Isn’t it a mystery

that mercy can break a heart

while justice can only break a bone

that we wish hard for signs

not knowing it is sight we need

that the wise can only be truly wise

when they dare to be foolish

that experience sees into our world

but a little child beyond it

that love will save you

from the ghosts caution will not

that we need faith

but faith needs doubt

that the all knowing spirit

inspired by mortals may have a change of mind

that perfection is the goal

but strength is in weakness

that we don’t choose to live

but must choose life everyday

that experts at reading words

easily miss the treasures between the lines

that in all the chaos

we live out some sort of order

that destiny is in our genes

yet the choice to claim it in our hands

that it is all in your head

but becomes real after a while

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Weaving in and out of spaces…

Thanks to my curiosity and the many diverse cultural experiences I have found myself in, I often find myself weaving in and out of spaces. Sometimes it seems the most honest path for me, to wear this lens, and then that lens, and then to have a space to throw out all the staleness and simply say- I don’t know, or I don’t know yet; I will come to this later.

That space for questioning and reinventing has become one of my most prized and most intimate sacred spaces. A place where I say I think I know this, but there is a part of me that thinks I may be wrong. A space where you will come home (however you define it) only as your own conscious decision.

In retrospect, one of the things I am grateful for about moving to Canada is exactly that- the gift of a space where things did not have to be rigidly defined.

A space where you weren’t pressurized to choose one of two Gods so you wouldn’t go to hell, a space where you didn’t have to know who you wanted to be in future, a space where good girls got drunk and smart hardworking boys smoked weed, where pregnancy was something to celebrate even for a to-be single mum, a place where you didn’t have to be married by a certain age and where atheists were kind and you wondered if it was true they worshipped the devil.

Moving away from home helped me to realize that we are all human, and just trying to figure this thing called life out, that mistakes don’t have to define us, that we can be open about the spaces where we question and we don’t know.

Sometimes it is quite scary not knowing exactly where this line of thinking or being or doing will take me, and what it will do the neatly arranged vases on my figurative shelf to be rearranged and ‘disorganized’. Sometimes I wonder how many rebirths I will have. But when it seems the most authentic expression of myself I must claim my sacred space of ‘I don’t know’ and have the courage to hold onto it for as long as it takes to be honest with myself.

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Growing pains

Have you ever made a strong resolve to do something only to realize shortly after that –

Blossoming

Blossoming

shoot, I missed my goal flat out? You set this massive target. I am going to work out more, read more, be a better friend, work harder, or whatever it is. Then a few days after some intense focus and consistency you fall flat on your face and even wonder what gave you the audacity to imagine that you could do such great things with yourself.

That is the huge risk that comes with having goals. You know that you know that you just fell short. That’s one of the most humbling and probably shameful things in the world.

One of my biggest goals this year was to be more resolute because I realized that was the only thing standing between me and my amazing future. My words for the new year were generativity and mindfulness and basically the heart of that was to fuel me to be a more resolute person- who enjoys every moment and expects the best out of life and just GOs.

In between all of that I had and still have to keep letting go of so much baggage- all the fear, self-doubt, comparison, letting people make you second guess yourself, letting little nuisances spoil your day/steal your joy, over-analysis paralysis etc haha. I started to believe that the future is bright regardless of any fear or doubt or worry or failure.

I learnt that we are actually all those great things we want to be. We are strong, we are beautiful, we are bold. Our task is not to be these things, but to drop all the extra ‘stuff’ so that who we already are can be more obvious. It is basically a journey of becoming who you already are.

Sometimes we forget our own stories of overcoming. A few days ago I was thinking about the past few years of my life- from surviving the scariest natural disaster I have experienced in my life, to moving to new countries on my own, to being sick, to lots of failure in so many shapes and forms, to working through numerous loose ends and knots, and the list is endless.

Sometimes we forget how much we have grown and changed and we don’t give ourselves enough grace. We place so much expectations on ourselves, we compare ourselves to others,  and don’t even allow ourselves time to grow into a more beautiful version of who we currently are.

Instead of telling ourselves our stories of overcoming we dwell on all the reasons why we are not enough. I have found that as I have loved myself even despite the things I am not yet, I come closer to being all the things I want to be. On the other hand, when I put myself down, all I do is drag myself down.

Have you tried talking to yourself and being a good friend to yourself? Most times we bully ourselves- pulling ourselves down for every little thing, even though we are nice to other people. So now when I over think things or something annoying happens to me, I stand up for myself and tell myself that the future is bright and everything is ok, and its not that bad and I am strong and I am beautiful.

