Posted in Leadership

Book Recommendation – Bridgital Nation

I bought this book a few months ago when we had the opportunity to listen to the man himself, Mr. Chandra, Chairman of the Board of Tata Sons at an event hosted by Cathy Bessant, the Chief Operation & Technology Officer at Bank of America. When two such stalwarts come together for a fireside chat then the range of topics and the depth of discussion is mesmerising. 

During the session Mr. Chandra mentioned about this book and its contents. I promptly ordered the same from Amazon. This book has a wealth of insights specific to the problems faced by India and he points out with examples how India can leapfrog from where it is today by the prudent use of technology and automation.

In the current scenario the book becomes even more relevant as India tries to evolve as a business and manufacturing hub. He points out that if there is support from government in the form of policy then by the right use of technology we can overcome the many challenges currently facing India and that may take a longer time to solve if we go the traditional route. 

He has given examples that we all can relate to and used a language which is easy to understand, without the use of too much jargon. It is a must read for anyone who wants to understand India’s current challenges and aspires to be part of the solution in some way or the other. 

Posted in Life Gyan

Who is Your Fallback?

A fall back is the go-to person(s) who we reach out to in times of confusion, chaos, dilemma or so to say..in our weaker times.

Life is full of ups and downs and even though we all have our own strengths, yet there are times in everyone’s life where we are faced with new challenges or some major life changing decisions where our mind is filled with self-doubt, confusion, sadness or ambiguities. During such times, we fall back on to our close friends or mentors who are our confidantes in the hope that they will understand our situation and may help clear the clouds from our thinking to enable us to choose wisely and take the right decision.

Thus it is very important to choose our fall backs wisely as they are the people who can have a big influence over the way we think and perceive the situation and the decisions we take at those times and can change the course/ direction of our lives. 

Let us reflect on two important characters from Mahabharata – Duryodhan & Arjun. 

Duryodhan was a person of very high intelligence, power, and knowledge. He had the knowledge about what is right and wrong, yet he couldn’t prevent himself from taking the wrong path and decisions. His fall back was his uncle Shakuni, who had vested interests of his own. He manipulated Duryodhan during his confused state by massaging his ego, and always blaming the other for the situation which was surrounding Duryodhan. Shakuni made Duryodhan dependent on him gradually for all important or smaller decisions.

However, Arjun’s fall back was Krishna who presented him with facts, higher truths of life and allowed Arjun to make his own choices and decisions. Krishna accepted and honed Arjun to be a brave leader. Krishna empowered him to make his own choices and be responsible for the choices he makes. Krishna never manipulated him. This enabled Arjun and rest of the Pandavas to choose their own path wisely and follow their Dharma.

The rest as we say is history. Though we cannot ignore the influence both Shakuni and Krishna had on their protégé yet both Duryodhan and Arjun were eventually responsible for their own actions. And that is why the right fallback or mentor or counsel is so important in life. 

Consider a drop of pure water falling from the sky.
If it lands on flowers or leaves, it becomes a dew drop.
If it falls on a hot surface, then it loses its identity and vanishes.
If the same drop lands in an oyster, it gets converted into a pearl…

Reflect on who is your fallback? Does he or she massage your ego in those confused situations, or do they provide comfort and assurance and help you see the light within and choose your own path wisely. Our fallbacks might not necessarily be as extreme as Shakuni or Krishna but if we take a step back and reflect we can still gauge which ways they tend towards.

Also, reflect upon how you play your role as a fallback. When others fall back on you when they are confused, do you hold the space for them, or do you unconsciously get your own stories mixed up with theirs.

Do you assist the person see his own wisdom and see the truth or manipulate him/her to believe that they are the victim and the other person/situation is the perpetrator?

Do you meditate or contemplate the situation without judgments or you unconsciously get your vested interests fulfilled through the situation?

We all play fallbacks to other people in our lives, especially as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, relative or colleague. Let us be mindful of our energies and emotions so that when someone comes to us in their turbulent times, we are able to empathise with them, yet stay neutral and help them reflect their true essence just as a true mirror would do. 

Realise the role of your community, your companions, your friends and family and how they can influence the direction of your journey of life in a profound way.

Choose your fallbacks wisely and be an empathetic yet honest fallback to someone else.

Posted in Leadership

Keep Your Flame Burning !

A man, who regularly attended meetings with his friends, without any notice stopped participating in his activities. After a few weeks, one very cold night, the leader of that group decided to visit him.

He found the man at home, alone, sitting in front of a fireplace where a bright and cozy fire burned.  Guessing the reason for the visit, the man welcomed the leader.  There was a great silence.

