DON’T TAKE THIS DAY FOR GRANTED

Last year this time on this day of new year 2020 I was at a party with my wife. There was some news about lockdown in a far off place in China . No one in their wildest dreams could have predicted what was to follow.

The world came to a halt , literally , everything stopped as the pandemic spread.

Lives were being lost , the was economic gloom , so many business suffered , people lost their jobs , there was panic across the world.

I had been postponing plans to travel the world and now there was no chance of travel.

During this period I lost my school friend and my mentor. So much changed .

The one big lesson of 2020 is don’t take life for granted. Life can change in a moment . It changed for many families who lost their loved ones in the pandemic and for the countless many who lost their jobs and incomes , who yet struggle every day.

Life changed for the family of my friend who died not out of COVID but due to sudden cardiac arrest. Till the night he passed away he was in touch and in good health then the next day he was gone.

Don’t postpone your dreams , don’t die with your song in your heart , you have but only one life , don’t take it for granted.

Living , loving and leaving a legacy behind is what life is about .

Life is not about playing safe , not living , postponing life to the future. It would be stupid , you cannot be sure of tomorrow.

The heavy baggage of what will happen in the future has stopped many from living now and playing safe . Yet the only certainty of the future is that it is uncertain.

2021 is another adventure that begins today , I do not know how this year will unfold but as I type these words I know this moment I am sharing my gift and that is all that matters .

Sanjay Mudnaney

SHOWING UP IS ALL YOU NEED !

I started cycling at the age of 50 . It was on my bucket list of things to do . It was not about getting fit or any of those reasons, it was just about reliving my childhood memories of cycling.

I remember the fun I had purchasing all the accessories and cycling gear. I started cycling a few kilometres on weekends.

I tied in another habit , going to Starbucks after cycling. Now that was the reward . So I would get dressed up every morning , start to cycle and feel the anticipation of being at Starbucks to have my favourite coffee.

Then I challenged myself with a tougher habit , to do long distance cycling starting with 25 km. The cycle I had was basic and would not help so I invested in a good cycle. And I started doing long distance cycling.

Now I was having fun , I loved the wind on my face , the feeling of freedom, the me time and to end the experience was a visit to Starbucks.

Today in the morning as winter has set in Mumbai ,it was chilly , tucked away under the blankets , I felt the desire to sleep a bit longer . But instead I just pulled myself up , put on the cycling dress and helmet and I got on my cycle.

The most important secret I understood of sustaining my cycling journey has not been MOTIVATION but SHOWING UP .

It is important to Show up , if I don’t show up I cannot begin. For me that is as simple as putting my cycling dress on . I have to wear my cycling clothes and the helmet and it pushes me to do the next thing , get on the cycle.

Once I am on my cycle, I have to cycle and then the next thing comes up , getting to Starbucks. That’s my reward .

Showing up and Reward are two things that keep me going and have helped me build my cycling habit .

And showing up is not about motivation , it’s about making a simple obvious process. I keep my cycling dress ready so I find it easily as I get up .

As I look at my another habit of learning guitar , I have just not progressed. I invested in a good guitar with the intention of learning to sing along with the guitar, but it’s not happened.

I realised I have put away my guitar in the closet and there is no reward that I have associated with the action .

Also my expectations are big , I want to start singing and play the guitar along and that looks difficult . Learning the chords and the strumming looks like a big effort.

For cycling I just begin with the simple idea of getting to Starbucks which is 5 kms away from my home , in the process many days I do 15 kms . So action step is simple.

The learning from my cycling habit which I have sustained is

1. For any new habit to form make it easy to take the first step . Putting on my cycling dress and helmet in the morning is the first step , I keep all cycling accessories within reach and visible.

2. Make a easy to take daily action . If you are trying to form the habit of reading books you can start with subscription to blinks which condenses books into short reads and then read one blink a day . For me it is just cycle 5 kms to get to Starbucks. ( and I also subscribe to blinks) .

