The First Job – 3 Things you cant do without


Some people are lucky to have good jobs straight out of college and some are not! Are you and / or your loved ones that Lucky?

As Malcolm Gladwell would say Luck = Opportunity + Preparation. But honestly, and I will bet my 10 years of working with more than 200 global organizations as a people and culture consultant, luck has nothing to do with it!

A 2014 CII (Confederation of Indian industries) report co-authored by Wheebox says that only 1.5 out of every 5 Indian graduates are unemployable in India. This is a number that should scare you – it scared me!

So, here are 3 things you can’t do without to get hired for the first time :

1. Be worldly-wise and not just book-wise : When I was studying, there were all kinds of kids in class – the talkative ones and the quiet ones, the strong ones and the intelligent ones, the bookworms and the doers, the good-boys and the mis-chiefs (Pun intended) and finally, the toppers.

I got along well with most and I had somewhat of an opinion about who would succeed in life. Here is the order of people from successful to not so successful that I thought will happen : Toppers > Bookwise > Intellectuals >Good-boys>Doers >Strongmen>Talkers>Mischiefs>ME (Happily, this didn’t turn out correct!)

Today, after many years that I see what has happened, the order is insanely different. It is: Talkers > Mis-chiefs > ME> Doers > Good Boys> Toppers>Intellectuals …. and so on. I also validated this observation with friends and family and somehow , almost everyone said that it’s strangely true!

So, the first thing you need is life experience – the more you have tried, the more you have failed, the more you have seen – the better are your chances to succeed.

Focus Skills : Agility and Adaptability

2. Be the ‘Why’ Guy (Or Girl) : There is a boat-load of people who seem to have an opinion about what needs to be done. When you apply a filter to that list saying who knows ‘why’ and ‘how’, you will be surprised to see that the list has shortened by about 80%. What does this mean?

This means, that while a lot of people can be smart enough to know the right thing, they are unable to execute. When any business looks to hire, they want people who can deliver.

A while ago we were taking interviews for our business at http://www.ITrainConsultants.com; we interviewed more that 50 valid resumes to learn only one simple fact – Credentials do not guarantee skills!

So as a fresher, you should focus on ‘why and how’ you did things and not just on ‘what’; when you land that interview. You have a simple agenda – Project yourself as someone who knows how to deliver!

This alone will make you a memorable candidate and push you to the top of the shortlist.

Focus Skills : Focus on ‘Why’ and Communication 

3. Become work ready : What really changes between college and work? I have asked this question to more than 1000 people across the many Campus to Corporate workshops we delivered for clients like Maruti, Sapient, Sterlite Tech. and many more. The answers I get include Money, Lifestyle, Loosing Friends, Social Circle, Needs, Responsibilities, Routine, Boredom, Less fun, Being answerable etc.

What I wanted to hear but never did, is – Expectation.

What your parents, college, and you expect from yourself are nothing similar to what a business, an employer, expects from you. That is why, what you did yesterday which worked well does not necessarily work well today (When you are at work).

You will complain that you need to be who you are, you can’t change your personality and the business needs to learn to deal with you. You will own every success and blame every failure on the effervescent – SYSTEM! But it will not help you grow.

What you need to learn is that ‘To change a system you first have to be a part of it’. Therefore – For the first 6 months or so, suppress your urge to change things, master the system and keep an open mind by listening and learning.

If you are at a place where you are not learning a lot, don’t worry – Ask!

Doing this and other simple things like ensuring right email etiquette, manners , phone etiquette, dressing well (Even if others are not doing it!) will give you something that many take years and years to build – Credibility.

Without credibility even the best ideas are worthless because the way this business world works – An idea is usually as important as the person giving it.

Focus Skills : Listening, Learning and Etiquette

I know that there are many naïve people out there who may not agree with this straight up commentary and will give a different advise. Listen to them too because what they say is not wrong. Just remember, an year later, you will be in a position to give advice and I hope that you then give what you truly believe.

We wanted to do something to help fix the issue of low employability and therefore this article. But that is not where our accountability ends, having been in learning and development for over a decade with many world class organizations, there is certainly more that can be done.

That is why we established the IERF (International Employability Research Foundation) and sculpted the Corporate Accelerator program. Simply put it does three things :

  • Corporate certified assessment – skill evaluation which allows the employers from 200+ organizations to see the potential talent of each student and how quickly they can deliver results once hired
  • Psychometric Evaluation – allowing recruitment to be a lot more focused and ensuring that the right talent is hired for the right job. Something that students will not have access to anywhere else in the country
  • Profile Showcase – students who certify through our program have their profile uploaded to our recruitment database which is an access point for our corporate partners to conduct their recruitment.

Here are two presentations that will tell you everything you want to know. Don’t wait, if you have outgrown this but wish that you knew about it when the time was right – please share with those who CAN use it today!

The Idea :

The Program:

We are just starting out sharing this but we spent the last 7 years building it. I will be very keen to know what you think about the ‘corporate accelerator’ idea. Looking forward to hear from you.

For sign-up, participation, referral or if you know a college that we can pitch to or anything else that you may think of , please write to ierf@itrainconsultants.com

– Abhinandan Chatterjee

Why fairy tales don’t inspire anymore!


Believe them!

Believe them!

Who does not like a little story? A good plot, some identifiable characters, a little background, a convincing story-teller sprinkled with some emotions

  •  Little Red Ridinhood didn’t listen to her mother.
  • Jasmine was in a live in relationship with Alladin.
  • Snow White alone lived wid 7 men.
  • Pinnochio was a liar.
  • Robin Hood was a thief.
  • Tarzan walked without clothes on.
  • A stranger kissed Sleeping beauty n she married him.
  • Cindrella lied, sneaking out at nite 2 attend a party..
  • These r d stories our parents raised us with n den they complain our generation is spoiled!!
  • Jasmine was in a live in relationship with Alladin.
  • Snow White alone lived wid 7 men.
  • Pinnochio was a liar.
  • Robin Hood was a thief.
  • Tarzan walked without clothes on.
  • A stranger kissed Sleeping beauty n she married him.
  • Cindrella lied, sneaking out at nite 2 attend a party..

These are the stories we grew up with and still the they complain our generation is spoiled!!

There is one thing that has continued to bother me though. How is it that as kids we looked at the good sides of these stories and loved them. What really changed by the time we grew up? Today, even when we hear a good story, lets say – a politician doing something good , we still think there is some sneaky self interest involved somewhere.

I mean , by all means, please be a pessimist if you will but then either stop telling children lies or start looking at the truth in them as a grown up!

What really has changed is a term coined by Motivation theorist Ashland –  UPR (Unconditional Positive Regard). In  simple terms when you meet someone for the first time , you think of them as good people who are there to help and help them if needed.  Today however, you reach someone who you don’t know and you are taken up as a disturbance if not a conman already.

What is this happening to the world around us? I asked around , many poeple, and what I got was ‘The world is not a safe place place any more?’ Where do you intend to go – I ask!

So here are three super simple things you can do the bring the UPR back :

1. Realism – Tell children (and adults) what is with the risks and the good sides.

2. Make a Opinion marker – For E.G. I tell myself that I will make an opinion about someone only after meeting thrice. This works, if i did’t do this, trust me I would not have been married yet!

3. Share – When people make you uneasy, say things that you disapprove, share your feeling without accusing other of being wright or wrong.

Do this and slowly and steadily UPR will return to your life. Once you give it, you will get it and then the fairy tales will inspire again!

 

Creating Shared Value : The ‘sunrise’ direction


What can a business do?

Like most of us who run, transact with or know businesses will say that a they can only make money! Not true any more !

A really interesting Initiative that I came across was the ‘Nestle Creating Shared Valueand their perspective towards the role of business in development is simple, clear, driven and the way I understand – Very practical.

