Embrace the Chaos

How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living

Bob Miglani (Author)

Publication date: 09/09/2013

Embrace the Chaos

Like many of us, Bob Miglani felt overwhelmed and anxious. He worried constantly about his job, his finances, and his family's future. It was a chance invitation to India, the land of his birth, that finally freed him.

  • Shows readers how they can find more joy and fulfillment amidst the chaos and confusion of modern life.
  • Illustrated with funny and moving stories of the author's experiences in India
  • Based on Bob Miglani's popular Embrace the Chaos blog and Facebook page (over 30,000 followers)

Like many of us, Bob Miglani felt overwhelmed and anxious. He worried constantly about his job, his finances, and his family's future. Life seemed so uncertain and unpredictable, but the more he tried to control it, the more stress he felt. It was a chance invitation to India, the land of his birth, that finally freed him.

India, Miglani writes, is "the capital of chaos": over a billion people living on one-third the space of the United States, a bewildering mix of different languages, religions, customs, cultures, and castes. And yet somehow things get done and people are generally happy. India made Miglani realize that you simply have to accept "the unpredictable, uncertain, imperfect, and complicated nature of life." Instead of fighting it, Miglani learned to use his energy on what he could control-his own actions, words, and thoughts. However, thinking too much is just another way of trying to control the chaos. Instead of endlessly pondering possibilities, Miglani found it was better to take action, even imperfectly-to move forward, make mistakes, trust his intuition, find his purpose.

Throughout the book, Miglani tells funny and moving stories of his trips to India, the people he met there, and what each encounter taught him. What happens when you find yourself in an Indian village with no money and a plane to catch? How can an educated urban woman choose the man she is going to marry based on one or two meetings? What keeps a rural Indian health worker motivated despite the enormous need and such limited ability to help? What does trying to catch an insanely overcrowded Indian bus teach you about perfection?

Embracing the chaos, Miglani writes, "is a wonderfully freeing experience that opens us up to new, fresh possibilities. It leads us down paths we never would have walked on, introducing us to new people, new opportunities, and some of the best experiences in our life. It brings out strengths we never knew existed inside of us."

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

Like many of us, Bob Miglani felt overwhelmed and anxious. He worried constantly about his job, his finances, and his family's future. It was a chance invitation to India, the land of his birth, that finally freed him.

  • Shows readers how they can find more joy and fulfillment amidst the chaos and confusion of modern life.
  • Illustrated with funny and moving stories of the author's experiences in India
  • Based on Bob Miglani's popular Embrace the Chaos blog and Facebook page (over 30,000 followers)

Like many of us, Bob Miglani felt overwhelmed and anxious. He worried constantly about his job, his finances, and his family's future. Life seemed so uncertain and unpredictable, but the more he tried to control it, the more stress he felt. It was a chance invitation to India, the land of his birth, that finally freed him.

India, Miglani writes, is "the capital of chaos": over a billion people living on one-third the space of the United States, a bewildering mix of different languages, religions, customs, cultures, and castes. And yet somehow things get done and people are generally happy. India made Miglani realize that you simply have to accept "the unpredictable, uncertain, imperfect, and complicated nature of life." Instead of fighting it, Miglani learned to use his energy on what he could control-his own actions, words, and thoughts. However, thinking too much is just another way of trying to control the chaos. Instead of endlessly pondering possibilities, Miglani found it was better to take action, even imperfectly-to move forward, make mistakes, trust his intuition, find his purpose.

Throughout the book, Miglani tells funny and moving stories of his trips to India, the people he met there, and what each encounter taught him. What happens when you find yourself in an Indian village with no money and a plane to catch? How can an educated urban woman choose the man she is going to marry based on one or two meetings? What keeps a rural Indian health worker motivated despite the enormous need and such limited ability to help? What does trying to catch an insanely overcrowded Indian bus teach you about perfection?

Embracing the chaos, Miglani writes, "is a wonderfully freeing experience that opens us up to new, fresh possibilities. It leads us down paths we never would have walked on, introducing us to new people, new opportunities, and some of the best experiences in our life. It brings out strengths we never knew existed inside of us."

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Bob Miglani

At the age of nine, Bob Miglani moved to the United States from India with his family, who had nothing more than $75 and a desire to pursue the American dream. Growing up, he delivered newspapers, mowed lawns, and helped run the family Dairy Queen business, where he learned the value of hard work, doing the right thing, and serving customers with a smile.

Bob carried those values with him into his professional career in corporate America, where he has been working for twenty years as an accomplished executive with a Fortune 50 company in New York City. Whether as a top-performing sales rep or while creating new and innovative strategic functions for the company, Bob's work has taken him to more than thirty countries around the world. Bob is the author of Treat Your Customers: Thirty Lessons on Service and Sales that I Learned at My Family's Dairy Queen Store, which is about doing the small things that make a big difference in creating a vibrant, customer-focused business. Bob helped his wife, an optometrist, open her new practice in the midst of the world financial crisis in early 2009, while also trying to manage the chaos of life with two young children.

