Breaking Free

Breaking Free from Social Comparisons

Somebody has rightly said “We’re living an era where capturing moments using our phones is more important than actually living these moments with whoever is beside us”

Striving for creating a well-appointed life, showcasing it on social media even if something like it does not exist, has become a trend. Is there something like a perfect life or is it a perception people have? Look at all the facebook post and all you would see happy smiling faces, beautiful travel destinations and people trying desperately to improve their image. It makes those that are less privileged feel envious when they start doing social comparisons.

Kusum’s story

Something similar was the case with my young friend Kusum. A brilliant individual, loving, caring and hard working. Kusum was passionate about her job. A graphic designer by profession, Kusum was enjoying every bit of her work. She grew up in an environment where having one square meal a day was always a challenge. She had seen those tough days and was thankful to her parents and the almighty for all that she had gained today.

But life never remains constant, it always evolves. Kusum started spending a considerable part of her time connecting with her friends, on facebook. This had started taking a toll on her performance. She was getting into a state of despair as envy changed to an intense desire to gain more in life. She was painting a picture of a perfect life. Looking at all those facebook posts, her perception of life & happiness had changed. Without her knowledge, she was becoming more materialistic. She knew she could not afford all the fancy stuff her friends had posted on facebook.

Facebook Effect

Kusum’s new ambition slowly started impacting her work. This led to depression and her job was at risk. Her parents were worried. Her boss was concerned about her performance at work. It was difficult to convince Kusum, that most people post highlights of their lives on facebook. Rarely people would talk about their trials and tribulations in life.

I had known Kusum from her college days. I was her mentor during her college days and her initial years at her job. She was brilliant in academics and completed her education on scholarship.  Kusum continued to stay in touch with me, but of late had not heard from her. It was, thus, surprising when her manager called up requesting help for Kusum

To get her out of this phase, it was important I engage her into something which was more productive. She was constantly comparing herself with others and losing a sense of reality. In the first few conversations with her, it was clear that she was completely taken over by the facebook craze. Each time she wanted a break from her work, her fingers would click the facebook login. Kusum was reluctant to delete her facebook account. For her, that was the only way she could stay in touch with her friends and know what was happening in their lives.

Breaking free

Kusum was good at arts and crafts. I engaged her in activities that allowed her to leverage her love for crafts. I got her to think of becoming an entrepreneur. She had started researching on how to be an entrepreneur. During our evening walks, she would discuss some of her fears with me.

The time spent on facebook reduced. She was busy now with her new found passion of starting her design studio. .I introduced her to some of the NGO’s that worked in the creative field. Kusum started contributing and helping them. I helped her connect with entrepreneurs from whom she could get some useful guidance on how to start her entrepreneurial journey

It took some time to divert Kusum’s energy and focus on something that was useful. Had it not been for her boss and her parent’s timely intervention in getting her support, Kusum would have been a victim of depression.

Social Media distractions.

The key to remaining focused and staying away from social media distractions is to focus on your work and daily activities. It also calls for a lot of self-discipline.

Life is not always as beautiful as seen on facebook. Comparing and envying someone for posting beautiful pictures, makes life more stressful than beautiful. There is nothing called a perfect life. Don’t let the pressure from facebook post sway your thoughts and direction.

While it may not be possible to completely switch off from social media as it may have some professional usage, the amount of time spent on the sites can be within limits.

Be more “mindful” and in the moment. Do not allow digital distractions to sabotage your life and cause anxiety.

Walking away from facebook login, allowed Kusum to see a whole new view and look at opportunities that she had never explored before. She did connect with some of her facebook friends, but in person, over a cup of coffee. It allowed her to look at relationships in a new light.

“Be happy about your own life and you’ll be amazed at just how much more beautiful you’ll find it to be.”
― TemitOpe Ibrahim

A journey down the memory lane – My visit to Kutch

I visited Bhuj-Kutch after almost four decades. Around 50kms from Bhuj are the busiest port cities, Gandhidham and Kandla. Kandla is the largest seaport in Kutch district of the State of Gujarat on the west coast of India.

My Childhood Days

The first 16 years of my life I had spent in these quiet cities. Life those days was peaceful, secure and free of any distractions. A lot of my childhood memories included my mother’s passion for maintaining well-manicured lawns and flowering garden. Her fabulous home cooked food, the aroma wafting through the entire house. My father is even to this day remembered for his devotion to his patients and to the medical profession.

My Childhood Home

A big playground in front of the house where I spent a considerable part of the evenings playing with friends. It was here, where I actually learned cycling. On the secure roads in the colony,  my father gave me my driving lessons. Every corner of the house and its surroundings held countless memories.

Kutch -Art, Craft & Culture

Kutch is situated in the north of Gujarat state on the west coast of India. It is famous for its art and craft all over the world. People from diverse communities and castes live in Kutch

People in this part of Gujarat are humble, simple and affectionate. They are known for their simplicity, hard work, and their hospitality. There is a certain warmth in their communication and the way they would treat any visitor. Even after four decades, I saw no change in the culture and attitude of the people of this place. They would instantly connect with you and treat you as one of them.

