Harsha's Life Blog

200+ articles on life, career and change

personal development blog

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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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The living Rorschach test

The living Rorschach test

We often prioritise the acquisition of knowledge about the world —what we can learn about something and how it will be of use to us in pursuing our goals. But, how often do you stop to really listen to yourself? To explore your relationship with the person that you...

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Thoughts on a virus

Thoughts on a virus

As coronavirus makes its way into London where I live, I am struck by a number of things about how we as a society are responding, both at the individual level and at the level of government. What strikes me most is what I feel to be both a lack of rigour and a lack...

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Opinionated? Or, just strong opinions?

Opinionated? Or, just strong opinions?

Having strong opinions is not the same as being opinionated, though it may sometimes seem that way to the casual observer. What is more important is not how things look however, but what they actually are! The difference Being opinionated is about dogmatically and...

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Those pivotal moments

Those pivotal moments

We sometimes face pivotal moments in life when it feels like we have reached a threshold.  A point of no return where you feel that something has to change. I experienced this in my own career some years ago, when I decided to to take the leap to focus on what really...

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Drowning in a shallow pool

Drowning in a shallow pool

Our modern information age has created a world where everyday throws us into a sea of information. Information that comes in waves across multiple media platforms. Information that can often make you feel like you are drowning. Funnily though, you might actually be...

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Indecisive or just confused?

Indecisive or just confused?

What can sometimes seem like indecisiveness might actually be confusion in disguise. It is crucial to distinguish between the two and to really ask yourself: Am I indecisive or just confused? The difference Indecisiveness is about difficulty in "deciding" or choosing...

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The basic equation of modern life

The basic equation of modern life

The basic equation of modern life is more simple than you think. It is about understanding what exactly you are solving for. Something that once understood more deeply,  gives you real choice and agency around how you live. The equation Without further ado, the basic...

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Acceptance is not about inaction

Acceptance is not about inaction

Acceptance is one of those things that is often grossly misunderstood in popular culture. Many confuse acceptance with inaction or defeatism, with rolling over and playing nice. The truth is that it is in fact the opposite. In the deepest and fullest sense of the...

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The power of self-understanding

The power of self-understanding

You are the origin of your individual experience, and the more that you understand yourself and the nature of your human experience, the more that you understand how your experience interacts with the world. Self-understanding is a journey into your own mind – your...

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If you don’t decide for yourself, then..

If you don’t decide for yourself, then..

Principle: If you don’t decide for yourself, then other people will decide for you. This is so universally true that its essence even applies to the non-human world. Forces Every movement is a coming together of so many interconnected forces: people, places, nature...

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The employee mindset

The employee mindset

It is no secret that I am not a fan of big corporate bureaucracies that create sterility and fragility. I am much more a proponent of the artisanal life — i.e. small enterprises and freelance structures that nurture the creative and entrepreneurial spirit. But,...

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Rigorous compassion

Rigorous compassion

Compassion is often misunderstood as some utopian ideal that is impractical in the real world. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Having compassion does not mean that we must forget everything else. Courage, determination and seeking the truth are every bit as...

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On being happy

On being happy

How to be happy consists mostly of saying “no” to a great many things. Things that make unnecessary demands on your time and on your life. Why is this so important? The complexity of modern life, as measured by the sheer volume, scale and pace of activity...

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What I read in 2019

What I read in 2019

Here's a look back at what I read in 2019 that I took much from. Each book has in some way allowed me to more deeply understand myself or the world around me. In no particular order: 1) The world until yesterday by Jared Diamond: Brilliant insights into traditional,...

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Anonymous-transactional living

Anonymous-transactional living

Loneliness and the feeling that life lacks meaning are things I often hear about in my 1:1 work. And, our modern ways of living have a huge role to play in this. Life today has become more anonymous-transactional than it has ever been. By this I mean that human...

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Lifestyle accretion

Lifestyle accretion

The more money you make, the more that you should be saving. A simple lifestyle offers many advantages, perhaps the most important of which is the opportunity to break free from economic slavery. The opportunity to break free from soul destroying work that you do to...

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Mindfulness is a way of life

Mindfulness is a way of life

What is truly mindful living? In popular culture today, mindfulness has become associated with a narrow set of activities, usually some kind of breathing or guided meditation (often using an app). Its true application however, is deep and far reaching – mindfulness is...

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Evolution, economics and your phone

Evolution, economics and your phone

You might think that you are fully in control of your everyday decisions. Fully conscious of the choices that you make in how you live. The reality is probably quite far from this. We are a complex species living in an increasingly complex world. As such, our...

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Lip service and denial : The ego’s game

Lip service and denial : The ego’s game

The human mind is both complex and fascinating. It has enabled our species to achieve so much in a way that no other animal has. Yet, this same mind is also the source of psychological pain and turmoil, which  no other animal seems to experience. You would be hard...

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To climb a ladder

To climb a ladder

Seeing this hard hitting painting titled, To Climb a Ladder (1987), by the visionary artist, Dorothea Tanning, stopped me in my tracks. It made me think of how so often, we bend ourselves out of shape in pursuit of status and achievement. How we twist and contort...

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The trickery of our beliefs

The trickery of our beliefs

We often talk about limiting beliefs in the world of personal growth, but what about their opposite — enabling beliefs? If limiting beliefs hold you back, enabling beliefs empower you. Enabling beliefs can however easily be missed, or even confused with limiting...