In my humble opinion, they seem to believe ‘If they build a better world, even they will benefit from it’ something that everyone should learn from and strive towards.

Read more about their work here . Or watch a video here

I believe in this idea and want to learn more, after receiving an invite recently from the Creating Shared Value Forum,2012 (Organized by Nestle SA and FICCI) to be held in New Delhi, India on Nov 5th as a Key Online Opinion Leader, my focus is now to see what is actionable and write about it.

Stay tuned here for two more articles on this thread :

1. Creating Shared Value : The business of development

2. Creating shared value forum 2012 : Top 10 actionable items that your business can start tomorrow.

Connect with the forum directly on twitter at https://twitter.com/nestleCSV  

#NestleCSV stay tuned for my tweets from the event day

OR connect with them on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Nestle

Personally, since I am doing a workshop on ‘Execution tactics’ for a leading automobile company today, I feel the best way to sum this up for now would be to quote The Tonite Show anchor and entrepreneur – Jay Leno

“Life begins at conception and ends at execution’

Preamble – The real route to independence – Part 1


” WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949,DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION. ”

You would certainly have read this before in 5th Standard Civics… Remember!

Maybe you were too young to understand then, but now that you are old enough to read, can understand and choose your actions well – What do you do to uphold the constitution of India?

No; you do not have to read the constitution !

Just understanding the PREAMBLE and doing some little things at a very individual level should be enough – For now!

Let’s dissect : “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:”

Leaving everything aside, all Indians are alike and equal. Can we treat our fellow Indian’s that way? Or is it okay if a rich man has rights and a poor man gets ‘Rights to admission – Reserved!’ even on government offices?

In 1949, we agree to be good people who care for each other.

Are we really SOVEREIGN ?

“The people’s will is in theory –  sovereign”. When we rule India as Indians, free from the pressures and politics of the world by being righteous and real.

The simplest way of being sovereign is to be aware – Yes, there are problems, but mostly because people love what’s easy and not what is correct.

It is time to stop looking at the constitution as something that stops us from doing things out of our own free will and start looking at it as something that gives us our share of the system, of  rules and more importantly – our rights.

The right to speak and be heard, right to be who we are and do what we want to without discrimination; as long as it is not hurting anything. We find it confining but it allows us to marry across cast, creed and culture while the society may not agree.

Take away : To be sovereign, know your rights.

Are we  really SOCIALIST ?

“To understand socialism, we need to understand the word ~ co-operation”

Be it economical, political or even historical; socialism is simply the act of being co-operative for the greater good. I think of the freedom fighters often – they had their share of problems like we do but they came out in the open to disagree with what was incorrect. They came together disregarding all biases. Considering now we are free, it should be easier for us to do so. Isn’t it?

Unfortunately the act of winning is more to do with ensuring that others fail rather than working harder and running faster. Co-operation is not against competition but it sure does favour ‘fairness’ in thought and action.

Take away : To be a socialist, think for more than just yourself by doing something good towards fostering equality in India. Be it just once a month you teach underprivileged kids  or donate in cash or kind.

Are we really SECULAR ?

“Humanity has no religion, it is one” – Gates foundation press release

Secular is simply the lack of bias. Not only religious but also social, cultural and in 2012, adding economical is not a stretch. Upholding what is available to all by abiding with law above religion. Being an Indian above an Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. Propagating humanity and not gospel is the real act of god, I guess. Still how many of us are comfortable with the religions that we do not understand. For a country with a constitution that claims to be unbiased and secular; the largest opposition party openly claims to be religiously inclined and downright intolerant on matters on religious equality.

I totalled up all the major religion driven deaths post 1949 (TOI, Archives), it took me 2 hours( that is how high the count was! ) to find that 1450000 Indians have died in various attempts of riots, terrorism strikes, honour killing, socially compelled suicides and post event trauma for all of the above.

It’s funny how certain religious institutions in India gross more money in donation and returns on investments than what is the educational budget for this country with over 50% population under 18 years of age!

Take away : To be a secular, read more about history and religion, a aware mind is less likely to be superstitious. Have faith not because you have to but because you want to. All that any religion ever led people towards was a better and peaceful world to live in.

Are we really DEMOCRATIC?

‘Between death and dungeon what do I choose?’ Voters turnout across country in last general election was less than 60 % and we were proud of it. A local Gurgaon newspaper survey suggested that the turnout at exit poll for urban Gurgaon booths were 20-25 % only. Local’s when asked ‘why so?’; 29 % people said they did not want to choose either of the candidates. Democracy is about the right to choose, the right is there but the choices are limited to be somebody’s pet peeves.  Did you know that you could actually cast blank votes if you do not prefer any of the listed candidates and RTI can also give access to the number of such instances. There are three aspects that make us less of a democracy:

  1. People – Democracy simply is ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’ where no individual is above ‘people’ but everybody seems to be missing this point. To vote or not to vote is not simply a choice; it’s a duty that we all have. But we are either lazy or busy.
  2. Options – I can choose between right and wrong like most people but in the art of choosing between two wrongs – I am not competent. Today, whoever gets elected says something and does something else. Even movies have stopped mocking this scenario now because it was over used! How do I trust such people, who do I trust with my vote and my future?
  3. Power – The thing that seems to control everything including the Judiciary and the law. Police is scared of a lot of things like politicians and their distant friends (A group that everybody in Delhi seems to be a part of); Press and the Fake I Cards like the ones that say ‘zalzala akhbaar’ and ‘Rohtak Mirroring’ eventually passing for journalists and their own ‘Babu’s’ who have taken so many favors from so many people that they now return even without asking.

It is comic but real that a man is not more valuable than a 21 INR toll ticket for which he got killed.

Take away: It is slow cooked broth reduced over 65 years and is not going to change overnight. Fight the wrong by being aware. Start with the traffic rules by reading them on http://www.delhitrafficpolice.nic.in/ The only way to rebuild democracy is to rethink our actions. That includes accepting  fault when you make one!

Are we a REPUBLIC ; yet?

On official documents – YES!

Republic noun state in which the supreme power rests in the body ofcitizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/republic

How powerful is the citizen today and how much does he trust his elected representatives? I asked 15 people in family and friends to understand if they trust whoever they voted for last. I told myself that even if I get 1 person who says ‘Yes’, not all hope is lost! But as I expected, I could not manage 1 confident ‘Yes’. Instead, it opened a Pandora’s box of foul language and dissatisfaction. Need I say more.

Take away: The words that made us a republic (SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC) are not yet in action after 65 years of independence. 4 words we could not hold true in a country that boasts of the Longest constitution in the world. What you can do is start with the four words today!

We will talk later about the rest of the preamble later because the bruise from the first line will take a while to heal. Tell us what you think can you do at an individual level. Comment now!

Find your own story


Read this story slowly, preferably while you are alone.

‘A man was once walking alone down a road that looked never-ending. He was walking to forget about the pain his heart-break had caused. All that love looked relentlessly over-rated. He felt for his loss but was happy that it was not as bad as it could have been, in case this was to happen. 2 more years into the relationship.

He had forgotten the joy of life and everything else because of her – she meant everything to him. He could almost see her smile and tease him. ‘Why?’ He asked himself, ‘What did I not do for her?’ He exhaled, and still.

He was wandering directionless like a toddler and yet he was 40. He was feeling lonely like an orphan but he had friends who cared. He was behaving as if he was homeless, although he had a house to live in, he looked at strangers as if he wanted to beg death out of them while he was healthy, wealthy and well to do.

What happened? I asked.

And he looked at me as if he was the judge and I was guilty. Anger on his face was evident but in no time it turned into resentment, then regret and finally fear. I asked again, since he looked quite disturbed but it almost looked like his words were stuck in the lump on his throat.

