Sunday, June 29, 2008

Asking Questions - Azara Feroz Sayed

Came accross this article on 'Why Brainstorming is weak' bringing out the flaws in modern brainstorming.

Brainstorming is by far the most widely used tool for creative thinking. It was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by advertising executive Alex Osborn, who developed a crisp list of four basic rules for generating creative ideas:
* Criticism is ruled out. Adverse judgment of ideas must be withheld until later.
* "Free-wheeling" is welcomed. The wilder the idea, the better; it is easier to tame down than to think up.
* Quantity is wanted. The greater the number of ideas, the more the likelihood of winners.
* Combination and improvement are sought. In addition to contributing ideas of their own, participants should suggest how ideas of others can be turned into better ideas; or how two or more ideas can be joined into still another idea

The flaws in modern brianstorming are
* Lack of skills for brainstorming and thinking creatively in participants - No training for creating novel ideas. The assumption is that the creative ideas are there already, locked in the mind; we just need to let them out
* Lack of preparation - flaw in assuming that brilliant, never-before-thought-of ideas will suddenly burst forth from a group of people assembled to brainstorm for an hour
* No harvesting of ideas - Those ideas that don't make out of the idea filtering process are not harvested further - they are lost

This reminded me of the 'Six Thinking Hats' brainstorming session I attended for problem solving. The 'Six Thinking Hat' tool by Bono is not only used for idea generation (brainstorming) but also is used for Idea Elimination or Filtering like the Pareto Chart. Click on the picture to read the text.

During this session each of the participant was provided with a cardboard cap (The ones we make for the kids, a square paper folded diagonally and the ends stapled together - there were more than one blue, green etc i.e. there was a blue group, green group etc). A picture was taken of the group wearing the hats before the session, giving sufficient time for the participants to start thinking Yellow, Red etc. This was followed by an hour long brain storming session where the participants spent most of the time asking questions under the influence of their imposed thinking style. Everyone in the group found it a very enlightening experience and agreed that all problems could be resolved if we simply spent time in asking Questions - The new info presented/reviewed with new Questions helps to create new neuro pathways!

When we think in the normal way, we try to do too much at once. We may be looking at the information, forming ideas, and judging someone else's ideas all at the same time. The Six Hats method allows us to unbundle thinking. Instead of trying to do everything at once, we separate out the different aspects of thinking. This way we can pay full attention to each aspect in turn. Think of fullcolor printing, where the basic color separations are made and then each basic color is printed separately onto the same sheet to give full-color printing. In the same way, we separate the modes of thinking and then apply each mode to the same subject in order to end up with full-color thinking on the subject. There is a suggestion that the chemical setting in the brain (neurotransmitters, etc.) may be different when we are being positive from when we are being negative and from when we are being creative. If this proves to be so, then there is an absolute need to separate out the different components of thinking in order to do each properly. It would be impossible to have one brain setting that was ideal for all sorts of thinking. Traditional argument is totally useless for designing new possibilities. Instead, we need Parallel Thinking, where each thinker puts forward his or her thoughts in parallel with the thoughts of others-not attacking the thoughts of others. The Six Thinking Hats method is a practical way of carrying out Parallel Thinking. The Six Hats system is not just another gimmick. This system provides an alternative to that most basic of thinking procedures: the argument. In traditional adversarial thinking, A and B are in conflict. Each side seeks to criticize the other point of view. The Six Hats method allows Parallel Thinking. Both A and B wear each hat together as they explore all sides of an issue. Adversarial confrontation is replaced by a cooperative exploration of the subject. Brainstorming (a parallel thinking process) is a good tool when we are looking for ideas - possibilities - thinking about a problem from various aspects in contrast with the the Argumentive or Critical Thinking process (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle developed the argumentive technique) which is a good tool for arguing between claims.

Asking Qs remains the basic requirement for Critical Thinking too - asking questions to understand the problem, isolating the fact, feelings (refer to the list of the many fallacies in logical thinking - The importance of asking questions to gain information is reduced as we go about problem solving and decision making in a highly process oriented world, that we work in today!

Feroz never makes decisions for me - He advices me to ask Qs - What is the worst that can happen? What is the best that can happen? Are there any areas of strength in the situation? How can the area of strength be used to your benefit?
I am sure Feroz's students would also agree to this as they look for his advice - he provides pointers to arrive at the decision but doesn't makes the decision. Feroz is endeared for 'teaching us to fish rather than fishing for us'.

