Tuesday, December 28, 2010

i-TFTD #305: Sher Arz Hai

This i-TFTD owes to the contributions of Shuja Rahman. I envy people like Shuja (and Lax) who can quote an apt sher (shayari is a form of rhyming couplets usually in Urdu) in any situation.

Khiradmandon se kya poochhoon ke meri ibteda kya hai
Ke main is fikr mein rahta hoon meri inteha kya hai
(roughly translated as:
Why should I ask the wise, "Whence have I come?"
I am concerned with the thought, "What will be my end!")
-Sir Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Persian and Urdu poet, philosopher and politician from the Indian subcontinent (1877-1938)

Kaun kehta hai ke maut aayi to mar jaoonga
Main to dariya hoon samandar mein utar jaaonga
(roughly translated as:
Who says that when death comes I shall be no more?
I am a river, I shall descend into the ocean.)
-Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, legendary Urdu and English language Pakistani poet, journalist and author (1916–2006)

Partav-e-khur se hai shabnam ko fana'a ki taaleem
Main bhi hoon ik inaayat ki nazar hone tak
(roughly translated as:
From the sun's light the dew drop gets its education/end
I, too, await to receive the favor of a glance.)
-Mirza (Asadullah Baig Khan) Ghalib, classical Urdu and Persian poet from the Indian subcontinent (1797-1869)

These philosophical couplets have significant application in organizational change situations.

Instead of clinging to the past, one could focus on the future and what needs to be done. Vague apprehensions and fears hinder clear thinking and paralyze activity, with self-confidence one can face the uncertain future and be assured of finding one's growth path. Change and growth are natural processes, some pain and letting go is needed to usher in better circumstances.

Friday, December 17, 2010

i-TFTD #304: Activity is Not Always Action

#304-1. Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active.
-Leonardo da Vinci, painter, engineer, musician, and scientist (1452-1519)

#304-2. A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.
-Victor Hugo, novelist and dramatist (1802-1885)

#304-3. Voices of philosophy, poetry and imagery are relatively weak in a world that largely assumes that only science and reason speak with true authority. Yet that very authority suggests that there are many problems better served by slower, more intuitive thinking, rather than the linear, logical process.
-Prof. Guy Claxton, British cognitive scientist and expert on learning, in his book, "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind" (1947-)

The frenzy of continuous information consumption is a peculiar affliction of the past decade, thanks to the proliferation of a globally interconnected media streaming through multiple devices and channels. This has definitely dented our ability to pay sufficient attention to certain things that require more than a glance and an instant conclusion. Important decisions and actions need to be preceded by assimilation and reflection. Constant input itself induces stress. If you have ever watched TV, surfing channels hoping to find something worthwhile and then suddenly realized you have spent much more time than you thought, and feel irritated, you know what I am talking about. Or if you hear some fact or concept that everyone around you seems to know but you haven’t heard about it and feel you are losing touch on the subject.

Efficiency techniques and smart aggregating tools help to some extent as do relaxation methods. Unfortunately our leisure times are also invaded by screens for reading or playing! I mentioned the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr in i-TFTD #240: On Patience. Carr went on to expand his views into a book titled, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains”.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

i-TFTD #303: Beware of Too Much Respect for Authority

#303-1. Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves.

(Thanks to K. Shailesh for sharing this.)

#303-2. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
-Albert Einstein

#303-3. I do not look to authority for truth (reality), but look to truth (reality) for authority.
-Yoshida Kenji Sensei

Respect for elders has been identified as one of the core values of Indian and other Asian societies. The suffix '-ji' in Hindi and '-san' in Japanese are used even when the conversation is in English. While this may be a good thing by itself in keeping society together and in preserving cultural traditions, it ca! n also clash with the innovative, questioning mindset needed in a meritocratic, excellence-oriented, multi-cultural business organization.

Some may look at this quote and think about rebels and those who challenge their manager or government or any prevailing institution of power. This is one correct interpretation. It could also be extended to other situations. Authority could mean any set of beliefs I hold on to. It could be what I have unconsciously imbibed in childhood from parents, forgetting that my parents, of a different generation, brought me up in a different era. It could be the conveniently like-minded views of admirers I tend to surround myself with. It could be based on a single first-hand experience I have had, ignoring many contrary experiences of others.

It is a good habit to assess whether authority represents a higher truth or wisdom. It often does but in those cases when authority implies blind adherence to past practices, we must step up and initi! ate change. Early experience in this helps, that is why rebels and non-conformists have an advantage in today's world.

