Happy Holidays!!!

That’s a wrap on Toughlove Coaching Sessions for the Year 2017!

It’s been amazing to be surrounded by so many inspiring, beautiful people (……Tough, Crazy and Loud People Too!!)
Looking forward to many more ‘middle of the night’ training session and helping you kick some New Goals for 2018!
Happy Holidays, keep safe and jolly and keep moving!

The Dalai Lama Reveals How You Can Discover the True Nature of Reality

Have you ever wondered about the true nature of reality? Is everything an illusion or is it real?

The Dalai Lama, as one of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers, has thought deeply about this question.

He has shared with us a simple path for figuring it out and experiencing it for yourself.


The eight mundane concerns to let go of

The first step is to understand that there are eight mundane concerns that tend to dominate our lives. They are:

  • becoming elated when someone praises you;
  • becoming depressed when someone insults or belittles you;
  • feeling happy when you experience success;
  • being depressed when you experience failure;
  • being joyful when you acquire wealth;
  • feeling dispirited when you become poor;
  • being pleased when you have fame; and
  • feeling depressed when you lack recognition.

Someone seeking enlightenment into the true nature of reality should ensure that they are not being defiled by these thoughts.

By letting go of your attachment to these kinds of thoughts, you end up transforming your mind in very powerful ways.

Be glad when someone belittles you

As the Dalai Lama says:

“May I be gladdened when someone belittles me, and may I not take pleasure when someone praises me. If I do take pleasure in praise then it immediately increases my arrogance, pride, and conceit; whereas if I take pleasure in criticism, then at least it will open my eyes to my own shortcomings.”

This is indeed a powerful sentiment.

He continues:

“And may I, recognizing all things as illusion, devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.”

In the Buddhist teachings on the ultimate nature of reality, there are two significant time periods to consider:

  1. The actual meditation on emptiness.
  2. The period subsequent to the meditative session when you engage actively with the real world.

In the Dalai Lama’s view:

“Sometimes people have the idea that what really matters is single-pointed meditation on emptiness within the meditative session. They pay much less attention to how this experience should be applied in post-meditation periods. However, I think the post-meditation period is very important. The whole point of meditating on the ultimate nature of reality is to ensure that you are not fooled by appearances can often be deluding. With a deeper understanding of reality, you can go beyond appearances and relate to the world in a much more appropriate, effective, and realistic manner.”

He continues:

“The illusion-like nature of things can only be perceived if you have freed yourself from attachment to phenomena as independent discrete entities. Once you have succeeded in freeing yourself from such attachment, the perception of the illusion-like nature of reality will automatically arise. Whenever things appear to you, although they appear to have an independent or objective existence, you will know as a result of your meditation that this is not really the case. You will be aware that things are not as substantial and solid as they seem. The term ‘illusion’ therefore points to the disparity between how you perceive things and how they really are.”

Blinded by Risk. A small illustration of how this happens to all of us.

This post is a story about how a simple game gave us insight into something quite profound; the blinding effect of seemingly innocuous negative information.   

A number of years ago, we designed a small exercise to demonstrate the idea of how a company can have beliefs about business “truths” that prevent them from seeing important opportunities.

The example that got us thinking was the squeezable ketchup bottle. Heinz had dominated the market in ketchup sales.  When approached by the inventors of the plastic bottle, they dismissed it. They believed their traditional glass bottle and the ritual of coaxing the thick ketchup out by tapping the bottle was iconic of their brand and important to their customers, and therefore a key factor in maintaining their position.

We all know what happened.  Hunts picked up on the plastic bottle and stole a large portion of Heinz’s market share.   Although Heinz now has the plastic bottle, they lost critical dominance for a long time.  Now, nearly all condiments are available in plastic bottles. We started listing other radical ideas which had become important eventually but which were at first rejected by leading industries. The SUV, digital photography, the personal computer and even the television, were radical ideas at the time of invention. We ended up with 10 stories.

We realized that each of these stories has six components: 

  1. The idea itself.
  2. The reasons why it’s a good idea from the point of view of the company that adopted it.
  3. The reasons why the idea is not needed, too risky, or a violation of the product’s image from the point of view of the company that rejected it.
  4. The name of the company that avoided the idea and their market position at the time
  5. The name of the company that embraced the idea and their market position at the time.
  6. The eventual outcome financially for both companies.

