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!

A Pushy Parent At Home, An Authoritarian Leader At Work

Pushy Parent

When you go for a football match session where your child is playing, do you feel a surge of emotions based on his performance? Do you witness some parents who clap over zealousy, shout advices, even abuse the referee or other players?

These parents who play in their minds alongside their children are those who take every performance of their children very seriously and expect each performance to be exceptional.

Such parents are hard task masters and performance oriented people. They feel like losers when their children don’t top the class or lag behind in a swimming competition.

Ask yourself if you are such a parent:

Such a parent would often be a performance oriented leader at his workplace. He would focus more on the outcome and be critical of efforts which do not translate into the best performance.

Pushy parents treat their children as subjects who should give their best and excel in competitions. Authoritarian Leaders treat their subordinates as team members being paid to deliver results. They neither ask how their children feel about their fixation with winning nor do they realise how their subordinates find them inhuman.

A 14 year old girl volunteering as a referee in a weekly soccer match of young boys was verbally abused by a set of such parents who were not happy with the performance of their children. They got into physical fighting with each other, further embarrassing the children.

There is nothing wrong in expecting a good performance from our children as well as team members provided they are considered “partners trying their best”. We, as parents and leaders need to focus on making the journey enriching rather than focussing only on the milestone.

When a leader experiences cut throat competition at workplace, he pushes his team to meet the targets while setting higher targets for the next month. He brings the same mind-set home and expects his children to focus on winning their next competition.

Balance is the key here. It is important to encourage our children to do better than the previous time but it is not right to push them to win. It is hilarious to advise them while they are performing a task. Similarly, it is important to guide our team to execute well but it is not right to discourage or criticise if they lag behind. As a parent and leader, we need to be an anchor by owning the responsibility if something goes wrong.

Don’t make your child lonely by pushing him too hard to win.

Don’t make your team members feel lost by focussing only on the outcome.

Value your child more than his performance.

Let’s remember: People forget what we do for them but they never forget how we make them feel.

This article was first published on www.babydestination.com on 29th April, 2016

Three mistakes of our Lives

Get on the Balcony

Most of us seek more happiness, more growth, more acknowledgement, more fame and of course, more money than what we have at present.

Most of us have many reasons like situations, lack of opportunities, use of unethical means or misfortune as impediments that block our road to glory.

Ronald .A. Heifetz talks about ‘getting on the balcony.’ It refers to separating oneself from the thick of action while action is on and move to a balcony upwards to have a macro view of the situation. If I am playing a match, when I get on the balcony, I can see my whole life in the playground, without a bias. I can see myself playing with respect to other players. I can see others making a pass and calibrating a move. I can feel the reactions of the audience and see my own actions.

When I get on the balcony, I realize three major mistakes on my part:

  1. I love stereotypes: Life is not a puzzle for us as we remember all the pieces and place them in the same way, again and again.

‘Men are from mars and love maps’, ‘Praying everyday makes us calm’, ‘Sharing the laundry makes me a good husband’ – are only the tip of our mental iceberg of stereotypes.

When I live my life by nursing some stereotypes, I don’t challenge anyone including myself and I contribute to maintaining the status quo.

Symbolic breaking of stereotypes through government plans and advertising is the biggest stereotype which creates 2 minutes iconoclasts and whistle blowers.

I love stereotypes because I love my comfort zone. I think of adaptive change, I hear about altering my perception and then, I chew eucalyptus leaves like a Kuala and enjoy my sleep.

  1. I love everyone around: I think about many successful friends and acquaintances. I like and comment on different social media platforms about various issues and happenings because I love my network.

When I consume my time and energy in thinking and analyzing all these people, I ignore my very self. I don’t dwell deep into my own dreams and aspirations because I benchmark, myself against my set of friends, colleagues and influencers.

This pseudo closeness to plethora of people takes me away from myself but close to shadows of others.

