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

Also read my best articles here!

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.

P & L Lessons from Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal.jpgIndian superstar shuttler Saina Nehwal inspires so many of us through her consistent hard work and unflinching persistence.

With world number one position, an Olympics Bronze Medal, and titles like Indonesia Open and Australia Open under her belt, Saina has been one of the world top seeds in the last few years.

Still, she has lost six consecutive matches to a player, lower in achievement and ranking to her. Twenty one year old Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan defeated twenty six year old Saina for the Sixth time in three years.

Many leaders and parents fall prey to the same mistake as they fail to recognise its presence or fail to correct it.

Super achiever parents expect their children to be super achievers. They treat all their children to perform, competing with the best in their domain area. These children keep working incessantly to make their parents happy but such parents often overdo it as grandparents too when their skyrocketing expectations can play havoc with their grandchildren.

Parents refuse to agree that their burdensome expectations have always been traumatic. I meet so many parents who excel at justifying their actions without taking the psyche of their children into consideration. Parents need to revamp their parentability with each child and grandchild just as Saina need to change her strategy against Tai and refrain from making same old mistakes.

Phaneesh Murthy, a brilliant leader, was known for his business acumen and growth oriented vision. He was caught twice in sexual harassment cases at the height of his careers at Infosys (2003) and iGate (2012).

It is important for us to understand the recklessness involved in not paying attention to a mistake. We need to admit the mistake, apologise for the same, assure that it won’t happen again and then categorically abstain from repeating it.

Make a new mistake please!


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.

P & L Lessons from Virat Kohli

Virat 1.jpg

I accept that I am not a big cricket fan. But I watched the second inning of India v/s Australia match held on 27th March, 2016 during T-20 World Cup.

After watching Yuvraj, Virat and MSD play, everyone was in awe of this superb player Virat.

A patient individual, a supportive team player, an attentive listener, a dependable team member, a fitness enthusiast and an effective communicator.


1. Virat was patience personified on the crease. He persevered on each ball and collected ones and twos diligently with all the calmness of the world. Though he knew that they needed more runs, he patiently worked his way up. He looked completely unfazed by pressure. As any senior leader or a parent would do, he didn’t let the pressure mount up on him or atleast didn’t show it.

Virat 2.gif

2.When Yuvraj got injured, any player would have gone anxious. Not Virat. In his speech after the match, Virat emphasized on Yuvi’s contribution and highlighted that Yuvraj made valuable runs and then decided to go. Every organisation wants results at any cost but great leaders will value their team members even if they under perform sometimes. Parents should also be as supportive and accommodating of their children as Kohli was. We mercilessly make the other person feel unwanted / less useful if he is not performing at his best. Virat didn’t do so even during crucial moments. Leaders and Parents in us, please take note.

3.Virat himself acknowledged during his speech that Dhoni calmed him down otherwise he would have become overzealous. Virat listened to Dhoni’s advice with mindfulness and controlled himself. It is not easy to listen to anyone when you are a celebrated player yourself. It is far more difficult to accept that your senior helped you calm down and contributed to your performance. If team members and children could become mindful listeners, organisations and families would be in happier space.

Virat 3

4. Virat looked dependable and proved his mettle as a dependable member of the team. His demeanor was full of responsibility but in a subtle manner. His passion and dedication was visible when his knees touched the ground after victory and he thanked god but he didn’t wear his contribution on his sleeve, even for a second.

We start shouting about our contribution to our organisation and our family from every cliff but Virat looked completely consumed by his desire to make every ball count.

5. The exemplary running between the wickets by Virat and Dhoni manifests the importance of physical fitness which can be achieved only by sweating it out each day. Virat conveyed the importance of discipline and exercise very simply, when he said “That is what one goes daily to gym for”.

Virat 4

6. I appreciated Virat not only for his cricket skills but also for his excellent communication skills. He conveyed the team-spirit and the consistent effort of all the players without being arrogant. He spoke with honesty and clarity – two important traits conspicuous by their absence from most verbal exchanges. He started by thanking the crowd. He was overwhelmed, yet spoke like a master storyteller – evoking emotions in the heart of every listener.


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?



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.



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!

