Where everyday is a vacation

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Imagine a life where everyday is a vacation. Where every single day we wake up smiling with a hop in our step.

What are things we do on a holiday? Slow down, hear the birds, feel the wind on our face, let go of all stress, do the things we love, spend quality time with our loved ones. We only do the things we love, we indulge ourselves, we breathe easier, we listen to ourselves, we laze in bed, eat slowly, sip on our coffee and relish the flavor, we watch strangers and soak in cultures. We are inspired easily, we laugh more and grin through the day.

Why can’t we do this everyday in our lives. Why can’t this become our constant state of being? A heightened awareness, doing what we love, smiling and in our zone. When we realize what we love, pursue excellence in our passion and then become so good that the world wants your talent, we enter a zone.
This zone allows us to indulge everyday doing we are passionate about, getting better everyday and honing out talent further and further. A laser focus on our competence and love for our own craft allows us to revel in the joy of what we love every day.

Combined with a life balance where we have enough time for ourselves and the people we love. Quality and quantity time with our families, friends and well wishers, touching lives each day and inspiring others yet being inspired easily. When we devote time for ourselves meditating in our pursuit for self knowledge and equanimity. When we learn to be authentic, don’t judge and be affected by situations and reactions. Imagine what a vacation life would be.

Sketches in a Singapore coffee shop

While Travelling to Singapore, I did a few sketches at a Starbucks on orchard street. It was midnight and raining outside.

While I was sketching people around me, I suddenly realised that on each table sat groups of friends busy with their phones. They were hanging out but not conversing or acknowledging each other. Smiling into their devices wrapped in its glow they hardly looked up at each other. Then they paid the bill and left.

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Here’s another page that’s an ode to coffee!

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And here’s one more exploration from my monk series that’s an attempt to add more color to my illustrations and also attempt a much larger format. It explores the meaning of equanimity.

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I haven’t been documenting everyday moments much while exploring hand lettering or doodling funny animals or monks.

Note to self: carry sketch book around and explore interesting snippets of every day life on paper.

Some explorations in hand lettering

Last night I played around with hand drawn type. I was trying to get depth and three dimension using markets and color pencils. After many wasted sheets, an interesting style emerged.

I am further going to develop this style later and add layers and depth.

This was meditative by the end of it, just these twirling words and me. Needless to say I slept with a grin.

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Visual notes: Converting learning to doodles.

A collection of scans from my sketch books of notes I have taken at various seminars and coaching sessions. I use the notes to visually summarise the learnings such that I never forget them again. When I do glance at the notes years later, everything comes rushing back clearly. These have served me well.

I have shared here a few examples of pages from my sketchbooks. They are concise capsules of the ideas I pick up.

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Meditation through drawing

I am suddenly enjoying illustrating detailed stylized birds.
I started drawing owls and chickens and I am particularly enjoying the details of the feathers and doting on the fine elements. In these moments, I completely switch off and my mind is only seeing the pen ink these lines as it comes alive.

I splashed on some color in the background to make them more interesting! Great fun. More coming soon!

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Finding myself at Kilimanjaro

One of the best things I carried in my backpack on my recent trip to Kilimanjaro was a sketchbook, a fine pen and a shading marker. Everyday as we trudged in to the campsite, I would scurry into my tent and retreat into a world of my thoughts trying to bring them alive visually.

Everything around me worked as catalysts- the air, the rain, the foliage, wind, clouds, my friends and the giant mountain that looked at me everyday.

More than all the pictures I took on the trip, it was the sketches that I treasured the most because they brought my thoughts alive.

Ticking off a bucket list

It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
-Sir Edmund Hillary

In an interesting case of serendipity, 2 years ago, I listed Kilimanjaro on my Bucket list of things to do for no specific rhyme or reason. A few months ago, the trip actually came alive as the universe listened and brought it to life. Before I knew it, some of my closest friends from school, from college and a very interesting mix of people from around the world made up our group of a dozen climbers.

