Monday Sep 24, 2007

To avoid being disillusioned ..

.. stop having illusions.

How often have each of us been disillusioned with at least some of the people around us, the ones we interact with ? Hindsight, they say is 100% right; in hindsight, some or many of our disillusionment experiences may have stemmed from our own illusions and false or unrealistic expectations we've harbored about the way people ought to act, react and interact upon, to and with us.

In this context, it seems apt to remember the statement, "To avoid disillusionment with human nature, we must first give up our illusions about it."

As Abraham Maslow put it, "There are no perfect human beings! Persons can be found who are good, very good indeed, and even great. There do in fact exist creators, seers, sages, saints, shakers, and movers... even if they are uncommon and do not come by the dozen. And yet these very same people can at times be boring, irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed..."

Is'nt it then, about time we adjusted our systems to be tuned into reality than try and lead a futile existence in an utopian mirage ! I'll sign-off this post with a passage by Dr. Kent Keith which is also referred to as the "Paradoxical Commandments" ...

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind.
Think big anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack if you help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

Saturday Sep 15, 2007


The importance & effect of Attitude on a person's life, can never be emphasized enough. Attitudes are often-times called as mirrors of the mind. Accomplishment, as Prof. Erwin Schell put it, is not solely determined by competence & facilities, but instead requires the vital catalyst ... i.e. Attitude.

Well, why am I talking about Attitude ? This is a topic about which several tomes have been written about, umpteen lectures made and papers published ... yet one thing that's missing is ... the realization of its importance has not permeated to every section of our society.

A case-in-point was a recent conversation I had with an auto-rickshaw driver on the streets of Bangalore city.

This is how the journey (er.. conversation) went ... few days ago, whilst waiting for a ride - i flagged down an empty auto-rickshaw which was making its presence felt all over town, the reason being, the driver was "playing" some movie songs at full volume on speakers that i must say croaked at full blast rather than played the music ... I could hardly discern the lyrics of the song and all i could hear was pure unadulterated noise at decibel levels i felt were sufficient to drown out the sounds from a dozen airplanes taking off simultaneously! ...

Anyways, I hopped onto the auto (short for auto-rickshaw) and screamed my destination to the driver .. who simply nodded in agreement ... and off we went snaking through the trraffic- the start of a memorable ride ! oh btw, i did get quite a few stares a.k.a. dirty looks from other folks on the road ... who seemed not too impressed with the assault on their ear-drums already under considerable duress owing to the incessant honking of & noises from a zillion other automobiles on the choked streets of the city ... 

Impervious to the stares from others outside the auto, i decided to try some small talk with the driver in the hope that i could get him to turn off the "music" which at the time seemed like something that unrepentant criminals would be subject to, to make them spill the beans. All my efforts at getting the driver to talk seemed futile ... i guess i've had more success during my 1:1 conversations with my team members at office.

As we waded through the traffic, i was giving some serious thought to buying a pair of noise-cancellation headphones, which until then seemed pretty pointless to me. Well, i did not have to worry about having to endure the "musical" torture for long ... our auto was overtaken by an SUV (really neat looking BMW X3) at which point, the music ceased abruptly (wow ! miracles do happen !) and little did i realize that i was about to listen to some choice expletives that would shame the pants off of most people ... i saw this as an opportunity to start talking and boy was the driver eager to talk!... he gave me an earful (actually several earfuls would be more appropriate) on how folks "become rich" and "acquire" their "ill-gotten gains" by "swindling the government", the "poor hard-working workers", etc, etc.

The flow of words continued unabated for a while, providing me a fair insight into the driver's "thought processes" and "attitudinal make-up" .... realizing that he did not want any advice, all i did was give him a patient hearing (yes, not exactly the best thoughts to fill the mind! ) and murmur a few words that seemed appropriate for the situation ... after a while the verbal diarrhoea stopped for a few moments (guess he was trying to catch his breath) which afforded me a fairly good chance to sneak in a few words (sentences) side-ways and try to see if there was any "scope for change" during the short period of our journey together ...

All hopes were dashed, when he continued his tirade and bolstered his arguments based on information he had supposedly gathered from a television series! that focussed on tax-evasion and other such illegal activities by a handful of "rich" people ... this juicy information coupled with his present circumstances, provided adequate fodder & fuel for his cannons to go blazing at the slightest "provocation". At the end of the journey, i must admit i did have some interesting perspectives as well as a little re-affirmation of the role of Attitude.

Without adopting an holier than thou stance, all i can say is repeat the oft-repeated cliche .. Attitude does help determine Altitude ! and as David J. Schwartz says in his book The Magic of Thinking BIG, "How you think determines how you act. How you act in turn determines: How others react to you". Generous doses of (Positive) - Thinking + Attitude can take us a long way ... up !

I must say, i'm truly motivated to pen a few more thoughts on this subject ... will reserve those for upcoming posts !

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Monday Sep 03, 2007

REMEMBER, You are unique ... just like everyone else !

Giving it some thought made me realize the paradoxically true nature of the title of this post ... while on the one hand we are each one of us "unique", on the other hand everyone around is also "unique" ... it no longer seems to be such an exclusive club after all !

So, whats the big deal about being unique, would'nt it be easier to simply imitate someone else ... a role model perhaps ? Ralph Waldo Emerson has a few interesting words to say about this ..."Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession...  Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."

If you still doubt your uniquely "unique" status and if the "unique" you can really hope to achieve anything or make a difference, then you need to hear what Edward Hale's said ..."I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do."

Until the next post, mull upon this ... "Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is... impossible."

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Friday Aug 31, 2007

The enemy of "Great" is "Good" ...

OK, I borrowed that title from Jim Collin's book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't.

I think the fundamental principle of greatness tends to apply to people as much as it does to large groups of people a.k.a. organizations. Its so very easy to see the truth in the statement that "good" and "good enough" is the enemy to being "great".

Jim Collins goes on to state that ... "We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, precisely because it is easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great precisely because they become quite good. - and that is their main problem."

Ditto for most people, especially in companies, to reach the point of being good and then like the proverbial hare (in the race with the tortoise) to take a break and instead of proceeding further on, decide to stay with the status-quo within their comfort zone.

I tend to agree with this quote by Jack Kerouac, who raises a toast to ... "(Here's to ) the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Truly, the ones who are not satisfied with just being part of the clockwork and who chose to be in a constant pursuit of perfection and betterment are the ones we can count upon to take us forward (and upward).

Before signing off this post, let me throw in a very apt quote from Woodrow Wilson which tends to hit the nail squarely on the heads of those denizens of the corporate world, who are content with their daily endeavor to make a living  ... "You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."

Lets go make a difference in whatever we are called to do. And, remember, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success."

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Saturday Aug 25, 2007

Thoughts ...

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle.
The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours."
-- Ayn Rand

Do not settle for the "good enough"; its neither !

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John Morrison


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