Harsha's Life Blog

350+ articles on life, career and change

personal development blog

Sign-up to receive ideas from Harsha’s Life Blog

    The relevance of degrees

    The relevance of degrees

    Paul Graham shared something recently, which I feel is an excellent heuristic for considering the relevance of degrees. “Avoid getting degrees in subjects whose best practitioners rarely have such degrees. E.g. many mathematicians have degrees in math, but an MFA...

    read more
    Don’t be the smartest person in the room

    Don’t be the smartest person in the room

    Don’t be the smartest person in the room, instead be the freest person in the room. Free in your mind, free with your time, free to live in your own way, on your own terms. In fact, I’m not sure this can be bettered.  What is smart anyway?  People tend to think of...

    read more
    5 year plans are useless

    5 year plans are useless

    5-year life plans are useless in a world of causal opacity. Better to prioritise what's important to you as ‘soon as possible’, start on it, and see where it takes you. For, if it's so important, why should it wait?  Are you building a dam?  Some things, like building...

    read more
    The void is fertile

    The void is fertile

    If you very intentionally avoid what doesn’t interest you, you automatically create space for serendipity, inspiration and fun to emerge. The void is fertile.   We cannot force some things   We cannot force things like serendipity and inspiration, yet they are at the...

    read more
    Artful living is a skill

    Artful living is a skill

    Wisdom tends to come with age because, artful living, like all skills, needs practice. And, practice benefits from time spent navigating different life circumstances. The good news is that you can very intentionally increase the intensity and extent of your practice....

    read more
    On instinct and intellect

    On instinct and intellect

    Why do we love animals so much? They are unapologetically and unselfconsciously so utterly themselves — something we humans rarely, if ever, manage. This is true even of dogs, who desperately try to please their masters, having lost their independence through...

    read more
    Stuck in sameness

    Stuck in sameness

    Being stuck in sameness can happen in all manner of different areas in life, usually without us ever noticing. It happens when you are constantly and only exposed to the same kind of thing, whether that is food or ideas. So, being stuck in sameness has two properties,...

    read more
    Great or small is missing the point

    Great or small is missing the point

    Asking whether what you do is great or small is missing the point, for it is your experience that counts. Whether you are building a sand castle or La Sagrada Familia, you may derive the same satisfaction. The same immersion —being in flow, one with the activity....

    read more
    Surround yourself with the right people

    Surround yourself with the right people

    Yesterday, I was at an outdoor arts and crafts market near where I live. I was noticing how the makers there, many of whom I know, were sharing ideas and encouraging each other in what they were doing. It made me realise what is possible when you surround yourself...

    read more
    Personal mastery is not about control

    Personal mastery is not about control

    There is an erroneous view that personal mastery is about controlling feelings and emotions. But, seeking to control only makes you more out-of-control. Mastery lies in being willing to experience ALL that you feel. By being open to all emotions, you avoid becoming a...

    read more
    Jumping is always better than being pushed

    Jumping is always better than being pushed

    Being pushed may feel easier than jumping, for example being made redundant vs quitting, or when ending an unfulfilling relationship. Outside events may certainly catalyse beneficial action that you have been avoiding. But, is it wise to rely on them? While being...

    read more
    Jealousy and friendship

    Jealousy and friendship

    You can be annoyed at your friend. You can be angry at your friend. Hell, you can even hate your friend (for a brief moment or two). But, you can never be jealous of your friend. For, jealousy at root implies that you do not want the best for them, destroying the very...

    read more
    Quality of your free time

    Quality of your free time

    One thing people often forget when they consider their jobs is how their roles affect their free time. I am not just talking about the amount of your free time, but also the quality of your free time. Your ability to make the most of it.  Noticing the relationship ...

    read more
    Holding the space

    Holding the space

    People often ask what ‘holding the space’ and really ‘listening’ in coaching and other therapeutic practices looks like. We may use phrases such as ‘acceptance without judgement’ to point to our commitment to receiving the person unconditionally. To receiving them...

    read more
    Tempted by new gods

    Tempted by new gods

    In a world of information complexity and so much noise, it is tempting to cling to something, anything. An idea, a narrative, an ideology. Yet, it is precisely because of the noise that we must keep an open mind. That we must embrace uncertainty, or at least...

    read more
    When stress transforms into bliss

    When stress transforms into bliss

    Much of what we call ‘difficulty’ or ‘stress’ disappears when the thing is of your own choosing. This is when stress transforms into bliss. Bliss that lies in walking a path — your path. To others it seems like a ‘struggle’, but to you, it is what you want.  Labour of...

    read more
    Showing who you are

    Showing who you are

    People rarely fully reveal themselves in life. Few have taken the time to really know themselves and how they show-up with others. And, how they show-up is often the result of non-conscious attempts to fit in and win approval. For, much of our behaviour lives outside...

    read more
    Soul destroying work

    Soul destroying work

    Even if you accept lower pay, never accept soul destroying work, or a workplace that stifles you. If doing what you love is not achievable yet, at least find something ‘neutral’ that you don’t hate. You will free-up immense creative and emotional energy.  Is your pain...