Monday, December 6, 2010

i-TFTD #302: We Are Limited by the Thoughts We Choose

Here's a (verified true) story about George Dantzig, the mathematician whose significant contributions to Operations Research and systems engineering have made him famous.

One morning in 1939, as a college student at Berkeley, George arrived late for Prof. Jerry Neyman's statistics class. He quickly copied the two problems on the board, assuming they were the homework assignment. It took him several days to work through the two problems, but finally he had a breakthrough and dropped the homework on Neyman's desk the next day.

Six weeks later, on a Sunday morning, George was visited by his excited professor, announcing the acceptance of a paper based on his proof! Since George was late for class, he had not heard the professor announce that the two unsolved equations on ! the board were mathematical mind-teasers that experts had not yet cracked.

But George Dantzig, working without any thoughts of limitation, had solved not one, but two problems that had stumped mathematicians for years.

Simply put, George solved the problems because he didn't know he couldn't. You are not limited to the life you now live. It has been accepted by you as the best you can do at this moment. Any time you're ready to go beyond the limitations currently in your life, you're capable of doing that by choosing different thoughts. All you must do is figure out how you can do it, not whether or not you can. And once you have made your mind up to do it, it's amazing how your mind begins to figure out how.

A person is limited only by the thoughts that s/he chooses.

(Thanks to Sebin Thomas for sharing this.)

When we do not know that something is difficult (or impossible) that mindset itself somehow makes us approach it in a more effective manner. It is why Richard Bach's little 1970 storybook, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, still sells and inspires millions. Unfortunately our increased knowledge of any subject often makes us more aware of what is not possible. The challenge is to imbibe a positive belief that goes against the known facts. Successful salespeople and ambitious sportspersons know the trick.

Friday, December 3, 2010

i-TFTD #301: On Reading

#301-1. Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines.
-Margaret Millar, novelist (1915-1994)

#301-2. The point of reading is to make us feel less alone and less confused.
-Alain de Botton, author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

#301-3. The fellow reads so much I don't see how he could ever find the time to know anything.
-Anthony De Mello, One Minute Wisdom

Is there such a thing as being too clever? There is such a thing as showing to be too clever for your own good in a situation. The tendency to overcomplicate has to be guarded against by clever people if they wish to become very clever.

Reading and discussion almost always! reveals that our so-called unique pressures and problems are experienced by others.

Gathering new knowledge and ideas should not become an obsession by itself, one should balance it with reflection, assimilation and application. (Full Disclosure: I know this is sound advice, I cannot claim to be practising it.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

i-TFTD #300: On Resisting Machination

#300-1. (By 2015) there will be less distinction between business and technology than there's ever been. We'll have gone from business technology alignment to business technology convergence in just a few short decades.
-Steve Andriole in the Cutter Consortium report titled, 'Enterprise 3.0: How IT's All Going to Change'

#300-2. Autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.
-Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers (2008)

#300-3. As long as we respond predictably to what feels good and what feels bad, it is easy for others to exploit our preferenc! es for their own ends.
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990)

Even in the 21st century, there are some, like Nicholas Carr, who tend to look at information technology as a mere efficiency boosting infrastructural aid. They do not subscribe to Toffler’s views or Negroponte’s assessment of the shift from atoms to bits.

Technology systems do bring new problems, one of which is that they seize control of many of the activities that were traditionally the domain of human beings. This ought to push us to more creative pursuits, designing newer ways to ensure the well being of the ecology that we are part of.

We need to choose how to respond, based not only on how we feel but what the consequences of our responses are.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

i-TFTD #299: Former CEOs Dispense Wisdom

#299-1. Leaders who execute, focus on a very few clear priorities that everyone can grasp. A leader who says "I've got ten priorities" doesn't know what he's talking about—he doesn't know himself what the most important things are.
-Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, in their book, Execution

#299-2. A CEO's job is to interpret external realities for a company.
-A. G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter and Gamble

#299-3. It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure—or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success.
-Thomas J. Watson, Former CEO of IBM

Leaders who, by definition, are at a higher vantage point, need to share useful perspectives with their teams that helps the team perform better. It is the leader's job to crystallize the relevant key aspects of the barrage of dynamic information from the environment and spell out a simple vision for everyone to work toward.

Increasing the top line, improved profitability, higher customer satisfaction, better quality, innovation on products or services... when would an organization not want to pursue all these objectives? But if all of them are stated as important, they become platitudes. Effective leaders identify the need of the hour and articulate in a memorable manner to energize the workforce to attain ambitious goals in that direction.