As I look back, I realize that even though I feel like hiding in a cave when I fall on my face, over time I see that I actually am growing.

So now I have faith in the process- that if I keep putting some work into cultivating my life, my attitude, my dreams, I will look back again and see I have come far.

What’s your latest goal that you are sucking at and falling flat on your face about? Its all growing pains, but the point is, you are growing and you are moving forward.

Never give up on yourself. You can expect the best. You can take your dreams a notch higher and work hard for them because no one was created to be mediocre.

Just keep cultivating that garden that is your life, keep pulling at the weeds, keep feeding it, and give it some time. You’ll see something beautiful.

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Catalytic leadership

Last weekend I had to organize an event that I was really passionate about, like I told you in a previous video.

I had put so much effort into it, planned it, tried my best to make everything work out but since there were so many things I could not control- like who would turn up, how they would respond, the outcome of the night, etc- there was still a bit of nervousness somewhere in my heart.

Have you ever dealt with uncertainty?

Chances are, the more you try to do anything significant with your life the more you will have to deal with increasing levels of uncertainty. Our relationship with uncertainty is very important because it can affect our willingness to pursue those things that we were made to do.

A simple change of perspective has helped me to deal with uncertainty which I want to share with you.

It is the idea of catalytic leadership.

There is the ego-driven leader and then the catalytic leader.

For the ego-driven leader, everything centres on you. You don’t want to fail because you are afraid of looking bad. You want everything to go well because its all about you. You are the boss and you want to hold on to your false sense of control by getting everything to work out perfect at the expense of your happiness and that of others around you.

As a catalytic leader, it is about others. You realize that leadership is simply an opportunity. You have been entrusted with the humbling task of bringing out the best from everyone who has come your way and who you have the opportunity to influence.

Changing my mindset from making my nerves the centre of my attention to realizing it wasn’t about me opened me up to the joy of being a leader. I was simply a catalyst, organizing an event to help others get what they want out of life- be it fun, education, expanded networks, food (lol), and purpose. I was being sensitive to the needs of everyone around me to figure out the best way to meet it. I was giving them the opportunity to be a part of something great and to reorient themselves towards their passions and destinies; perhaps even open new perspectives for them.

This simple perspective- putting my ego aside and realizing I am simply a catalyst and the world doesn’t revolve around me- helps me help others and in turn help myself.

We make exchanges every day- we exchange our time, our resources, our money, our trust etc. As a leader, you want to make sure that instead of giving the least and expecting the most, you actually always give more value in every exchange you make. You give more value for the money paid for your time and services. You give more value for the time you share with others. You give back purpose for the resources you receive.

What of when you think you have nothing to give in return? In that case you wonder- how can you actually give value since you might think you are on the receiving end?

Not true. Value may not always be monetary.What I have learnt is that you can still give others value by giving them a platform to make a change, by respecting their thoughts, by allowing them to be part of something bigger than themselves, by being sensitive enough to notice their skills and to enable them get the best out of the experience, etc

That is your job as a leader, not to be the boss or figure head, but to put your ego aside and see how you can help others maximize their potential. Once you really get this, you won’t be short of followers and you won’t be short of success either.

Leadership is a great privilege. You never know why people step into your lives. Don’t miss the privilege of guiding them into their passions and destinies by being stuck in the me-first personality. Be a catalytic leader instead – a catalyst for the successes, happiness and destinies of others and in turn, your own destiny.

Desert Leader

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Creating the life of your dreams

This weekend I went to a 65081379_582e5a0fffbusiness/leadership conference with some friends and my brother . It was so amazing. I actually underestimated how much fun it would be and I learnt so much from different people who have been able to create the life of their dreams. I would like to share some of the stuff that I learnt with you.

My biggest take away was how important it is to live life on purpose and to invest some time and discipline into creating the life of our dreams.

Why is this important?  We are all after the expansion of life- being more, doing more, finding fuller expressions of the life within us- our gifts, desires, goals, personality etc

Putting some thought into your life gives you the opportunity to do this, as well as a greater capacity to help others, give more, serve more, build on your accomplishments for even greater success and get more out of life in general.

Here are some tips I got from the weekend on doing that.

1) How do you want to live versus what do you want to do.

We grow up being asked what we want to do and very quickly we find the ‘right’ answers to tell all the people who ask us. Most times the right answers are just the things that have been done before. We think in terms of a ‘career’.

Ditch the short term ‘job’ thinking for a bigger picture ‘life’ mentality.

