Merry Christmas

Dec 24, 2017 | 0 comments |
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas 🎄

Thank you for reading my blog and continuing to inspire me.

3 Things to do before you wrap up 2017

Lets get straight to the point, the year just went by.

  • Revise your job profile and interest- because you have a specific job title doesn't mean you cannot rethink or change it. The goal is to always be updated and be in a job that aligns with your interests. This means:
      • Observe the market shifting- and get yourself a new certification or  learn something new. Websites like Coursera allow you to enrol for them without having to pay a dime. You join the course of your choice and learn and if you want the certification you can pay.
  • Be thankful and take a break- to revise your goal and intentions you need to remove yourself from the current environment. You can reset your goals every quarter or once in two years. This means you dont need a sabbatical to decide the course of your life- it could be couple of hours in your favorite coffee shop.  For me personally, this year (in fact starting today), I am taking a couple of weeks off where I can travel and revise my goals.
  • Find  a sponsor- mentors are life changing but a sponsor is mandatory. A sponsor is also rather difficult to find,someone who will play a very active role in promoting you and ensuring you are in a role that interests you and climbing up the ladder.  3 ways to find a sponsor:
      • Have a work ethic- project your work personality and what you stand for.
      • Talk about your goal/career path- figure out where you want to career path to be at and then talk about it with your manager, mentors and sooner or later you will find your sponsor. 
      • Prove your worth- this is a no brainer, you have to prove you have it in you and are ready to work for it. No one will be willing to take a risk on you otherwise.
(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Interactions within Agile Teams- The SCARF Model


Image result for SCARF model

“In a world of increasing interconnectedness and rapid change, there is a growing need to improve the way people work together. Understanding the true drivers of human social behavior is becoming ever more urgent in this environment.”- David Rock

We talk about creating self-organizing team and encouraging team dynamics in Agile but what we forget to mention is how it should be done. This is where SCARF model comes in- Social neuroscience explores the biological foundations of the way humans relate to each other and to themselves. From this a theme emerges from social neuroscience- Firstly, that much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by an overarching organizing principle of minimizing threat and maximizing reward.

Which simply put means we have to ensure our Lizard brain (the part which tells you not to change, take a risk and ensure you continue to live by keeping you safe from trying out unknown things) doesn’t feel threatened at any point.


Image result for agile teams

The SCARF model involves five domains of human social experience: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, relatedness and Fairness. These 5 domains will either trigger the rewards or the threat thought process.  This also means even during conversations you want to “rewards” trigger to go. This will ensure positive discussion and participation plus engagement.

Certainty and Autonomy out of the five is directly related to you. For example- do you feel empowered that you can make your decision in the current job title? The empowerment  cannot be influenced by anyone else.

The other three Status, Relatedness and Fairness are all influenced by “others”…. Like do you feel you are treated fairly?

So, this is a mix bag of social influence which allows you to feel empowered and positive or otherwise. The dynamics can be created, so if you are a team member or scrum master or manage a team- you need to ensure that these 5 fundamental cornerstones are all in the positive side of things. If by using all of these, we can ensure that a sense of fulfillment, balance and progress within team members can be created- the self-organization will start forming very soon.

Here are 3 ways to build on the improve the team collaboration:·
  • Explain the change (why) - don’t enforce without talking about the big picture.
  • Show why it matters to them(how)- how it can impact them and what usually happens
  • What is expected from a specific role (what)- being articulate about the responsibility of a scrum team/member

If we are successful in ensuring all of these are considered, the team  dynamics and communication will be positive. 

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Walking Past Your Fear

Have you been scared and still done it anyway? Bungee jumping or public speaking?

Today I wanted to talk about why being scared and still going ahead with it is okay. Everyone starts somewhere even the greatest of speakers or writers. So, why not you?

The job of one part of our brain (reptilian) is to ensure we stay safe and discourages us from trying out new things. The basal ganglia is referred to as the reptilian or primal brain, as this structure is in control of our innate and automatic self-preserving behavior patterns, which ensure our survival and that of our species. We might not be living in the same world as primitive man, but we are still met with threatening and potentially dangerous situations. The brainstem is responsible for keeping us safe now, as it was for early man. The health and functioning of this brain region largely determines our ability to detect and respond to threats. At the most basic level, the brainstem helps us identify familiar and unfamiliar things. Familiar things are usually seen as safe and preferable, while unfamiliar things are treated with suspicion until we have assessed them and the context in which they appear (More here).

So when you feel shaky about taking the stage- its your brain telling you its risky and something new... just stay in the couch, that's something you are used to.

