The AHA Model of Parenting and Leadership


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.


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

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Age Is Just A Number! And Other Life Lessons From ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

This article was first published on Womens Web on 20th April, 2016

Age Is Just A Number! And Other Life Lessons From ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

The-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-e1461138966506The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel teaches us that age is just a number – we can seek and find happiness, or try out new things at any age.

I happened to watch The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel before watching its prequel The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The film grew on me gradually as I enjoyed and lived each character through my second and third date with the film.

I cherished some simple yet profound lessons from this colorful and charming ensemble film.


Maggie Smith’s sharp tongued yet affable Mrs Donnelly becomes a true mentor to the brash and ambitious Dev Patel aka Sonny. She teaches him by not offering advice. She helps him explore the American world by being with him yet allowing him to make mistakes enough to learn but not to land him in trouble.

She writes a letter to him at the end where she says that she was writing it to the children she never had. She proves that parenting is an emotion, an energy which bonds the parent and the child through a selfless, nurturing connect. “I am not helping you when I am here, so that you can act when I am not here” is the most empowering lesson from a parent to a child.

Her trust in Sonny comes forward when she says, “He makes many mistakes, but none when it matters.”

“I don’t do advices. I do opinions,” is her lesson in being confident and authentic.


Judy Dench as Evelyn and Bill Nighy as Douglas prove that their ‘love for life’ helps them realize their love for each other. Evelyn asks, “How many lives can there be?” and answers herself, “As many as we want”.

Love needs friendship, respect and freedom in the long run and it is beautifully proven by Evelyn and Douglas.


The floor scrubber for forty years takes the challenge to get funding for a hostel cum hotel for seniors and confidently speaks to the Evergreen owner. Sonny, though melodramatic, wins over through his honest aspiration and childlike optimism.

His risk taking and fierce resolve reflects in his focussed attention on expanding his business. Dev Patel as an eccentric and exuberant youngster reminds us of so many start up mavericks of today.


Life is the biggest leader of all. Celebrating life by accepting the building blocks handed over to us and using them continuously and effectively is the key to be a self-leader. All the senior citizens from Britain prove it by starting a new life in Jaipur. This new life is not a retired existence but an invigorating beginning before the final end.

“There is no end of life, only the end of a story,” is what we absorb.

Deeper Lessons

The first film focused on the struggles of the elderly for these Britons who chose to come to India not because they wanted to but they had to. The ‘sorrow’ of the first film changes to ‘purpose’ in the second film.

All the senior people who think every second – “Do we have enough time?” learn to add purpose to each moment. Mrs. Donnelly tries to become a parent which she never was, Evelyn becomes self-reliant at 79, which she never experienced as a sheltered, naïve housewife. Honesty between the bartender and his wife at this age speak volumes about the need of companionship and fear of loneliness. It encourages older people to never give up till the last day.

Age is merely a number, it is purely incidental that we pick up years while living. Giving happiness to ourselves and others can be done like a warrior, till the last breath.

What do you think?

Image source: youtube.

Thank You Elena Ferrante

The Man Booker Prize.jpgI don’t know Elena Ferrante. I read about her being a best selling author (Her books have sold nearly two million copies worldwide). I have not read any of the four books written by her forming a “Neopolitan Series”. The last of the four novels – The Story of the Lost Child – figures in the long list of The Man Booker International Prize.

This could be life story of many promising authors. Not really.

Whats sets this writer apart from most of us is her hidden identity. No body knows who she/he is. Those who know are not telling yet.

Petracco, the British Publisher of Ferrante’s work said, “She is happy to be successful but as far as I can tell, it is not that important to her. She’s a writer who needs to write in order to live. Having her books read is the most important thing.” (Petracco has only communicated to her via email)

We don’t know about tomorrow – her identity might be revealed. I might not like what she writes. People will have different opinions ranging from marketing gimmicks to identity issues about her reasons to stay mysteriously hidden.

As of today, there are three loud and clear lessons etched in the three sentences of her works’ Publisher.

  1. I am happy to be successful but it is not that important:  Success is merely a byproduct of actions that I take to live. Success is a bonus which gives happiness but not meaning to my life. The general symptoms of success – fame and riches are deeply desired by all of us. Money that her books make must be reaching her surely but not giving importance to live the moments of glory is defining success beautifully. It is important because it gives deep respect to success by keeping it personal. My success is personal. I don’t allow others to decide whether I am successful or not. I give importance to what i consider as successful and public opinion, public approval, public applause, celebrity rankings are not a part of it. Success is incidental, I am not.
  2.  I am a writer who needs to write in order to live: This could be the most passionate sentence from an author. I write, therefore I am. A young man went to Socrates and asked him, “What is the secret sauce to succeed?” Socrates told him to go and take a dip at the river nearby. When he came back, Socrates told him to come the next day. Next day, Socrates told him to do the same. It continued for a week. Finally, the young man lost it. Socrates told him to go to the river bank and wait for him. They both entered the water together. “Take a dip”. As soon as the young man went in, Socrates pushed his head in water with all his might, not allowing him to come out. The young man kept trying and struggled very hard to overpower Socrates. He was stunned by Socrates’ behavior. “This is the secret sauce “Be ready to give your everything with full intensity, the way you did right now”  The deepest urge to create, the most painful longing to do something resembles the acute pain felt while naturally delivering a child. Be a passionate parent, be a passionate professional doer – do anything but do it as if you can’t live without it.
  3. Having my books read is the most important thing: Books are meant to be read. If the number of readers is big, it is great but the number of readers do not define my book writing. I don’t write based on the number of readers reading it. We all live, work, perform our duties on the size of life stage provided to us. We make our journeys from the stations we are handed over by a stroke of chance and competence. Scope of our work, reach of what we do is a result of many controllable and uncontrollable factors. My work should have purpose for some. If not for others, at least for me. The number of people I can influence doesn’t decide the quality and quantity of my work. Also, my work is my identity for professional purposes. My face is not.

Thank You Elena Ferrante.

These lessons are brilliant.

We might recognize you tomorrow . Your disguise might not last but the lessons will.