie all took a few decades to become near immortal movie stars. Musicians toiled for years to craft their chart busters. 

But no sir/ma’am, MGR #2 types want their rice in the bowl at the flick of a switch, without it getting pressure cooked. And they just won’t accept the fact that isn’t going to happen. Ever. BAUHumbug! 

MGR #3 Mastery Guided Return 

If you want magnificent returns from something.. anything.. that isn’t going to happen with mediocrity, but only with Mastery.

Mediocrity produces crap. Repeatedly. 

Mastery results in outcomes. Steadily. 

Mediocrity doesn’t take effort or time but makes a lot of noise. That’s why honkers (what.. you haven’t read yesterday’s Nano Blog  “Hornestly Honking.. Err.. Speaking” yet!) are mediocre (& needless to say, cowardly). 

Mastery takes time to blossom & needs tremendous amount of effort. And grit. And faith.

F1 drivers don’t honk. They’ve put themselves thru years of driving practice. So are eminent artists, actors, architects, writers, sportspersons, poets, sages, Gurus… 

Malcolm Gladwell (one of those rare humans endowed with Mastery of both Thinking & Communicating, like Seth Godin) says Mastery in anything takes at least 10,000 hours. Yep, that’s 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 hours!

You better get started today, if you seek MGR #3. In fact, that’s probably what the real MGR (& other icons like him) actually did. That’s why there’s only one Bolt or Einstein or Marley or Bharathi or Buddha. Those with absolute Mastery in their chosen space are so few, amidst the billions of humans in existence! 

~@PrakashSwamy

Hornestly honking.. err.. speaking!

9 Sep

Hornestly honking.. err.. speaking!

If you’ve ever been on an Indian road, other than perennially wondering where the lane is (if there’s any), you would’ve also been perplexed by the cacophony of horn noises from a plethora of vehicles (bullocks carts are exempted as they’re pulled by gentle bulls who know better manners). I’m pretty sure there are many other nations who would eagerly to raise their horn.. umm.. hand for sharing the honour, but since I continue to have first hand experience on my motherland’s lanes (roads, highways, whatever), let me stick to it.

I rarely honk not because it’s impolite (you must be a moron to be polite on Indian roads) but because it doesn’t serve any purpose. Once, while traveling with a nice gentlemanly crew member, having observed his penchant to press the horn every 8th second, irrespective of whether there were any vehicles in front of him or not, I’ve gently pushed him (not out of the car – he was driving, after all) to contain his keen interest in playing the piano using the steering wheel until we reached the destination (office, of course). When we got out of the car, I – as gently as possible – reminded him that the car did manage to reach the destination, despite him not honking for 3/4ths of the journey (after the gentle push, obviously), so it must certainly be due to the fuel & not the horn!

Incessant (& irrepressible) honkers are either cowards or sadomasochists. Either they don’t have the courage to navigate the traffic peacefully, which demonstrates their utter lack of self-confidence (lacking in multiple abilities, including driving / riding) or they derive pleasure by willingly hurting others & themselves, by amplifying the already noise polluted environment.

Now shift your perspective a bit & think of those who keep honking.. ahem, yakking, i.e. endlessly (& pointlessly) talking, without even sensing if someone’s listening or not. They’re everywhere – at home, work, street, mall, railway station… Someone’s gotta tell ’em they’re just cowards or sadomasochists!

~Swamy 

Value of Values!

8 Sep

​Value of Values! ~ Swamystery Nano Blog #3

One of the most abused words in the long, never-ending corridors of corporate concrete (& steel & glass) jungles is Value.☝️

Every Ram, Durga & Hari (howzatt for the BAUHumbug Tom, Dick & Harry, eh 😁) will use it as 3rd bullet of every slide or 4th sentence of every conversation, especially in meetings where the corner cozy room suit types are sitting around, pretending to listen seriously when they’re actually forced to contain a parade of yawns. 😩

If you’re genuinely interested in creating (& offering) true value to your customers, the most important thing to do is not to dig around in the ruins of Mohanjo Daro to find something resembling it but to put yourself in the customers’ Skechers GoWalk 3 & contemplate what would be truly valuable for you (ahem.. them), if you choose to buy a product or avail a service from them (umm.. you). 

The outcome of such contemplation can make you (& the suit types) very uncomfortable, because what you thought of as great value may just be brushed away as a mere exotic (read ‘useless’) feature or unwanted attribute by the customer. Adding to your woes, what they truly value as true value, may require a complete redesign (& build & test) of your product or service, if at all it has to be of any value. Yikes, so much for creating Value! 

Well, before you throw that value-filled (but obviously not so valuable) deck away and storm out of the conference room (to the coffee shop, where else – it’s still work hours, after all),  there’s a unique (& often ignored) thing found deep within the jargon jungle, which can help you like a ‘Udukkai izhandhavan kaipOla’* (like your hands, when your pants slip 😕). It’s called Values.👌

If your Values (i.e. your business entity’s / service organisation’s) are right (driven by purpose), unwavering (what you commit to is what you do, no matter what) & intact (remain the same despite any & all pressure to change it to favour someone), then you’ll always be delivering only Value to the customer, because there’s no other agenda – hidden or otherwise. Simple as that.

If not, your colorful PowerPoint (or Keynote or GSlides) deck will lie among the Harappan ruins, i.e. bullshit stockpile of millions of such decks, docs & sheets, which were once thought to be valuable (only by their creator, obviously) but were exposed to be nothing but the Emperor’s new clothes! 

~Swamy

* Thirukkural 788

உடுக்கை இழந்தவன் கைபோல ஆங்கே 

இடுக்கண் களைவதாம் நட்பு. 