We put the six elements of each story on a separate card and arranged them in a series to show how easy it would be to miss important ideas.  Given that we then had a set of 60 cards, we had the idea of color coding each of the six types just to keep them straight.  The reasons for not adopting the new innovation happened to be “red” cards.  The value of the idea was on a green card. The outcomes were on yellow cards, a description of the idea itself was on a blue card, and so on.

This small puzzle made it easy to see the point, but it also showed us something else.  Sometimes we asked people to complete the series and try to match the product with its story elements.

We noticed that when people started their series with the red card, it took them much longer to complete the sets. 

A little later, while giving a talk at a major university’s MBA program, we broke the audience into two teams.  So they wouldn’t know they were working with the same cards, we asked one group to arrange all the red cards vertically and add the matching cards from left to right in order to complete the 10 stories.  We asked the other team to do the same beginning with the green cards.  The “green team” finished in about 7 or 8 minutes. The “red” team never finished.  At the time this was very embarrassing for the participants and a little disconcerting to us, but it also intrigued me.

Starting your thinking with the reasons not to do something clearly had an impact, evenwhen you don’t know what the idea is yet (this was on the blue cards) and it’s not even your industry.    In groups, this effect turned out to be much worse.  We started doing this two-team exercise with groups before a presentation or a speech in order to illustrate how the starting point of a discussion can influence the whole outcome. We had to stop because after numerous tries we realized that no groupwho began with red cards ever finished their sets and this was very upsetting for them. 

What does this mean?

The original idea was to demonstrate the phenomenon philosophers refer to as “shared meaning”, which is specific to our species.  In other words, we participate with other people in common activities and as a result, eventually share their world view.  This happens on a very large scale – at one time everyone believed the earth was flat – or on a micro-cultural level, such as a group of friends having the same world-view. In the same way, people who work for the same company can come to share a common “truth” about the business they are in and what is possible.

But what we observed here was much more powerful and potentially much more disturbing. Even when people do not know each other, know anything about the innovation, or even work for the same company, the manner in which they are introduced to a common task can have a profound impact. A card with four lines indicating the risks of an idea caused them to be completely blinded. They literally could not find the cards that went logically with these risks but rather believed them as self-evident truths that cannot be challenged.  Conversely, the same kinds of teams of strangers who began with the positive outcomes of an idea—an idea that they also did not yet have knowledge of – had a smooth path to see not only the opportunities, but also to finding the card that described the risks, even though they turned out to be unfounded.

It is possible that we tapped into a fundamental cognitive mechanism. Beginning with a positive outcome may not only allow innovation to be recognized, but also put the risks in perspective.  In other words, it might actually be a more objective way to see the whole picture. 

But more to the point of this article, these two paths can happen easily, instantly, out of context and can be very hard to change once turned on.   A small starting thought may literally determine what you can see next in the landscape of information, even when solving a small card puzzle.

Fortunately, it can also be undone easily, instantly and out of context, but that’s the subject of my next post……

|FollowLia DiBello| President and CEO at WTRI

15 Powerful Quotes From Lao Tzu That Will Blow Your Mind Wide Open

Lao Tzu was the founder Taoism, the highly influential philosophy that emphasizes humility, mindful living and fulfilment in life.

He is known to have masterfully implemented detachment, letting go and simplicity in his life. Most importantly, he helped countless people discover their true purpose.

Lao Tzu has been a huge figure in Chinese culture and his teachings are still taught to this very day.

If you want to learn about harmonious and purposeful living, here are some of his most profound quotes that will make reconsider your priorities in life.

The 3 great treasures in life

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

True intelligence and power

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

Let go

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Be yourself

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

Live in the present moment

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Don’t give up on your dreams

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

The art of simplicity

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

“Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.”

You are eternal

“If you understand others you are smart. If you understand yourself you are illuminated. If you overcome others you are powerful. If you overcome yourself you have strength. If you know how to be satisfied you are rich. If you can act with vigor, you have a will. If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting. If you die without loss, you are eternal.”

The importance of kindness

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

Three precious things of life

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”

Inspiring! This Marathoner wants you to break free

Partially paralysed, but with unbreakable will power and determination, Nihad Panju has beaten the odds to become a fitness freak and is all set to run his 4th Mumbai Marathon on Sunday.

