Harsha's Life Blog

300+ articles on life, career and change

personal development blog

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    Celebrating insights that challenge you

    Celebrating insights that challenge you

    If you have an insight into yourself that unsettles and challenges you — celebrate it! It is much better to become awake to your life, than be trapped in a Sisyphean struggle. A struggle where you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Change begins...

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    Leadership coaching is bullshit

    Leadership coaching is bullshit

    Much of leadership coaching is bullshit that peddles the hollowness of Hollywood dreams. It is better described as ‘how to generate false bravado and hot air in order to float into some position of authority’. Typically, this happens in some big corporate setting....

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    People who make you feel bad

    People who make you feel bad

    What impact do the people in your life have on you? If someone makes you feel like sh*t why put up with it? Sometimes, we need to set-up boundaries for our own health. Boundaries that protect you from people who make you feel bad.  Noticing the people who make you...

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    To really know yourself

    To really know yourself

    To really know yourself is to notice your inner state, in the same way that a skilled painter notices colour. It is about being awake to subtle shades and shifts in your feelings and motivations. About really attuning yourself to both body and mind. And, such noticing...

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    Don’t be a moaner

    Don’t be a moaner

    Vent, if you need to, but don’t be a moaner. What’s the difference you ask? Venting vs moaning Venting is a releasing of pent-up feelings and frustrations that are probably better let out. Feelings that perhaps you prefer to deny and bottle-up, often non-consciously....

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    Wisdom is like a vaccine

    Wisdom is like a vaccine

    Wisdom is like a vaccine. It protects against confusion and noise that prevent you from living well.  And, in the way that a vaccine works against a particular disease, wisdom becomes wisdom in relation to a particular problem. However, unlike a vaccine, wisdom can...

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    Finding the right people

    Finding the right people

    A large part of life is about finding the right people for you. The people that you would like to work with and hang out with.  Who are the right people?  The good news is that there is nothing intrinsically ‘right’ (or wrong) about the right people...

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    Coaching is a process for enabling self-knowledge

    Coaching is a process for enabling self-knowledge

    Coaching is a process for enabling self-knowledge. And, the first step in coaching involves YOU taking personal responsibility. In really taking ownership of your life.   What is self-knowledge?  Self-knowledge is about, you, attuning to yourself as a person and how...

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    Become anything you want to be

    Become anything you want to be

    “Become anything you want to be!” — one of modernity’s mottoes — is so utterly confusing.   Become anything you want to be  This is the terrible advice that we so often hear being given, especially to young people. But, it begs the question: become WHAT exactly?...

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    When words get in the way

    When words get in the way

    What is most easily articulated is not necessarily what is most important. Yet, we are often suckers for this. We can focus on the wrong things to our detriment and elevate false indicators above the actual things of value themselves. Whether it is grades above true...

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    Don’t decide before you need to decide

    Don’t decide before you need to decide

    Sometimes, we can torment ourselves unnecessarily about decisions that are to come. Decisions that you expect to have to make in the future. You may ruminate and ruminate, forgetting that you don’t have to decide before you need to decide.  Control  There may even be...

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    Not being present

    Not being present

    Insight from today’s coaching: Sometimes, it is not time spent that is the problem, but rather the quality of time spent. The problem is not being present.  Cost of not being present  If you are distracted and not present with people, especially your loved ones, no...

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    On free will and determinism

    On free will and determinism

    The question of free will vs determinism has confounded philosophers both modern and pre-modern. And, like most heated philosophical questions that have been around for a long-time, it is either answerable or has a false premise.  Hidden assumption I will show that...

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    Do I need coaching?

    Do I need coaching?

    The question of, “do I need coaching”, is one to which I will offer an unconventional answer. You may need coaching if you think you need it. Meaning, if you have something that you really want to explore, then it may help you.   Coaching is not chocolate  So, if...

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    Why change doesn’t stick

    Why change doesn’t stick

    We sometimes have important realisations about ourselves, about behaviours and habits we would like to change. Realisations that could become catalysts for real personal change. Yet, much of the time, we get nowhere. Our insights are soon forgotten and life is back to...

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    How to overcome negative emotions

    How to overcome negative emotions

    How to overcome negative emotions is a question whose answer is in the words of the question itself. For, it is in viewing certain emotions as ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ that the root of the problem lies. By creating a duality, we create a war within ourselves — a war...

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    Coaching is about enabling clarity

    Coaching is about enabling clarity

    If you ask a hundred different coaches “what coaching is” you will probably get a hundred different answers. For me, coaching is about enabling clarity. Clarity about yourself and what stops you from finding real confidence and focus in your life.   Enabler of...