Some of the ideas from Tony Robbins about the importance of asking Questions. Though my notes below may sound related to Qs leading to personal success - they are applicable to all areas of life - they way all the great explorers and leaders did to think about the possibility!
* Ask new Qs - as asking the same Qs will not help us get to a new solution
* Asking the right set of questions can help us to learn more about ourselves. Questions help us to provide a new understanding of the problem, they help to focus on the solution instead of the problem, moves us to action and provides other possible options.
* Questions focus thought like a lens condenses sunlight.
* Asking the right question at the right time turns confusion into clarity, and frustration into satisfaction e.g. what else does it mean? what is the one thing that is working/good? what is the experience/learning from the result (sucess/failure)?
* Asking right Qs is important - if you ask empowering Qs you will get empowering answers. If you ask disempowering Qs like - why can I not do this - you will hear reasons why you can't do it. If you ask empowering Qs - what do I need to make it happen - you will hear answers that you can work on to make it happen. How can I turn this around is another empowering Q. e.g. of a jewish holocaust survivor - he simply kept asking himself the Q - what do I need to do to stay alive today. Difference in quality of life is baded on if you ask empowering or disempowering Qs -Seek and you will get it!
* Asking empowering Qs provides us
- Access to new resources that we had missed on earlier
- Provide momentum
- Help us focus on solutions instead of problems
- Understand deeper meaning of life
- Learning from situation
- Makes us feel empowered, responsible for the change
* Disempowering Qs
- Make the problem bigger
- Gets you into Why me god state
- Gets you into a stuck state
- Gets you into a loop
* All successful people asked profound Qs making people think - JFK's Q - Ask what not what the country...made people think. Einstein was bored in a calculus class and kept asking several "What If Qs" to himself about speed of light while looking at his watch which eventually culminated into theory of relativity. Wright brothers must have asked how can we fly? "What If" is a great way to create possibilities - We can ask similar Qs and become as successful!
* Funny people keep asking a question all the time - How can I make it funny - this makes them be funny all the time
* We must discipline ourselves to regularly STOP, ASK Qs and Anwser them - to change how we feel
* Change Qs to change focus - to change state of mind - ask Qs to direct the mind
* If we are looking at living a better quality of life we need to ask better Qs
* If we are looking for unique experience we need to ask unique Qs
* For creating possibilities - ask possibility Qs - What could I learn, What is life, What do I really want, How can I give up my addiction and enjoy the process of giving it up, Who do I love and who loves me, What am I grateful for, What is great in my life, What am I really capable of more than before, What must I do to create new results, How can I become financial secure, What is one thing that I change, What is the one thing I need to do solve the problem, What is the one action I need to take to turn this around, What else could this mean,
* One of the pain area we have is managing difficult people - When someone is rude - ask - What is that is causing the person to be rude - How can I do to help this person treat me well - Qsking these Qs will make us have control rather than someone else taking control of our life - being leader of life - having control of our life
* Life is defined by our beliefs and convications - Asking "WHO I AM" is the most profound question - Taking time to write down the answer to this Q will help us determine our current beliefs and convictions and the need to change them - to achieve the things we desire
* Thinking is the process of asking possibility Qs to take dreams to reality. A simple tool to improve our capacity to enjoy life by asking Qs.
* After every action - take time to ask - How far away we are from our intention? What did we learn? What do we need to differently next to get to our intention?
* How do you feel when you are happy?
* What is your passion? What is your belief?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Secret - Azara Feroz Sayed

'The Secret' is the book and DVD by Rhonda Byrne on "Law of Attraction" - which was sold by the millions after it was featured on Oprah.

It was sold on Oprah as an easy pill for acheiving whatever one wanted - Dream, Think, Focus on what you want and you get it! Ask. Believe. Receive is the mantra of the 'The Secret'.

Q about "Law of Attraction" is one of the popular Qs on "Ask Stephen"

View to know more

Oprah infact had to go back on the views aired on her show saying that "Law of Attraction" is one thing that will help achieve success - Hard work, talent, education are important and yes Luck too! How else could we explain the miserable life of those affected by natural disasters? And yes we all know ACTION is what makes everything happen! Action to do whatever we can - to change our situation. Oprah's Mom was a pregnant at thirteen with physical, sexual abuse. Oprah too was pregnant at thirteen. With such a background, it is the actions that Oprah took to change her situation that made the difference.

The 'Law of Attraction", which has been vouched for by many of the self-help gurus like Jack Canfield, John Gray etc, is based on power of visualization - power of our thoughts - we define what we get by our thoughts i.e. if we think about +ve stuff - we will get it - so is true for the -ve stuff - if we focus more on the -ve stuff - we will get it too.

As per the 'Law of Attraction', we should be informed about the -ve stuff but not focus on it as it will happen in our life e.g. focus on peace and not anti-war.

I interpreted the "The Secret" as a tool that every successful person has talked about - power of visualization! About defining and visualizing how success would be everyday. The action part of - visualizing and work towards it is what is missing in 'The Secret'

Miracle Man (Morris Goodman - featured in 'The Secret', was introduced to us in one of the training programs to drive the importance of power of visualization. Goodman visualized walking out of the hospital on XMas and worked towards it.

Though I never thought about 'Law of Attraction' or 'Power of Visualization' but some how it worked for me - Feroz is the embodiment of all that I would have wished for in the 'man of my life'. Even the slightest details that I would have mentioned 'that is nice' in my mind! So it did work for me!

Abundance is one other thing that is mentioned i.e. there is enough in the universe for everyone to enjoy - isn't Steven Covey talks to us about working from a frame of abundance to create win-win situations

I could relate to what Jack Canfield mentioned in Alladdin Factor (we discussed this in my earlier post - ASK) - Ask the Universe! 'The Secret' refers to the universe working on putting together stuff for us. Isn't the universe, the creative life force - that we refer to as God too.

Our prayers comprise about praising God and asking for help to acheive our dreams. I never thought about how our prayers also act as tools for 'Power of Visualization'.

In Islam, if I need something badly I would be praying 5+ times a day and each of my supplication (the things I desire - I have to precisely define the details of everything that I desire in my supplications as I don't want to miss on anything - at the same time I would keep it brief too as I don't want to repeat so many times the unimportant details) has to be repeated three times. Imagine picturing success in your mind 15 times a day!

I think all our scriptures, encourage us to ask God for fulfilling our dreams. I am sure most of the prayers do get answered as otherwise so many people wouldn't have been praying! Also all scriptures, talk about Action along with Prayers which is something 'The Secret' clearly missed on.

'The Secret' doesn't talks about how you can make other people's life better. I am told, if we pray for others - the angels say 'and bless you with the same!' - Isn't it an motivation to pray for others!

Recently, I was told to read the second chapter of Quran (Surah-Bakrah) for 40 days as it helps fulfill your wishes. My sis-in-law was checking with me if there is anything specific in Surah-Bakrah relating to fulfilling dreams. I said, it is about all aspects of life except for a few verses which mention "When my servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me. . .", there is nothing specific to fulfilling our wishes. I think the fact that person would be spending few hours of his day reading the chapter of Quran indicates how badly the person desires something and the universe works on fulfilling the wishes. I visualize the day when my wish would be fulfilled and live as if it has!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ordinary People - Azara Feroz Sayed

Found the contents of one of the forward mails to be so true. Don't we think so about our dear ones.

