Welcome to the Deploy Yourself Newsletter. Every two weeks I share what impactful leadership looks like to show your own power. I also share the most insightful lessons and stories I encountered in the last two weeks. You can also read this issue online.
My Story – How losing my rock led me to become a rock for others?
I am sharing something very personal to me today. It has been 9 years since my mother passed away. I am still making sense of how every day without her has shaped me and continue to shape me.
I was 29 when my mother died. I am shaking while I type this because this is very vulnerable for me. It’s not that we did not have enough time together. It’s more that she never got to meet my wife and son. She never got to play with her grandson – one of the most joyful parts of life.
My mother was the center of my universe. In the last 9 years, there have been many instances when I have melted down thinking about her. There have been nights when I slept with wet eyes. Her whole life (at least the part I remember) was about her children. She shaped who I am and how I think. She was my rock.
My mother was deeply passionate about everything she did. The best word to describe her is the Hindi word “Junoon“. She had a “junoon” (passion bordering on obsession) about things. She would laugh and have loads of fun. At the same time, she would cry, get angry, and become sad at times. She was always there in the moment – fully alive, fully feeling her emotions, and fully expressing herself.
I would have her back in a second if I could, but losing her gave me a perspective on life that would not have been possible otherwise. She is still teaching me every day as I reflect back on what her passing away means for me and my future.
I have a unique appreciation of what I have because I already lost everything when my mother died. What else do I have to lose? This perspective makes it easy for me to take bold risks and see life as it is, not as I hope it should be.
Today I am living a life that I never imagined possible. I have travelled and photographed more than I ever hoped for. I have my wife and my son and I am doing each day what I want to do. I spend my time reading, writing, and in conversations with leaders who inspire me with their bold visions. Now, I am their rock. It took me a while to realise this, but I now know that my purpose is to be a rock to those who are creating a future I want to live in. That is my mother’s legacy.
I often say that I am ready to die. Realising that there is nothing more I need fills me up with a peaceful joy rather than sadness. It allows me to dream big for the future but not be attached to it. It allows me to spend each moment with the “junoon” (passion) of my mother without getting overwhelmed and disappointed with an unexpected outcome.
Losing my mother was a pain I can not describe, but I am thankful for what I am learning each day from it. It taught me not to take life for granted, and the importance of enjoying every day and each moment.
I wish my mother could see me now. And perhaps she can. I know how proud she was of me. And will continue to be. I will keep my mother’s memory alive by being a rock to those around me like she was for me.
What is your story? As I work with and interview leaders from all over the world, I realise that though our stories shape and influence us, they do not define us. They give us meaning and purpose, and what we do with that purpose is totally up to us. What events or people have shaped you to be the person that you are?
Articles and Stories Which Have Fascinated Me
Lessons from my 7 favourite leadership books
Reading a book is like having a conversation with the author. I have spent the last 10 years reading hundreds of autobiographies and other leadership books from people across industries and continents. Below are 7 of my favourites (in no particular order) and my lessons from them.
- The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership
- Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values
- True North
- Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders
- Leadership: In Turbulent Times
- Finite and Infinite Games: James Carse
- Small Giants: Companies That Choose to be Great Instead of Big
10 Tools to stay mentally sharp at work
- Take “Smart” Breaks (activities that are unlikely to become an ongoing distraction)
- Wean Yourself Off Your Phone (Creating working spaces or times where distractions aren’t accessible)
- Shift to the “Meta” Task (shift to a more abstract layer of a problem)
- Apply the Yerkes-Dodson Law (more complex, creative work benefits more from a relaxed kind of focus)
- Set Specific, Achievable, Short-Term Targets
- Cultivate an Interruption-Free Environment
- Jam Your Quitting Triggers
- Master the Power Nap
- Minimize Mental Overhead (offload what you’re doing onto paper)
- Mindfulness meditation. Just calm your mind and let yourself gently return to the task when distracted.
From an article titled 10 Tools to stay mentally sharp at work
An ultimate guide to memory palaces
This is for you if you want to remember things well and improve your memory. The brain isn’t good at storing things but generating ideas. It also depends on what sort of things, but we tend to forget them anyway. If something is unique or interesting, it’s simpler to remember, right?
It’s simple to remember spatial information. You know where the nearest shop is and where to find the section with bread. Or, where the things are placed at home. Memory palaces is a system to connect information, to memorize and retain it better. It’s not exactly a particular place, because one may have multiple palaces. It’s a private space in your head where you remember where did you “put” some information.
While the method is prominent to memorize almost anything, it doesn’t help you understand the data. You won’t learn by only memorizing. What you do is having raw information. When you retrieve it, you can then explore it better. So, one may store ideas to retrieve them later for further “investigation”.
What do you need to create the first palace:
- A place to store objects. A road, street, room, other familiar places.
- An association with real-world information you want to remember. It may be absurd, but the connection is more important.
- A connection between associations. These should be unique and funny, to better memorize a story.
From an article titled An Ultimate Guide to Memory Palaces
The Benefits of Silence for a productive and meaningful life
There was an old man whose most beloved possession was a watch left to him by his late wife. He treasured the timepiece and had it on his person wherever he went.
One day, in anticipation of his grandchildren arriving for a visit, he was cleaning out the spare room when he misplaced his watch. His grandchildren arrived to find him distraught and offered to help search the room.
With four children and two adults combing the room, it seemed ever more cluttered and crowded than before, and the watch was still not found. As the others left the room, shaking their heads, the youngest child remained and simply sat on a chair and waited.
A few moments passed and he walked out of the room with the watch in his hand! Overjoyed, his grandfather asked how he’d found it. The boy replied, “I sat in silence and listened for the tick-tock to lead me to it.”
From an article from my desk on the benefits of silence, how to add silence to your day, and when not to be silent
That’s it for now. If you have any questions or feedback, or just want to introduce yourself, hit reply. I read and respond to every reply. All the best,