The choice is always there and its yours to make, do you want to stay a newbie for the rest of your life or you want to make that touch call and speak up and ask a questions, volunteer for an opportunity or ask for more responsibility. The difference between those who have done well and who are still waiting is earlier has been scared and still gone ahead and tried something new. Its also Growth Mindset.

Here are 33 ways to overcome your fear and when you decide you are ready, here's a video to watch- Growth Mindset simplified. This is how I am working around my fears :)



 

(Pic courtesy: Google Images)

Growth Mindset- Why you should have it?

If you have ever wondered why some people continue growing in their job/business and some stagnate- this is perhaps the post for you.

The concept of Growth Mindset was first introduced in the book Mindset: The new Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck .

The Stanford professor in an article in HBR talks about what the Growth Mindset shouldn’t be confused with:

  • People confuse it with being flexible or open minded
  • Is about praising and rewarding the effort
  • Good things will happen if you have a growth mindset
So, what is a Growth mindset?

“Growth Mindset thrives on challenges and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening spring board for growth and for stretching existing abilities.”

Read more here 

The questions is- how can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and as a result your life? The Growth mindset creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval.

So, how can you implement the growth mindset in your life?

Being aware of the two mindsets and knowing that the Growth Mindset requires taking risks and wandering off into unknown territories where you might not succeed but that is okay- because you will learn out of it.


Don’t get motivated because you don’t know much about a job profile/interest/hobby and you are terrified of failing. Not everyone fails and you have to take the first step.

This leads to believing in yourself :
1.Create a positive environment
2.Affirm your beliefs
3.Don’t hangout with naysayers- take their perspectives and improve on it
4.Celebrate learning’s





               So, if you are a newbie the mindset will be a game changer for you. Now you can go back at think about your mentor and realize why they have been doing so well- am sure they have a growth mindset too.

              You can read more about Growth Mindset here:


              (Pic courtesy: Google Images)

              October Wrap Up

              Oct 31, 2017 | | 0 comments |
              Happy Halloween!

              This month I thought I would share something fun- so the decors and gadgets to keep around at work for better productivity and happiness.                                     

                                                                       
              So, if you are into cleaning up your space and getting into the right Fall mood, here are some links for you:

              Reading this month for me was limited to Amy Cuddy’s book -Presence, rest was mostly work related research. 

              I also did a wellness journey via Instagram  and yes I posted for a month everyday.

              November will be busy month with fun projects and upcoming travel in December. 

              How was your October?

              (pic courtesy: Soma Bhattacharya)

              Scrum Master: 5 Kinds

              Whether you are in an organization that follows Agile or not chances are you already have pre-determined notions about Scrum Masters- their roles and responsibilities.

              In my experience of working within the Agile domain in India, there are five kinds of Scrum Masters I have come across:

              • Managers- This specially happens when the organization is moving into Agile initially. Reasons are often genuine and till a scrum master is identified in a team, the team manager in some cases will volunteer for the role. Also, managers who like to know what exactly is happening in the team so they step up into this role which always might not be a very good sign.
                  • Pros- Understanding the role will eventually help the manager better appreciate the role. Boosts positive communication within the team and change in process.
                  • Cons- it shouldn’t be the case where micro management is the agenda and so why not take up the role and still be the decision maker instead of allowing the team to self-organize
              • Tech Leads- Some organization focus on having adequate experience required for the role of the Scrum Master, the focus is on people who have considerable domain knowledge and its mostly been in the industry ten years or more.  
                  • Pros-The vast experience of a lead could help the team manage the domain and deliver work with better quality. 
                  • Cons-It shouldn’t end up being a practice that others don’t speak up because the lead is always right. 
              • Project Manager- The team project manager takes up the role as natural transition in a lot of cases. While the project will definitely be delivered with this one in charge, being a servant leader might not be something that will be easy to adopt to; where team calls the shots.
                  • Pros- Communication, delivery and milestones will always be in check.
                  • Cons- unless the right mindset has been achieved, you don’t want to encourage/continue with the command and control situation.
              • Functional Team Members- This happens commonly as a core team member is either assigned or volunteers to take on the role. This means a split of hours for being a Scrum Master and performing the core competency work.
                  • Pros- Buy in within team is easier
                  • Cons- Time management during deadlines; the time split doesn’t mean when extra hours are required you drop the scrum master responsibility and take in more hours to finish for example testing.
              • Full Time Scrum Master- Very few organizations will go ahead and hire full time members into this role. When it does happen one Scrum Master is assigned to at least two teams and the unit is very confident of the them working within Agile methodologies. 
                  • Pros- Someone available and accountable to ensure the process is in places and problems are looked into and resolved immediately.
                  • Cons- Dedicated scrum masters don’t mean they are administrators for the team, filling out details (like in the agile tool) that should be done by everyone themselves. Also, lack of discussion on what the role is about and the responsibilities are by management can create misunderstanding within team members. 