Pray, I am reminded of these lines, to be respectful to people I meet on my way, as the person I might be hurting, means "the world" to someone.

My world revolves around Feroz and I pray others too are reminded about these lines as they interact with Feroz!

Ordinary People
Walking on the road, you pass so many people.
Some look confident, purposeful, well-dressed, well-maintained.
But the majority appear so ordinary, wear ill-fitting clothes, unfashionable footwear, have too much fat or too little, nothing remarkable about them, nothing attractive.

But yet someone somewhere eagerly waits for this unimpressive man to come home every evening.
Someone's entire world turns around the strength of this frail-looking woman.
Someone's very purpose in life hinges on this brash youngster cutting through traffic.
Someone knows only the shelter of these old arms each time their world begins to crumble.
Someone will count hours, minutes, and weep like a child when this pock-marked face alights from a long-distance train.

Someone will cave in, crack up, and never be the same again if this one person disappears from the face of the world.

There are no ordinary people… No one…!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

UPW - Azara Feroz Sayed

Unleash Power Within (UPW) is the title of Anthony Robbins seminars where participants are made to walk on fire. The 'walking on fire' exercise is to demonstrate the kind of incredible things that we can do with the power within us - to use this experience and confidence to make changes in our lives that we would have thought impossible

The 'walking on fire' exercise and NLP got me interested to read more on Anthony Robbins. You would be able to read a lot about it on the net. I have pasted one site
While you read or hear his programs - one thing is sure - you will be filled with passion - tapping your feet, singing, ready to fly - ready for action!

My notes are below

Few things that make incredible difference in our lives
* Communication - The quality of our life is the quality of our communication - our self communication and communication with others. What happens to us doesn't makes the difference in the quality of the life but what we do with what happens that makes the difference. Our communication with our selves define what we do with what happens to us.
* Skill - The skill or ability to define specifically what we want and the skill or the ability to define what others want - so we are able to fulfill them quickly and elegantly
* Personal Power - The ability to take action. We should keep trying and not give-up. Like kids learning to walk. Do we tell them not to try walking? Imagine if we would have given up on learning to walk. How much of intelligence or knowledge we have doesn't matters. What we do with that knowledge or intelligence is what matters. Affirmation without discpline creates delusion. Affirmation with discipline creates action.
* Modelling - It is important to remember that talents are developed. A few are born with outstanding talents. Others develop their talents. In modelling, we duplicate the belief system, mental syntax and physiology of successful people to develop our talents
- Duplicating the belief systems of sucessful people. Our beliefs turn-on or shut-off the possibilities for us to perform
- Duplicating mental syntax of sucessful people. This is acheived by changing the order and sequence of using the five senses to generate results. Some people work well when they "See" and "Say" - some people work well when they "Say" and "See". These are like combination locks - Each sequence causing a different vault to open. Using NLP, we can to know mental syntax of sucessful people i.e. when we are visualizing, constructing, accessing etc - the respective eye movements indicate the actions done by the brain. We can study those to understand the mental syntax of sucessful people.
- Duplicating physiology of sucessful people. Physiology is posture, breathing pattern, tonality, facial expressions, muscular tensions etc. Knowing their physiology would help us know how these people use their brain

Disciplines to success
1. Act from personal power - This is the ability to take action. Fear of failure is what prevents people of taking action. There are no failures. There are only outcomes. There are only results. We always succeed in producing results. The results may not be the one we intended but they help us to make subtle changes to get to the intended results.
2. Responsibility - We are totally responsible for our world. We create our world by taking charge of our life. Physical and Mental actions define our world. We need to refer our beliefs as lie as they are our own and to help us remember that they are is just beliefs and not necessarily true and they can change as we get more information. Referreing beliefs as "lies" helps us to give beliefs the necessary attention i.e. knowing that we have the power to change them. This will help us change our self-limiting beliefs
3. Stretching - Most of us perform best when we are put on the line i.e. we work best on deadlines. Stretching helps us to discover things that we didn't believe we could do - the limits are our beliefs (lie) and defined by our thinking. Stretching can be achieved by
- Making a commitment to ourselves to do something that is beyond our current ability.
- Making a public commitment.
- Modelling someone who is always producing beyond our current ability.
4. Committing to unconcious competency rather than cognitive understanding. Unconcious competency is the ability to perform tasks without thinking or knowing its working or details e.g. Most of us don't understand how electricity works still we switch on without thinking about the working of electricity. This is about picking the fruits for the immediate and studying the roots later. Similarly, We don't have to spend time to understand how NLP works - we can start using the the techniques
5. Meaning of communication is the response you get from others. We would have to change our approach to match physiology, tonality of the person we are trying to communicate. As the intention of the communication means nothing, results of the communication means everything
6. WEIT - Do "What Ever It Takes" to succeed

Character traits of successful people have in common
1. Passion - They have passion, purpose which makes them to get up in morning and not to go to bed. Passion causes action
2. Belief - They have belief in their ability to achieve and they also know that beliefs can be changed
3. Strategy - They organize the way they do things to acheive results
4. Values - They knowing what values are most important in life. Also to ensure that avoid conflicting values i.e. all values are working together rather than fighting against each other
5. Energy Level - They have high energy levels. Most of the energy is spent in digestion. Check your diet, exercise to manage energy levels
6. Bonding - stay connected with others
7. Developing communication skills - how we communicate with self and others on what has happened is what makes the difference