In the quest for higher levels of performance, mistakes are an essential part of the process. Bill Gates and Tom Peters among others ! have emphatically pointed out the need for companies to foster a culture of trying out things that may not succeed the first time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

i-TFTD #298: Change How We Face

#298-1. If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.
-John "Jack" Welch (1935-), former chairman and CEO of General Electric

#298-2. Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.
-James Baldwin (1924–1987), African-American writer

#298-3. Events are not predictable, but consequences are, so focus on preparedness.
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb (1960-), Lebanese essayist and practitioner of mathematical financial economics, author of "The Black Swan" and "Fooled by Randomness"

There is a certain type of openness and generic flexibility that can help cope with unpredictable situations in a better manner than if one were rigid. This rigidity could be inertia or it could manifest as overconfidence on one's assessment of scenarios. One trick is self-induced change in the spirit of one of the quotes from i-TFTD in June 2008: It is necessary to change before change becomes necessary.

Monday, November 15, 2010

i-TFTD #297: Serve, Act and Learn

#297-1. The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.
-Albert Einstein

#297-2. How you live one day is eventually how you live your life.
-Phillip Yancey

#297-3. The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
-Flora Whittemore

The first quote can be applied by managers in how they see their role in leading a team. In today's world, seeing yourself as the "rajah" or "rani" of your team is not only useless, it is invalid and harmful. If I adopt the view that my role is to serve the team by removing obstacles, leading from the front by example, using my experience to coach and groom my subordinates, I would find it easier to earn respect and cooperation in achieving the common goal. A somewhat old concept called "Servant Leadership" is actually gaining popularity these days.

Too many of our good intentions and thoughts to improve ourselves and the situation get bogged down in trying to achieve grand goals. Just getting started and doing what is possible today will pave the path to bigger progress.

"Open door" and "close door" can be taken literally, but can also be applied to new ideas, people, thoughts, feelings… Open is not always better than close, being conscious of the process is better than operating out of habit.

Friday, November 12, 2010

i-TFTD #296: Dead Evidence

This is an interesting snippet from a short piece at BusinessPundit.com written by Rob May in July 2007 titled
What Bullet Holes in Airplanes Can Teach You About Making Better Business Decisions

During World War II, statistician Abraham Wald tried to determine where to add extra armor to airplanes. Based on the patterns of bullet holes in returning airplanes, he suggested that the parts not hit should be protected with extra armor. Why?

Wald was looking at what is sometimes called "dead evidence." He reasoned like this... if these planes are returning, we know that if they are hit in the spots they have been hit, they can still fly. The planes that did not return must have been hit in different places. So put the extra armor wherever the returning planes were not hit.

I think most people would have a natural inclination to put the armor where the returning planes had been hit. The real answer is simple, but counterintuitive. It's called "dead evidence" because it is what people ignore when they make these judgments.

(Thanks to Ramanan Jagannathan for sharing this.)

Many creative thinking techniques involve consciously inverting our view, looking at the opposite of the normal, imagining upside down and inside out. Could be applied in any situation where we want to get new ideas and insights.
-Attrition is a concern in any company, instead of only looking at exit interviews to analyze why leavers are leaving, find out why stayers are staying and strengthen those attributes in the company
-Everyone seems to be buying a brand or investing in some asset, instead of finding reasons for that, analyze the reasons why others are not buying that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

i-TFTD #295: On Problem-Solving Attitude

#295-1. Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.
-H.R. McMaster, Brigadier General, US Army, Iraq War veteran (b. 1962), talking about the overuse of PowerPoint presentations

#295-2. No great programmer is sitting there saying, 'I'm going to make a bunch of money,' or 'I'm going to sell a hundred thousand copies.' Because that kind of thought gives you no guidance about the problems.
-Bill Gates

#295-3. I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
-Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)

Not only is Death by Powerpoint a malaise of the times, there seems to be a general aversion to depth and nuance. Many so-called good managers tend to quickly list short conclusions and push for action items to assign to an SPC (single point of contact). Is it only me or have you noticed the irony of rapid multiplication of SPCs?

Simon Sinek, author of Start with the Why, would probably say that making money is the What and selling copies is the How but the Why is more important. Yes, there are critics of his oversimplified arguments, his force-fitting of examples like Apple to his theory and his expansion of a simple message into a Why University but his emphasis on the importance of purpose is valid.

