Courage

Courage

Courage is the friend we can always spend time with, but the friend we fear. She, Courage, invites us to stand in greatness. We fear her, Courage, for that. We fear Courage for the greatness she eludes & invites us to step into. Courage is strong. Courage writes her own story. With Courage, we can do anything. We may not succeed, but we will show up.

Showing up is a sign that Courage is around.

Some of us befriend Courage out of circumstance:  injustice in our vicinity, challenge and struggle. We experience Courage from a place of need. As necessity is the mother of innovation, like Batman’s light, necessity calls Courage to approach closer.

Cuddle Courage – experience life.

Should we find ourselves puzzled about which direction to run, consider which decision in 50 years will have us looking back still curious, unfulfilled. Run towards Fear–Courage and Fear, they are so different and but we find beautiful things when we find them together. We are a speck of dust in an infinite timeline.

Live each day as if it was our last and our books will burst from the seams. Live our lives the way we are called to and our tales will be an example of what can be for the children who take our place here. Just as we stand on the shoulders of brave ancestors, we are the shoulders that children will look out from.

Show them hope.

The ones who inspire us most are courageous. They show up, work and stand in truth. What they gain from experiencing courage is more important than what they lose in momentarily separating from the herd. By choosing a path less traveled, they etch their stories into history and enable us to enjoy greater equality, stronger spirituality, a more robust understanding of science, the stars and the world around us. Their commitment to humans and the improvement of the human condition remind us that above all we must entertain Courage in the protection and care of people.

The world looks much different today than it once did. Should we invite Courage to live through us, we may further bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice and joy.

Let that be our North Star as we recognize Fear and Courage, inviting them to walk together with us.

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Mind your words

Our writing improves with time+practice. As does our speech. But the content of our expression and the words we choose to express ourself- they’re a bit more difficult to change. That takes consciousness.

The words we use wire the way we see and experience our environment. The ideas we share do the same. Both also have have the power to shape our environment. 

Words can transform lives. It’s worthwhile to be conscious of the words we use & thoughtful of the ideas we share. 

The Paralysis of Uncertainty.

The Paralysis of Uncertainty.

The paralysis of uncertainty is unmatched. Overcoming it seems to be even more challenging.

Uncertainty has a way of freezing you up and making simple tasks difficult. Uncertainty doesn’t always seem to be a response, but it seems to more often be a precursor to events. When you sense events *intuition kicks.* Your senses kick and without the knowledge or visibility to contextualize it—there’s a situation of brewing uncertainty.

It’s like when you’re in a boat that has a bit of a rock. You look at the sky, some dark clouds are up there. Maybe you heard some thunder. You worry that the boat will flip, but the waters been pretty consistent thus far, it’s just some elements that seem to fit into a pattern–and in your mind this pattern ends with a flipped boat.

Uncertainty can come from anywhere.

At work there are plenty of opportunities for uncertainty.

Companies are hives for uncertainty. This is especially true in an organization where leadership is shifting. It can feel like the ground under you is moving as fast as they are leaving. Maybe you’re at a management consulting firm and there are many more management consultants that management consulting projects. Maybe a new global CEO just came into the picture. At first you were filled with curiosity and a bit of excitement. Now, you’re just looking at your environment and crunching the numbers in your head…the numbers don’t add up. Reconciling the balance sheet needs huge layoffs. Corporate leadership hasn’t provided any insight, you’re operating in the dark and your friends in human resources who are normally loud and cheery seem to be more kept to themselves, whispering in whatever offices are open. Is anyone getting cut, who’s getting cut, are you in a secure situation? A la uncertainty. Simon Sinek talks about improving productivity by increasing certainty by making people in your organization feel secure.

Relationships are a moshpit of uncertainty. Particularly when there’s distance involved, but this can be in any situation. Maybe a few chance encounters with a stranger led to curiosity and phonecalls. At some point you see how incredibly sophisticated yet simple this person is. You’re excited about learning more, but she moves away. You’re wondering when the next time you’ll see her is–uncertain what city she moves to next or what city you end up in. Considering how this situation plays out. Uncertainty.

Let’s not leave out the uncertainty when you text someone and don’t get a response. *facepalm*MemetextherUncertainty is certain in life. The stoic’s have a way of dealing with it:

  1. Amor Fati- Love Everything. Even the bad experiences, especially the uncertainty. This is all apart of the soup of life. That soup would not be perfect without every last ingredient playing a role.
  2. Deo Volente- God Willing. You can do everything in your power, but outcomes are not up to you. They are up to the situation and the universe. Recognize when you give up control to the universe. Be OK with outcomes.
  • Applicability
    • Amor Fati- The experience to express your thoughts and ideas to someone is valuable and exciting. Live in the moment. Experience happiness, adventure and love unlimited and untethered from the stereotypes of your experiences.
    • Deo Volente- Life will unfold as it does. Jobs will be gained, jobs will be lost. Take it as it comes.

