Read to Lead – 3 Ways of Reading to Remember

Bookshelf

There are readers and there are non-readers.

Those who love to read, thrive on books and read plenty of them. As it happens with everything, we forget 84% of whatever we read within 24 hours. It is difficult to forget how it made us feel though.

I had a fight with a school friend quarter of a century ago. I don’t remember what caused the heated exchange but I can’t forget the hurt it caused. We remember the feeling if it is intense- positive or negative.

When a poignant page becomes wet, I can feel the closeness to that book after decades though I don’t remember anything that was written on that page.

I read masterpieces by Any Rand, Plato, Amrita Pritam, Mahasweta Devi and many other writers but I don’t remember what it gave me at the time I read it. What I remember is that I considered it as a truly unforgettable experience then.

Does it happen with all of you or I need to pull up my mind for being absent?

I derived a small game plan to make the most of my reading by keeping it alive through these steps:

Underline. Highlight, Write: Never start reading a book without a pencil in your hand or within your hand’s reach. (I don’t read a newspaper without having a scissor in proximity – I stupidly collect articles, dated and underlined in various files titled Technology, Society, Management, Entertainment, etc)

Never shy away from using a pencil beneath lines, especially if it is a small print tome.

I even write words like “Beautiful’, ‘Wonderful’, “Share it’ in the margins to keep me excited when I randomly revisit those pages.

It might be amusing at times to realize that I don’t find those words as ‘beautiful’ or ‘wonderful’ as I found them the first time. At times, I find them as beautiful or even more insightful. It helps me to gauge the change in myself over the years.

If this is not enough, I write down the important page numbers on the empty page on the side of preface/foreword.

Those written page numbers help me five/ten years later to relive, re-enjoy the same feeling.

On Kindle, I highlight/note/email important paragraphs to myself.

Underlining is like touching an exquisite place of jewellery or appreciating the fabric of a new dress.

Writing on the margins is like neatly packing the jewellery or the dress for future use.

Repeat: I have a bookshelf in my mind marked “interesting” and I put a few nuggets on it every-day which I repeat to someone the same day. The receiver could be my daughter, my husband, my students or my audience online or offline.

I push myself to verbally share interesting – informative stuff the very same day. If you are thinking about the context, that can be created. If nothing else works, I say – “I discovered a diamond in this statement/fact/anecdote today”.

Don’t feel awkward by the reaction which can range between a yawn or a clap (my daughter rolls her eyes often!). You did it for yourself. You repeated it to keep it in your mind longer.

If you don’t get any listener (they are always hard to find), write it the way I am writing it right now.

I read about some inspiring and painful Olympic stories today and I will repeat them after hunting for some listener.

Children and Subordinates are good prey to repeat what you just read!

Random Read: For staying active, I generally read four to five books at one go. Though I never finish them together as the more interesting ones reach the finishing line while others languish close to the starting line, I try to mix and match.

I re-read a book while I am reading 2 – 3 new books.

It keeps me connected with my feelings and helps me make better use of what I cherish.

Re-reading is like visiting your old school gate or hugging an uncle after years.

There are so many floodgates of memories that get opened.

My three pronged strategy might benefit you.

What is your ‘read to lead’ strategy?

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Dipa Karmakar and Nadia Comaneci: Parenting & Leadership Lessons

moonparenting

Dipa Karmakar.jpgNadia Comaneci.jpg

When I was a child, it was fun to watch Olympic Games on T.V. (1984 – 1996 perhaps). Nadia Comaneci was one of the most loved gymnast whose name and achievements were mentioned during every gymnastic competition despite the fact that she was a champion in 1976 & 1980 Olympics.

She scored an unprecedented 10 in gymnastics at 1976 Olympics game at an age of 14. With a sudden rise of Dipa Karmakar in India, we have become charmed with words like Produnova and gymnastics. Gymnastics has found a special mention in our dinner table conversations and it will perhaps hold some importance for us till Olympics 2016 get over.

  • Nadia achieved success with a lot of effort but ease because her country Romania had a culture for this game and she was fourteen when she nailed the perfect score. There was no pressure on her to perform in 1976…

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She Died While She Was Alive

Being Alive

 

This is be the one line epitaph I intend to have engraved on every heart when I say my final good bye.

The dictionary meaning of the word “Life’ revolves around:

  1. The condition of being alive.
  2. The period for which an organism exists.
  3. The feeling of vitality, energy and growth.

If one mechanically wants to go through the drudgery of ticking the boxes, you can certainly tick on (b), but you might need to check the coordinates of your event called life before ticking on (a) and (c).

From an ailing bed ridden man to a high flying CEO, all of us certainly exist for a period called life. We exist till we breathe. It gives us immense satisfaction, though unconscious, that we are a part of an ever surprising saga called life.

Do we actually flex our mental muscles to find out other signs of being alive apart from breathing and being there?

The condition of being alive assumes that we are mindful of what is happening inside and outside us.

Do we think about how efficiently our bones, muscles, glands, cells and viscera work every second unless we feel a pain somewhere?

We only pay attention to the wondrous working of our body when it gives us some discomfort. Till then, we use it day in and day out without being ‘alert’ or ‘mindful’.