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    Like a boss

    Like a boss

    It is said that King Wei of Chu (4th century BC), having heard of the sage, Chuang Tzu, sent a messenger with gifts to invite him to be chief minister. Chuang Tzu merely laughed and said: "Go away, do not defile me...I prefer the enjoyment of my own free will".  He...

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    Anxious about anxiety

    Anxious about anxiety

    How to overcome anxiety is a question that is increasingly being asked. And, its prevalence tells us a lot about life in modernity. About how the many pressures of our competitive, urban environments can cause inner tension and worry within us. Luckily, we have choice...

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    Not a straight line

    Not a straight line

    Many things in life are not linear. There may be a (long) incubation period before something — an idea or a skill — comes into fruition. Just as a new leaf develops for a while as a bud, before opening to reveal its form.  Patience and the process  In the human realm,...

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    Negation is not endorsement

    Negation is not endorsement

    Just because I doubt the rigour of a (negative) statement about X, that does not mean I have any (positive) view about X. Negation is NOT endorsement. Negation is negation. Yet, many seem unable to grasp this.  Clinging to beliefs People are often so invested in their...

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    Recharging just to drain yourself

    Recharging just to drain yourself

    We, moderns, are so obsessed with achieving that even leisure is required to have a purpose. To serve as “recharging”, so that one can do even more achieving! Yet, this is a form of recharging just to drain yourself again.  Living in order to work  It is as if...

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    Iron Law of Bureaucracy

    Iron Law of Bureaucracy

    When I first read Jerry Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy, I felt he had given words to a deep truth. A truth that I, and probably many of you, can confirm from lived experience within organisations.  The Iron Law  Pournelle’s iron law considers organisations as...

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    Optionality in doing what you love

    Optionality in doing what you love

    Beyond the joy of it, there is embedded optionality in doing what you love. If things really work out commercially, you gain (if such gains interest you that is). If not, you are doing what deeply interests you anyway!  Shift in mindset  So, the optionality in doing...

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    Putting-up a front

    Putting-up a front

    Everyone puts up a front, the only question is how much? It may be a big front some of the time, a bit of a front all of the time, or any mixture in between. Whatever the particular flavour, putting up a front is behaviour that is deeply human. I do it, you do it, we...

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    Cat as coach?

    Cat as coach?

    Someone recently asked me if after a few coaching sessions they would be able to ‘get things on track’. My response, which will not surprise some of you, was that the answer is unknowable —maybe, maybe not. I pointed out the epistemic uncertainty around if my...

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    No.1 survival skill in modernity

    No.1 survival skill in modernity

    Being able to cut through the noise is the No.1 survival skill in modernity. In our information age of vast and mass communication, we must either cut through noise or else drown in it.   Inherent property  Generating patterns and narratives is an inherent property of...

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    The good life

    The good life

    With every inch of material advancement, we seem to be adding a mile of psychological derangement.  Despite our material progress, or perhaps because of it, modernity is producing more-and-more chronic anxiety and mental tension. It is as if our species’ very success...

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    Declutter your mind

    Declutter your mind

    We can clutter our minds in the same way that we clutter our homes. And the result is very much the same. Feeling cramped for space, confusion around where things are, wasted energy and frustration. Luckily, decluttering your mind is much simpler than you might...

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    Inner freedom in the everyday

    Inner freedom in the everyday

    How can we live with a sense of inner freedom? To feel like life isn’t an uphill struggle with foes to vanquish at every turn. The truth is, you often stand in your shadow, and you just need to get out of your own way. But, the mind is a tricky customer that loves to...

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    Corporate employment is like school

    Corporate employment is like school

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how corporate employment is much like school. It shares so many of the undesirable features of mainstream education that it’s kind of scary. And, I am not sure what’s worse— that corporate employment is like school, or that school is...

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    Everything is useful, everything is useless

    Everything is useful, everything is useless

    Through the use of logic, you see the limits of logic. Through the limits of logic, you see the use of logic. Everything is useful in some way and useless in another. So, you cannot ask a fish to cross the Serengeti in the same way that cannot ask a cheetah to swim...

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    What really inspires you?

    What really inspires you?

    I’ve discussed the value of asking what you would do if money wasn’t a problem in relation to career change. But, figuring out what really inspires you is not always easy. In today’s blog, I offer a few ideas to try and tease out what may be too shy to show itself. ...