True friendship is removing the distress (of a friend) swiftly like a hand that rushes to hold the pants (clothing) when it slips (falls off). 

Long & Far!

7 Sep

6 sigma (ahem, that would be 99.999999%) of humans confuse survival with Life. They believe whatever daily drama they’ve to enact is for a better life for themselves, their organisation and near & dear. BAU humbug. 

Survival is the routine you do for eking out a living, in the society you’re part of (sort of). It encompasses all things you’re expected to do, just like everyone else – studying, working, toiling, buying, pleasing, partying, cursing, driving, arguing, sulking, smirking, crying, wanting to die, and all such shallow nonsense.

You’ll eventually reach a point where you must inevitably ponder the question “How long?” 

Life is the grand creation that throbs with energy all around you, in a multitude of forms & hues. And within you too. You won’t notice it as long as your focus is on survival, which is essential, but not critical, to living.

Once you ask the inevitable question and shift your focus from mere survival grind to magnificent Life, a whole new journey awaits you. The choice to start it is yours, obviously. 

The intriguing question that’ll be asked to you then – from within – will be, “How far!”

The earlier you ask the former question to yourself, the better, since the same grind awaits you gleefully, in the next lifetime, and the next, and the next….. 

The longer you choose to persist with the latter question, the better, as going all the way is the path to liberation! 

~Swamy

Boundary of Benevolence!

18 May

Swamy isn’t much of a spokesperson or a person who speaks to other persons a lot, but he indeed spoke to his kid brother (cousin actually, but brother nevertheless, if you go beyond that mile long Nakshatra & Rasi list read always wrongly in front of the family deity for his blessings 😉 and his mom (Swamy’s aunt, who incidentally went to school along with Swamy – what can one say, ‘active grandparents’ :O), twice – minutes before the results of +2 (aka H.Sc aka 12th grade or standard) were out and a few minutes later. Like any keen student who is burdened by the rote learning education system with no known escape, he wasn’t too happy with the marks he secured, despite scoring a fantastic 96.5%, which is no less than exceptional. Such is the rotten sorry state of education, about which Swamy has ranted a bit in What Say Doting Parent! sometime ago.

LL1Since Swamy has been engaged in the education sector someway, by helping brilliant but economically challenged students in his hometown, thru the NGO Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust (started by his 82 year young father-in-law Shri N. Subramaniam, popularly known as NS, over a decade ago & now managed by a board of trustees with him continuing to be actively engaged as a Mentor), he not only shared his pov (cheerful, naturally – his cousin’s an aspiring youngster, after all 🙂 but chose to share a few more inputs with those who care (that obviously includes Swamy’s loyal readers such as you) to ponder.

LL8Swamy’s kid brother has scored fantastic marks (1158 / 1200) in the final year of schooling, especially since he isn’t in the lose-lose engineering / medical race (that most parents pretty much force their wards to prepare for & choose), which require all the marks under the sun – especially for the consciously neglected OC group that we belong to, in a state that brazenly continues with an unconstitutional 69% of quota in all forms of education (and in all probability, employment as well). So, getting a seat in a good city College should be a piece of cake for him. But…

“But what if I don’t get a seat in that top XYZ College with these marks?”

This is a disease that has already consumed the entire school education sector and is already becoming an epidemic in the higher education space as well.

LL4In case you live in a cave in Gupt Kashi, parents in Tamilnadu stand in a serpentine queue, long before the Sun wakes up to wake you and everyone else, to get the admission form for their child’s admission in… wait… take a deep breath… PLAY SCHOOL! And that form doesn’t even guarantee an actual admission, helping the umpteen schools with high brand value rake in the moolah with just form sales. The multi-tier complex fee structure that will confound even Raghuram Rajan comes into play after an entrance exam – right from LKG – and in-person interview of both the child & parents. If you haven’t got that WTF expression on your face yet, you’re certainly one of those parents, with a Whoa expression! :{}

Pause here for a moment and imagine thousands of children who not only don’t get to choose their school (RTE is supposed to help them get educated) and who can’t even continue their education without support from a few benevolent souls – year after year!

LL10Most parents have a plan for their child’s education (which in all probability is something connected with what they failed to accomplish or to ensure continuity of what their current profession is). The ones that plan their child’s education aren’t obviously poor (in the right sense of that oft abused word) and that plan typically will be steered (and most probably funded as well) by close relatives as well. Those who don’t have a direct say in that planned pursuit, will extend their collective goodwill, guidance and – if & only if requested – assistance, as & when required. But…

But there are thousands of children (probably millions – at a national level), brilliant ones, who live in abject poverty and can’t / won’t continue their education, without external assistance, which their parents may not even be aware of – in terms of how, who & where. 

LL2Let’s rekindle your memory (presuming you’re a long-term Swamy reader) with an example. Shri NS (Swamy’s 82 years young, socially active, inspirational father-in-law) has been helping brilliant but economically challenged children continue their education, for over a decade, thru Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust in Madurai. These children, all of whom are as eager as your and my child to study, have no means whatsoever to continue their education, on their own. Their fathers typically are daily wage laborers and mothers are servant maids or homemakers. Many of them have more than one child, when they can’t assure a better future – comparatively, of course – to even one. Your heart will bleed and you’ll certainly be moved to tears if you meet & interact with them (you can – during the annual fund giving day – scheduled on June 26th in 2016).