He came through and murmured slowly, ‘ It was Lucy, she died – She was only 6 months old, a beautiful bitch.’ No pun intended and no disrespect meant but think about all the different emotions you experienced in snippets while you read this story. Specially the restlessness to conclude at the end.

That is the power of a story. While words reach your mind and music reaches your heart; Stories seem to have the ability to reach into the soul.

This is what led me to believe that maybe there is an answer to the eternal question, ‘What is your purpose in life?‘. A lot of great people, religions and even books have answered this very question over and over again. There are tonnes of different explanations, suggestions and perspectives hidden in them but there is one thing common – Every answer is about you being able to find your story.

Let’s take look at Gita – A religious hindu text which quotes :

“Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani”

Meaning: Do your duty and be detached from its outcome, do not be driven by the end product, enjoy the process of getting there. – 2:47 SRIMAD BHAGVAD GITA.

Who knows if it actually ever happened, but surprisingly every religion encourages its followers to find their own cause for existence. Some do it blatantly and others are subtle, it is suggestive and at times even prescriptive. Some call it baptism and some call it moksha. Different means to the same end – Finding a story to live in.

Even the non-believer believes it, because the fact that he disagrees with the idea of religion was born after a thought entered his mind and altered his belief. That thought could have been an incident, could have been an emotion, could have been a discussion or even a tragedy, whatever it was, it would have been a story to tell.

Stories are everything but fiction.  They are a reflection of life, feelings and even freedom.  They are learning and wisdom. They grow and they breathe. They have vision and emotions. There is not a single soul that doesn’t share one or hear one. Stories are life because life, is a story. And the funny bit is, stories are more human than humans will ever be. Coming back to the eternal question, ‘ What is your purpose in life? ‘ My answer is: ‘Finding my own story’ 

People do  it all the time but only a few realize it. When they attempt to change the way the look, the place they work or the thoughts they have, it just about becoming the right character. Different twists and turns and sometimes even the unexplained behavior is just the outcome of the way they see their story to be.

The only thing big enough  to summarize life, is a story because we are the stories we tell.  The only question is ‘How can you find your story?’ 

Here are some things I would do, they are yours to try, I am convinced to use it as a management concept and maybe to assist people in the long run too, I call it ‘Story-Boarding’

  • Choose your character:Who are you?
    • It’s not personality development, it’s about comfort. It is about being able to be in your skin with ease and away from the constant ruffle of trying to become like some one else.
    • Just like in a movie, the director can decide which elements would he want in a hero in what quantity, we too can choose what our character needs to be – You can be a creator, an enabler, a catalyst, a thinker, a dreamer and even a monk if you choose to (Don’t sell your Ferrari). It doesn’t even have to be all rosy and goody (We know that even Batman can be Jealous). The key word is real and the objective is to be comfortable.
  • Find your plot:What do you want to do?
    • Every great story has a great plot. It is important that you are inspired to do what you intend to. Inspiration is the only things that is not on sale. So, trying out different things until something appeals to you enough for you to spend your life with it, is a good idea.
    • Another was that may work out is looking back at your childhood and finding your happiest moment – see what were you doing at that precise instance and maybe that is a career option. You can even make a career in things that you don’t like to talk about much. Pun intended.
    • The only factor is, it should be something that drives you crazy enough to not give it up.
  • Set your climax:How will you reach fulfillment?
    • Draw a picture for how the climax of your story will look like. Pay attention to detail and explain the picture in words using crisp bullet points. See it everyday, twice, without fail. Once you achieve it, draw another one and move on. There is no time limit, age limit or any limit on possibility. It is just a story after all.
    • Arguably, your list of things to do can be endless and fulfillment hard to stay forever but thankfully life is not endless, and that is why the the journey is the story. The story is the purpose of life as all of what one can leave behind is a story to be shared and heard. Because there is not a single soul that doesn’t share one or hear one.

Even if these steps can’t freeze your story, it will at least bring you a tad bit closer to realizing it. No story can be told the same way twice, your story is and will be your story, others can be similar but never the same. And if you can not find it yet, here is a little story that might help.

This is an old Greek fable about a scholar who went to Socrates.

He travelled the length of the world and learned about all the wisdom available, his name was Cicero and he went to Socrates in an attempt to learn what no one else could teach him.

Once Socrates found this out, he refused to teach Cicero. He begged, pleaded and finally managed to convince Socrates to at least hear his plea.

Walking by the seashore, Cicero was trying to convince Socrates to be his mentor when suddenly the wise Socrates walked chest-deep into the sea.

Cicero walked behind him and stopped. Socrates looked into his eyes and asked Cicero, ‘what do you want?’ To this Cicero replied, ‘I want your wisdom and I want to learn’. Socrates smiled, pushed Cicero inside water and forcefully kept him there for a while.

Once he came out of water and had almost lost his breath, Socrates asked again, ‘what do you want?’ Cicero realized it was a test of some kind and loudly replied, ‘I want your wisdom and I want to learn’ only louder this time.

On hearing this, Socrates pushed him into water again and let him stay there longer. Once Cicero came out of water, he was panting heavily and had almost drowned; Socrates asked again, ‘What do you want?’ Cicero knew that it was a test of some kind and replied in even louder voice, ‘I want your wisdom and I want to learn’. Socrates smiled again and pushed Cicero back into the water.

This time Socrates pushed him hard until Cicero fought his way out, panting and pale, unable to understand Socrates’ behavior. Socrates asked him again, ‘what do you want?’ Cicero arrogantly answered ‘I want to breathe’!

Socrates smiled and said, ‘the day you want to learn as bad as you wanted to breathe, come back to me and I will teach.’

Moral: When you really want to find your story – you will! Until then Keep looking.

– Abhinandan Chatterjee © 2012

Dreams,Faith &; a Beer Belly!



Dreams

I believe some things are just not meant to be. Impossible means ‘I am possible’ I like the tagline, but it is just always a tagline. I am a conformist, I have been a conformist all my life.

I care about what is possible and I have a problem when people get too ambitious. It’s okay to get ambitious but some things are possible, some are not. That is a well established fact..Who doesn’t think so ?

But I dream, I dream about a BMW in the next 3 years and a big 4 bedroom house with 5-star like interiors, a study, play area and even parking ,and here is the biggest one ‘all in Gurgaon’ in the next 5 years. Dreaming has taught me to dream more and dream big – correction, day-dream more and day-dream big, Day-dream on!

To daydream is to think and to think is to learn. Now learning is not compulsory, neither is survival. W.Edwards Deming said that.

Today, lets learn to- day dream !

Since I was a kid, I have known what to do, when. Mostly I was told, with examples and valid references and an explanation that was designed to convince me  that it’s either this way or no way at all!

Whether to take commerce or Science, whether to wear full pant or half. Whether to eat now or later ( It is a standard ‘now’ for me to this always!)But I fixed the way it works. Or so I thought, while all I fixed, were just limitations for myself. Beliefs about how things can and can’t be done.

I even tried to fix the society, the systems and cultures – I never asked  questions before because I knew, ‘kool’ people don’t ask too many questions, Amitabh Bacchan didn’t, neither did superman – they always just have the answers.

Then I came to work and realized I need to be accountable – how would I look like if I ask for help, which big guy at work ever did that? …and I never escalated, even the things that I should have.

Then I got married, and I hated shopping, I told everyone so while I spent 3 hours picking the right suit to wear today. But don’t tell anyone that, because we Men, don’t like shopping!

I did these things because either someone told me to or it looked socially acceptable or at least logically possible! It’s funny how this is not just an issue with people.

