Monday, December 24, 2007

i-TFTD #77

i-TFTD #77

#77-1. There are two things to aim at in life; first to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind has achieved the second.

-Logan Pearsall Smith

#77-2. The Creator has not given you a longing to do that which you have no ability to do.
-Orison Swett Marden

#77-3. If you want to know your past - look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future - look into your present actions.

-Chinese Proverb

The last one requires us to take responsibility for what we are. Whatever condition we are in, is the result of all the choices we have made. It also reminds us that all our choices, actions, words today are what will create the state of our future.

The second inspires us to believe that no dream is given to us without the power to realize it (I think Richard Bach has said this eloquently).

The first quote is an observation that we are constantly revising our list of wants and rarely dwelling on the moment. Think. And enjoy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

i-TFTD #76: Fantastic Reminder on Attitude vs Skills

i-TFTD #76: Fantastic Reminder on Attitude vs Skills

Staying Positive In A Negative World
by Tracy Brinkmann

Harvard and Stanford Universities have reported that 85% the reason a person gets a job and gets ahead in that job is due to attitude; and only 15% is because of technical or specific skills.

Interesting, isn't it? You spent how much money on your education? And you spent how much money on building your positive attitude? Ouch. That hurts.

Now here's an interesting thought. With the "right" attitude, you can and will develop the necessary skills. So where's your emphasis? Skill building? Attitude building? Unfortunately, "Neither" is the real answer for many people.

Perhaps if more people knew how simple it is to develop and maintain a positive attitude they would invest more time doing so. So here we go. Five steps to staying positive in a negative world:

1. Understand that failure is an event, it is not a person. Yesterday ended last night; today is a brand new day, and it's yours. You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and then you can expect to win.

2. Become a lifetime student. Learn just one new word every day and in five years you will be able to talk with just about anybody about anything. When your vocabulary improves, your I.Q. goes up 100% of the time, according to Georgetown Medical School.

3. Read something informational or inspirational every day. Reading for 20 minutes at just 240 words per minute will enable you to read 20 200-page books each year. That's 18 more than the average person reads! What an enormous competitive advantage... if you'll just read for 20 minutes a day.

4. Enroll in the "Transit University". The University of Southern California reveals that you can acquire the equivalent of two years of a college education in three years just by listening to motivational and educational cassettes on the way to your job and again on the way home. What could be easier?

5. Start the day and end the day with positive input into your mind. Inspirational messages cause the brain to flood with dopamine and norepinephrine, the energizing neurotransmitters; with endorphins, the endurance neurotransmitters; and with serotonin, the feel-good-about-yourself neurotransmitter. Begin and end the day by reading or doing something positive!

Remember: Success is a process, not an event. Invest the time in your attitude and it will pay off in your skills as well as your career.

All readers of this blog are quite aware of the benefits of positive thinking hence the title that this is a reminder. I have read many articles on this theme but this seemed very specific and hard-hitting. Read, practise, enjoy and share.

Monday, December 17, 2007

i-TFTD #75: Hospital Scenery

Hospital Scenery

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed the model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band -- he could see it in this mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy.

One could correlate this to i-TFTD #30: Bless You My Friends as the next step of action arising out of an "attitude of gratitude".

Friday, December 14, 2007

i-TFTD #74: Moment Management

i-TFTD #74: Moment Management

Moment Management
Can you plan for the critical moments in your life the "breakthrough idea" or the incredible life-long memory? You can if you learn to manage your "moments" as well as your time.

by Dan Strutzel

The modern philosopher and historian Richard Sennett has written about the necessity for human beings to create "narratives" out of their lives. In other words, in order to give meaning to our existence, we must feel that the culmination of our days on earth string together seemingly chaotic events to form a story a very personal story that only we can tell. A story that is complex, yet genuine. But, most of all, a story with structure with a clear plot, filled with layers of meaning that, like a great classic novel, reveal new and hidden meanings with every reading. I’m one of those people who absolutely loves to encourage family, friends, and even acquaintances to tell their stories. True to form, some tell a story of heroic adventure, others tell a tragedy, and still others, a "work in progress."

Yet, one of the patterns I notice, again and again, is the tendency for people to focus on several key "moments" as turning points in the plot of their lives. They tell of the child that finally made the baseball team after years of struggle to "fit in." They tell of the deal that they closed, or the deal that fell through. They tell of the moment that they first realized their partner moved from being a boyfriend or girlfriend, into that exceptional "true love" that comes only once in a lifetime. They tell of the day they heard they had cancer, the day that their first-born emerged from the womb, and the day they buried their mother right next to their father. They speak of relatively "simple" things like cuddling with the kids on the deck as they watch the stars, sipping hot cocoa with their spouse on the top of Pikes Peak, or the first time they walked into their new office after the "big promotion." Such moments are precious, and without them our stories would be incomplete. They form the essence of who we are and will continue to shape who we will become.

In our fast-paced world, there is probably no skill that receives more lip service than time management. Indeed, it is a critical skill to success, without which very few people achieve any substantial goal. Yet, too often, I fear that we have become so focused on the time-management essentials being efficient, opportunity costs, delegation, prioritization, day planners, and Palm Pilots that we end up managing the moments right out of our lives. This is the "nuanced" area of time management that few experts consider. We can plan an agenda for a brainstorming session and keep a close eye on the clock, but we can’t "plan" for a breakthrough idea. We can "budget in" an evening to take our child to a ball game, but we can’t "budget in" the moment in which our child will ask that question about life one that we have never even considered. We can clear out all the e-mails in our "in-box" and respond to them efficiently, but we must be careful not to clear out the e-mail with the huge business opportunity, sandwiched conveniently between two pieces of spam.

