I am all for growth. The only way to grow is by changing our mind. The only way to change our mind is to learn. The best way to learn is to do something we have not done before.

So, starting 16 January I decided to take up another role on leave from my parent school, IIM Lucknow. I moved to India’s capital New Delhi to take on the role of Director General of India’s first corporate sponsored business school, International Management Institute, with three gorgeous campuses.

Taking on a new role means that you have to give up on the comforts of the old role. This requires dealing with resistance to change. The first point of resistance is felt in our brain chemistry. Old ways, stagnant habituations of comfort, die-hard habits: all these are entrenched in our neural architecture. It is easier to pull a rabbit out of a hat rather than a habit out of a rut.

I would suggest that my friends in professional life should seriously consider this: if you have been doing the same job for two years, scrutinize your work carefully to see if you are learning anything new. If you are doing it for four years, look at your work with caution and see if you are satisfactorily underperforming. In case you are doing the same work for eight years, you are either a moron or a master! After ten years you must learn to move on, unless you have certified yourself as an enlightened being:

Two monks met for a meditation break. “Where are you brother?” asks the younger monk.

“I am in that place where nothing ever changes,” comes the reply from the old monk.

“But I thought everything in this world was always changing,” argued the young monk.

“Yes, that never changes either,” said the old monk laughing uncontrollably.

No human being grows without a change of mind. Yet it is easier to teach a zebra some algebra than to change your made-up mind. The made-up-mind is like the shell of an egg. Unless the shell is cracked open, life within it stagnates and dies. Life within us forces the mind to open up from time to time. The mind opens up to reality when an unexpected event occurs such as an unlikely promotion or the untimely death of a loved one. My thumb rule is: whatever is unexpected breaks the shell of the made up mind. Therefore, the unexpected gives us a taste of reality beyond the projections of the made up mind. Like an umbrella, the mind functions best when it is open to face changing environmental conditions.

Change of mind happens as we change the trajectory of thoughts. Mind is nothing but an accumulation of a pattern of thoughts and emotions. When this pattern is repeated time and again, the mind becomes as hard as the shell of an egg. Some effort is needed to break the shell. The right effort can come following these three steps:

a.     Think of your memory as a REWIND button of your mind.

b.     Think of your will as the STOP button

c.     Think of your action as the PLAY button. 

You cannot change your mind by rewinding old thoughts. You cannot use your will to stop the non-stop flow of thoughts from the past to the future. All you can do is play with a new set of actions that you have not performed before. If you do not play with new action choices, you will not be anyone different. From being an occasional dabbler in creative writing, I decided one day not to eat breakfast until I wrote something new in 500 words every day. That one single action-choice changed everything about my vocation as a writer. The result has been 17 books, more than 1000 articles and countless blogs in two decades of professional life. I am now change-ready. Are you?

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