My blog’s new home

I am now hosting my blog with my website. The new location is: Hope to see you there! -Sharmin


Too many to-dos… Not enough time…Cause or Symptom?

My friend Amy calls herself lazy as she is always running behind her infinitely long to-dos. Even when she is sitting down she feels guilty that she was supposed to do something useful.  She says sorry a zillion times as she frequently cancels our coffee/phone chats at the last moment.

Seeing her hyperactivity makes me feel underperformed:). I have been wondering why is that we are always behind despite all the hard work? Why she feels compelled to say “Yes” to every request? Recently found some answer from this article. Saying “Yes”

1. Avoids conflicts

2. Takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important

3. Feels right as many of us have become addicted to the speed of our lives. We mistake activity for productivity, more for better.

Saying “No” would require us to know what our priorities are. Sad truth is many times we don’t know our priorities.  I remember when I was bored with my work (not seeing how my presence was making any difference) I used to sign up for too many things so I don’t have to face the hard truth that I need to figure out my purpose- it was too scary! As long as I was “needed” it justified my being.

In the same article Tony Schwartz also mentioned,

Making these choices requires that we regularly step back from the maddening crowd. It’s only when we pause — when we say no to the next urgent demand or seductive source of instant gratification — that we give ourselves the space to reflect on, metabolize, assess, and make sense of what we’ve just experienced.

Sometimes we are afraid that saying “No” is rude, it would hurt others’ feelings. But what we are unaware is, there are more powerful choices than being the prisoner of “Yes”. When you know what you care in the end you can always be honest and creative. Next time before rushing to say Yes, take a breath and Ask yourself: How can I honor my plans (assume you have one:)) and at the same time keep a great relationship with the people I care?

PS: If you don’t have a plan or are not sure about your priorities, lets talk!

Reference: “No” is the New “Yes”:  Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life

A Baby step isn’t just for the Babies

In my 1:1 coaching and group classes I have been teaching this concept from TED on how to create your own vision (what do you want) and design baby steps to take you closer to that vision.  A baby step is not just the execution; the idea, the planning, even as simple as carving out a solid 30 min from your busy day to think about your vision could be a baby step. A baby step gives you more clarity about your vision; it gives you added experience and learning. Even when you fail, a conscious baby step always takes you closer to realizing your vision.

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said it very eloquently in a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek:

One thing I learned is that while your vision should never change, you should keep trying different strategies until one works. If you can fine-tune your instinct and have confidence in it, then you can keep taking different bites of the apple and keep approaching the problem in different ways until you get it right.

What would be your baby step today to bring you closer to your vision?

Overnight success- How realistic is that assumption?

I sometimes wished one fine morning I will get the results I always wanted; I will get the solution of my problems. But alas it never happened that easily!  My grandma used to say, our luck is buried under a rock, and it requires lots of effort to get it out; whereas “others” have it under a leaf, a wind blows and they find their fortune! For many years I felt less fortunate as nothing came easy for me.

As I grew older and learned a thing or two, I realized many of the cases of those “fortunate others” actually took a great deal of failures, sacrifices and extra efforts to get to where they are today. As a coach, I get to hear from people that things won’t turn out as easily as they are not as smart as Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison. It takes quite a bit of maturity get out of the notion of “others are simply smarter or luckier”.

Today I found this article “The Dirty Little Secret of Overnight Successes” supporting my knowing. It gives the examples of early failures of today’s successful people and their ventures. Do you know that the popular game Angry bird is the 52nd attempt of its creator? It took them eight years and near bankruptcy experience before seeing its success. James Dyson failed in 5126 prototypes before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. Not to mention the legendary Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey were labeled as misguided dreamers in their early years. There is no shortage of examples like this.

Even today, despite all my coach trainings and years of wisdom I have been feeling so down because of a recent failure. This article reminded me of the greatest virtue of mankind, who can learn from their failures and grow. As long as I honor myself, one such failure is just taking me closer to hitting my target!  Thanks Josh Linker to help me feel better already :).

Link: The Dirty Little Secret Of Overnight Successes

In search of a dream career and a happier life

[If you are reading this only to find another “but” for not making any change, please give yourself permission to use this time for something else :).

Last week I saw two relevant posts on this topic, one in the Forbes magazine and the other in the TEDx talk. I have been wondering where these article/talks were few years back when I was in this dilemma! I am sure there were many, only that those somehow didn’t come into my radar. I had to do it the harder way. What helped me to make the decision were these few basic points.

When I was convinced, I deserve to have more fulfillment

It took me a while to realize, I am not here to “do” a lot of things, and I am not here to be a “super woman” either. I have worked hard not just to get even more work on my plate. I have achieved a position to buy some good time for me.