Even large organizations do this. A leading camera film maker with over a century of business experience, almost ran out of business because they stuck on to the cash cow of film photography products in spite of having developed the digital tech. Clingy!

Such thought has a definition – RTP ( Rational thinking perspective) , now we all know rational is right. Don’t we?

Rational thinking perspectives are good because they educate us about our possibilities.

A man with a body on which nothing moves. Stuck to a bed for all his life. The only RTP I could think of is ‘Mercy Killing. Stephen Hawking.

Another man contracted polio as a child, and he used a wheelchair for a while. He devised his own exercises to strengthen his legs. The only RTP I could think would be to learn typing and shorthand. He went on to become one of the most successful Olympic athletes of all time, winning 10 gold medals. In the years 1900, 1904 and 1908. With about 1 % of the means and methods of today, none of the modern medicine and no google for instant advice or Facebook for popularity. Ray Ewry. How many did we as a country win in the last Olympics?

There is a another side of this coin,  it is called Generative thinking perspective (GTP), which is governed by intuition, faith and conviction. You do what you feel right.

Hey I have an idea, how about I leave everything and start a new website where all people can connect online, maybe we can call it FACEBOOK. Oops, that’s taken, by a Harvard student who dropped out to pursue a website and left what could have been an amazing job in the silicon valley which would have paid millions, in dollar. That’s Zuckerberg and think of the Steve Jobs if you will.

Another man who did not make so much money but taught me most about GTP was my father. I learnt this later, and I will get to it in a bit.

I am sure some of us could have answered these questions about rationale or gut, but when I was 16, I never could. It was so tough to get all this sorted because I had never seen anyone ask these questions before, there was no guidance available. To be logical or to  day-dream was as tough as answering shakespere’s ‘to be or not to be’?

Dream = 1,600,000,000 (160 Crores) ,references on Google. If so many people talk about this must me something good.

Faith

What do we learn out of day-dreaming. One dream that lasts long enough and is desired bad enough gives birth to faith.

Faith leads to only two things, We learn to Regret or we learn to Perform.

When I was 13, I lost my father to a heart attack, his 13th – 4 major and 9 minor. The last one was minor. Even on his last day he was in a client meeting after 1 very successful job, 5 failed businesses and 1 somewhat livable construction venture. Bed rest was the only rational thing but he pushed because he had immovable faith that he can.

That’s GTP.

So, when I went home, saw his dead body and had absolutely no clue of what to do. Maybe stupid, but I was still thinking about what to do? I had an idea, I wanted to get a live wire and give him an electric shock. In our movies they do it to anyone who is unconscious. Maybe that will work!

So I went and told my mother this, who smiled and continued crying. I never got to do that. But even today, every time I think of my father, I regret not doing that. What if he stood up?

‘What if’ is a big question. Is there anyone, anyone at all in this gathering who has not asked themselves a question starting with ‘what if’ ?

To do is better than to regret. Haven’t we all had those days when we thought, ‘I should have said something to that girl, I should have bought that thing, I should have learnt that art and last but not the least, I should have paid attention.’

Thousands of people with ideas as brilliant as nano, brail, chocolate and algebra.(Cut algebra out, wasn’t a brilliant idea) go to work, come back home and push it to tomorrow and years later they ask themselves ‘what if’.

It is really easy to confirm to things, we believe them to be true, mostly blindly.

While you read this in the last 7 minutes and 30 seconds based on the number of words, 810 people confirmed to death with all their ideas which will never be heard again. Ideas but not dreams!

All I wish is that, before I die, I could leave this world with one idea that continues to live even after I die.Dreaming is non conformity, some us do it because we are allowed to.Some of us do it because we have to. And even death cannot make a dream confirm to it.

This article was titled dreams, faith and a beer belly. We spoke about dreams and faith. Here is the Beer belly, and I believe, I look better with it than without it, I am comfortable with it. Because 1 more tablespoon of belief is the only thing missing from our lives.

P.S. I wrote this article primarily for the speech at a  TED Event. Though it was changed eventually these thoughts have had my minds occupied. What would you consider yourself; A conformist or a non-conformist?

You can even view the my TED talk at this link : http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxGurgaon-Abhinandan-Chatterj

Be the feedback you give!


A few years ago, Chris Oster’s unit at General Motors got so fed up with traditional reviews that it abolished them. “There were so many problems – for managers and for people being appraised,” explains Oster, director of organizational development for the GM Powertrain Group. “We had ‘rater error.’ We had the ‘contrast effect.’ We had the ‘halo effect.’ But the biggest problem was that feedback wasn’t leading to changes in behavior.”

Darcy Hitchcock, president of AXIS Performance Advisors, helps companies create high-performance work systems, including feedback systems. She says that one of her most painful professional moments came from a performance review early in her career: Her boss rated her a four on a five-point scale. Though most people would consider that a decent score, Hitchcock agonized over why she didn’t get a five. She confronted her boss: What steps could she take to get a perfect score? He had no answer. Angry and confused, she left the office and spent the day in a nearby park. “In the space of a one-hour meeting,” she says, “my boss took a highly motivated employee and made her highly unmotivated.”

Many years ago, top executives at Glenroy Inc., a privately held manufacturer of packaging materials outside of Milwaukee, held an off-site at which they reviewed key company policies. A week later, Glenroy held a rally in the company parking lot at which employees built a bonfire and burned its policy manuals.

The company’s well-established approach to reviews literally went up in smoke. But unlike other policies, which Glenroy refined or reinvented, reviews were never reinstated. “When people find out that we don’t have formal reviews, it drives them crazy,” says Michael Dean, Glenroy’s executive vice president. “They don’t understand how we can run the business. Leaders here provide people with feedback. But the way for it to be effective is on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis – not twice a year.”

Feedback matters. The only way for people to get better at what they do is for the people they work for to provide candid, timely performance evaluations. “In today’s environment, you have to evaluate what’s changing and what’s staying the same, what’s working and what’s no longer working,” says Bruce Tulgan, author of FAST Feedback (1998, HRD Press) and founder of Rainmaker Thinking, a consulting firm based in New Haven, Connecticut. “Feedback plays that role.” Anne Saunier, a principal at Sibson & Co., a consulting firm based in Princeton, New Jersey, puts it this way: “If you have ideas and information that will help someone perform better, it’s hostile not to share them.”

So why are reviews still the most painful ritual in business? A 1997 survey by Aon Consulting and the Society for Human Resource Management reported that only 5% of HR professionals were “very satisfied” with their performance-management systems. In 1995, William M. Mercer Inc., based in New York City, polled executives about reviews. Only 7% said their systems were “excellent”; more than 70% had revamped them or were planning to.

Part of the problem with reviews is that human nature hasn’t changed – few of us enjoy hearing about our shortcomings, and few of our bosses and colleagues look forward to describing them. Part of the problem is that work itself has changed – it’s more team- oriented, less individualistic. The tougher it is to measure individual performance, the tougher it is to evaluate it.

But the biggest problem with reviews is how little they’ve changed. Too many leaders still treat feedback as a once-a-year event, rather than an ongoing discipline. “Doing annual appraisals is like dieting only on your birthday and wondering why you’re not losing weight,” cracks Saunier. Too many leaders confuse feedback with paperwork. “Filling out a form is inspection, not feedback,” says Kelly Allan, senior associate of Kelly Allan Associates Ltd., a consulting firm based in Columbus, Ohio whose clients have included Boeing, Paramount Pictures, and IBM. “History has taught us that relying on inspections is costly, improves nothing for very long, and makes the organization less competitive.”

We can’t teach you the one right way to provide – or receive – feedback. But our program does offer five action-oriented principles to improve your performance with performance reviews. Be sure to let us know how you think we performed. . .

