Wednesday, June 25, 2008

i-TFTD #133

i-TFTD #133

#133-1. Access to power must be confined to men who are not in love with it.
-Plato

#133-2. Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
-Oscar Wilde

#133-3. The ego problem is a result of a society that promotes exploitation. Being better than, prettier and smarter than, or richer than, at the expense of someone else, is an ego barrier. Only when a person confronts this problem, recognizes and admits where they are, will there be a possibility for constructive change.

-Thomas D. Willhite

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Most of the political leaders who have faded away in disgrace, and the recent phenomenon of CEOs misusing their authority to save on insignificant expenditure, are examples of people who loved power and were unwilling to relinquish it.

Being oneself means being authentic, which leads to building credibility and trust. Books such as Authentic Leadership by Bill George highlight the emphasis for leaders to create a culture of trust. This, of course, presumes that one's true self does not have too many personality kinks that need to be fixed first.

Truly accepting oneself and one's current state is not easy. If it was, entire industries such as cosmetics and luxury fashion goods would vanish!

Monday, June 23, 2008

i-TFTD #132: Is Your Personal Corporation Growing?

i-TFTD #132: Is Your Personal Corporation Growing?

Is Your Personal Corporation Growing?
By Earl Nightingale (highlights mine)

Every person is, in reality, in business for himself or herself in that each is building his or her own life regardless of who happens to write his or her paycheck. So for the purpose of this message, think of yourself as a corporation. You hold the office of president of this corporation, and you're responsible for its success or failure. You and the members of your family are stockholders in your corporation, and it's your responsibility to see that the value of the stock increases in the years ahead.

If your company is growing, it will have a tendency to continue to grow. In other words, you're doing things right. Conversely, a company that is going backwards or shrinking has a tendency to continue to go backwards or shrink until acted upon by an outside force. All responsible company officers know that unless the company is growing, it's developing the first signs of death. As the head of your personal corporation, you must realize that this same law applies to you as well.

However, a person has a tremendous advantage over even the largest corporation. Think of any large multinational corporation. Can it double its production in a single day? Of course not. Can it double its sales in a single day? Of course not. It would like to, but its growth must be gradual and steady because of the interconnecting complexities of operating such a large organization. Yet a person can double, triple, quadruple his or her effectiveness in a month or less. It's like comparing the movement of a single scout to the movement of a great army.

Can you grow and improve as a person at least 10% a year? Of course you can. In fact, experts estimate a person can increase his or her effectiveness anywhere from 50% to 100% and more within 30 days.

History is filled with people who exceeded their previous performance to an almost unbelievable extent. People in management and in production who multiplied their effectiveness many times. Students who moved from failing grades to straight A's and the Dean's List. People in sales who found they could, through the proper management of their abilities, minds, and time, sell as much of their company's products in a single month as they had previously sold in an entire year. Think about what that means.

If you waste even an hour of productive time every work day, it adds up to 250 hours a year. That time wasted could shut your corporation down! You can earn nothing with the doors closed. What is your time worth an hour? Multiply this by 250 and you can see what you're throwing away. Now whether your employer pays for this wasted hour or not is unimportant. Life will not pay for it.

How much are you worth right now, today, as a corporation? What's your value today, to yourself, your family, your company? If you were an outside investor, a stranger, would you invest in this corporation? A company growing at the rate of 10% a year will double in size in about eight years. What attention are you giving to the growth of your personal corporation?

_____
Simple but hard-hitting message, especially to those who do not make it a point to attend at least one training programme every year, to those who do not have the time or interest in reading books.

Just like a company cannot be exclusively topline-focused or bottomline-obsessed but has to think about the environment, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement and so on, we as individuals also need to balance our attention across our professional, family, health and spiritual needs.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

i-TFTD #131: APJ Abdul Kalam - A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure

i-TFTD #131: APJ Abdul Kalam - A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure

Below are excerpts from a short interview of the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam at http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/india/article.cfm?articleID=4276. The site also has the video. The example about how a leader should handle failure and success has been circulating via e-mail in the past few weeks. I find Kalam's views, humility and simplicity inspiring.


APJ Abdul Kalam: A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure
Published: April 03, 2008 in India Knowledge@Wharton

I K@W: Since our publication is called Knowledge@Wharton, could you tell us something about knowledge?