              What have you experienced or observed?

              (Pic courtesy: Google images)

              September- Wrap Up

              I am wrapping up the last month  and hope that's okay with you with some great reads and videos. 
              Image result for septemberSeptember personally has been a challenging month with sickness (bad weather) and festivals.

              Nonetheless the blog goes on, while I haven’t been able to read much ( a new book) this month, I had to make sure I still felt inspired everyday. 


              For me, small tiny changes sometimes make huge impact so I created Happiness corners with string lights http://amzn.to/2fDIxM7  and my favorite books.

              These are some of the reads I found very interesting:


              (Pic courtesy: Google Images)

              5 Changes: Game Changers for my Productivity

              Life can lose its motivation for people in stressful jobs. I am no exception and last couple of years have been a struggle to keep my head above water just because I want to do so much (everything!) and had difficulty managing it all.

              Over the time I have experimented, learned more about myself and made some major changes. If my job profile has changed, so should my life and routine.

              Here are 5 things I changed and why you should too:

              1. Getting up early- I wake up at 6.30 am every single day except Sundays. Take it from someone who has never seen early mornings (unless there’s a flight to catch). I realized by waking up early I felt much more in control while having my cup of coffee and getting some fresh air. I clear my head before I start the day and somehow it feels more positive. Here are some benefits of waking up early  
              2. Going to bed early- I still own a TV but never watch it. Instead I wind down early and sleep as early as 10pm. I work around a calming night time routine, so it takes the edge off my work day. More rest, better mind. Better mind, better workday- next day!
              3. Stopped Impulsive Sprees- I met friends at malls and coffee shops and spent money to buy happiness. Splurging felt good for a short span of time and I felt I deserved it after all the hard work. At some point I also realized that half of the items I bought I never wore them. Also, I wasn’t sure shopping was making me happy to even last a week. So, I stopped and now try to meet friends over casual dinners at home. The point isn’t about shopping at all; it’s about creating meaning in our life. So, if the time spend or the person you are catching up with isn’t adding any value for you, you should rethink.
              4. Using a Planner- Nothing beats a good planning even if you work impulsively. By writing down a plan and ideas from your head to paper- you take the stress out of remembering them. Our work life is mostly linked to planners (outlook calendar/Google calendar), why not try it out in our personal life as well. If you are a management professional, you are probably very good at it already, try to see what you plan and how much you actually get done.  There are lots of ways to plan- a whiteboard, sticky notes, a planner, a bullet journal etc. Here’s how writing down things will impact your life 
              5. Meditation- I am really not an expert on this, my version is very simple. Its just a way for me to connect with myself. Sometimes it can just be quiet 5 minutes for myself in a couch. I do have to mention that I like how it makes me feel. I am calmer and peaceful.  Studies indicate that mindfulness meditation benefits women more than men. There are multiple apps that are available (both paid and free) to help you ease better, try them out. 

              What have you incorporated in your routine recently?

              (Pic courtesy: Google Images)

              Aug Wrap Up

              I hope you have been doing great this month, mine has been a mish mash. While work has gotten me busier and happier with more challenging stuff everyday; my personal life has become more and more difficult to manage. My son started day care and he falls sick more often than before.


              I have been trying meditation and some quiet time (if I am lucky to manage some), trying to keep sane. I think often to connect with my mentors, honestly, there’s barely anytime to even write emails. However, I have signed up for more learning (via Coursera-Standfords- Organizations Analysis), reading more books and even as a joke and dare I recorded my first YouTube (its so awful that I won’t even link it here). However I know there’s more learning coming up as I dabble in editing and understanding how to make a YouTube video and very proud to put myself out there when I know it isn’t going to be perfect.

              To wrap up this month for you, here are some of the highlights, I hope you enjoy.

              Good Reads (Blogs)

               New Books:


              Finally, a book that changed me: When Breath Becomes Air

              (PicCourtesy: Soma Bhattacharya)

              Relearning: The Gadget Habits (5 simple tips)

              If you spend all your time slouching in the couch and complaining life isn’t taking you anywhere, well you already know nothing will happen.

              An average person will usually complaint 15-30 times day. The chronic complainer falls into a perpetual cycle of finding fault, feeling negative, and then being unable to face the next situation with an open mind.  