I note down ideas such as those mentioned below to talk with Feroz, in the hope that they would add to the strong communication that he relies on in his training programs - my little contribution!
Miscellaneous ideas
- Success is having total sense of freedom - to do what we want, when we want as much as we want
- For things to change - we would have to change - changing the employer is not going to solve the problem unless we changed
- Commitment is the glue that holds everything together. Commitment to practice. Commitment to walk the talk.
- Difference in people is the difference in people who are commited and who are interested. We need to move from interest to commitment
- If we don't know what to do - then we need to ask - what we would do if we didn't know what to do. This takes out the limiting beliefs to access the resources that we don't utilize
- No matter how thin the slice there are two sides
- The quality of life is the quality of our communication
- Nothing has any meaning except the meaning we give it - Meaning of life, happiness etc is what we define
- We use two types of communication
* Internal communication-how we picture, say, and feel within ourselves
* External communication-words, tonalities, facial expressions, body postures and physical actions
- Our job is similar to a film director's job-we need to manipulate what we see and hear (the way you communicate to yourself) to acheive the effect we desire

Came across the below gems (as the post refers to them)

*Whatever you focus on, you will feel
*When you say something repeatedly, you hypnotize yourself into believing that it is true and the brain creates a blindspot, where you can't see what is actually there
*Listen and learn as if you were going to teach what you learned to someone else
*To say you don't have a special purpose is to slap the face of your Creator
*Most people are unhappy because they are dabblers; going deep makes us feel alive
*We are the accumulation of our communication
*God's delays are not God's denials
*Fear is your imagination and so is faith;except fear is undirected, while faith is directed
*Success leaves clues - model someone outstanding
*Pain is a signal to change the strategy
*Normal is the lowest common denominator in a culture
*What got you where you are, won't get you to the next level (the highest level)
*All progress comes from breaking patterns
*Change is never a matter of ability, it is always a matter of motivation
*Who you spend time with is who you become
*People's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group
*Find a team to challenge you, not just support you

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Employees are Employees, Not Friends - Azara Feroz Sayed

I had promised about posting this in an earlier post while talking about it in "What is our Brand" post

Their is one more aspect about personal branding that would need a separate post in itself and it is about team relationships. All the training programs that we attend talk about having fun with the team, being one with them and having no barriers with team members. Feroz would talks to me against it. He believes it is important to ensure the manager relationship doesn't deteriotes. I would argue with Feroz on this till I read article by Marc Crammer (Wharton Professor) who writes weekly in Bulletin (philadelphia newspaper). Does familiarity with Feroz (refer once again the parent v/s child post) gets in the way of me accepting Feroz's ideas without arguing while readily accepting the ones posted on the net!!

Feroz thoughts on Employee/Manager relationships are more in the light of the thoughts mentioned in "Parent v/s Child" post about building perspective - "We wouldn't expect a client or fellow-worker to respect our opinion if we presented it in our nightgown" - to be impersonal - to retain the respect!

Below is Marc's post on Employee Relationship

All too often the line between an employee and employer or a manager and a subordinate can become blurred. For many people, there is no controlling the heart when they allow their emotions to hijack their good sense. Yet it is hard for people in the working world not to seek friendships in the workplace because we all spend more time at the office than we do with family and friends outside the office.
Over the first 10 years I was in business, I have stepped over the line between boss and employee numerous times, only to regret it. Here are 10 areas I have learned to avoid so as not to cross the line.
1. Birthday parties: I have been invited to employee birthday parties and weddings. I politely decline and send a gift.
2. Sporting events: The only times I go with employees to games is if we are buying group tickets as a way to reward employees or we are taking out clients.
3. Dinner: I will have lunch with an employee to discuss a business matter, but I won't have lunch just to socialize. I never do dinner unless it is with a client or prospective client.
4. Personal problems: I am not a social worker and I am not their parents. A big problem with handling personal problems is that you become too involved. The employee calls your home and shows up late, thinking you will understand. Eventually, other employees resent your preferential treatment with no appreciation for the good deed you are trying to do.
5. Sports activities: Golfing, jogging, tennis and biking are very personal activities. Bonds are developed. Personal thoughts and problems are shared.
6. Loaning money: I once loaned money to a janitor who worked for me, a good guy who was down on his luck. Unfortunately, he thought I was his personal piggy bank.
7. Driving together: A client of mine gave one of her employees a ride for one month because their car was in an accident. The employee got so used to being picked up that when my client couldn't pick up the employee, she got upset. My client should have suggested the employee rent a car or get a friend, relative or fellow employee to drive them.
8. Gifts: Never give a personal gift. It's one thing to give a book related to business; it's another to give a personal gift.
9. Drinking: Going to a bar for a drink after a hard day is a very bad idea. People sometimes lose their professional demeanor.
10. Vacationing: I have actually had a business associate tell me he went on a vacation with an employee because they had grown so close. A couple of years went by and the employee started a competing business and used what he knew about his employer/friend to go into business. Eventually the employee put the employer out of the business.
You can be friendly, share a joke and talk about how the local sports teams are doing, but keep it light and impersonal, or there could be consequences.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Intuition - Azara Feroz Sayed

Came across the below article on the need for flexing our sixth sense

Rumi's words from earlier post
Love is the ark appointed for the righteous,
Which annuls the danger and provides a way of escape.
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition

The dictionary definition of intution is "quick and ready insight;" and "the act or process of coming to direct knowledge without reasoning or inferring." It is derived from the Latin word "intueri" which means "to see within." It is a way of knowing, of sensing the truth without explanations

Listening to our intuition is the essence of art and creativity and soulful living. Intuition is what we use to find the purpose of our life and our place in the world. Even Einstein said that most of his innovation was actually just good guessing. A talent is something that some people are born with while others have to work at it. The greatest artists usually study and imitate the techniques of the ones who came before them. In fact a museum had exactly that as its original purpose. It was intended as a place to learn techniques, inspiration, and intuition.

