This hummingbird changed our life

2 years ago, we quit, relocated across the country to a tiny ocean side town…that we randomly (ish) picked on the map. That was the easy part.

Turns out that the romantic notions of life still need work…a lot of work.

Naive and starry eyed, we hoped for epic adventures, fulfilling work connected to our purpose, treasured moments with family… but here’s what actually happened.

Why is leisure sooo hard?

Leisure wasn’t hard. Decluttering our minds and being present was.

We were in a weird headspace. We had just left our jobs, with the elusive promise of doing nothing. We soon found out that doing nothing is more difficult than it sounds. Our corporate marathoning brains hadn’t ever learnt to slow down or find peace in leisure.

We had walked a long way just to be able to stand still. But the weird restlessness, the desperate desire to ‘add value’ and contribute to building something, the constant urge to refresh the inbox, the sense of loss from missing our teams, took us by surprise.

And then this happened.

Rediscovering leisure… joy…and peace

I walk into the living room, to find my husband on the deck scowling, hands on his hips, ready for a fight. We live in a quiet town with barely any people. He is not prone to aggression. I tilt my head to look at his adversary, a worthy adversary by the looks of it!

My husband is in a face off …with a hummingbird!

It was a rufous hummingbird – barely a few feet away, puffing its chest to look bigger, hovering in the air, diving. It is particularly upset because my husband is standing close enough to the feeder, so it can’t attack the Anna’s hummingbird that is there feeding. How did we get here?! Well, this rufous is a bully and it has been chasing away all the other hummingbirds from our feeder. My husband was trying to teach it a lesson. I tell him that I’ve read every possible article online, and that this is not how it works. He ignores me and continues the stand off. I have had to eat my words since. The rufous sulked for an entire day, glaring at us from its perch …and then suddenly, it started sharing!

This tiny little bird has the courage of a lion, the flamboyance of a firework, the personality of a maverick, and the aerial acrobatics that’s inspired most Marvel superheroes!

How can something so small, go through the world with such swagger?

The humming bird has no imposter syndrome, no self doubt, no fear…just innate confidence.

From grumbling incessantly if we dared to sit too close to their feeder, to hovering near our window, practically tapping on it to demand a refill, their antics filled our days with wonder.

Being enveloped by nature is so nurturing and healing. We took a deep breath… and became present.

Rediscovering meaningful work connected to our purpose

We invited people from different walks of life to talk to us, about their day at work – a time when they felt on top of the world, felt a sense of achievement, felt fulfilled… and a time that was soul crushing.

They shared intensely personal stories, their motivations, their triumphs and tragedies, their gut wrenching strife and struggles and their heartwarming stories of winning against odds, changing the world for the better. They also talked about their leaders – the ones who helped them thrive, and the ones who didn’t.

The insights from these Listening Labs, solidified

Our Purpose – to make work more meaningful, workplaces more human, and the world more equal.

As we immersed ourselves in building human centered solutions, we felt the excitement of newbies at their first job, the joy of discovery, the frustration at hitting dead ends, and the overwhelming fulfillment at cracking the code and finally building solutions that would make a real difference.

We are thrilled to share that our company, JUST HUMAN, is pioneering the Human Value Proposition.

We are a growth accelerator for our clients, helping your people and business thrive through human centered, ecosystem based people solutions.

Over the next 6 weeks, we will share some great stories and content on 6 key capabilities – culture transformation, enabling strategy, org design and agility, leadership development, team effectiveness and designing for equity and inclusion. If you know us, you know our take on these will be unique! Stay tuned!

Here are just 3 of the interesting things we’ve done (you’ll find a whole lot more at !)

Published The Human Future of Work Report, focused on how to build inspired teams in this new world of work (and created the human centered solutions that enable it)
Built our Mindful Leadership solution (workshops, coaching) with a goal to humanize leadership. Mindful Leadership is about connecting who we are, to how we lead. And translating that into everyday actions, making it a habit.
Launched our Mindful Leadership Podcast to showcase stories of leaders who do just that. Deep and raw conversations like this are so rare on podcasts. It is front row seat to a leader’s journey – the good, bad, and the jaw dropping.

There is also some pretty cool stuff in the works, scheduled for launch in Q3/Q4. Stay tuned!

It is not all roses though. We learnt a lot of hard lessons, faced some inexplicably bizarre behavior from some, got ghosted a lot, heard a lot of polite nos, struggled with people’s reluctance to try anything new, and the defensive “we already do this” (nope, they don’t!).

We also realized that there are things we miss terribly about being part of an organization.

  • We desperately miss driving the complete business strategy as a leadership team member and the end to end ownership, from idea to execution to adoption, that goes with it.
  • We desperately miss our talented, diverse, global teams, and helping them thrive, and rejoicing in their success.

Rediscovering wonder in wanderingYour Attractive Heading

We love wandering, chancing upon hidden gems that are not on the tourist map, exploring beyond the obvious, learning more about the people who live there, discovering the odd and the eclectic, along the way. 25,000 miles on the road and still counting…

wander in wandering
Wander in Wandering

Rebuilding connections with family

We’ve lived away from family, in different cities and countries, for more than a couple of decades. It is never easy, and it takes a toll. We told ourselves that we could hop on a flight and be there for them, whenever they needed us. But, as the pandemic spread, lockdowns came into effect and borders were closed.

For the first time ever, our deepest fears of not being there for them, came true. It impacted us deeply.

Since then, between all the visits, occasions, and travel, this is the most amount of quality time we have ever spent with them. We went from being short on time and patience, to being truly present, rejoicing in and making lifelong memories.

Restarting our health journey…again

We have had a roller coaster relationship with weight, all our lives. As we hit our 40s, every part of our body is a little more stubborn than it used to be. And is uncannily motivated to seek couch shaped furniture to be glued to.

As we huff and puff behind octogenarians jogging sprightly by, they smile wryly at us, perhaps ruing the folly of youth. Our refrigerator stuffed with meals of a leafy kind, bears witness to our struggles.

Our weighing scale, unfortunately, continues to be unimpressed.

What we learnt in this 2 year roller coaster journey

Recently, a friend was surprised to see us go out on the deck to watch the sunset. Wonderstruck he asked “do you really watch every sunset?”. I jokingly said, “we try”. He said, “You are just so present and grounded. It is remarkable!”. It meant a lot.

As we reflect on the roller coaster journey over the last 2 years, here are our top 10 learnings :

  1. Make a life, not just a living. Easier said than done, but totally worth it.
  2. Investing in ourselves is the best investment we can make
  3. We are way too hard on ourselves. Let’s be kind and give ourselves some grace.
  4. Finding meaningful work connected to our purpose, fills our heart …and our soul.
  5. Actively seeking out people who are different, doing different things differently, opens up our mind … and our hearts
  6. It is much easier to talk euphorically about being present…than it is to be present
  7. It is much easier to rehash platitudes about inner peace …than it is to find even a few moments of it.
  8. Nature nurtures. Nature heals. No wonder doctors from California to Canada to Scotland are writing prescriptions for it!
  9. If we are passionate about our work, a weekend here, a short vacation there, is nowhere close to enough to unplug and decompress.
  10. Get to know who you are, when you are not in such a hurry…

We feel lucky to have had the privilege to work from home during the pandemic, and to make this drastic life choice. And … we are better humans, better leaders, and better business builders’ because of it.

But, a fulfilling life has to be achievable for everyone.

Organizations of the future have to treat people as complete human beings. ‘Talent development’ has to transform to ‘human development’. It is no longer just about work related skills and capabilities, but rather about creating the space and support for people to lead fulfilling lives, find their purpose, and do more of what they love.

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