Your Children Are Not Your Children

When I first read these lines in the ‘Road Less Travelled’ by M.Scott Peck, quoted from the original writings of Khalil Gibran, I was confused. What are you saying? My children are my children, I gave birth to them and I did what it takes to grow them in to purposeful adults. However, after listening to it and reflecting on it, I realised how profound these words were. I have created a video with these words of wisdom as you see embedded in this blog. I recommend you watch and listen to the words in the video, reflect on it and then read the rest of the blog.

I believe the impact this video creates is different from person to person. I also believe the impact this video creates for you is determined by the journey of your life so far, where you are in your life now and your aspirations for the journey ahead. Therefore I feel the best contribution I can make is to write about what this poem means to me. Perhaps that might give you another perspective for you to reflect on, perhaps nourish your perspective and move you on to further reflection.

Let me reflect on the verse in two parts;

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward not tarries with yesterday.

As I saw my three daughters growing in to become beautiful, graceful, intelligent, confident, loving and caring young ladies, I realised that they were all unique and had amazing lives they were longing to live. The three of them had their own passion and purpose in the areas of political science, fashion and culinary respectively. What an amazing contrast. Thankfully I had read these words when my daughters were very young and had been a student of the notion of purpose. These helped me to let them to grow into the life they were born to live, not to make them follow my profession or do what I believed was best for them.

I realised they belong to the process of life and came through me and not from me. They are miracles that cannot be created by me. It was my responsibility to provide them a secure and nourishing environment to grow, but not to give them my thoughts. They had their own unique ways of thinking. Parenting them was educating for me and my wife, learning how they think and learn. We only housed their bodies as their souls belonged to a higher energy force.

I realised that I was trying to be like them as they were much more talented than I was and it was a joy learning from them many times more than they would have learnt from me. In the middle of writing this I paused to play a card game with my youngest daughter while watching a talent show going on TV. It was amazing how much she knew about types of dances, musical instruments, methods of singing, names of coaches and the best coach/performer fit etc., that I did not know.

The other part of the verse is;

You are the bow from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrow may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.

My life experience confirms that I am the bow that is responsible to send my children, the arrows in to the future. The more the bow bends the further the arrows travel. Me as the bending bow is synonymous with the ‘stretching’ I had to do to give the best grounding for my daughters. It was about stretching in the areas of learning, balancing demands, dealing with challenges, working, earning and teaching to ensure they, the arrows go far and wide. And as in the last line of verse I realised that the ‘archer’, the God Almighty, loves me as much she loves my children.

I hope this helps you to reflect and make sense of your life.

Wish you purposeful living.

Who Are You?

Do you really know who you are? Well, I am still discovering who I am and I am not sure if I will ever find the answer. However, everyday I live with this question in my mind, I see a little bit more of who I am.

So, how do we find who we are? Each of us might have our own way of defining ourselves, starting with basic aspects such as our gender, nationality, race, etc. and going on to more complex areas such as relationships, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, attitudes, beliefs, political aspirations, fears, struggles, intelligences, epistemology, ontology, world views, relationships etc. The aspects are much larger and this is only a few of them.

The quote from José Ortega Y Gasset; “Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are”, gives us an interesting method of finding out who we are. Take a journey of your day, from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. What are the things you pay attention to? What do you notice? Do you pay attention to your health, spirituality, relationships (which relationships?), social concerns, type of news, beneficial to self or others (who?), positivity or negativity, mutuality, aspirations, hobbies, habits etc. This will show you what your ‘values’ are.

Therefore ‘our values’ would be an interesting way of knowing who we are. I recommend you reflect on this question to figure out who you are and perhaps that can lead you to the next two questions; ‘who you want to be’ and ‘how do you get there’. I hope these questions will engage you and give you direction to improve the quality of your life, contributing to a better world.

Wish you purposeful living.

Taking a Break – Is it Purposeful Behaviour?

Image Credits: Humanperformancepsychology.com

I decided to take a break from social media, blogging, tweeting and newsletter writing during October. This is partly to allow my mind to settle down and rest after the extensive online work done in the past 6 months from April to September. It is also due to my calendar getting filled with corporate sessions for clients in UAE, Africa, Solomon Islands. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.  

On the personal side, it was my second daughter’s wedding which gave us a lot of joy and I needed to release myself from work for this important life event.  We also had two other wedding anniversaries and four birthdays in the family during the month. It looks like October (my birth month) is becoming a month of family celebrations and this perhaps would be the month I take time off from work in the years to come. 

Rays of Enlightenment

A photo taken at a rain forest in Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka.

This is a photo taken during a nature walk with my team. I remember sitting down on this bench to take in the energy of the beautiful rain forest. As I reflected I felt the paradox of the place; the sounds of nature and the voices of people, the trees and the cement bench, the forest and the road, the cool wind and the warm sun rays. One of my colleagues had taken this photo at that time and I was fascinated with the rays of sunlight coming towards me, as if the universe was sending me rays of enlightenment.

When We Judge a Book by the Cover!

I Dreamed A Dream by Susan Boyle

An amazing perforce that stunned the audience and judges at Britains Got Talent.

Reflection Guide:

As you watch this video, think of the times that you have pre-judged someone by your initial perception. How many time have they surprised you with the real substance in them. Reflect on times that you had been in the receiving end. What learnings do you take from the reflection and what steps would you take to change your attitude and help other change their attitude.

Songs for Growth

How Is The Pandemic Serving Us?

Image Credits: Wired.com

In the one before the last blog post (two Wednesdays ago) in the ‘Purpose Quest’ series, I attempted to list down questions that came up during my various interactions with various audience over the last 6 months of the pandemic. I started attempting to write about how I responded to those question and the insights I had regarding the first two questions related to goals, in last Wednesdays blog post. Let me attempt to respond to the third questions;

What is the purpose of the pandemic? How is it serving us?