As an active speaker and a volunteer with the Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life Program, hosted each year in Dublin, Ireland, Bob helps to motivate high school students and young adults to pursue innovative careers and life possibilities in a new, global world where anything is possible. Bob is a board member of a prominent U.S.–India trade group and often provides advice and guidance to U.S. businesspeople who wish to do business in India. Bob is also an angel investor in a handful of technology startups in India, where he acts as a thought coach, mentor, and friend to the founders.

On occasion, Bob is known to take a handful of friends and like-minded souls searching for a fresh perspective on a fun and reflective personal seven-to ten-day life tour of India, inviting people to experience their own Embrace the Chaos journey.

For more inspiration, advice and self-assessment tools, Bob invites you to follow his personal blog, embracethechaos .com, where he discusses all that he is learning about life and work in chaos. He also invites you to join the conversation on his Facebook page (facebook.com/bobmiglani) or to reach out to him by e-mail, at [email protected]

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Table of Contents

FOREWORD

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION: You Have Less Control than You Think. Get Over It!

Part 1: Accept

ONE: Driving on Indian Roads

You cannot control the chaos. You can control you.

TWO: Searching for God at Five Thousand Feet

Let go of plans gone wrong. Things have a way of working out in the end.

THREE: Two Guys Holding Hands

You are never alone.

Part 2: Don't Overthink

FOUR: How to Choose a Spouse in an Hour

You can adapt to anything-you just don't know it yet.

FIVE: Celebrating a Birthday with Nothing but a Bollywood Song

You already have the important things in life.

SIX: Missing the Dance at an Indian Wedding

Worrying about what's coming next will make you miss the best times of your life.

SEVEN: Learning to Meditate amid Chaos

Daily rituals serve to remind us to start participating in life.

Part 3: Move Forward

EIGHT: Hitchhiking to Work in Mumbai

Focusing on your own actions moves you through the distractions.

NINE: Learning to Catch the Bus

Waiting for perfection will get you nowhere.

TEN: She's Waiting for Me Tomorrow

Serving a purpose or a person helps to pull you forward.

ELEVEN: Learning to Embrace the Chaos at the Kitchen Table

You're not going to get there in a straight line.

TWELVE: Meeting the Guru

You can answer all your own questions.

EPILOGUE: The Butterfly Effect

Embrace the Chaos Manifesto

Acknowledgments

Index

About the Author

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Excerpt

Embrace the Chaos

CHAPTER 1

DRIVING ON INDIAN ROADS

You cannot control the chaos.
You can control you.

Every day we hear about and see uncertainty in everything. We think about all the things we could be doing differently in our lives but we hold back because there are so many paths in front of us and they have no predictable and appealing outcomes. We consider going in one direction but then our minds start overanalyzing and overthinking all the possible problems we may encounter. “Yes, but . . .” starts coming out of our mouths almost immediately, restraining our hearts, which want to go forward. Our minds accentuate the negatives without any effort. We get so overwhelmed with all the chaos that lies in front of us that we find ourselves standing still, unable to move forward.

In a word, everything seems to be out of control.

But is that such a bad thing? We can’t control other people or how they think or what they’ll do. We can’t predict what’s going to happen with the economy or our jobs. Why create stress for ourselves by worrying about something that might or might not happen? Stop trying to control it. This incessant need to be in control is just a way to stand in the middle of the road while life passes us by.

In a very real sense, this book began during a taxi ride on an Indian road, where I realized how little control we have—and how little that should concern us. Participating in life, despite the chaos that lies ahead in all paths, is our choice and ours alone, and it can be as simple as driving forward in any direction, whatever may come. Because eventually, despite a cow or two blocking the road (as is commonplace throughout India), we will get there just fine.

image

During my friend Ben’s first visit to India, he joined a small delegation of U.S. businesspeople who were interested in learning about the country and doing business there. An entrepreneur at heart, Ben was excited to learn about how this booming emerging economy of a billion people worked. Because I’m the only Indian American guy he knows, and because I also serve on the board of the United States–India trade group that was taking him on this trip, Ben asked me to join him as his quasilocal guide for a few days. He wanted a friend to guide him so that he wouldn’t look like a typical foreigner.

I could sense his trepidation as he and a couple of others gathered around our car, ready to confront a road full of chaos that lay ahead of us in Ahmedabad, a city of roughly six million people. Navigating the city’s roads with a local driver was Ben’s first experience with uncertainty and shock since he had landed in India. There were no markings on the street and not many traffic lights—and no one paid any attention to the traffic signals anyway. The road was brimming with bicycles, carefree pedestrians, motorcycles, scooters, small trucks, rickshaws, three-wheelers (scooters that serve as small taxicabs), and the occasional cow or buffalo. These were our road companions as our driver weaved through the mess to our destination.

I was worried about making the meetings on time and was anxious because I wasn’t sure who was going to show up. I didn’t want our trade group to look bad and I felt like I had a lot riding on my shoulders. After all, this was “my” country, which I was trying to show off to Ben and others.

Just then, our car encountered a cow that wouldn’t move out of the way, so our driver backed up on a one-way street and found another road. Because, well, that’s what you do in India. Relieved that we were progressing toward our destination, I looked back to see the puzzled and amusing reaction of the passengers in the backseat.

