Monday Apr 07, 2008

Decision making !

While recently reading up an interview with executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, i was attracted to these words which on the face of it was pretty obvious all along ... "Every decision is made by the person who has the power to make it. Not the smartest person, not the prettiest or the best, but the one who has the power."

It does'nt take long to realize the truth in the above statement. Ultimately the one making the final decision is the one with the power to make it. Is there anything at all that you can do to have an outcome that satisfies you; are you totally powerless; frankly, you are not entirely powerless even when you do not have the power to make decisions. You can do one significant thing and that is - Influence.

How do you influence ? Well, how does anyone influence you ... think of advertisements and marketing pitches exhorting you to try and buy a range of products and services ... which brings us to a fact that all of us need to realize and accept viz. we are all sales persons.

Each and everyone of us, wherever we are and whoever we are, is a sales person, period. Accept it or not, you and I are sales persons. If you are an employee at an organization, your time is one of your wares ... think about it.

Getting back to the subject of influencing the decision maker, a way to influence is to sell your ideas. Whilst this may sound simplistic, there are variables that need to be borne in mind while trying to sell viz. appropriateness, big picture, time, etc. Its also obvious that not all your sales pitches would translate into outcomes desired by you. Its very likely that your pitches may be met with some sort of objection(s).

Another obvious fact is, you may not necessarily be the only one trying to sell and influence. What if decisions do not go your way ? Accept that not all sales calls translate to actual sales. You could at times have the door slammed on your face or a competitor could clinch the sale. Analyze, learn from your experience and move ahead. Once a decision is made, accept it and do whatever it takes to make it work. Experience is a great teacher and over time your ability to sell should improve.  

Signing off this post with a quote by Cherie Carter-Scott ...
"Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible."

Saturday Mar 29, 2008

Life and times ...

I realize its been ages since i last posted anything here ... i did travel a bit ... some interesting trips to Wayanad (yes, again! with the super team that i'm part of), Chennai (to attend to a good friend's wedding) and Singapore (generally on a sudden trip!) ... hopefully i can now keep adding more content here in the days ahead.

For this post, i thought i'd write a few words about an interesting experience I had while coming back from Singapore. So, here goes ... Would you ever have imagined that a single stray dog can bring an entire airport to its knees, preventing all international and domestic flights from either landing or taking off ... the airport was virtually closed for couple of hours and incoming flights were diverted to another city ! Well, i'd never have thought such a thing could happen until i had the luck to be part of this event. Here're the details ...

I was aboard a Singapore Airlines flight traveling from Singapore to Bangalore. The flight was due to land in Bangalore Airport at ~ 9:30 - 9:45 PM. Just as we were hovering above the city, the pilot announced that our flight was being diverted to another city (Chennai) due to some problem at the Bangalore Airport. We did not then have much other information on happenings. After having landed in Chennai airport all we could do was stay in the plane and were not allowed to come out of it. Again, i did'nt have much to complain about, as a matter of fact i'm glad i got to go through this experience. I got to know the cabin crew much better, very nice folks working extremely hard to make sure the needs of the passengers were met. Since the plane wasn't too full, many of the passengers chose to occupy multiple adjacent seats and lie down for a nap. Also, none knew when we would reach Bangalore - so sleep seemed to be a good option with nothing much else possible. To me, sleep did'nt seem like the best thing to do especially when I was in such an interesting situation. As the saying goes ... When life gives you lemons ... make lemonade !

Decided to stroll around the plane and doing so, got to sit & chat with some of the cabin crew. We talked about the nature of their work, Indian and Singaporean cultures, etc. and shared some soft drinks and small eats. We were soon joined by a few other interesting passengers. Before we realized it, all of us were talking like old friends, joking, laughing (in the process waking up a few passengers who did'nt seem too amused with the boisterous proceedings) and generally having a great time ! After what seemed like a short while, the captain announced that the Bangalore airport was now open and we would be leaving to Bangalore. I did a quick time check .. it was 2 AM on a bright beautiful new day ... we'd spent nearly four hours on the plane at the Chennai airport ... having a nice time !