              Instead of picking ourselves and working on our list, we are busy with the Gadget Browsing. We use it every day- new fancy phones, laptops, tablets... hundreds of apps crammed in it. We wake up with the mindless chatter of browsing and we wrap up our day by telling the world we are ready for bed. Does information overload or mindless browsing help your creativity- perhaps not. We are way too occupied with our gadgets (that's where the free times heads to) till we need a mental day off .

              Here are 5 ways to re-think about your habits:

              1. Stop all the notifications- this includes your emails, social media and news channels. When you need something (info/news) you can open the app and it’s always better to have a fixed time to do it. Don’t use it as a cure for boredom instead pick a book or go for a walk or meet a real friend.
              2. Delete apps- you don’t need so many apps, delete them. Free yourself from the urge to constantly monitor your behavior, deleting helps. Once done you can decide to login to your Facebook or Instagram once a week or month and check for updates (in case you forgot they also have a website), you really don’t need to prove anything to anyone here. 
              3. Use apps to develop the growth mindset -don’t stop learning because you are out of college, keep that fire in you alive. Use your gadgets instead to learn a new domain, or pick up a interest or a certification. Download the content and you can even use it while you commute even with a shaky wifi. this includes paid and free stuff- read a blog, take up a course and get a certification that will actually help you to move to your new role.
              4. Shake up your timeline- make the time spent meaningful, there’s no point in giving up your time and feeling worthless. If you think browsing through social media is giving you all the negative vibes then just get out of it. Use apps to create real connections, meet your mentor once a month over Skype or use Google hangout to teach... the possibilities are endless as long as you use them correctly.
              5. Positive vibes only- use gadgets to create the life you want, not the life your social timeline dictates you to live by and crib about. Use apps to meditate or write or create amazing headspace that takes you through the day. 

              Stop the mindless browsing and create the positive road-map you have always wanted and see how it feels to stop complaining for once.

              (Pic courtesy: Google images)

              Being Human in Agile

              Agile is one of the most-discussed subjects in any process domain.

              With commercialization and certification now so easily available to many, the approach has become easier to learn and implement, and with that has come the liability of seeing it as only a set of rules and practices. The "individual" who was the center of the process has now taken a back seat among the fancy tools and apps. Among many, Agile has become only a term.

              As an Agile coach working with multiple teams and organizations, I have always felt that miracles are expected just because you gather together for 15 minutes. We look for data and stats and obsessively check tools. We have made the tool bigger than the process. Rarely does anyone talk about the human factor in Agile. No one wants to take the time to make the connections; we only want the productivity increased.

              Have you ever noticed how you work your best? Let’s take a blind guess — maybe you like the freedom in the way you work, the human connection with your peers, and an understanding manager or mentor. No matter which process you are part of, doing your best work shouldn’t change.

              If you are still old school like me and prefer the human connection, here are three ways to bring it back.

              Storytelling

              Don’t approach an Agile transformation with hard-set rules and terminologies. Instead, take the time to explain why, as a team or organization, you are going for it, what benefits you are hoping for, and the challenges that will be encountered. Tell the story of failures, recall the successes you have seen, how you have mentored or coached other teams, and the fact that every transformation is unique and should be treated as such.

              Hear their stories, too; try to create a story card. Divide a paper in four quadrants and create your guided storytelling pattern. I have seen that when given a structure to tell a story — based on a question or an activity — people respond better, and it opens up a real conversation rather than just encouraging free-flowing conversation.

              You can choose any of the following to create your story card for the teams and then talk one-on-one to understand them:

              • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator score (personality type): Try the free online assessment. This is just for fun and provides some insight into the person. Even if people disagree with the results, they will talk about why it doesn’t match up.
              • Moving Motivators: I find it interesting to see the most- and least-favorite motivators; it's usually an eye-opener. Asking the right question along with this assessment helps form some perspective you will need as a coach or manager to work with each individual. You can find the game at the Management 3.0 website.
              • Who you are: That 30-second elevator speech is rather difficult when you take out of the equation their job title or technical domain expertise. People really must think about who they are, and that’s what you want.
              • The improvement you would like to see in your team/process: Depending on their comfort level, people will talk. Trust me on this; you will get more information here than from looking at the trends in your team's velocity.


              Mind Mapping
              Sometimes we think better when articulating clearly, and the train of thought is easier to chase when we can come back to it. Mind mapping is a wonderful tool that can be used in various scenarios to get to know a person and to explain the process, and it can even be used in retrospectives. The transformation doesn’t need to be done in the same way everywhere. Learn about others and who you are working with, and bring new techniques to work that bring out the personal point of view and perspective.

              Visualization
              Reactions will always change more when people see something than when they are told something over and over again. Instead of telling teams that they are full of flaws and that productivity and velocity have to increase, try value stream mapping with the team. Let the team draw with colored pens and crayons and have some fun. Then let them see where they have been lagging. When realizations come from within, changes are easier.