The below article was the motivation for this post

As we go through the decisions that we make in your daily life how much do we rely on our intuition? Do we feel focused and strong in the choices that we make? Or do we feel that we have to deliberate, analyse, weigh out pros and cons, get lots of opinions from friends or family and scare yourself into a decision?

We all have had our rounds of confusion and analysis paralysis. The one conclusion is that logic alone does not work. And the answer is to learn how to use a tool that we were actually born with. That tool is our intuition!

We hear the words ‘surrender’, ‘trust’ and ‘let go’ all the time. But what does that really mean? And what are we surrendering to? Our logic tells us this is dangerous. So our best attempts to let go last a few minutes and then we are back to trying to figure it all out!

Our intuition is comprised of the energetic senses that we were born with to assist us in staying connected to our higher or inner self. We can refer to that self as a number of names, Divine Guidance, God, The Universe, Spirit etc. We are always connected to that power greater than our physical selves and that connection is our intuition.

So here are five key points to consider that will hopefully help us get a better handle on the most powerful sense that we have.
1. Our intuition is our direct and absolute link to communication with our spirit.
2. Our intuitive senses lay over our physical senses. We get energetic or intuitive feelings through energetic sight (like deja vu), energetic hearing (we hear a small voice that gives us a warning or feels like a hunch to follow), energetic feeling (a gut feeling in your stomach that feels like butterflies or goose bumps) and energetic knowing (feeling like we just know how to do something or how a situation will turn out without learning or cause).
3. Everyone is born with intuition and has the ability to develop it to be strong and reliable.
4. Intuition is always the most efficient and accurate advice that we can get about any issue, concern or desire.
5. Our society encourages us to ignore our intuition and focus strictly on logic. We disengage from our energetic senses and end up feeling very confused, anxious and taking a very long slow road to happiness. Our intuition is always working whether we focus on it or not! When we harness the power of our intuition we are able to fully access our personal power. Not using our intuition is like having eyes and ears and ignoring or fighting their functions. Our eyes and ears are on our head and whether we are concentrating on using them or not they are always working. They become very powerful tools when we deliberately focus our sight or hearing! Think of how hard it would be to watch a wonderful movie or listen to a beautiful symphony without our ears or eyes! Unwavering trust begins with knowing our intuition and how to use it!

Real trust comes from having a direct communication with Spirit yourself through understanding, recognising and knowing how to use and rely on our intuition!

We need to take responsibility for ourselves and use our intuition in combination with creative problem solving tools like logic to decide what to do next. When we ignore our intuition we feel anxious, confused and uneasy. We may feel intellectually that it is the right decision but something still doesn't feel certain.

When we use our intuition it may seem illogical but our decision feels right. It feels like a sense of knowing or certainty that we may not be able to describe. And our actions feel inspired. We feel led as opposed to running after an outcome. We feel guided to take inspired action and our hunch feels like a knowing instead of a reckless risk. It’s time to empower ourself by harnessing our own intuition! When we take the time to learn about, understand and tap into our intuition, we will find that your decisions and actions are so much easier to make!

We will live so much more powerfully and efficiently. Our tasks will be done in a fraction of the time because we will be working from certainty instead of fear! We may consider the opinions of others for a perspective but we will know that our intuition has the final say! Too many bits of information can in fact confuse the mind and lead to wrong decisions. As Hamlet said, "For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." The trick is to be able to zero in on the one bit of information that matters the most.
Maybe we feel listening to your intuition is easier said than done. But the truth is that most of us make listening to our inner guidance out to be harder than it actually is.

Here are some simples ways we can tune into our inner dialogs. Using our sixth sense is just like working a muscle. It will get stronger the more we use it.
1. Turn off that car radio. Giving our physical hearing a rest can expand your inner ear.
2. At home, turn off the computer, the television, and the stereo. Spend a half hour or so in quiet meditation or solace.
3. Spend some quiet time alone in nature.
4. Pay attention to energy shifts in your physical body. Pain is telling you something is wrong.
5. Keep a dream journal.
6. Take moments in each day to clear mind of distractions. Visualizing a chalkboard being erased often helps with this exercise.
7. On way home tune in to see if you can "guess" how many pieces of mail are waiting for you in your mailbox. Isn't it amazing how accurate we are at this over time.
8. Keep a synchronicity notebook to write down all so called "coincidences."
9. Follow hunches. Prepare to be amazed where they lead.
10.Notice scents around. What emotions or memories do they stir up?
11.Start noticing "markers" or "signs" that bring about particular sensations in the gut
By following through on our everyday hunches, we are actually taking test drives, virtually honing in on our listening skills. Learning to listen to our inner dialog tones and strengthens this muscle. The more we use our intuition the better we get at it. When we choose to ignore our gut instincts, we are only hurting ourselves.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Thinking - Azara Feroz Sayed

I came across quotes on 'Thinking' from the former Indian President Abdul Kalam at and couldn't help thinking how my life has changed over the years with Feroz, for whom 'Thinking', is the most important aspect of living.

While in school and college, I studied for my teachers - to impress them - so it was a education of mugging-up without thinking about its application. While working too, it was about picking up new technology and using it - to brag friends about it! There was always a rush to impress!

In contrast, Feroz's learning has been with an emphasis on learning with understanding and thinking about its application - not for impressing anyone.

Being with Feroz, I have learnt the things that are said so beautifully in these quotes from Kalam
"Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life."

"Thinking is progress. Non-thinking is stagnation of the individual, organisation and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action, converts adversity into prosperity."

"What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and to remove the wrongs of injured..."

"I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness?.."

I received the below article as a speech from Kalam and went on to Kalam's site to check the authenticity of the article - couldn't confirm - I will let you read the thoughts below as from anonymous rather than quoting them to be from Kalam - to ensure I am not contributing to the propoganda - in the name of Kalam.

Importance of civic sense is something I learnt being with Feroz too. I guess most of the stuff mentioned in the speech below is, due to we not giving a thought to our actions. One such incident I can talk about, I would sweep our veranda - without giving much thought to the routine activity - that I was pushing some of the dust to our neighbours. Once Feroz saw me doing that was upset about it! I learnt to thank and salute the military men whenever I saw them. We have never missed talking about their motivation levels, everytime we saw a man in uniform. Feroz surprises the cops by stopping and thanking them - for working on holidays at public places, to help all of us enjoy the festivities with our families.

I have learnt to live the words from Quran, "Give in the name of Allah, When ye yourselves would not receive those except with closed eyes" by Feroz's many demonstrations. At my Mom's place, we would give stale food which we are not able to eat to the beggars. Feroz corrected me on that and I now talk to my Mom on right aspect of Charity in Islam. My parents have to bear my bragging about Feroz all the time!

The definition of Charity as per Hadith (Collection of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)'s preachings, conduct) "Indeed the gates to goodness are many: glorifying God, praising Him, magnifying Him, saying 'There is no god but Allah', enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong, removing any source of harm from the road, listening to the aggrieved, guiding the blind, showing the seeker his need, striving as far as your two legs could carry you and with deep concern to give succour to him who asks, carrying with the strength of your arms (the burdens of) the weak. All these are (acts of) charity which are an obligation on you. And your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, your removing of stones and thorns from people's paths is charity, and your guiding a man gone astray in the world is charity for you."

The article that set me off on this post
10 Minutes
I have three visions for India. In 3000 years of our history , people form all over the world have come and invaded us , captured our lands , conquered our minds. From Alexander onwards, The Greeks, the Turks, the Moguls, the Portuguese, the British, all of them came and looted us, took over what were ours. yet we have not done this to any other nation. we have not conquered anyone. we have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of others. That is why my first vision is that of freedom. I believe that India got its first vision in 1857, when we started the war of independence .It is this freedom that we must protect and nurture and build on. If we are not free, no one will respect us.

My second vision for India is DEVELPOMENT. For fifty years we have been a developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a developed nation. we are among top five nations of the world in terms of GDP. We have 10 percent growth rate in most areas. Our poverty levels are falling. Our achievements are being globally recognized today. Yet we lack the self confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation, self reliant and self assured .It isn’t this incorrect?

I have a third vision. India must stand up to the world. because I believe that unless India stands up to the worlds, no one will respect us. Only STRENGTH respects strength. we must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power. both must go hand in hand.

Why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths,our achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why? We are the first in milk production. We are the number one in remote sensing satellites. We are the second largest producer of wheat and rice.There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in bad news and failuires and disasters. In India we only read about death, bombrdment, terrorism, crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE?

Why are we as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign shirts, tecnology. Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self respect comes with self reliance?

Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengence. Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes,then read; otherwise, choise is yours.

YOU say that your government is inefficient.
YOU say that the phone’s don’t work, the railways is a joke and our airlines are the worst in the whole world, mails never reach their destination.
YOU say,say and say.
What do you do about it?

Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a name - YOURS.
Give him a face – YOURS.
You walk out of the airport and you are at your international best.
In Singapore you don’t throw cigratte butts on the road or eat in the stores.
You are as proud of their Underground links as they are.
You pay $5 to drive through Orchard Road.
You came back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have overs stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status or identity.
In Singapore you don’t say anything, DO YOU?

YOU wouldn’t dare to eat in public Ramadan,in Dubia.
YOU would not dare to go without your head covered in Jeddah.
YOU would not dare to buy an of the telephone exchange in London at 10
pounds a month to “see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.” YOU would not to speed beyound the speed limit in Washinton and then tell the traffic cop,”jaanta hai main kaun hoon(do you know who I am?).I am so and so’s son. Take your two bucks and get lost.”
YOU wouldn’t chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere another than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand.
Why don’t YOU spit pan on the streets of Tokyo?
Why don’t YOU see examination jockey or buy fake certificates in Boston?

We are still talking of the same YOU.
YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own.
YOU who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground.
If you can be involved and appreciate citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India?

Once in an interview, the famous Ex- municipal commissioner of Bombay, Mr. Tinaikar, had a point to make, ”Rich People’s dogs are walked to the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,” he said, “and then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officer’s to do? Go down with a broom every time their dogs feel the pressure in their bowels? In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan. Will in India citizen do that ?”, he is right.

We go to polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility .We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms. We want Indian Airlines to provide the best of food but we are not going to stop pilfering at least opportunity. This applies even to staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public. When it comes to burning social issues like dowry we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuses? ”It is the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons’ rights to a dowry.” So who’s going to change the system? What does the system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbors, other households, other cities, other communities and the government . But definetly not me and families into a safe coccon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr. Clean to come along and work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away. Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian Government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mastering our Mind - Azara Feroz Sayed

The name of the post is a chapter in Anthony (Tony) Robbins' bestseller book 'Unlimited Power'. I have included below excerpts from the chapter on how to enhance our life by using the positive experiences in our life and diminishing (or throwing out in the sun) the negative experiences in our life that keep us from optimum performance.

Refer below site for a summary of the book 'Unlimited Power'

In our relationship, I have the treat of Feroz's many surprises as positive experiences to nurture our relationship.

Being treated to a room lit up with candles all-over on valentine's night, as I walked in at 10.00pm from a tired day - with valentine dinner being least on my mind - especially after having my team members stay back too - spoiling their valentine's day too. I remember very well the comments of our Nepali security man that night. Feroz had taken the help of our Nepali security man to help him with the decorations and the security man said, "if this is all it takes for being married - I don't want to". With Feroz, there would be surprises all the time - even shaving of his head!!

