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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Manage Stress at Work

How terror attack survivors taught me the secret to overcoming stress?

Our generation is impacted heavily by workplace by stress. I was one of the worst sufferers of this pervasive, persistent and insidious psychological threat for years. I consulted neurologists, psychiatrist, nutritionist and personal fitness trainer in addition to countless hours of searching for find the magic solution for improving my condition.

List of things which I tried to get rid of stress and anxiety:

•    Started circuit training and running in the early morning to increase my endorphin level naturally.
•    Used to play and cuddle my pet dog to get enough oxytocin
•    Tried Reiki and other meditation technique to control my mind
•    Changed my diet pattern. I added dark leafy greens, nuts to increase intake of Magnesium, include eggs for breakfast, milk before sleep along with multivitamin capsules.
•    I tried all these options along with taking daily prescribed medicine- Pexceps.

But, my life was not exemplified by abundance, happiness, and joy.

The problem became acute once I moved to Kenya in 2012. Workload and continuous traveling in African countries took a further toll on my emotional health. My existence became crippled. I became heavy smoker and alcoholic.It went to such extent that I started contemplating to quit the job.Some of friends told me that I am suffering from mid life crisis and time is the best healer.

One evening I tuned to the local English Channel to know more about the terrorist attack in Lamu, Kenya by Al-Shabaab. TV journalist was interviewing a young girl and her grandmother who not only survived the brutal attack but also walked whole night through the forest to reach a safe place.

The journalist asked the young lady “How they managed to remain calm and escape scratch free while such macabre murderous spree was going on?”

She responded in her broken English “My grandma told me to take deep breaths and move one step at a time. Thank Jesus with each step. I did that.”

“How did you gather such courage?”

“My grandma was continuously whispering not to think about the terrorist attack. Keep walking. My throat choked with fear. The whispering of grandma helped me to gather enough energy and courage to move ahead in the night.”

The old lady said (as translated by TV journalist) “The thought of saving the life of my granddaughter didn’t allow me to think about fear, shock of losing family and year old knee pain which restricted my movements for years now. I prayed for her safety and Jesus helped me.”
I switched off the TV, came to the balcony and started thinking about the news. Words like “don’t think”, “acceptance”, “thanks to Jesus” started reverberating in my mind. I was amazed by the power of these words which helped these two ladies to overcome all challenges including fear of death in that night.

I started asking myself “Am I not driven by the negative thoughts of the random chattering of my mind?”

I started walking up and down on the patio and started thinking how I can master strength to overcome the depressing and negative thoughts.  I used to build confidence and courage by strengthening positive thoughts.

Once I started accepting my situations and surroundings, my circumstances improved. It took me almost two years to transform myself. Doctors reduced the dosages of my medicines. My blood pressure became normal and started sleeping well without any medicine.

The clue for my transformation was forming new habits.

Five Habits To Manage Stress At  Work And Stop Damaging Your Career & Life

1.    Stress a great motivator

I realized whenever I blame my luck it’s nothing but my unfulfilled wish or expectation mismatch. I came to Africa for exciting and challenging work. And, personally, I wanted to experience wild Africa. It was my decision. I started owning my decision instead of blaming others. Once I gave permission to myself to be stressed, the rush of Adrenaline improved my efficiency level.
The key here is to remember life is a marathon, not a sprint. It took me six months to have the paradigm shift of my mind. You can refer to the Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) by Kazimierz DÄ…browski to understand more about personality development which I often consulted during my transition.

2.    Become a morning person 

“A man paints with his brains and not with his hands” - Michelangelo
I inspired by Robin Sharma’s “holy hour” concept. I start my day with a cold shower after getting up early morning. Next, I use visualization technique to make my day a perfect day in my mind. I identify possible stressors of the day and visualize how I manage those stressful situations.
Next, I identify my top 3 tasks for that day. I visualize all the activities for that day and see the proper closure of each activity.  Following these principles of laws of attraction, I found my daily life become less chaotic. I complete these rituals everyday morning because the consistency on fundamentals gives success.  This process helped me to find a new mantra of a happy life - celebrate now! Tomorrow is Mystery and Yesterday are Histories”.

3.    Practice a habit of gratitude and acceptance 

Rising demands at office required longer working hours in a very competitive environment. It took a toll on my emotional health. I fought and complained the same but didn’t help.
I finally decided just to come and do the work the best I can do. I started to focus only things which give positive feelings. I started accepting what is required to concentrate on resolving the current job at hand.

I taught myself to take the harsh words of my seniors and clients not literally.
After few months, I found that this habit of the conscious practice of understanding and empathy improved my relationships with co-workers, and I am much less stressed. Over time, I learned to focus only good things at work and started sharing good events of life among ourselves.

All these practices resulted in a more expansive mind which is not narrowly focused on its little story of how things should be, but can see those small incidences as a part of a bigger picture.
I recommend you to have a feeling of the attitude of gratitude. You should feel everybody important with a genuine smile, show warmth by gentle tap above the elbow and direct eye contact for 100% attention the person. And always be an optimist.

