Friday, June 15, 2007

i-TFTD #22

i-TFTD #22

1. Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival.
-W. Edwards Deming

2. These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.
-Gilbert Highet

3. It seems in every interaction there is something to learn if we can only see ourselves as students. If we can humble ourselves, and allow ourselves to see the world without our own beliefs and dogmas, then we could see so much beauty awaiting us in each moment.

-Sukh Chugh

These are on one of my favourite themes: learning.

Too many people, in my view, say things like, "What can you learn just by reading a book?" and "You cannot become an expert on this by reading books about it." Worse, they use such statements to not read. One can also say, "What can you learn just by repeatedly doing something?" and "You cannot become an expert on this by trying to do it."

Different things are learnt in different ways, one is not a substitute for the other.

Books are an easy, portable, imagination-inducing, inspiring source of digested knowledge and experience. One book, one page of a book can change your life. Mine has, many times. Will share a list of books that impacted me next time.

Read whatever appeals to you but do read. Nowadays all kinds of subjects are packaged in small, easy-to-read story formats. Those of us based in India have access to the world's best books at inexpensive prices.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

i-TFTD #21

i-TFTD #21

#21-1. The word "crisis" is from the Greek, meaning "a moment to decide". The recurrent moments of crisis and decision when understood, are growth junctures, points of initiation which mark a release from one state of being and a growth into the next.

-Jill Purce

#21-2. Life is part positive and part negative. Suppose you went to hear a symphony orchestra and all they played were the little, happy, high notes? Would you leave soon? Let me hear the rumble of the bass, the crash of the cymbals, and the minor keys.

-Jim Rohn

#21-3. No one can go back and make a brand new start. Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Highly effective people have a tendency to look for crisis situations, problems or issues as opportunities for learning and growth. Many of us unwittingly avoid such situations thereby missing opportunities. Of course, we should avoid creating new problems, anticipate potential issues and mitigate risks, but here we are talking of problems already in existence or those that inevitably crop up despite our best effort.

All of us know life is a mixture of highs and lows but some of us tend to accentuate the negative, dwell on unhappiness. A balanced perspective is needed to move forward.

The third quote reminds us how practical it is to move forward. Looking at the past is useful only on two occasions: to learn something out of it, and to enjoy a few nostalgic moments. Otherwise it is best to focus on what can be done now to influence the future in a positive way.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

i-TFTD #20: Motivation + Talent = Strength

i-TFTD #20: Motivation + Talent = Strength

Motivation + Talent = Strength
From Newsletter

Hydrogen and oxygen are distinctly different elements, but sometimes they combine to form water. Something similar is true for motivation and talent.

Motivation is what we LIKE to do naturally.  Talent is what we DO well naturally. They can exist independently, but when they combine, they create something special. They create motivated talents.

People often are naturally good at something (talented), but it just doesn't turn them on. For example, Heather is good with numbers, but she doesn't go out of her way to find tasks calling for that talent. Most people have such talents. But then there are those talents that we really enjoy using. These are the motivated talents, and this is where the magic is.

We use motivated talents every chance we get. Most of the time we don't even think about it. For example, Larry has a motivated talent for conversation, and he naturally engages both friends and strangers in dialog. He doesn't consciously determine to do so; it just happens. It's natural and unforced. He enjoys it, and he's good at it. That's the hallmark of a motivated talent.

Motivated talents tend to be irrepressible. They find expression. In fact, if you've ever tried to stifle a motivated talent (either yours or someone else's) it probably felt like you were trying to hold two dozen ping pong balls under water at the same time. Motivated talents pop out, even if no one else is asking for them.

This is a continuation of the theme outlined in i-TFTD #10: Abolish SWOT Analysis. My observation is that many of us are not even aware of our motivated talents, our strengths. If the above two examples do not find resonance in you, here are some more. Some people tend to challenge assumptions, question the problem statement, while other like to think of implementation issues of a given mandate. Some like to research, gather facts and feel comfortable with evidence before jumping into action while others are good at quickly starting work on a positive belief. Some like work that requires extended concentration while others are good at rallying around the team, talking to different people and working as a team.

Whatever our talents are, the trick is to be aware of them and tune our style accordingly in any given situation. In my view, it is idealistic to expect our work to always be in sync with our perceived talents. I say perceived because many of our talents are not yet discovered.

Monday, June 4, 2007

i-TFTD #19: Avoiding Futile Competition

i-TFTD #19: Avoiding Futile Competition

Seeing everyone as your competitor has two negative consequences. First, it isolates you and your efforts, putting a full burden on your shoulders that others could help you bear; and second, it means you waste energy trying to set others back rather than using that energy to push yourself forward.

Consider the following true story by Frank Koch in an issue of Proceedings, the magazine of the United States Naval Institute. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. Koch was serving on the lead battleship and was standing watch on the bridge as night fell. He recounts his experience.

The visibility was extremely poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge, keeping an eye on our navigation activities.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow!"
The captain called out, "Is it steady or moving astern?"
The lookout replied, "Steady, captain," which meant that we were on a collision course with that source of light.
The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: We are on a collision course... advise you change course 20 degrees."

Back came the signal from the other ship. "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees!"
The captain barked, "Send, I'm a captain... change course 20 degrees immediately."
"I'm a seaman second class," came the reply. "You had better change course 20 degrees!" By this time, the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send, I'm a battleship. Change course 20 degrees."

Back came the signal from the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
The captain changed course.
The moral of the story is that it is futile to try to set others back when you could turn yourself 20 degrees and go forward!

Source: Psychology of Motivation by Dr. Denis Waitley
My two-bit: Another aphorism is, "pick your battles". There are contests worth fighting even if the odds of losing are high, and there are contests worth avoiding even if the odds of winning are high.