              The bottom line from all of the above is that we are trying to keep the uniqueness of an individual and not trying to assume that everyone is the same. Data matters; however, you won’t know the authenticity of the data if the team is always gaming it up to protect themselves from you.

              Yes, we are busy — always busy moving from one meeting to another. But not even for a second do we think that the human connection is replaceable with a process or data. When we showcase the human within us and try to understand the other person, it makes the transformation and the assumed role much more fulfilling for all.

              This article was originally published in Scrum Alliance

              (Pic courtesy: Google Images)

              Stop the Burn Out

              How are you feeling lately? Energetic and jump out of bed, inspired to go to work? Or tired juggling too many things and exhausted. Yet, instead of stopping we just continue pushing, till we come to a dead halt.
              • Till you can’t get out of bed anymore
              • Till you feel so uninspired, you don’t know what to do
              • Till you don’t find meaning in your work
              • Till you are careless
              • Till there’s no ambition
              • Till you can’t push through the day anymore



              Stop, take a break and introspect. 

              You can take 2 months off  or realize sometimes doing a better job means not doing your job at all.

              48% of Americans experienced increased stress over the past 5 years. So, if you are invested heavily in your work life, it also means we have to take measures to sustain it equally well. That can only mean considering vacations https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/4-scientific-reasons-why-vacation-is-awesome-for-you.html so you can enjoy your job.

              In your regular work life, find out what triggers your stress the most- is it your co-worker, the commute, the inability to grow in your job and then come up with a plan and figure it out. Being able to be happy in your job could prevent the burn out at the every start and then follow it up with vacations and positive work environment, creating your hyggae at work etc.

              If you are looking for great tips to bring in the balance in your life, try these:
              • Ariana Huffingtons book- "The Sleep Revolution" and the website that allows you to find out articles about the balance and keeping you happy. 
              • If you need to sort out your finances, try this out 
              • If you need to sort out your life, look no further than Vishesh Lakhani’s – "Code of the Extraordinary Mind". 
              • See what your interests are and ensure you can keep it up at an extent even in your very busy life that brings in some peace. Meet similar minds by joining meetup.com
              • Physical movement is equally important to stop the burn out, try couple of times a week to start with 
              • Learn through lots of free resources on the web and boost your career. 
              • Find a mentor and ask for suggestion on how they handle it. Observe in your own organization or read up on what’s the best thing to do. 
              To sum up, stop the glorification of busy and then burn out. Instead take the time to feel okay and not always on the rush. If possible try working from home, couple of times a month (no commute at least and perhaps even healthier choice of food), get into your zone and just enjoy the flow, create a routine and keep on adapting to it.

              Being successful and being able to achieve your goal, also means taking care of yourself and your thought process.

              (Pic courtesy: Google Images)

              Finding your Purpose (Ikigai): In your Work

              What does a job mean to you?
              • Is it a way to earn your paycheck? 
              • A way to find out your calling? 
              • Or is it your life’s purpose

              If you are struggling to figure out what’s your life purpose, the Japanese concept of Ikigai explains it all

              If we are fortunate enough to match up our purpose with the jobs we have, life can only be amazing.

              If you are trying to match it up here are 5 tips:
              • Find out what you like to do. Try Mind Mapping
              • Once you know your Ikigai, try internship positions/volunteer
              • Try reading up/taking courses on the subject matter (like from Coursera ). Having a degree will only add up to the chances of finding a job in that domain
              • Revise your resume. Don’t send resumes that cater to all types of jobs you are thinking about, it will make you look less serious to the one you are applying for. Customize your resume line by line for the job.
              • You will know when your job matches your Ikigai- it’s probably also your hobby. You enjoy waking up and heading out for your job. 
              This can be you as a newbie or someone who continuously grows and evolves your interest might have just changed. As they say, you are never done finding purpose in your work

              (Pic courtesy: Google Images)

              Mind Mapping: What are you good at?

              If you belong to a certain domain or hold a fancy job title- does it mean that’s the only thing you are good at? Or that's your life calling for the next thirty years?

              Did you know that more than 70 % of the workforce is disengaged from the job they hold- this cannot be true if you are truly inspired by your profession. So, may be the job you have isn’t what you are interested in anymore because you figured they are other things you are better at.

              Meet Anisha, who has a comfortable job and has been in it for a while till she woke up one day and felt she wasn’t being recognized for her loyalty and the long hours of work. she isn't drawn to her job anymore. She’s looking for something that excites her ...  So, what does she do- she joins the disengaged workforce.