We returned to the now crowded Bangalore airport and after landing we had to wait a while to disembark. Finally, got out of the airport by ~ 4 AM. Looking back, it really seemed like a nice ending to a good trip. During that short stop at Chennai, made friends with an industrialist from Indonesia with a good knack for communicating & connecting with people, a friendly and cheerful Equity Researcher from HSBC and an IT professional from Infosys who along with his wife were returning from Hong Kong via Singapore. On hind sight I would'nt have minded a little more delay in returning to Bangalore, especially if I could meet with and connect with a few more such wonderful people !

Oh ! lest I forget, the reason for the delays at the Bangalore airport was - apparently a domestic flight hit a stray dog that wandered onto the run way just when the plane was about to take off.  This resulted in the plane's landing gear getting damaged and the entire airport had to be closed for domestic and international operations until the runway was cleared. Whoever said that every dog has its day, was right. This one's had its day and what a day its been !

Anyways, that to me was an interesting experience, but not an isolated one though ... i've been through similar interesting experiences. The last time i had a similar kind of an experience was during January this year, when I & my colleague Kalyan landed at London's Heathrow airport. At that time a British Airways plane crash landed just minutes before our flight reached there. Fortunately for us, this did not affect our onward journey out of London. We did however hear a lot about it on the news & from fellow passengers.

Anyways, looking forward to more interesting experiences in the days ahead !

Signing off this post with a quote by Alexander Woollcott, "There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day."

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Friday Feb 29, 2008

An interesting "Chat with God"

Its been a while (well, sadly thats how i've been starting my posts these days !) since i posted anything in this area.

Recently came across a message that my colleague, Swetha, sent my way. I found this interesting and thought i'd share it here.


God : Hello. Did you call me?

Me: Called you? No.. Who is this ?

God : This is GOD. I heard your prayers. So I thought I will chat.

Me: I do pray. Just makes me feel good. I am actually busy now. I am in the midst of something.

God : What are you busy at? Ants are busy too.

Me: Don't know. But I can't find free time. Life has become hectic. It's rush hour all the time.

God : Sure. Activity gets you busy. But productivity gets you results. Activity consumes time. Productivity frees it.

Me: I understand. But I still can't figure out. By the way, I was not expecting YOU to buzz me on instant messaging chat.

God : Well I wanted to resolve your! Fight for time, by giving you some clarity. In this net era, I wanted to reach you through the medium you are comfortable with.

Me: Tell me, why has life become complicated now?

God : Stop analyzing life. Just live it. Analysis is what makes it complicated.

Me: why are we then constantly unhappy?

God : Your today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. You are worrying because you are analyzing. Worrying has become your habit. That's why you are not happy.

Me: But how can we not worry when there is so much uncertainty?

God : Uncertainty is inevitable, but worrying is optional.

Me: But then, there is so much pain due to uncertainty. .

God : Pain is inevitable able, but suffering is optional.

Me: If suffering is optional, why do good people always suffer?

God : Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. Good people go through trials, but don't suffer. With that experience their life become better not bitter.

Me: You mean to say such experience is useful?

God : Yes. In every terms, Experience is a hard teacher . She gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.

Me: But still, why should we go through such tests? Why can't we be free from problems?

God : Problems are Purposeful Roadblocks

Me: Frankly in the midst of so many problems, we don't know where we are heading..

God : If you look outside you will not know where you are heading. Look inside. Looking outside, you dream. Looking inside, you awaken. Eyes provide sight. Heart provides insight.

Me: Sometimes not succeeding fast seems to hurt more than moving in the right direction. What should I do?

God : Success is a measure as decided by others. Satisfaction is a measure as decided by you. Knowing the road ahead is more satisfying than knowing you rode ahead. You work with the compass. Let others work with the clock.

Me: In tough times, how do you stay motivated?

God : Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.

Me: What surprises you about people?

God : when they suffer they ask, "why me?" When they prosper, they never ask "Why me" Everyone wishes to have truth on their side, but few want to be on the side of the truth.

Me: Sometimes I ask, who am I, why am I here. I can't get the answer.

God : Seek not to find who you are, but to determine who you want to be. Stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here. Create it. Life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation.

Me: How can I get the best out of life?

God : Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear.

Me: One last question. Sometimes I feel my prayers are not answered.

God : There are no unanswered prayers. At times the answer is NO.

Me: Thank you for this wonderful chat.