I had already answered this question on my blog post of 30th March 2020. That was at the beginning of the pandemic and it is interesting to see how the answer to this question has evolved.

Six months ago we were wondering how the pandemic was going to affect our lives. Many of the conversations were about the materialistic impact such as health, economy, jobs, livelihood, etc. This has been visible all over the globe to various extents. However these challenges have made people think about their lives, livelihood, vocation, goals etc. Some have started their own business that they were procrastinating. Some have changed jobs to a one with a lower salary, but more in line with their passion and talents. Some have taken a bigger job. Some mothers stopped working to ensure they give time to their children who are studying online while the father earns the money or visa versa. Therefore for some people the purpose of the pandemic was to make them more purposeful in living.

While we felt that the bigger purpose, of the pandemic was to remind us that this planet belongs to all forms of life, not just to human beings, to remind us that our purpose is not to just enrich ourselves but learn to co-exist with each other and other living beings. We are one eco-system, one life process and there needs to be balance. However in many countries life is coming back to what it was with the traffic building up, factories emitting fumes, government not improving their policies on climate change etc. While aircrafts are not flying as usual, many airlines have started commercial flights and I feel that air travel will be back to normal soon. So six months later , I am not sure if we humans responded to the pandemics aim to make us value and protect our ecology.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw beautiful videos of how families are closer, having lovely conversations, playing board games, and watching movies together. We saw people helping each other, the rich helping those that are having financial difficulties, the poorer using their talents to harvest the crops and deliver to others who need it, healthcare workers caring for the sick, security forces and law enforcement officers maintaining quarantine centres and providing security, banks and utility companies postponing payment due dates and rescheduling loans. However all these things are going back to what I was with work re-starting in many organisations. While the pandemic liberated human values and reignited the consciousness of the need to coexist, my hope is that it at least stays at a deep level and guide the conscience of people.

At a higher level lets hope the eco-system that started regaining its balance will provide us better living conditions while we do our part to support that effort.

I wish you purposeful living.

The Courage To Fail – Path to Success

A Thought Provoking Talk by Les Brown

As you watch this video, reflect on your attitude towards failure, rejection and setbacks etc. What steps would you take to reinforce your attitude or change your attitude to enjoy success?

Inspiring Online – Opening Up New Possibilities.

A screenshot captured by a participant of the ‘Mastery of Self – NLP online’ session.

It was a common occurrence to have participants take photos during in-room sessions and publish it widely on social media during my work before the pandemic. After having taken my work online over the past 6 months and conducting various organisational and personal transformation webshops for leaders, teams and individuals, I was pleasantly surprised to see this photo on LinkedIn.

A participant from r-pac Bangladesh, Rakibul Alam has posted this photo with the message: I am not the best but I can be better. Yes I can do it in a better way, no one can hold me down! Special thanks to my Guru Ranjan De Silva.

This type of gesture gives me confidence to do this work, even online. This comes at a time when I have started conducting in room sessions for companies in Sri Lanka, with the mindset that my type of work requires and in-room experience for best impact. However due to travel restrictions I don’t see myself flying for a while and this gesture gives me confidence to innovate newer methods to make online learning experiences to my overseas clients in a more enjoyable and effective manner.

Attitude of Gratitude For Those Who Raised You Up

You Raised Me Up by Westlife

Reflection Guide:

As you listen to this song, reflect on those who raised you up so that you can stand on mountains and walk on stormy seas, specially during times of troubles and heart burn with an attitude of gratitude.

Lyrics

When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I…

Songs for Growth

Goals! What Goals?

Image Credits: Saba.com

In the last blog post in the ‘Purpose Quest’ series, I attempted to list down questions that came up during my various interactions with various audience over the last 6 months of the pandemic. I will attempt to write about how I responded to those question and the insights I had, in the next few blog posts. So let’s begin with the first two questions. Both of them are related to goals;

My goals have become irrelevant due to the pandemic? What do I do now?

Why do I need to have goals when they can become irrelevant due to uncontrollable situation?

I always felt goals were irrelevant without a bigger purpose. A goal becomes meaningful when it is connected with a higher, noble purpose. Therefore if someone feels the goal they had was irrelevant due to the pandemic, perhaps it was not attached to a purpose. If a goal without a purpose is difficult to achieve, we may use unethical, illegal, unhealthy methods to achieve them and we will get stress if we don’t achieve them. Goals attached to a purpose are easy to adjust and we do not get stressed if such goal.

For example I was in the process of starting to write my thesis to complete my Phd when the pandemic hit. Due to the pandemic, I had to focus on other priorities as I have written widely in this blog. This requires me to delay the completion of the Phd or even even not to pursue it anymore. I was comfortable with both these option as the purpose of doing the Phd was to inquire about the notion of ‘purposefulness’ and present to the world new knowledge that can help people become purposeful and thereby find success, happiness and peace of mind, while contributing to a better world. I was able to make this contribution to the world over the past six months through webinars, webshops, blogs, social media and other interactions. I also realise I already have a book to write on the topic, which will also help people live a purposeful life. I may or may not complete the Phd and that goals seems irrelevant when I think about the bigger purpose behind it.

The answer to the second question is that we could still have purposeful goals that we are willing to change, adjust or let go when the universe sends us a strong message, as in the case of the pandemic, calling us to be of service to this world in a different way.

I hope this is food for thought. I will be delighted to hear from you the answers that you came up with and engage in dialog, purposefully..

I wish you purposeful living.