  1. I love hero worship: I love to gaze at all these super achievers who have made it big in sports, entertainment, business or academics. I am in awe of ace performers who top their lists.

We show respect to heads of institutions, stoop in front of leaders with formal authority. We worship charisma and power.

When we clap for heroes whose fame/power/formal authority wields control over us, we behave like fanatic fans. We ignore the unsung heroes who bring silent revolutions each day to make the heroic acts of the charismatic heroes possible.

When I am on the balcony, I realize that I love to make these mistakes over and over again because I resist change. I resist change because I resist loss. If I start rejecting stereotypes, I will lose comfort of my comfort zone. If I stop thinking about people and start focusing on adaptive change for myself, I will fear the loss of approving acquaintances and supportive friends.

If I will start valuing real unsung heroes, I will lose the larger than life feel that keeps my eyes wide open with admiration.

Do you resist change because you are scared of losing yourself with whom you have been living comfortably without getting on the balcony?

Think.

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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!

What is common between a Football team Coach, a CEO and a Parent?

Football PlayingA football team coach could be a successful player himself or he might have started coaching when his professional career didn’t scale great heights.  A successful player turned coach would have more difficulty shedding his ego than the one who is only a successful coach. A sports team coach needs to shed his ego completely in order to manage mammoth egos of players.

A CEO of today can’t retain talent if he throws his weight around. As hierarchical echelons are biting the dust in new shared spaces offices, team members expect their superiors to be guides, not bosses. Experience in terms of years has lost the importance it used to carry. More openness to be a constant learner and keeping haughtiness at bay would make a CEO successful today.

My mother-father could demand obedience and get yes as an answer from me without any question. My ego feels so embarrassed when my daughter tells me to stop fretting over exams. She asks me ‘why’ for so many things in a week that I wouldn’t have asked in my whole childhood. As a mother, I am as old as she is.

We need to shed our inflated egos as coaches, leaders or parents.

A coach is coach because of the team; a parent is a parent because of the children. We got a chance to learn before them as we were born before them which is hardly an achievement.

The more humble and giving we become as a coach, a CEO or a parent, the more are our chances of accomplishing great results.

All the three need to observe each of the player, team member or child closely before starting to deal with them. A continuous close observation, a few concrete instructions and unconditional support at all times are hallmarks of an effective Coach, CEO and a Parent.

Share your experience here or on Facebook if you feel that your parenting experience adds to your leadership / coaching role.

Parent

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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!

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.

Learn More – Follow Me (Dr. Swati Lodha)

3 Truths to be Happy till December 2016 #BigIdea2016

BondingAs days push the year ahead, new turns into mundane and happy becomes scrappy.

Time never listens to anyone and we keep inventing things to sustain the need to celebrate and the urge to be happy.

Does new make us happy? It does make us happy till the taste of newness remains on our tongues. It is a “firework” experience which doesn’t last.

Can we create experiences that last?

  1. Create an Authentic Beautiful You: Find out the real person hidden in your resume whom you loved to hang out with. An authentic leader, a real parent, a honest spouse might not tick all the boxes of social, professional & matrimonial expectations but he would be respected, followed and loved for being his/her true self. Love yourself and appreciate your strengths. Authenticity will make you beautiful forever.

 

  1. Create a creatively disciplined home & workplace: Gift yourself, your children and your team a open, creative space to do things differently. Gift them freedom to initiate change, to disrupt minds, to fail, to try again and fail better. Gift them discipline to discover method in madness, strength to admit their mistakes.

Give them courage to ask every day, “Am I getting better?”

When you create an open, creative ecosystem, every day is a Happy New Year.

  1. Create a sustainable, equitable World: Give your time, energy and money for some cause which makes this world better for at least someone.

Share your wealth, conserve energy, protect wildlife, preserve forests – at least smile and give a helping hand.

If you create a authentic beautiful You, a creatively disciplined home/workplace and attempt creating a sustainable world, I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYDAY.