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!

Once an Entrepreneur, Always an Entrepreneur

Logo (2)

Passionate, obstinate, pachyderm, scary risk taker- this is how people knew me twenty years ago.

In an era that loved engineering and medicine as a profession, I chucked the plan to become an engineer after reading ‘The Republic’ by Plato. After securing a gold medal in Philosophy, I enrolled for a MBA program because I wasn’t old enough to appear for Indian Civil Services which was my parents dream for me.

The entrepreneurial bug bit me in the beginning of MBA Program and I took two simultaneous risks against wishes of everyone – marrying the guy I loved and starting a venture.

Both the risks paid off and the civil services dream got sacrificed.

As my academic interests synced well with my entrepreneurial venture, I worked for others as Founding Director of two Management Schools.

Balancing both the careers was exhausting and exhilarating for a few years. Then working for someone else started troubling my entrepreneurial soul and I got completely engrossed into my entrepreneurial shell.

As a woman entrepreneur and a very passionate parent, life threw more challenges when my husband moved to Mumbai. After three years of long distance experiences, I finally moved to this cosmopolitan five years ago. The newness of this city unsettled me for a while and I could not gather courage to start something on my own. I took the safe route and started working for someone else.

I experienced the same emotions again. In the name of a stable career, I executed hilariously foolish whims of the owners, wasted my time in repetitive, meaningless administrative tasks before I decided to wear my entrepreneurial heels again.

I turned a solopreneur this time and I am loving every inch of my new avatar. The passionate, obstinate, scary risk taker is back.

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur…

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read her best articles here!

Ardhnarishwara Symbolizes Level 5 Leadership!

ardha-narishwara

As per the responses given by the recruiters in this year’s Wall Street Journal / Harris Interactive Business School Survey, male MBA’s are more forceful, sometimes over pushy leaders while women tend to be better communicators and generally shirk numbers.

A survey respondent commented, “Female MBAs have a bias to nurturing team building while male MBAs to a more analytically driven focus on success and independence.”

Therapist Mark Sichel says that he needs to guide men over and over again to understand and practice humility while telling women to show more confidence.

Though we find several exceptions to these generalizations, majority of men talk very well about themselves, take credit with aplomb while women excel at recognizing the efforts done by others.

As men are result driven logicians, they have stronger will power and fiercer resolve. But women give in easily and look for consensus rather than holding their ground.

I am talking about ‘humility’ and ‘strong professional will’ because I was discussing Level 5 Leadership with Management Students and a girl remarked that one attribute i.e., humility is a feminine trait while strong power will is a masculine trait.

Jim Collins, author of ‘Good to Great’ coined Level 5 Leadership as the highest level of leadership which can be achieved by only a few leaders.

Though this book doesn’t mention even a single women leaders as a Level 5 Leader, the attributes show that it is a perfect mix of androgyny.

Just as Ardhnarishwara, the mythical united form of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati symbolizes the union of male and female attributes as the best combination for a balanced life, Level 5 Leadership also sums up the attributes of man and woman to succeed as Level 5 Leaders.

Though women drop out of the corporate ladder before reaching to the higher echelons due to many reasons, they have higher chances to succeed as Level 5 Leaders. Those who reach up there, do they appreciate or practice Level 5 Leadership?

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read her best articles here!

Level 5 Leadership in Family

Tata

When Jim Collins researched 1435 Fortune 500 Companies on seven parameters to find ‘great’ companies from ‘good’ companies, he found 11 companies which showed elements of greatness.

Eleven out of 1435 companies is around 0.007%. Quality of Leadership cannot be judged at that time. It makes more sense historically when we look back after a decade or so to assess the impact of leadership on the wellness of an organisation.

Similarly, parenting cannot be assessed in the present. It makes more sense when we look back and ask our adult children about impact of our parenting skills on their wellness.

Can level 5 leadership practiced at home, turn good families to great families?

Can we create a level 5 hierarchy at home to make step by step growth as an individual, then a spouse and finally as a parent.

Level 5

Great Parents

Building enduring greatness and legacy as a family with humility and ferocious will

 Level 4

Effective Parents

Consistent upgradation for better performance as parents, stimulating each other for cohesion and achieving long term family goals

Level 3

Competent Family Managers

Organising resources and strengthening willingness to prepare for becoming parents. Aligning long term goals with a planned parental shift

Level 2

Contributing Spouse / Contributing to Home (If Single)

Developing competence to work as a team of two, forming a family vision, strengthening the bond, working on duo dynamics

Level 1

Highly Capable Individual

Who has talent, value system and discipline

Level 1 requires an individual to be capable before starting a new family. He/She should possess a personal value system, balanced attitude and behavior with ethical habits and professional skills.