Almost any problem can benefit from a scientific approach, even in intangible realms like spirituality. All my favorite gurus of the beyond, The Buddha, Adi Shankara, Ramana Maharishi and Anthony Demello, endorsed questioning and thinking through for oneself. Though I have not read him much, probably because of the bias instilled long ago by the Indian press about his huge Rolls Royce collection and activities in his Pune ashram, Osho Rajneesh seems to have propagated the same.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

i-TFTD #294: On the Difficulty of Change

#294-1. The inability to change is the inability to reckon with reality.
-Stefan Rudolph

#294-2. Obstinacy is the result of the will forcing itself into the place of the intellect.
-Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher (1788-1860)

#294-3. The door of a bigoted mind opens outwards so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it is to close it more snugly.
-Ogden Nash, author (1902-1971)

Reality is change—every moment.At multiple levels. Our mind recognizes this, and wants to adapt suitably but another part, the individual-centric ego, wants to hold on to something, anything. It manufactures vague threatening images of losing out, which obscures reality. We have to open the door inwards to let the light of facts illuminate through the fog of fear.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

i-TFTD #293: Thus Spake the Johns

#293-1. When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.
-John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)

#293-2. Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
-John Wooden, American basketball coach (1910-2010)

#293-3. The real measure of our wealth is how much we'd be worth if we lost all our money.
-John Henry Jowett, preacher (1864-1923)

Building skills to hone the areas of our natural passion is easier and helps achieves excellence faster. Observe how different individuals learn at varying speeds in a training program. Your own rapid learning is an important clue to the areas where you can develop strengths.

Money and fame are useful indicators of our realizing our potential but there are more important things that endure. One should not make these milestones the goal of the journey.

Friday, October 29, 2010

i-TFTD #292: Back without a Bang

Yes, I have been off the network for months and i-TFTD stopped. Now it’s back. Thanks for your patience and polite enquiries.

#292-1. Managers may be afraid to embrace simplicity. In business we are all scared of being called "too simple." People confuse simplicity, which is hard to achieve, with simplistic, which is easy and usually lacking value. When in doubt, a manager may add a layer of complexity where it is not needed just to be safe. It takes courage to be simple.
-Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen

#292-2. McKinsey reported in 1999 that there is a war for talent that would continue for the next 50 years. But in my opinion it's already over. Talent won; we lost. We as employers are battling against some dire demographic trends.
-Lance J. Richards, senior director, Kelly Services at the World Human Resources Congress in Sep-2010

#292-3. A 2009 study tracking over 3,000 men/women for 10 years found that those with bad bosses suffered 20 to 40 per cent more heart attacks than those with good bosses.
-Shyamal Majumdar in his article, Are you a control freak? in the Business Standard dated Sep. 17, 2010

We discussed earlier the importance of distinguishing between simplistic and simple. Simplicity is hard to achieve because it takes effort to simplify without sacrificing essential content.

The HR fraternity and managers in general need to change their focus from “How do we retain the talent needed to achieve our objective?” to “What does the new generation workforce seek, and what are their capabilities?”

Do we really need detailed research reports to know the importance of not being bad bosses?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

i-TFTD #291: On Using the Intelligence Asset

i-TFTD #291: On Using the Intelligence Asset

#291-1. Intelligence is when you spot a flaw in your boss's reasoning. Wisdom is when you refrain from pointing it out.
-James Dent

2. Where all men think alike, no one thinks very much.
-Walter Lippmann

3. In an information economy, the most valuable company assets drive themselves home every night. If they are not treated well, they do not return the next morning.
-Peter Chang

Catching someone make a mistake, whether boss or spouse or subordinate, and not pointing it out… how many of us have that kind of self-control over temptation? Of course, the advice to refrain from pointing out is probably intended in a light vein and not to be taken as serious advice.

Thinking differently from the crowd is an essential quality for any leader. Conformity can never produce excellence.

Treating employees well is often mistaken as granting privileges or ignoring wrong behaviour. Fair, consistent and transparent application of policies and practices, however strict, gives better results.

Friday, July 2, 2010

i-TFTD #290: On Acting Out of the Box

i-TFTD #290: On Acting Out of the Box

#290-1. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
-Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

290-2. Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
-Dale Carnegie, pioneering self-help author of How to Win Friends and Influence People and other books (1888–1955)

(Thanks to K Shailesh for sharing this.)

290-3. Confidence is an internal state that is made up of perceiving the risk, experiencing the fear, and overcoming the fear in order to take action.