2009_PerformancesKnowing how dire the situation is, Swamy and many other kind souls connected with Shri. NS go out with a virtual begging bowl, requesting their near, dear & acquaintances for donation, to ensure continuity of the education for these children – varying from primary school to professional degree. You’ll be surprised at the magnitude of benevolence shown by people, which is minuscule (compared to what’s required). Generosity always seems to be slumbering, especially when year after year, we practically beg people to help those who really need help. A 500 here or a 1000 there is a nice gesture but also just a notional one. Many don’t even respond. We’ve become immune to such conscious ignorance by now, but never let it deter us from seeking help.

LL7Sevalaya is another example. Located in a nondescript village on the outskirts of Chennai, this school secures 100% pass in both XII and X standard, year after year. They offer free education to poor and orphaned children, only thru benevolence of donors. Of course, it’s far well known than Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust and receives a lot of corporate funding too. Sivananda Gurukulam on the other side of Chennai is yet another.

There are numerous NGOs and individuals who are doing their bit to enable a few hundreds or thousands who are in need. But in reality there are millions more who genuinely need help.

Campaign3_2014The stark contrast between well publicized so-called success stories of hard work resulting in sky high marks and state level ranks (and, of course, the ever rising brand value of the popular schools that keep churning such rote champions out, year after year after year) and students who have no assurance of even completing their education is so alarming that one can’t help but wonder Why (and what can be done by each and every one of us)!

Despite his open apathy for his own species’ abject stupidity in whatever they do (reflected in many of his sharp – daily – quotes), Swamy never fails to mull about (& share) whatever little that can be done to change the attitude at least a wee bit and ignite action from at least a small percentage of them. So, here goes his take on the human beings’
Boundary of Benevolence!

LL9All humans are benevolent (well, almost all, one must accept reality) by nature.

But for whatever incomprehensible reason, they’re convinced that they don’t have to express it in any way – beyond their own family, that is. Humans remain convinced “My responsibility is limited to taking care of my family.” True, but Really!

Blog_Campaign_2012_1Ls

Most humans don’t express their benevolence in any way.

These are the “it’s not my problem yaar” or “what can I do yaar” type.
There’s water on the road ~ it’s not my problem yaar!
Politicians suck ~ what can I do yaar!
The dog catcher has taken away the mommy of 5 newborn stray puppies ~ it’s not my problem yaar!
Millions of poor children can’t continue their education ~ what can I do yaar!
You get the drift…

Many humans don’t go beyond tokenism, when it comes to helping others.

These are the “500 here 1000 there” type.
We’re offering Annadhanam for over 3 lakh seekers on Mahashivaratri ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.500”
We’re conducting annual Car Festival in the local temple ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.100”
We’re helping 60 poor children continue their education ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.1000”
They’re obviously better than the first two characters, but there’s a predetermined limit to what they contribute to which. And that limit hardly ever gets a raise!

LL11Few humans step beyond the tokenism and actually offer meaningful help, to the genuinely needy.

These are the “I take care of my driver’s or servant maid’s child’s education” or “I regularly contribute to xyz cause” type.

While obviously commendable – compared to the first 3 types – they are often not too keen on extending their benevolence to causes or organizations that aren’t well known to them personally. Such limited perspective of the varied needs of the world usually limits their benevolence to a bunch of handpicked organizations, some of whom may already be well funded!

Even fewer humans actually get involved in making a difference, in someone’s Life, even if that person or organization isn’t connected to them in anyway.

These are people willing to explore the many options to expand their giving.
Open to listening to what’s the purpose of an individual or organization’s cause.
Keen on extending the range of their benevolence, at times directly related to their own income stream (
for example, a raise in their regular income may actually result in an increase in their charity spend).
The challenge is finding such benevolent humans, since most of them prefer to remain away from the public glare or publicity, which could result in many not-so-genuine entities from pestering them for funds, all year long.

Only a handful of humans actually end up changing the world, at whatever level they can, in whichever area they choose to.

These are the Shri. NS type of people. Not all such humans are celebrities or even well known outside their circle of admirers and supporters.

LL3Shri NS isn’t a rich man. But he had a singular vision, driven by a purpose he totally believed in – to ensure continuity of education for needy students. Here’s a snapshot of his meticulous journey of selfless benevolence, steering Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust, single-handedly for the first few years, for a decade now.

  • He went about finding children who needed financial assistance to continue their education – starting with the poor neighbourhood.
  • He would make their parents fill a detailed form (he was a government servant after all – all his professional life) and promptly cross verify the details provided (talk about accountability – the funds received have to go only to those who truly deserve it).
  • He’ll then go about contacting people known to him and request funds, never forgetting to send them a formal letter of request and invite for the finds giving event. And request them to request funds from more people known to them. For example, Swamy being his son-in-law will be requested by NS, who in turn will request his colleagues, friends & relatives.
  • He’ll ensure all the funds raised are deposited in a bank account created exclusively for this purpose (accountability, once again) and a receipt is issued to each and every donation – however small it is.
  • He’ll plan the funds giving day well ahead and communicate to many, requesting each of them to be present, in person (only a few turn up, unsurprisingly).
  • He’ll meticulously prepare a case register, with each filled form, with his own notes highlighting anything that’s worth notice and hand it over to the panel of dignitaries (many of whom are now part of the board of trustees) invited to hand over the donations.
  • He’ll organize an in-person interview of each student, along with the accompanying parent(s), to not only check their credentials and current status but also to offer a piece of appropriate advice – personalized, as he known almost all of them personally.
  • He’ll ensure at least one more dignitary, unrelated to the NGO, to be present on D-Day, to address the gathering of beneficiaries and offer valuable advice. This is over and above the speeches given by the board of trustees.
  • He’ll organize seating and free food for the event – at his own expense (from his retirement savings).
  • He’ll ensure all the funds collected are disbursed to students on D-Day itself – somehow or other. Next year comes only next year!
  • On conclusion of the event, he’ll ensure the disbursement details are meticulously documented and send a copy of the event summary and funds disbursed by name, category, et al, to each trust member and also some of the highest contributors.
  • Occasionally, but always regularly, he’ll contact the students or their parents to check the continuity of education & progress made
  • He’ll restart and complete the cycle diligently, year after year