God : Well. Keep the faith and drop the fear . Don't believe your doubts and doubt your beliefs. Life is a mystery to solve not a problem to resolve. Trust me. Life is wonderful if you know how to live. " Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that took our breath away! "

Hope you find this message useful !

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Saturday Jan 12, 2008


I recently chanced upon a piece of writing that had tips to Un-wind and De-stress. Would we have need to think of ways to un-wind if we did not get ourselves all wound up in the first place or have the regular need to de-stress, if we did not get so stressed out ? Generally, we do not require much external assistance and are very capable of getting wound up or stressed out, all by ourselves.

Its probably in the nature of our existence, the paths we traverse, the choices we make (or not make) ... is there a way out ? Are we destined to play the role of the proverbial mice that follow the pied piper marching to his tune at his pace, along with the mechanical multitude or do we set our own pace and trace our own paths, based on our realization of our ability to choose ?

I'm sure we all agree that for the most part, our lives are anything but Simple.

Most of us lead, complicated lives. We even tend to subscribe to the view that we are complex beings, with complex thought processes, designed to solve complex problems employing complicated methods; we tend to remain in the relentless pursuit of "more", seeking more of the good, the bad and the ugly. Gimme more, seems to be the common refrain. Have we paused to consider that there could be other options. More need not always be better; Less could be more and at times, better. Any resemblance to an oxymoron here, is intended. Savor this thought in the inner recesses of your mind and allow it to linger around those vast spaces ...

Whilst on the subject of simplicity, here are some thoughts from the world around, which could be useful.

  • Recognize that the primary purpose of work is not money. Its about finding meaning, enabling you to learn, contribute, grow and your well-being.

  • Celebrate the ordinary. You will have many more occasions to rejoice.

  • Be fully present in every situation and give your all to any & every thing you choose to do. Resist the urge to mimic the computer a.k.a. the tendency to use your perceived ability to effectively multi-task by way of trying to do many things all at the same time and not being really focussed on any thing.

  • Develop the habit of patience. Some times it does take a while. Instant gratification is not always possible, feasible nor a good option to hanker after.

  • Know thyself, your limits, what you can & cannot do well. Knowledge can be liberating.

  • While there's a time to work and a time to play, it's not always the case that these two need to be distinct entities. Explore ways to merge both; make work fun, engaging and something to look forward to.

  • Do not take yourself too seriously.

  • Realize that some bit of solitude is actually nourishing. Get alone and by yourself. Savor your own company, you might even get to love knowing and being with your self.

  • Whoever said, Silence is golden, is ... right. The power of silence to enrich your life, needs experiencing. Get away from the noises around you and get in touch with yourself.

  • Take time to be like a child. Indulge, let go & stop worrying about what others will think. Life will seem a lot better, simpler and nicer through the eyes of a child.

  • Do manual work. Use your hands more often to do physical activity. You are never too big to do the seemingly little things.

  • Value non-material possessions too. They are usually cheaper and last way longer than most material possessions.

  • Live a purposeful life. Meaningless existence & mind-numbing activity tend to sap our life forces and energies leaving us in a constant state of boredom and tiredness with little or no incentive to do anything creative or useful.

  • Doing nothing, at times, is a valuable thing. Give yourself little slots of time to do nothing.

  • Avoid pretending to be something you are not. It takes away a lot of burden off your shoulders. Accept your shortcomings and work on improving. A related quote on this would be ... "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

  • And do ask if you really need more ?

Sunday Nov 25, 2007

When split-second responses and quick reflexes are bad

A lot has been written about on this topic and i'm trying to hopefully pique your interest just enough for you to pause and consider this if you have not given it much thought lately !

We all have a lot of choice and its just that we either are not aware of the choice we have or we don't choose to exercise the choice we have, which in itself represents a choice - the choice to not choose, oftentimes made at an unconscious level. As Deepak Chopra says, "You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices."

To clarify the subject of this post - its about highlighting the "choice" each of us has in each of life's circumstances; the fundamental fact remains that - between stimulus and response, there's a gap. How big is the gap ? This would depend on your levels of awareness and consciousness. You can actually change the size of the gap, not in terms of units of time we know of but in a non-linear way we can enhance our abilities to recognize our choices and make the most apt response to any given stimulus. Why is this gap important ? The gap between stimulus and response provides us an opportunity to choose how we react to stimulus rather than merely go with the default behavioral response which in hindsight generally tends to not be the most appropriate choice.