3. Reward . For me Starbucks coffee is a reward ( I am trying to replace this )

4. Identity. I post pictures of my cycling journeys of social media and this has helped me build an identity as a cyclist. Don’t underestimate the power of identity for habit to become long term way of life.

I was not even aware of how I shifted my identity as a cyclist till I read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I highly recommend reading this book .

As James says in this book , It is not about just Inspiration it is also about a system you put in place to make it happen.

It is not just about having passion but taking small action steps every day to live your passion . It is not the Destination but the journey that matters .

Like it is for me writing this blog now .

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject

REFLECTING ON 2020

2020 has been a year like none before, a year when the world stopped. There are a few things I learnt that I cannot forget.

1. THE UNIMAGINABLE CAN AND WILL HAPPEN : No one could have ever predicted that the world will grind to a halt.

One cannot control external events in life one can control how one responds to those events.

2. HUMANS CAN ADAPT SOON : The world quickly adapted to the new normal and moved digital. Non essential consumption stopped overnight.

Be flexible, this is going to happen often in the future, entire industries and jobs would get disrupted. One cannot hold on to Ego of the past and not change.

3. WE CAN SURVIVE WITH A LOT LESS : That I could do without buying anything other than essentials for months was a revelation , it was clear that I needed a lot less to survive.

Often we land up buying things we do not need and then stock them to use at some later date . Clutter is stuck energy.

4. CUTTING OUT DAILY COMMUTE SAVED TIME : Locked down travel stopped completely, this resulted in excess time on hand , while some struggled some made best use of the time to self develop.

Cut all non essential travel , it also helps our planet.

5. THERE WAS NO OPTION OTHER THAN GOING DIGITAL : Even those that were reluctant were now forced to go digital. This is a trend that will continue.

Reinvent, Reinvent , Reinvent .

6. REMOTE WORKING WORKS : That I could service clients from across the world has been a plus . All organisations other than those that need physical presence have adapted to remote work.

Interesting thing I notice is that where innovation is needed and deep collaboration is called for teams have started coming together again while the bigger organisations that have process driven work continue remote work.

If you can move to smaller towns with great views , quality of life matters .

8. MORE ME TIME : The time saved on travel did give me lot more time to be with self and reflect , read books , meditate.

Build an inner practice for calm in turbulent times .

Here are a few more tips on things I will follow .

1. Build a contingency fund for emergencies , one cannot predict events that may occur but one can build a reserve that protects against shocks.

So I plan to build a contingency fund besides two years survival fund aside. Before I spend income I will save for contingency, this is the essential.

2. Cut down the non discretionary spends and focus on what is truly important . I have been fascinated by minimalist lifestyle and now I even know it is possible.

3. Invest on experiences, travel places , explore the world post the vaccination. It was something I had postponed , won’t do that again. And travel can be low budget .

4. Make my bucket list of things to do and tick off each one . Life is uncertain don’t wish to die with incomplete dreams.

5. Don’t take life for granted , live every day fully . This is the most important lesson of the pandemic. Live , Love, Leave a Legacy behind.

6. Build inner resilience it is a must , faith , surrender, prayer , meditation are practices I will continue.

7. Keep reinventing and learning new things daily and always be ready for the new world. This is a habit I will never stop.

Finally don’t take life toooo seriously!

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject

HE TRAVELLED 80 CITIES IN INDIA WITH JUST 220 $

He slept in buses and trains and on platforms on his journey.

One day he slept in the slum and the next day he was in a palatial house on 35th floor in Mumbai !

He says he drank water from the taps of 80 cities of India , lived on had street food and if he found the food was expensive he would just have bananas and drink water.

He has a network of friends he has built on social media who he called on during his bag packing journey.

Amit Jain lost his father at the age of 3 , he was moved by the plight of his mother.

From a small village Bhusaval In Maharashtra, India he travelled to the city to for education.

He joined Bank of New York and started volunteering collecting old clothes for the needy .

He gave up his job to start a social venture Mitti ke Rang that provides employment opportunities to widows and poor women .

