Namaste!

Namaste!

When was the last time we said Namaste to anyone?

Let me guess…
When we were 7 or 8, and we met uncles and aunties, we bowed our heads a bit down, folded both our hands and said, “Namaste Uncle”, “Namaste Aunty”. Actually, even some time back, when we met the same uncle or aunty, it just came out, “Namaste Uncle”, “Namaste Aunty”, without much of the gesture though.. with a slight nod. Also, when we met a friend’s mom or grandmom, and we thought they were as old fashioned as our parents.. we said “Namaste”.
To our friends? Noooo… never.. Why?
In office? What! Why would anyone say Namaste in office?
Oh wait! The last time we had a foreigner on call, and he said “Namaste” in the end because he was speaking to Indians and he assumed it’s an everyday thing for us.. we replied with a smile and said “Namaste” in an accent that he would understand.

So, what is Namaste all about? Is it just another way of saying hello? If we translate Hello to Hindi, does it mean “Namaste”?

Here are a few things we would like to share that you might find interesting and intriguing –

The literal meaning of Namaste, when translated in English, is ‘I bow to you’.
There is a deep sense of respect hidden behind the three words. The Namaste gesture explains its significance. In order to perform Namaste, one places her/his hands together at the heart chakra, closes the eyes and bows the head.
The hands are placed together at the heart chakra to surge the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart.

Literal translation to another language often causes loss of crucial subtleties. Spiritually, Namaste is a way of respecting self as well as others and means “the divine in me recognises the divine in you.”

In Yoga, Namaste is a gesture to exude peace and positivity into the universe with the hope of receiving the positive energy back. With Yoga gaining popularity across the world, Namaste has also been adopted across many cultures.

The idea behind delving into and sharing the latent significance of greetings in our culture, we feel, is to acknowledge the appreciation of lives in our beliefs.

If we adopt this belief in our organization culture, wouldn’t it take care of Diversity and Inclusion?

If we live with this belief everyday, wouldn’t there be more kindness, openness and compassion in our relationships?

Wouldn’t it also reduce a lot of stress that the rat race adds to our lives? With divinity present in all of us, we are equally great and graceful. There is no ‘I’ vs ‘You’. Instead, there is reverence, unity and humility.

Think about it. Our culture has given us something very powerful and before we lose it, let’s know and appreciate its value.

How often do you use the Namaste emoji on WhatsApp?

Namaste! 🙏😊

Leveraging the “Power of Conversations” in the times of COVID Crisis

Change begins with a single conversation.

Conversations are the lifeline to how we get things done in most settings. If you learn to have conversations that are appreciative and inquiry-based, it will strengthen relationships; move you towards positive outcomes in your families, teams, and organization; and promote situations where you can flourish! 

For the last 25 years, I have been studying and practicing the impact of asking questions using AI (no – it’s not artificial intelligence). The AI I am referring to, is Appreciative Inquiry. Something that is easily learnt and powerful when mastered. The power of AI comes from learning to ask questions (inquiry) that add value to others (appreciative), deepen understanding, make room for other perspectives, and inspire new knowledge. The heart of AI is asking life-giving questions. AI is about discovering what gives life to the system, and purposefully looks for what is true, good and possible.

Currently, in my organization, I am serving on a Safety Committee to make recommendations on how to safely re-open a university campus that was closed abruptly as a result of Covid-19. As one would expect, there is tremendous worry, anxiety and emotions surrounding this discussion. How do we re-open? How do we keep our campus community safe? When does the staff report back to work? These are some of the many questions that the committee is struggling to answer. We are learning that there are many concerns and fears among employees about coming back to work.

Instead of making assumptions about how employees feel, the committee is having conversations with all the employees across the 16 departments (via Zoom) to make space to hear:
– What are their concerns?
– What are their ideas to re-open the campus carefully, responsibly and safely?

The department that I work for will be hosting two Town Hall Meetings (again virtually) with our students to learn:
– What worked when we suddenly had to go online?
– What can we do better?
– What are their concerns and wishes for the fall semester?


We also have critical infrastructure (essential) employees working on-campus and have asked:
– What are some of the best safety measures they are using?
– What is working well?
– What do they need more of?

AI questions are intentionally designed to put the employees in a ‘connect’ mindset with the goal of understanding why, when and how might we begin to bring employees back; and re-designing how their departments work with each other and the students who may (or may not) be coming back this fall. We do not know what the fall will bring, but we are already in conversation about what worked well, what is working, and what is possible.

Are your conversations providing clarity, deepening understanding, generating possibilities, strengthening relationships and providing alternatives to create a pathway forward?

To learn more about Appreciative Inquiry visit AI Commons:
https://appreciativeinquiry.champlain.edu/
The “AI Commons” is a place for everyone with an interest in Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and positive change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Jacqueline (Jackie) M. Stavros’ passion is working with others to create meaningful results for positive change. She is a professor in the College of Business and Information Technology at Lawrence Technological University. She has co-authored 7 books, over 50 articles and book chapters related to Appreciative Inquiry and SOAR.

Two recent books are:
Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement (www.ConversationsWorthHaving.today), and
Thin Book of SOAR: Creating Strategy that Inspires Innovation and Engagement (soar-strategy.com).

She has worked in 25 countries using Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to affect the lives of thousands of people and enabled hundreds of organizations improve capacity to thrive and increase performance. Her work has been featured in Forbes, SmartBrief, Detroit’s Live in the D, dbusiness Magazine, and leadership and training blogs and podcasts. She is a keynote speaker on positive approaches to leadership, strategy, and change. She earned a Doctor of Management in Capacity Building Using an Appreciative Approach: A Relational Process of Building Your Organization’s Future.
(Email: jstavros@ltu.edu)

Heroes in our Homes

(1)

He is sitting silently on the hospital bench. 

“Congratulations! You have been blessed with a baby girl,” the nurse announces excitingly.

He stands up.

“Would you like to see her? I will bring her to you,” says the nurse.

She comes back after ten minutes, with the little miracle in her hand. He looks at the little life as she moves from nurse’s arms to grandmother’s arms.

“Have you recorded the time of birth? You guys are always in your own little world,” he yells at his mother.

Her face turns pale. Everyone around her goes silent for a while.


(2)

He is standing in the hall waiting for his wife and daughter. 

His daughter is going to college and is moving out of their home.

“Darling, hope you have kept your medicines,” says his wife, as they enter the hall.

Yes mom, don’t worry.”

“Also, make sure you take out all the snacks as soon as you reach there and arrange them properly.”

“No, I won’t,” the daughter laughs, “I will manage, Mom.”

“It’s high time you learn to take things seriously,” he yells at his daughter.

She breaks down. So does her mother.


(3)

He is moving out of the hospital with his extremely sick father. As he makes his father sit in the car, his father suddenly holds him tightly and starts breathing heavily.

He looks at his father and looks around to see if there is someone who can help. In seconds, his father stops breathing. He looks back at him to realize his father is no more.

He calls his wife, “Inform everyone he is no more.”

“What!??” she exclaims.

He hangs up.

Her heart sinks as she senses the coldness in her husband. She sits down and cries her heart out.


This is just half the story. Here’s the full story…

(1)

He looks at the little life as she moves from nurse’s arms to the grandmother’s arms.

He is overwhelmed and is feeling a range of emotions. He brought into this world a life; he has a big responsibility now and he suddenly has this unconditional feeling of love.”

He doesn’t cry with happiness.

“Have you recorded the time of birth? You guys are always in your own little world,” he yells at his mother.


(2)

“No, I won’t,” the daughter laughs “I will manage, Mom.

His daughter is moving into the big bad world. He always protected her and now he is concerned for her. He doesn’t cry and say, “I love you. Please take care of yourself.”

“It’s high time you learn to take things seriously,” He yells at his daughter.


(3)

He looks back at him to realize his father is no more. 

His world is shaken. He feels like there is no roof over him anymore. He feels this unbearable pain in his heart.

He doesn’t cry.

He calls his wife, “Inform everyone he is no more.”

“What!??” she exclaims.

He hangs up.


He  doesn’t cry, he never does. He should not. He is supposed to give strength to the family and be their hero. And heroes don’t cry. Humans do.

Every time he feels the rush of emotions, he doesn’t know what to do. And the outlet is what it is. 


Let’s ask ourselves today…

Do we want to be born to a hero or to a human?
Do we want to live with a hero or a human?
Do we want to raise a hero or a human?”

Best friends

Feeling horrible, right?

Yes.

How exactly are you feeling?

Feeling heavy… like there is a big stone on me.

Oh! That’s really difficult to deal with. What is this stone made of?

Many random thoughts and emotions.

Hmm.. that’s what makes it complex.

Yes

Let’s start by picking one thought.

Ok.. I tried my best today but I still couldn’t prepare good food for guests.

Oh!

You know I feel really ashamed, I feel inadequate. It’s embarrassing.

Hmm.. I know, you tried really hard with good intent, gave it all your time and it feels really bad when we fail.

Yes, exactly.

What else?

I also feel afraid.

Afraid?

What would those people think of me?

What can they possibly think?

I’m not good enough. I don’t have a cooking sense. I don’t know how to manage my home. I am not a great person to associate with.

That harsh?

Hmm.. you’re right. They wouldn’t be too harsh. They should be able to see that it happens. All of us make mistakes and fail at things despite our best efforts at times.

That gentle?

Hehe.. some of them will not be so gentle. They may judge for a while, gossip about
it.

Hmm.. are they the ones who will stop talking to you?

Hehe.. Now, if I think of it, they won’t. Everyone is going through so much every day, this will only make them feel better for a while. They will forget later.

Hmm.. that’s a great service. Youre making people feel better.

Hehe.. actually, our mistakes, failures and flaws help us connect with people at a human level. It’s okay to make mistakes in front of people.

Hmm.. that’s quite insightful.

Well, at least I learnt something out of this. My pain didn’t go waste.

Great. How’s the pain now, by the way?

Surprisingly, it’s not there anymore. I feel like that complex, heavy stone like structure has been smoothened.

That’s great. Sleep tight now. Good night.

Good night, indeed.

This was her conversation with her heart. Yes, she is her best friend and she understands herself the best. If she doesn’t, it’s not fair to expect others to. If she doesn’t forgive herself, how will others ever be able to. If she isn’t gentle on herself, others can be harsh too. If she doesn’t love herself and care for her heart, how will others find it worthy enough?