    read more
    Your deepest interests will be a mystery

    Your deepest interests will be a mystery

    The world is full of arresting possibilities, but few may really speak to you. In the final analysis, the source of your deepest interests will be a mystery. Yet, it is YOUR mystery, and you must choose to own it. If you don’t, someone else will choose for you. ...

    read more
    The Gateless Gate

    The Gateless Gate

    I was having a coffee locally next to an outdoor artwork of a free-standing door. A door, which if it was closed, might make you believe that your path was blocked. It made me think of how so often, we stand in our own way — how we create a gateless gate.  Wumen...

    read more
    Be a Giver and only work with Givers

    Be a Giver and only work with Givers

    Be a Giver and only work with Givers. That is the secret recipe where everyone wins. The recipe for creating positive feedback loops of mutual gain and growth. The hardest part though is simply staying away from the Takers.  Givers  To be a giver and only work with...

    read more
    Trickster behind the Drama Triangle

    Trickster behind the Drama Triangle

    When people discuss Karpman's Drama Triangle, they often forget the role of the Trickster, or Mothaf****r, as I like to call him. Many are familiar with the possibility of personal and professional relationships involving the mutually reinforcing roles of Victim,...

    read more
    On variety and choice

    On variety and choice

    When I find something that I like, I tend to stick to it. In addition to this being very good for my relationship, I've come to experience it as a great blessing in general. Paradox of choice? Variety may be the spice of life, but in trying too hard to have too much...

    read more
    Dissent in your team is very informational

    Dissent in your team is very informational

    If you have to set rules/standards that your team does not embrace — you either have the wrong approach or the wrong people. Or worse still, both. For, the right people and the appropriate approach will automatically bring alignment. So, any dissent in your team is...

    read more
    Review of Noise by Kahneman

    Review of Noise by Kahneman

    Thought I’d do a short review of ‘Noise’ by Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein, based on a few notes I took. Authors distinguish between system Bias (average error) and system Noise (standard deviation) when judgement accuracy is definable and desirable (e.g. medical...

    read more
    Understanding does not mean inaction

    Understanding does not mean inaction

    Just because you ‘understand’ someone’s behaviour, doesn’t mean you agree or have to put up with it. It is precisely because you understand that you take action. So, understanding does not mean inaction. Understanding does not mean that you have to let other people...

    read more
    Growth mindset?

    Growth mindset?

    The pace of modernity where everything (material wealth, knowledge, entertainment) is growing makes us automatically think that everything MUST grow. That the increase of things (growth) is automatically better. Such that it becomes an unconscious habit, something we...

    read more
    Supporting people to grow

    Supporting people to grow

    Supporting people to grow and supporting organisations to grow are not the same thing. While they may help each other, the former often takes second place or worse, becomes a front. And, the bigger the scale, the bigger the danger is. What is the point of just growing...

    read more
    To rush, or not to rush?

    To rush, or not to rush?

    As long as you feel rushed in life, you will never find ease, enjoyment or mastery in anything you do. One needs time for things to breathe and to emerge. This is the fertile void that constant busy-ness pulls you away from. Always being in a rush is a curse, and it...

    read more
    Humour in coaching

    Humour in coaching

    When I refer to humour in coaching, I am not talking about telling jokes. Particularly, if telling jokes is not your natural style. Otherwise, you risk ending up like one of those novice presenters whose first-time attempt at humour falls flat on its face. So, this is...

    read more
    The value of negative knowledge

    The value of negative knowledge

    Negative knowledge is about knowing what does not work and what to avoid. And the value of negative knowledge cannot be stressed enough in a modern world that is so full of noise. One that drowns you with a daily dose of nonsense.   So, knowing what is wrong is vital,...

    read more
    Shared clarity

    Shared clarity

    Many difficulties in relationships, both professional and personal, arise because of a mismatch in expectations. The more shared clarity you seek then, the more chance you have of building something enduring based on trust.   Foundation of trust  Creating shared...

    read more
    Difficult coaching client?

    Difficult coaching client?

    There is no such thing as a difficult coaching client. And, this applies more generally to other therapeutic fields such as counselling and psychotherapy. If the person has difficulties, that is precisely why they have come to you!  A window  The ‘difficulty’ that you...

    read more
    What movie are you unconsciously living?

    What movie are you unconsciously living?

    People are often unconsciously living out scripts handed down to them — by their parents, by their teachers, by their communities. We are all in some movie or the other, and greater awareness about this brings greater choice.   Unconsciously living out scripts  We are...

    read more
    To have your cake and eat it

    To have your cake and eat it

    Much of life is about avoiding trying to have your cake and eat it. Trying to reconcile things that cannot be reconciled, or trying to separate things that cannot be separated. In other words, trying do the impossible.  More common that you might think  And, life is...

    read more
    Become the best version of yourself

    Become the best version of yourself

    ‘Become the best version of yourself’ is another one of those hollow, mottoes of modernity. It seems like an attractive slogan because it calls you to better yourself and to improve. However, its attractiveness soon loses its glitter when you dig a little deeper into...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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....

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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....

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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?...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    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...

    read more
    Subscribe to Harsha’s life blog. Read more about Harsha’s professional experience.