Time management tactics are needed for most of us to improve our effectiveness but this article points us to not forget to enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

i-TFTD #73: A Commitment to Laughter

i-TFTD #73: A Commitment to Laughter

A Commitment to Laughter
The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken seriously.
by Earl Nightingale

One of the enriching blessings of growing older all the time is that it has a way of improving one's sense of humor or at least it should. The person without a good sense of humor is a person to avoid as though he were a known carrier of the plague.

Horace Walpole once said, "I have never yet seen or heard anything serious that was not ridiculous." And Samuel Butler said, "The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken seriously." It has been said that seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow. Oscar Wilde said, "It is a curious fact that the worst work is always done with the best intentions, and that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves very seriously."

We can be serious about situations. When a youngster is ill or hurt, or someone insults your spouse, you can get very serious about the situation in a hurry. But that's not taking ourselves seriously. That's different.

I have found it a good rule of thumb to be slightly suspicious of anyone who takes himself too seriously. There's usually something fishy there someplace. I think this is why we love children so much: Life is a game to them. They will do their best at whatever work is given them, but they never seem to lose their ebullient sense of humor; there is always a sparkle of humor in their eyes. When a child lacks this, he is usually in need of help.

Dictators are famous for their lack of humor. The mark of a cruel person is that he doesn't seem to be able to see anything funny in the world. And, a sense of humor was what was so great about Mark Twain. No matter how serious the subject, he could find the humor in it and bring it out. All the great comedians have this ability to see what's funny in the so-called serious situation. They can poke fun at themselves.

People who are emotionally healthy, with a sense of proportion, are cheerful people. They tend to look upon the bright side of things and see a lot of humor in their daily lives. They're not Pollyannas they know what's going on and that a lot of it's not at all funny but they don't permit the dark side of things to dominate their lives. To my mind, when a person lacks a sense of humor, there's something pretty seriously wrong with him.

There are times for all of us when all the laughter seems to be gone, but we should not permit these periods to last too long. When we've lost our sense of humor, there isn't very much left. We become ridiculous.

Of all the good advice messages I have been sharing, this is the only one I can claim to try practising... seriously.

Friday, December 7, 2007

i-TFTD #72

i-TFTD #72

#72-1. In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

-Eric Hoffer

#72-2. Four short words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more.

-A. Lou Vickery

#72-3. A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

I was struck by the distinction drawn between a learner and the learned. Taking the quotation literally one can say, "As soon as I feel I know I am doomed." The third one I saw in a board outside the Our Lady of Good Counsel church at Sion, Mumbai. It is a favourite because my observation is that too many are too serious all the time.

Friday, November 30, 2007

i-TFTD #71

i-TFTD #71

#71-1. Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.
-Jules Renard

#71-2. Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.
-Oscar Wilde

#71-3. If your ship hasn't come in, swim out to it.

Each of us has different levels of stamina in different situations so it is best to tap into our energy. Anyone who has accomplished anything of significance has pushed themselves rather than thinking, "This should be enough."

Not being happy with oneself can be a useful motivator for change. It needs to be balanced with periodic bouts of satisfaction for maintaining good mental health. That comes if there is genuine effort towards improvement.

We often waste time and energy complaining about how circumstances and other people are not in our favour, thus missing opportunities for actions we could take. Once we train our mind to be more positive-action-oriented, we will find our actions actually start turning things more in line with our expectations.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i-TFTD #70: The Brick

i-TFTD #70: The Brick

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door!

He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"

The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister... please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do," He pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay.

"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!"

God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's our choice to listen or not.

Yes, pausing once in a while is a good reminder for some in perpetual hurry. But there are other things one could glean from this (as usual). The reminder is valuable only for people moving ahead fast in the first place. So fast is not bad but essential. The always slow and saintly might not get the Jaguar! The boy's leadership skills are admirable: escalation, taking action instead of moaning about the big, bad world, knowingly doing a small "wrong" thing to achieve a larger right objective.

Friday, November 23, 2007

i-TFTD #69: Becoming All You Can Be

i-TFTD #69: Becoming All You Can Be

Becoming All You Can Be
By Jim Rohn
(Highlights mine)

How do you know when you're successful? Do you have to be a millionaire? No, all we ask of you is that you earn all you possibly can. If you earn ten thousand dollars a year and that's the best you can do, that's enough. God and everything else will see to it that you're okay. The key is to just do the best you can. If it's ten thousand dollars a year, wonderful! If it's a hundred thousand dollars a year, wonderful! If it's a million dollars a year, wonderful!

It doesn't matter whether you earn ten thousand dollars a year or a million dollars a year as long as you've done the best you can. The essence of life is growth. It is doing the best you possibly can.

Here's what is interesting: humans are the only life form that will do less than they possibly can. Humans are the only life form that will settle for less. All other life forms except human beings strive to their maximum capacity. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. You've never heard of a tree growing half as high as it could. No. Trees don't grow half. Trees send their roots down as deep as possible. They stretch their limbs up as high as possible, and produce every leaf and every fruit possible.

As matter of fact, you've never heard of a human growing halfway-physically, that is. We keep growing until we're done. It's genetically coded. That's a part of life that we can't control. It's the growing of our minds that we can control, but we tend to neglect this. It tends to get away from us. All life forms inherently strive toward their maximum potential except human beings.

Why wouldn't we strive to become all we can be, to fulfill our potentials? Because we have been given the dignity of choice. It makes us different than alligators and trees and birds. The dignity of choice makes us different than all other life forms.

