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Does it ever happen to you that you commit to something and then find yourself not doing it?

This used to happen often to me. What it really meant was that I was not committed; I was just interested. I would do things if they were easy and convenient, but not when they became difficult and uncomfortable. You know, the New Year Resolution types.

Making and following through on commitments has the powerful effect of developing self-trust. It does not matter how small the commitment is, but if we promise and follow through, we believe ourselves to be someone whose…

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Imagine someone starting out Taekwando. They ask you: what are my chances of getting a black belt?

What are their chances?

Actually, there are no chances. They will either get a blackbelt (if they don’t give up) or will not get it (if they give up). It is up to them to decide if they get the blackbelt or not. It will take as long as it takes, but the final outcome is in their control.

The success formula

The success comes from having the three things:

  1. Have a target (what you define as success).
  2. Take action to move towards it (on a…

Have you ever refrained from speaking up because you wanted to give a positive impression and did not want to rock the boat?

I have been in such situations many times. For the sake of improving the professional relationship or not appearing confrontational, I would let people walk over me, hoping that things will be better the next time around. But they seldom did.

False association between likeability and agreeability

But in the last few years, thanks to my own experience and thanks to working with over 50 clients in coaching conversations, I have realized that the association between likability and agreeability is just not correct.

Have you been told by someone that you cannot do something that you really want to do? Start a business, run a marathon, or be and feel healthy?

I often come across clients in my coaching practice where they are told by their loved ones and/or friends to forget about their dreams as they are not “made for it”.

I have myself heard from some people about me not having it in me what it takes to be an entrepreneur, e.g.

People from personal growth community say these are self-limiting beliefs and you can do anything you put your mind…

(Comparison is pervasive. It can be inspiring or detrimental. Let us understand it and use it well!)

Do you compare yourself with others? Think about it for a moment.

We all tend to compare ourselves with others. How other people are happier than us, doing much better than us, or (on the flip side) meaner than us or less respectful than us etc.

Depending on our constitution and the person being compared, either we consistently place ourselves as worse than them (self pity) or better than them (better than thou).

But we are told comparison is bad!

We hear repeatedly how comparing ourselves with others is a…

Do you feel stressed out at some point in the day? Does it happen often?

It is common for all of us to feel stressed during the course of our days.

And in our fast paced culture, we feel not the kind of stress that we have evolved to face (high stress for short bursts of time), but the kind that is slowly but steadily engaging our stress response system to make us sick — literally sick! (For an excellent overview of this, consult the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky.)

Here is a pattern that I…

Have you procrastinated working on a complex or difficult task? Have you had difficulty getting started on a project?

There are many ways to unblock yourself from procrastinating on a task. But before we get into how to do that, let us discuss why do we procrastinate?

Why do we procrastinate?

One of the reasons we procrastinate is that we are overwhelmed.

There is too much to do, and we cannot figure out what to do.

You can call it analysis-paralysis. Or paradox of choice. Barry Schwartz in his book and his TED talk discusses how we fall into this trap.

Next play speed: basketball connection

The other day…

I recently read the amazing Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. In short summary, the book distills down the principles of creating an environment were creativity and originality flourishes. Ed recalls a few incidents from early days of Pixar where he was talking to experienced people and trying to learn how to have a successful and creative business. He fell in the trap of trying to find simple answers to complex questions at the time.

But this book does not claim to be simple. There are a lot of nuances. You cannot just develop a culture of creativity…

If you were forced to focus on one (and only one) of the two, what would you focus on? Quality of something you produce, or quantity of something you produce?

I have focused on quality most of my life. When I was an undergraduate in Kanpur or when I was working as a research scientist in Facebook, I used to put emphasis on the quality of code I produced. During my PhD at Cornell, I focused exclusively on the quality of research papers I wrote. …

I recently read a heart-wrenching book Escape by Carolyn Jessop. It is the story of her growing up in FLDS, where she was (and other women were also) treated badly as sex objects and the men were/are kings. Bad treatment of kids was common,e.g., her mother hitting her was a sign of love, having fun with children and playing with them was illegal, and her husband treating her badly was seen as a sign of her being worthy of attention. Polygamy is seen as an opportunity for a women to get to heaven through her priesthood head (fancy name for…

Yogi Sharma

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