He has done it all , from travelling from a village to living in a city for education to getting a dream job to starting a social venture to bag packing across cities.

Amit says what he has learnt is that the greatest truth in the world is a lie .

What everyone tells you you can do and not do is a lie , his life is an example he says , he has challenged every norm .

Amit is fearless and believes he can do anything if he sets his mind to it . He lives comfortably with just 32 $ a month !

His advice to youth is work hard , save enough , start a side hustle and when you are confident get out of your job to live your dream .

He advices against loans and does not believe in owning things . He says “if I am going to leave everything behind when I die no point in owning things .” Rather he believes in accumulating experiences.

At the age of 30 Amit Jain had wisdom beyond his years and I am blessed as a storyteller to interact with such amazing individuals as part of my journey of Heroes of India project .

Wish I had heard his story when I was in college.

Sanjay Mudnaney

Founder , Heroes of India

WHAT STOPS FROM DOING WHAT WE LOVE

The fear of unknown is real . Look at the graves , you find worlds greatest treasures buried , dreams that were not lived due to fear .

Look at a child , you find no fear , dancing, jumping , shouting, all the stuff that kids do and are not ok for us to do as adults .

Who made these rules ? The NO has killed many more dreams than anything else in our world. The “No you cannot do this” , “No you cannot have that” , “No you are not good enough .”

And this is filled with , “you Must do this”, “You must stand first” , “You must win”, “You need to have a big house and a bigger car” . Then there is comparison, “look at your friend , he has topped the class and you ?”

Then we have idols , those that we see up there , in every magazine we see their pictures, they have made it , you see their lifestyle and wish you could be like them.

We pick up a job , get into a loan for that dream house , the car . Now we are trapped , bills need to be paid . The dream has been forgotten for more important things need to be done like , living life , climbing the ladder , paying the bills , getting famous .

Now the fear is real , we cannot do what we love because we need to keep up , follow the dream of the crowd . So we never ever break free because now SURVIVING is important.

Finally you find most of the beautiful dreams buried under the graveyard.

I believe no one must die with their song in their heart. We have but one life , we must Live it .

Love what you do till you find what you love to do. But for that don’t get trapped in the dream of the crowd and drop the fear . You have nothing to lose .

#passionproject

Sanjay Mudnaney

WHAT IF THIS WAS MY LAST DAY

A strange question to ask in a business blog , but stay on it is relevant.

It is a known fact that we have limited time on planet earth and also it is known that no one knows when the final moment would come.

It will definitely come we know that we are all mortal so what would we do if it were the final day of our life ?

Would we obsessed over our bank balance , or the accumulations or the designation or what people will think of us ?

Or would we rather be ready to die peacefully knowing we have lived our life to the fullest, with no regrets , loved to the fullest , touched lives , given the best we can , lived our calling ?

So what if this as you read is the last day of your life ? and it may as well be. Do you have any regrets ? Is there some song you wanted to sing that you postponed ? Did you love enough ? Did you spend time with those you lived ? Do you make a difference in our world?

Don’t live for survival , you will die anyway!

Don’t die with any regrets of incomplete dreams . Sing your song before it is too late to sing . Don’t die with your song in your heart !

Don’t die with your song in your heart

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE

All that we learn is to move fast, time is money we are told . And so we get on a treadmill of life . A treadmill that has no stop button.

So we keep running, faster , with the crowd . The treadmill goes nowhere but we feel we are getting some place because it is always in motion.

We look at the fast runners on treadmills, we admire them , we want to be like them , we create idols .

What is this run for ? Fame ? Money ? Desires ? Milestones seems to be reached but the treadmill never stops . School , college, careers … it goes on . We hope one day , one day we will live , till then we live on weekends.

We look at the destination, all the while running. Yet there is none , it never comes , till we drop dead . It is then that the treadmill stops.

What is the need to get on the treadmill, look around , there is life in the slow lane . Press the pause button and we need to reflect what we are chasing .

But when we get into the slow lane we miss the thrill of running on a treadmill that goes nowhere. Slow lane does not seem exciting, we keep looking at others , the Gurus, the idols all telling us to run .