LL5About 7 students who have received financial assistance from Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust have now graduated and secured jobs in large organizations – including IT behemoths. These are children who didn’t have much hope of even continuing their education. Many of them don’t know who all helped them, but remain indebted to Shri. NS as their saviour (though he himself humbly remains only a conduit – simply connecting the donors with beneficiaries). These achievers (yes, in the true sense of that word) are now being included as active members of the Trust. They’ll be the ambassadors who’ll take the reach of the Trust far and beyond what Shri. NS and the trust members can. They’ll eventually become members of the Trust board itself.  

Our Boundary of Benevolence can be as non-existent as the first category of I-Me-Mine people, or as broad as the last Shri. NS kind of humans, or anywhere amidst these two categories.

As ever, what we can do remains boundless and what we really do is bounded – by faith, belief, relationships, ideals, preconceived notions, etc. But the choice to do something purposeful, in order to be someone valuable, is always ours.

Blog_Campaign_2012_3LsMeenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust will give away the funds raised to deserving students this year too – on 26-June-2016, at Madurai.

You can contribute funds for this year’s event (directly transferred online to the Trust account or via cheque or as cash), irrespective of whichever category you belong (known only to you).

You can explore a bit and take the responsibility of funding one or more children’s education, for one or more year (do ping Swamy or Shri NS, if you’re an explorer for details & guidance).

You can expand a bit and request your near, dear & acquaintances to contribute funds (feel free to use the details shared in this post or ping Swamy for any custom messages).

You can expand a bit more and directly engage with the Trust – as an active member (you obviously have to meet Shri. NS to get started on this enchanting journey, which could turn out to be a rewarding lifelong pursuit).

What you do (or not) will always remain your choice. But whatever you do (or not), keep in mind this (not just for joining hands with Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust, naturally 🙂

LL6The Circumference of your Compassion
Is limited only by
The Boundary of your Benevolence!

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~ @PrakashSwamy

Additional Related Reading…

3x3x3 Life Matrix! (Swamy’s address to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries & parents in 2014)

Yes We Can – Light the Lamp! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2013)
The Purpose of Life! (Swamy’s message to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries in 2013)
ஒத்த தறிவான் உயிர்வாழ்வான்! (Swamy’s message to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries in 2013, in Tamizh)
Whoa to Wow! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2012)
Choice = Chance! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2012)
What Say Doting Parent! (Swamy’s rant on the rotten rote-based education system & insights for parents to change the course for their children)
Light the Knowledge Lamp video by Swamy on YouTube

Swamystery 2.0!

18 Apr

It’s been a while since Swamy published a blog post (don’t worry, he won’t be surprised at all if you haven’t read even one of his hundreds of posts – to err is human, after all :O). The triggers to start writing one were many, as ever…

  • the sparrow that fell into the paint bucket but survived & accepted living in the SwamyHome balcony floor, while relentlessly trying to free its wings to fly away again
  • the crossing of 1st year milestone of freedom from 9-x BAUHumbug survival that went without a hiccup, despite a hiccup stricken stock market
  • the incomprehensible human reaction of ‘why are you doing this?’ when you finally manage to do exactly what they wished for (but never expressed openly)
  • yet another magnificent celebration of Adiyogi that turned out to be totally different (& intensely memorable) from the previous years, due to the little Sadhana twist given by Sadhguru
  • the utterly pointless exercise of trying to make a non-corporate entity process-centric (whoa, some learning that)
  • the first-hand (possibly first-time as well) experience of the physical form getting acutely impacted by an energy manifestation, the prolonged recovery process that followed & the realisation of ‘pain is real but suffering is optional’
  • the intriguing insight on why ThinkOpposite & ThinkDifferent are always interesting to discuss / learn but seldom easy to implement / practice
  • rediscovering the ‘Joy of driving’ with 2 long drives in his new Ciaz (yep, that’s Swamy’s first Maruti, simply because it’s very unMaruti :P)
  • the mind-bending chain of activities called ‘renovating a home while living in it’ that shreds all project management principles (which Swamy has pretty much always laughed at, anyway – no offense to fellow humans who make a living diligently managing projects)  and taunts one to throw up hands in despair every other day, while knowing fully well pausing or stopping is impossible
  • the election comedy that just kicked off in multiple states across MeraBharatMahan

… and so on and on and on.

But Swamy consciously chose not to transform any of those triggers into a blog post. That too for several weeks.

