Harsha's Life Blog

250+ articles on life, career and change

personal development blog

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Through the fog

Through the fog

We often spend time trying to understand the complex world we live in. But, how often do you spend time really trying to understand yourself? We create our world in our own image and there lies vast complexity within you if only you dare to explore it. Reflections Our...

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Knowledge tribalism

Knowledge tribalism

Jung was not a Jungian. Keynes was not a Keynesian. Hayek was not Hayekian. Buddha was not a Buddhist. It is one thing to learn from the wise, it is quite another to restrict oneself to a particular school of thought when their supposed founders probably themselves...

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Cult of individualism

Cult of individualism

The Me! Me! Me! cult of individualism is the apogee of modernity. We have abandoned traditions, religion and community in favour of dollar bills and the individual right to be whatever we want! Not that traditions and religion are all inherently good. I’m sure that we...

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Unseen self-harm

Unseen self-harm

Caution: Potentially emotionally disturbing self-harm references.  The word self-harm conjures-up images of self-inflicted physical abuse. Arms slashed with razor blades and individuals plucking their own hair out. The pain of dealing with dark thoughts and emotions...

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Disenfranchised

Disenfranchised

How disenfranchised does someone need to feel in order to loot a store for a couple of jumpers? Or to attack innocent store owners. One would expect any self-interested person that has a stake in society to instinctively not want to destroy their own community. What...

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That free lunch

That free lunch

There's no free lunch in life. However, what we can do is to consciously decide what we pay for and to fully enjoy it. In this way, the apparent cost really becomes no cost at all! There’s no free lunch The phrase there’s no free lunch suggests that every decision has...

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It may quack like a duck, but..

It may quack like a duck, but..

It may walk like a duck, look like a duck and quack like a duck. But, it may still not be a duck if it does not feel like a duck. Modernity’s obsession with analytical reasoning has its benefits, however it can become problematic when it leads to narrow, reductionist...

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Obscuring the light within

Obscuring the light within

Ask not how you can shine more. Rather, ask what obscures the light that is already within you. Often, we get in the way of ourselves, to curb what exists. To curb what is already bright but not allowed to be seen. A question incorrectly asked The question of "how to...

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When coaching and mentoring converge

When coaching and mentoring converge

The difference between coaching and mentoring is not always clear cut. In fact, it can vary from being quite distinct to virtually the same depending on the focus. Coaching vs mentoring may be quite different things in the realm of “career”, but they can converge when...

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Welcoming insults

Welcoming insults

Sometimes people think they are insulting you, but in your mind it's actually a compliment. Because the thing they accuse you of, is exactly what you are going for. However, this requires you to be very clear in your mind on if something is an insult or compliment! To...

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Reveal your green

Reveal your green

Our bamboo plant was looking dry a couple days ago and I was surprised to see it well today. It took me a second to notice it had just shed its dead leaves. Our habits and beliefs too can be like dead leaves. And some of these may have to be consciously shaken-off to...

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Legend or lackey?

Legend or lackey?

Where do you stand in your job? Are you killin’ it or are things looking precarious? There are many factors to consider of course. And, two that are absolutely fundamental to the quality of your overall employment experience are: (i) Skill and (ii) the relationship...

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Too invested in an identity?

Too invested in an identity?

Becoming too invested in an identity, any identity, is ultimately fragile. It can keep you stuck in a place of fear and insecurity because you are constantly measuring yourself against this identity. Afraid of falling short that it becomes a source of constant tension...

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Recognising our suffering

Recognising our suffering

Our capacity to recognise the suffering of others is directly proportional to our capacity to recognise our own suffering. And, your capacity to recognise your suffering depends on how open you are to yourself. How open you are to the totality of your felt experience,...

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A machine world

A machine world

Our species has made huge material progress in recent times. Yet, the human experience in modernity is increasingly one of tension, unease and psychological fragility. We march forth with the determination of a robot army, but at what cost? Are we creating a machine...

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The ego and self

The ego and self

“Who am I? What is this idea of self that I hold?” Your sense of self can so easily become confused with the ego. It is the ego that creates limiting beliefs around who- you-are and how you should behave. It is the ego that defines you as this and as that, as it...

