Playing the Game of Life

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Life is a song - sing it. Life is a game - play it. Life is a challenge - meet it. Life is a dream - realize it. Life is a sacrifice - offer it. Life is love - enjoy it - Sai Baba

Life is what we make of it; nothing more, nothing less. Life is not about getting what we want; we get what we deserve. Nature takes its own time and life is full of surprises. We are responsible for making our life what it is in the present moment. We accept accolades and feel good about ourselves when we are successful to the extent we start feeling ‘how great am I’. However, when we are faced with difficulties or a failure, we look outwards and blame the world. What happens then, where does that sense of responsibility and arrogance of greatness go? How come we are unable to apply that greatness to face life?

What is it that prevents us from going deeper and harnessing that same ability to encounter difficulties and convert them into opportunities. That arrogant ignorant mind gets caught in the delusion of ‘I know it all’ and we forget to sit back and reflect. When we read the biography of any leader, there are elements of adventure, risk, fearlessness, pain, perseverance and sacrifice. They explore their boundaries and rarely stay in their comfort zone. Many people get caught in time warps about their concepts of how their world should ideally be. There is no ideal; there is no constant. To keep growing, we need to stay alert to change and be aware of our purpose of life.

Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death - Einstein

Curiosity and experimentation like a scientist, is the key to redesigning life. The way we master new information about various objects in the external world, we can also change perspectives about ourselves by shifting the subject of curiosity inwards. We view life through our lens of beliefs, memories and interpretations. Over time, our life develops a defining theme – poor me, let me be, I’m cool, I’m like that only, I’m the best, I’m no good……and we get stuck in a vicious circle. These themes are like movies with sequels. We keep producing film after film with the same characters and theme and selling it to the world with a deep desire for people to buy it not once, but repeatedly. The irony is that we sell the story repeatedly to convince ourselves that we are right to live the way we are living. While living from one wave of experience after another, we forget to ask ourselves – ‘who is the author of this script and who has the power to rewrite the script?’

In the ancient Vedic culture, a child was sent to a Gurukul for the Guru to identify the inherent unique talent, nurture the same and teach the rules of exhibiting the talent in the game of life. As the Gurukul system diminished, the joint family system came into place, wherein the elders of the family took the place of the Guru. In a world of globalization, people live in nuclear families and there is limited inter-action with elders or ability to learn from another person’s experience. The society is more focused around winning rather than nurturing and evolving and obviously no one can always win.

As a coach, I work with people to restructure their life by creating new patterns of thinking. For instance, I worked with an executive who grew up in a fragmented family environment and did not have a secure upbringing. The feeling of ‘I’m unloved’ was deeply ingrained that every relationship was viewed from this sense of distrust. This manifested as a desperate need to stay in control due to the inability to trust, delegate, work in teams and communicate openly. Life was caught in a circle of ‘how do I prove that I am worth it’.

When our foundation is weak, we grow into confused and agitated adults and live in disappointment. In the race to win, we rarely take out time to introspect and reflect to build our sportsman spirit. It takes tremendous courage and discipline to actually apply what is learnt and follow through. Old habits dominate our behavior and any new habit or way of thinking takes time.

When we are young, we need external support and validation. As an adult we have the ability to empower ourselves and seek support when required. We also have the ability to make choices, take decisions, take actions and manage the consequences. We are no longer helpless or incapable. However, out of sheer habit, we keep seeking that external validation. We can choose to be as we wish to be as long as we are willing to face the consequences of that choice.

To become the master of our life, we need to play it like a sport. Like any game, firstly there is a need to understand our own strengths and limitations and that of the other players. Also, no sportsman plays without turn. They play from their place of strength by staying alert to such opportunities and passing over others rather than getting out when they know its beyond their capacity.

Don't walk through life just playing football. Don't walk through life just being an athlete. Athletics will fade. Character and integrity and really making an impact on someone's life, that's the ultimate vision, that's the ultimate goal - bottom line - Ray Lewis

Testimonials

Knowing and working with Ashu has been a personally and professionally enriching experience. Her worldview has a deep philosophical underpinning and is informed by clarity of thought and tempered by strong sense of honesty, compassion and generosity. Ashu has the desire and the ability to make a difference.

Mr. Jaideep Khanna

CEO & Country Head India, Investment & Corporate Bank, Barclays Capital India

Ashu has worked as a coach with my team on a few occasions to help improve teamwork and team dynamics. Working with a group of type A investment bankers can be pretty tough. Ashu was able to draw out the team to share their views openly in a constructive manner.

Mr. V Anantharaman

MD & Regional Head - Origination and Client Coverage & Co-Head - Wholesale Banking, South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank

I find that Ashu has a knack for cutting to the heart of the matter, no matter how complicated it may be. Her direct approach towards stating the issues up front, and then exploring solutions works very well in a business environment, where time is short and issues are complex.

Mr. Ashok Bajpai

Regional Director, Essar Steel

I have known and worked with Ashu Khanna for a number of years on various programs and have found her to be a very effective coach and trainer. Her programs on leadership and Branding are particularly of high order and clubbed with her unique individual style have proven to be quite impactful.

Mr. Awdhesh Krishna

Global Head - HR, Nomura India

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