Instead of thinking in terms of what you want to DO, instead think of the bigger picture- the life you want to live.  How much time do you want? How much money do you want to make? What kind of schedule do you want? What are the things you get fulfilment from? What are your values? Is it creativity, independence, competition, collaboration, uncertainty, etc

So instead of following a career path blindly, instead work backwards from the picture of the life you want to live, to what you will then do to make that life possible. It could be, but doesn’t have to be a defined or popular path, it could be a combination of income streams, it could be different things in different seasons, it could be anything; after all it is not the defined ‘career’ box you are after but after the life you want.

Working backwards from your values and the things important to you will give you a better chance of living a more fulfilled life since you factor in life and lifestyle and create a life unique to you. For me it is quite a shift because we grew up thinking we had to decide on the same old careers every other person did.

2)You don’t need to be good at everything.

Isn’t that a relief? You don’t need to be a perfect person. You are a unique person with a unique set of stronger points, weaker points, and make up. However, altogether you are still a gift because there is no one quite like you. Instead of focusing on the things you don’t think you can do, focus on your gifts.

What are your gifts?

When you understand that you are a gift, then everywhere you go you see yourself as royalty, giving the gift of your presence, your time, your love, your thoughts, your beauty and kindness to everyone you meet.

Focus on your positive points and drop the negativity- things you can’t control, pain, unforgiveness, low self image, comparison, intimidation, fear, procrastination, worry, concern. Be a better leader by using your unique set of gifts and cultivating them. It is not a waste of money to invest financially and otherwise in developing your gifts and unique leadership and communication potential. As you focus on being better at your gifts, you can use them to your advantage in making a living and a life.

3) Define yourself 

We have that wonderful power of choice. By using it to our advantage in deciding who we want to be, we automatically go from followers to leaders. Who do you want to be? What goals do you want to achieve in this phase of life?

We can best define ourselves not by what we say, but by what we do. Our actions show our priorities in life.

Your time and expenses show your priorities in life. Do they currently reflect your vision for your life or are they filled with distractions?

You want to prioritize your life so that your time and expenses show the things you have decided to prize and demonstrate a laser accurate focus on the goals fixed on your mind.

4) Give up to win

Life is full of choices and there are always other tempting alternative uses of our limited resources.  To succeed we must learn to make the best bargain for our limited resources and this involves using trade offs wisely. What are you going to give up in order to win? Achieving success in your goals means giving them laser sharp focus and the only way you can do that is by streamlining your life and disciplining yourself to make some hard but necessary tradeoffs. What things can you give up now so you can have them in abundance later?

5) Mentally win first 

Winning starts in the mind. If you don’t win in your mind first, your might work and work and work, however your limiting beliefs have already set you up to subconsciously self-sabotage. You change your life first on the inside and then the outside will follow suit.

One of the ways we can change our life is by thinking of our life stance.  Our life stance is basically the vantage point from which we view and interpret life. It is the sum of your daily attitudes, assumptions, expectations  about yourself, others and the world.

Our life stance is very important because sometimes we don’t even pay attention to our thought patterns and just go on auto-pilot. Our thought patterns are very addictive since they have been ingrained by experience, upbringing, personality, and association. We need to take a step back and actually think about the conclusions we make rather than just leaving them to happen automatically. Changing your life stance enables you to win in your head and once that happens, strength, enthusiasm, creativity, follow suit.

6) Who are your friends?

The relationships we have have a huge influence on who we will be. Our relationships affect our thinking, our health and well being, our growth in life. The right people in our lives are very powerful in helping us blossom and be the best we can be.

Media is a powerful and quite cheap way to be in the company of great people. In whatever area of life you want to succeed and grow in, all you need to do is find someone who has done and learn from their wisdom in their books, cds, videos, blogs etc.

Good friendships are very important like I already said here.

Vertical relationships are also powerful. Some of the leaders I have interviewed on this blog and chatted with elsewhere have talked about the power of mentorship in helping you arrive at your goals faster. I find that people are generally willing to help in the area of their success, so just take the initiative to develop a relationship with someone with the success in the area of life you are willing to develop. It can give you a lot of insight and save you a lot of time.

A good rule of thumb in finding a good mentor is to get advice from people who have success in the area of life you want to develop. There is no use asking a nice but poor person for financial advice. If you are looking for help in developing an aspect of your character look for someone with great character. If you need help with academics look for someone doing well academically. If you need help in relationships look for someone with an admirable relationship etc. Take initiative to develop relationships and you’d be surprised how people want to support you.