1. Feedback Is Not About Forms

Mention the term “performance review,” and the first image that comes to mind is paper: checklists, ratings, all-too-familiar reports that invite all-too-predictable answers. That’s a problem. Anyone who equates delivering feedback with filling out forms has lost the battle for smart appraisal before it’s begun. “If you use forms as the basis for meetings about performance,” argues Allan, “you change only one thing – what might have been a natural, helpful conversation into an awkward, anxious inspection.”

Yes, there are reasons to document the appraisal process. But most of them involve administrative neatness or legal nervousness, not sound thinking about feedback. That’s why more and more companies that are serious about reviews use forms only to confirm that a review has taken place – not as a tool for the review itself.

Consider the example of Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado. For years, the hospital’s leaders have been importing new ideas about quality and service into their 286-bed facility. Early on, administrators and executives looked at ways to improve how the hospital evaluated its employees. They began by exploring how best to modify the hospital’s existing checklist-based reviews: Which ratings made the most sense? Which scoring systems worked best? But no amount of tinkering satisfied Parkview’s leaders.

Dorothy Gill, vice president of human resources, and a team of her colleagues explained their dilemma to the CEO: “He said, ‘If there isn’t a better way to do reviews, let’s just stop doing them.’ So we did. We had no idea what we were going to do instead.”

Gill and her colleagues eventually came up with an idea. It’s called APOP, for Annual Piece of Paper. The most valuable kinds of feedback, they concluded, are the daily interactions between leaders and their people – interactions that can’t be captured on paper. The hospital still requires that managers do annual reviews. But instead of being top-down appraisals, the reviews are bottom-up requests for assistance: What can the leader do to make the employee’s job easier? What gets in the way of accomplishing the job?

And the medium for those reviews is conversation, not written evaluation. There is a form – the APOP. But its only role is to confirm that the conversations took place. There are no scores, no written goals for the next year. It’s literally a piece of paper, signed by the employee and the director, that records the date, place, and agenda of the meeting. The APOP process “takes performance reviews and turns them upside down,” Gill says. “Directors don’t tell employees how they’re doing. They ask open-ended questions to see what will help employees do a better job.”

2. Feedback Delayed Is Feedback Denied

You know the old joke about airline food. First passenger: “This food is terrible!” Second passenger: “And the portions are so small!” Most of us feel the same way about performance reviews. The only thing worse than how unsatisfying they are is how seldom they take place.

Bruce Tulgan interviewed hundreds of managers and employees for his book, FAST Feedback (the acronym stands for “frequent, accurate, specific, timely”). One of the most common complaints, he says, is that reviews take place too long after the performance being critiqued has occurred. “We don’t work in a year-by-year, pay-your-dues, climb-the-ladder environment anymore,” he says. “The once- or twice-a-year evaluation is a creature from the workplace of the past. Today’s business leaders expect workers to be project-driven, results-oriented. That doesn’t fit with the old model of reviewing performance every 6 or 12 months.”

Why do smart companies and leaders stick with such an obsolete practice? Because, Tulgan argues, they have well-established systems for conducting annual or semiannual reviews. “There are no systems for day-to-day engagement with workers,” he says.

That’s where “FAST feedback” comes in. Tulgan offers lots of techniques for accelerating how people deliver and process feedback. Managers, he says, can build feedback into routine meetings and memos. They can learn to deliver feedback through email and voice mail. They can use short notes. Ideally, they should set aside a designated chunk of time each day, just for giving their people feedback. “If we really want a just-in-time workforce,” he argues, “we have to create just-in-time feedback.”

One caution: There’s a difference between timely feedback and rushed feedback. Rick Maurer, author of Feedback Toolkit (Productivity Press, 1994), argues that a few old-fashioned principles of human behavior still apply, even in fast-paced work environments. If you’re providing feedback around an emotionally charged event, wait a day or two (but never more than a week). “Sometimes you’re so emotional that it makes sense to wait,” he says. “Let your gut be your guide.” And if your feedback involves a big issue, something the person you’re working with really needs to take seriously, then find an appropriate time and place – even if it delays the session. “Schedule an appointment and have a meeting,” Maurer urges. “Don’t give important feedback in the hallway.”

3. Feedback Is Where You Find It

It’s a mistake to blame all the problems with performance reviews on the people who deliver them. Feedback is no different from any other business process – you get out of it only what you put into it. If you’re not getting enough useful feedback, don’t look at your boss; start by looking at yourself. “Ultimately,” says Sibson & Co.’s Saunier, “managers aren’t responsible for their people’s performance. People are responsible for their own performance. There’s feedback all around you – if you pay attention. If you’re not getting enough feedback, ask for it.”

Saunier offers an example from her own experience. She heard from a unit coach that a new employee, who’d been on the job three months and had been working with Saunier on a project, complained that he wasn’t receiving enough feedback. “I couldn’t believe it,” Saunier says. “We walked back together from the client’s office every day. And every day we discussed what we could do better. Just because I didn’t sit him down in my office doesn’t mean I wasn’t providing feedback. The next time we walked back from the client’s, I began our discussion by saying, ‘Now, here’s some feedback.'”

LeRoy Pingho, a vice president at Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant, never complains that he’s not getting enough feedback. Since the mid-1980s, he’s organized annual 360-degree reviews. This is not an official company program; it’s his personal program. He selects a cross-section of colleagues – a boss, a subordinate, a customer – and asks them each to assess his performance. “Some things are ‘flat spots’ for me,” he says. “I can struggle with them alone or get help.”

Last year, Pingho took his review process a step further. He wrote an assessment based on the feedback he received, and then distributed copies to 50 people: bosses, peers, direct reports, his wife. He sent everyone the same message: “You work with me, so you should know my strengths and weaknesses. Also, I’m going to ask four of you to help me work on the things I’m not good at.”

Pingho dubbed those four people his “spotters.” He chose two at his level, one above him, and one below him. He met with each of the spotters to review the “flat spots” he’d identified. Then he told them that he wanted to focus on getting better at two of those weaknesses. (He didn’t think he could tackle five at once.) One was active listening: “When I’m in meetings, I’m already through the presentation before the presenter has gotten to the first page.” The second was empowerment: “I want to use the input I get from people instead of disregarding it.”

He asked his spotters to alert him when they saw behavior that related to those improvement goals: “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this in a formal way. But if you see something, tell me.’ It’s like being on the high bar. Just knowing that there’s somebody to make sure you don’t fall helps you become more self-confident.”

At GM Powertrain Group, a new approach to feedback is helping salaried employees gain more self-confidence. The group, which designs and manufactures castings, engines, and transmissions, began redesigning its appraisal processes in July 1996. The new system, called Individual Growth Strategy, revolves around a few simple principles: People want to do their best. The people who improve are those who have the most control over their development. So it’s up to employees – not managers – to decide what kind of feedback is most useful and from whom it should come.

GM offers training in ideas, techniques, and tools for soliciting feedback. But it’s up to the people who want feedback to seek it out. “If I buy something, I’m more committed to using it than if someone gives it to me,” explains Chris Oster. “The same goes for feedback. If I solicit feedback, I’m more inclined to use it.”

4. Giving people a Raise isn’t the Same as Giving them Feedback

It’s hard to argue with the principle that the better you do, the more money you should get. But most performance gurus say that explicitly linking reviews and raises has unintended consequences.

“A raise is a transaction about how much money you or I can get,” explains Kelly Allan. “Feedback is a conversation about how much meaning you and I can create. Feedback is about success for your people and your customers. Pay is about marketplace economics and skills. Pay and feedback are not related.”

Allan practices what he preaches. At his company, discussions about money are tangible and statistical. People play a big role in setting their own pay. Associates research market rates for talent in their peer group, based on skills and experience. People who want a raise can present evidence that they’ve acquired a new skill or had an experience that the market would reward with a salary increase.