The driver was a local, and although he wasn’t too knowledgeable about all the roads, he sure knew how to handle moving the car in and out of traffic. I was in front, next to the taxi driver, who sits on the right, and at one point I noticed in the side mirror a motorcycle approaching fast, trying to pass us on our left. Up ahead, also on the left, was a huge tree, and because the Indian custom is to not tear down sacred trees and/or any possible signs of God and so on, the road just sort of went around the right side of the tree.

Our driver started speeding up. This meant that the motorcycle behind and to the left of us was surely going to head right into the tree.

Now, I have built up some immunity over the years of travel in India, but seeing this motorcycle trying to speed up to pass on our left scared me. I thought surely the motorcycle guy was doomed.

I held on tight as we approached the tree. Our car veered slightly to the right and we passed the tree with no problem. I quickly looked behind, expecting the motorcycle to have crashed into the tree. Nothing doing. The motorcycle had simply slowed down and also passed the tree on the right—right behind us.

I looked back at the audience in the rear seat. They had been white before, but they were even whiter now, having lost some color in their faces.

Relieved and somewhat impressed with my new best friend—the driver—I asked in my broken Hindi, “Wasn’t that a little close?”

“Not really. What do you mean, sir?” he answered.

I was surprised. “I mean, come on. Didn’t you think that guy was going to hit the tree? Weren’t you concerned that by speeding up you were risking his chance of getting hurt?”

His answer resonated and has stayed with me. He said, “Sir, in this crazy road, which is my daily life, I have learned that I cannot count on anyone else or anything else to be predictable. Because each road has a surprise. Either a cow comes out of nowhere, another car races to pass, a child’s ball enters the road, a scooter or a rickshaw comes out of nowhere, with a total surprise. The only thing I can do is be prepared and think of only my car and the passengers in my car. So the person driving next to me has to take precaution as he needs to, and I should do the same for myself and my passengers only. I can only control my own driving.”

Being a passenger in that car made me realize that he was absolutely right. We don’t control what we encounter on the road. We only control how we steer our way forward.

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Endorsements

“In this noisy, fast-paced world, it is hard not to get swept away by the demands, anxieties, and challenges that daily come down upon us. Embrace the Chaos shows us that only by opening our minds and our hearts to life's wonderful unpredictability can we truly live. It is a wise and welcome book.”
—Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break all the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths

“Bob has offered an insightful and thought-provoking guide to navigating times of profound change.”
—Ian Read, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer Inc.

“In a world where change, uncertainty, and continual reinvention have become the new norm, Bob Miglani takes us on a powerful and optimistic journey of quite literally embracing the chaos and organically transforming the future from threat into opportunity and optimism. Read
Embrace the Chaos and believe it.”
—Henry S. Lodge, coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Younger Next Year and Younger Next Year for Women

“Over 2,500 years ago, the Buddha taught his followers about the impermanent nature of existence...explaining how everything is constantly changing, ever flowing, eternally in flux. But our Western minds crave stability, certainty, predictability, and control. ‘Give it up,' Bob Miglani tells us in his new book. ‘Your longing for control is futile. The truth of reality is chaos. Learn to go with the flow. Relax—and dance with the chaos.' The Buddha would agree. Therein lies freedom and happiness.”
—BJ Gallagher, coauthor of Being Buddha at Work

“If we are going to continue to thrive in these times of profound change, we must learn how to embrace the chaos. This is a most compelling book that offers men and women everywhere hope, inspiration, and courage.”
—Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State

“We all can benefit from Bob's experience in learning to embrace the chaos of our modern life. This book is enormously helpful to me in navigating the everyday challenges of being a husband, father, and NFL official.”
—Carl Johnson, the NFL's first full-time on-field game official

“Whether we're trying to transform education or change our own lives, it's about embracing chaos. Bob's wonderful book helps show us how to move purposefully and happily through the complex nature of work and life.”
—John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review, 2U, and Noodle

“Embrace this book! Bob articulates so perfectly the feelings we all have of uncertainty in life. His fascinating stories and unique observations offer a positive-thinking picture of what we need to get unstuck and move forward successfully.”
—Lynda Bekore, Managing Editor, SmallBizClub.com, and Huffington Post blogger

“‘Embrace the chaos' is not just a mantra for management—it's a mantra for life. We can all learn from and enjoy this simple but beautifully written book. It is, without question, worth the read.”
—John J. Connolly, EdD, President and CEO, Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., and former President, New York Medical College

“With a jolt, Bob's writing forces us to rethink our lives and transform ourselves—to step back from the daily roller coaster of life, savor every passing minute with a free spirit, and discover unlimited potential in ourselves! An easy-to-read manual of life!”
—Deepak Ahuja, CFO, Tesla Motors

“If you feel your life is running you rather than you running your life, this book will show you how to achieve peace, order, and calmness in the middle of the storm.”
—Brian Tracy, coauthor of Kiss That Frog!

“Embrace the Chaos is a wonderful book that comes at the right time, offering us hope, inspiration, and the courage to keep moving forward.”
—Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

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