An example might illustrate this better. Lets assume you are driving in rush-hour traffic and someone on the road does something that has the potential to provoke your anger. This is the stimulus. Your natural response could probably include giving him a piece of your mind garnished with some choice unprintable vocabulary or any of the other equally "effective" outlets to let the steam out. And all of this could happen extremely quick. Reaction times could probably be in the fractions of a second. Talk of quick reflexes and you see it in action in such situations ! Is there a gap here ? Yes, there's a gap in every situation. The first step is to be aware that the gap exists. Realizing that stimulus and response are not a continuous progression and there in fact exists a break between the two, in itself is a great beginning. Next, choose to pause for a moment to examine your choices in responses to the stimulus. Rather than quickly brand the cause of the stimulus as an evolutionary mistake, what if you stop to consider if this stimulus is really important enough to expend your "valuable" time and energy to; does it warrant your attention and mind space (yes, it can occupy a lot of your mental band width ... only if you let it) ? what if you tried to examine if the stimulus was indeed a response to some-other situation which you were not immediately aware of ... say a medical emergency that required a little flexing of road rules ?

Such stimuli abound in various situations where without realization of the existence of a gap, our responses tend to usually be the naturally triggered and often-times "involuntary" types which as stated earlier may not be the best. So, is it really an easy task to be aware of the gap and "choose" a response to the variety of stimuli that we each encounter every day ? Frankly, No. While its easier said than done, whats important is that this is a "skill" that can be developed, over time with a good amount of regular practice. Being aware of the existence of a gap and your reactions is a good step to take.

While on the subject of choices, here's a good Innerspace quote "If your days seem filled with unwanted negative feelings, there is only one cure. When they come, choose them. Dont ask why, dont wonder how, dont fight them and never put yourself down for having them. But most of all never blame someone else for how you feel. If you do, it means you are still fast asleep and your choice is to be a victim. When the feelings come, even big disturbing emotional feelings say, "I choose this feeling" and know it comes because of something you have thought or done in the past, perhaps a certain belief that you have learned or an attachment that is threatened. Choice does not mean you want the feelings, but it does mean you are taking responsibility for them. And that is the beginning of self mastery. It is the first step to the healing and resolving of your emotions. But only the first step. Try this today and then ask yourself what the next step might be. If you are really interested to know, you will come to know!"

For more in-depth reading on the topic of the gap between stimulus and response, i'd suggest Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and specifically, the "Be Proactive" habit. Signing off this post with a quote by Mike Dooley, "Life's not about expecting, hoping and wishing, it's about doing, being and becoming. It's about the choices you've just made, and the ones you're about to make, it's about the things you choose to say - today. It's about what you're gonna do after you finish reading this."

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Friday Nov 09, 2007

Live with the end in mind

The thought of literally keeping  the end in mind while living, and how this regular reminder of the end enables living life to the fullest is the gist of this post. We generally tend to live as though our days were endless, or even if we do have a faint realization that someday our lives must end, it tends to seem to be sometime in the distant future. This thinking holds the potential for us to not value and fully appreciate the importance of each day, of our lives.

Of course, there are days that are memorable and days when we really feel alive. But, how many days of your life would match this description ? Would you be able to say that a large number, if not all of the days of your life that you presently live, are days you treasure, cherish and value ?

I'm reminded of an interesting observation that i came across sometime ago on this subject. Its about a method to remind you to live with the end in mind. It involves a little math ! Answer this question - how much longer do you expect to live ? I mean, how many more years do you think you might live ? Humor me and make a guesstimate. So, what do you expect ? Twenty five years ? Thirty years ? Forty ?

When you are done estimating, translate those years into days. Here's an example just to illustrate what has been talked about thus far - If you expect to live another twenty five years, that would translate into 9125 days more i.e. 25 x 365 days. Take a few moments to reflect on this number. This is your estimate of how many more days you have at your disposal.