160417082334Since most humans are still driven (mad! ha.. ha..) by numbers (you may be an exception though, which is perfectly fine ;), let’s start with some delectable blog stats (feel free to click on all the links, please ;)…

Been there, Seen that ~ 100 (yep, that’s a ton, thank you – the one to browse if things like daily grind, sports, humour, career, education, et al are your kind of things)

Swamyverse ~ 22 (primarily the 2KYOT series – a modern interpretation of millennia old wisdom treasure Thirukkural for Millennials – so this one can cross a 1000 posts some day, possibly)

Swamyem ~ 34 (poems – in English & தமிழ், when thoughts just flow & expression can’t wait to be verbose)

Swamystery ~ 63 (considered a healthy neuron workout by even the most loyal readers, this one’s pretty much the opposite pole of BTST – highly recommended if you love to ponder whatever you read; Swamy’s spiritual journey with the boundless grace-filled guidance of his Master Sadhguru can also be followed, if you follow this one)

SwamyView ~ 4 (specifically for reviews, obviously not doing as many as he possibly could)

SwamyRay ~ 113 (Quotes – original Rays of kLight from Swamy’s active, rational, non-conformist, think opposite, constantly connecting-the-abstract-dots & marveling at myriad forms & hue of Life mind)

Swamygraphy ~ 3 (Photography, a subdued passion that’s slowly springing its head again, supposedly to capture the beauty of the moments instead of boring technicalities – need a much faster shutter speed, obviously)

That’s 329 posts. In 5 years. On extremely diverse topics.

Not written to achieve anything – including accolades from readers like you, but because there’s a medium to express one’s original thoughts, ideas & povs, for Free! And in this marvelous nation that has excelled in tolerance from time immemorial, one doesn’t get prosecuted or persecuted for expressing one’s views in the public domain (take that pseudo secular intellectual elite award wapsi intolerant brigade members)

FB_IMG_1459682231154Swamy took a pause in 2016, despite having a perennial spring of ideas to write about and no pestering boss to worry about (read about that earned freedom in 21 changes to ponder 21 days later) and pondered a while the following… 

Who am Swamy writing for!

It’s way too obvious that the current readership – and the response, if any – is almost negligible for the effort that goes into each post. Curious about the intense effort that’s the linguistic equivalent of a woman delivering a baby to be promoted to the worshipful position of Mother? Click I Write, Therefore I am!

FB_IMG_1459696662107What’s the big idea Swamy is writing about!

The topics are so broad in scope that it’ll be well nigh impossible to put a finger on the big idea – he certainly has that constantly firing on one of those neurons though. Check this list for a taste of the variety on offer…

Why does Swamy write!

FB_IMG_1459696652251That’s an easy one – because he loves sharing ideas, thoughts, points if view, frameworks, et al and can handle the communication craft with ease. But the billion rupee question is ‘can he wield the pen (aah, proverbs…) more mightily’? Indeed & obviously he should.

What other idea spaces can Swamy explore!

It’s time for that bloody first book, isn’t it. That, once out, for the wor(d)shippers to relish, ponder & marvel, will probably answer all the above questions. Maybe not. Either way, it’s gotta be out of his head, into others’ heads. And the sooner the better.

Cutting the long tale short (that’s another significant change – to keep the posts as short as a chapter of a book), Swamy applied his fav MAP model (enjoy learning it from Daniel Pink’s awesome tome ‘Drive’ or hire Swamy for an experiential learning program to MAP anything) to decide the way forward for his wordsmithing.

Mastery – check. If in doubt, go check the links above or any of the 329 posts out there – all in the public domain, accessible by anyone curious.

Autonomy – check. A fervently independent soul even while trapped in the corporate golden cage, it’s been an year since his well-earned freedom from 9-x programmed paid-servant survival, making him free to pursue the Life pursuits that are truly worth pursuing. Like consciously trying to ‘Just Be!’

Purpose -…….. Well.. Ummm..

FB_IMG_1459696657299Aha, so that’s where the challenge is! He thought he had very clearly thought thru what he intended to do post his 9-x freedom. And did take a few steps to pursue that path. Then the stark BAUHumbug realization struck him – in more ways than one. It was hilarious and Swamy is known to be able to laugh at himself, for the silly song & dance routines one is expected to do, to humour & please various denizens of this world, who grossly overrate themselves and brazenly underrate anyone else. And Swamy is surely & certainly done with the sucking business. For good.

Hmm.. So, the Purpose needs to be chiseled again. And that’s exactly is what Swamy will address in Swamystery 2.0, aka the way forward for his being, in this (& final – the boundless grace of his Master & conscious avoidance of karma pile-up by Swamy ensuring this one) lifetime. And 2.0 will expand his horizon beyond writing (which remains an existential part of the Purpose still, so followers rejoice :D), including but not limited to the to-be launched Swamystery YouTube channel!

It’s not like he doesn’t care about his current readership (that certainly includes you, dear reader – thank you), but he aims for your treasured loyalty to be a part of the much broader base of seekers who are open to exploring far wider spaces of living, going deeper into the BAUHumbug existence that we ass-u-me to be Life. And not just read, watch & ponder, but also learn, practice & experience the Joy of Living (that’s a substantial hint, ain’t it) – from none other than Swamy himself!

Swamystery1fThere’ll certainly be blogs, but maybe not that many as in the past.

There’s gonna be the Swamystery YouTube channel, which won’t be mere mouthing of his own writing. It’ll be interesting, intriguing, insightful & inevitable. And you too can be a part of it!

You will also soon be able to browse & buy his published words (again, including but not limited to)…

  1. The Gardener
  2. P.L.A.Y. ~ The Gardener’s Way (tssk.. they’re both connected & there’ll be a series, you know)
  3. BAUHumbug ~ Why living sucks & what can be done about it!
  4. CowDung Manifesto ~ how to be incorrect – socially & politically and still survive the madness
  5. Answers Sans Questions!
  6. WTF ~ the definitive guide to a shining corporate career
  7. Swamyems ~ Garland 1
  8. REV ~ accelerating Life on the Joyway
  9. Lifescape ~ crafting joy spaces anywhere you want
  10. 3rd Side of the Coin ~ the ThinkOpposite way to success
  11. HR – dead & cremated ~ what to do with people now!
  12. 2000 Years Old Tweets – bite sized Life lessons from the Mylai Monk
  13. Life Matrix
  14. Allness ~ the natural way to nurture a fulfilling Life
  15. No You Can ~ how to say No to survival & Yes to living
  16. SKANDA ~ the 6-in-1 prodigal son of the first Guru
  17. Accidental Seeker ~ the inward journey of an intrepid soul

or something even more interesting in Amazon or Flipkart or Hudsons or StarMark or Sarvodhaya Ilakkiyap Pannai (he’s equally fluent in his mother tongue as well, in case you’re scratching your head) or anywhere wo/man’s best friend – no, not the tailwagger but the pageturner in print, digital or analog – is available!

