From surviving to thriving – My Success Journey during the COVID-19 Crisis

From surviving to thriving – My Success Journey during the COVID-19 Crisis

Today is the day I was born again with the freshness of wellbeing and feeling the goodness of staying alive. Yet another birthday reminder set in my gadget resonates in the morning hours flashing in screen “Happy Birthday Dharam, it’s your 51st year on this beautiful earth”. Freezing my alarm bell, I sit in solitude silence with many thoughts running in my mind, “What Next, What Next, and What Next.”

After performing my daily yoga routine, I start to feel relaxed and think about sharing my experience of how I survived and thrived during this pandemic through what I call a “What Next Approach” to achieve success. As we see the historical strategies, I came across a P-R-S (Problem, Reaction, & Solution) strategy that perfectly matched our current scenario. Here the problem is the COVID-19 crisis, and we need a reaction, i.e., a call to action (What next action will we take)—finally, moving forward is the solution of surviving throughout the crisis till it ends. Surviving and thriving are synonymous with each other. Surviving is like riding a car or a bike, and thriving is the fuel. If the engine stops due to lack of fuel, that’s where the problem begins.

P-R-S strategy

P-R-S strategy

The “What Next?” Approach

Oprah Winfrey Quotes, “Don’t worry about being successful but work toward being significant, and the success will naturally follow.”

“What Next” is a focused and futuristic approach by asking certain simplified questions to yourself and finding the best solutions to your problems during uncertainty. The list of questions given below varies individually, and you can frame “What Next Questions” depending upon your scenario. It is a self-consciousness assessment, where you will be the learner and solution provider for your wellbeing. It enables us to derail faulty thinking where we make decisions that our future selves so often later regret. I am trying to share a common template that could be useful for all.

Q1. What next to make my life better than it was before?

Q2. What next steps should I take to make progress in my professional career?

Q3. What next specific outcome you’re seeking?

Q4. What next critical behavioral change you want to do with?

Q5. What next set of trade-offs am I going to make both on the personal and professional front?

The "What Next?" Approach: Finding the root-cause analysis

The “What Next?” Approach: Finding the Root-Cause Analysis

Current Self vs. Future Self

Einstein quotes, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Imagination design your future self. Your current self creates a fixed mindset, content with whatever status you are in and stopping the roadmap for achievement. Future self generates a growth mindset and pushes us to move forward towards our goal. An uncertain future breaks you apart emotionally and behaviourally, which impacts your mindset. It ultimately leads you to cognitive dissonance, which refers to a situation used to create mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. We all need to break these silos within ourselves.

Empathy not Sympathy

Empathy not Sympathy

Empathy not Sympathy

My caring for self is caring for other people. That’s what we need to establish in ourselves. Sympathy as a common feeling does not give us positive outcomes, but empathy bridges the negativity gap. Renowned psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman have identified three components of empathy: Cognitive, Emotional, and Compassionate. So put it together, we can be mentally strong, emotionally stable, and compassionate towards the family and people we work with. Empathy helps us to overcome anxiety, embarrassment, regret, sadness, shame, and stress.

Forward-thinking leaders

Leaders are the pillar of strength to the foundation of an organization. The old school of leadership thoughts is diminishing and has created a “Leadership Vacuum.” This vacuum can be fulfilled only by forward-thinking leaders who think beyond growth by understanding the good and bad corporate world that is in place. These leaders are empathetic and have a transparent working model put in place. They connect, collaborate, and create a cohesive ecosystem for the employees to achieve their vision and goals. The whole world is filled with uncertainty, and there is no certainty that the desired objective can happen or not. Forward-thinking reshapes the decision-making process of uncertain events within the stipulated time, avoiding greater loss to the organization in the future.

Digital Adoption

As we have moved from industrial evolution to digital evolution, it is a fast-paced movement that professionals need to sync with adaptability. Until March 2020, being an individual traveling worldwide for my training programs, COVID-19 had checkmated my plan of action. It directly impacted my business, which forced me to rethink my business model. The change to digital transformation was imminent. We need to change our mindset to move on to adopt digitalization. My shift to online training programs paid dividends. I stress individuals be from the working class or in business, choosing the right tools and team are critical in achieving success despite testing times.

Adoption

Adoption

Being Physically Active during this Pandemic

Research shows at least 150 mins of physical activity per day is required for a person to stay healthy and live longer. Most people will be spending time with exercise by going to the gym, swimming, running, be in some form of sports activities, etc. unfortunately, COVID-19 has shut down all the avenues due to social distancing. Physical activity depends on the intensity you do, and it is measured based upon it. The intensity ranges from moderate intensity to vigorous intensity, along with muscle and bone strengthening.

Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CDC-DNPAO), details the Physical Activity for Particular Age Types, which I have shared here for your reference.

Physical Activity

Types of Physical Activity

Another interesting measurement is the MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) which offers insight into how an individual’s variation in age, height, and body mass may influence the intensity of physical activity.

With the help of these, I am able to ascertain where I stand and plan to be more active and more productive by doing my regular physical activity routine. I got the opportunity to practice Yoga at a young age which led me to be super fit. With mudras, pranayama, and Yoga asanas, I overcame the physical disability (clubfoot) that I was born with. Gradually Yoga has made my mind, body, soul, and my entire lifestyle strong and disciplined. Yoga has created a positive synergy with extraordinary benefits both on the personal and professional front with stress-free life.

Later on, it motivated me to become a Yoga teacher to my community back in Sydney, Australia, through YiPEE (Yoga in Park for Extreme Energy) Yoga from 2011. With YiPEE Yoga, I was able to conduct free yoga sessions during the weekends to the community. In the USA, I plan to organize free community Yoga sessions once all the pandemic-related restrictions are over and people are back to normalcy. But, for now, I continue to practice Yoga indoors and record these sessions that are later shared on my Youtube Channel.

One such session that I plan to do is scheduled the day next to my birthday and during this International Yoga Day, 21st June 2021. The session is intended to communicate the true value of Yoga and realize how individuals can add quality to their mind as Yoga is all about enriching the mind and empowering the body. Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self.

Join Link: https://bit.ly/3xw4O4u

Date: Monday, 21st June 2021 [Southeast Asia & Oceania],

Sunday, 20th June 2021 [Americas]

Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM (PDT) / 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM (MDT) / 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM (CDT) / 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM (EDT) / 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM (IST) / 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM (SGT/MYT) / 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM (AEST)

You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel to watch all my podcasts and interview sessions with leading project management experts, along with my yoga session videos at https://bit.ly/2NDY8wd

“The Why” and “The How” of my life

Why and How

Why and How

Tracing back from a humble beginning and reaching the peak of the career path is not an easy achievement. The upward curve of my life is decided by calculated risk, a strong decision-making process, and nurturing from rightful mentors who fined tuned my path towards success. As we live in a pandemic world, and most professionals are into a midlife crisis, it is time to overcome the delusion it creates that pushes us into a panic mode. Midlife crisis is a crisis of identity at the age of 35-40 explored and researched by eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and German-American psychologist Erik Erikson, who coined the word “Identity crisis.” On the worrying side, this delusion leads to depression and affects the biological clock of the individual.

Midlife Crisis

Midlife Crisis

The solution that I adopted is clearing structuring, “The Why” and “The How” of my life. “The Why” streamlined by behavior and attitude, whereas “The How” clearly defines the stages and transition in midlife crisis.

Devising self-structured questions which purely depends on your circumstances and the yardstick you’re in. Here I am sharing one question on each subline;

  1. Why should I live with a standardized life course?
  2. How can I live with an extraordinary life course?

Simple but thought-provoking questions that every man and woman would have come across. The anxiety of aging, dissatisfaction with not achieving things, and social instability created by the surroundings take a toll on us personally and professionally. I urged myself not to quit and create an obsessive focus to live an extraordinary life with extraordinary aspirations. That obsessive focus should be on what you can control and not on things you can’t control. The critical aspect is to strike a balance between family and network. I created a cluster pool of networks during my migration to Australia, which stabilized my way of living.

Persevere

Persevere

Perseverance is one of the greatest skills you can develop during this crisis. First, you have to decide to put yourself in the category you strive for, either a standardized life course or an extraordinary life course. I chased for the latter by getting out of my comfort zone as I clearly understood that success is not a comfortable procedure. I envisioned myself getting out of this crisis through better companionship with my family and kids. They are the ones who complement “The Why” and “The How of my Life.”

Organizations ignore the middle-level managers who are profoundly between the ages of 30-35 in the organizational structure. It is the right time to spearhead those people to overcome the delusion created by the midlife crisis by proper people management and engaging them with psychological counseling. Organizations need to revisit their handling of human resources by taking steps to create work-life integration rather than work-life balance. We can’t regret losing talented professionals in that time zone. “People Value” should outweigh “Profit Value.” Let’s create a “Happiness Greenhouse” and overcome this together.