And here's the choice: to become part of what we could be, enough to get by; or to become all that we can be. My best advice for you is to choose the "all." Earn all you can. Make all the friends you can. Read as many books as you can. Develop as many skills as you can. See and do as much as possible. Make as much fortune as possible. Give as much of it away as possible. Strive for the maximum. There's no life like it. Pick up the challenge. Go for it. When you're focusing on growth, it's easy to do all you can. It's easy to succeed. It's easy to have financial freedom. The more you do, the more you get.

Sometimes when we achieve something that we feel proud about, we wonder why we did not try it earlier so the trick is to keep trying many things quickly. Unstated assumptions, inhibitions, past conditioning and general avoidance of mistakes (fear of failure) are some of the constraining forces. Remember it is a choice we make.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

i-TFTD #68

#68-1. Sometimes, in order to have complete integrity, you will stand alone. You may at times lose friends, but you will find inner peace by staying with that in which you believe.
-Thomas D. Willhite

#68-2. A person asked God, "What surprises you most about mankind?" God answered: "That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived..."

#68-3. 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.
-Edward Everett Hale

As someone rightly said, it's lonely at the top. The top need not mean official position, it could be any higher level of excellence in an activity.

Living in the present moment, fully absorbed and aware... so simple yet so rare! This is recommended by stress management gurus, spiritual texts and can even be a cure for procrastination of important actions.

Many times we get stuck pondering over things that we cannot control, and in the bargain, miss opportunities to do what we can.

Friday, November 2, 2007

i-TFTD #77: Article on Talent Management by Kumar Mangalam Birla

i-TFTD #77: Article on Talent Management by Kumar Mangalam Birla

Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, a chartered accountant and an MBA, focuses on two pertinent questions in this article:

1. India is a country of over a billion people, about one-sixth of humanity. Do Indians constitute the universe of talented people in equal proportion?

2. Are we doing everything we can to help people be the best they can be?

Many interesting observations about business and organizations in general (highlights are mine).

In this article, I want to share some thoughts with you on 'talent', given that it is a subject presently occupying the attention of managers the world over, given that it is in extremely short supply, and given that the need to attract it and nurture it in sufficient numbers, is very real.

It is a management problem that is immediate, here and now.

A key resource

In any attempt to define our times, words and phrases such as 'accelerating pace of change', 'discontinuity' and 'complexity' figure often. Everything however somehow boils down to change and speed, mixed with a generous dose of confusion and chaos. Conventional truths and guideposts are now meeting their nemesis.

In such conditions, business survival and prosperity are clearly not a function of capital resources alone. Nor are they as dependent critically on scale or technology or labour, in the conventional sense of the word.

Even the newer strategic models do not give us sufficiently clear bearings on how to run our business. The point is, that when everyone in a Grand Prix drives a Ferrari, it is clearly the driver -- and his skills, attitude, temperament and sense of purpose -- that make the difference!

The one, single dominant force that has then emerged is talent. Management means attracting talented people, nurturing them, developing them, and giving them space.

People no longer want to just work, but are equally engaged in a search for their own identity and for a holistic meaning to their life.

The sharp focus on talent today stands out clearly. Microsoft employs around 200 full time recruiters. A recent survey by a leading international consulting firm (Amrop) revealed that 40 per cent of top management's time is spent on HR or talent related issues.

Another survey by the Harvard Business School identified the ability to spot talent and develop it as being the third most sought after attribute for a successful CEO.

Customers, yes. Shareholders, yes. But businesses will also have to embrace this stakeholder just as well -- the employee, the talent pool, the intellectual capital, the resource that is the most fungible, the one that can easily walk out the door.

Every organisation has to create a sense of ownership among people who will not be owned. A business of any worth today has to grapple with this compulsion. Talent is, in fact, central in the new paradigm. Without 'people power' even the best of operational and strategic thinking will come to naught.

What is talent?

Let's reflect a bit about what exactly 'talent' means. I believe the term has become too complex to define. Instead, let me quote from the book Excellence, written by John W Gardner, the American social reformer. According to him, 'There are those who perform great deeds and those that make it possible for others to perform great deeds. There are pathfinders and path preservers. There are those who nurture and those who inspire. There are those whose excellence involves doing something well and those whose excellence lies in being the kind of people they are, lies in their kindness or honesty or courage.'

Going a step further, the term 'talent' has developed some broader connotations. Earlier 'talented' might have referred to a person with expertise in a given functional area or a given business, or even a person who had achieved a pre-determined objective.

Today, these 'talents' are almost taken for granted. We now take stock of a person's managerial and leadership potential, the ability to straddle different functional areas, businesses, cultures and geographic boundaries -- all in a seamless manner. We need to assess not only intellectual skills, but also softer skills such as emotional intelligence, values, creativity, the ability to work in teams, to think out of the box, entrepreneurial abilities, and also, importantly, the willingness to learn and share.

A recent study by Janice McCormack, Professor at Harvard Business School, aptly describes topnotch talent today as someone 'having the vision of an architect, the theoretical mindset of a physicist, the attention to detail of an engineer and the financial acumen of an investment banker.

In short, the ability to not get cowed down by 'competing imperatives.'

Why now?

People have always been important, so one may legitimately ask, why all this commotion now? Let us try to answer this question.

First, there is no doubt that the supply-demand imbalance in the talent area has become acute, not only in India, but also globally, and is getting more so. In India, a host of new industries -- information technology, financial services, media and entertainment -- are vying for the best people.