Conversations about performance, on the other hand, are informal and collegial. Associates meet weekly with a colleague to discuss their current project. The firm schedules formal sessions monthly, quarterly, or every six months (depending on the associate’s tenure) to discuss the past, present, and future of each person’s work. “We have conversations, not appraisals,” Allan says. “And these conversations never include discussions of pay. Period.”

Glenroy Inc., the Wisconsin manufacturer that burned its employee manuals, has experimented with a more radical approach to pay. Several weeks after the bonfire, it was time for annual performance appraisals and salary reviews. Management was clear: Reviews were on the ash heap of history. But Glenroy did need to figure out what kinds of raises its employees would get. The improved approach? Employees decided their own raises.

Glenroy divided its workforce into peer groups based on job classifications. It was up to those peer groups to set their raises. In most cases, executive vice president Michael Dean reports, the peer groups were tougher than management would have been; the company later had to adjust many of the raises upward. “We treat people like adults,” says Dean. “That’s the essence of leadership.”

5. Always Get Feedback on Your Feedback

One reason candid feedback is so important is that most people are great at self-delusion. It’s easy to think we’re better at writing software, creating marketing campaigns, or evaluating business plans than we really are. That same talent for self-delusion applies to the art of giving feedback. Bruce Tulgan puts it this way: “There’s such a disconnect between managers’ impressions of the feedback they give and their employees’ impressions of the feedback they get. Most managers need a reality check.”

Tulgan has devised a simple technique for creating such a check. He suggests that managers think about the three most recent times they offered feedback to one of their employees. Then, they should write down brief answers to questions about those sessions: What prompted you to give feedback on that matter at that time? Did you check your facts first? What was the substance of the feedback? Was there any concrete action as a result? Next the manager should ask the employee to write down brief answers to the same questions. The comparisons, Tulgan says, make for interesting reading.

“Think of the people who work for you as ‘customers’ for your feedback,” he argues. “Find out whether the feedback you’re providing is working for them. If it’s not, what’s the point?”

Source: This is an article from my collection of inspiring online articles. Author – Unknown.

How hard can life be?


True Story |

This is the story of a man who started out as a shopkeeper, had a small electronic store in the suburbs of a small suburban town.

He got married, had a kid and his needs multiplied. The shop couldn’t fulfill them anymore, so, he took up a job – as medical sales executive.

He worked his way up the ladder in his company, it took years, but just like most of us he was getting there too!

He bought a house and a car and put his sons into a good school.

Like most of us, he had dreams too. He wanted a happy family, status, luxury and he worked his way through the thick and thin of things to get it.

Like most of us, he was proud of the way things were going.

Since nothing lasts forever, that is when unlike most of us, he had a heart attack. His dream was now shuffling between life support, expensive pills and medical bills.

Deserted by his friends and relatives, he lost his house as he couldn’t pay the loan, sold his car because there was a need to get food for the wife and kids – burned all his life’s savings in an attempt to live!

Just when he was about done, modern medicine gave him a second chance. He was going to live a little longer than he expected.

That led to questions about sustaining his family, which he couldn’t do by being on the bed rest the doctor summoned him to. Perhaps death was easier but it wasn’t meant to be so.

He left the bed, stopped the rest and went back to work; nobody wanted to hire him as they feared he would die on them. He was either honest or foolish, but he never lied.

He did get a job at last and soon another seizure of the heart followed. This was a big one too and he was left hollowed.

They were practically on the streets and then the mother took it on her to work. His son was still in the ‘good-school’ where the fee wasn’t paid for 7 months now. They let him study out of love for a smart kid, some courtesy and a bit of pity. For us it is a small world, for them it was a big city.

The mother worked, taught tuitions to run the family.

After his medical vacation even the father stood up against the ruling of the world – to work. God knows what drove him through this, but he said, “We will celebrate your next birthday son, this time we are not doing it because the doctor wants us not to.”  It was just a lame excuse for the little kid that kept him content.

As his father started his own business, he was struggling with poor finances, health, security and his own dreams. Astonishingly, the dreams were not dead.

He worked hard for the next few years and bought back his car, paid his son’s school fee and had food on the table, regularly.

Meanwhile, he had 10 minor and one major heart attack before he passed away leaving a wife and two kids behind. He did not leave them much money but he worked till the last day of his life to achieve the RESULT he dreamt of.

He left his family with the courage to move on, the persistence to fight and the mindset to win.

Moral: Every goal needs the right mindset to ensure its achievement. It depends only on how badly you want something which decides how soon you could get it

The Unlikely Learner


Why Learn, Why bother ?…

A 6 year old girl once went to her elder sister who was in the kitchen.

She saw her frying fish (I have every right to start with fish , I am a bengali !) and in astonishment, asked her , ‘Dee, why did you cut the head and the tail of the fish off before frying it?’

Her sister took a while and said, ‘Why?, I dont know, but mom does it this way so I do it this way too.’

Hearing this the little girl ran to her mother and asked, ‘ Maa, why do you cut the head and the tail of the fish off before frying it? Dee told me’

Her mother too, took a while to think  and said, ‘Why?, I never thought about , I don’t know, but your Granny does it this way so I do it this way too.’

The little girl became more inquisitive than ever, she really wanted to find the answer to this question. In this quest, she ran towards her granny, found her and asked, ‘ Dadi, why do you cut the head and the tail of the fish off before frying it? Dee and Maa do it too , they told me’

Of her old age, her granny took a while but finally figured it out with a gleaming smile; ‘I don’t know why they cut it , but I did it because my frying pan was very small.’

…In our world of make-belief

Every time I hear this story, apart from becoming hungry, I also am forced to ask my self, ‘ Am I doing the same thing? Cutting the head and tail off the fish without knowing why?’ In fact, think about it , are you doing the same thing ?

When was the last time you decided to learn something new and actually used it with a bit of compassion?

If it wasn’t yesterday, are we doing even close to what we are capable of doing as people? If no, why not so ?

These are some questions that keep coming back to me, every time someone says something about ‘How they are forced to, supposed to,told to,taught to, made to or confined to do something?’ How in the hands of fate they are simply stuck? or in extreme cases infected by depressing movies, like ‘Ram Gopal Verma ki AAG’ , find themselves almost at the world’s end.”

People complaint about boredom, about monotony and about that ‘something’ missing from life.It is just the ignorance for what is available and what can be done in most cases.

We start treating our philosophy as facts and live in that world of make-belief. A world that says, after you are 40, you are done with most of your life and learning is not your ball game anymore. You can sprinkle some emotions by saying ‘ You cannot teach an old dog new tricks. What is to prove?’

Funny thing, it is not only a challenge with people, even organizations face this music. I’ll give  you an example, Kodak first developed the digital camera, maybe too soon and that did not gel with the business plans of the worlds No.1 film manufacturer. They put it in the cold bag and went conservative, 3 years later , they were almost out of business. And they were not, the only big fish with a million business forecasters, that went really wrong.

There is always a right way, a right strategy, right age, a right time, a right direction. Most of our actions are governed by what we are supposed to or not supposed to do based on things which are supposed to or not supposed to work. Who decides that, moreover, why is it more of a law than just a suggestion?

These suppositions spoil our freedom and cloud our judgement, crippling our ability to learn. This lack of comfort, peace and openness is called conformity.

Sometimes its with systems, sometimes with society, sometimes with values and mostly with our own mindset.

And the very few people who dare to stand out, are thrown out, mostly to be appreciated later. Look at Einstein, Jobs, Gates, Bacchan and the list is endless.

