Life Lessons from Musical Maestros

Yesterday, I was the chosen one as I got an opportunity to see legends like Pt. Birju Maharaj, Ustad Zakir Hussain, and Amitabh Bachchan together. I experienced a beautiful jugalbandi between ghungroos of 79 year old Kathak wizard Pt. Birju Maharaj and tabla of forever young Ustad Zakir Hussain.

I learnt some lessons for a lifetime.

Humility is a choice, the most worthy one: When Ustad Zakir Hussain entered, Pt. Birju Maharaj had already come. Zakir sahib straightaway went and did Sashtang Pranam in his feet before taking his seat beside him. When both masters reached the stage, Ustad Zakir Hussain commented in an honest, childlike way, “I am not performing today, I am playing in Sewa of Maharaj ji”.

Humility is a choice that legends like Ustad Zakir Hussain make each time they interact with anyone.

Life Long Learning is a way of Life: When I introduced my daughter to Hussain Sahib, I said, “She is learning Classical music”.

He smiling looked at her, “Oh! Even I am learning music. What a coincidence.”

He gave her a high before blessing her.

If he is a student of music, what are we harping about our expertise?

Passion is the fuel for fulfilling life: Pandit Birju Maharaj was walking cautiously with a stick off stage. When he reached on stage, we expected him to do a symbolic 4-5 minutes performance.

He danced with deep poetic grace and electrifying footwork for around an hour. His passion surpassed his physical concerns and he mesmerized everyone with his awe inspiring performance.

Excellence is a zero option philosophy: Both the maestros were meeting each other after years. It simply meant that they had neither rehearsed nor performed together in near past.

Without any pre practice, their synchronized and effortless performance was pitch perfect. Each ‘thaap’ on the tabla and each ‘khanak’ of the ghungroo were in unison. They listened to each other intently and followed each other.

When Pandit ji explained a taal or gat, Ustab Zakir Hussain listened and then played to perfection. When Zakir Hussain got into his musical crescendo, Pandit ji tapped with grace. Their individual mastery over their craft led to a harmonious act together without any upmanship. There is no alternative to excellence in whatever we do.

Hold on to yourself: In the middle of a sea of talent, I learnt a big lesson from the host of the event, Shailesh Lodha. Though he is my husband, I am generally his worst critique.

However, his poetic words and anecdotal lines kept everyone hooked during the four hour long event. His eloquence and sense of timing won him blessings from everyone including the three stalwarts of art – Pt. Birju Maharaj, Ustab Zakir Hussain, and Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.

He held on to his belief in graceful humour, poetry and pathos among these doyens and contributed immensely to the success of the show. (I don’t want him to read this, though).

May these stalwarts stay around to bless our lives with their unending creativity and authenticity!

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The AHA Model of Parenting and Leadership

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I come across many parents who vociferously admire the drive of their children while whispering about some lack of gratitude.

I come across the HR Heads with whom I have discussions about Level 5 Leadership and how to bring Group Cohesion between Generation X and millennials.

It is becoming imperative for us to gear up for an innovative nudge in the family as well as corporate space.

AHA Model, if applied consistently, can give us balanced individuals, children and future leaders.

AMBITION: Having a purpose, figuring out a path to reach that purpose and following it with perfection will never go out of fashion. Having a drive to excel at something should always be a lifeline. Jack Ma’s drive to learn English as a school boy turned the tide in his favor by inculcating a continuous ‘ambition’ in him.

Ambition is not competition. It is not envious. It is focused on oneself.

If parents can learn constantly to nudge children towards striving for excellence in daily chores like tiding up the room or folding clothes, it becomes an attitude. If leaders constantly nudge team members towards the same in intangible areas like receiving a guest, promoting a save energy campaign, excellence becomes a daily ambition.