They show off their big homes , the fast cars , the planes .. you are made to feel life is not ok if you don’t join them in the race to nowhere.

Yet when you slow down you meet life , and you see it is not about the destination but life is about the journey.

Did you live ? Did you love ? when you live your gift and spread it out of love , not out of pressure of some imaginary targets .

I got off the treadmill, I live life in the slow lane now , I cycle , I write , I sing , I meditate , I also run passion projects , what I call #blessedwork . And I also do nothing , just reflect , read a book , have a cup of coffee ..

Each day is a great day , slow down , breathe , do what you love , don’t compare , don’t judge , spread love . It’s as simple as that , hit the pause button now ! before it is too late .

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject

ASK THE QUESTION WHY

One of my clients had set a goal in mind , to get a million followers in a defined period. And I told him that is the wrong place to begin.

Why do we do anything , why do we exist , what is the purpose of it all , these are mans deepest questions . Business or career is not distinct from life , it is part of life , it is where we spend most of our time of waking hours once we get past school and college. Yet we see them as distinct compartments. I see life progress in three stages .

If I look back at my own life the three stages I experienced are :

1. Clean Slate : The early years of life are like a clean slate . Nothing is written , and then impressions are formed , by parents , by family , by society , by the education system . What was a clean slate full of possibilities , gets restricted , the open space shrinks . We get defined , what we can do , what we cannot do , what is possible , what is not possible .

The school , the college , everything defines us , we have to be hammered with education and information to fit in , to be part of the crowd. The clean slate slowly gets filled up , possibilities and dreams are killed.

2. The World : We are told now its time to get serious . Till a stage in life we are sheltered by our parents and then we suddenly go out into the world . The period of learning at school and college is over , now we are told yo enter the real world . Finding a career , making money and then more money , running after fame and power , looking for approval .

This is the phase of being on a treadmill that does not have a stop button.

3. Before the End : At some stage the realisation sets in that the pursuit of happiness is an illusion that is shattered by death. We know that all this life as we know it will end some day , we look back at memories . Studies of people at end of life have found that one of the things that most people regret is not having lived their life fully , not having taken the risks , they played safe and chose to follow the crowd .

We see it and yet we do not see it. Before we know the game is over. It’s too late .

So why am I sharing this in #passionproject , because I feel we need to wake up . We do not have unlimited time on the planet earth, we are travellers here . Asking the deeper questions adds meaning to life , to everyday , it is the reason why we wake up every morning.

FREEDOM : When I peel down the layers I find that the deepest desire we all have is for freedom , freedom to live life on our own terms , freedom to find and live expression for our unique gifts , freedom to live from possibility .

CONTRIBUTION : Before we leave this planet , did we make any difference , we were all born with a unique gift . Did we contribute with our gifts ? Did we sing our song .

PASSION : What is that one thing that we are passionate about , that does not feel like work , that we can keep doing whether it is a weekend or a weekday. If we focus on our passion and become the best at something, not in comparison to others but simply perfect our art whatever that maybe we will be deeply fulfilled.

When everyone is running on a treadmill, it is important to pause , get off the treadmill, step back and ask the deeper questions . Don’t just live , but live a meaningful life. You don’t begin with aiming for a number, you begin with asking “Am I singing my song ? and am I having fun on the journey?”

#passionproject

Sanjay Mudnaney

I WANT MILLION FOLLOWERS

One of my prospective clients said “I want to have a million followers on social media ”

The internet , social media and the smart phone changed our world . Today anyone can own a personal media company and broadcast their message , there are no gatekeepers. Daily millions of messages are being broadcast from personal social media accounts, a few of them get followed and a few of them get followed again and again a over time a few start getting millions of followers.

They all have million followers

The Dalai Lama has over 19 M followers on twitter , Industrialist Anand Mahindra has 7.8 M followers on twitter , Jay Shetty has 6.2 M followers on Instagram , Marie Forleo has 6.5 M followers on YouTube , Sadhguru has 5 M followers on YouTube , GarryVee has 2.72 million followers on YouTube, Simi Arora has 35 k followers on Linkedin and Puru has a few hundred followers , “who is Puru?” you may ask , I will tell you in a while .

