Friday, November 28, 2008

i-TFTD #172

i-TFTD #172

#172-1. I love men who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.

-Thomas Paine

#172-2. The man who has gotten everything he wants is all in favor of peace and order.

-Jawaharlal Nehru

#172-3. If you do not have peace in your life, you, like many others, have probably not fully understood its message.  You receive exactly what you put out, or, "As you sow, so shall you reap."

-Thomas D. Willhite, Living Synergistically


Smiling and feeling positive when things are going well is easy. More admirable is to be able to do that when things aren't.

Lack of peace or order could be an indication of intolerable imbalances. It is the duty of leadership to probe that and address the root cause.

The simple but profound law of cause and effect operates at multiple levels. We know it but try to forget or ignore it. The heart-rending situation in the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008 makes many wonder, "Why? How to prevent such random killing of innocents?" While the authorities analyze and execute a logical course of action, I am struck by the statements of a spiritual guru (my paraphrasing): Nothing much has fundamentally changed in the forces driving the human mind. Unless we collectively do something about the violence inside each of our minds, disastrous actions by humans are likely to recur in different forms.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

i-TFTD #171

i-TFTD #171

#171-1. Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.

-Sam Ewig

#171-2. A lot of our 'busy-ness' is a way for us to avoid thinking about what is most important.

-Kristen Lippincott

#171-3. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

-Hugh Macleod


The first one means, in order to build our character, we should gravitate towards situations requiring a struggle. I have many times experienced a discovery of my own strengths after facing a difficult period. Sometimes previously unknown weaknesses also become evident. Both are useful.

The second one resonates with me. We all practice degrees of mental laziness. One might avoid dwelling on aspects of health or family, instead plunging into work. When facing a setback I might concentrate on detailed criticism of others rather than asking what I could do better.

It is said that talent alone is not sufficient, but that is the subject of other i-TFTDs. One can use the third to assess one's progress. How often do I feel the need for extraneous support for my success, how many times do I rely on prayer (by itself, not necessarily a bad thing), how much do I attribute events to luck?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

i-TFTD #170: Children's Day Special

i-TFTD #170: Children's Day Special

November 14, the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, is celebrated as Childrens Day. Here's a special bonus edition of i-TFTD:

#170-1. If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.

-Abigail Van Buren

#170-2. You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.

-Franklin P. Jones

#170-3. Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.

-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

#170-4. First you have to teach a child to talk, then you have to teach it to be quiet.


#170-5. Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?

-Jane Nelson

#170-6. Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

-Michael Levine


Substitute children in the above with subordinates and parent with leader, to get useful insights on career development, leadership qualities and giving feedback. The last one is a killer: merely having people report into you does not make you a leader.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

i-TFTD #169

i-TFTD #169

#169-1. Careers, like rockets, don't always take off on schedule. The key is to keep working the engines.

-Gary Sinise

#169-2. Learn to pause... or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.

-Doug King

#169-3. The best careers advice to give to the young is, 'Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it'.

-Katherine Whitehorn


The first sounds simple but it is worth remembering that "working the engines" does not include blaming, moaning and whining (doing this regularly would make us what some trainers catchily call the BMW personality).

An occasional thoughtful pause is more productive than the continuous running around that gives the comfortable feeling of action. It even applies to thinking itself. When absorbing new information or ideas, intelligent people are especially prone to quick judgement and conclusions. A pause often uncovers additional nuances.

If you do not consider yourself as part of the young category, learn to like aspects of what you get paid for, learn to increase  the proportion of time every week that you spend on activities you really enjoy. These often provide clues to your innate talents and strengths.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

i-TFTD #168

i-TFTD #168

#168-1. If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.

-Abraham Lincoln

#168-2. Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.


#168-3. Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.

-Sam Levenson


The converse of the first quote is also true. If we look for the good in people, we will surely find something.

The second might sound negative but one positive way to look at it is, wisdom is not correlated with age so a young person might also come out with a wise suggestion.