Something about this group was magical.

“He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.”
-Friedrich Neitszche

Every single person in our group was unique in their personalities and together the bonhomie was infectious. Right from get go, there was laughter and camaraderie that permeated every conversation. There seemed to be an unsaid connection in every action. We seemed to know each other from a long time ago and set off like best friends on one mission. Maybe the purpose connected us or maybe the mountain just made us closer.

As the trip unfolded, we became a tighter unit- standing up for each other, helping, encouraging, laughing a lot, sharing food and looking out for each person. The outdoors have a wonderful way of helping us find ourselves and at the same time seeing people as they really are. The trek ended with best friends becoming even closer and new friends become like family.

Preparing for the climb

“Each fresh peak ascended teaches something.”
-Sir Martin Convay

All of us went through various preparation methods. I got myself a trainer and he worked on strengthening my core, my legs, shoulder and back and getting my overall strength in place. I jogged to build my stamina and did walks with 5 to 7 kilos in my backpack. Every weekend I would climb the steps of a 36 storey flat to get the calves in shape. I did this with a friend from Dubai, Bharat and we would time ourselves and see how we could improve our timing each time. The group had a whats app chat where we would motivate each other by sharing our preparation and exercise regimen.

Though the preparation helped a lot during the actual trek, finally it was about how strong we were mentally on the final summit day that got us to the top. Besides all that, that it was the amazing pacing and expertise that our guide Sarah Kingdom led us with through the days that also ensured we all made the summit.

The importance of a great guide

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”
-Greg Child)

A big part of getting things right on an adventure like this lies with how well we are guided in the journey. Sarah played a great part weeks before we even left. In our chat window, she would inquire about our progress every day, share quotes and helped build a bond amongst the group. Through the trip, she would ensure we set off on time and paced us through the day.

Thank you White Magic Adventure for the amazing coordination and organising of the trip.

http://www.whitemagicadventure.com

The trip of a lifetime

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

-John Muir

This adventure couldn’t have got any better! There was an amazing group, a daunting mountain peering through the clouds,  we trekked through rain, past brooks and giggling streams, saw inspiring climbers of all ages with the same focus, pitched tents amidst lakes and foothills and each of us made the summit. On the way down from the summit, heavy snowfall made our descent near impossible, snow over the gravel became ice and climbers kept falling and sliding like dominoes. That trek pushed our bodies to its limits and it was possibly the toughest thing I have ever done and for all of us it was our minds that redirected us back to our tents that day. We trekked 18 hours before we finally slept that night exhausted yet smiling over our personal victories that day.

The last day was the most beautiful part of the journey as we trekked downhill over 7 hours past hills, fields, flowers, foliage and a gentle rainforest. With new-found energy and exhilaration, the day was a abuzz with fresh thoughts and a cool breeze. As I walked, so much clarity about every aspect of my life unfolded in my mind. I felt so many knots untie themselves and ease away in those few hours. Clarity like the crystal clear streams that I walked past, changes in paradigm and a sense of calm.

Thank you Kilimanjaro for the adventure of a lifetime and helping me find myself!

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

(Dr. Seuss)

 

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Learning to network from Ivan Misner

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I was at an event today Organised by Right selection in Dubai. The modern guru of networking, Ivan Misner was more than amazing. He shared such simple but effective methods of networking and the importance it has in modern business. He is truly the father of modern networking, he is also a best selling author and the founder of the world’s largest networking Organisation BNI.

He explained that our social capital is the single most effective marketing tool in business. He further shared that in surveys conducted amongst businesses, 91.4% attributed networking to playing a key role in their success. He spoke of how this then needs to be the cornerstone of management education and the essential tool for any business.

Misner explained the blend between emotional quotient and intelligence and how contacts have to be converted into connections. He made a clear distinction between mindset and skill set and the role your ‘soft skills’ really play as a success catalyst.