Now all that is left is to be regularly reminded of this finite number of days we have left. Again, the observation continues with a fairly simplistic yet effective way to do this ... place as many marbles as the number of days you have estimated in a transparent jar at a place where you get to see them each day. So, in the previous example, we would need to place 9125 marbles in a jar. Now, each day morning pick up a marble from the jar and throw it away. This exercise is aimed at driving home reality & regularly reminding you about the limited number of days at your disposal. Think about it ... what benefits would you derive if you were regularly reminded of the finite-ness of your existence, especially at the start of each day; how would you approach each brand new day especially when you know that there's only so many more days left ? 

In the light of this knowledge, would you still prefer to squander away the days that you have or would you rather choose to live each "remaining" day to the fullest. 

If you're thinking about the scenario where you outlive your estimate and what do you do if and when you ran out of marbles to throw away ... when you realize that you are still alive ! and there's no more marbles left in the jar(s) to throw away, not to worry - that brings us to the final part of the story - by now you would have learnt to treasure each day while counting-down and having reached your estimate, you now begin to treasure each additional day with the grateful thought that every new day is a bonus, a present to be treasured even greatly, a gift thats more than what you expected to receive.

Signing off this post with a thought that you might have heard before, yet seems apt to mention now - Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. What we have is the gift of today ... its called the present. Treasure each moment, every day.

And if you think that your day today is simply gonna be another normal day and isn't special, then this closing quote by Mary Jean, is for you ...

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return"

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Saturday Nov 03, 2007

Birds, Bird-brains and worms ...

"The early bird catches the worm" - so they say ... and what have we here - many gullible denizens of our planet, falling hook, line and sinker for it and taking it literally.

No, i'm not against punctual behavior. I have the highest regard for the folks who tend to be punctual and value both their and others' time.

I'm for editing the above saying and adding in an extra word to clarify as "The early bird catches the early worm". Now we can see that the early bird has caught the "early worm".

Being early had different outcomes for the bird and the worm. No doubt the early bird might have rejoiced, but am not sure the early worm liked the result of its early foray. In life, it helps to take a moment to analyze your circumstances and think if at a given point of time, you are the bird or the worm ... while generally its great to be in the limelight and the center of attention, there are occasions when a little obscurity would help.

Reminds me of the fairly well known story about the mighty oak and the reeds ... for those who aren't in the know, here's a quick summary ... its a tale of a mighty oak tree that was proud of its ability to stand tall and strong against the winds that blew at it and the humble reeds that bent with the wind. A particularly strong gale brought the oak to its knees ... literally. The mighty oak had to give in. All its strength could not help withstand the mighty forces of nature, whereas the reeds suffered little or no damage. At this juncture the fallen oak asks the reeds how a humble and weak plant like the reed could survive the strongest of gales and live to see another day while the mighty oak was humbled ... the key lies in the behaviors exhibited by the reeds and the oak ... the oak resisted when resistance was not the brightest thing to be doing whereas the reeds were flexible, they bent and went with the flow .... what i'm driving at is this - sometimes its good to go with the flow, sometimes its good to stand out. There's a time to resist, a time to bend ... no one action or behavior suits all circumstances.

The ability to be flexible, the ability to discern and act appropriately as the situation demands, is key to being counted amongst the fittest who survive and possibly thrive.

I'll sign-off this post with an interesting innerspace quote ... "It's good to have an opinion isn't it? If you don't have an opinion about important issues you are seen as weak - right? This is how people justify holding an opinion about anything and everything. But wait a second - in the moment of expressing your opinion, if it is the defence of a position, or it's designed to be against another opinion, it is nothing more than an attachment. And this means fear is present. It means insecurity. This may explain why those who have the same opinions form pressure groups and factions, and why there is usually a great deal of emotion and conflict present. It may explain why there is much wailing and weeping, loud words and the crossing of swords whenever, opposing opinions meet. Much better to have a point of view, and to be extremely interested in others points of view. This says, "I am flexible", it says, "I have the humility to learn", and it says, "I seek to meet you on the ground we share, as opposed to fight you from a proclaimed territory." 

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Sunday Oct 28, 2007

an "Idle" mind is ... sometimes, a good thing

The oft repeated cliché says that an idle mind is the devil's workshop and to avoid this most folks tend to engage themselves in the business of busy-ness a.k.a. being busy or engaged in a myriad pursuits that consume all or most of the time at their disposal. We live in times that tend to look up to folks that appear the most busy and have hectic schedules and calendars choc-a-block with appointments while frowning upon those who seem to lead ... relatively quieter lives.