A flood of multinational companies is out to attract the best brains, not just for their operations in India, but for their overseas needs. The outstanding success of India's leading educational institutions, especially the IITs and IIMs, has drawn them to take a pick from our brains and capabilities. India has, in effect, become the world's scouting ground for talent.

Second, the desire to 'be one's own boss' is more common. More and more talented people want to strike out on their own, or work in a company which offers a significant entrepreneurial environment. So the pool of people from which to select is contracting, relative to the demand for them.

There is a third factor behind the scarcity of talent. Until recently, our preoccupation with talent was confined largely to the higher levels of an organisation. Today, every level of a company's operations requires talented people. In the wake of intense competition, and the consequent need for speed, the top-down approach to managing is increasingly proving ineffective.

Dispersal of decision-making is also being driven by complexity -- the sheer geographic spread of companies, the diversity of product lines and the need to be close to the customer. Decisions need to be made at every level and decisions need to be quick. So, we have to spot, incubate and groom talent at every level of the organisation, because more people need to be making high quality decisions.

And finally, much higher degrees of business complexity result in a much larger premium on talent. Complexity calls for an integrated approach, the ability to look at a problem from different perspectives, and a high degree of creative and non-linear thinking.

Coupled with that, there is the need for heightened cultural sensitivity as national boundaries are becoming hazy and business is becoming truly global.

India well placed to nurture talent

I have tried to identify some of the key factors driving the demand for talent, which has now come to be the strategic resource. However, despite the scarcity, we are fortunate that India has many of the right ingredients that help to nurture talent.

We just have to look at our present times to realise the considerable advantages we possess as regards talented people. I am sure we all must have been taken aback with the surge in the globalisation of Indian talent. We all knew it was there -- but today the entire world recognises it, and how.

As the joke in Silicon Valley runs, if a person's name is Shreedhar, don't bother checking his IT skills! Across a range of areas -- engineering, computer programming and financial services -- the Indian brain has begun to command the highest brand equity.

Indians are breaking the glass ceiling and staking their claim at the upper levels of global firms, in increasing numbers.

How did this happen? Unlikely as this may seem, India does seem to have some of the prerequisites that can be leveraged to nurture talent. We have the much sought after facility with today's Lingua Franca, the English language, as also a relatively high degree of numerical aptitude.

And, we have an innate capacity to adapt, without which it would not have been possible for Indians to strike roots overseas and become among the more successful of the immigrant communities, in a number of countries.

Of course, competition also does much to nurture talent. And we in India, work in a very competitive environment, pretty much from childhood. We even have interviews to get admitted to a nursery school!

Even leaving aside this extreme, we are constantly being graded, scored, evaluated and ranked. The admissions-to-applicants ratio at our premier educational institutes is more demanding than that of even the most elite universities abroad. The same is true of our Civil Service.

What retards talent in India?

On the flip side, we need to recognise and deal with some of the powerful attitudes and forces that not only retard talent, but also are hostile to it.

For one, there is the fear of failure. There is an almost indelible stigma attached to failure, much more than in the West. The family, the peer group, the society, the banker -- all still frown on failure -- of any sort, no matter how heroic and daring the effort that preceded it.

This attitude thwarts experimentation and stifles innovation. Better to be 'mediocrely' right than 'stunningly' wrong. The possibility of getting a second chance is rare.

It is difficult to think of the exploits of a Thomas Alva Edison happening here: the daring experiments, the failures, the bankruptcy, and then the success, the most well known of which is the electric bulb.

A second obstacle to talent is conformity. There is less acceptance of the offbeat. Dissidence is not looked upon too favorably: it's the nail that sticks out that invariably gets hammered down. Conformity is all around us: in the dress code, in the jargon of our times, in our patterns of strategic thinking, at a point in time.

The herd instinct is evident even in the way we invest, with everyone running after the same scrips, in the same industries, at a particular moment. Being different is difficult. Where are the contrarians?

Finally, I believe that our educational system contributes, in substantial measure, to our inability to draw out the store of talent latent in us. Students at the school level are overburdened with rote learning. Listening and being talked to is the norm.

Questioning, discourse, the spirit of discovery, curiosity and inquiry are rare. The curriculum is narrow and outdated and, to a large extent, 'memory-centric'. Unlike in the West, the options offered are few.

Talent issues in Indian organisations

At this point, I would like to share my thoughts on some of the critical talent related issues that we in Indian organisations need to address. No doubt, many readers are already working to tackle similar issues, and you would be having your own unique perspectives.

In my own organisation, although we have been putting in a lot of effort, in these and related areas, we are some distance away from having all the right answers. Perhaps, many of these are fuzzy issues and there are no definitive answers. Each organisation must chart out its own approach and course, given the specific context in which it operates.

Adrenaline: The first major issue is how to keep the adrenaline flowing in talented people. The game does not stop at identifying talent or inducting it. Talented people get bored easily and so they have to be kept constantly challenged.

In our organisation, we address this issue by fast tracking deserving talent, offering definite career paths, providing cross functional exposure across different businesses, and second-ments to our operations abroad.

The objective is to offer a high quality of exposure, faster, thus enabling the manager to increase his overall intrinsic worth and to take on higher responsibilities, much earlier in his career.

Integration: A second issue concerns how best one can integrate talented people into the organisation, in a way that there is no undue disruption. I bring this point up because, quite often, mediocrity tends to drive out talent or make it ineffective.

Integrating talented people into the organisation involves handling a host of sensitive issues and this is a task that will fully test the leadership abilities of senior management.

At the same time, as we move about with the process of integrating talent, we do need to subject ourselves -- and talented people -- to some kind of a reality check, every now and then. The best of talent has to operate, ultimately, within the boundaries of organizational objectives, and talent, no matter how highly regarded, cannot become dysfunctional.

