Jai Prakash Dwivedi, CIO, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, on leading a healthy lifestyle.
A technocrat with over 27 years of experience, Jai Prakash Dwivedi has worked in various verticals, including finance, investment banking, HR, hospitality, retail, telecom, railways, and healthcare. During this time he’s realised that leader’s need to strike a fine balance between their professional and personal lives if they wish to succeed. “A CIO heads the central nervous system of the organisation,” says Jai. “He’s responsible for bringing all systems onboard and for finding lasting solutions to problems. He’s expected to deliver results quickly and efficiently.” This constant demand and pressure is bound to take a toll. So here are some habits Jai suggests for a healthier, more balanced life.
1. Daily meditation
“I meditate for 30 minutes first thing in the morning and at night before going to bed. Meditation is a great way to unwind and get rid of stress. If there have been unpleasant conversations/incidents during the day irritation is bound to set in. Meditation cleanses you of these negative emotions. You sit in a relaxed posture giving a self suggestion that they pass through your backbone in the form of smoke or vapour. And when they’re gone there’s this feeling of emptiness, a feeling of relaxation. Your mind is now free of negativities, complexities and impurities. You feel light, and therefore sleep well. This method is prescribed under Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga.
“When you meditate in the morning you’re preparing your mind for the day ahead. It helps in building concentration. It helps you start your day with a clean slate, so that the negative emotions of the earlier day don’t linger on. There’s clarity of thought so you won’t be tempted to make childish, emotional decisions during the day. Rather they will be well thought out. This is important as this sets a positive pattern. People will respect you for being consistent in your demeanour, decisions and actions. It also brings coherence between body, mind and soul. If you do meditation properly, you will say what you think and you will think what you say. And beyond that, you will think what you feel and you will feel what you think. So thinking, feeling and acting all come together in harmony.”
2. Do some physical activity
“You must do at least some type of physical activity in a day. It doesn’t have to be a physically strenuous exercise, even a brisk walk will do. Getting outdoors and exerting a bit is good for your body and mind. I’m not a sportsperson, so I make up for it by going for a daily walk with my wife. We make it a point to go at least five days in a week, and spend a good 45 minutes walking in the park. This is an important part of the daily routine.”
3. Vacation somewhere that brings you joy
“Once a year I make it a point to go on a vacation for two-three weeks. It’s a much needed break. I love nature. So when vacationing in India we usually go to the mountains as I’m really drawn to them. I feel a deep sense of relaxation when I’m there; it’s a feeling that’s a little short of ecstasy. While there I’m constantly in awe of the beauty around me. The mountains are breathtaking and I could look at them for hours. These yearly vacations bring a sense of peace and harmony, and they’re very important to me.”
4. Carve out time for the big picture
“I have a six-day work week, so there’s always a lot to get done. Forty per cent of my time goes in having conversations with my team, helping them solve their problems, etc. Another 30 per cent goes in dealing with vendors, service providers, etc. The remaining 30 per cent is precious to me. Because that’s when I’m alone with my thoughts and can strategise and think of the larger picture. As a leader you need to see whether all departments are benefiting from IT, if there are any gaps to be filled, any areas you’ve missed that can be brought into the fold. So this alone time is crucial for success. If you don’t carve out this time for yourself, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed.”
5. Step away from your desk at work
“I never sit at my desk for more than 90 minutes at a stretch. I always get up, walk to a colleague’s desk to discuss something or sit with my team. I also go for walks in the office. If there’s a one-on-one meeting with someone, I usually have the meeting while walking in the office corridors. Sitting at your desk all day is harmful for your posture and health. You need to provide relief to those stiff muscles. So stretch, walk, move your body.”
6. Have a routine
“My days and weekends have a routine, and that helps me better manage my time and make the most of it. I make it a point to go sleep by 11 pm, so that when I wake I have enough time to do yoga. When I return from work I go for a walk with my wife and we make it a point to meditate before sleeping. Since I work six days a week, my Sunday’s are very precious. The day starts with a group meditation, which really eases the stress from the work week. Then I spend time with my wife alternating between shopping or watching a movie. At times we spend time with friends either visiting them or inviting them to our home. These meetings are generally planned two to three weeks in advance. A routine is important because it provides balance and stability in a world where everything is in flux.”