Why would an entire ... or at-least a major part of our societies today, be engaged in the pursuit of busyness ? Could it be - the fear of obsolescence what with the constant changes everywhere, the need to keep-in-step with the times, "avoidance syndrome" (the inability to face or confront ... personal problems, fears / inadequacies ...), the need to constantly prove oneself / one's value, keeping up with the Joneses (this could be when almost everyone else at your level has a tightly packed schedule and is running around seemingly busy and you have relatively fewer appointments and a less stressed lifestyle ... you tend to give into popular thinking that there's probably something wrong with you or “am i missing something” by not being as busy as everyone else ?!) ... there could be various such and other reasons ... of course, not everyone's busy due to these reasons, there are folks who surely are busy due to circumstances not fully in their control ! But for the vast majority that's running around ... it probably might make sense to .. at times ...give in to having an “idle” mind every once in a while ... I would call it - a mind that's uncluttered, relaxed and in touch with your inner voice ... a mind that takes time to step off the fast-paced (rat) race-track to value moments of quiet solitude, a mind that spends time in some almost forgotten pursuits of reflection, meditation and quiet introspection. If for nothing else, an “idle” mind can help refocus, gain more clarity, rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit whilst touching base with that small still voice within which is oftentimes ignored and not heard amidst the louder noises on the race track ... the deeper voice within yourself also termed the inner voice ... the experience of trying to see who you are, what your goals are, what you want out of life ... the meanings you seek ... rather than merely resonating with the vibrations of busyness for the sake of not being idle ... whence you end up leading a life that's not lived on purpose but more akin to a log of wood adrift on the currents of the ocean knowing not which direction the winds and currents will connive to lead it ...

Continuing from an earlier post about the importance of passion, a mind that engages in silent contemplation and meaningful introspection finds itself tuned-in to its own inner purpose and finds a deeper understanding of the meaning of one's life and passion – just the right bunch of ingredients for a more fulfilling, meaning-filled and purposeful living ...

Signing off this post with an Innerspace quote ... “Only when we find the quietness in our own minds can we begin to hear our inner teacher, so that we may receive some in-tuition. Only when we are ready to recognise and value the wisdom that we carry at the core of our being will we turn our attention inwards and 'listen in'. But it's been a long time since we truly listened, so a little practice and patience will be needed. Sit down, be quiet and listen in at some point today and you might be surprised at what you hear. Then do it again tomorrow. All you need to do is remember that you are the listener and not the noise.”

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Its been a while ...

Just a short note to say that i've been caught up in the busy-ness of everyday business and have found little time to get down to blogging.

Currently making sure that posts come out at-least on weekends - hopefully can get back to writing more often, whenever the urge strikes ! Until the next post ... here's an interesting quote about working "half-a-day" by Kammons Wilson, which i think could do wonders for productivity !  ... " I like to work half a day. I don't care if it is the first 12 hours or the second 12 hours" ...

Saturday Oct 20, 2007

Potential is useless

at-least thats a view I tend to subscribe to ! Ok, i need to add a little bit more to that statement, Potential is useless ... if its not harnessed and remains hidden. Not convinced ? Take a look at a large piece of rock which is trampled upon by countless feet ... would the same people mindlessly trample upon a piece of exquisite sculpture or art ? If no, then why is the rock being trampled upon ? Does'nt the rock have the potential to be that piece of art ? What use is this potential if its not harnessed and is hidden ? Look at the folks around you (lets keep it simple and look at the workplace!) and see how many folks have potential ... i'd say everyone has potential ... the potential to make a difference, to be the best they can and are meant to be, but is everyone fully engaged in bringing out their hidden potential ... do some folks seem alive and working with purpose whereas some others seem to be there to “make a living” and are merely engaged in the motions – simply doing what is assigned and waiting on someone to assign something ... this brings us to an important attribute which is aptly stated in this quote ... “Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark” ... the possibilities are endless but until you draw out the possibilities they remain useless, period.

Passion at work makes you come alive. You discover a greater sense of fulfilment and contribution when you are passionate about what you are doing.

