Monday, January 30, 2012

Ask, Seek, Knock

I’ve written before about the importance of networking and moving from wallflower to evangelist. Closed mouths don’t get fed. If you want something, you have to either ask for it or walk up and take it.“Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock.” Matthew 7:7.

Just as Jesus taught his disciples to persist in prayer as a way to improve their communication skills, global leaders must also be in constant pursuit of, and proficient in, cross-cultural communication skills if they are to succeed in today’s global environment. Global leaders must be persistent in asking for ways to gain more cultural knowledge, seeking ways to understand rather than to be understood by people of different cultures, and knocking on the door of wisdom toward unlocking hidden meaning to better communicate across cultures. Without the proper meaning, misunderstandings and misinterpretations often prevail because what is appropriate behavior for one culture can be inappropriate in another.

Global leaders often use their own meaning to make sense of someone else’s reality or lack cultural awareness of their own behavioral rules and apply them to others. Global leaders must strongly consider the cultural factors of the languages of context, time and space because they impact the language we speak, be it verbal or nonverbal.

Always remember, closed mouths don't get fed!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Remembering my father

My father was the noblest person I have ever come across in my life. He was true to himself and others and lived a life of purity and innocence. He never missed a single day’s prayer and uttered a single bad word ever. He was a great husband and my parents had the best relationship. They were married over 55 years until my father’s death. My mother stayed with him in his ups and downs and took care of him during his ill health. Their mutual warmth was very deep till the last day of my father. My mother is missing him every moment now. I have always wondered the reason for such a great chemistry between spouses.

I remember an incident when I was child, studying in 6th grade. One day I fell ill and suddenly collapsed. My father, who had a small stature, carried me and ran to the local doctor’s office, which was quite far away. Even today I can feel his heavy breath, fear, and anguish when he made that run. It awakens my spirit and moist my eyes whenever I think of this noble, selfless man.

My father influenced me in many ways. The most important part was the trust he had on me. That was the highest motivating factor in my life. Even today, every time I make a mistake, which I do several times, the biggest influence of course correction is remembering my dad. Through him I learned that positive emotions have profound impact in our life compared to negativism which may take you down. My dad was always very proud of me. I do recall him introducing me to his friends as a high achiever with a twinkle in his eyes. Dad, I won’t let you down.

God has been kind enough to give me a wonderful wife, lovely children, and a great life. When I think of my dad, I do reflect on my role as a father and husband. How good am I at my role? Do my wife and kids give me a failing, passing, or excelling grade? Only time can tell. But my father reminds me from heaven every time I mess up to do the course correction. Yes, he is up there blessing me and guiding me to follow the right path in my life.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Declutter (and de-stress) your life

"Your home should be your sanctuary," says Phoenix-based organizational pro Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple (Storey, 2004). "When it's cluttered, it's overwhelming. Plus, you can't find anything." Your life and even your mind can also become overcrowded with too much junk.

Excessive clutter is often a symptom and a cause of stress and can affect every facet of your life, from the time it takes you to do things to your finances and your overall enjoyment of life. Clutter can distract you, weigh you down, and in general it invites chaos into your life. Often times, however, tackling the clutter can seem an insurmountable task if you don’t know where or how to start. By devoting a little of your time to getting rid of the clutter in your life and maintaining things relatively clutter-free , you’ll reap the rewards of pleasing living areas, reduced stress, and a more organized and productive existence.

Mayo clinic offers several valuable tips on decluttering and simplyfing your life. The best way to tackle the decluttering of your home, your work space, and your life is to take things one small step at a time. Combined, small steps will lead to big improvements that will be easier to maintain over the long-run. You've probably noticed the word "simplify" popping up in magazine articles and talk show discussions about how to deal with the chaos and complexity of modern life. The resurgence of an old idea — living a simpler life — isn't surprising at a time when many people feel overwhelmed by their busy, complicated lives. The voluntary simplicity movement, as it's sometimes called, preaches the value of living a more balanced, less stressful, deliberate and thoughtful life. You don't have to be a fanatic, though, to want to simplify your life.
When you're surrounded by more things than you can manage, it sends a visual message that your life is out of control. And it can become a vicious circle, where disorder brings about procrastination, which only perpetuates the chaos. To make matters worse, when you're under stress, cortisol, the stress hormone, short-circuits your brain leading to forgetfulness, irritation and plain old meltdowns.