At level 2, two people come together to form an alliance for life. They become a two member team contributing to matrimony. This level requires fine tuning of personal objectives to make place for shared objectives. This level requires a mental shift for the two people who plan to start a new life together.

At level 3, the duo prepares for another shift as they find out if they have an emotion called parenting. If they find this emotion, they prepare themselves for the next role by allocating resources and aligning their personalities for the same. It is utmost important to prepare beforehand.

Level 4 requires periodic assessment of parenting skills so that up-gradation of knowledge, soft skills can be done. Various stages of child development need various parenting styles and parentability skills. Good families evolve to reach this level. Parents raise themselves before raising their children.

Level 5 transforms good families into great families as parents exhibit paradoxical qualities of humility and fierce will power. Only a few families will reach to this level because it is very difficult to get a mother father team who manifest deep humility and strong will power.

If they exemplify these traits, families become legendary as they earn respect & admiration for their achievements. They inspire awe and follower-ship for creating a cohesive family unit comprising of affectionate and confident children.

We need to work on parameters that would classify great families or family leaders over a period of thirty to fifty years.

Birla Family

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read her best articles here!

Are you a woman on top? – Say good bye to Glass Ceiling, Labyrinth and Goldberg Paradigm.

Acid Attack Vittim

Various studies, numerous researches and several surveys over decades have concluded that gender discrimination exists at work places.

In 1986, the Wall Street Journal’s Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt said that even those few women who rose steadily through the ranks eventually crashed into an invisible barrier. They named it a glass ceiling, which denied access to top positions to women.

In 1968, Philip Goldberg did a study where student participants evaluated identical essays except for the attached male or female name. The students did not know that other students had received identical essays ascribed to a writer of the other sex.

The study demonstrated that women received lower grades unless the topic was feminine one. The Goldberg paradigm holds good even now when female authors use masculine names like J.K. Rowling or E.L. James. I am not implying that they are read because of their names but I am surely implying that these women were not sure of their success with feminine names.

In 2007, Alice H. Eagly from Northwestern University and Linda L. Carli from Wellasley College likened the journey of women leaders to a labyrinth. As labyrinth is complex, but it is possible to strive and reach the centre, similarly women who aspire for top can reach after crossing twists and turns on the way.

When I see a Shikha Sharma or a Sheryl Sandberg, I don’t wish to believe in any ceiling or labyrinth. But all my confidence topples when I watch this video of acid attack victims. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D8duxKFVig)

I keep sitting, brooding, crying for a few minutes after watching it. Then, I clench my fists, wipe my tears, nod and smile sternly. Women bounce back with fierce resolve. Women face it all but don’t give up.

Call us emotional or erratic (Thank You President Richard Nixon), give us less wages, delayed promotions or throw acid on us, we will lead ourselves.

We might be branded as too ambitious or too lenient, we will keep striving to figure out our authenticity.

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read her best articles here!

How to do what you do not want to do.

Self Regulation“I will arrange my closet today.”

“I will surely communicate my real opinion to my team about the new project.”

“I will spend time with my 8 years old the way she wants.”

“This is my last cigarette.”

We know that we should do it all but we don’t.

It has nothing to do with our New Year Resolutions but everything to do with our EFFORTFUL CONTROL.

It is obvious that we like to do what comes easy to us – effortlessly.

If keeping a ‘bursting at seams’ wardrobe is effortless, we will somehow close it and forget about it till we open it again.

If ‘beating around the bush’ is far more effortless than being a “I don’t mince words” leader, I will continue to be a polite leader.

If I find playing Monopoly very boring, I will keep motivating my child to watch a film with me as that is what comes easy to me and interests me.

Letting the cigarette bite the dust forever requires me to take my self control a notch higher.

But how do I do what I don’t want to do but should:

  1. Welcome self change – We are phenomenal slaves of our habits. Resisting change is second nature to us. Giving all sort of excuses like “there is no time”, “there is so much stress” to justifying our behavior seems easier than admitting that we are fooling ourselves to remain the way we are.

First, admit that you need to change.

Second, instruct yourself to change.

Third, make a plan to initiate change.

Fourth, stick to it.

Fifth, pat yourself and talk about it to someone who can empathise and enforce the change.

Sixth, hold on to the change till it becomes the new habit.

Changing Habits.jpg

  1. Believe in the law of delayed gratification – Notice children around you. While filling their plates for lunch/dinner, there are some who gobble up their favorite dish first while there are some who would save their favorite dish to be savored at end. The former type will not be able to change easily while the latter type knows the charm of saving the best for the end which keeps them motivated to finish the less likeable but nutritious part of the meal. Former children might not even finish everything on the plate after having their favorite part first.