While its easy to say that we need to be more passionate about what we do ... how easy is it to put into practice ? Do we really chose what we want to do based on our realizations of our passion and potential or do we chose career paths based on attributes such as the perceived perks, monetary rewards, etc. which may or not be aligned with what we may truly be passionate about. Without passion, its hard to get into a state of flow that translates into levels of productivity that leave no room for fatigue or boredom even when working long hours .... its easy to feel tired and pressured when the passion's low. When you are working with passion, irrespective of how long and hard you work, the drive to work is coming from within and not due to the pressures from outside. External pressures may be present, yet none of it tends to wear you down or cause fatigue.

I'll sign off this short post with a quote by Howard Thurman - “Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

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Saturday Oct 06, 2007

Do re-invent the wheel ... when appropriate !

The oft repeated cliche exhorts us to not re-invent the wheel. While there exist valid reasons to not re-invent the wheel, there are situations when it might be a good idea to do just the opposite. If everyone literally abided by the diktat to not re-invent the wheel, would we today have the myriad types of wheels we encounter and use in our everyday lives ... think of how the wheels we know of today have evolved, aided by scores of re-inventions of the wheel so to speak; from stone, wood, iron, steel to John Dunlop's pneumatic tyre and further enhanced versions such as radials, tubeless, etc. 

Re-inventions can also be helpful in aiding learners to better learn their subjects in-depth, especially when there is the time & inclination to do their own explorations. Of course, as is evident ... no rule is an exception to the rule which states that There's an Exception to every Rule. 

There's little thats truly sacrosanct and unchangeable or would not benefit from a touch of re-invention. In most circumstances, a process of continuous improvement like Kaizen & a relentless pursuit of perfection, could be more beneficial than acceptance of the status-quo. At this juncture, i am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, this one by Jack Kerouac ... 

"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. "

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Sunday Sep 30, 2007

To change things ...

... change the way you look at them.

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

Sometimes, "paradigm shifts" in the way we think and approach things, circumstances and people, is the need of the hour especially when we desperately seek after change. Oftentimes, we labor hard and long trying to change the outside world & other people, trying to get "them" to conform to our views and ways. In many instances the results of our endeavors are not spectacular either. What else do we need to do to get the "other party" to change ... why does it seem so hard to "change others" ? How about trying to change someone over whom we just might have some extra bit of control ?

"If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth", said Anthony De Mello whose words seem apt in this context. Albert Einstein brings more clarity by saying, "The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." Rightly so, each of us perceives and sees the world through our own lens and filters mapped to our "model" of the world we've created and refine as a product of our life experiences and information acquired over a lifetime.

Re-affirming the need for personal change, Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world". It is sometimes more effective to "Lead by example" ... and a point that is worth remembering - Your life is the canvas you have at your disposal.

Are you creating your own masterpiece or are you busy trying to change another's picture ? At the end of the day, how many of us can echo the words of Suzuki who said, "I am an artist at living — my work of art is my life".

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Tuesday Sep 25, 2007

The Hare and the Tortoise ... a fable

Here's a version of the popular story of the Hare and the Tortoise! , which i wish to share here. This "expanded version" of the fable has some interesting lessons ...

Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster .

They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race. The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The hare woke up and realized that he'd lost the race.

The moral - "Slow and steady wins the race. This is the version of the story that we've all grown up with."


there are few more interesting continues as follows......

The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realized that he'd lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed. This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.

The moral - "Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable."


The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there's no way it can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted. It thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route. The hare agreed. They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometres on the other side of the river. The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.

The moral - "First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency."


The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they'd felt earlier.

The moral - “It's good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly and someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.

Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could."

In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both. The hare and the tortoise also learnt another vital lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.

To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise has much to say: Chief among them are that fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady; work to your competencies; pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers; never give up when faced with failure; & finally, compete against the situation - not against a rival.

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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.

Friday Sep 21, 2007

Inspiring quotes for the day !

Two thought provoking quotes for the MOTD section  ...

The first one by Anthony Robbins, describes the expected level of "commitment-to-act" and the second quote by Goethe, calls for action ... now ! Inspirational thoughts to start off the beautiful new day.

"I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating those who live their dreams from those who live in regret." ~ Anthony Robbins

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.  Begin it now." ~ Goethe

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John Morrison


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