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Open-hearted boundaries

Open-hearted boundaries

Personal conflicts are never easy to deal with, particularly when family members or friends are involved. You can feel powerless and guilty for even being in a situation of conflict. But, conflicts are a fact of life and sometimes, we need open-hearted boundaries to...

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Cut through BS, have more impact

Cut through BS, have more impact

Wouldn’t it be great to have more impact in your professional life? To be more effective and get sh*t done with more ease. I am always amazed by how much time is wasted in the workplace, during meetings, conference calls and day-to-day business. Lots of talk, but not...

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Frame before reframing

Frame before reframing

Something struck me during an exhibition that was about spatial perspective. Nearly all the artwork relied on the viewer moving in relation to them, in order to produce an effect. It is movement that enabled the change of perspective — a reframing. Subtle shifts that...

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Sell-by date

Sell-by date

Child (at supermarket): Mum, this fruit has no sell-by date. Mother: You wouldn’t say that if you picked it from granny’s vegetable patch. Does it seem fresh? This little exchange made me think about how so often, we rely too much on external authority, instead of...

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Running from your shadow

Running from your shadow

I heard today about someone who left their busy ‘workaholic’ life in London to seek peace in the Swedish countryside. But, busy-ness still followed them like a shadow. Because, while their environment had changed, they had not. A workaholic is a workaholic whether...

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Point of zero

Point of zero

We seem to always be trying to get somewhere. Constantly looking ahead with our new year’s resolutions, 3 year plans and 5 year strategies. Constantly defining future based goals and new mountains to conquer. But, how often do you put yourself at a point of zero?...

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Identity crisis

Identity crisis

We often set goals for ourselves and get hung-up on not reaching them. But, how often do you consider changing your goals because they are no longer fit for purpose? Because things have moved on. Because you have moved on. Sometimes, change can feel like an identity...

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Judging or discerning?

Judging or discerning?

Judgements tend to be associated with something negative in common speech today. “You are so judgemental”. “Are you judging me?”. “I feel judged”. What we have to be careful about though, is conflating hurtful and opinionated assertions (judging?) with what we might...

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Let it brew

Let it brew

I was boiling a pot of ginger tea for my cold today and noticed how in my impatience I nearly turned the heat up to max. Some things, just can’t be rushed though. Where rushing has no value or even worse, negative value. This is true whether you are brewing tea,...

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Naming is knowing

Naming is knowing

We make sense of the world by giving things labels and names. Be it people, objects, experiences or ideas. That’s what allows us to distinguish this from that, in from out, us from them. What’s in a name or label you might ask? Well, sort of everything. Because, in a...

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The grey area

The grey area

The grey area is often the place where the most interesting things happen. That space between black and white where possibilities open up. But, it is also where we can feel most uncomfortable. Certainty The certainty of knowing is something we seem to crave as 21st...

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The vegan shark

The vegan shark

Someone recently asked me how to be just, in an unjust world. They were referring to the cut-throat and ultra-competitive behaviour that is so often found in the commercial world. Where mere participation seems like having to enter a shark tank. A funny image came to...

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Another year of deferred happiness?

Another year of deferred happiness?

“If only I could get that promotion next year, I'd be happier,” she says.  “If I could just lose a couple of kilos, I know I'll feel a lot more confident,” he says “Perhaps, if I become the top performer at work next year, I will be a real success”, they say....

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Office Christmas tree

Office Christmas tree

A Christmas tree in the lobby of an office building caught my eye yesterday. It was big, fully decorated and seemingly brand new. Yet, it felt sterile, put together quickly and uncaringly. Two sides to the coin This office Christmas tree made me think of how we might...

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Christmas reading

Christmas reading

It’s that time of year again when I share my Christmas reading list. Those books that have inspired me the most during the year gone by. Skin in the Game (2018) — Nassim Taleb This has truly been the year of Taleb for me. His latest book, Skin in the Game, was a real...

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It’s not personal

It’s not personal

Have you had a recent encounter with someone that has been “difficult”? That made you think, what is going on here? Is it me? What am I doing wrong? Whilst there may certainly be a problem specific to your interaction or relationship. It is also entirely...

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Remembering to remember

Remembering to remember

There often exists a gap between insight and action. Seeing the remedy does not automatically translate into implementing it. Particularly, in the realm of personal change. Sometimes, that’s because the status quo is comfortable, a place of habit....

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What does it take to be a coach?

What does it take to be a coach?

I was recently asked to say something on the matter of setting-up oneself as a coach and it really got me thinking: What does it take to be a coach? As coaches, we are immersed in the vast world of human dynamics. Where every day is an encounter with professional and...

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On the origin of feedback

On the origin of feedback

I learnt last night that when Darwin's On the Origin of Species was first published in 1859, one of the first persons the book was sent to for review was the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce. Unsurprisingly, it received truly scathing feedback. And,...

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Adding value, or stroking your ego?

Adding value, or stroking your ego?

Every one of us wants to feel like we are adding value, both in the workplace and beyond. When we make comments, suggestions and criticisms. But, what if sometimes you are not adding value at all, but rather doing the opposite? Feeling appreciated I am sure that many...

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