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Bala Mookoni

Monthly Archives / January 2017

  • Jan 13 / 2017
  • 0

Charisma: The Obama way

As President Barrack Obama gave his farewell address at Chicago on January 10, 2017, the curtain came down on an extraordinary presidency. It is well likely that history will judge Obama as one of the greatest presidents of the United States. As he attempted to begin his farewell address, the long standing ovation refused to die down, making him jocularly remark that he was lame-duck as the crowd was not listening. In a speech that stretched for more than an hour, he used his trademark hand gestures to effect yet another display of rhetoric and oratory.  Without resorting to any dramatic inflexion of the voice, he effortlessly transported the audience back and forth between the history and the future. He held people’s attention when he slowed down his words, lowered the volume or paused for impact. He was in the flow as with quiet compassion he evoked images of the proud heritage and with “jealous anxiety” invoked the youth to steer the future with their own hands. At the end, there were many teary eyes, his included, and nostalgia was almost palpable in the air of the assembly.

Charisma is never easy to define. Obama’s charisma lies not just in his oratory or youthful looks. It actually springs from deep within him, as charisma always does. Charisma is never a garb than can be donned and taken off. It is something more permanent that gets ingrained over the years. It nearly always begins to emanate when larger causes overtake self-interests. It finds its expression in the confidence on that person that is inspired in others as someone who can bring change. To understand where Obama’s charisma springs from and to know the recipe of the secret sauce of his successes, let us look at some of the core principles that he addressed in his farewell:

  1. Unity and Diversity. Obama frequently invoked the concept of Unity in Diversity in his speech. Nothing can be more motivating for ordinary people to reach extraordinary heights than ‘equality for all’ and ‘equal opportunity for all in pursuit of happiness’. Progress is not a zero-sum game. When progress embraces all, even the luckier ones avoid the risk of upending their good run. Diversity is not just about race, region or religion. It is also about the acceptance that those that don’t fit into our opinions only enrich us.
  2. Yes, we can. The reality of life is that progress is neither constant nor predictable. It is normal for every step of progress to be challenged by a step backwards. But with the optimism ‘Yes, we can’, the long sweep of time will be defined by forward motion.
  3. The dynamics of change. Change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to drive it.
  4. Make life better for those who follow. This is the purpose that drives people to brave challenges and break new ground.
  5. Boundless capacity for risk and reinvention. Only those bold experiments that are untainted by affiliations or particular interest will ensure that the future remains with us.
  6. We all have more work to do. If we decline to invest in the future, we diminish its prospects.
  7. Hearts must change. Laws and rules alone won’t be enough. Might cannot replace the willingness to do right. In the battle of ideas, openness to admit new information and creation of common ground and compromise are essential for going forward.

By putting together this blueprint for the future, Barrack Obama showed how charisma is the confidence that creates hope and drives us into action.



  • Jan 09 / 2017
  • 1

7 steps to a great 2017

So it has been goodbye to year 2016 and welcome to 2017. The beginning of a new year, like the start of any new phase, is always pregnant with hope: hope of a good life. But unlike the start of most other new phases, the onset of a new year has a more personal involvement. Many of us begin the new year with new or renewed resolutions (because most resolutions stay unfulfilled year after year!). But someone said that it is easier to change ourselves than to change the world. Changing ourselves is certainly under our control whereas changing the world may not be. So, here are 7 things (and they are the new game changers) that we can do to change ourselves so that we are on a roll in 2017, no matter what happens around us in the world.

  1. Caring. Being caring is the best way we can be happy. Kind behaviour raises our oxytocin levels, and that makes us feel fulfilled, eventually increasing our productivity and effectiveness. Being caring is not that easy however. Constantly buffeted by the changes in our hormones and the pressures of the environments, the mind hurtles us up and down the emotional roller coaster. Devilish emotions, such as anger, irritation and jealousy, are always sitting in our nervous system waiting for a chance to catch us unawares. One wrong word, sight, taste, smell or touch is enough to trigger them and cause the damage before we realize. Only by consciously working on our egos, mood swings and expectations can we increase our caring behaviour.
  2. Smaller meals. So what diet is to be followed? Atkins, Paleo, Bulletproof, LCHF or Sugar impact? Like carbohydrates, excessive proteins and fats can also be harmful. If it is all very confusing, let’s KISS (keep it simple sweetheart!). Just junk aside all the theories, and try out small meals. Eat what is available, but eat in small meals, whenever and only when hungry. Pretty soon, you will notice amazing health benefits and improvements in emotional state.
  3. Deep breathing. Studies have established links between respiratory health and other diseases including those of skin, digestion and mind. If you are trained in Pranayama, keep at it. If not, try deep diaphragmatic breathing every day for at least 15 minutes. You will be amazed by the health and emotional benefits that follow. Deep breathing is more beneficial than one has realized. It is going to be the new game changer. So, be with it, and stay ahead of the curve.
  4. Curb the cravings. It is now very clear that happiness is not really linked to what you have. Rather it is linked to what you think. Happiness is not just in achieving great feats. Happiness lies in doing everything we do, no matter how insignificant or routine, with best efforts and in mindfulness. Happiness is in savouring every moment of the present, just as in every sip of exquisite wine rolling over the tongue and lingering in the mouth. You can have all the wonderful things in life and still feel miserable. Of course, you need to have certain things in life, but beyond a point, obsessing over what we don’t have never helps. Cutting down on the tendency to accumulate or keep acquiring more things in our life is a sure-fire way to be happier and less stressed. Less luggage makes the journey enjoyable. Do it, and you will see what I mean.
  5. Walk. The easiest way to be healthier and happier is to walk at least 30 minutes on most days. So, keep walking. But walking with the head sunk in thought is losing half the benefits. So, make sure you walk in mindfulness for added benefits. The past is beyond our control, and the future is unpredictable. What’s in our control is only the present. So, let’s give the present our best shot!
  6. Cut those extras. Smoking affects respiratory health, which is the key to the health of the autonomic nervous system. Surprising as it may sound, kicking the butt has more benefits than we can imagine, apart from increasing longevity. Less known is that it can dramatically improve digestive, skin, respiratory and joints health. There is increasing evidence that alcohol has more deleterious consequences than we thought. The harm is not just for the body but also for the mind. Limiting the alcohol does not mean the thrill of life is lost. On the contrary, the improved emotional state makes us happier. Studies are showing increasing evidence of link between alcohol and depression, poor quality of sleep (unbelievable but true), and even cancer.  Going by the same token, let us minimize processed food and increase our intake of fresh food with no or minimal cooking.
  7. Enjoy the journey. Over the years, there has been an increasing fixation over results. Nothing could have been more detrimental to our happiness. It is time to shift the focus from the results to the process. Perfect the process, and the results will follow on their own. Enjoy the journey with mindfulness without dwelling on the destination. In the process, if we lose the rat race then so be it, because who wants to be a rat anyway? This shift will make a dramatic difference to our emotional well-being, and in the long run make us more effective and fulfilled.

Follow these 7 steps, and let the good times roll in 2017.