The following are ideas to help you simplify your life and reduce stress. Give it a try.
Clear the clutter: Pick one area to tackle, such as the junk drawer in the kitchen or the piles of clothes in the bedroom. Take a hard look at what you've accumulated. Clear out any items you're not using.

Switch off the media: TVs, radios, smart phones, laptops, video games — they all contribute to audiovisual clutter. Being flooded with stimuli, even entertaining stimuli, is a tremendous source of stress. Unplug and unhook yourself.

Clear your calendar: How often have you complained that there aren't enough hours in the day? It's not the clock that's the problem. It's the number of activities you're trying to pack in. Being too busy can become a habit so entrenched that it leads you to postpone or cut short what really matters to you, making you a slave to a lifestyle you don't even like. What can you do? Only say yes to activities you really care about. In other words, learn to say no.
Stop multitasking: Your mind can also be cluttered, your attention spread too thin among too many tasks. Long touted as the mark of the highly efficient, multitasking has recently been revealed to be less of a boon than once thought. In fact, recent research shows that people who multitask tend to be less able to concentrate and more easily distracted than people who rarely multitask. Perhaps more importantly, multitasking doesn't let you get into the flow — a state of being so absorbed in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. When you're in the flow, also called in the zone, things seem to happen effortlessly. You're totally absorbed by what you're doing. There's no room in your awareness for conflicts or contradictions. Flow creates a sense of fulfillment and engagement, and even contentment. So, try for more flow and less multitasking. Start by turning off the electronic distractions and focusing on one task. Only when you've completed that task can you go on to the next. Focusing on one task is also a good way to learn to be present — or totally engaged — in the moment. This is mindfulness. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The spirituality of Running

          My son jokes that I may have to add up all my driving miles to achieve the ambitious running target I set for 2012. Am I crazy to do this? I think I am not. Why? Running’s difficulty is part of its value. It is allowing me to sleep better, feel stronger, have more energy, be more confident, think more clearly, and make more friends. Running builds character because it is difficult, and because many of the virtues can neither be exhibited nor developed in the absence of hardship. Regular running helps bring a sense of order in my life. The activity is restorative for the body and spirit, and contributes to a sense of self-realization.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Running is nothing but suffering. And suffering provides an occasion for exemplifying and developing positive character traits such as compassion, generosity, and courage. Hence, suffering can become an occasion for “soul making” which eventually will lead to happiness, fulfillment and inner peace. Running also gives me opportunity to self evaluate. Most of us are capable of achieving far more than we think we can. Only by setting high, demanding goals can we maximize our full potential. There is no value of temperance unless there is some pleasure one must forgo. One of the aptitudes of the wise is the ability to put off present pleasure or overcome present pain for greater reward down the road. Socrates tells us to make right choices and see the real value independent of present appearances or immediate sufferings.

“Our life”, said the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius (AD121-80), “is what our thought make it”. This is a point on which philosophers, running coaches, and successful people in all walks of life agree: Winners believe in themselves. We all love to take credit for our successes while blaming external, uncontrollable factors for our failures. Here is some words of wisdom. World famous runner and physician-philosopher, George Sheehan says, “to succeed anything, you need passion”. Sheehan found running to be “a path to maturity, a growth process” that continually challenged him “to go further, to grow more, and to become a more complete human being”.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Failing Forward

What differentiates between average people and successful people?  The findings are against our conventional wisdom. Successful people have failed more often than average people. Why? Several management leaders and thinkers have a common answer for this. According to them, successful people treat failure as a learning curve and use it as a stepping stone for future success. Average people are risk averse which limit them in their growth path. If someone has not made any mistake, we can say that (s)he has not tried enough to explore full potential. These safe players are like ship in a harbor, they are not exploring the deep sea!

Leadership expert, bestselling author and speaker, John Maxwell who coined the term ‘failing forward’ says, “I know of only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don’t: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.”  Many successful individuals and organizations have experienced failures at different stages in their life cycle.  They made use of the lessons to improve their performance, rather than dropping the ball.

Thinking failure is mostly a mindset. Many people look at isolated instances of failure and miss the big picture. Today, several leading organizations start realizing the value of failing forward and encourage teams to share their failure stories and even reward ‘successful failures’! So, next time before you blame yourselves or your colleagues on any failure, think twice. The victory is round the corner and march ‘fail forward to success’!!

Note: This is the first of the series of blogs planned for the current year in vide ranging topics. Your comments are welcome.