When I accepted the fact that there is no easy way out

For a long time I had hoped that one fine morning my manager would understand, my team would get better or something will change magically to reward me for all the hard work I do. That didn’t work. Finally I had to let go of those hopes in order to pursue the next thing I have longed for.

When I gave myself freedom from money stress

Growing up in a struggling middle class family I learnt money is not cheap and I don’t have the luxury to have zero income as the financial freedom gave me a lot of self-esteem. When I was stuck at this point, one talk at the Microsoft Women’s’ conference gave me the strength : “consider yourself rich when you are capable of paying your bills”.

When I was okay with the uncertainty

I was not 100% sure where I was going. I had some idea and I had the confidence that if I can dedicate some time for me, I will be able to figure out the rest.

Now looking back last three years, have I achieved what I intended? My answer is “Yes” and much more! Unlike fairy tales, there are still down times, disappointments and hard work, but most important is I now have more happy moments than ever :).


Why You Remain Stuck in a Career You Hate

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

My own: How I decided on Career Change

TED finds the lost ring

I have been busy for this week’s webinar. The topic is from the Power of TED; Empowerment is all I have in my mind. I even empowerd myself to be okay with taking a break from my weekly posts. But then I found this gift, call it the law of attraction or anything else!

Here it is:  When I was walking my daughter to school, I noticed she was holding the light-up ring in her hand (she bought it with her allowance money last week). I knew she misplaced it last night and had asked me about it. I got curious and asked her how she found it. She smiled wisely. “You know Mommy, this time I told my silly brain, I won’t let you take over and it stopped. And then I used my smarter brain to look for it and it was right there in my coat pocket”.  What a better example of empowerment can I think of!  I just had a proud parent moment and couldn’t help sharing it.

Katherine’s time management dilemma and the Power of TED

This morning on my way to walk I saw my neighbor Katherine in her signature pink sweat shirt. Both of us were glad to have a company for the walk. The weather was exceptionally nice for a Seattle morning; temperature was on the upper 40’s and the sky was clear with the golden rays of sun sparkling on the 84th avenue, my usual walking route. After a small talk I asked Katherine how she was doing in making time for the new part time job she started recently.  “I am not there yet, I need to start making some boundaries for all my responsibilities, my work, my children, my parents…” she started. My question just hit the center of her biggest challenge!

“It seems everyone needs me all the time, all of them got so dependent on me” -Katherine sighed. “What feelings come in your mind when they ask for your help?” I asked. “I get an anxiety that they can’t move ahead without me unblocking them and it will stay like this until I do something”. I gave a “really?” look at her face, she read a challenge there, “I don’t know though what is underneath that feeling”- she added. I figured Katherine could use some of the concepts from the Power of TED (incidentally I had been working on that the night before).  I asked, “You might be reacting to that anxious feeling, and as you react, the problem diminishes. As a consequence the anxiety lowers. Does this sound familiar?” Yeah, that sounds like right, Katherine agreed. “What is your fear if you don’t react right away?” Katherine takes a moment to ponder upon my question. “How about, a fear of not being needed” I added – Katherine was quick and honest, “that might be it”, she nodded as her voice sounded deeper as if she was validating it with her internal feelings. With her permission, next few minutes I gave her a short overview of how our usual way of being makes us a “rescuer” for others around us, when we are in the “rescuer” position we see others as helpless, and incapable. In this model the downside is we have to keep “rescuing” as the “poor” helpless ones become more and more dependent on us.  At times we the rescuers feel like a “victim” of all these “responsibilities”. Katherine smiled in agreement but still looked tired.

I asked her, “What would be a different way of helping and supporting those you care?” “I guess I could coach them, ask them what help they need from me, give them mental support assuring that they are capable to solve it on their own”, she utterd introspectively. Wow, Katherine seemed to be my ideal coaching client!  “You know, it makes sense logically but how do I implement this?” she said with a great dilemma in her mind. Being someone in her position only a few years back I had a great empathy for Katherine.  I said, “The answer is ‘Baby step’.  It took you 30-40 years to be this way; it will take a while. Take one small and sustainable step at a time”. At this point I invited Katherine to notice what feeling she was having inside her body. “More relaxed, I am breathing better”, she reported with a genuine wide smile in her face.

We realized it was already time for us to part as we neared Katherine’s house. Katherine thanked me generously for the little walk ‘n talk. I was glad that the TED concepts gave her a starting point and not to mention, felt quite good to have delivered a practice lecture for my upcoming class.