Kalam: I've written a four-line, poem-like thing called "Creativity." It goes like this: "Learning gives creativity. Creativity leads to thinking. Thinking provides knowledge. Knowledge makes you great." I have made at least a million children repeat these lines. I am very happy that Wharton has created Knowledge@Wharton; it's a beautiful idea.

I K@W: After studying aeronautics at the Madras Institute of Technology, you were one of India's top scientists at the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and then at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). You helped launch several successful missiles, which led to your getting the nickname, "Missile Man." What challenges were involved in getting this program going and leading it successfully?

Kalam: I worked for ISRO for about 20 years. My team and I worked to put India's first satellite into space. Then our team took up the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. These were youthful teams that worked with me, and they have gone on to take up much larger projects. These in turn have led to great value addition in areas such as technology, infrastructure and, above all, human resources.

One of the important lessons I learned in the space and missile program was not just how to handle success but how to deal with failure. Wharton is in the management environment. I would like young people to understand how they should manage failure. In any project you take up, you will face problems. These problems should not become the captain of the project chief; the project chief should be the captain of the problems and defeat the problems.

I K@W: Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?

Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's "Rohini" satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference -- where journalists from around the world were present -- was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure -- he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization.

The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite -- and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, "You conduct the press conference today."

I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

India Knowledge@Wharton: That is a great story; thank you for sharing it.

Kalam: Continuing further with the six traits, the fourth trait is that the leader should have the courage to make decisions. Fifth, the leader should have nobility in management. Every action of the leader should be transparent. And finally, the leader should work with integrity and succeed with integrity.

I K@W: One last question -- you are a gifted poet. Could you please recite some lines of your favorite poem?

Kalam: My favorite poem is "The Vision." I recited it in Parliament, and I will recite it for you.

I climbed and climbed
Where is the peak, my Lord?
I ploughed and ploughed,
Where is the knowledge treasure, my Lord?
I sailed and sailed,
Where is the island of peace, my Lord?
Almighty, bless my nation
With vision and sweat resulting into happiness.

____

    Total Comments: 10

    #7 What Kalam Taught Me
    By: Kalpathy Balan, KNPC
    Sent: 12:06 PM Thu May.01.2008 - KW

    It was sometime in early 1975. I was a young engineer in ISRO in the Sriharikota projects. I had occasion to meet Mr. Kalam then as he was the project director for SLV. I had gone along with a senior to meet him. It was a short meeting. I was young and brimming with confidence.

    At the end of the meeting Mr. Kalam suggested that I read up on some of the technical journals in aeronautics and space research. Many months after the meeting I had the opportunity to update my knowledge by reading the articles he had suggested and I found that my views were changing.

    Looking back, I feel that Mr. Kalam could have easily said to my face that I was wrong in my technical analysis and grasp of the problem. But he chose to guide me instead to learn by myself and arrive at the correct approach. This way he did not hurt my ego and taught me a lesson which I treasure. This was the first glimpse of his greatness that I saw.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

i-TFTD #130

i-TFTD #130

#130-1. What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

-Joseph Addison

#130-2. There's beauty all around our paths, if but our watchful eyes can trace it midst familiar things, and through their lowly guise.

-Felicia D. Hemans (1794-1835, British Poet)

#130-3. Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.
-Wayne Dyer

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I know you like practical and witty quotes, and most i-TFTDs are of that kind. But i-TFTD is also supposed to provoke new thoughts and inspire so here are two somewhat lyrical ones on smiling and looking for beauty.

The third one might seem abstract to some. Try substituting abundance with happiness, positive vibes, sense of humour, team spirit, help...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

i-TFTD #129: Purposeful Growth

i-TFTD #129: Purposeful Growth

Interesting statements gleaned from John Maxwell's CD on Purposeful Growth

Most people settle for accidental growth. Consistently reaching higher levels requires purposeful growth.

Growth is change. Some things can only be learned with time. The closest shortcut (partial substitute) is to tap into the experience of successful mentors. The more I know, the more I realize what I need to know.

Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is. Reflective thinking is needed for converting experience into insight.

Most folks spend more time every year in planning a two-week vacation than they spend planning their life.

Goal-consciousness is good but try to become more growth-conscious than goal-conscious. Goal-conscious people are exclusively destination-oriented. Growth-conscious people are primarily journey-oriented. Goal-conscious people tend to plateau more often and longer. Growth-conscious people use each destination as a milestone for re-energizing themselves for the onward journey with new goals.

_____
I rarely re-read books or listen again to non-music CDs. A few weeks ago, when I heard this CD a second time, I gathered new ideas and thought I should transcribe some of it one day for i-TFTD. This morning I heard it a third time and simply felt like sharing whatever I remember. This is not an accurate transcription.

The above are profound and powerful statements. Any attempt at giving my interpretations here would take away from the rich layers of meaning each one of us can extract.

Monday, June 16, 2008

i-TFTD #128

i-TFTD #128

#128-1. A very large amount of human suffering and frustration is caused by the fact that many men and women are not content to be the sort of beings that God has made them, but try to persuade themselves that they are really beings of some different kind.

-Eric Mascall

#128-2. Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
-Dwight Eisenhower

#128-3. Vain, very vain is my search to find;
that happiness which only centers in the mind.
-Oliver Goldsmith

_____
I find the first one to be profound.

The second is to be read carefully. With the power of position or authority or strong persuasion I can get others to do what I want because I want them to do it, but the real influencing of a leader is when I get them to want to do it. Not through manipulation but by alignment of goals.

Friday, June 13, 2008

i-TFTD #127: You Are Your Job

i-TFTD #127: You Are Your Job

You are your job. (And vice versa.) Sorry.
December 6th, 2007
John McKee, Leadership Coach (highlights mine)

I know a few things for certain. One of them after 30 or so years as a leadership coach and business executive is that we cannot "compartmentalize" our lives.

This is not widely accepted. Time and again, I run into managers who don't realize that how they behave 8 or 10 hours a day will inevitably impact who they become the rest of the time. And unfortunately many companies continue to push this thinking on their employees with training that directs them to, "Be objective, don't allow your emotions to impact your decisions, and keep your personal life at home."

You can try to keep your work life separate from your home life; or your personal issues separate from your professional situation; but it just doesn't work. Not forever anyway. At some stage, who you are will show up in the ‘wrong' place. To those who still believe that they can move from one role to the other and not take the events of the other part's day with them, understand this clearly: This isn't just na├»ve it can be dangerous.

Consequently, it makes a lot of sense to try to be as genuine as possible in both environments at work and with your loved ones.

Of course, the image is pretty compelling behave and deal with each environment's issues in just the right manner. You may even think you know people who can do it: At work they seem cool and collected. Someone who never brings his baggage to the job. Always focused on the job. Alternatively, on the home front, they look like the perfect parent or spouse. Always nurturing and loving never whining about the day at the office.

But these apparently-perfect creatures never succeed maintaining those roles forever. And the simple reason is it can't happen. No healthy person can control both environments perfectly and do it on an ongoing basis. The therapists and shrinks are pretty well aligned on this also. Aside from people with mental illness, there simply are no people who are able to completely and totally shut off the one side from the other for a lot of years without becoming very lonely or suffering career derailment. Sure some are better at ‘containment' than others. But sooner or later it will catch up to everyone.

And then they get divorced, or fired.

At that point, these people who were so "perfect" start searching for some help. If they're fortunate, they link up with a great professional who can help them find their bearings again. They get back to being authentic, and on with life without a lot more heartache and heartburn. If not, they react to this sudden change in other ways like booze, drugs, sex, and other destructive activity.

For a well-rounded, and fully satisfying life; I suggest you learn this simply truth. Recognize that you are a complex, well trained, feeling, and yet thoughtful individual. Learn to use your life skills in both your personal and your professional life and become more genuine.

How? Here's a list of easy-to-get-moving ideas:

On the job:

1. Start learning to trust your gut or intuition in business, some things just don't feel right and when they don't listen to yourself

2. Act more like successful entrepreneurs do by becoming a little closer with those around you, get to know them a bit
3. Don't be afraid to get emotional, after all you're paid to have an opinion
4. Don't get too full of yourself. People make mistakes and have bad days, when they do, note it but cut them some slack. And when they are great, note that too and make a big deal about it.

At home:

1. Don't be a walking computer incapable of emotion show some fun, some love, and a great deal of care for those around you.