Creating an ivory tower is not desirable. In the same vein, we have to keep in mind that talent means much more than 'white collar'. We cannot glorify a certain kind of talent, at the cost of talent in other areas. As always, maintaining the right balance is the challenge.

Compensation: The third issue I would like to touch upon is one very much in the spotlight today: the growing divergence in compensation and reward levels between the talented and those less so. This differential is widening by the day -- in absolute and relative terms.

How we handle this divergence is again absolutely critical to an organisation's health. Today, the clamour for stock options runs high. Incorporating a significant performance-based component in the compensation package is almost mandatory. Again, there are no clear cut solutions. It goes much beyond the criteria of affordability.

We have to look at larger and fundamental issues such as equity, value systems and organisational morale.

Until we find an answer to this dilemma, let me read out this very interesting text of an advertisement, which appeared in the London newspapers in the year 1900. Ernest Shackleton, the famous explorer, inserted this advertisement when recruiting team members for the National Antarctic Expedition.

The advertisement read as follows: 'MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.'

Shackleton later said of the call for volunteers that, 'It seemed as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany me, the response was so overwhelming.' Perhaps, taking the cue from this, the real challenge lies in striking the right balance between material rewards and the larger sense of mission.

What per cent?

In conclusion, I believe that making India talent-friendly will require actions at the macro level also. Nurturing talent and keeping it here and putting it to good use requires resolving some tough quality of life issues.

For instance, India ranks low in any human development or quality of life index. Talent cannot flourish if the enabling social and physical infrastructure is not in place. Only then can we reverse the brain drain decisively. This is a task that needs the involvement of all of us -- in business, in government, in our educational institutions, in our professional bodies.

Attracting brains is a lot more difficult than attracting FDI or portfolio investments. But then that is also what will make us really competitive.

At the end of it all, we have to ask ourselves not only whether we have talented people, but also whether we have enough of them; and whether we are doing everything we can to nurture them in greater numbers.

We are a billion Indians, about one-sixth of humanity. Do Indians constitute the universe of talented people, in equal proportion?

Friday, October 19, 2007

i-TFTD #66: Snippets on Performance Problem Analysis

i-TFTD #66: Snippets on Performance Problem Analysis

A couple of interesting snippets.

What Kind of Problem Are You Dealing With?

Zingerman's Training encourages leaders facing challenges to consider what kind of problem they are actually facing. Here's their checklist of questions to begin identifying:

1. Is there already a system in place for performing the task? If not, you have a systems problem. Training won't help until there's a system in place.

2. Is there a system in place that employees know how to use but don't follow? If so, you have a management problem. Leaders need to ensure that existing systems are being used.

3. Is there a system, but employees don't really know what it is or how to use it? If so, you have a training problem.

Many times, training problems are often confused with systems problems, and managers try to replace the "flawed" system. This quick checklist may be a handy way to respond to challenges.

Performance Consulting - why people don't do what you want them to

They don't know how - training problem
They know how but don't - performance problem

Performance Problems include:
-there is no reward for doing the behavior or the system is rewarding some other behavior
-there are disincentives for doing the behavior (using a system that makes what they are doing difficult and annoying, lack of organizational support (resources, lack of clarity of priorities and importance, unclear roles and responsibilites, lousy processes) etc.

-they don't want to or are not interested in doing the behavior.

Such an analysis could also be applied on ourselves when we find we do not feel charged up to do something though we desire the result.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

i-TFTD #65

i-TFTD #65

#65-1. A quote I heard some time ago - "Never love your job, because it can never love you back." Your work, however, is another matter. Try not to get the two confused. Your job can end, but your work - in all likelihood - will not. The passion you have, the relationships you've made, the skills you've acquired - the things that make work fun - will go with you, not stay at the desk that used to be "yours".

-Jim Wesnor

#65-2. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
-Neale Donald Walsch

#65-3. Silently hear everyone.
Accept what is good.
Reject and forget what is not.
This is intelligent living.
-Swami Chinmayananda

The first one can also be interpreted in the context of a role change within the same "job". The second reminds us to frequently venture out beyond the familiar and comfortable zone of control -- difficult but essential for growth. The last is superb, there is a similar saying in Marathi that can be paraphrased as, "Listen to the world, then do what your heart says." It can be applied not only to advice but also to other negativities and fluff. Accepting feedback (always a tough thing) would be easier if we remembered this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

i-TFTD #64: The importance of being important

i-TFTD #64: The importance of being important

The importance of being important

The following is something to make us stop and think. Take this quiz:

Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
Name the last five winners of the Miss World contest.
Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
Name the last decade's worth of World Cup winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? The lesson? The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

This is one of my favourite i-TFTDs. What I like about many such thought-provoking snippets is that they trigger different responses from different people.

For instance, one reaction after reading the above is to say, "Yeah, I now see that there are so-called ordinary people in my daily life that make a big difference to me. I should remember to appreciate this fact and the people themselves."

Conversely you could also look at it as a reminder that you are a VIP in some people's lives -- at home, at work and to others about whom you care. Maybe I will be more careful in how I behave and what I convey when I realize this.

Monday, October 8, 2007

i-TFTD #63: Gestalt Prayer and Beyond

i-TFTD #63: Gestalt Prayer and Beyond

Gestalt Prayer
-Fritz Perls (written in 1969 by the proponent of gestalt therapy)

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.