Dust storms and the earthquake tremors is a normal way of life in this part of the country. But the most tragic earthquake which razed Bhuj and surrounding places and caused havoc was on the 26th January 2001. I had lost a few friends and acquaintances on that fateful day.

What I was seeing now was a rebuild Bhuj. Good accessible roads, clean villages, a model city with new buildings.

The Rann festival has put Kutch on the global map today. And you can see signs of that as you board the flight from Mumbai to Bhuj and most of your fellow travelers are the tourist from other countries.

While I was traveling to Gandhidham with the intention of attending the Golden Jubilee celebration of my school, I had planned to spend time with friends and visit the craft villages in & around Bhuj.

School Friends at the Reunion

School Reunion

Unfortunately, I could spend only a day in Bhuj, but what I saw & experienced was amazing. My personal passion for art & craft overshadowed the fatigue that I felt having spent a large part of my three-day trip in traveling and visiting school friends during the School celebration.

Trip to the craft village of Kutch

Within the short time that I had at my disposal, I interacted with locals, craftsmen & weavers, founders of NGO. The NGO’s work towards upliftment of the craftswomen in these villages. They help in training them and supporting them to channelize their traditional skills for sustaining their craft & culture.

Beautiful Creations

Craftsman and Craftswoman at their creative best

I was able to visit Bhujodi craft village, Hiralakshmi Memorial Crafts park, the  Swaminarayan Temple and Madhapur Village. Madhapur Village is about 6kms from Bhuj. It is Asia’s richest village according to a survey and an article published in Time of India.

Splendid Architecture

Swaminarayan Temple- Splendid Architecture

About 65% people of this village, mainly Patel’s, are NRI’s settled in Gulf, USA, UK & Africa.Despite their riches, the people of Madhapura are unassuming and lead a simple lifestyle

A typical weaver’s home and workshop in the Bhujodi Village

One striking thing is the humble and simple attitude of the village craftsman. They are good marketers and craftsmen, several of them honored by the President’s award. Many of them have extensively traveled all over the world, but at heart, they are simple folks.

I did shop for some of the exclusive products created by these craftsmen. Showcasing a few below. If you are interested in any of these products and need help, leave a comment below and I will be happy to help.

The crafts Village in Kutch

Beautiful creations

 

Frankly, you only need to visit these places, to experience it.

As aptly summed up by Sam Ewing-
“When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed but your childhood.” ~Sam Ewing

Looking back- Dancing with Change

journey

 

“Life is a dance, you learn as you go.
Sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow.
Don’t worry that you don’t know.
Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.” 

John Michael Montgomery

Life  is a dance and you learn as you go. This resonates with me.

The last one year has been a terrific learning experience for me as a Coach, Mentor, and Consultant. I had to learn and unlearn quite a few things. But today as I look in the rearview mirror , I can see the curves, the challenges, the highs and lows of the year gone by.

Before I embarked on this journey, I had talked to several people in the industry and in my network. There was a mixed reaction. While some  encouraged me ,others thought I was out of my mind to leave a secure  job.

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~ Vincent van Gogh

The more I spoke to people, the more confused I would get. Finally, I decided to listen to myself and took the plunge.  As I look back, I realized it was difficult for anyone to give me a definite answer. I was looking for affirmations, but I could get none.

Only you can be the best judge of your own strengths. I did not know how this decision would play out, but now I think I made the right decision

If there is a fear of falling, the only safety consists in deliberately jumping….Carl Jung

During the last one year , I met and made several new friends. I can never forget the support and encouragement that some individuals offered.

I discovered incredible things about myself. Some that were encouraging, others not so encouraging. I decided to re-skill myself and chose to work on programs that were close to my heart. My passion and skills resonated with what I had decided to do.

This was the beginning of my second career and I had no intentions of taking it easy. I wanted to be successful in working on projects that were close to my heart. Projects on which I could leverage my decades of experience in the industry and add value to my clients.

Definition of Success 

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful- Albert Schweitzer

In a career spanning three decades , I had transitioned through different industries, roles ,responsibilities, culture . I had learned lessons on the way which ,today I found useful. As in the past will this transition be successful? I was venturing into unknown territory. It required me to stretch out of my comfort zone.

My definition of success had changed. I was no longer counting or defining the success by the money I made, or the title I earned. But was defining it by the amount of time I was spending with people and helping them. Sometimes free has value they say. Each time I agreed to do something free for a client, gave me a new experience. It also showed me opportunities which I would never have thought about. Learned many valuable lessons in the process.

My learnings……

In the last one year on this journey, I had a few learnings

  •  Before you decide to start on your own, be sure of your own strength,  and passion.
  • Talk to people in your network and those in your family, but at the end follow your heart.
  • Be ready to reskill and learn new things. Experiment with new ideas.
  • Reach out to people and ask for support.
  • Be honest with your clients and listen to what they need.
  • Be humble.

” We need to Talk” Difficult Conversation for the First time Manager

 

we-need-to-talk1

Have you in your experience heard the words, ” We need to Talk”

You have either said this to someone or someone has said this to you. In either case , these four words can be  stressful. Be it at work or at home , from your boss or your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, these words always signal of expected change & transition.

I have  experienced butterflies in my stomach whenever I have heard these words. My mind would spin off in different directions and leave me thinking of all the negative stuff .

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