HUMILITY: The linear approach of parents makes it difficult for them to give humility lessons to children. Inspiring them to achieve goals and nudging them to stay grounded are opposing forces which need to be balanced. It comes easy when achievement is not celebrated as special but accepted as way of life. It comes easy when children experience gratitude around them. A feeling of entitlement creeps in from the beginning if parents treat their children as special and become “Yes Parents” or “Designer Parents”.

Leaders need to set goals and achieve them with undivided focus and clarity. They need to keep their teams motivated to reach targets. The tight rope walk requires them to be stern and aggressive. Yet, it is important rather imperative to feel empathy and evoke trust. Humility keeps a leader rooted while ambition enables them to soar high.

ADAPTIVITY: After realizing the importance of being humble as well as ambitious, the most crucial part is to be adaptive. As parents and leaders, we need to assess, adapt and act – Assess the situation to decide to be humbly ambitious or aspirationally humble.

It is important for us to realize that life is not about happy or sad endings. It is not about being a saint or a sinner. It is not about being either ambitious or humble. It is about being adaptive to experience happiness as well as sadness, to value virtue as well as vice, to imbibe ambition with humility.

If we nurture our roots with humility and fuel our wings with ambition, we will become those adaptive individuals who can show their children and their teams to be humbly ambitious.

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I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!

Time and Timing – Respect “Time”​ and Acknowledge “Timing”​.

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Time is about present. It is about accuracy. It is in our control to use it meaningfully. Timing is about present, past and future. Timing is about harmony. It is not in our control completely.

If you are the lead vocalist of your band, you respect time by getting up on time, practicing every-day for a specific time. But your performance on a specific day will depend upon timing – how other members play their instruments in unison, how the sound system functions, how the audience respond to your performance. When the actions of so many people and situations are synchronized, it creates the magic we call ‘perfect timing.’

“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter”.

Time brings discipline to our lives but timing brings elation. “It is always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone has forgotten”.

Timing at Individual Level: We try to perfect our timing with precision while dunking a biscuit in milk or tea, while baking a batch of cookies, while playing a video game or while clicking a selfie.

We know when it goes wrong. The biscuit disappears in the milk, the cookies turn ashen, our Mario bites the dust and eyeballs shift in a selfie. Repeated actions improve our timing as individuals in doing certain things.

Practice improves our timing as an individual.

Timing at Group Level: As mentioned earlier, magic is created in a musical performance, on a cricket ground or in a business meeting when every stroke falls in place and the receiver is in sync with your effort and its execution.

Team work reaches another level when the timing of ‘alaap’ of the vocalist coincides with the beat of the tabla, when the cricket ball is caught between the palms, when the win-win situation is tactfully negotiated in the boardroom.

If the timing goes awry, the collective disappointment binds the team together and makes them hungrier to perform better provided everyone feels the disappointment.

Passion of the team helps us to face what “timing” does to us.

Timing at a Macro Level: In Life, many efforts become super successful or phenomenal failures due to the right or wrong timing of an external, uncontrollable factor.

Airbnb has transformed the way we travel by creating a global network through which anyone anywhere can rent a spare room in their home to earn cash. It was not that simple though to convert this idea into a multi-million dollar company without the timing of so many other developments.

Brain Chesky, one of the co-founders, thought about it in 2007. Free connectivity between nations was taking roots at that time. Paypal appeared on the scene at the same time making online transactions possible. People needed to ascertain if they were meeting real people. Facebook, which exploded in 2007, helped them connect with each other.

With the help of all these innovations in terms of software, social networking platform, online payment portal, Airbnb became a trusted, technological innovation.

Xerox, the paper giant failed not because it became obsolete. It had brilliant ideas to go digital but when World Wide Web opened, AOL and Yahoo arrived. It could have still survived but Google happened.

Sometimes, we consider ourselves geniuses by being efficient and effective time managers but we fail to anticipate and acknowledge the ‘timing’.

Respect ‘time’ and play with it.

Acknowledge ‘timing’ and watch the show.

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I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!