At vCare Project Management, I train individuals to be resilient project-program-portfolio management professionals and achieve success in the time-intense examinations required to obtain the most elusive advanced PMI certifications, viz. the PgMP® and PfMP®. Through my systemic approach, I unleash their full potential, enabling them to turn their aspirations into reality. As on 7th June 2021, Out of 3660 PgMP®s across the globe, 330 are my students spread across 46 countries. As on 6th June 2021, out of 1106 PfMP®s across the globe, 65 are my students who have empowered me with a 100% success rate.

If I can do it, sure can you.

Inspire yourself, and Inspire your surroundings.

Let the change begin from today!!!

Working Together For Success!!!

An encapsulation of my life’s journey

An encapsulation of my life’s journey

Walking down the memory lane

When one reaches the pinnacle of one’s career, one begins to reflect upon the difficult journey that led one here. This is precisely the frame of mind that I find myself in, now that I have reached a new era in my life, today being my 50th birthday. As a mentor and life coach, I believe that it is my responsibility to share my life experiences and leave behind a legacy for future generations to look up to. Hence, I have decided to shed some light on my personal life, starting with my childhood which is a topic that I have rarely discussed before.

Humble Beginnings

To set the scene, imagine a simple village in the Indian countryside in the year, 1970. My childhood was marked by the simple pleasures in life just as it was by the lush foliage and greenery that encompassed me. Despite one’s tendency to view such memories through rose-tinted glasses, my childhood was not entirely a bed of roses, for I was born with a congenital physical deformity which materialized in the form of clubfoot on my left limb. It is important to note that society wasn’t very open-minded or progressive back then, especially in the rural parts of the country. Those who had my condition oft ended up as paupers who begged on the streets, with little to no prospects of landing a decent living. To top it off, I was an introverted child who shunned large gatherings and dreaded the stage. One can only imagine how lowly I regarded myself at the time, for I had not the ambition to yearn for an estimable livelihood. Hence, I owe my current success to my parents and teachers, and I am eternally grateful for their timely guidance and perpetual upliftment. I am also indebted to yoga, which entered my life during this trying period, for imbibing me with the spirituality that has served as a coping mechanism for helping me deal with my physical condition.

A spark was lit, From India to Australia

A spark was lit, From India to Australia

A spark was lit, From India to Australia

With a specific focus and determination to succeed in my education, I successfully achieved the National Talent Scholarship (NTS), in 1987. Conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) I was one among the 700 nationally to achieve this scholarship by passing the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE). Spurred by my parents, I began to dream big, and I set my sights on the prestigious Harcourt Butler Technical University (HBTI) for my higher education. After graduating, I bagged a lucrative government job as a Junior Manager at a Public Service Undertaking (PSU), viz. The Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). For most professionals, this would be a jackpot and a gold mine because government jobs offer numerous amenities and benefits in addition to a solid retirement plan. However, I was not like most people. When I say that I had dreamt big, I really meant it. After four years, I left the security of my cushy government job and re-entered the job market in a project manager role. However, my career pushed me to the next level and pushed me to Australia because of the immense opportunities. This was unquestionably a gamble on my part because I was risking my job security through my decision to migrate to a foreign country. Program/Project managers need to continually find success because our jobs are meted and evaluated based on the success of each project. But, my efforts paid off as I was able to consistently land my desired postings at established Multinational Corporations (MNCs) such as HCL Technologies and Westpac, where I spent a year each and HP, where I spent seven years. This was no small feat, as it was the late 1990s, and immigration was still a vague concept in India.

Moreover, I was an Indian-origin manager at Australian firms managing professionals from diverse origins but majorly native Australians. Meanwhile, I was working on obtaining professional certifications, starting with the Project Management Professional (PMP). I was able to land a government contract within Australia at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC Canberra) which was a significant milestone for a person of Indian origin such as myself. Alongside other contracts at major firms such as the NSW BusinessLink, AAPT and the City of Gold Coast, I was also rising up the ranks within the Sydney chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI), where I volunteered to serve as the Certification Director and Secretary, which is one of my most monumental achievements. In a wonderful turn of events, I got to work with HP for a second time where I was able to leverage my newly acquired skill set to good effect. Subsequently, I got to work at Infosys, Westpac and then, Telstra, which is Australia’s largest telecommunications company.