In the 80s and 90s, the above little snippet was fashionable to forward and practice. I always felt uncomfortable, not with the individualism but with the finality of tone in it, the "unconnectedness". My own thing was to understand other people, celebrate the differences and the similarities but I was unable to put it in words even within my own mind. My struggle found resolution, I found the ++ ("plus-plus") answer to the I, Me, Myself philosophy in a write-up from another psychologist. It is a repartee to the above, but it is more than that. It enlarges the above, simplistic vision to the real world of teams, relationships and connectedness in life. Here is that write-up:

Beyond Perls
-Tubbs W. (written in 1972 in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology)

If I just do my thing and you do yours,
We stand in danger of losing each other
And ourselves

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations;
But I am in this world to confirm you
As a unique human being,
And to be confirmed by you.

We are fully ourselves only in relation to each other;
The 'I' detached from a 'Thou' disintegrates.

I do not find you by chance; I find you by an active life
Of reaching out.

Rather than letting things passively happen to me,
I can act intentionally to make them happen.

I must begin with myself, true;

But I must not end with myself;

The truth begins with two.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

i-TFTD #62

i-TFTD #62

1. If you want *others* to be happy, practice compassion. If *you* want to be happy, practice compassion.
-The Dalai Lama

2. When most are asked to quote their "I AM's" usually they come up with such things as: I am a father, a male, an engineer, six-foot one, 160 pounds; or, a mother, a wife, an architect, and so on. They have limited themselves to exactly what they are. Where are the men and women of today who will shout: I AM GREAT... I AM A LEADER?

-Thomas D. Willhite

3. Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
-Winston Churchill

Trust The Dalai Lama to encapsulate a deep message of inner peace in such simple words.

We often take on the roles assigned by society too rigidly and with a narrow definition. This process suppresses the inner "us", a combination of child-curious-helpful-brilliant personality wanting to do great stuff.

Being enthusiastic in desirable circumstances is easy, what counts is being enthusiastic when things are not going our way. Great achievements come from cultivating enthusiasm as a habit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

i-TFTD #61: The Little Hut

i-TFTD #61: The Little Hut

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.

The worst had happened -- everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me?" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was woken by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.

"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It's easy to get discouraged sometimes when things appear to be going badly. We all face some days when we feel that our huts are burning. For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, Life has a positive answer for it. The next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground, remember it just may be a smoke signal that summons Grace.

This illustrates the famous Indian proverb, "Everything is for the better" ("ellaam nanmaikke" in Tamil; would love to hear other language versions from you). The trouble is, when something happens, we cannot see the hidden blessing or the fact that things could have been worse. It is only later, with the benefit of hindsight that we are able to view the same event in a new perspective. One learning could therefore be to always believe in a better future and quickly move out of a moan-groan mode.

Anyone who has struggled through a crisis phase in a project or personal life would relate to this. Afterwards when we look back we feel it was an interesting challenge and that it taught us a lot.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

i-TFTD #60

i-TFTD #60

#60-1. "Dreams"
Hold on to your dreams
   for if dreams die
life is a broken winged bird
   that cannot fly.
-Langston Hughes

#60-2. The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
-Bishop W C Magee

#60-3. Integrity is doing what you say. Sincerity is meaning what you say.
-Bradley Havens

Maturity and growing up usually extracts the price of training ourselves to not indulge in dreaming. But all great ideas, whether product invention or business innovation, have started with someone's vision or dream.

Another thing we learn is to avoid mistakes but when taken to an extreme it becomes a big career-block called risk avoidance. Then we have to re-learn it under the name of ability to take risks. Many business leaders including Bill Gates have advised organizations to create a culture that encourages making mistakes -- not the same ones, though!

Meaning what you say requires a decision and courage, but some lack the ability to say what they mean! It is not merely a matter of having an adequate vocabulary but the constant desire to improve one's ability to communicate. People in positions of authority are able to cover up this inability by hurling phrases on their listeners such as, "Don't go by the words I use" and "Try to understand my intent, don't criticize my language!"

Friday, September 14, 2007

i-TFTD #59

i-TFTD #59

#59-1. Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.

-John Andrew Holmes

#59-2. There is no victory at bargain basement prices.
-Dwight David Eisenhower

#59-3. It's not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are you busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau

When we wish to generate new ideas, knowledge of the relevant facts is useful up to a point. More important is to take a fresh perspective that outsiders or novices are easily able to do.

Others' success sometimes looks like a lucky break but history teaches us that there always is a lot of sweat and sacrifice behind the glamorous stories. Funnily, many creative breakthroughs have been achieved by those who looked for a shortcut or easier approach but then such individuals used that desire to persist in finding and developing their ideas.

"Being busy" is a modern disease. I dislike saying, "I am busy" to anyone when they ask for my time. In my view, that statement simply translates into, "I attach higher priority to certain other things than to whatever you are requesting." Which is fine as it goes, but it is good to be clear about it rather than giving an impression that I want to give you time but cannot. Many people confuse activity with action.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

i-TFTD #58

i-TFTD #58

#58-1. If you are doing your best, you will not have time to worry about failure.
-Robert Hillyer

#58-2. It's not good enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.
-Winston Churchill

#58-3. It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly.
-Mabel Newcombe

The first quote shows how we can reduce wasting time by focusing on doing our best. We do not really know the best we are capable of, new circumstances might bring out hidden talents and greater capabilities than what we thought we had.

The second reminds us that we might have to push ourselves beyond our known-current-best to achieve a particular goal in a given situation. The history of humankind tells us that anyone who did this either achieved the seemingly impossible or achieved many other greatly useful things on the way.