2. Use the lessons you've picked up writing business plans to map out your financial situation and ensure it's sound and growing

3. Count to 10 before responding to your loved one's comments, everyone can have a bad day, so give her/him some slack
4. Go out of your way to talk about what happened on the job today, share your "other" life with those you care about.

Bonus:
5. Act with a little decorum, do you really need to live in those sweatpants every night?

Great leaders are authentic and passionate. So are great parents, great spouses and great friend. No coincidence.


_____
I believe this article would seem obvious common sense to some and controversial or wrong to others -- an ideal candidate for i-TFTD whose purpose is to provoke useful thought!

Those who are not familiar with our weak attempts to wear "masks" in different situations are advised to watch the Jim Carrey movie called, "The Mask". Note that this article talks about one aspect of our behaviour, that is, about being genuine and consistent in projecting our personality in our interactions. There might be other specific aspects of work or home that are suitable to some amount of compartmentalization. For instance, in a different context, one viewpoint is, "I am not my job, my job is just one of the things I do". Another is, "Your job is your job, it's not your life."

An important point missed by many is that most of our waking life is spent at work. So treating the office as a place we just go to earn our daily bread removes immense opportunities to get more out of life in many dimensions. The word "job" has historically had negative connotations of punishment or burden whereas in modern life, realization of our true potential as a living being is largely dependent on a healthy career. Our relationships with people at work are a significant (not the only) determinant of our well-being, our learning and joy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

i-TFTD #126

i-TFTD #126

#126-1. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't change the world by saying, "I have a complaint…".
-Chris Jordan

#126-2. I may be a despicable person, but when Truth speaks through me I am invincible.
-Mahatma Gandhi

#126-3. The vast majority of human beings dislike and even dread all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have always been derided as fools and madmen.

-Aldous Huxley

_____
Martin Luther King made a simple phrase, "I have a dream…" immortal not only by his passionate speech but by rallying people into action against seemingly insurmountable odds. Personally, I find it highly ironic that it is fashionable today to say, "Don’t bother about the words…" while we are all victims of the media, advertising and PR bombardment -- all users of words as weapons.

I would like to interpret the second quote in the context of concepts or ideas. To me, it brings out the power of ideas whether conveyed through words, images or actions.

Innovation often appears as madness until proven valuable. Deliberate silliness and childlike behaviour is a recommended technique to tap into our inherent creativity. If nothing else, it makes life fun! At the risk of immodesty, this is one of the few areas I can claim to have practised and benefited.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

i-TFTD #125

i-TFTD #125

#125-1. We change when it hurts too much not to change.
-Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard professor

#125-2. Before growth can occur, we must have change.
-Thomas D. Willhite

#125-3. It is necessary to change before it is necessary to change.
Because when it is necessary to change, it is already too late.
-Anon

____
Fashion industry pundits, it is said, know that people like things presented as new and different but in reality are not very different from the familiar.

Change does not guarantee improvement but not changing guarantees non-improvement.

Denying or resisting change is avoidable; anticipating and adapting to change is useful; inducing and influencing change is a hallmark of leadership.

Monday, June 9, 2008

i-TFTD #124: Rainy Day Special

i-TFTD #124: Rainy Day Special

With the Mumbai Monsoon in its full splendour, let the rain inspire a few thoughts:

#124-1. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

-Maya Angelou

#124-2. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.

-Frederick Douglass

#124-3. Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.
-Frank A. Clark

#124-4. Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.
-Anon

#124-5. Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while.

-Kin Hubbard

#124-6. Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.

-Pepper Giardino

#124-7. Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Friday, June 6, 2008

i-TFTD #123

i-TFTD #123

#123-1. People laugh because I am different, but I laugh because they are all the same.
-Anon

#123-2. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

-C.S. Lewis

#123-3. Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

____
In today's hypercompetitive, media-defined world every product is attempted to be portrayed as different. It is fashionable to say I am different. Not to say so would be really different. The trick is to recognize that each of us is truly different from others and not pretend to conform for the sake of comfort.

When exaggeration is rampant, loose and casual use of words is considered acceptable. It is funny to notice that my interest in precision increases with my knowledge as does my awareness of my ignorance. When I do not know the language, I tend to say, "Don't nitpick on the words!"

Recognizing beauty is a talent to be nurtured. Then we start finding more of it wherever we look.