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    Your deeper motivation

    Your deeper motivation

    The deeper motivation for doing what you do is everything. It is the engine that powers the entire process. It is the driving force behind all that unfolds and as such, you must get to know it. To see it and really understand it. So, what are your real motivations for...

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    Ouroboros of mind

    Ouroboros of mind

    Many psychological knots are self-perpetuating — like Ouroboros, the serpent that eats its own tail. We often become anxious about anxiety, sad about sadness, and fearful of fear.  Psychological knots  What makes psychological knots, knotty, is that you are attempting...

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    No passion, no problem

    No passion, no problem

    I’ve always had a strong sense for what inspires me, for what I want to do with my time. The key constraints in my life, once upon a time, were time and energy. This was fundamentally why I decided to do my own thing a few years ago. What has become clearer to me over...

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    Saints and sinners

    Saints and sinners

    I recently read that Stanley Milgram’s controversial electric-shock experiment from the early 60’s was faked. Apparently, he massively cherry-picked the data to fit his narrative. Milgram claimed to have shown how obedience to authority led people to do unconscionable...

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    Preference or truth?

    Preference or truth?

    Many so-called battles for the ‘truth’ are really disputes about preferences — like chocolate vs. vanilla. One is no-more or no-less valid than the other. Don’t confuse what-you-like with some notion of absolute reality. It is always worth asking — are we talking...

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    Self-renewal

    Self-renewal

    The Amazonian Pirahãs, one of the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes, have an intriguing tradition of changing their names every 10 years or so. For the Pirahãs, people are not the same in different stages of their lives and name changes are meant to...

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    Finding meaning

    Finding meaning

    Finding meaning is one of those trendy phrases that gets thrown around a lot these days. But, what does finding meaning really involve? What the bloody-hell is it and how do we find it? Here’s a thought. Rather than trying to find meaning in life, find what feels...

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    Void of achievement

    Void of achievement

    Looking to try something different in 2021? STOP desperately trying to ‘achieve’. The space that is left by freeing-up the energy wasted on proving yourself is fertile ground for growth. This is the void of achievement.   Be wary of positive advice   The world is full...

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    2020 in review

    2020 in review

    Friends, 2020 has certainly been crazy, but I tried to get on with things despite it all. Self-published my first book on my own terms Coached by video throughout the pandemic Got a bicycle Walked in nature more Wrote 143 blog posts Attended Nassim Taleb's Real World...

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    Theory of mind

    Theory of mind

    Why do we get worked-up over the behaviour of other humans? Why do we have expectations of people in the same way we wouldn’t of other animals? Because the human animal has what is known as theory of mind. Choice and action Theory of mind is the ability to attribute...

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    Projecting yourself

    Projecting yourself

    People are always projecting themselves on to others. This is almost axiomatic. The only question is around how much one does it. How aware are you of when you might be projecting yourself on to others? Projection is fundamental to how the human animal lives and we...

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    Reflections on Eastern Philosophies

    Reflections on Eastern Philosophies

    Transcript of my talk, "Chuang Tzu to Alan Watts — Reflections on Eastern Philosophy".  Given at the Mandarin Club on 17th December 2020, on the special brew of thought that is Chan Buddhism. My interest in Eastern Philosophy, and other philosophies, stems from trying...

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    On risk sharing

    On risk sharing

    Risk sharing is something we all do. Whether explicitly through contractual arrangements or implicitly through casual, unspoken agreement. And, risk sharing is easiest when trust is high. When parties know each other’s circumstances intimately and when each has the...

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    Be careful whom you copy

    Be careful whom you copy

    You can always learn from other people. If not what to do, then what not-to-do. If not how to be, then how not-to-be. But, it isn’t always easy to distinguish between the two. We may falsely attribute success to know-how, not realising that the former does...

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    So critical because you care

    So critical because you care

    The things that we really care about can be the hardest to do because we care so much. We can put immense pressure on ourselves to do it well —straightaway(!) — rather than engage in playful exploration. Our inner critic can be crippling.  Inner critic distracts  We...

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    Denying to yourself

    Denying to yourself

    Denying to yourself how you feel is like trying to keep a wild elephant in a wooden shed. It will break free, most likely producing much chaos. Better to acknowledge the truth of experience and save yourself the hassle. What’s more, such noticing allows you to find...

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    Finger is not the moon

    Finger is not the moon

    Wisdom begins with curiosity and with questions. Questions about how things work, questions about yourself — questions about life and being. And, in all of this, we must remember that the finger is not the moon.  Thinking  The man who thinks that he knows it all, in...

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