The 26 year old tells Rediff.com‘s Norma Godinho he wants to inspire people to believe in themselves and pursue their passions.

Nihad Panju at the 2016 Mumbai Marathon IMAGE: Nihad Panju at the 2016 Mumbai Marathon. Photograph: Kind courtesy Nihad Panju/Facebook

If thought about deeply, a lot of parallels can be drawn between living our lives and running a marathon.

As we grind our way through the journey of life we set ourselves a few goals to attain, and in our attempt to reach those targets we often stumble upon small and big challenges en route — we recognise them, work on them and then fight them.

Running a marathon is based on more or less the same basics — knowing your target, preparing for the run in earnest, setting the pace and completing the race no matter the weather, the track.

It’s the simple principle of mind over matter.

That is the very principle on which Mumbai lad Nihad Panju has based his life — and it is no ordinary life.

This is an extraordinary story of a young man who was left partially paralysed at just 5 months of age, but has not allowed that to hinder his progress in carving a well-rounded personality.

Nihad, who will be running his 4th Half Marathon at the Mumbai Marathon on Sunday, hopes to better his timing — he completed the run in 3 hours, 25 minutes last year.

An ever-smiling face and optimistic in his approach, Nihad reveals how his Marathon journey started: “In 2011, a group from the gym (at the Cricket Club of India where he trains) were training for the 2012 Mumbai Marathon. I was motivated on seeing their dedication. My gym trainer Rustom Warden seeded the idea of long distance running and I decided to give it a shot. His inputs helped and motivated me and I trained for the Half Marathon in the general category.”

Nihad’s story then veers to the part we are more or less aware of regarding society’s treatment of people with disabilities.

“Except for family and friends, most people were discouraging. But determination kept me focussed on my target and I completed the Standard Chartered Mumbai Half Marathon not only in 2012, but also in 2013 and 2016,” the articulate lad says with a hint of pride in his voice.

But getting to this juncture in life, decorated with success and laughter, was not the smoothest ride for the Panjus.

Misfortune struck the family when at 5 months of age, Nihad was diagnosed with TB Meningitis. He had to go through surgery that left him with left-sided Hemiplegia (partial paralysis).

Nihad Panju IMAGE: At the end of four-and-a-half years of following a programme by The Institute for The Achievement of Human Potential, Nihad became ‘physically fit, physiologically stronger than many and intellectually at level with my peers.’ Photograph: Kind courtesy Nihad Panju/Facebook

Nihad’s parents held on to every thread of hope they could and tried every form of conventional/unconventional therapy they heard of, with little or no success.

The Universe Maker then finally smiled on the Panjus when at age 10 Nihad started a programme prescribed by the Philadelphia-based Institute for The Achievement of Human Potential for which he had to be pulled out of school (till the 3rd standard he studied in St Mary’s ICSE, Mazgaon, south Mumbai).

It was a holistic programme covering physical, physiological, nutritional and intellectual aspects which involved diet and respiration.

He was on the programme from age 10 to 14 years and had to be home schooled. Nihad’s mother worked with him on the programme 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week and was permitted no holidays. Those were lonely, painful days of hard work.

But they received solace as Nihad’s health gradually progressed.

“The programme made a huge difference to my condition and at the end of four-and-a-half years I was physically fit, physiologically stronger than many and intellectually at level with my peers,” explains Nihad.

The programme worked wonders such that, at that point he was confident enough to go back to school — he attended the Mercedes Benz International School, Pune, for two years and then completed his IGCSE through the British Council, Bombay and Symbiosis International School, Pune.

Determined to stand on his feet, at age 18, Nihad gained admission to the Raffles Design Institute, Singapore where he lived by himself.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interactive Multimedia Design and went on to complete a 3-year course at the Raffles campus in Mumbai and then worked in the fields of branding and design.

Nihad, who now assists his father in running a consulting practice, says he owes a lot to the programme, where he also learnt the importance of physical fitness.

Not letting his condition get in his way, Nihad pushed himself to better his fitness and worked with his trainer Rustom Warden at the gym.

Nihad’s regular visits to the gym resulted in a budding friendship with Rustom, under whose guidance he blossomed into a fitness freak.

