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Showing posts from June, 2010

Performance Excellence and the Flow State

Let me begin with a story from the Tales of Vikramaditya. The story is about Urvashi.

What does Urvashi have to do with performance excellence and the flow, you might ask. Isn’t she an apsara, a heavenly dancer, or more correctly, a heavenly courtesan? Isn’t her job, according to mythology, titillating male hearts and tempting ascetics with her charms?

The tales of Dattatreya that India has been telling and retelling for ages teach us that wisdom could be found anywhere. One could learn wisdom from a fish, from a crane, from a leaping tiger or from the stillness of a mountain. One could learn lessons from a heavenly courtesan, or her poorest cousin, a street whore too. In fact, Indian culture teaches us several invaluable lessons through tales of prostitutes.

In one of the stories told about her in the Tales of Vikramaditya, Urvashi teaches us the highest lesson in performance excellence.

The story tells us that once there was rivalry between the two best celestial dancers Urvashi and …

Human Mind and the Power to Will

"If I had my life to live over again, I would devote it to Psychic Research." – Sigmund Freud

Recently, during one of my lectures on the powers of the mind in a business school, someone from the audience, a young man from Denmark, asked me: “What are the limits of the powers of the mind?” I took a moment before answering and then said, “None.” And then, to support my statement, I quoted the Yoga Vasishtha, that voluminous Indian classic on the human mind, believed to be written by the sage-poet Valmiki in an era when much of the world was not yet civilized.

Indeed, there are no limits to the powers of the mind.

My lecture was more specifically focused on the power of belief and how belief alters our biology itself. Speaking of the power of the mind to alter biology, Dr Herbert Benson, MD, for instance, quotes in his celebrated book Timeless Healing Dr Stewart Wolf’s 1950 study of women who experienced persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

“These patients,” says Dr…