CoachSwamyDo remember to cherish, like, wow, comment, mention, recommend, +, * & share, whenever & however you access Swamy. Each and every time. It’s perfectly fine if you happen to post a pic with Swamy or mention you’re a SwamyPal (that may even get you a discount ;).

While you wait for the launch (not for long, hopefully), there’s ample time to check the 330 posts (& do your social thing).

So there it is… the way forward for the Gardener aka @PrakashSwamy.

Calling it Swamystery 2.0 isn’t far fetched!

Stay tuned (& interested)…

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer!

@PrakashSwamy

P.S. You can connect with Swamy to explore his offerings for individuals, teams, organizations that include speech, thinking sessions, experiential learning programs & individual explorations focused on Human Potential DISCovery + NURTURE, for joyful living!

Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

18 Feb CoachSwamy

Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

CoachSwamyPeople who approach Swamy seeking guidance, help, counsel, direction, advice, et al, are not clear if they need him to be a Coach or Mentor (or Gardener – but let’s park that enchanting role for the time being). Having spent over two decades of his life span in the corporate corridors (the much coveted corner room wasn’t on his radar, ever), playing both roles for helping many, he’s both amused and amazed at this lack of clarity, especially in this digital space overflowing with digital natives.

While the lack of clarity about these two roles may be caused by multiple factors that still plague most of the systems – including but not limited to education and work, the primary one is not doing one’s own research to make an informed choice, despite the biG (for the uninitiated, that would be big G, aka Google – your active & pious mind is forgiven for interpreting that as the other big G, aka God) waiting eagerly on a plethora of devices to help with tons of information on the subject.

So, Swamy decided to make it easier for you to choose, irrespective of whether you choose him as your Coach or Mentor (or Gardener :)). Here are the 8 valuable insights for making the useful choice!

Both Coaching & Mentoring are about caring, but only Mentoring is about sharing.

Seven-movie-image-3Mentoring is about leveraging one’s own ‘been there, done that‘ survival past. A Mentor usually is a subject matter expert with on field experience, who lets you learn by sharing personal experiences, way of thinking and decisions taken, which you can reuse.

Coaching is about the other person’s ‘how to get there & do that’ living future. A Coach need not be a domain expert, doesn’t share how s/he will approach a situation and enables thinking & decision making happen in you, which you learn to use!

Coaching is a fast paced action movie. Mentoring is a soap that moves along at a leisurely pace for long.

Po-and-Shifu-po-and-master-shifu-25978929-970-823Action movies race from start to finish driven by a hero(ine) who doesn’t even know how to race like a maniac on traffic heavy city roads. If you want short term results, prefer following a framework and need precise direction, then pick a Coach who will steer you towards a specific time bound goals.

Soaps move along at a leisurely pace for a long time, have many colourful characters and are filled with a plethora of wow & whoa moments in each episode. If you need long term outcomes, ready to disentangle yourself from firm beliefs & willing to tread a path shown by someone, choose a Mentor who will walk you along a growth bound career.

Mentor is a teacher, helping you learn. Coach is a trainer, letting you know.

KarateKid4Mentoring is teaching someone what one already knows. If you prefer learning from others – from their experience and knowledge – choose a Mentor, who will help you learn how to navigate externally.

Coaching is letting someone learn what even one may not know. If you want to know yourself better, and discover what you’re capable of – choose a Coach, who will let you know how to navigate internally.

Primary communication skill of a Coach is listening. For a Mentor it’s speaking.

The_Oracle_and_Neo_on_BenchA Mentor speaks a lot to share knowledge & experience so Mentee can learn by listening & questioning. If you love listening to discourses and have annoyed your parents by questioning everything, you’ll benefit from a Mentor who loves to speak and share.

A Coach listens and questions a lot so Coachee can learn from speaking & thinking. If you don’t mind opening up about yourself and willing to discover your true self – warts and all – then you’ll benefit from a Coach who lets the cat see itself on the mirror in all its furry glory and lets it discover how to become the lion with a majestic mane and menacing roar, from deep within.

Coaching is a craft. Mentoring is an art.

silence-of-the-lambsAnyone can learn a craft, because the building blocks of any craft are tools & skills. Natural aptitude helps but isn’t essential. Coaching isn’t a model to solve this tiny planet’s huge problems, though it can be used for that purpose too. It’s a methodical way used by a Coach to enable humans think and act on solutions.

Not everyone can be an artist, otherwise the world will be full of artists and not art lovers & admirers. Mentoring is like starting with a blank canvas, cans of paint, variety of brushes and learning how to use all of them. A Mentor shows how to paint and helps you paint your own masterpiece.

Mentor need not be a stakeholder in your success. Coach has to be.

Dumbledore_HarryPotter1From the moment you were born, many have helped you learn the what’s, why’s & how’s of Life. All parents, most teachers, many friends, few relatives, an odd boss, would’ve shared their own experiences & knowledge gained over time to help you learn from their successes and failures. The one who taught you how to ride a bicycle didn’t do it to make you a world champion rider. Their purpose is simply to share what they knew. They are Mentors who need not be a stakeholder in your success.