IMAGE: Nihad Panju, right, and his gym instructor Rustom Warden train at the CCI in Mumbai. Photograph: Kind courtesy Nihad PanjuNihad Panju (right) and his gym instructor Rustom Warden train at the CCI Grounds in MumbaiIMAGE: At the end of four-and-a-half years of following a programme by The Institute for The Achievement of Human Potential, Nihad became ‘physically fit, physiologically stronger than many and intellectually at level with my peers.’ Photograph: Kind courtesy Nihad Panju/Facebook

And Rustom swears by his ward’s grit.

“He has got more confident in the last 7 years. His will power is great. To complete an 18 km run sometimes takes 3 hours. You have to understand that anyone with a brain injury has poor pulmonary function. His breathing is affected substantially, his breathing at rest is like when one is sprinting so you can imagine how it is when he is actually running, that is the determination he has.”

“Everyday is different for him. Running till he’s exhausted. He wants to overexert and I have to keep him on a leash. This is his 7th half marathon (January 2017). It’s phenomenal,” Rustom says in awe.

No physical limitation could stop Nihad from trying a hand at other sports — golf, table tennis and lawn tennis were other sports he dabbled in.

Nihad’s exceptional drive is measured by the pains he had to undergo to become an athlete.

He has had a few accidents in the gym, but his family trusts Rustom.

“I have used Nihad as a guinea pig, experimenting with different methods and techniques. Because of the misalignment in his body I had to try something different. I had to focus on exercises to improve and strengthen his hand, elbow, legs, fingers; often experimenting with various forms of intervention. I had to keep in mind that Nihad uses the right side of his body optimally,” says Rustom.

The gym sessions were good, but Nihad’s potential as a distance runner came to fore when he decided to join the gym members’ running group.

“We planned a 7 km run and I did not expect Nihad to complete it. People around Nihad said he would not be able to do it and that was all he needed to psyche him up,” recalls Rustom.

“Most of the time we go running together and I remember this one time at the Singapore Half Marathon, Nihad was cramping from the 16th kilometre. But I was amazed from where Nihad got this sudden burst of energy and completed the marathon,” the 36-year-old trainer recalls.

Detailing the routines that involve Nihad’s training, Rustom says his will power is infectious and nothing is impossible for Nihad, who has a varied programme every day.

Nihad says he runs 'because it gives me joy and a sense of achievement having beaten stiff odds. I have a passion for running and encouraging others to remain healthy' IMAGE: Nihad says he runs ‘because it gives me joy and a sense of achievement having beaten stiff odds. I have a passion for running and encouraging others to remain healthy.’ Photograph: Kind courtesy Nihad Panju

“He trains and runs so much, some days it takes time for his legs to go back to normal. Boot camps, lunges, push ups, free hand exercises, core exercise, even the plank on one hand, crunches with one hand below his back, squats, squat jumps are things he does without a trouble,” says Rustom.

Wanting to make his life an example unto others, Nihad has run the Standard Chartered Mumbai Half Marathon in 2012, 13, 16, the Auroville (10 kms) Trail Marathon in 2012, the Poona Half marathon in 2013, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Dream Run in 2015, the Standard Chartered Half Marathon Singapore in 2015 and the 10km Adventure Beyond Barriers Run in 2016. Pune Running Beyond Myself – Adventures beyond Barriers – 2016.

An inductee into the Nike Runners Club, he has also run for Cancer Awareness — the Terry Fox Run in 2012 and 2016 in Bombay, The St Jude India Child Care Centre Footsteps 4 Good 2016.

With the physical and other obstacles he has breached, Nihad says, “I run because it gives me joy and a sense of achievement having beaten stiff odds. I have a passion for running and encouraging others to remain healthy.”

Training for the Mumbai Marathon, Nihad runs 10 to 12 km once a week and shorter runs in between. His other methods of preparation includes cross training that involves an outdoor workout thrice a week and core/freehand exercises workouts at the gym twice a week.

Using his love for sport and running as a medium to inspire others, he has started a project called Run Strong which is in its infancy.

Nihad has a simple message, “There are so many people who do not know their potential and limit themselves because of externally imposed limitations. If I can do it, anyone can. Believe in yourself. Everybody is good at something and needs to find his/her own passion. Find, follow and focus on your passion.”

Summing up Nihad’s life and their relationship as a trinity of “God, me and him” working together, Rustom says, “Had Nihad been injury free, no misalignment of his body or had more time to practice, he would easily do the full marathon.”


Norma Godinho / Rediff.com