Yet, out of all this, the endeavour that is dearest to my heart is undoubtedly my very own company that I founded in 2011, viz. “vCare Project Management”. As the CEO as well as being the leading trainer of the company, I play a central role in personally training all of my students in the various facets of project, program, portfolio management and many more. I have also been an official training partner at the Melbourne and New Zealand branches of the Project Management Institute from 2015 to till date.

The United States

The United States

The United States

Having spent more than two decades of my life in Australia, I was honoured its citizenship a few years ago. This was a result of my continuous commitment to the people and the country of Australia. Today I am a proud citizen of Australia, and I carry its values wherever I travel. But time had different plans for me when, due to certain personal and professional developments, I had to migrate to the West Coast of the United States, which is where I am currently residing.

California has arguably the most competitive work environment in the entire world, but I am still able to make an impact through my work. At vCare Project Management, I train individuals to be better project-program-portfolio management professionals and also achieve success in the intense examinations that are required for obtaining the most elusive project management certifications, viz. the PgMP® and PfMP®. Through my systemic approach, I unleash their full potential, which subsequently enables them to turn their aspirations into reality. I am ecstatic to report that every single one of my trainees has landed the PfMP® certification and an astounding 86% of them has cleared the PgMP®. To put that into perspective, there are only a mere 3200 PgMP®s across the globe, 274 of whom are my alumni. In 2019 alone, 49 of the global PgMP®s were my students who constituted 20% of the graduates for that year. Backed by the statistics of such a substantial student success ratio, I can proudly proclaim to be the highest producer of PgMP®s. I have visited and conducted training programs and boot camps in most of the major cities of the world.

Given that my profession necessitates extensive travel, I believe that through my diverse experiences, I can claim to be a true global citizen. In February of 2017, I was conferred the prestigious “Global Training & Development Leadership Award” from CHRO Asia at the 25th World HRD Congress, which holds a special place in my heart. I have received hearty testimonials from over a hundred pleased students who have attended my program, and they can testify to its effectiveness. I also continue to hold free webinars on my YouTube channel where I invite other experts of project, program and portfolio management. Truly, words cannot describe how glad I am to know that I have impacted the lives of so many people despite hailing from a humble background.

Giving back

YiPEE Yoga

YiPEE Yoga

Staying true to my core beliefs, I have not lost touch with my roots. I am still an avid yoga practitioner, and in 2012, I had founded YiPEE (Yoga in Park for Extreme Energy) Yoga, which is a volunteer endeavour that aims to give back to society by raising awareness about the health benefits of yoga. Personally, yoga has played a pivotal role in my life as a coping and healing mechanism. As I had previously mentioned, I was born with clubfoot, and yoga had helped me overcome my physical limitations, so I knew that I had to spread awareness about its potential to help others who may be in a similar position. I had been holding free yoga sessions for over 60 people every Saturday morning at Liberty Grove (Sydney, AU), and everyone was welcome to be part of it. Now I intend to restart the same here in Cupertino, California once the COVID-19 crisis comes to a closure. In disciplining my body and mind, I keep every Saturday as a day for rigorous fasting, with neither intake of food nor water. I am continuously doing this since 2005. As a firm believer in spirituality and karma, I never miss an opportunity to learn more about these subjects from those who are more enlightened, and I strive to remain the ever-conscientious learner.

Reflecting back

If I were to narrate my illustrious career to my younger self, I would have scarce believed that I would transcend my humble beginnings and go on to trot the globe as a trainer and educator for so many professionals. This, more than anything else, stands as a testament to the potency of human willpower. I was, but an ordinary Indian kid with an extraordinary dream and I had managed to go from rural India to a global citizen. So, believe me when I tell you that everyone is capable of rising above their circumstances to an unfathomable extent, provided they possess the pragmatism, insight and perseverance to do so. If you take this to heart and believe in your capabilities, you can be rest assured that others will follow suit.

Note: In a mood of celebration I have decided to discount all my following online PgMP®/PfMP®/E-Learning programs purchased between June 20, 2020, to July 20, 2020, by a further 100$. Use the discount coupon code “DHARAM50” to avail this discount.

Online PgMP® Mentoring Programs – http://bit.ly/2oBKQXQ

Online PfMP® Mentoring Programs – http://bit.ly/39jOZSf

E-Learning Programs – http://bit.ly/3b2HOid

DHARAM50

DHARAM50

For any related queries, book an obligation free 15 minutes with me by visiting http://bit.ly/2SbhTOK or drop an e-mail to dharam@vcareprojectmanagement.com.