7) The things you don’t do can hurt you.

The things you overlook due to procrastination, short-term thinking, fear, doubt etc can get in the way of your success. I read about a study that showed that less than 5% of people (I think it is somewhere between 2 or 3%) are actually financially ready by the time they retire. Think about the fact that most people do something before retirement. Most people work but it is the things they don’t do that mess them up big time. This is why it is important that we don’t think like everyone else. Be different and think long term. Think about what you want out of every area of life. Give us the gift of your uniqueness by putting a little more thought into making your strengths and personality shine in powerful and creative ways. Work hard to make it happen. Live a purposeful life.

Ps this blog was featured on timetradingguru.com here: http://timetradingguru.com/?p=1123

Do check it out.

Little graces

Today I was about stepping out of the taxi and it had started snowing a lot, when this guy opened the door to get in while I was still getting ready to step out. I stepped out and said a ‘thank you’. My thank you was playfully ironic, because yes he opened the door for me but the polite thing to do would have been to wait for me to get out of the cab before almost shooing me out so he could get in.

I started walking really fast to get into the train station because it was snowing so much and I heard him calling after me. I looked back and realized that as I was rushing out of the cab, my iPhone had slid out of my jacket pocket. He gave it to me.

If he wasn’t there to open the door while I was still trying to get out of the cab, I would be looking for my iPod everywhere right now and wouldn’t have a clue that it had fallen out of my pocket.

This is interesting because throughout the weekend, I had been thinking about  my experience of the word ‘grace’ and the perfect analogy for it.  I finally found it. Today’s incident captures grace best for me.

Grace to me is this unexpected interruption of the status quo in my life that is surprising yet mostly underestimated and often ends up saving the day. Because it happens in a sliver of a moment I can easily forget it even though it has made a big difference in my life.

Most often in life, we see all those things that are yet to happen or didn’t happen the way we wanted them to happen in our lives. We see our failings and our failures. They seem so obvious to us, but we fail to see those little graces that save the day. Those people we almost didn’t meet but got to meet and led us to the next level. Those things we almost didn’t do but ended up doing and were glad we did. Those places we almost didn’t go but found out we were there in perfect timing. Those improvements we have made over time. Those little serendipitous moments that changed our whole lives yet we easily overlook.

I remember reading this guy make a risqué analogy of God’s grace in his life. He called it divine manipulation. I know manipulation is not a very comfortable word to use, but I relate to that divine manipulation in my life. Yet because it is backed by powerful love, and the best intentions for me, I look back and am grateful for it even though you can bet I kicked and protested initially.

I am so grateful for little graces. They are small but mighty in my life. Like that guy that was there in the nick of time to pick my iPod right as it fell off my pocket, grace is there to pick up the ball when we have just recently dropped it. To pick up faith when we have just dropped it. To pick up hope when we can’t seem to muster it. To pick up love when we have run dry of our own reserves.

The most painful failure might not be when others fail us but when we have failed ourselves. Grace allows us to know there is still another chance to rise up to our true self- not that self that our vices taunt us into believing we are, but that self is divine and reflects the essence of God.

I love grace and I love how Jesus is described as full of grace and truth by one of his followers, John. Grace is the only lens for finding the truth in this world and attempting to be aligned with it, at least for me. As a Christian, I am called to paint a picture with my life. A picture that gives a gift to everyone that sees it- God, others, even myself, now and in the future. I am to receive the gift of unconditional love and then keep receiving it as it transforms my own life into a gift. Without grace, I would probably kick too hard and run off in the opposite direction or I would feel too incapable of attempting to create something beautiful with my life and then give up.Grace enables me to rise above and up to every challenge.

The beautiful thing about grace is that although grace brings out the best in you, grace with wait on you too. Grace will let you cry, grace will dry your tears, grace will watch you acting up and wait for you to be ready to come back to your senses, then grace will love you back to your senses.

Grace allows me freedom to make mistakes and know I can still return home. Grace allows me to try to find myself without fear of being lost. Grace allows me to know the best is yet to come. Grace also lets me know that even when I feel like it, it is never over. If need be, grace lets me retrace my steps without fear of rejection. Grace is a gift that asks me to receive it and then grace is a gift that changes my mundane life into a gift.

In relating to others, I hope grace can be my prejudice.

How about you? What are those little coincidences and graces in your life? Those moments you almost let go and your figurative ‘iPod’ was picked up for you and placed back into your hands? Its so easy to forget these things… these small but mighty graces.

Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules … which don’t help those who follow them – Hebrews 13:9