4.    Declutter your work area and life

I influenced by Henry David Thoreau statement “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” I create a motive to remove all unnecessary things from my life so that necessary can enter my work and I can give full attention to those small details of necessary things. I make a habit of cleaning my desk, drawers of the table. I started keeping minimum necessary things. I deleted the useless contents from my computer also. I removed all digital garbage from the hard disk. Now, I clean my work space once a week and often decorate my office room with the personal touch.
The information is the biggest clutter in today’s life. I put a block on information flow which reduces chattering of my mind, and also it increased my personal productivity.

5.    Adapt to changes

This one was difficult for me. Any change used to trigger panic button within me. After several months self-introduction, I started accepting changes proactively. I used to remind myself that the change is the architect of future.
I recommend you to evaluate your coping strategy for any change. You should eliminate the idea of avoidance of any change. I followed Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman’s approach as documented in "Transactional Model of Stress and Coping".
Whenever you feel an internal resistance in accepting a change, go for a small walk, and play with some apps on the smartphone to divert your mind.

Learn to have a fica moment daily in office - pause for some time and relax in the company of colleagues

6.    Be a good communicator and be more social 

I used to feel uncomfortable in meeting and social gatherings. I consulted life coach Dolly Manghat on how should I be more assertive in social groups and meeting. After few sessions, she advised me to try to become more influential rather that get mired in tactics. I took few lessons on how to have small talks, be a good listener and use nonverbal body languages from her to improve personal effectiveness.
Almost after one-year active practice, I became more socially active and assertive in my behavior. My individual and professional contacts increased many times. My confidence grew, and I worked in a more relaxed way.
In summary, stress is a response to challenges in life. A life without challenges is too tedious to contemplate. You need to learn to use stress as your friend. It can’t be accomplished overnight — I’ve been eliminating stressors in my life for a while now, and I’m still not done. But I think it’s a worthwhile goal.
These habits helped me to have a happy life. I have more fun in life as I always try to be happy at that particular moment and space.

What is the secret?

We live in two dimensions i.e. mind and body. We need to start living in three dimension where the third dimension is our intelligence. Using knowledge without ego is the key to having a Zen-like life in today’s  life.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.   “- Aldous Huxley

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Role of EA in India

Future of Digital India  in the era of Modi Economics

There is a direct push by PM Mr. Modi on digital India. It's indeed an encouraging for us Indians. But, will they consult real hands on technical people. I hope it will not be another story of big dream only.

I think to make the concept of digital India reality, Government of India needs to think about followings

1. Digital India requires  real enterprise architects who will do the skillful manipulation of the enterprise  structure and behavior within this complex environment.

Otherwise executives will run after behind frameworks like TOGAF, Zachman Framework because frameworks are cocaine for executives 

2.  A big push requires Big Data filed and for all government departments. Truthful data provide EA with the pulse of the enterprise and its environment.

3. Government should focus on continuous business transformation supported by Agile program management.

4. Need to grasp ( cautiously )  the deeply transformative nature of the Cloud which is a true disruptive technology. Several technocrats can start their small but highly profitable business on cloud platforms.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why posture shirt

Do you want to reduce fatigue by 30%

Today, average person sits 70% of the time and this is as bad as smoking.  Sitting for long term is bad for your health. 

Evidence is growing that computer users are at increased risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (especially those involving the upper extremity), resulting in health problems for the workforce and financial/productivity losses for employers. Blame it on bad posture,

Alignmed’s Posture Shirt is the easiest answer I’ve found. Just put it on. It does all the rest with it’s sewn in neuro-bands that provide controlled resistance and create a form of passive therapy to fix poor posture. The products have been FDA registered, granted prescription approval and vetted with research and over 80,000 users to date.

I found this shirt brings my neck into a better position so it relieves neck back and shoulder pain.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Why Failures are Good For You?

 Ups & down are the paths of life. I too experience a fair share of that.

I know the feeling of failure is how devastating. Over the years, I learned why it is called failures are failures of success.
Here are 5 reasons 
  1. You went for it instead of just sitting around envying others or having a pity party.
  2. You proved that you have characteristic traits like courage, determination, patience, willingness, initiative and a bunch more.
  3. You made yourself vulnerable, which later will make you powerful. Just watch!
  4. You completed something – because you can’t fail until you get to a certain point where you determine if you have won or lost. So you have completed something but the results were not in your favor. Still, you get points for completion.
  5. You decided that it was worth trying something and failing instead of not trying at all. This is huge.
Share your opinon

Sunday, December 21, 2014

3 Tips for success in customer facing role

What I learnt after working as a customer facing executive program manager?

1. Let customers know you in person  - Make sure you are in touch with them. Talk to them. It doesn't matter how sincere you are unless your customer feel that & believe that.

2. The customer should know how to reach you - Customer should able to reach you the moment they think they need you. This gives a confidence to customer that you are with them. This will help you to avoid several escalations to your seniors.

3. Offer your expertise  & advices without being pushy - Give suggestions and try to lead them in the best possible way instead of trying to just manage them.

Golden Rule : Please note Escalation doesn't help, but talk & sincere listening helps.