I particulalry loved the analogy of The Butterfly Effect. He explained a scientific phenomenon where the constant flapping of a butterflies wings leads to a series of chain reaction which are unconnected and causes weather change. How a simple act can precipitate as an unknown domino effect into greater things. It was the serendipity concept taken to the next level.

He highlighted the concept with a story starting with him on necker island and meeting Richard Branson, then taking us through a flashback of related incidents which led to him to that moment.

He explained this further by explaining that we need to know out life mission and constantly evaluate the things we do against that as a beacon. When an opportunity arises, to question “Is this my mission” and say a resounding yes to any opportunity that arises towards that. “Follow the ripple” was a great catch phrase that summed that philosophy. See where the ripple leads you and see if its closer to your mission. It’s about weighing events and seeing if they are a distraction or an opportunity.

The referral process and networking he broke into a formula called VCP which stood for Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. They are a 3 step formula to convert contacts to connections and onwards to business. Through visibility you get people to know you and be familiar with you, Credibility is built as your reputation and enhances your image and trust by walking the talk , profitability comes after that through an ongoing reciprocal referral. He explained how its not a sales process but building connections and how our mindset should be to not just sell when we meet people, but also learn about them and a desire to buy their services.

These simple distinctions and analogies cleared a lot of misconceptions on what Networking is. It’s a process of farming and not hunting is what he gently reminded the room which was bursting at the seams with over 600 business leaders.

He shared insights on how men and women networked in different styles. This helped us understand the difference of being transactional versus relationship oriented. He shared ideas and techniques of networking which encompassed even simple methods of how we stand at events and how to have an open stance to invite visitors into the discussion.

He then explained a 12x12x12 rule where you are aware of the impression you make from 12 feet away. This is the way you dress, how professional you come across. Then from 12 inches away, which is what you say, how positive you are and then the first 12 words you say. This is also your elevator pitch, your USP. I loved the eyebrow test for your USP. He said when you say what you do, does the other persons eyebrows arch in excitement and do they “oh” or do you frown and wonder what the hell you are saying.

He explained then the stream of your influence and how many networks you have. This covered your casual contacts, professional associations and knowledge groups, your strong contacts (like BNI) and your online networks. What was wonderful was he explained how important the online contacts were even though he is the founder of BNI.

He ended explaining again the givers gain which is the same as the law of reciprocity and also “what goes around, comes around”. He egged everyone to help people out, build friendships and constantly build emotional intelligence.

The session was an eye opener with its simple fundamentals and for business like mine where references and word of mouth is our single largest marketing tool, today was a lesson for life!

I strongly recommend all his books!

I tried to capture the complete session through sketches and doodles. Hope this will help highlight the concept further for those reading.

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Notes from yesterday’s coaching

I was at a leadership coaching session all day yesterday. When I am imbibing knowledge, I like to doodle. My mind is at its heightened best when I am converting the knowledge into symbolic doodles on paper. I try and capture the dialogue between the mind and the information I process and more importantly the change it sets off internally. I love drawing monks because it symbolizes the meditative moment and the focus on self awareness and growth.

The Chinese characters depicted are but a figment of my imagination, except Kaizen which is the single most important guiding philosophy I live my life by. Kaizen is Japanese for continuous an never ending improvement. Incremental improvement every day that results in breakthroughs over time. It comes from two words Kai which means change and zen which means good.

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A selection of some of my old sketches scanned from my sketchbooks.

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If thoughts were horses

 

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Doha Airport dinner

 

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The battle cry
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Almost Heaven, Uganda safari
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King Bruce and the spider
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Introspection on clouds
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Looking back
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The breakthrough at dawn
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Bengaluru airport, Reading time
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Coffee in Nairobi
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The train ride from Milan
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King Bruce remembers the spider
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Confronting my dragons
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With a little help from my friends
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The branch meeting
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I see angels
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Peer pressure
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I saw the sign
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The weekend game
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My thoughts are wild horses
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Valhalla