Delayed gratification empowers us to sit through the mundane but necessary tasks as our favorite task waits for us towards the end. This delayed gratification works only when we auto-suggest the same to ourselves. It should not be offered by others like bait.

Changing Habits 2.jpg

  1. Practice Effotful Control – I read about 12 years old boy from a Mumbai school who realized that he and his friend had a crush on the same girl. He told his friend to stay away from her to which the friend refused. After a few days the friend became a butt of jokes in his class as everyone started calling him gay. He found a lot of objectionable material posted on his profile. The Cyber Crime Cell of Mumbai Crime Branch found out that the 12 year old in the love triangle maligned his friend on facebook.

Not only this, an eleven year old in Mumbai staged her own kidnap drama to avoid writing a tough English test in school a day later. The child, on being caught by Police, revealed that she feared failing in the exam and did not want to be scolded by her dad.

Both the children, in the above cases, did not know where to draw the line on behavior such as this. We, as a society, have failed in helping them develop the ability to control or direct their own feelings.

Obesity among children, addiction to gadgets, drugs, violent behavior, tantrum throwing also arises out of lack of self-regulation.

We, as parents, should do two things to teach our children the art of self-regulation. First, let them feel the sensation of distress that accompanies an unfulfilled need. This is simple. Let us not make everything available to them. Let us not shelter them from feeling of delayed gratification.

Second, expose them repetitively to controllable challenges. Have you seen any child when he learns to ride a bicycle? The child sees someone riding a bicycle or some tutor shows him by holding the balancing act. After modeling for the learner, the tutor would hand over the cycle to the learner. As he practices, the tutor would offer hints and cues by remaining attentive as the learner tries. When the learner tries to balance his feet on both pedals, tutor gives support for a while. Then, he withdraws support gradually but completely. This three-tier approach of modeling, offering hints and gradually withdrawing adult support makes a person learn self-regulation.

Show, Help, Withdraw support – Repetition of the same process will help them develop their stress response mechanism. When the support is followed by independent action, they learn the lessons right.

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook 

Also read her best articles here!

How well do I Fail? #BigIdea2016

Failure is Welcome 1

I learnt to fail early in life. I failed more as parents had high expectations from me. It is not about failing or realizing that you are failing. It is about how we respond to it. It is about how our environment responds to it.

A personal failure teaches lessons differently from a crisis which is related to family or workplace.

Childhood failures made me resilient.

I studied in a Central School where only children were present. Till middle school, I was unable to speak English which caused a lot of embarrassment in front of students from army background whose parents got posted to this remote town. They would bully me or laugh at me when I tried to speak in English. This sense of inadequacy made me struggle on my own. My father would subscribe to Reader’s Digest (I have a full collection of Reader’s Digest since 1969, thanks to him) (http://readersdigest.co.in/) and I would read it from cover to cover without understanding most of it. I persisted alone, spent nights with dictionaries, wrote word-meanings, underlined sentences and muttered to myself. I fell in love with English and turned around my failure.

I was short and failed in sports. As I didn’t enjoy it much and was generally the softest target during dodge ball and Kho Kho sessions, I accepted it. I chose a response of laughing with others at this weakness of mine. I learnt to celebrate this weakness by laughing at my failure at serious sports. (I tried tennis and badminton for two years before admitting it)

If parents allow children to fail naturally, it makes them confident for life. My 10th grade failure (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/do-good-storytellers-make-leaders-dr-swati-lodha?trk=mp-author-card) made me fearless for life. My parents and I learnt to welcome failure with that incident. It bonded us to fight any adversity head on.

Leaders who choose to befriend failure and transform it into a beautiful lesson and stepping stone can manage any crisis. Biggest life lessons come out of crisis – how we handle them and respect them.

All turnaround CEOs are not magicians. They are failure friendly and detached doers. They expect to fail, accept it and take actions objectively to turn it into a success. A detached leader would disrupt without getting emotional about the existing product or company.

I started my first venture SWASH as a unique learning ground for children and adolescents. I started it in 1997 when I was an MBA Student. Teenagers, students from engineering and medical colleges would come for month long courses and make relationships for life. By 2007, things started changing. I needed to scale it up but the way I used to invest myself in students; I didn’t find a way out.

I failed to create a team who could listen to youth, nurture them and guide them through their delicate and thorny adolescent years. My attachment to SWASH led to its failure. There is a great need for such institutions which can become anchors for talented youth and people in general but in a digital avatar perhaps.

Admitting failures as parents and leaders prepare us to fail better next time and create grander success.

Ask yourself – Do I respond well to failure? If you expect, accept and disrupt failure, you are gifting an amazing future to your children and your team.

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