Uncertainty is shitty. No question about it. Maybe catch a good night’s sleep and work on being better prepared to deal with lifes situations, as they are often fraught with uncertainty. You can’t control what comes to you, but you are able to chose your response: response ability.

We can’t control outcomes. Uncertainty is certain.

=)

3Q’s to ask yourself before your next TEDx talk

3Q’s to ask yourself before your next TEDx talk
I asked a new friend for some advice on telling my story. She works with C-Suite Executives at a Fortune 500 Company helping them improve their presence. I’m enrolling her support in a *fingers crossed* successful TEDx talk this November. Here are her insights:
Three questions 
  1. What journey do you want to take the audience on?  (Output)
    • ex: I want you to see a problem & see the solution or your participation differently
  2. By the end of this talk I want people to __________
    •  Ex: See/Feel/Learn/Do
  3. Why is this journey important to me? (relating your message to your story)
    • evoke imagination
      • EG: Close your eyes. Imagine a world where…*add amazing future*…bring them back to reality
    • “The problems I was faced with don’t exist anymore”
Breakdown your story
  1. Beginning
    • Tell them what you’re going to tell the them
      • 40 seconds to grab their attention
      • You can use a story
      • “The Why”
  2. Middle
    • Tell them
      • “The How”
  3. End
    • Tell them what you told them (recap)
      • Close your story (this technique is wrapping your message around a story)
      • “Actions”
All stories should draw the problems back to the people in the room. They should feel related to.
If the story is about Bob, a young innovator solving a problem in Ohio….how many Bob’s are in the room? Ask them!
Break up your talk
  • Consider using a video to change the pace
  • TED talks are short on purpose.
  • Success=making those 12 minutes understandable, interesting, and salient.
  • Changing pace helps keep things interesting.
Logistics
Shoot for a 12 minute talk. You don’t want to be too short, but you also don’t want to bore people.
Use the first 40 seconds to excite people
I’m really looking forward to working on my speaking/storytelling. Stories are something that have been done for centuries and Indians have a rich history with storytelling. My grandpa is also a pretty damn good storyteller….so continuing the family tradition would be a great gift to him and my children.
If you’ve got any feedback of things I should think about, speaking coaches that are excellent in NYC, or general thoughts comment away!

Wrestling Vulnerability

Last week Cindy texted me asking me what vulnerability means to me. Earlier that day I had posted:

FBVulnerable

Leadership at any level requires a certain amount of transparency, therein is vulnerability. But, I ponder the type of vulnerability we are sharing.

Vulnerability of Need

Ill-equipped to solve everything on their own, leaders need maintain a level of public forum around their plans and problems. This will allow community to foster and people to add value that drives towards the end-goal. Here’s my quick try at displaying it in logic:

Vulnerability of need (Vn):

X= Goal, Y= Your hard work/resources,  Z= Others hard work/resources

X = Y+Z

Whether you are Elon Musk trying to make transportation between LA & SF easier or President Barack Obama trying to get Americans covered. This trait seems to be common amongst the most successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople- the ability to “do what it takes,” “display grit,” and to “rally people around issues.” This is resource allocation. It’s economics. You could graph it.

All of the above is leadership related to adversity and pressing forwards. You are a hero for tackling these issues.

What about another type of vulnerability? What about emotional vulnerability– your struggles today, in leadership? 

Leadership exists only for a moment in the scope of our human experience and individual experiences on earth. Even the CEO of Unilever heads home to his wife and children, and the troubles of normal life. The problems and thoughts of normal life don’t seem to have a forum for conversation and connection. If we’re so focused on ‘faking it till we make it’ or ‘being the person we want to become,’ and Social Media is the audience that gets us there, then everything we post to social is a handpicked version of reality or an entirely fabricated idea meant to promote an image.

It’s important that we recognize these are issues that matter. It’s important for the public to recognize their humanity and to recognize the humanity of leaders. Making these conversations more public may be a road to that, but then what comes first the chicken or the egg. The public forum is a dangerous thing to speak to ones weaknesses or struggles particularly when your company is traded in the public market or looking to take on new capital.

In response to Cindy: the vulnerability I want to share more of, perhaps first with closed groups of friends, is one that engages conversations of love, hope, and humanity. In doing so I hope to speak more forward to failure, struggle, and unrest. I have already started privately recounting my experiences. I would be overjoyed to find synergy among my friend circles and to learn that other people in my shoes are faced with similar struggles. I would love to someday share this with future generations so that they might understand my mistakes and not have to reinvent the wheel. Perhaps this is someday the seed for a larger forum on the topic–on that lends itself to allowing more people in leadership to speak openly on their experiences.

A more open conversation on that level will surely appeal to new classes and groups of people, opening up the diversity and participation of the C-Suite, should they allow it. Lest, by conversation we find power. My own ability to hold such conversations in vulnerability is an experiment to better understand myself and to allow others to have a better understanding of me.

ObamaHumans of New York: Who has influenced you the most?