Dare to think original thoughts that are different from others and commit to acting in accordance with your thoughts with confidence in your ability to think and act. Even if the intended results are not guaranteed, personal growth is.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

i-TFTD #289: The Dictionary Continues to Inspire

i-TFTD #289: The Dictionary Continues to Inspire

Continuing the popular Learning from the Dictionary series (available here, here and here):

overslaugh (o-vuhr-slaw), verb tr.
-To pass over someone in favor of another, as in a promotion
-To bar or to hinder

Simon Legree (SY-muhn li-GREE), noun
-A harsh taskmaster
After Simon Legree, a brutal slave dealer in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe)

prolix (pro-LIKS, PRO-liks), adjective
-Tediously wordy
From Latin prolixus (extended, poured), from liquere (to flow), which is also the source of words such as liquid, liquor, licorice. Now you see the connection—why consuming liquor makes people prolix!

Trust I am not being prolix in suggesting managers to get work done without always being a Simon Legree, else they risk being overslaughed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

i-TFTD #288: Colors of the Wind

i-TFTD #288: Colors of the Wind

Colors of the Wind (song from Disney's Pocahontas)

You think I'm an ignorant savage
And you've been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
how can there be so much that you don't know?
You don't know ...

You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest
Come taste the sunsweet berries of the Earth
Come roll in all the riches all around you
And for once, never wonder what they're worth

The rainstorm and the river are my brothers
The heron and the otter are my friends
And we are all connected to each other
In a circle, in a hoop that never ends

How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you'll never know
And you'll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon

For whether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountains
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind

You can own the Earth and still
All you'll own is Earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

(Thanks to R Raghavendran for sharing this. He recommends reading this along with listening to the song, available on various sites.)

The three highlighted portions are powerful statements, all directly applicable to leadership situations.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

i-TFTD #287: On Choosing Dots to Connect

i-TFTD #287: On Choosing Dots to Connect

#287-1. You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success—or are they holding you back?
-W. Clement Stone

287-2. You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions.
-Adlin Sinclair

287-3. How we choose what we do, and how we approach it... will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The advice embodied in these three quotes, in this order, can be a powerful technique to apply. We do not pay much attention to what is around us: the people, values, culture, facilities, sounds, sights and smells we surround ourselves with can have a subtle but steady influence on our moods.

Our maturity is in overcoming any negative effects of our environment through what we decide to focus upon. If we tend to magnify the negative, there always seems to be enough of it. I can train myself to magnify the possibilities, which impels me into positive action. This, in turn, may influence changes in my environment.

If we are able to acquire the habit to do these things regularly, our activities and progress can attain a coherence, can lead to a bigger vision. This is what Steve Jobs and others call “connecting the dots”.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

i-TFTD #286: Be Unique and Forgive-worthy

i-TFTD #286: Be Unique and Forgive-worthy

#286-1. Every one of us is precious in the cosmic perspective. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
-Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)

286-2. A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.
-Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

286-3. I have never gone to sleep with a grievance against anyone. And, as far as I could, I have never let anyone go to sleep with a grievance against me.
-Abba Agathon, monk (4th/5th century)

As filmmaker Warren Miller put it, "You are a unique person, just like everybody else!"

It shocks me how many intelligent people waste their energ
y on past wrongs, imagined slights and confrontations already dealt with. I had planned to narrate a sad story as example but I forget what it was. A bad memory is a blessing in this context.

The monk's credo seems simple but it is certainly not easy to do, especially the second part.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

i-TFTD #285: Short Poetic Inspiration

i-TFTD #285: Short Poetic Inspiration

#285-1. I am myself
when I'm alone
but I need you
with me
to be the myself
that I like better.
-'Company' by Ramya Sriram, Indian poet (1988-)

#285-2. Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came. He pushed them,
And they flew..."
-Christopher Logue, English poet (1926-) but often wrongly attributed to Guillaume Apollinaire, pseudonym of Italian-born French poet Wilhelm Albert Vladimir Apollinaris Kostrowitzky (1880-1918)

(Thanks to Charushila Dhote for sharing this.)

#285-3. Along this tree
From root to crown
Ideas flow up
And vetoes down.
-A senior executive, quoted by Peter Drucker

This tiny poem resonated with me instantly because I have struggled to express the thought, in different contexts, that we as living beings, have to aspire to change in the quest to be better. Yes, self-acceptance is a useful and sometimes necessary act, but it is a temporary tool, not a licence for complacency, stubbornness and a general mental laziness.

From big, bold steps taken by creative visionaries to entrepreneurial chutzpah to small daily acts we may dare to do (like speaking in front of an audience for the first time or confronting someone at work), we all know the need to take that step but hesitate based on imagined consequences.

In the organizational context, courage is needed not only to express new ideas but to listen to opposing views and evaluate them dispassionately.