When you wanted to achieve specific goals or results, the people you approached or the expertise you sought after were different. The superfit neighbourhood marathoner who helped you reduce weight just in time for the gala wedding; the yoga practitioner brother who guided you to remain stress-free despite having to survive a nagging boss; the lab assistant who helped you nail arc welding; the lithe banker who opened your nostrils wide to the abundance of nutrition in traditional vegetarian diet & tickled your taste buds …these are Coaches – not known experts in those areas – who enabled you discover things even you didn’t know about yourself and helped you achieve specific results you desired.

Coaching is an essential Leadership skill. Mentoring need not be.

Gandalf1A Mentor needs experience & knowledge gained over a span of time to help others by sharing dos & don’ts, but doesn’t necessarily require the ability to personally lead change and achieve results.

A Coach needs an open mind, patience, perspective, humility, presence & persistence – all essential leadership skills, but unknown to many who love to call themselves leaders – to guide others to achieve desired results within specific time.

Mentor lets you know how s/he has done it. Coach lets you discover what you must do and how.

Thor_The_Dark_World_Thor_and_OdinMentoring is reliving material experience by fetching pails of incidences from the memory well and offering it to all thirsty ones. A Mentor who has mastered the art of seamlessly drawing necessary quantity of memory anytime is like a friendly kiranawala (neighbourhood shopkeeper) who offers exactly what & how much you need, when you need it.

Coaching happens when you set your know-it-all self aside and listen to someone as if hearing it for the first time in Life! It’s the closest spiritual experience one can have in this overwhelmingly material world by letting go of oneself while helping someone else. A Coach who has mastered the art of setting one’s own self aside while letting you discover yourself is akin to a Guru who has no self left anytime!

men-in-black

In the enchanting epic of Mahabharat, Krishna is omnipresent, playing different roles at different times. A cowherd who is neither king nor peasant, neither hero nor villain, neither the seen nor the told in reality, the sheer presence of this contemporary Yogi (of that time) ensures there is no tale without him.

Lord-Krishna-In-a-Forest-With-Cow-Natural-ImageIf you’re just happy listening to enchanting tales of Krishna stealing butter with brother Balarama & friends, mesmerizing mother Yashoda by showing the vast universe in his tiny mouth, playfully destroying demons like Bhutana, skillfully playing the flute and dancing with Gopikas, elevating love to an altogether different devotional level with Radhe, benevolently helping childhood friend Kusela… then all you need is a Mentor like Ved Vyas who authored the epic or Thirumuruga Kripananda Vaariar (திருமுருக கிருபானந்த வாரியார்) who can make you go whoa and wow thru his discourses of the epic. Eventually, you may even end up using some of his tricks for plying your trade!

VishwaroopaDarshanOn the other hand, if you’re enticed by the master strategist Krishna, who was always present with the Pandavas but didn’t actually lead them to victory over the Kauravas; enabled Draupati to save her modesty in Dhuryodhana’s court without really teaching her how to; certainly guided them to make the precise moves that led to the decisive victory in the war at Kurukshetra, without actually sharing with them how he destroyed Kamsa, overpowered Kaalinga or lifted the Govardhan mountain with his little finger to save the yadavas from the fury of the mighty Indra… then you must seek a Coach like Krishna. But then, you must also be willing to discover the master archer Arjuna within you, who didn’t have the courage to wage war against his own kin and elders, while at the battlefield, despite all of them being on the wrong side of Dharma. It took a magnificent Vishwaroop slap from Krishna to shake him up and eventually do what he must do – let go of himself to realize what he’s really capable of!

May grace be with you to choose a Mentor or Coach, using Swamy’s 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

P.S. Swamy, Gardener of the human kind, has both the experience and credential to play either Mentor or Coach (or a proportionate mix of both), for anyone keen 😀

@PrakashSwamy

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4 Types of Slavery and How To MOTIvate Yourself To Gain Freedom From Them!

27 Dec

4 Types of Slavery and How To MOTIvate Yourself To Gain Freedom From Them!

During the entire lifetime on this tiny planet in this vast boundaryless universe (or multiverse, if you’re as much in awe of that enchanting idea as this writer), humans continue to feel they’re slaves, one way or another. Having Been there & Seen that for 4-1/2 decades now, almost half of that as a paid-servant of corporates (a socially accepted form of slavery), Swamy not only has pondered about this for a long time but also figured out there’s not just one or two types of slavery for humans, but four in all. He has already managed to wriggle out of 2 and in pursuit of freeing himself from the remaining two as well.

Vaikunda Ekadasi 01012015-0012As a Gardener – of the human kind – it’s natural for Swamy to seed the ideas from his thought fruit, so fellow humans can first know what the 4 Types of Slavery are, and then MOTIvate themselves from gaining freedom, eventually, in this lifetime or the many others to follow (not much of a choice there, even if you’ve gone thru the Swarga vaasal (சொர்க்க வாசல் i.e. heaven’s entrance) unfailingly at the dawn of every single Vaikunda Ekadasi (வைகுண்ட ஏகாதசி) from your birth and prayed to the Lord of the Milkyway (பாற்கடல்) for a no-visa-required direct teleportation to his domain, despite all the nonsense you’ve been doing here & now, harming many knowingly or inadvertently)!

4. Money

This is where it all starts. And sadly for many, ends too.