Periodically taking stock of the destination and the path instead of blindly running faster is recommended by the third quote. It is applicable to life in general, to problem-solving or troubleshooting situations and to our careers, an area of current interest for me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

i-TFTD #57: Focus on Problem versus Solution

i-TFTD #57: Focus on Problem versus Solution

We often find ourselves stuck with trying to solve a problem situation. The following two anecdotes are given as examples of focusing on the solution versus focusing on the problem. The first story is a popular joke and gets quoted as an example of creative thinking. The second one is also interesting.

Difference between Focusing on Problems and Focusing on Solutions

Case 1: When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out that the pens wouldn't work at zero gravity (ink won't flow down to the writing surface). To solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12 million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down, underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in a temperature range from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.

And what did the Russians do? They used a pencil.

Case 2: One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soapbox, which happened in one of Japan's biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soapbox that was empty. Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soapbox went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem.

Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soapboxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent a whoopee amount to do so.

But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed the same problem, he did not get into complications of X-rays etc., but

instead came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soapbox passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.

It is a good habit to ask before deciding on a solution if we have identified the end objective and if that is being met.

I often encounter this situation: I am asked to review something, I say, "Maybe we could look at doing it this way to avoid such-and-such problem." The response I get is, "I proposed that way because I did not know such-and-such." And sometimes the defensiveness is more aggressive of the form, "Why cannot we stick with that way?" The effort should be on evaluating whether a better solution has been found in terms of the objective.

In specific terms, the following questions are more important: (i) Whether such-and-such problem is really a problem (ii) How likely is it to occur (iii) Whether this way will reduce it compared to that way (iv) Is there a third better way to prevent its occurrence.

Why something was proposed and something else was not proposed in the first instance is not relevant to the end objective. At best it can be useful to analyze as a post-facto appraisal.

Monday, September 10, 2007

i-TFTD #56: Degrees of Positive Thinking

i-TFTD #56: Degrees of Positive Thinking

A man was washing his car. His neighbour asked, "New car?" The man replied, "Yes, my brother gave it to me as a gift."

The neighbour said, "Wow! I wish I had a car like that."

The man suggested, "You should wish to have a brother like that."

The neighbour's wife, who was overhearing all this, remarked, "I wish I was a brother like that!"

I believe all three are examples of positive thinking in increasing degrees. To wish, to aspire for something is good. Giving is a joy that is not as easily available as one might think. I have experienced cases when I wished to help someone but things just didn't work out. Then a different kind of situation with a different person arises and I have many excuses not to provide help! I am trying to make myself more open to spotting opportunities to be of help.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

i-TFTD #55

i-TFTD #55

#55-1. The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want at the moment.

#55-2. At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

-Albert Schweitzer

#55-3. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
-Mother Teresa

The first one reminds us of a capability called Delayed Gratification, the first attribute of Emotional Intelligence.

The second is one type of the attitude of gratitude mentioned earlier in i-TFTD #30: Bless You My Friends. Often we can never repay acts of kindness in the same way to the same people who helped us. My personal experience has led to the strong belief that opportunities to "repay" arise in different ways with different people but we must remember to carry on the virtuous cycle.

We sometimes act as though there is a limited quantity of appreciation we have in our safebox that has to be carefully dispensed. The third is such a simple reminder from a simple and great person to loosen our purse strings at least as far as words go.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

i-TFTD #54

i-TFTD #54

Slightly different tone of thought provokers today... Like many others, a second or third reading later might reveal multiple interpretations.

1. I'm made of rubber, you're made of glue,
everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

2. You must get good at one of two things - planting in the spring or begging in the fall.
-Jim Rohn

3. Ninety percent of everything is crap.
-Theodore Sturgeon

The first quote sounds like the prattle of a primary school kid but it can be employed as a way to deal with what we hear. It can also be seen as a truth about what we say to others, whether positive or negative.

The third sounds like a wisecrack but it again is a useful thing to remember especially in today's hyper-competitive environment when everyone is trying to cope with new concepts, gadgets, information...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

i-TFTD #53: How Satisfied Are Your Customers?

i-TFTD #53: How Satisfied Are Your Customers?

A little boy went into a drug store, reached for a soda carton and pulled it over to the telephone. He climbed onto the carton so that he could reach the buttons on the phone, and proceeded to punch in seven digits. The store owner observed and listened to the conversation:

The boy asked, "Lady, can you give me the job of cutting your lawn? The woman replied, "I already have someone to cut my lawn."

"Lady, I will cut your lawn for half the price of the person who cuts your lawn now," replied the boy. The woman responded that she was very satisfied with the person who was presently cutting her lawn.

The little boy found more perseverance and offered, "Lady, I'll even sweep your curb and your sidewalk, so on Sunday you will have the prettiest lawn in all of North Palm beach, Florida."

Again the woman answered in the negative. With a smile on his face, the little boy replaced the receiver.

The store owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy and said, "Son, I like your attitude. I like your positive spirit and would like to offer you a job."

The little boy replied, "No, thanks, I was just checking my performance on the job I already have. I'm the one who is working for that lady I was talking to!"

Other than the message on verifying customer satisfaction, this story teaches us:
-Lateral thinking on the boy's part -- he inverted the concept of holding on to a customer by actually trying to tempt her to change, but with low risk as there was no real danger

-Curiosity and helpful nature of the shopkeeper helped him learn a great lesson from a small boy
-Clarity of the lady in valuing her trusted service provider rather than shopping around for a cheaper option

Monday, September 3, 2007

i-TFTD #52: The New Gabbar Singh?

When we were young kids growing up in America, we were told to eat our vegetables at dinner and not to leave them. Mothers said, "Think of the starving children in India and finish the dinner."