POTUS Obama: “My mother. She had me when she was 18 years old, and my father left when I was one year old, so I never really knew him. Like a lot of single moms, she had to struggle to work, and eventually she also struggled to go to school. And she’s really the person who instilled in me a sense of confidence and a sense that I could do anything. She eventually went on to get her PhD. It took her ten years, but she did it, and I watched her grind through it. And as I got older, like everyone else, I realized that my mother wasn’t all that different than me. She had her own doubts, and fears, and she wasn’t always sure of the right way of doing things. So to see her overcome tough times was very inspiring. Because that meant I could overcome tough times too.”

Beyond 2014; In Memoriam of the Greatest Man I Have Known

Beyond 2014; In Memoriam of the Greatest Man I Have Known

Grace works that way. It’s a kind word from a gentle person with an impossible prayer. It’s a force sometimes transmitted best hand to hand in a dark place. — Bob Goff

Panting and weeping, my mother shook me awake, “Baby Appachan is gone.” 

It was barely the crack of dawn…What, Ma?Leny Chach and Baby Appachan

I had just seen the man. What could it mean for him to be gone?

One of my life’s subtle influencers had taken his last breath earlier that morning. Baby Appachan, in silence, was an extraordinary influence on my life. His grace was present in my darkest times. I would have never made it to where I am without his influence as a man, an uncle, and a father.

Parkinson’s had a stronger grip on him in those days than ever before. Don’t get me wrong—he was not overtly extroverted prior to the battle, but he possessed boundless energy and passion—qualities I could not find in his eyes any longer.

Everything was a struggle and nobody knew that better than his wife (my aunt), a stalwart in my family. When the rest of the family was around, he wore a little smile—something like a smirk, especially when his grandchildren came around (two adorable little girls). I think that smirk was to help us deal, more than anything else.

Appachan is Malayalam for grandfather. He’s wasn’t exactly my grandfather. He was my dad’s brother. Appachan is a title that expresses respect for someone of age, and it’s not easily adopted. “Baby” was his nickname. Growing up I called him Uncle or Appachan, and always prefaced either with “Baby”. It always confused me, but it was the way things were done.

He imparted vast unspoken lessons upon me. His impact on every person in the family was lasting. One story, in particular, that showed just how much he meant to all of us is one from my cousin, a mixed martial artist. My uncle would take him to the dojo to train when he was young. And whenever my cousin was nervous about his dad watching, my uncle would wait outside for him in the cold of the winter—sometimes watching through the window into the gym, looking on as my cousin trained and sparred opponents at tournaments.

I can picture him, bundled up with the snow coming down, looking on as my cousin fought his way through tough battles and medals. Smiling as he was shivering and beaming with pride.

It paid off. Weeks before his passing, my cousin fought in a MMA fight again. My uncle was not able to join us and watch, but word has it that he was excited when my cousin told him about it. He was thrilled.

That excitement for others, that thrill, is something I want to find in my own life. He made people better. My favorite thing about my uncle was how willing he was to give. Sure, everyone helps people. But my uncle did it in a genuine way—in a way that I haven’t often experienced. I want to embody that.

My life growing up would have been a bit less cohesive had it not been for his actions and his ability to stand courageously against the current. That quality transcended into my cousins and it’s something I love about my family. I’m always learning from them how to do that better—how to stand up for things and people I believe in. It’s amazing to watch my one cousin express those lessons to her daughters. I think his wisdom will surely manifest in them.

Across the board, my uncle was amazing. He served in the Indian Air Force, helped build a huge community and church in Yonkers, and his message of service was a silent one seemingly inspired by faith in God and duty to others.

Every time I think of him, I feel peace and strength. I feel an obligation to my nieces and a duty to the future, both for family and community. The man my uncle was and the qualities he embodied, that’s the man I want to grow up to be. Understanding where he’s walked and what he’s achieved makes it easier. I know it’s possible to love your family, to provide abundantly, and to enrich the lives of the people around you.

As I considered 2015, it occurred to me that I could not close 2014 without telling the world a bit more of his story.

A few days after my mother burst into my room to share the news, seemingly right out of a bad dream, we led my uncle to his final resting ground. Escorted by the Yonkers Police Department, two cousins and I led the way. Those moments are forever etched into my memory. My cousin played “Day is Gone” by Noah Gunderson right before we stepped out of the blacked out Cadillac to direct the crowds of people and the hearse with my uncle in it.

The lyrics play over in my mind—

Daylight fading, I curse the breaking. The day is gone. The day is gone.

Run away. I’ll just run away like a child, from all of them to you. And now I see my most constant mistake is I don’t know what I love till it’s gone. But it’s too late to go back. I can see the darkness through the cracks. Daylight fading, I curse the breaking the day is gone. The day is gone. 

It’s too late to go back I let the darkness seep through the cracks. Love is bleeding I curse my breathing the day is gone, the day is gone. 

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for never leaving me alone. Your memory will continue beyond 2014 for generations. You fought the good fight and you finished the race. You kept the faith and you taught us to do the same.

I love you. I miss you. I will remember you forever.

Ad perpetuam militum memoriam qui pro patria mortui sunt.

In memory of the fallen soldiers.