What is common amongst all of them ?

1.They are all passionate about what they do

2.They did not chase followers , their tribes are built by value they add to their followers

3.They are out to change the world in their way

4. they are focused

5. they are persistent

They begin with passion

None of them began by chasing millions of followers . They began by being passionate about their craft in whichever field they belong to . And they mastered their work with years of hard work and practice , whether it is as a spiritual guide or a business leader , coach , actor or an influencer it has taken them years to get there.

If anyone tells you that there is “get rich quick , get a million followers in days , he is selling snake oil , run”. There is no substitute for passion , focus and persistence .

I spoke to Simi Arora , she gave up her corporate job to become a full time life coach because she figured out that is what she is passionate about , her own experiences in life going through depression , her struggle pulled her towards her calling as life coach. She has been guiding her tribe with a thoughtful message a day on Linkedin over the past 3 years.

They begin with a question “what can I change in the world ?”

Their passion is the driver , they connect it with their idea to change the world , Mr Anand Mahindra being an industrialist and a business tycoon shares stories of inspiration and support to small entrepreneurs on twitter , Rahul Subramaniam has been lighting up the world for his Linkedin followers during lockdown with his comedy series ‘building uncles’. Each one in their own small way is changing the world . It could be making people smile , find inner peace in troubled time , getting to live a health life , helping them reverse disease , entertaining their fans , teaching healthy cooking , they all are out there to make a difference with their passion.

The question to ask is not “How will I get a million followers?” but “what difference can I make in the world ? ”

But I am no leader

Puru works at Decathlon cycling division at R City mall , Mumbai, he is a passionate cyclist himself and cycles to work . He is passionate about helping other cyclist . He created a WhatsApp cyclist group and organises weekend cycling rides , he supports cyclists . He does not sell , he guides you to take the best decision . he enrolled me on the cyclist group when i visited Decathlon to buy a cycle , though I purchased a Trek bike , he has kept in touch . He even did a video call to help me set up my home trainer at 9 pm in the night and the next day though me how to change home trainer cycle tyre.

Every organisation would love a Puru , He is indispensable for Decathlon. He is not even in any leadership position , but yet he is a leader and he understands building tribes . He brings smiles to cyclist and those exploring cycling. He has a few hundred followers.

I saw a traffic cop recently in Pune , he was different , he danced while managing traffic and enthralled the people , made their day with his moves , one sees so many traffic cops this guy was different , he was not a leader but he had his followers , the day he is not at that junction he will be missed . He is passionate about his job and he is out there changing the world , making the world a bit happier for the motorist who pass by near him.

Puru , the traffic cop , the influencers no one began with the goal of having millions of followers in mind , they began with with their passion and desire to make the world a better place with their gift.

Be Authentic

Whatever is their idea or belief tribe builders are authentic . What they do and follow is not a fad or the ‘in thing’ , they do it because they believe in strongly. Milind Soman a model turned fitness brand ambassador is a avid bare foot runner he is a iron man and puts himself through the grind to stay in shape . It is hard work , this is not just a camera moment , fitness is his life. Only then when he builds a movement around Pinkathon it works because he has credibility , hundreds of women join the fitness movement for a cause.

Stay Consistent

The Dalai Lama has been spreading the message of peace all his life , Punit Rao has been sharing his fitness tips on Instagram for many years , Simi has been adding value to her tribe on Linkedin for over 3 years ! Be regular , share your gift with your tribe . One of the problems I see with Non Profits I talk to is the lack of regular effort to build tribes . This cannot be a sporadic exercise to connect with your tribe , it needs frequency to keep up the engagement.

Anyone can build a tribe , you have free access to your own broadcast channel on social media . Are you ready ? Stop now and ask the question “What am I passionate about ?” , “What do i want to change in the world ?” !

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject