Episode: 302 |
Srikumar Rao:
Mental Models:


Srikumar Rao

Mental Models

Show Notes

Srikumar Rao developed the groundbreaking course “Creativity and Personal Mastery” at Columbia Business School, which I had the good fortune to take in 2003.

It is the only business school course in the world with its own active alumni association – including annual retreats for CPM alums.

Srikumar has taught this course at other top business schools and delivered a program based on the course to many corporate clients.

He is running an online program that is currently taking applications: https://theraoinstitute.com/cpm-online-2020/

He is the author of two books:

1) Are YOU Ready to Succeed?: Unconventional Strategies for Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life

2) Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful – No Matter What

In this episode, Srikumar discusses several mental models, including:

“Good thing, bad thing, who knows?”


“Don’t shoot the second arrow.”

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:02
Hello, everyone, and welcome. Thanks for joining us for this session today with Professor Strick. Mr. Rao. So sukumar created a course at Columbia Business School called creativity and personal mastery, which was one of the most popular courses at Columbia Business School at the time, I had the good fortune to take the course in 2003. And it had a big influence on my life in my career, Swick Omar’s course has an 80 page syllabus and an extensive reading list, which you can find at the link that will share in the show notes here. After taking the course I continued to work on reading that reading list and working on the exercises from the course had a big impact on me. So I’m really excited that that circle, Maher has agreed to to share a perspective today. And I want to preface it by saying that one thing that I learned in his course is this idea of mental models, which I think he’ll be talking about today. And I’ll preface it by saying that as you think about mental models, the way you will evaluate them is not if they are literally true, but if they are effective, or if they work for you. As an example, one mental model that I picked up in the course is that if you truly decide and really determined specifically, what you hope to accomplish, the universe will conspire to make that possible for you. Now, in a literal sense, I mean, I was a physics major in college, I don’t literally believe that there’s a conspiracy happening. But it does seem to work in practice. So that’d be an example. So we’ll also be publishing this episode as an episode of Unleashed, which is, and so now Umbrex presents this session with circumaural circle. Omar, welcome. It’s great to have you here.

Srikumar Rao 02:09
Thank you very much. Well, it’s my pleasure to be here. And to everyone listening in Good morning, good evening, depending on what timezone and part of the world that you’re in. It’s my pleasure to be with you today. Now, I was supposed to talk to you on how you can eliminate stress and cultivate extreme resilience. But I must confess that that was really a bait and switch. Because what I’m really going to talk to you about is how you can make a quantum leap in your life, every aspect of your life, your personal life, your professional life, your spiritual life, your civic life. And in the process of doing that, you will certainly very greatly diminish stress in your life, perhaps eradicate it. And you will also become incredibly resilient. So let’s talk about how do you make a quantum leap in your life, I work with 1000s, of executives and entrepreneurs, and they all want to move the needle. And typically, the ways in which they want to do that are, you know, I’ve got to get in an hour earlier in the morning, or leave an hour later, or perhaps both. In other words, I have to work harder. working harder is not the solution. In fact, it might actually set you back, then there are people who say, you know, I’m spending too much time on things that don’t add value, and I have to be more careful about it. I have to spend more time on the high leverage activities. In other words, I want to work smarter. It’s always a good idea to work smarter, but that will not lead to the kind of quantum leap I’m talking about. Or there are people who say, well, I’ve got to stop binge watching Netflix series and spend more time on my business or my career. In other words, I have to manage my time better. And I’m suggesting that that isn’t the answer either. I’m suggesting that the way you make a quantum leap in your life is by thinking differently, thinking radically differently. Now the notion of thinking differently, by the way is not new to you. You’ve been exposed to it many times. How many of you, for example, have been told to see the glass as half full rather than half empty? Or have you been exhorted by told that every problem is an opportunity in disguise for the dark or that the darkest hour is before the door? None of this is new to you. You have been exposed to the concept of thinking differently. You even embrace the knowledge embrace the concept of thinking differently. But despite that, the vast majority of us find it very difficult to consistently think differently. And that’s because we try to think differently. By trying to think differently, it doesn’t work. What I’m going to share with you is a process by which you examine the mental models that you hold, which cause you to view the world in a particular manner. And as you start making changes in those models, you find that you become a different person. And you both behave and think differently. Let me give you an example of what I mean by thinking differently. I grew up in Delhi, we were a middle class family, not exactly poor, but there was not a whole lot of discretionary cash lying around. My father was a government bureaucrat. My mother was a homemaker. One day, we were taking a walk, and we came across a guy who had a shelf strapped to his shoulder strap right over his shoulder, the shelf came out,rough in front of his stomach, and he was selling stuff from that shelf. And one of the things he will show he was selling was a book called just like Daddy, it was a blue book. And if you open it up, there were a few lines of writing and it talked about a little boy and he got up in the morning, and he brushed his teeth, just like daddy. And it did a whole bunch of things just like that. It was actually two books in one because if you flipped it around, it turned pink and then there was a little girl doing things just like mommy. And for some reason, I can’t figure out I really, really wanted that book. So I put in a petition. My parents looked at it and there were only a few lines of writing on each page. And I was already reading Jr. classics. So my petition was denied. I was unhappy, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We moved on. The guy with the shelf moved behind us and every time I looked back, it flashed the book at me. Now my mother was very frugal lady who hardly ever bought anything for herself. But she saw a purse that she really liked and reached out for it. And I saw my opening and I dove in like a train See, with tears rolling down my cheeks I bawled loudly and asked how she could possibly buy something so utterly useless as a purse when there was this great educational material that they were denying me. It was a low blow. It worked. Back when the purse I got just like daddy just like Mommy, there was distinct coolness between my parents of me, but I didn’t care. The reason I bring that up is about a couple of decades after that I ran across the book just like daddy just like Bobby in a flea market. And all the memories came flooding back. But there was a difference. Just like that he just like mommy no longer had any hold on me. I did not want it. I did not not want it. It was completely irrelevant to my life. I had outgrown my need for just like daddy just like Bobby. Think back on your life. And I’m sure you can recall many instances where there was something that you desperately want wanted. But now it’s irrelevant to your life. Think about all boyfriends or girlfriends think about toys you wanted when you were younger. Right now there is something that you really, really want and you don’t have it and it is causing turmoil in your life. Maybe you want to be promoted to division head or CEO. Maybe you want the Coronavirus to go away so you can go on vacation. It doesn’t matter. There’s something you really want, you don’t have it and it’s causing turmoil in your life. And my question to you is, would you rather get what you want? Or would you rather outgrow your need for it as I outgrew my lead for just like that he just like Mommy, and you’ve outgrown the need for countless things in your life. Don’t answer that question. Think about it. And it’s a pretty good example of what I mean when I say part of my job today is to try to get you to think differently. Let’s begin with stress. How many of you are feeling stressed right now? Well, would you care to roll out a quest? The question for them?

Will Bachman 09:06
Yes, I will. Let’s see. So we go to, I’m going to share screen, I’m going to put a quiz up. So if you will go to minty.com on your phone, or your computer, m e n ti.com and enter the code 776131 you will get a quiz and you can go ahead and just enter a number there I think between one and nine. And while we are waiting for folks to vote on this also mentioned if you have questions for circle Mr. or comments, go ahead and put them in the chat as we go along here. We’ll we’ll pause a couple places during the discussion and I will curate and synthesize your questions and ask your questions. So the numbers are coming. Again, we have 30 votes, for those of you who are on the phone and can’t see the screen for some reason. It’s a pretty broad distribution that we’re seeing. So out of from one to nine, with 45 votes, the average is 5.6. But that hides a very broad variation, we have some lucky folks that are experiencing stress have completely relaxed at that end of the spectrum. And some people that are just completely overwhelmed. And it’s almost almost a flat distribution, maybe slightly weighted towards the higher end. So we have about 53 votes circa Mr. Okay, and I’ll turn it back to you.

Srikumar Rao 10:43
So let’s move on. This is a remarkably under stressed audience. So I guess you have the bulk of people who are feeling we’re doing very well in the carriers and in their life otherwise, because in this time does pretty darn good. Alright, so even if you read 5.5, there are a significant number of you who are feeling stress. And let me continue with my charter of trying to get you to think differently. And let’s try to get you to think differently about your stress. Why do you think you’re feeling stress? We’re going to have people respond to that. Well,

Will Bachman 11:28
yes, I would. So let me share my screen again. And there we go share screen, share, screen, share. Alright, and now a little bit more interactive. So what is a key cause of stress in your life right now? So again, go to minty calm me in the eye. Because 776131 This is a open ended response. So what are some of the causes and I’ll just read these off for folks that are on the phone and can’t hear COVID Health uncertainty unknown career. children at home uncertainty uncertainty struggling to find the next client uncertainty, children’s school performance, kids relationship, no income trying to shift career path decline, deadlines, money uncertainty, feeling another shoe is about to drop no stress work work uncertainty. Business has plummeted dramatically. uncertain work. Business uncertainty, we’re hearing a bit of a theme on uncertainty wondering if I’m with the right partner. Need to increase interaction with people I feel stuck in life unknowns, children, homeschooling, lack of child support, no summer camp. Coronavirus, uncertainty, business development, business growth, communism, communism, okay. Career and personal angst, not achievement fulfillment, either financial uncertainty, financial uncertainty COVID family, future uncertainty juggling children and career and fear of COVID. And too much time at home. So I will come back to you. And again, put your questions or comments in the chat and I will synthesize those at a future pause point.

Srikumar Rao 13:19
Thank you Well, so I have asked 1000s of persons on six continents? Do you feel stress in your life and the vast majority say that they feel more stress in their life now than ever before? And of course, I asked them, Why do you feel stress in your life? And the answers pretty much reflect what came up? When you asked the question? Well, a lot of it had to do with finances, with relationships with carrier with health. And I would like everyone on this call to consider. That’s not the reason you feel stress. There is one reason and only one reason that you feel stress. And the only reason you feel stress in your life is that you have a rigid idea. This is the way the universe should be in the universe is not playing ball with you. Let me repeat that. You do not feel stress for any of the reasons that you put down in the quiz that I will just put on the screen. It’s not due to finances, it’s not due to uncertainty. It’s because you have an expectation that the universe will behave in a particular manner. And the universe is not playing ball with you. You expect that you will know what your next step is how you will be financially whether you will get that next client or that next job. And darn it that’s just not the way it’s unfolding. And you resist it and you resent it and in that resistance and resentment, you create the stress in your life. And that is the only reason you feel stress in your life is not because there is uncertainty, it’s because you expect and demand that they will be no uncertainty, where the universe is not cooperating with you. And you resist it, and you resent it. And that causes stress in your life. Let’s continue with getting you to think differently. Let me preface my next statement by saying you probably don’t think about your life in this manner. But I’m now inviting you to think of life in this manner. your entire life has been nothing but an attempt to exert control over some part of your internal or external environment. Let me repeat that your entire life has been nothing but an attempt to exert control over some part of your internal or external environment. Everything you do, has been an attempt to exert control. You probably don’t think about your life in that manner. But I’m now inviting you to think about your life in this valley, everything you do. Are you married? Why are you married? Well, you got married, because you saw this person of the opposite sex or same sex depending upon your predilection. And you felt good about it. And you thought, if we get married, there’s going to be love and companionship and sex and it seems like a good idea. Let’s do it. And he got married. By the way, if any of those of you are married, have you discovered that happily ever after does not exist? I thought he would. Why are you in this call with? Well, well, possibly you’ve attended other calls, and you felt I got some good useful information. And perhaps I get some good useful information from this one. And I can apply it in my life and my life in turn better, or I feel better about my life, let’s do it. It was an attempt to control some part of your internal or external environment, everything you do is nothing but an attempt to exert control over some part of your internal or external environment. I have some good news for you, you do not have control, it gets better. You never had control. And still better, you never will have control. Control is a myth. It’s an illusion. The illusion of control, by the way, is an absolutely fantastic thing. It that is what enables you to get up in the morning and you make plans and you execute on those plans. So I’m not knocking the illusion of control at all. But I’m saying that the illusion of control will break down in your life at some point it has in the past, and it will in the future. And well, it breaks down if you’re using the illusion of control, knowing that it is the illusion of control. Then you simply say this is the time it broke down, where do I go? But if you’re using the illusion of control, not knowing that it is the illusion of control, that’s when you go to pieces. In that sense, the Coronavirus crisis is really been a blessing if you make use of it. A lot of the times when you say Oh yes, I know I don’t I control we’re speaking rather superficially. We’re speaking in terms of I don’t know whether I’m going to get that new job I tried for or not, I don’t know control. I don’t know if my kid will get into Harvard or not. I don’t have control. But even when you say I don’t have control over whether your marriage will survive or whether you will get promoted or things like that. That’s still within the framework of something you take for granted. And that is if you run out of toilet paper, you will step over to the supermarket and pick up a role. If you’re hungry and there’s no food you’ll go to a restaurant and order a meal. Now, even those things are called into question as a result of Coronavirus. So, there is uncertainty at a very deep level and many persons are coming to grips with the notion No, you really do not have control. So given the fact that you do not have control, you never had control, and you never will have control. How do you eliminate stress and cultivate resilience? By the way, I’m more of a fan of extreme resilience than resilience. resilience, of course, is your ability to bounce back from adversity. In extreme resilience. you bounce back so fast that an external observer might not even know that you had suffered adversity. Well, in order to explain that, I have to share a couple of columns. As with you. One important concept is that a mental chatter and mental chatter is an internal monologue that you have going on in your head all the time begins when you get up in the morning is with you throughout the day is with you right now without a courtesy you ought to be listening to my chatter, but you’re listening to your chatter. How many of you in the time that I’ve been speaking, I’ve already gone someplace else. So by email, you have to reply to the phone call you have to make what’s going to be for lunch, or whatever. I rest my case. mental chatter is an unwelcome relative who showed up at your house, and you can’t kick him out. So you live your life as best you can you suppress it, ignore it, work around it, you do what you can to live your life, in spite of your mental chatter, big mistake. And the reason it’s a big mistake is because you create your life with your mental chatter, you think you live in a real world you don’t, you live in the matrix. This is not a matrix constructed by an alien civilization out to enslave you, you created it, with your mental chatter, and your mental models, which I’ll be getting to in just a second, just a few minutes. One of the more important teachings of the Buddha is the parable of the second arrow. And the Buddha asked Ananda, his disciple, Ananda, if an arrow would have hit you in the arm, would it not be very painful? Another Lord who said, Yes, Lord, it will be very painful and have a second arrow hit you exactly where the first arrow hit you? Would it not be even more painful? Another nod his head? Yes, Lord, it would be even more painful. And then the Buddha said, Why then do you shoot the second arrow? And I noticed that some of you are puzzles. So this needs a little bit more explanation. So let me tell you a story. There was this woman, and she was a good mother. And her son turned 16, allegories provisional driver’s license, and one day he came up to his mom and said, Hey, Mom, there’s a bunch of my friends and I were getting together. Can I take the family car? And the mother said, Of course not. You just got a provisional driver’s license. Where do you want to go? I’ll drop. You said, No, no, Mom, you don’t understand. You can’t be there. And I need to be there. So mother said, Okay, that’s fine. There’s Uber, there is lift. He said, No, no, you don’t understand. You can’t be there. And I have to be there. And I have to have the car. And the mother said, No. said Mom, you don’t understand is really important. I have to be there. I have to have the car and you can’t be there. And he begged and pleaded any wheedled. And you know how children are and bred by better his mother photos and giving way? And she extracted promises for him? No drinking? No, no, no drinking at all. I will be back by 10 o’clock. Yes, I’ll be back by 10 o’clock. And he will call me Yes, I call you. So finally, reluctantly, she gives him the car keys. And of course, once he leaves the property forgets about all the promises he made, and he stays out too late doesn’t call Mrs. curfew has too many beers. And on the way back, he has a serious accident. And he’s in the hospital being operated on it, his mother is with him. And when he is back in the recovery room, she rushes home to have a quick shower, so that she can go back to the hospital. And at that time, a friend calls and a friend says what kind of a mother are you? How could you possibly have let him take the car? You’re not a mother, you’re a murderer? Are you shocked that a friend would say something like that at a time like this? Probably, would you be less shocked if I said it wasn’t the friend who stoled her that it’s what she told herself. That is the second arrow. And the second arrow is always delivered by means of mental chatter. In fact, in the programs that I conduct, and with my coaching clients, if I could get them to stop with the second arrow, they’d be a lot better off than they are. In most cases, they’re too busy shooting the fifth sixth and 20th arrows. The second arrow, as I said, is always delivered by mental chatter. And I’m going to throw a general proposition out to you comment in the chat box, if you will, at the assertion I’m making is no matter what situation you’re facing, that you’re concerned about, your mental chatter about that situation is making it at least an order of magnitude worse. Will when you get to ask how many of them are shooting second arrows.

Will Bachman 24:42
Yes, I would sir Kumar Thank you. So we have the survey up. Same place minty.com for those who just joined, but in code 776131 and enter a number between one and five. So five is your shooting the second All the time, and one is never. We’ll give people just a minute here. I’ll mention that as we go through if you have questions or comments, you can put them in the chat or in the q&a. And let’s see. So we have 50, responses cerca Mar, and I’ll actually just read them off. So one person says never. And we had 11 people say in the middle there three and 12 people said all the time, so the average was 3.5. And I will turn it back to you.

Srikumar Rao 25:41
Thank you. Well, my experience has been that we should second arrow’s ourselves all the time. So the gentleman or lady who said one, I said you’d him or her. But I would also like to take a very, very good look at their either state. So we shoot second arrows at ourselves all the time. And my experience has been that no matter what situation you’re in your mental chatter about that situation makes it at least in order and sometimes several orders of magnitude worse. Let me cover the topic of mental models. A mental model is the notion we have this is the way the world works. And we have dozens of models, we’ve got a model for how do I find a job? How do I get ahead in my job? How do I bring up my children, we’ve got dozens of models, some of these models may or may not be in conflict with each other, and we may or may not be aware of the conflict. The problem is not that we have mental models. The problem is that we’re not aware that we have mental models. We think this is the way the world works. But this is not the way the world works. This is our model of this is the way the world works. And the more we believe in that model, the more it seems as if this is the way the world works. And very soon we built a silo around ourselves. That’s so fake, it’s almost impossible to break out of. Now all of this is pretty abstract. So let me bring it down into an example. And what I would like well, if we you, as well as all of the persons who are listening to not just listen to me, but put yourself in the situation that I’m describing. Fair enough. Well, so here’s the deal. You’re going to an important appointment. You are running late. You are driving, you are stuck in a traffic jam. And this is not a run of the mill traffic jam. It’s a Lollapalooza. It’s a beastly hot day. And your air conditioner has broken down. Are you with me? Well, you’re going to an important appointment, you’re running late, you’re driving, you’re stuck in a traffic jam, bad traffic jam. It’s a beastly hot day, and you don’t have any air conditioning. And all of a sudden, a car cuts in front of you and almost causes an accident and then cuts in in front of another car in front of you and almost causes a second accident. What are your feelings towards the driver of that car? Well,

Will Bachman 28:16
it’s probably I think it’s compounded versus what you would feel every day. And we probably need to add to your scenario that your your your phone is the batteries that on your phone. Really.

Srikumar Rao 28:30
In any case, it’s very fair bet that your feelings towards the driver of that car are not those of loving kindness. Road Rage was invented in California but it traveled the rest of the world very, very, very fast. So you’re angry, you’re frustrated and probably a good thing that you don’t have a firearm in the cage in your car. Now I’m going to share some information with you. Well, this guy who cut you off so rudely and almost caused an accident had received some unfortunate news his son was involved with a serious accident and has to be operated on immediately and is desperately trying to get to the hospital with no knowledge of whether or not he’s ever going to see his son alive. Now when I share that information you can and most people can palpably feel the anger and frustration drain out of them to be replaced with compassion for a fellow human being in an unfortunate predicament. The problem is you don’t really know whether the guy who cut you off was a distraught father or an inconsiderate jerk. So Well, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to hire a private investigator to look into the matter. And the the private investigator reports back to you that the guy was an inconsiderate jerk, he will be really pissed off. Whether the private investigator reports back to you that the guy was a distraught father, you’ll feel great compassion, but until you know for sure you’ll remain neutral. Also pretty good. Well, you will not hire a private investigator nor will any of the good people listening to this podcast. But if you are not going to hire a private investigator to look into the matter, you’ll never really know whether or not the guy who cut you off as a distraught father or an inconsiderate jerk. The more important point is, it really doesn’t matter. You had the choice of determining, which is the emotional domain, you’re going to occupy. And you made a decision, you had a choice. And you made a decision. In all likelihood, all this happens so fast that you never even recognize you have a choice and you made a decision, you think it happened. And you will go back and speak to your partner and tell him or her, you know, I was driving along and this blank, blank expletive deleted came in front of me and almost caused an accident, and is only my superior driving Emily D, that prevented a nasty pile up this blind black. And that’s how it will go down in the lower of your family history. But now that I’ve peeled it back, do you see that you had a choice and you made a decision, you could choose the emotional domain you wish to occupy and you could have occupied it instead of the one you did. The reason this is important is that you, every one of us, face such a juncture in our life, dozens of times every day, let me repeat that we faced such a juncture in our lives dozens of times every day. And in many of those instances, perhaps the majority of those instances, we choose to occupy an emotional domain, where we feel angry, frustrated, anxious, fearful. And we never recognized that it was a choice we had a decision we made. And the reason we occupy this particular devotional domain is because of the mental chatter that we entertain, and the mental models that we hold. That’s how important these concepts are. And that’s how they run your life. Let’s move on. We tend to spend all together too much time on the two three or four things which are wrong in our lives. More precisely, they do three or four things that we have arbitrarily decided wrong in our lives. And we completely ignore the 40 5200 things. So you’re pretty damn good about our lives. Everyone on this call is incredibly privileged. Do you recognize that? You don’t have to bother about whether you go to have dinner tonight. Do you have a bed to sleep in a roof over your head? Any one of these is a big deal and a big chunk of the world outside, right? So when I pointed out, you nod your head? Yes. I am incredibly privilege. The problem is you don’t feel incredibly privileged you feel stressed out at full report. And why is that? That’s because of where you shine your awareness. Your awareness is like a flashlight. What does the flashlight do a flashlight illuminates whatever you shine it on, shine it on the floor, it lights up the floor, shine it on the ceiling, it illuminates the ceiling. So let me try and experiment right now. I want you to shine the flashlight of your awareness on the chair in which you are sitting. And when you shine the flashlight of your awareness of the chair in which you are sitting, you become aware of the pressure of your buttocks on the seat, you become aware of the chair pressing against the back of your thighs, you feel the fabric or the leather. You’re conscious of all of this one minute ago you were not aware of any of this. Why are you aware of it now that’s because you’re shining the flashlight of your awareness on it now. So your flashlight is like, your awareness is like a flashlight and you go around shining it and what do you choose to shine it on? You choose to shine it on are the three four things three or four things that you think are wrong in your life that you think are wrong in your life, not necessarily what is wrong in your life, and you completely ignore the many many things which are actually pretty good about your life. flip that around, starting immediately and I would say recommend beginning it a few minutes before you go to bed. Shine the flashlight of your awareness on the many things which make yours a blessed existence. And it’s very important, by the way for you to recognize that this is not an intellectual exercise. This is an experiential exercise. If you’re a Type A individual that lives in your head, then there is a tendency to think gratitude rather than feel gratitude. And it can’t go go to health check roof to roof overhead check food to eat, check. No, you have to actually experience it. And how do you move from thinking to experience you work at it. So for example, if you say food to eat, and I want to be grateful for that don’t just say food to eat and move on. Think about all of the things that happen as a result of the fact that you have food to eat as a result of the fact that you have food to eat, you’re not constantly hungry. So if a client calls you and the client has a problem, you can get on a zoom call on the phone, and help solve this problem. If a small child falls and hurts themselves, you can go and comfort him, because you’re not thinking about where your next meal is coming from. If you go to bed at night, you can get a good night’s sleep, because you’re not hungry. As you think about the implications of each of these things, when you will find that you’re gradually moving from thinking gratitude, to feeling gratitude. When you get up in the warning, don’t go immediately to the place of Oh my god, there’s too much to do, and I don’t have enough time to do it all. Recall that feeling of gratitude and appreciation, marinate yourself in a bathe in it, immerse yourself in it, soak yourself in it, and do it many times as you go through the day. And my hope for all of you is that you will get to a point where your default emotional domain is one of appreciation and gratitude. Why is that important? It’s important because when you are in the default emotional domain of appreciation, gratitude, you’re not angry, you’re not frustrated, you’re not anxious, you’re not fearful, the two cannot coexist. So you will find that when you’re in the default emotional domain of appreciation, gratitude, gratitude, not only is your experience of life better, but you will also find that when you approach what you think is wrong in your life, from the emotional domain of appreciation, gratitude, you will be able to deal with it much, much, much more effectively. Let’s move on. Galileo got into a spot of trouble a few 100 years ago, and he got into a spot of trouble because he postulated that perhaps the earth perhaps the sun does not move around the Earth, perhaps the earth booster of the sun. Every single one of you is convinced that Galileo got it wrong. The earth does not move around the sun. It revolves around you personally. And I noticed many of you smiling, but I am actually being deadly serious, you do, in fact, believe that the Earth revolves around you. Think about how no matter what happens outside, you have a tendency to bring it down very quickly to what’s the impact on me. Your partner gets a great job offer and say, how is this going to affect our relationship? Your daughter drops out of high school to begin an in depth exploration of controlled substances, anything How much does rehab cost? And will insurance cover it? No matter what happens, we have an incredible capacity to bring it down to what’s the impact on me, we live in a V centered world. And here’s something you ought to know about living in a me centered world if that’s where you spend the majority of your time you are going to live by and large, a mediocre existence, punctuated with flashes of pleasure, but essentially meaningless, it comes to the territory. In England side of a great Cathedral being built, and the architect was going to the scenic construction, we came across three people all of whom were doing the exact same thing. There was a big block of stone, they put a solid block of stone on top of the big block of stone and beat it with a hammer drill it broke. And he asked the first guy, what are you doing? And I said, Can you see I’m breaking rocks? Why are you doing it because I get paid to help another day. And the second guy said, I’m helping build the wall behind me. And the third guy said, I’m helping build a great Cathedral well, so where people are going to come from all over the world. And they will be inspired and I will have had a small role to play with that. In that other third guy was only one recognize the architect and said, truth be told, I don’t like doing it as backbreaking labor I can get better wages with less effort. I’m only doing it because I want to learn Will you teach me to build a cathedral 20 years from that day the guy who was breaking rocks was sadly no longer it’s strength to swing a hammer and he died strapped. The guy who was helping build the wall behind him was living a life of desperate poverty. But the guy who was helping build a great cathedral was on his way to building his first cafe. That’s a choice. Each one of us has pretty much every day you can get up in the morning and you can break rocks. Or you can get up in the morning and help build a cathedral. If you get up in the morning and you define what you do in functional terms like I prepare pro forma balances sheets and income statements and reconcile them, or I helped devise marketing strategy for new products. If you define yourself in functional terms, you’re either burnt out or heading towards burnout. I cannot define for you the cathedral that you’re building. Only you can do that. But unless you can find a cause, which is bigger than you are something which brings the greater good to a greater community and you have tremendous flexibility in defining both the greater good and the greater community. But unless you can find something that is bigger than you are to which you can subsume, if not your whole life, at least a big chunk of it, you’re going to live in essentially meaningless existence, you’ve got to function simultaneously at the six inch level. And the 50,000 foot level, the six inch level is very important. That’s where the work gets done. That’s where you decide these are the emails I have to reply to, these are the phone calls, I have to return, these are the tasks I have to get done today is very important. That’s where the work gets done. But if you spend all your time on the six inch level, you’re going to get your nose braided, you have to also be at the 50,000 foot level, where you look at the arc of your life and see where it’s going. It’s as if you were in an ocean liner, the middle of the ocean, and you make a one degree course correction. And it doesn’t seem like much. But over the course of a two week wide, you will probably land up 100 miles different from where you would have otherwise. So I repeat, I cannot define for you the cathedral you’re building, you’re the only one who can do that. But unless you find that define it and anchor yourself in it, you’re going to live a pretty mediocre existence. Let’s move on. There’s something that each of us does multiple times every day, and it has a very negative impact on our life. And this is the habit we have labeling something good or bad. And we tend to use the bad thing label three to 10 times as often as they use the good thing label. Now I’d like you to consider the following. Whenever an event happens, any event it does not cause suffering. Suffering begins the moment you label that event. This is bad. This is terrible. I cannot bear it. Let me repeat that suffering doesn’t happen when an event occurs. Suffering begins the instant you label that event. This is terrible. Let’s say you get fired. You now have a lot of free time and maybe you say I never really liked my job anyway. And now I can go off and get something that I like better. Or you can say oh my god, I got fired. I got mortgage payments due How will I survive? This is terrible. And the moment you say this is terrible about instant suffering begins. There’s an old Sufi parable. It talks about a man and his son. They lived in a beautiful valley and they were very happy but they were also dirt poor. And the man got sick and tired of being dirt poor he decided he was going to become a rich man and the way he chose was to breed horses. He bought a stallion didn’t have enough money to buy a stallion so he borrowed heavily from the neighbors and the very day got the stallion is kicked the top barn loose from the paddock warehouse late and ran away and the neighbors came around and said you will go to become a rich man but your Sally it has run away and you still owe us money. You are screwed. The man tractor shoulder is a good thing bad thing Who knows? That stallion fell in with a group of wild horses which are close to where the man lived and he was able to entice them into his paddock which he had repaired so escape was the longer possible. So he now had a stallion back plus about a dozen wild horses and by the standards of that village that made him a wealthy man. And the neighbors came around and said we thought you were destitute but fortune smiled upon you how lucky you are a distractor shoulders and said good thing bad thing who knows. The man and his son started to break the horses so they could sell them on the market and one of the horses through the man’s son and stomped on his like, and it broke and it healed crooked. And the neighbors said he was such a fine young lad. And now we’ll never be able to find a girl to marry him. How unfortunate. And the man shrug the shoulder and said good thing bad thing Who knows? That summer the king of the country declared war in the neighboring country and press gangs move through the villages, rounding up all the able bodied young men to serve in the army. But this man son was spared because he had a game leg and enables the tears The rise of the rolled around. We don’t ever see our sons alive again. But you still have your son How fortunate you are. And they shrug their shoulders and said good thing bad thing. Who knows? And it goes on like that forever. Think about it. Can you recall any instance in your life, something happened that at the time it happened you thought this was terrible. But you can now look back upon it and say hey, that wasn’t so terrible or even That was good. I was speaking before the global executive summit of the entrepreneurs organization. And when I was at this point in my talk, somebody back there raised his hand I ignored him. He raised his other hand Grodin then he got up on top of stairs and started waving his hands. And I could no longer ignore him because everyone’s looking at him anyway. So I acknowledged him and he said, press around, we’ve got a perfect example for you. He was a graduate from one of the IITs, which are the top engineering schools in India, arguably, some of the top engineering schools in the world, got a degree from Stanford, got an offer from a big well known tech firm was looking forward to building his carrier, his friends got jobs with other tech firms. So they were looking forward to continuing their friendship while they built their respective careers. But he had an immigration problem as a result of which he had to leave the country tried, like hell to not do that hire a lawyer did work. So had to leave. And he thought his career was over. Among other things, he had student debt. And when you have student debt in dollars, and you’re earning in rupees, you’re in a really tough spot. But he said, Professor Rao, as a result of that, I met this beautiful lady who is now my wife, I teamed up with a couple of my engineering school buddies, and we started a company and it’s going gangbusters all my clients are in America come to America at least six times a year. And I have a picture proof of life. And none of this would have happened if I had not been forced out. So think about it. Can you recall any instance in your life or something happened that at the time it happened, you thought this was terrible, but you will now look back upon it and say that wasn’t so terrible? Or even that was good? If that’s so then what you are today about to label bad? Is there any conceivable way that in a few years, it could turn out to be good? Is it possible? Just asking yourself that question will move you to a different emotional domain. And if you then ask yourself the next question, is there anything I can proactively do to actually make this good, and you moved from the realm of despair, to the realm of possibility, that is how you become incredibly resilient? Nothing ever fazes you, because you don’t label anything that happens to you bad, you simply label it, this happened. And then you follow up with what do now that makes you incredibly resilient. And this is a learnable skill. I have two more concepts that I’d like to share with you. The first is the concept of the benevolent universe, which will kind of referred to earlier and it actually came from a question that Einstein Bose. Einstein is revered as a scientist, but he was also a philosopher. And he said, the most important question you are ever going to ask yourself is, is the universe friendly? The most important question you are ever going to ask yourself is is the universe friendly? Now we all know there are people who believe that the universe is unfriendly and the sole purpose of the universe is to frustrate you. These are the people who know that if you’re going to an important appointment, and you’re driving and you’re late, the universe will know about it and we’ll arrange for you to be stuck in a traffic jam and for air conditioner to fail. There are few a number the overwhelming majority of us believe that the universe doesn’t know I exist and couldn’t care less. Here I am going around doing my thing. Here’s the universe doing its thing. Sometimes it seems to help me sometimes it seems to harm or port me. But essentially, it’s a random process and the universe doesn’t know exists and doesn’t care. Well, what are the universe was friendly friends don’t shaft friends, right? So the universe was friendly. Why does the universe give you stuff you don’t want? You want to go on vacation and the universe gives you cancel flights and Coronavirus and quarante. You want to be promoted? And your boss tells you that your 360 evaluations have not been that good and you are on probation? Why does the universe give you stuff you don’t want? Well, what are the universe gives you stuff that you don’t want, but that you need for your learning and growth. It’s like you’re a small child and you want a tub of ice cream and your parents give you fruits and vegetables. You don’t want fruits and vegetables. You want a tub of ice cream? Would your parents give you fruits and vegetables. And it isn’t until you have an entirely different level of maturity that you can say thank God I got fruits and vegetables rather than a tub of ice cream. One of the universe was like that. You may not like what you get, but is exactly what you needed for your learning and growth. Regardless of whether or not the universe is friendly, if you believe the universe is friendly, your experience of life would improve immeasurably. And if the universe actually was friendly, magic happens in your life. By the way, this is a concept that I cover in great detail in my book, are you ready to succeed so if you want to play around with it, please get yourself a copy of that book because I deal with that in all the other exercises in some detail, another final concept. This one comes from the Native American tradition. And it talks about a young man who was about to grow up and take his place among the adults of the tribe. And the final rite of passage was a conversation with the medicine man. And the medicine man told him here is this dog kind, intelligent, loving, trustworthy. And here is his Wolf, Melville, ambitious, cruel, ready to snap, I’ll kill anything and the dog and the wolf are fighting the dog and the wolf of both inside you, the young man laughs which one’s gonna win. And the medicine man says, whichever one you feed. Now think about it inside each one of us there are altruistic Let’s help each other and make the world a better place impulses. And in each one of us, there are Let me grab everything I can for myself and the devil take the hindmost impulses. And the two are always at war. It’s your job to selectively identify and feed the dog in you. It’s also your job to selectively identify and feed the dog and everybody you come up with come to. Too often, we feed the wolf and we don’t even recognize you’re doing it. For example, you’re having a bad day at work, you go to get a cup of coffee, a colleague meets you there and he says, he’s having a bad day and you say you’re having a bad day. Let me tell you about my bad day. And your bad day, Trump says bad day and you go feeling smug. And you just fed the wolf in both yourself and the other person. But if instead you had gone Yeah, you’re having a bad day, I’m having a bad day, is there anything we can do to make sure that nobody has such a bad day again, and now you started feeding the dog feeding the dog? Look upon this as a blueprint, in every conversation you have with everyone, anyone? The guy who sends you your paper, the Uber driver, who drops you in the airport after COVID-19 is over your wife, your children, your colleagues. every conversation you have ask yourself, Am I feeding the dog? Or am I feeding the wolf? Am I doing or saying things which leaves this person with a better feeling about himself or herself? And about the world outside? Am I putting them in a more optimistic frame of mind and building them up? Or am I sending them into a downward spiral? Am I feeding the dog? Or am I feeding the wolf? Just asking yourself that question will change the nature of many of your interactions? You will feel it and they will feel it as well. And with that, well, I think we’re done. But I would like to have some questions. Do you have any questions? Yes, we

Will Bachman 52:30
do. We have one question, which is, are we going to learn how to shoot how to not shoot the second arrow?

Srikumar Rao 52:38
Absolutely. This is a very, very important part of my program, in fact, is the foundation, exercise. And if anyone is interested, by the way, let me put in a plug, I have a new online program about to start. So if anyone’s interested, please email me. But the only way you can not shoot a second arrow is to become aware of the fact that you’re shooting second narrows your mental chatter is not a problem. The problem arises because you don’t observe your mental chatter, you become your mental chatter. And when you do it drags you to all kinds of places you’d rather not be. But there is an exercise. And again, this is detailed in my book and is the first exercise in my program, whereby you observe your mental chatter, and don’t become your mental chatter. And when you do that, it loses its ability to take you to places you don’t want to go. It is very easy to start, but very difficult to keep practicing it and most cases we lose our observer status in seconds or minutes. But if you can practice you can hold it for extended periods. And then you will find that it’s less of a problem that it was. Yeah.

Will Bachman 53:57
Sir Kumar, we. And we have one question for the attendees, which is so if we want to turn to that. So the final question we had on our mentimeter we can go back to minty calm and use the code 776131. What is one idea or concept that was shared today that you will implement in your life? So I’d love to hear from you from that. And then and also in parallel? If anyone has any additional questions, you can pop them in the q&a or the chat. And then I’ll read off question number two circle Mar. Is there anything that can Is there anything that can augment efforts to change awareness, changing mental chatter, not feeding the wolf, etc. I’ve been making the effort for years, but it is hard to change. So what additional steps would you suggest?

This is where we walk a fine line? Well, it’s very important to really want to change but if you try to force change it resist So make it a game with yourself and don’t shoot second arrows of yourself at how you’re not having enough success in changing yourself. Let the process unfold. Be relaxed about it. And keep observing your mental chatter, as far as possible be anchored in your mental chatter. Remember, mental chatter are like clouds in the sky. There’s a beautiful sunny day and you’re relaxing on a grassy knoll and you look up and there are clouds in the sky. You shut your eyes and open them 10 minutes later, and those clouds are gone. But there are new clouds, the sky mental chatter is like that they exist. Don’t get entangled in them, watch them go by. And the more you practice that, the more you will find that you have an ability to direct your mental chatter and not be carried off by them. And that by itself will make a huge difference in your life.

Will Bachman 55:56
Sigmar, I wanted to ask you just to make sure we share the right thing. What’s the best way for folks to find out about your upcoming program that you mentioned, you can include your email address,

Srikumar Rao 56:09
his mail address, make it Sreekumar dot raw, the raw institute.com and have them go to my website, which is a route institute.com. And either one of those, both of those is there. They should go to my website and read the syllabus anyway. So that Oh, by the way, it’s no longer 80 pages. It’s almost 100 now,

Will Bachman 56:32
okay, so that syllabus is available. If you go to the rau Institute, calm on the program’s tab, scroll down, there is the syllabus and the reading list. And God is really quite an unusual syllabus. It has been many, many stories and mental models in there beyond what we heard today. And the reading list I found, like I mentioned at the beginning of the show amazing. Let me just read some of the comments that people had about what what will what was shared today that they’re going to take away. Feeling feel gratitude in the evening in the morning. Good thing, bad thing, who knows, don’t define yourself in functional terms. Be aware, when I shoot a second arrow, watch how I label things. That’s the key believing the universe is friendly, become more accepting of life while putting in requisite efforts of shining the flashlight of awareness to move toward gratitude. I really like that metaphor, Circo Mar myself, I don’t remember that one from the course I liked that idea of awareness as a flashlight, pausing and asking, Can this unplanned event be beneficial, and be aware of mental chatter and not consumed by it? Practice feeding the dog, not the wolf. And it’s, he says it’s helpful hearing circumaural repeating these clear but groundbreaking concepts? Why didn’t I really listen to him the first time around? And I think that was from a former student of yours? And would you rather, would you rather get what you want or outgrow your desire for what you want? Great framework. So fantastic set. So we’ll include everyone who attended today, we’re going to send you a recording of this event. And we will also include a link to the route Institute as if you’re interested in exploring that online course and diving further into this material. That is great. Do it mo includes for Kumar’s contact email. So if you want to reach out to him directly ask a question. Follow up. I, he welcomes that. So any more questions here that I can also write down? We’ll let’s see. So that was that was the only question and we had some very nice comments. So marks is what a wonderful inspiring hour. Thank you. David says excellent presentation. Jennifer says Professor Rao thank you for sharing your gifts that come with just the right time. Well, of course the universe providing it at the right time. And some very nice comments there great content. And so thanks for everyone for attending and circle Mar. just grateful for you for taking time out to shoot

Srikumar Rao 59:30
me well. And let me wish you and everyone who attended a terrific weekend and in fact a terrific rest of your life.

Will Bachman 59:38
Fantastic. Thank you everyone for joining everyone.

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