…Find your way to evolve

Those who argue, will argue that non-conformity is chaos. It’s random, unpredictable and hence not social enough to fit into our lives. But let’s look at it from the other side of the greenfield; what is not chaos is boring like our college lectures, what is not random is often to too structured like our education system, what is not unpredictable is just around average like our political reforms; and all because we are suppose to do things a certain, pre-defined way. Where is the room to breathe and experiment? Where is the room to learn?

Every invention was, is and always will be an example of non-conformity. Buddha was non-conformity, so was your special short cut to your girlfriends house, so was your signature style at college, so was your special strength area at work,so was that situation when you had no clue what to do , yet ‘Jugaad’oed’ your way through. In other words, you did things differently and experimented because that was the only way to evolve! Wise decision. P.S.( I didn’t say so, Darwin did.)

That was the real  learning that happened, the question for you to answer is, how often do you manage that kind of stuff.

That 6 year old girl I was talking to you about earlier,asked a lot of questions,  most of us don’t even dare or bother doing so. How much do we learn? How much have you evolved? Dont answer it, just find the answer, only if you feel like!

Learning is surely not necessary, its not in the rule book but neither is survival.

Here is what a non-conformist would say his philosophy of life is; Be open to listen, Be curious to learn and Be yourself to live at peace. That is true non-conformity. But, only if you like!

 

Everyday Bliss : Managing Stress


Stress can be intimidating. It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level. The bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.

Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.

Identify the sources of stress in your life

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?

Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).

Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and    unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

Start a stress journal

A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

  • What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure).
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
  • How you acted in response.
  • What you did to make yourself feel better.

Look at how you currently cope with stress

Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.

Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much
  • Overeating or under eating
  • Spending hours  in front of the TV
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
  • Using pills or drugs to relax
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out,angry outbursts, physical violence)

Learning healthier ways to manage stress

If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s

Change the situation:

  • Avoid the stressor.
  • Alter the stressor.
Change your reaction:

  • Adapt to the stressor.
  • Accept the stressor.

Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

  • Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or  professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.
  • Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.
  • Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.

 

  • Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

 

  • Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

 

  • Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

 

  • Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.

 

  • Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
  • Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

 

  • Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

 

  • Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

 

  • Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Adjusting Your Attitude

How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.

Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—  particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

 

  • Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

 

  • Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

 

  • Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make  mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation

Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.

Healthy ways to relax and recharge

  • Light scented candles.
  • Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Work in your garden.
  • Get a massage.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a comedy.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Call a good friend.
  • Sweat out tension with a good workout.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Take a long bath.

Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

  • Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
  •  Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong  support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
  •  Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy,  whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
  • Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Learn the relaxation response

You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques that evoke the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. Regularly practicing these techniques will build your physical and emotional resilience, heal your body, and boost your overall feelings of joy and equanimity.

Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle

You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.

 

  • Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.

 

  • Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate,and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

 

  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
Hope all of this helps you feel better and live longer !

Lead Yourself


‘Leadership’ has been a business buzzword for well over 30 years now, most of what could have been written about it, has been written, what could have been thought, has been cerebrated upon and yet we stand amidst people who struggle to be the leaders they have always wanted others to be.

Why is leadership such a hard choice?

Robert Frost, in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ said the best of what I think every leader would agree to;

“And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”

All of this bubbles out a lot of questions every professional asks at the hierarchical crossroads, and how they answer them, determine their journey ahead.

–    What is leadership?

–    Do I qualify to be a leader?

–    How can I be a successful leader?

Let’s see if we can find some simple yet practical answers for these age old dilemmas’.

–    What is leadership?

Leadership is Responsibility. You can get it or you can take it.

I learnt my lesson early here, after my father died when I was 15, we were left stranded in the middle of nowhere – financially, emotionally and socially. Expensive treatment led to debts and an expensive lifestyle, like my family had, led to problems and an acute inability to manage in less resources.

I am the eldest son in the family and it was going to be my responsibility later to do the damage control (once I grew up – Sigh!)

I just had one question, can we afford ‘later’?

Every bit of logic I had said ‘No’

The crossroads came, I had to either ‘take responsibility now’ or ‘wait or watch the things to move on their own’.

I chose to take the responsibility, surprisingly a lot of hands started to come handy.

Lesson learnt: Help comes only to those who help themselves!

My school was the most expensive school in the city, I couldn’t have paid the fee, My teachers paid it from their pockets, I never understood, why?

I was too young to work; I didn’t tell anybody my age in my interview.

I went to an international BPO, the first in town, to get myself a Job. I appeared for the interview, cleared it, negotiated my salary and told the panel all about my age and situation afterwards.

The look on their face was worth it; they asked for some time, consulted some lawyers and gave me a job. Full time, as an apprentice.

There I was, cycling 15 miles to School, 10 back to my office and another 10 back home by midnight. But I managed to support my family. My need was met and we survived the winter.

Lessons Learnt:

Hard work is good, Smart Work is great but they can’t substitute each other.

Leaders hold themselves accountable for the outcomes of their actions, even if the task was done by the one they delegated it to and speculatively take risks.

A leader takes responsibility to take control of the situations around , no matter how good or bad they may be.

–    Do I qualify to be a leader?

In my book, there are only two ways you get into leadership.

i. Designated Leadership – A leadership role granted by authority, a type of leadership where the designation makes the person a leader. This comes with power, the power to reward, punish or make decisions. So maybe your next promotion is when you can start.

Prime Minister is a good example of this type of leadership. I can also cite my first managerial role at work. Simply put, it mattered more what my business card said than what I said.

ii. Acquired Leadership – A style of leadership where an individual develops a character of leadership within by working on his strengths continuously. This can be done either by building a strong relationship with the followers, by being a source of inspiration or by developing expertise in the chosen field. This would mean you can start being a leader ‘Now’.

Indira Nooyi of Pepsico who built her way to the top through her expertise and capability or a business consultant who enjoys no designation yet caters to high responsibilities in any organization. ( Like me , Sigh !)

Lesson Learnt:

It’s not who you are but what you dream for and how desperately so, that makes you a leader.

So, of course you qualify to be a leader; but ‘How’ is still under wraps. Let’s find out!

–    How can I be a successful leader?

“Endowed with his bright armor,

He came all the way…

A spec of doubt saw not his face,

Though he had a beast to slay…

With the rising sun he embarked

To accomplish what was right…

And till this day we sing his song,

He was the Golden Knight”

We have all heard stories of Knights and Superheroes; it almost feels that you need to be one to succeed as a leader. But think of it this way, no matter what the density or depth of water might me, if you know how to swim, with the correct technique and adequate effort you can get through the liquid.

The two things, technique and effort stand out to be the mark of any leader.

Now effort is the result of desperation and passion, of how badly do you want to achieve whatever you are gunning for. It can’t be taught but can only be realized. That’s your job!

For the technique, as the poem above talks of Armor, every leader needs one.

That needs to be developed through practice and persistence.

So, what is this Armor? How can you get it?

It’s a code of conduct which if followed ensures your success and I will share this secret with you.

L.E.A.D.E.R – The Six Elements of Leaders Armor

L– Legitimate: Be whoever you are but be real and fair. Nobody respects a phony with sly perspectives.

E– Effective: Take planned action. There are more chances to succeed if what you are doing is planned well in advance versus it being an improv.

A– Assertive: Be true to your word by being logical and comprehendible

D– Decisive: Make decisions that are fair, logical and credible

E– Evaluative: Know your environment without judging people for who they are, work around what they do and make it better

R– Resilient: Learn as if there is no tomorrow, the day you stop learning, you stop living.

This is not rocket science, in fact it’s like cooking a hearty meal – a fine balance of spices masters the taste.

Now, you have the Knowledge, your key to the power which brings along with it the responsibility. You don’t have to be a L.E.A.D.E.R, but if you wish to be one,

Lead On and Lead Well!