Maskmovie4You start earning to fulfill material needs, which are no doubt essential for your livelihood. Then you get entangled with material needs of yourself, near & dear and earn some more. And then you get enamoured by the possibilities of elevating your status in the eyes of society and then earn even more.

Intriguingly, that’s exactly what your parents did and probably their parents as well – at least one of them, because even a few decades ago, any sensible person would’ve balked at the mention of a working mother, because there was no such person. But things do change.. quite rapidly.

In a nutshell, the work-earn-workmore-earnmore-worksomemore-earnsomemore-workevenmore-earnevenmore-workalot-earnalot chase down the rabbit hole keeps going like a never ending one-way trip and you inevitably end up a Slave of Money.

3. Ownership

You were born bare without owning anything (doesn’t matter even if your dad is the richest dude on the planet) and that’s exactly the way you’ll be when Life decides it had enough trapped in your frail body (doesn’t matter again, even if you happen to be the richest dude on the same tiny planet).

Baahubali_babyimageYet, between the two helpless stages of Life, you strive to own anything and everything, including many things that you don’t even need for a living. Like an acre wide mansion with 18 bathrooms, when all you need is a bed and a bathroom to do your daily thing. 

Then the list of things starts to include people. And the dividing line between things fade fast, making it so confusing that people around you wonder why they’re being treated like things (when you routinely break them or try to fix them) and things around you are perplexed why you were lusting them (like that truck sized SUV with a gazillion features you hardly use during the daily commute on a narrow lane).

And to amplify the misery, you fail to realize the magnificent Life throbbing not only within you but all around, because your focus is on ownership of things and not the owner of those things.

Gadgets, Cars, Houses, Yachts & Planes are for starters as the list of things you desire to own is as long as the noisy Indian parliament sessions that fail to result in anything useful for anyone, exactly as the endless list of things & beings that make you a Slave of Ownership.

Time

From the moment you’re packed off to a school to study (forget learning – if that happens anytime during your brief lifetime, you’re deemed lucky) or – with most working parents – even before you’re ready to go to school, your Life journey is driven firmly forward by the two handles ticking tirelessly on a clock. Any clock.

Clock2Many clocks, actually. At school, home, workplace, public places, malls, concert halls, shops, service centers, ATMs, online… And they keep ticking relentlessly.

As the clocks keep ticking, you keep doing something or other, exasperating yourself as you’re always scurrying around to meet some deadline – important or not. And the ticking clock never lets you to even do what you really love to do (like spending time with your adorable German Spitz, who has already figured out that stern looking security guard is a better bet than you for petting her).

The moment you submit to a way of Life governed by the clock (or a watch – smart or otherwise), willingly or not (is there a choice, you may shudder), you become a Slave of Time.

Identity

You were named, probably before you were born. You were called that name (not that utterly stupid but adorably cute nick name you’re called on a daily basis, but something sounding like your great grandfather), immediately after you were born. And then, forever.

FacelessYou studied (pointlessly for a long time, completely letting go of the charm of being a nonchalant child filled with wonder to know everything around, each of which appeared marvelous); got a job (or started your own thing); fell in love (many times over, or may be not even once); got married (and almost instantly rued it); started a family (and hated it, may be not openly); raised kids (not too different from how you were raised as a kid); earned a lot (becoming a Slave of Money); repeatedly bough stuff (becoming a Slave of Ownership); kept chugging along (becoming Slave of Time)…

…until that stroke (or accident or firing or loss) left you devastated; semi-retired (sulking all along); became obsolete (even to still-near & once-dear); died and got a tombstone carrying that name along with production & expiry dates (and may be a tacky tagline, if you had been accidentally nice to someone during the short time you called Life).

From that first wail of yours (with a little slap by a nondescript but caring nurse) to the final wail of others (they loved the money for sure, but you… may not be that much) – neither of which you hear anyway – you remain a Slave of Identity.

That sums up the 4 Types of Slavery, viz

Slave of Money

Slave of Ownership

Slave of Time

Slave of Identity

Monkay1Hmmm… Whatever you’ve (tried to) become in this lifetime – popular or notorious or nondescript – it doesn’t sound like it was worth it at all, isn’t it! Remaining a slave, four times over, after all these supposedly slavery free years!

So you ponder (yep, that unique ability called “thinking” was endowed upon your species exactly for this very purpose) and wonder (that too is probably unique to your species) if there’s any bloody way out of the
4 Types of Slavery. Glad you’ve asked!

The pondering & wondering started swirling in Swamy’s mind too a few years ago, especially when his career path seemed utterly pointless (despite the money & recognition) and the longing to know the purpose of Life – not the one we know & live but Life the way it is – deepened.

Thinking2Aided not only by an active thinking mind (which keeps churning out these blog posts & hopefully a bunch of books too, sooner than later) that dared to question any and all BAUHumbug, but also by an entirely different type of Life pursuit (not new at all but one that’s been around a long long time in this vibrant liberated culture) that started a few years ago to comprehend the nature of that mind itself (needless to say, silently but steadily guided by the boundless Grace of his Guru), Swamy realized the 5 Levels of Freedom that helped him gain freedom from 2 of the 4 types slavery already and confidently nudging him ahead to gain freedom from the remaining 2 as well soon, so that he can focus on the pursuit of the ultimate 5th Level of Freedom!

But you, dear reader, still enslaved by the MOTI (without even realizing it, probably) just have to wait for a day or two to learn about the “5 Levels of Freedom!” to know 4 Types of Slavery and How To MOTIvate Yourself To Gain Freedom From Them, which may well be Swamy’s New Year blog for 2016! Until then, keep pondering & wondering…

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

@PrakashSwamy

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