              So, how can you figure out what you want to do or better: what you are really good at?

              Close your eyes and imagine yourself as a toddler and think of what you wanted to be when you grow up. I wanted to be a teacher. To me that was the power figure- in control of a class of 60 students. That seemed a coveted position to hold for me.

              Over the years as we grow and environment shifts and changes happen, our interest changes, skillsets take shape and we find a job.

              Ten years later- is that what you still want? How can you navigate your career to ensure that its synced with your interests?

              So, let’s try mind mapping- no fancy tool or budget required.

              • In the center place yourself ...  think of anything you like to do or makes you happy and start writing/sketching. Write as many as you can. Against each idea, see if you are still doing it (example- poetry- I published a coffee table book or I have a diary full of poems written and hidden because I think my friends will laugh at me and call me sappy). Rupi Kaur self-published her first book of poems in Amazon and it went to become a NYT best seller.
              • When you have sketched everything you can think of, add 5 more. Once you start thinking, it becomes easy.. Now see how you can take each of these ideas and keep thinking deeper- what does it mean to you. For example if you mentioned “creating” – you can mention writing blogs, clicking pics, creating travel vlogs, writing articles for magazines, becoming an author. Once all are done, take a different color pen and look for patterns. Common things that have surfaced- it could be similarity in the main ideas/categories or it could be sub categories within the categories- mark them.
              • Can you see the trend now- what you really like to do- in most cases you can also see a profession shaping up? Against the profession/interest you found- try adding ways on how you can achieve it or make money from it. That can lead to clarity- if this is something you want to take up as a profession, or you want to prepare for it (like take certifications) or talk to friends or references who are already in the profession of your choice.
              • That’s your calling. You don’t have to give up your job and go for it but if it does make sense- think about it. Think how you can try out this opportunity. 

              This can be a wonderful way to find yourself back and be inspired again. So, did you find what you are good at?

              (Pic courtesy: google images)

              Dumping the Black Bag


              Image result for inspired

              I don’t think I was listening. I am pretty sure I wasn’t. I had hit a block and nothing was getting me out of it.
              It was mostly tiring- the juggles of work and life. I almost quit. I was uninspired.

              I am an INFJ and I need my personal space and time- that’s how I recharge.

              Disruption helped. I just gave away a lot of things that had given me a structure- I needed to find my way back. So, I lost the structure.

              Here are 5 ways to find your game back:
              • Find your groove- Find what you really like to do. It could be things that relaxes you the most or things you did when you were a kid and wasn’t pressed for time. Things change, you might just need something new now.
              • Be inspired- Use a gratitude journal, you can shift your bitterness by being grateful by just trying it out regularly. It gives you an instant mood booster.
              • Create a space for yourself and maintain it- It should be comfortable and pleasing whether it’s your home or work, add personal touches and reminders that make you happy and comfortable.
              • Have reminders- In formats you prefer- it can be post its on your desk, notes in your phone, jewellery that reminds you of how far you have come and where you want to be.
              • Look for good content- In books, music, art or friends. Be in the space which is full of life, happiness and creativity. It will inspire creativity and thoughtfulness in you.
              Image result for dream big


              When you feel you are slipping, get back on the grip. It takes time and the shift isn’t overnight. Have the patience. Let it be.

              Finally, when you are ready- dump all your worries in the big black backpack and let it go. Replace with something nice and wonderful and just be happy. 

              When you are happy- the real you will shine through and you will be unstoppable.

              (Pic courtesy: Google Images)

              Destress and Focus with Jazz

              Work is fulfilling for a lot of us, however with it comes the stress and the burn out.

              Consider this: Jazz music can lower blood pressure by causing blood vessels to expand by 30% (This change in blood pressure is like loosing 30 lbs).

              It incidentally helps you to get better sleep.  Studies shows that just 45 min of soft, slow music (60-80 BPM) like jazz, before bedtime results in better and longer night-time sleep as well as less dysfunction during the day:
              • After 1 week, 26% were sleeping better.
              • After 3 weeks, 35% were sleeping better.

              After finding out about Jazz, I decided to implement it in my own life and see the results. My work is sometimes stressful and while I enjoy it... working parallel in a lot of things sometimes leaves me burned out. I realize that I am not being as effective in getting things done, because I am worried about how much is left to be done.

              So, I tried 2 things at work:

              1. When I start to worry/stress/get irritated I immediately walk out to refill my water bottle, or get a coffee. read the newspaper or sometimes just walk around. That momentarily relief and taking me out of that zone seems to work positively on the mind. 
              2. I also played jazz over the web via ear phones and I did work better partially because I felt more relaxed. It helped me to the extent that I now use it almost regularly specially when I have things to deliver in a tight timeline. 

