by Rajesh Vaidya, Head-HR, Eastern Europe & CIS Region, Ranbaxy Laboratories
Life is busy, demanding and hectic. It can drive (and invariably does) us nuts. Family obligations, professional demands, workplace tensions, inflation – there are myriads of challenges that take toll on us almost every-day. So, in a situation wherein survival itself can be an accomplishment- is Optimal Life @ Everyday a romantic illusion or is it for real?
Well, having lived a hectic corporate life for most part of my work-life, I am talking from a very familiar territory. I know what it means to work for more than eighty hours a week for months together. I know what is called as ‘Burnout’ and ‘Breakdown’. Having seen those facets and also the other side, which I call – of Optimal Life Experience, I am confident to share my thoughts and present gift of tangible ideas – rather a system to my readers.
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Let me dive straight into the basic operating principles of Optimum Life @ Every-day.
Why do we talk about it?
Simple- we want to experience joy, happiness and sense of expansion or evolution every day.
This is opposite of going through mundane, uninspiring experiences everyday- doing things over which we do not have control. We want to have a sense of joy, control and focus on our lives. So here we are!
Optimum Life @ Everyday system has four building blocks:
- Self Awareness
- Engagement- Flow States
- Meaningfulness- Serving purpose which is much larger than Self
- Routines, Structures & Resources
My personal experience and observations tell me that in most cases, especially in Corporates and Organizations – there is some kind of preoccupation or fixation with tools & methods. Most of the training programs on self-development rather prematurely dive and dwell in Skills and Structures.
I advocate that without a deeper understanding of self-awareness, Engagement-Flow States and comprehension of Meaningfulness- skills are inadequate.
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Let me present a broad overview of each of these building blocks.
It’s a deep inquiry into one’s Values, Beliefs and Purpose. We try to understand and interpret the world around us- but what about the world inside? Who is interpreting the external phenomena and their meaning to us? What is the nature of our desires? What do emotions wield so much power on our actions? What do we think and behave the way we do? What are my signature strengths? What do I bring to the world which is unique? Ancient Oriental philosophies conclude that Self-Knowledge is the only meaningful knowledge and Self-Discovery is the only worthwhile pursuit one can undertake. In West, we all are familiar with the very powerful Greek inscription “Know Thyself” in the temple of Apollo.
Self Awareness also includes looking at ourselves as “System of Energies”. This is a fascinating concept and meets blessings of modern day Quantum Physics. Quantum physics says that at Musings of an HR Leader- Optimum Life @ Everyday quantum or subatomic levels, everything is energy. What manifests to naked eyes or visible world is nothing but combination of atoms in denser molecular structures. And it is also established that matter and energy are mere interchangeable forms of each other. Ancient Hindu masters gave us knowledge of Self-Manifestation at the levels of:
– Body [physical];
– Emotions or Thoughts;
– Spirit or Transcendental;
– Essential Self.
In modern time, thinkers and coaches did some brilliant work in this area in terms of interpreting these concepts through systems to improve performance. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in the best-selling work “The Power of Full Engagement” argue that ‘Managing Energy, Not Time is the Key to High Performance & Personal Renewal’. They also present concept and system of managing Physical, Emotional, Mental & Spiritual energies to get peak performance.
Self-Awareness is the most profound and vital part of Optimum Life @ Everyday system.
We all, at least once in our life, would have experienced a state of Flow – state when time stops and individual personality dissolves. There is no conscious thinking – just a joy of pure being and inner happiness. Different people get their respective ‘Flow’ moments through experiences that resonate with them. For some, it could be through sports, for others it is music, for some people it is reading. Take any human endeavor, vocation or volition. People can get ‘Flow’ states when their internal and external contexts get aligned with each other.
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This concept has a profound implication. Mihaly Csikszentmihalayi, Positive Psychologist and author of celebrated book, ‘Flow’, presents that “When people were in flow, either at work or in leisure, they reported it as a much more positive experience than the times they were not in flow. When challenges and skills were both high, they felt happier, more cheerful, stronger, more active; they concentrated more; they felt more creative and satisfied.’
From Mihaly’s work, we learn that right proportion of Challenge and one’s Skill/competencies create state of Flow – this is characterized by creativity, joy of learning, concentration and activity.
In Optimum Life @ Everyday System, I invite you to identify your flow moments and consciously create those opportunities in everyday life.
Meaningfulness – What is my Legacy?
Dr. Martin Seligman, celebrated psychologist, celebrated and author tells us that ‘in addition to strength based approach or Values-In-Action approach and Engagement-Flow State, we get lasting happiness while serving a purpose greater than oneself’. To me, this is creating one’s legacy.
When we find ourselves engaged in serving a greater purpose it is actually one’s inner essence manifesting through an external expression.
At workplace what does this mean? It could be designing a product or service; it could be creating a new organization culture or building a new organization. Something that is greater than oneself and would continue to exist, even when you are not around.
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Routines, Structures & Resources: With such powerful and tremendous knowledge and insights, we can create Routines, Supporting Structures and Resources in our daily life. They serve as reminders – they strengthen certain thought pattern, habit or skills – they cheer us up – motivate us when chips are down and spirits are grey. This is the domain, which most of the corporate training rushes into. With an in depth understanding of the Self Awareness, Engagement and Meaningfulness, we can bring Routines, Structures and Resources in a much more conscious and empowering way. Some of the known and powerful tools are:
– Time Management
– Daily ‘to-do’ list: Dramatically improves one’s productivity
– e-Mails management: Modern day boon and bane – potentially biggest source of distraction and timewaster – learning how to tame it
– Goal Setting
– Engaging a coach
– Enlisting support team of friends & relatives
The list can go on and on. Idea is to create maximum opportunities for Engagement, Legacy Creation and living in accordance with your highest truth. It is not a destination, but every day journey. Personally, creating this article was an experience of Flow and Legacy Creation for me. I’d be extremely happy if you find some of these ideas useful to create an Optimum Life @ Every day!
Rajesh Vaidya is a Senior HR Leader with experience of over two decades in People and Organization Management. His origins are Indian. He lives in Bucharest, Romania as an expat. Ideas mentioned in his articles under the series “Musings of an HR Leader” are his personal views.