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Personal Mastery for extraordinary impact

As human beings we are torn. We want more stuff, better relationships, richer experiences and to be known and appreciated and applauded. Our insecurities are legion and they hound us into frenetic activity as we try to quiet the shrieking, howling feverish monkey of our mind.

Dr. Rao's Featured Talks View all

Should I Keep Struggling or Throw in the Towel and Move on?

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A framework that helps you decide when to keep and it and when to give up

Aphorisms and proverbs sometimes pack powerful wisdom.

We are fond of quoting them and using them to guide our

behavior or to explain it.


But have you noticed how many of them contradict each other?

We should “Look before we leap” but, unfortunately,

“He who hesitates is lost.”


“Many hands make light work” but, alas, “Too many cooks

spoil the broth.”


“Wise men think alike” but “Fools seldom differ.”


“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” unless, of course,

you are “Out of sight, out of mind.”


“The pen is mightier than the sword” except in the land

where “Actions speak louder than words.”


And that brings me to a dilemma that we all face sooner or later.


We are stuck in a situation that is suffocating and sucks

the energy out of us as thoroughly as an efficient Dementor.


Perhaps it is a job we hate though we have tried our level

best to ‘learn’ and ‘stay motivated.’


Perhaps it is a marriage in which we are stifled and we try

to be sensitive to our partner’s needs but are both miserable and unfulfilled.


Maybe we have started a business and it is going nowhere in

a hurry and we have tried everything we know and are running

out of funds to keep the lights on.


Do we keep at it with all the vigor we can muster with our dispirited

soul because victory comes to those who persist and never give up?


Or do we conserve our energy and quit the battlefield so we can

live to fight another day?


Everyone who has taken Creativity and Personal Mastery has

grappled with his – or her – version of this dilemma.

Many have asked me for help and advice.


We have been told over and over again that persistence is a virtue.

There are tales galore of how someone was struck with all manner

of adversity but hung in determinedly and eventually achieved great success.


In my program I have a module where I show participants that an

‘intolerable’ situation is so largely because we have defined it in that

manner and reinforced this ‘label’ with our mental chatter and mental models.


And many have reported that with a change in thinking that toxic

situation became bearable, even enjoyable.


We also have a module where I point out that one of the ways

in which the universe signals to us that it is time to make a change

is by making us miserable where we are.


So where does this leave you and what should you do in your

particular position?


I can give you a framework to use in such situations.


Most of us tend to ask “What should I do?” We desperately try to

think of the ‘Pros and Cons’ of each course of action somehow

balance and evaluate and compare them in a convoluted manner.

Instead of this, ask “Who am I being?”


Take an example: If you believe you are stuck in a toxic job environment,

then you are being a victim of external circumstances and indulging in

self-pity. You are also being me-centered and definitely not in an

emotional domain of appreciation and gratitude.


Is this where you want to be?


Assuredly not.

So who do you want to be? You want to be a person who is calm and serene,

grateful for the many things in her life and willing to work hard to ‘fix’ the

areas where your preferences are not being met.


Think about who you want to be and then pour your emotional energy

into that being. In other words BE the person you want to be.


This takes a bit of practice but it is not as hard as you may think it is.

Initially, there will be a feeling that you are kidding yourself or playing a

game but this will pass. You will actually be able to, at least for the time being,

become who you want to be.


Now ask yourself what this person would do in your situation.

And the answer will pop out easily.


You may decide to remain and try harder. You may decide to quit and go elsewhere.


It does not matter.


Because here is a great truth for you to ponder:

Who you are being is MUCH more important that what you are doing.



You Don’t Die Because of Illness. You Die Because You Were Born!

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We are all on Death Row. Don’t bother about dying – think about whether you are living.

For many years I was in thrall to ‘some day.’

My wife and I are both tennis fanatics and regularly tune in to the Grand Slams and most of the Masters. We knew we

would go to the French Open ‘some day.’

And Wimbledon.

And the Australian Open.

Last year a friend asked me when ‘some day’ would come.

I reflected and then bought tickets to the Men’s and Women’s semifinals and finals. I told my wife and she was able to re-arrange her schedule.

We went and had a grand time.

There is something we forget – we are all on an inexorable journey that will end with the obliteration of our individual ego.

The change is all around us but we try to ignore it. I vividly remember bringing my daughter home from the hospital. Her foot was half the size of my palm.

Now she is married and co-founder of a tech start-up in San Francisco.

I taught my son chess and he was amazed at how the pieces coordinated to produce winning combinations. Now he beats me routinely and is about to graduate from Columbia Law School.

I walk up flights of stairs that I would once run up. Keep Reading

You Make It All Up!!!

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I was looking for a really good example for a lesson I wanted to share with you.

Today, I found it. You will be well served in the New Year – now nearly three weeks old! – if you pay heed.

And I found this example, by happenstance, when I was not looking. In fact, I was goofing off and watching a movie.

Let me give you some background. Saroo grew up dirt poor in India. He was very close to his elder brother Guddu who would watch out for him and play with him and promised to get him lots of jelabis – an Indian sweet that they were too poor to afford.

He was also close to his mother who would hug him and cuddle him and feed him and care for him.

When he was five years old Saroo went to sleep in a stationary train that started up and transported him to Kolkata, more than a thousand miles from home.

Destitute and starving, unable to speak Bengali, the local language, he lands up in an orphanage and is adopted by affluent Australian couple. He is brought up in Tasmania.

Flashes of his childhood keep recurring and, with the encouragement of friends, he estimates how long he was on the train and maps out places that could have been his home. He then spends months visiting these via Google Earth.

Finally he strikes paydirt and hops over to India to meet his birth family. There is a tearful reunion with his mother. And then he asks, “Where’s Guddu?”

Turns out that Guddu had been struck by a train and died the same night he was lost.

He dissolves into tears and the heartache is palpable.

For the curious, the movie is Lion and it is still playing in theaters. Doubtless it will appear soon on Netflix and other streaming services.

The lesson? Keep Reading

Paths of Glory Lead but to the Grave

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In his time he may have been the most powerful man in the world

He came in fashionably late and occupied his cushioned seat atop the intricately carved marble structure upon which his throne rested.

It was a hot tropical morning but his heavy robes actually kept him cool and shielded from the searing wind. His diadem laden crown felt heavy and he refrained from turning his head for fear that it would fall.

He looked at the pulsing, seething crowd below and, instantly, they fell to their knees in homage. A far larger crowd had gathered outside the mammoth, red sandstone, walls of his palace.

There was anger in the air but it was rapidly changing to fear.

He was about to help that transformation accelerate.

Today was not an ordinary court day. Today he would let his subjects know what happened when they forgot that he, and he alone, was their divinely appointed ruler.

He leaned forward slightly to look directly below him. A dozen naked men were there, each held in chains by two burly guards. They were in sorry shape. Many had broken limbs with white bones showing through torn skin. Flesh, charred with branding irons, was suppurating.

One was comatose and only the chains kept him upright. 

They had all confessed. Under enhanced interrogation from his most skilled intelligence officers they had given up comrades and exposed the conspiracy. Even now his horsemen were pursuing the one surviving leader. He would soon be captured.

Now it was time to teach his subjects a lesson they would never forget. Keep Reading

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