On Motivation


So there I was , in my bedroom , at 3 in the morning all alone – At my lazy best ; when out of nowhere I saw a  wasp in the room , after being bothered for a few seconds , I got back to viewing TV until…

…that bloody wasp was just an inch from my face, and then I ran , I screamed , I picked up my newspaper and tried to hit it , I picked up my slippers and jumped to reach it around the roof, all in vain but I did not give up. I got a broom with a long stick and galloped at it for 30 minutes before I could make it rest in peace. Huh… Man was I tired!

This is how life moves – Go deeper and you will find the secret of all motivation in this incident.

Humans are emotional beings , they are motivated by either pleasure or pain. We get late and then we panic because now we can loose things. We sit and watch ‘Facebook’ until there are stomach cramps due to hunger. We wait and wait and wait before we go to the doctor. We act only when we see some pain or some pleasure attached to doing or not dong that action.

It’s either high pain or a high pleasure that makes us move; when moderate it pushes us to the zone of complacency, laziness and ignorance.

Allow me to draw a couple of similarities between the way this story has worked and the way motivation happens:

Exhibit A : Commonwealth 2010 – We were sitting on the idea for 10 years flat , now that it is matter of national pride everyone is pushed to work at the brink of the event.

Exhibit B: Similarly, when the wasp was in my room I dint care until it came close to my face and I felt threatened.

Both these situations are high pain situations where the fear of loss was the motivator. As we know that pain is not the only motivator, we have a stint with pleasure too , let me share what I feel about it .

Exhibit A: On a personal note, whenever I have been out on a date, the amount of effort I put in to make that date a success was correlated to how beautiful the woman was. More beauty means more effort.

Exhibit B: There is a friend of mine, Renuka; she works with a renowned credit card company. They have an interesting office and since she is into sales the pressure is always on. She is an average performer.

Here is how she works – She closes on an average 2 credit card applications every day. However when there  is a scheme running for a 1000 INR shopping voucher for every 5 Credit Card Applications closed , she manages 10 of them and grabs the vouchers – Only she and the devil knows where those come from.

These are classic examples of the high pleasure principle. How great pleasure pushes people to act. The question that arises now is ‘How can you use this Pain and Pleasure Principle to motivate yourself?”

Here is what I do, I Question the possibilities with ‘What if?” questions and drive the issue to high pain or high pleasure.

Example: I need to lose weight but lack the motivation; I am not that heavy yet 😉

Q: What if I don’t lose it? A: I will be very obese.

Q: What if I become very obese? A: I will be less active and more prone to serious health issues like heart and orthopedic.

Q: How will all this make me feel? A: Embarrassed, as I won’t look good. Unhappy as I might get cranky and insecure. Heavy at heart as I will not be the one I used to be.

Conclusion:

A: To keep feeling better and live a healthy life I will lose it!( High Pleasure Perspective)

B: To live a normal life and not be bedridden by the time I am 40, I will lose it! (High Pain Perspective)

This is what we call WIIFM (Whats in it for me?)

Motivation is nothing but the result of a strong WIIFM.

How strong is yours? Go Find.

On Satisfaction


Satisfaction: I define it as ‘Getting what you expect from life which makes you feel complete as an individual’. I find that it is like salvation, easy to find but hard to keep.

For Example, I wanted to write more as I was not satisfied with what I had shared with you yet. As a matter of fact, the list of things that I am not satisfied with is pretty lengthy.

What about you , what are you not satisfied with – Too small a home? Too much of work load? Too much traffic? Too bad politics going around? Too little space for yourself? Too many responsibilities? Everything is excessively expensive? Too many questions?

So, why am I talking to you about all of this?

I am just going to share what I feel about satisfaction, how I manage to keep myself content and happy and leave the rest up for you to figure out.

My Perspective: Achievement = Expectation; and just like most mathematical calculations that gets difficult due to an ever changing variable. This one too, has a twist.The variable is your ‘expectation’. It changes and grows and doubles itself faster than any stock on the NSE!

Simply put , you want a better house, a better car and better group of people to socialize with. As all of this does not come cheap, so you want more money – to get which you either need a better job , a better salary or an all new business expansion.

Imagine if life was a see-saw (like the one you played on as a kid) you will be on one side and your expectations on the other. What could happe

Scenario 1: You are heavier than your expectations – How long can a monkey chase a car when he knows there isn’t anything that he will get from there?

Whenever my expectations, goals, targets or whatever you may call it, has been low or too easy to get, I have without fail lost the urge to do a great job at it.

If our expectations are lighter than us, our talent, our skills and our capabilities, they will not create enough thrust, pain or pleasure for us to act. We will be complacent as life will be easy. Thus, low satisfaction.

Scenario 2: Your expectations are heavier than you – For how long can a donkey live if he pulls more weight than his worth?

There is a Japanese term ‘Karoshi’ which means death by overwork. Too many expectations often lead to Karoshi. You must understand that death here is a relative term which could wither refers to the end of life or the end of a cause, a person who suffers a breakdown or gives up.

If Our expectations are heavier than we are , we could either be pulled down by it or be crushed under it. Thus, low satisfaction. In rare cases, they are met too.

The question that stays is – is it worth the risk to expect more and more?

Scenario 3: You and your expectations are balanced – The healthiest option while eating is to eat as much as the hunger is. Eat less and you will have to fight hunger, eat more and you will have to fight obesity!

Think about it, practically, was it ever easy to balance the see-saw? What did it take to balance? The answer is ‘ Constant effort’. If we are able to balance our skill sets with our expectations we have the right party mix that leads to bliss and satisfaction.

Back to mathematics: Achievement = Talent (Skills and Capability) + Effort (Hard Work) that meets expectations and gets tangible results.

We can infer that if we constantly make an effort to manage our expectations and keep them logical, satisfaction will come our way.

The resolve

Step 1: Set expectations – Make a list of things that you expect to happen in the next three months

Step 2: Validate Expectations – Make a list of skill sets and resources that you need to meet Your expectations

Step 3: Create a plan of action with the three things in it –

1. Defined tasks to be done one at a time in order to meet your expectation.

2. Time lines: Start and End date for each task.

3. Check points: Review your progress on the action plan every week.

Moreover, you can have as many actions plans running together as you like. I would suggest starting with one or two at a time.

Sounds Simple? Trust me that it is not easy because commitment is a rare commodity these days. I hope you apply this tool become satisfied. I use it and it works!

If you were looking for something quicker, easier and the ‘one time fix’ kind to manage your expectations, let me assert that there is no tool like that! Expecting too much again, huh?

The only solution to get satisfaction is to make constant effort towards keeping your expectations in check

Since I am expecting a large Cheeze burst pizza in the next 5 minutes, I will sign off.

On Procrastination


Writing this blog was a thing I wanted to do for the last two years. Yet, this is only my fourth post. So the question is – ‘How many times have you planned to do something and never done it?’ Can’t think of a number, right? Must be many times, huh?

That’s the story, almost everyone I know, has shared with me. Time is the fifth element of nature. It is what creates balance and change. It is the most nonrenewable resource and the most unforgiving partner. Timing is the key to success. The right timing leads to the right results.

A baby born a few days too early or to late can end a life. A company started at a wrong time with too many competitors does not break even.

The Indian Sunrise sectors reinforce this law of nature. The first companies to come are the last ones to go and the longest ones to live.

So what can you do NOW?

Make a list of things you wanted to do but never did. Put them on a piece of paper, big and paste it in front of you. Start with the ones that make the maximum difference to your life, thrust you towards your goals the most. Work on them as if the world ends next month. Act now, move and make a difference.

There is no shortcut to delete procrastination from your life but to start acting now. Or if you are looking to work on this later … that’s entirely up to you.