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Homo Narcissus, Economicus and Idiotus

Homo Narcissus, Economicus and Idiotus

We may have adopted the lofty quality of sapience (being wise) as our defining characteristic. It is far from clear however if we deserve it. For, sapience must be exercised. It is one possibility amongst many and we seem to have forgotten our capacity for it. It is...

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Lay down that heavy rock

Lay down that heavy rock

Letting go of needing to prove yourself is like laying down a heavy rock that you have been carrying on your back. It liberates. Entire lives We can live our entire lives trying to satisfy society’s arbitrary benchmarks of success. Benchmarks that revolve around...

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Too fast to handle

Too fast to handle

The pace of modern life is fast. Hardly anyone would disagree with this. What is far less appreciated is that the pace is actually getting measurably faster! And, such acceleration means that when we do fall, we fall harder. How things scale In his phenomenal work,...

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Your beliefs are everything

Your beliefs are everything

The deeper beliefs behind our actions are often hidden away, outside our task-oriented conscious awareness. Yet, your beliefs drive so much of what you do. Living in the unconscious, your beliefs determine the very fundamentals of how you view yourself and the world...

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Apologist for bad management?

Apologist for bad management?

Want to lead better? Don’t be an apologist for bad management and bureaucracy. These problems are inherent to big corporate structures. And, the more you deny them, the worse things get. Trickle down The large size of big-corporates inevitably produces clumsy...

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Giving up too early

Giving up too early

We can sometimes make a lot of effort in service of something with nothing to show for it. Whether it is acquiring a new skill, building a business or personal transformation. And, that can be very discouraging. There are many reasons for something to not work. But,...

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The lazy fix

The lazy fix

Everyday seems to be international something or the other day. The danger with these things is that they can end-up being a lazy fix. A way of paying token attention to issues that really require much deeper consideration. Lazy fix What’s more, we might even feel good...

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Anti-contentment movement?

Anti-contentment movement?

The less you take for granted, the more joy you will find in the everyday. Even things as certain as the sun that shines can be marvelled at, for it is really quite remarkable — it makes all life possible. There is so much to be appreciated, but so little appreciation...

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The power of unlearning

The power of unlearning

Many of us ask ourselves what we can learn every day. But, how often do you ask yourself what you can unlearn? The value of learning is self-evident, except when what you learn is not very useful, but that’s another topic. What is far less obvious is the power of...

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Beware of single metrics, except..

Beware of single metrics, except..

Relying only on a single metric to evaluate something is almost always a bad idea. Single metrics inevitably fail to capture the many different aspects of a situation. They can so easily make us focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. However, when it...

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Prisoner of your own mind

Prisoner of your own mind

There are many kinds of prison, but none more tormenting than the mental prisons we put ourselves in. Mental prisons that feel as real as those made of bricks and bars. That feel equally difficult to break out of such that you become a prisoner of your own mind. The...

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Your lockdown exit strategy

Your lockdown exit strategy

Governments are starting to talk about exiting lockdown. But, what about your lockdown exit strategy? I am not talking about the essentials of mask wearing and avoiding gatherings. I am talking about what life you decide to go back to in the coming weeks and months....

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Whatever happened to nuance?

Whatever happened to nuance?

Nuance seems to have all but fallen out of the public discourse today. Black and white thinking and polarised views seem to attack each other ignoring the fact that things rarely are that simple. Oversimplification is a killer I find it incredible that many seem...

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The story you believe about yourself

The story you believe about yourself

The more you become invested in some idea of who you are, the more difficult it is to learn and to grow. There’s you and there’s the story you believe about you. And, the two are not the same. Partial The stories we often tell about ourselves are very rudimentary....

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Having difficult conversations

Having difficult conversations

Life is full of difficult conversations. We encounter so many of these that it is something worth improving on. In fact, this blog post was inspired by someone who asked what the “best way” to get better at having difficult conversations is. I am not sure that there...

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The enemy of truth

The enemy of truth

Wanting to be right is the enemy of truth. It can distort your judgement and blind you. Because you are more interested in ‘winning’, rather than in getting to the bottom of things. Deeper commitment Your enquiry has to go deeper then. Beyond ego insecurities around...

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Quality of your attention is everything

Quality of your attention is everything

The quality of your attention is everything when it comes to engaging with others. This is true whether you are having intense business dealings or chatting with a friend. Attending Attention is about how you attend and be present to the person and what they are...