              You wont know what works for you, till you try it out yourself. So, my suggestion is to give it a go and see whether this is something that will work for you.

              All I can say is, its definitely worth a try.

              (pic courtesy: Google Images)

              Tools- aren’t the answer to your Agile Transformation

              The most hyped up idea during an Agile Transformation is the search for tool that would best suit your organizational needs. Tools is necessary, however isn’t the priority in your Agile journey.

              In the process the focus shifts to the tool and then purpose of the transformation is lost. It reaches a point where transformation is equated with tool.


              You don’t need fancy tools and a huge budget to start something small. Start your journey with a whiteboard, something that the team has to work on and can play around with it, changing and adding metrics or creating their own customized dashboard.

              You can even try a team cork board, or use simple sticky notes or free software to try out the teams comfort level. Tool should be part of the process, not the process.

              There are lots of reasons, why you fail in agile and tool shouldn’t be one of them. 
              So, find ways to ensure you are Agile in reality. 

              To know more about Agile tools, try the links here and here.

              (Pic courtesy: Pinterest)




              Change your life: Rewire your brain

              Success could be about innovation, about practice, about determination. One thing that will be the common denominator is how you wire your brain to get to your desired state of mind.

              Good news is your brain changes with you or may be you change because your brain is constantly changing.

              There’s a traditional saying that the mind takes the shape it rests upon; the modern update is that the brain takes the shape the mind rests upon.  For instance, if you regularly rest your mind upon worries, self criticism, and anger, then your brain will gradually take that shape – will develop neural structures and dynamics of anxiety, low sense of worth, and prickly reactivity to others.  On the other hand, if you regularly rest  your mind upon, for example noticing you’re all right right now, seeing the good in yourself and letting go…then your brain will gradually take the shape of calm strength, self confidence, and inner peace. (Source) 

              “As your mind changes, your brain changes; and as your brain changes, your mind changes.” Hanson explains how neuroplasticity is accomplished:
              • Busy regions get more blood flow, since they need more oxygen and glucose.
              • The genes inside neurons get more or less active; for example, people who routinely relax have improved expression of genes that calm down stress reactions, making them more resilient.
              • Neural Connections that are relatively inactive wither away; its a kind of neural Darwanism, the survival of the busiest, use it or lose it.
              “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”  This saying from the work of Donald Hebb means that synapses – the connections between neurons – get more sensitive, plus new neurons grow, producing thicker neural layers.

              It’s said that practice makes it easier for brain to highlight on the same function over and over again, making that part of the brain easier to access. That’s why it’s said cab drivers who need to memorize the city maps to get their license, have that part of their brain bigger than the rest.

              Turns out more struggles and obstacles you have in learning, better your brain learns.

              And if you are looking for inspiration to keep your new year’s resolution going, here’s a tip- physical exercise is good for the brain because it helps create new neurons.



              To read similar articles- read Finding your Zone and How to Keep your Life in Control .

              If you like visual representations, click here

              (Pic courtesy: Pinterest) 


              Free Flow Sunday

              When routine gets hectic, try this out.

              It gets it’s name from what I thought would be a good way to spend my Sunday. No rules, no commitments, no alarm- its free flow. I do what I want to do.

              I noticed in trying to chase the next thing to get done throughout the week, I was simply exhausted, to the point I would get irritated very easily. My weekends as a busy working mom would mean endless things and errands to take care of. I never made the list, it simply got lost in more things to get done.

              So I stopped. I started this as an experiment on myself to see if it could actually work. So, there’s no schedule for my Sundays which also means I mostly say to all invitations and meetings and brunches on Sunday. I want to keep the time open and available for me.

              The way it works- I wake up without alarm and get up and so whatever I want to do. Sometimes I just spend drinking coffee in the balcony and water the plants. Some Sundays, I play with my son, sometimes it’s the gratitude journal followed by all morning being in bed and reading. I keep my whole week scheduled to perfection and this one day I just let it all go. The bed stays messy, the house not quite perfect, the lunch unplanned. Some days we will drive for a bite, some days I will whip up a fancy mean or just order in.