We create an eternity of urgency around our mundane lives giving a childish impression to ourselves of being very busy in something of real importance. We run through the alleys of our occupied brain at a high speed without having any time to find out what occupies the crevices of the brain.

Our insecurities keep us glued to a life which might be more close to ‘mere existence’ than ‘energy or vitality’ of any kind.

Fear of losing what we have, fear of being judged, ridiculed or written off, and fear of failure keeps us bonded to an existence which doesn’t let us grow or evolve.

The repetitive boredom can erode our mental, emotional faculties if we don’t make an attempt to recharge and reignite our batteries.

I don’t mind being unhappy or sad because feeling unhappy is better than feeling nothing.

I think about ninety year old Mahashweta Devi, the legendary author and activist who lived a vital life till her last breath. She survived her two divorces and fought indecisive, often hopeless battles for tribals. Taking all setbacks in her stride, she never stopped persisting. Then, my thought goes towards those millennials who write a suicide note and say good bye. We are failing as a society, as a community to propagate liveliness of life.

We must choose life for life, not for being a happy life or sad life.

It is a crime to be living a day without feeling kicked about it. It is alright to feel depressed or useless as long as it pushes us to stay alive to make it better.

As an individual, I owe it to myself to be mindful of each day I live. I intend to feel varied emotions every hour. I choose to feel alive.

As a parent, I owe it to my children to make them understand the difference between ‘living life’ and ‘leading life’. I want them to feel the tangy taste of failure and bitter taste of anger along with sweet/savoury taste of happiness. I wish to refine their taste buds to enjoy all tastes of life. I wish them to wait and yearn for different tastes each day rather than safely stick to one taste that they like.

Being alive everyday means loving life every day in whatever form it chooses to surprise us. Being alive every day is a challenge to die for.

Choose it now.

Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Happy-Health-Hope-HeadMy Latest Article for Women published on http://www.sheroes.com on 2nd August, 2016

Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Recently, I was delivering a session for research scholars at an IIT, and I was happy to see that around 25% of attendees were women. After the session, we were informally discussing the priorities of life. To remain hopeful is a challenge, said one of the girls.

It had me thinking about what women should aim for.

As mentioned in my book Why women are what they are, I believe women lead two lives–an internal ‘dream life’ and an external visible life. They do things more out of expectation and not out of intention.

There are women who act according to family norms, social etiquette and worry about how others will perceive them. There are women who solitarily nurture their inner self and do not bother about people, society, and norms whatsoever. There are women who are aware of both lives and they balance them both, gradually converging the internal and external lives.

Since women are mentally and emotionally far stronger than men, they tend to ignore their mental and emotional well-being.  In societies and communities of India, men are expected to give financial support while women are expected to provide all the other support. With a lot of stereotypes biting the dust in this digital age, we need to reaffirm and reset our priorities.

Besides money required for sustaining ourselves, women must take care of our happiness, health and hope:

Happiness

Most women concentrate on taking care of their families, their homes and neglect themselves. The are so consumed–in maintaining a perfect home, looking after their spouse and kids, balancing jobs, elder care–that they are too tired to look within. They suffer from a burnout as they do things to fulfil expectations; not because they want to.

Women remain unhappy as they allow others to take over. They believe in the image of themselves as created by their near and dear (?) ones, which could be strikingly different from their real selves.

In Rajasthan, I would come across many women who thrived on adventure, loved to experiment but lived a conservative, orthodox life stagnating in a time warp. Women remain unhappy when they ruminate. They keep going back to painful memories of the past and keep rewinding them for daily consumption. It keeps the pain alive.

As they start enjoying their emotionally drained status, women start enjoying unhappiness. It is not only unfair; it is illogical too. Women must work towards forgetting the pain inflicted in any form and start living happily in the present. We need to choose to stay happy.

Health

Women ignore their health because they are deeply engrossed in making each day a perfect day for their families. They keep postponing the regular check-ups and they keep thinking that diseases happen to others. It is hard to detect depressed women as they don’t admit to their mental agony or issues that they can’t sort out on their own.

Women should remember that ‘tomorrow is a disease’ when it comes to exercising and health check-ups. Today is the time to begin, and it should be adhered to every year.

Women need to be aware of their family history and diseases that they are predisposed to. Neglecting health is one of the biggest disservices that women can do to themselves, because men are always taken care of when it comes to health.

There is no age to start taking care of your health. It is our daily duty towards ourselves to eat healthy, on time and to exercise.

Hope

Women get disappointed more, because they are deeply connected to the lives of so many family members–parents, husband, kids, siblings–and something keeps going wrong somewhere all the time.

It is so important for women to keep their spirits high and help others stay hopeful. A friend of mine recently had her nephew hospitalised with a kidney ailment. At the same time, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. As she was busy helping her mother and brother, she felt guilty of not looking after her teenage daughter well. It lasted more than a year and she felt so low on hope.

Women need their daily dose of hope to sail through myriad responsibilities they eagerly shoulder. Friends, audiobooks and books can be the greatest disappointment-buster for women. Talking to friends and asking for help gives strength and stamina to march on.

Search for HOPE, strive for HAPPINESS and work towards your HEALTH before thinking about the next task.