A treat of fried fish on one such similar tiring day. The surprise is in two counts - first being treated to the best fish fry I have ever had and the other to know Feroz's cooking culinary skills!!

My best memory which makes me keep fighting and never give up - The day when I called Feroz to say I wouldn't be able to join him for lunch as there was a critical issue at work and as always I was almost in tears. Feroz's voice on the call asking me to keeping fighting and not to give up, gave me the most needed strength at that difficult moment, as all the hard work done by so many people for timely delivery would have gone to waste due to a change management issue. I got back to my fire-fighting. Soon there was a security lady looking for me in the conference room, saying my husband has something important for me. I walked out and Feroz was there with a nice small colorful bag (lunch for me) asking me to take care and not to worry about the lunch. I couldn't believe how he managed all the resources at home, in the bag was the perfect home-made sandwich, choclates and a sweet note!! As the post below mentions, positive experiences truly nurture relationships!

Refer for a summary of the book.
We have learnt that all human behavior is the result of the ‘state’ we are in. When human beings want to change something they usually want to change one or both of the two things : how they feel – that is their state and/or how they behave. For example, a smoker often wants to change how he physically and emotionally feels (state) and also his behavioral pattern of reaching for cigarette after cigarette.

Our internal representation (what and how we picture in our mind and/or what we say and hear in our mind) contribute to the state. We all know that there are some states that empower us and some states of the mind that leave us limp. Learning how to specifically change the internal representation by taking control of how we represent our experience of life (how we feel), empowers us to create the desired feelings and to produce the kinds of behavior that support us in the achievement of our goals.

We structure our internal representations through our five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. In other words, we experience the world in form of visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory, or olfactory sensations. Whatever experiences we have stored in mind are represented through these senses, primarily through the three major modalities-the visual, auditory, or kinesthetic messages. The sub-modalities are the precise amount of ingredients (the major modalities) required to create a result i.e. knowledge of how bright is the image, moving or stationary etc for visual experience or how loud or far etc for auditory experience or soft, stiff etc for kinesthetic experience. The sub-modalities are the smallest and most the most precise building blocks that make up the structure of human experience.

Basically, we can live our life one of two ways. We can let our brain run the way as it has in the past. We can let it flash any picture, sound or feeling and we can respond automatically on cue, like a Pavlovian dog responding to a bell or we can choose to consciously run our brain ourselves by implanting the cues we want.

We don’t know how life really is. We only know how we represent life to ourselves – by creating a state in our mind using sub-modalities (our senses) we tell the brain how to feel. So if we have a negative image that’s presented in big, potent, resonant form, the brain gives us a whopper of big, potent, resonant bad experience. But if we take this negative image and shrink it, darken it, make it a still frame, then we take away the power from the negative image and the brain will respond accordingly. We can take good experiences and enhance them. We can take the little joys of life and make them bigger, brighten up your vision of the day and feel ourselves become brighter and happier.

One woman absolutely loved chocolate because of its texture, its creaminess, and its smoothness, yet she hated grapes because they were crunchy. All that was done was, to have her imagine eating a grape slowly, bitting into it slowly and feeling the texture as it trolled around in her mouth. The same things were done with tonality. By doing this she began to desire and enjoy grapes.

We know that similar internal representation will create similar states or feelings. And similar feelings or states will trigger similar actions. If we explore and evaluate our sub-modalities for motivational experiences in life, we then know exactly what we have to do with any experience (may be negative) to make ourselves feel motivated. From that motivated state, we can get ourselves to take effective action.

A large number of therapists believe that in order to change negative behaviors, we have to re-experience the events and pain all over again and then to try to let it go once and for all. The major problem with this resolution is, by continually accessing neurological states of limitation and pain, it becomes much easier to trigger these states in the future when we are actually trying to stay away from those. Traditional therapy does produce results it is always better to see the results be produced with less pain for the patient and in a shorter period of time. Bandler and Grinder (pioneers of NLP - Tony uses the NLP approach) provide an approach using NLP to be able to change any feeling, emotion or behavior. Automatically triggering the change to our internal representation, from a negative state to a positive one, to produce more effective results.

NLP looks at the structure of human experience, not the content. Since the main difference between how we produce the state of depression or state ecstasy is, the way we structure our internal representations in our mind based on what happened. As William Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. After all, frustration, depression, and ecstasy aren’t things. They are processes created by specific mental images, sounds and physical actions. If we love the feeling of challenge that our work gives but hate to clean the house, we can note the difference in sub-modalities that we currently have for work and house cleaning. By appreciating the difference in the sub-modalities for house cleaning and infusing the necessary sub-modalities we can create the drive to clean.

Just as a movie director can change the effect his movie has on an audience, we can change the effect any experience in life has upon ourselves. A director can change the camera angle, the volume and the type of music, the speed and the amount of movement, the color and the quality of the image, and thus create any state he wants in his audience. We need to direct our brain in the same way to generate any state or behavior that supports our highest goals or needs. This can be achieved by accessing and modulating our sub-modalities i.e. appreciating the sub-modalities for a positive experience and making them stronger and more empowering or appreciating the sub-modalities for a negative experience and stripping their power over us.

Like any skill, this takes repetition and practice. Think what our life would be if we remembered all our good experiences as looking bright, close, and colorful; as sounding joyous, rhythmic, and melodic; as feeling soft, warm and nurturing. And what if we stored our bad experiences as fuzzy little still-framed images with almost inaudible voices and insubstantial forms – far away from us. Successful people do this unconsciously. They turn up the volume of things that help them and turn off the sound of the things that don’t help them. In relationships, over the years, small negative experiences like not closing the cap of the tooth paste, or what was said in a fit of rage etc tend to get significance, by consciously reminding ourselves at such times of the positive experiences in the relationships, would help nurture relationships.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lawrence of Arabia - Azara Feroz Sayed

Came across the below article in our local newspaper. We all try to ignore cold articles such as the one below about the future of the Sunni-Shia strife, in the hope that things would change for better soon.