              This also works because it’s Sunday and everyone’s available. Sometimes I will delegate work; sometimes I let everyone do what they want. It helps that my parents help as well with my son. So, anyone is free to get their own breakfast done, some days, someone will take the responsibility to make it- it's never me :) 

              You get the idea... so how does it help?
              • Decompress- after a hectic week and stressing out, this day resets my system for Monday
              • Unschedule to schedule better- This allows me to just let everything go. The feeling of letting go is so powerful in not having hundred more things to do that Mondays are always better. That one day break is a real Sunday for me.
              • Me time- it allows me to live one day the way i want. Yes there are still certain things I will do, but mostly and as much as possible what I want to do.
              • Solitude helps- I am an introvert and yes i always need my me time. Its a must and when I loose it, it always creates more problems than solutions. I gather my thoughts on life, my career, things I want to do, places I want to travel and catch up with friends.
              • Asses life- I remember a friend who once told me, we are so focussed on running after the next hike, we forget what we have now and we never enjoy that. It stuck with me. I am not part of any race that day, I try to forgive and forget all wrong doings and try to breathe in more peace within myself.

              So far, it has been working, I really look forward to Sundays. 

              (Pic courtesy: Pinterest)

              Why is creativity good for you?

              Experts argue that getting into a state of flow can produce substantial happiness, the kind that lasts longer than the pleasure we get from eating a good cookie.    

              According to Matthew Swan, MA, Registered Art Therapist, “Through creativity, we often find answers to our problems.” He says when we’re stuck, it helps if we can step outside the box and find another way of doing something. To be successful at this, we need to do things outside of our normal, everyday routine and to make connections between things that we had not thought about before. In fact, the creative process is the act of making these new connections.  

              The link between creativity and better mental and physical health is well established by researchSo, while if you consider yourself someone who is creative naturally, chances are you are happier and that means better at work.  

              Robert Epstein explained in a Psychology Today article how challenging situations can bring out our creativity. Even if you don’t succeed at whatever you’re doing, you’ll wake up the creative areas of your brain and they’ll perform better after the failed task, to compensate. 

              In 1954 the first flotation method was created by John C. Lilly, a neuro-psychiatrist, as a way to create sensory-deprived control groups for his experiments. Being inside the flotation tank takes your brain from highly conscious alpha and beta waves to solid theta waves—the kind you would normally have right before falling asleep and just after waking up. Normally we only experience these theta waves for a few minutes, but having extended theta periods helps us to visualize better, often giving us vivid mental images. Sensory deprivation helps in reducing anxiety, stress and even chronic pain.  


              So, like everything else, creativity can bring you happiness and in return give you the much soughted after peace or grounding of you self that can actually help you catapult your career forward. 

              If there’s one thing you should focus on this year, it definitely has to be making yourself happier and the rest will happen automatically. If you are looking for more ways to make your brain happier, read this.  





              (pic courtesy: Pinterest)

              3 Things To Do This Year

              Jan 17, 2017 | 0 comments |
              What's yours? 

              This year let the year not be in wishing, lets back it up with some concrete plans. So what would you do, if you weren't afraid? 

              Can you still try to make it work? Is there an alternative? Don't let the lizard brain rule you this year... take the plunge and let's try it together.




              (Pic courtesy: Soma Bhattacharya)

              3 New PM Blogs to Follow This year

              If you are looking forward to refresh your reading list this year, look no further here are 3 new one's to choose from:


              What's new on your reading list? 

              (Pic courtesy: Canva)

              Best of 2016: Moving Foward

              2016 has been a tough year for me, it has tested me in every possible way and yet I am thankful that I have survived. The  journey taught me a lot and I thought I will share with you some of my favorite things I have discovered last year that I intend to carry forward with me to 2017.



              I have realized being organized helps me declutter and empty up my head space and it's a big relief. So, I have spent the last 2 months doing exactly that- sorting out my brain.

              Here are some of the things I have enjoyed, I hope you like them and let me know what was yours.

              Best Apps
              • Evernote (productivity and organization)- I use this to bookmark links or upload documents primarily for work or blog.
              • Big Basket (online grocery- India)- saves me from the traffic in Indian roads. 
              • Canva (design and content creation)- I use this for creating posters and banners that I use in the blog or in my social media channels.
              • Pinterest (visual board)- its the last thing I browse before bed, I love beautiful things (or pictures)
              • Omvana (meditation) - I discovered it very recently after reading the Code of the Extraordinary Mind
              • Noteboard- chrome extension (efficiency and productivity)- good place to jot down my lists and goals plus I like the feel of a cork board.

              Best Gadgets
              • Garmin Activity Tracker (physical fitness)- if you have read my post on 5 Years- Thats how long it took you know what I am talking about. This helps plus I love the reminder to Move!
              • Wireless speaker/headphone  (music, phone calls)- I have carried it with me when travelling to cient sites. When you are contantly living out of a suitcase it helps to have a familiar routine, even if that means listening to a familiar soundtrack. 

              Best  Blogs


              Best of SIPM Posts





              Pic Courtesy: pinterest
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