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Like a hall of mirrors

Like a hall of mirrors

Many of us want to be able to read people better, to sense their intentions and motives so we are less likely to get caught out. Somewhat counterintuitively though, this is a skill that arises from really knowing yourself. ‬Because the mind is like a hall of mirrors....

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So smart yet so stupid

So smart yet so stupid

Humans do amazing things, but we can also be supremely stupid. Other animals do less-amazing things perhaps, but they are also less stupid. We seem to be so smart yet so stupid. Who we are This is both the human gift and the human curse, the interconnected duality of...

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Like a dog chasing its tail

Like a dog chasing its tail

We are obsessed with growth for the sake of growth in modernity, whether it is the new start-up, the economy or an individual's relationship to themselves. The pace and focus of life today seems to hand this script to us as the default option, such that we can so...

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Uncharacteristic?

Uncharacteristic?

Uncharacteristic behaviour may be a sign of uncharacteristic events. If someone you know reacts or responds to you in a way that seems odd to you, chances are that there is something going on behind the scenes. And, the stronger the emotion that you experience, the...

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Untitled

Untitled

UNTITLED is the beginning of every endeavour or new project. Untitled marks entry into a fertile realm of discovery and possibility. You may not yet have the exact words to describe what you are doing, precisely because it is still unfolding. So, how can you? It is...

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What status symbols do you value most?

What status symbols do you value most?

What status symbols do you value most (material or non-material)? Perhaps your job, house, public profile, car or even your moral conduct? And, before you dismiss the question as not being applicable to you, consider that we are all drawn to status by virtue of being...

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Becoming who you are

Becoming who you are

No two things are the same. Even two leaves on the same tree, while similar in many ways will have their own distinct size, shape and patterning, no matter how subtle. The same is true of human beings. Just ask parents with twins. They begin to notice their babies’...

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Fooling yourself

Fooling yourself

We are often wary of when other people are trying to deceive us. But, how wary are you of YOU fooling yourself? Of becoming a victim of your own self-deception. Our day-to-day lives are so full of calls, emails and meetings where we are constantly evaluating the ideas...

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Don’t focus on the “thing”

Don’t focus on the “thing”

Coaching is full of “what should I do?” decision problems. Perhaps choosing between jobs, whether to end a personal or professional relationship, or to embrace a fundamentally new life path. Whatever the specific thing in question, we tend to focus too much on “it” —...

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Running faster just to stand still

Running faster just to stand still

Many governments in the so called ‘developed’ world have dragged their feet in responding to Coronavirus. And, the reasons have always been economic. In effect, prioritising ‘economy/markets’ above human life. Aside from the ethical bankruptcy of this position, it...

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Toxic relationships must go

Toxic relationships must go

Say NO to toxic relationships like your life depends on it. Because it does.‬ It really does. Humans are social animals and we draw strength from human relationships. At the same time, these relationships, personal and professional, also have the power to destroy us....

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The unhappy high achiever

The unhappy high achiever

The case of the unhappy high achiever is much more common than you might think. Where  individuals who have gained much career success of the conventional type — so called "high achievers" — feel deeply unfulfilled despite all their external achievements. Very often,...

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Angry Buddha?

Angry Buddha?

Can one be assertive with compassion? I have been reflecting a lot these days about the nature of compassion and how it is really not about being ‘nice’. It struck me just how much the two are conflated in popular culture. There are times when tough messages have to...

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Make the most of this time

Make the most of this time

So, you are self-isolating because of Coronavirus. It may be hard, but you now have time that you never did. Time that was so scarce because of work, the commute or other day-to-day pressures, but that is finally available. And, you can make the most of this time! To...

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Protect it with your life

Protect it with your life

Follow your interest. See where it takes you. Go down rabbit holes and see what you uncover. Don’t be limited by the course or the institution. Don’t settle for the sterility of the mundane, if you crave for something more interesting.  Make the time Remember that...

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Problem with authority?

Problem with authority?

I sometimes work with people who come to me saying that they think they have a problem with authority. Some of these situations remind me so much of how I felt before I decided to take the leap to live the independent life. I see two classes of 'problem' here. That...

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