Couldn't help thinking, why is that even with so many people involved in resolving the situation over the years - there isn't any one closer to what T.E. Lawrence did (uniting the warring Arab tribes against the Turks). He was able to win over arab tribes (Auda) working for Turks too, in the cause.

Why was Lawrence successful, while the situation gets worse every year - even though we have all learnings and the tools needed for problem solving, negotiation, conflict resolution based on what worked for Lawrence and his likes over the years? Or is it just that, there isn't anyone dreaming with open eyes about Peace in the Muslim world, as Lawrence did about Arab Freedom?

Quote from Lawrence -
"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”

A Sunni-Shia War Would Usher In Islamic Enlightenment
By: Joseph Puder, The Bulletin

Iraq is more than an American problem, it is a battleground where the two main streams of Islam: Sunni and Shia seek to resolve their theological and political differences. American intervention in Iraq is only delaying the inevitable outcome for Iraq, the Middle East and the Islamic world.

Behind the Arab Sunni and Shia struggle for dominance in Iraq stand their "protectors" - Arab-Sunni Saudi Arabia and non-Arab Shiite Iran. Saudi Arabia is the guardian of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the leading Sunni champion. Iran, across the Persian Gulf, is the only Shiite state power with nuclear ambitions and visions of leadership in the region.

While the Saudis supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) as an act of solidarity among Sunnis against Shiite Iran, in 1990 Saudi Arabia needed U.S. protection from Saddam's megalomania. Still, the Saudi Wahhabi creed makes the idea of Shiite control over Arab Iraq intolerable. Fear of Shiite Iran projecting its power and influence in the region, that might result in large Shiite minorities throughout the Gulf rising against their current Sunni rulers (Shiites dominate the oil rich Saudi province of Hasa) keeps the Saudis and fellow sheikhs in the Gulf states awake at night.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a major obstacle to the spreading of Iran's Islamic Republic revolution throughout the Middle East, and U.S. toppling of Saddam created a power vacuum that Iran's leaders hope to fill with Shiite dominance extending to the Gulf, Lebanon and beyond. The Sunnis in Iraq understand that the Shiites have no intention of sharing power with them, but seek instead to rule Iraq with Iran being its source of guidance and support.

Neither the Iraqis nor the regional Muslim (Sunni and Shiite) powers and people appreciate America's sacrifices and costs - economic as well as in human lives. The Bush administration's determination to rebuild Iraq and create a democracy is admirable but futile. The rival Islamic powers and streams need a catharsis, and it seems to be happening in Iraq. A Sunni-Shia bloodbath, however politically incorrect it might sound, is the only hope for Islamic Enlightenment.

Europe in the first quarter of the 17th century found itself in a similar position that the Islamic Middle East finds itself today. The Protestant Reformation threatened the dominance of both the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire, particularly in Germany and Northern Europe. The spread of Protestantism created a Catholic backlash that resulted in the Thirty-Year War that devastated Germany, and northwest and central Europe. The toll in human lives was enormous - nearly a third of Germany's population perished.

This religious catharsis in Europe helped (Catholic) France emerge as a European super-power at the expense of the (Catholic) Hapsburgs (Austria and Spain) and confirmed (Protestant) England and Holland as maritime powers, it also contributed to the decline of the Holy Roman Empire.

More importantly however, it ushered in the 18th century Age of Reason and European Enlightenment. Religious freedom and pluralism replaced religious intolerance and conformity.

Baruch Spinoza's (1632-1677) writings gave rise to the idea of separating church and state, and deism. John Locke (1632-1704) came up with the Social Contract, and Thomas Paine (1737-1809) contributed the Rights of Man and Age of Reason. These 18th century philosophers and reformers as well as many others, reacted to the 30-year War, and paved the way for the ideas that influenced America's Founding Fathers. This ultimately led to the establishment of democracy, and individual rights in the West.

Such a catharsis is perhaps necessary to take Islam out of the throes of fundamentalism and into a new age of reason accompanied by the practice of ijtihad - the exercise of one's reason in order to arrive at an independent judgment.

For Europe, the religious wars, however cruel and devastating in human terms, brought about human and intellectual progress, and enabled the West to rise politically and economically to global dominance. It might just be the agent of change necessary for progress in the Muslim world.

We ought to consider that, up until the last quarter of the 17th century, the Muslim Ottoman Turks were the super power and literally stood at the gates of Vienna in 1683 ready to finalize jihad's imperatives and to force the world to worship Allah in the Muslim tradition. After which there was to be the conquest of Rome and the defeat of Christianity. What followed, in the wake of their defeat, was a European metamorphosis that revitalized Europe and left the Islamic world stagnant.

America's determination to create and sustain a unitary state in Iraq is unrealistic. The Shia majority nourished by Iran is growing confident as the rulers of Iraq. The Sunni minority however, will not accept their inferior status following more than 70 years of ruling Iraq. With the best of intentions the United States cannot - should not -prevent the struggle for dominance in the region between Sunni and Shia Islam on the battlefields of Iraq. The U.S. should relocate the American forces to Iraqi Kurdistan, and help democratic Kurdistan achieve independence. The Kurdish Peshmerga fighters could be employed as the protectors of Iraq's oil wells.

A Sunni victory would bring down Hezbollah's power in Lebanon and end Syria's alliance with Iran and its grip on Lebanon. An exhaustive war of this nature would also create a political and economic rational for Sunni cooperation with Israel as well as an Islamic political, religious, and economic renaissance.

The genie is out of the bottle - peace in Iraq is unlikely. There is little chance for long-term Sunni-Shia reconciliation. Let us hope then for an Islamic religious war out of which will emerge an enlightened Islam that would benefit all of humanity.

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