5 Signs that you are failing as a Parent #Big Idea2016

photo-parent-child-riding-bikesIt is very important for me to keep a tab on my ability and competence as a parent. Just as I cannot take credit for success of my organisation, I would never desire credit for raising a happy, confident, value centric child.

Nevertheless, I would always keep assessing my parentability.

You are failing as a Parent:

  1. If you cannot disambiguate your childhood memories:

“When I was a child, I always polished my shoes.

When I was your age, I never asked for pocket money.

When I was in 10th grade, I got my first watch on topping my class.”

You are telling the truth to your children but what about the remaining truths like when you bunked your school, when your father found out about the love letter you wrote to a classmate or when you cried whole night to go for a friend’s wedding.

After becoming parents, we tend to have biased and selective childhood memories. We only remember our achievements, our niceties and our obedience as kids. We conveniently erase all the memories of heartache we gave to our parents.

If you hide your shortcomings, your defiance and misdeeds, you are hiding your true self.

  1. If you live under an “I know everything” umbrella: Though we prepare for every small test, every interview, we never prepare for playing the parent role. We just feel like gaining all the parental wisdom by ourselves. It is important for us to admit that we need to reinvent ourselves after we become parents. We need a potion of discipline – balance – patience to start the journey. It is prudent to learn and upgrade our knowledge consistently on the way.

If we fail to curate our technology use, if we fail to appreciate their web content and music downloads, we will not be able to observe the evolving of our children into the personalities that they want to become.

  1. If you tell and not show: If you tell your children not to use mobile phones on dinner table but you keep checking your messages between meals (urgent office work!), if you tell your kids to exercise while you create new excuses to avoid Yoga or Gym sessions every day, your instructions will have no impact. It is very difficult to be a 24X7role model but then whosoever told you that Parenting is a joyride was genuinely kidding.
  1. If comparison bug has stung you:

”How many marks did the topper get?

Who got the highest package?

Why don’t you be punctual like me?”

If you use such questions, you must be comparing yourself too with your friends, colleagues and anyone worthy of your attention.

It undermines your confidence and self esteem. It makes you feel inadequate and it robs you off of your uniqueness.

To future proof your kids, tell them to benchmark themselves against themselves resulting in gradual and steady improvement.

Winners are trend setters who focus on breaking their own records. They are winners not because they win but because they focus on self improvement.

It is a norm in my household that we never discuss grades / performance of any other child. “I am interested in your performance only” is my standard response to my daughter. Love yourself the way you are. Love your children the way they are.

  1. If you are not grateful enough: When people feel entitled to get the services of a servant, a driver, a waiter as they are paying for it, they will never be grateful for all that they have got.

An ungrateful parent can never raise a grateful child. If you fail to develop the attitude of gratitude for everything from a day well spent to luxuries of life, you fail as a human being.



Can reverse mentoring at home and work improve our parenting and leadership skills?

Reverse Mentoring

Mentoring is generally defined as a one – on – one relationship where a senior professional (mentor) will guide or share his/her specialised wisdom with a junior (mentee/protégé)

By definition and convention, we believe that the senior or older people have all the necessary competencies to guide the junior folk. Mentoring shapes the right attitude among them. With internet of things (IOT) barging into our personal and professional lives, it seems practical and logical that we start learning from our children and younger team members. Our technological immersion requires us to be innovative in the way we decide to update ourselves. Learning from children at home brings fun, better connect and a healthy communication style in parent – child relationship.

When my daughter teaches me to change the settings of my phone to download videos or helps me to make a you tube channel, I swallow my parental pride and listen to her attentively. “Pay attention” echoes in the same way as it emits from my mouth when I solve a quadratic equation for her. The role reversal balances our bond and strengthens it.

One of my students manages my social media pages and keeps suggesting me ways to improve my digital presence. His mentoring is valuable and we as seniors must admit that we need to be trained by these young netizens for whom IOT is a part of lifestyle.

Technology wants leaders to be more open to the idea of learning from the younger executives as this will save time and lead to better learning on the job.

When parents learn a new skill from their children, they learn to appreciate their children better. Children learn to empathise with their parents and understand how the parents feel when they teach something to them.

When senior leaders get mentored by the juniors, the communication flows easily and the environment relaxes to some extent. Though it requires maturity at both ends, the results of such mentoring in the dynamic world of today could be enriching and lasting.