And now I tell my children: "Finish your maths homework. Think of the children in India who would make you starve, if you don't."

-Thomas Friedman in "The World Is Flat"
Gabbar Singh is the iconic dacoit villain of the blockbuster Bollywood movie, "Sholay". His dialogues in the movie were memorized by everyone. One of them had to do with what mothers in nearby villages told their kids in order to make them finish dinner and go to bed, "… nahin to Gabbar Singh aa jaayega!"

Friday, August 31, 2007

i-TFTD #51: The Essence of Trust

i-TFTD #51: The Essence of Trust

A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, "Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don't fall into the river." The little girl said, "No, Dad. You hold my hand."

"What's the difference?"  asked the puzzled father.

"There's a big difference," replied the little girl. "If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go."

In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond.

While the story itself is good, its concept may be applicable to other areas. Some managers say, "I have clearly told my team that I am available for any help. If they need help they will ask. If they don't ask, it's their fault." Another manager might periodically sit with members of the team, actively identifying areas where help could be provided and thus show the willingness as well as the ability to help. When they see this a few times, it makes all members of the team feel safe to seek help.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

i-TFTD #50

i-TFTD #50

#50-1. Often, fear is a payment made on a bill that never came due.

#50-2. My dad always used to say, "If you are falling off a cliff, you may as well try to fly. You have nothing to lose."

-Captain John Sheridan

#50-3. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.
-Helen Keller

I think each of us is bold and courageous in some things and hesitant when it comes to some other things. The trick is to know which things should belong in which category.

Anticipating potential problems and taking steps to prevent them is useful, persistent anxiety about the future is not.
Risk assessment is useful, risk avoidance is not.
Weighing of facts, data and available options is useful, "analysis paralysis" out of vague fear is not.
Dwelling on actions one can take is useful, brooding on things beyond one's control is not.

Monday, August 20, 2007

i-TFTD #49: Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management

i-TFTD #49: Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management

Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management

Benjamin Franklin in his early years was a manager. This information may surprise those who have come to associate the bespectacled statesman solely with the patriots who founded the United States of America.

According to some, the roots of America's current business success lie in the principles embodied more than 200 years ago in the life of Franklin, the founding father of American business. His life exemplifies the innovation, technology and ingenuity that have propelled the American economy to unprecedented heights in recent years. Andrew Carnegie, Lee Iacocca, Stephen Covey and Warren Buffet have all acknowledged a debt to Franklin.

What follows is a summary of his 12 rules of management, an ideal for lifelong learning that is as pertinent to managers today as it was in the 18th century. It is excerpted from the book, "Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management" (highlights are mine).

1. Finish better than your beginnings.

2. All education is self-education.

3. Seek first to manage yourself, then to manage others.

4. Influence is more important than victory.

5. Work hard and watch your costs.

6. Everybody wants to appear reasonable.

7. Create your own set of values to guide your actions.

8. Incentive is everything.

9. Create solutions for seemingly impossible problems.

10. Become a revolutionary for experimentation and change.

11. Sometimes it's better to do 1,001 small things right than only one large thing right.

12. Deliberately cultivate your reputation and legacy.

These remind us once more that great thoughts and useful tips have been available for us for a long, long time. Application will give results, not just reading or remembering.

For instance, once you truly accept that everyone wants to appear reasonable, you are less likely to feel anger or irritation at someone's behaviour. "Finish better than your beginnings" can be applied at a project level (what have you learned, what have you contributed, what relationships have you built) or even at a life level (most of us begin at a different starting point than, say, the Ambani brothers, but more important is what we make of our lives and where we go in relation to our starting point).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

i-TFTD #48

i-TFTD #48

#48-1. The only thing I like about the stones that come in my way is once I pass over them, they automatically become my milestones.


#48-2. The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, "Thus far and no farther."
-Ludwig van Beethoven

#48-3. I knew from feelings that I had to do something. And I did it. And I did it well. I did what made me feel better tomorrow even though it was very, very painful at the time. The result was beneficial. Do those things today that feel good tomorrow.

-Thomas D. Willhite

I have noticed that most people seem happy when talking of adverse situations from the past, rarely when they talk of comfortable, happy situations. Tough problems, once we solve them, seem to become permanent sources of energy for us. Shouldn't we eagerly seek out more such situations?

If a barrier between us and a desired goal seems too strong and frustrating, maybe our aspiration is not strong enough? Maybe we are not ready to reach that destination yet and should find an intermediate goal.

The third is profound. Feel good (at a higher level of self awareness) in knowing that you will feel good tomorrow though it is not feeling good (at a literal level) doing something now. If only we could practice this daily…

Monday, August 13, 2007

i-TFTD #47

#47-1. Not to do what you feel like doing is Freedom.
-Swami Chinmayananda

#47-2. We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.
-Herman Melville

#47-3. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.
-Og Mandino

I normally avoid clubbing quotes on the same subject but the above three just happened to be related. What I like about them is they provoke thoughts in a logical sequence. My initial reaction to the first statement was, "How can that be?" The second quote hints at the answer by talking of interdependence. The third one pithily points out the benefit of a serving attitude. When I then re-read the first quote, it seemed to make more sense.

A couple of follow-up thoughts on i-TFTD #41: Two Lives and Resistance. My experience is that it is very liberating once we take some action on a long-pending desired action. And it becomes easy after the first few steps. So start on one of them. At the same time, it is better to revisit and evaluate such longings to see if we need to let go of them based on current reality. After all, if I have not worked on something for years, maybe it is not really important or aligning with my true priorities. Removing such vague clutter from the list of long-term To Dos frees up my mind to focus more energy on the remaining ones.