The two men only watched the dancing flames around the logs that crackled in the fireplace. After a few minutes, the leader, without saying a word, examined the embers that formed and selected one of them, the most incandescent of all, removing it to the side of the brazier with a pair of tongs.  Then he sat down again.

The host was paying attention to everything, fascinated but restless.  Before long, the lone ember flame subsided, until there was only a momentary glow and the fire suddenly went out. In a short time, what was a sample of light and heat, was nothing more than a black, cold and dead piece of coal.

Very few words had been spoken since the greeting.

The leader, before preparing to leave, with the pliers returned the cold and useless coal, placing it again in the middle of the fire.  Immediately, the ember was rekindled, fueled by the light and heat of the burning coals around him.

When the leader reached the door to leave, the host said: Thank you for your visit and for your beautiful lesson. I will return to the group.

Goodnight.

Why are the groups extinguished? Very simple: because each member that withdraws takes fire and heat from the rest.

It is worth reminding members of a group that they are part of the flame. It is good to remind each other that we are all responsible for keeping each other’s flame burning. We must collectively promote the union between all so that the fire is really strong, effective and lasting.

Sometimes we feel all lonely and depressed and withdraw from active participation. It is during these times that other people of the group must reach out to them and bring them back to the mainstream.
In social groups whether with family members or with friends and colleagues, some of us are silent, others very active and others report sporadically. Everyone has their own way of contributing and staying connected. The friends that we meet here are to meet, learn, exchange ideas, or simply know that we are not alone and feel secure in the thought that there are people in our lives on whom we can count on and reach out to.

Let us keep our flame alive and help others keep their flame burning!

Posted in Life Gyan

Four Types Of Intelligence

According to psychologists, there are four types of intelligence:
1) Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
2) Emotional  Quotient (EQ)
3) Social Quotient (SQ)
4) Adversity Quotient (AQ)

1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ): this is the measure of your comprehension ability, solve maths; memorize things and recall subject matters.

2. Emotional Quotient (EQ): this is the measure of your ability to maintain peace with others; keep to time; be responsible; be honest; respect boundaries; be humble, genuine and considerate.

3. Social Quotient (SQ): This is the measure of your ability  to build a network of friends and maintain it over a long period of time.

People that have higher EQ and SQ tend to go farther in life than those with high IQ but low EQ and SQ. Most schools capitalize in improving IQ level while EQ and SQ are played down.

A man of high IQ can end up being employed by a man of high EQ and SQ even though he has an average IQ.

Your EQ represents your character; your SQ represents your charisma. Give in to habits that will improve these three Qs but more especially your EQ and SQ.

EQ and SQ make one manage better than the other.

It is advisable to teach children not only to have higher IQ , but also focus on having higher EQ and SQ.

Now let us look at AQ – a new paradigm, coined in 1997 by Stolz.

4. The Adversity Quotient (AQ): The measure of your ability to go through a rough patch in life and come out without losing your mind. AQ determines who will give up in face of troubles, who will abandon their families or may even consider suicide.

Parents please do endeavour to expose children to other areas of life than academic. They should adore manual work, sports and arts. Develop their EQ, SQ and AQ so that they become multifaceted human beings able to do things independently.

Finally, do not prepare the road for the children. Prepare the children for the road.

Posted in Life Gyan

When You Feel Lost…

These are unprecedented times and it is natural to feel a bit anxious and a little lost at times due to so much negativity all around. Most of us feel concerned about what the future holds, how it will unfold and will we even make it to the future safely. A lot of people are going through this emotional turmoil however it is important that we look at the current situation objectively and not get carried away by it.

I am sharing a few quotes for you to ponder – these will probably help you look at things differently and help you feel better in these difficult times –

  1. Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.
  2. Sometimes the bad things that happen to us, lead us directly to the path that will give us the best things in life.
  3. If you don’t like where you are, move. You’re not a tree.
  4. You can’t start the next chapter if you keep re-reading the last one
  5. If it doesn’t open, it is not your door.
  6. Sometimes you need to step out, get some air and remind yourself of who you are and where you want to be
  7. Sometimes you need to talk to a three year old so you can understand life again
  8. Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.
  9. Sometimes, you have to stop thinking so much and just go where your heart takes you
  10. You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward
  11. Never stop believing because miracles happen everyday
Posted in Life Gyan

Lockdown Memories

  • These are the things that you may remember someday about the lockdown. 
  • Today is Sunday, 3rd May, 2020.
  • We are at Day 40 of social isolation.
  • Anybody who is alive today has never seen anything of this scale ever in their lives. 
  • Almost all big organisations have a Business Continuity Plan but none would have planned for a disruption of this scale
  • Schools, Colleges, Offices, Markets, Industries, Malls, Restaurants, Cinema halls are all closed
  • Flights, Trains, Buses, Uber, Ola are not operating
  • In many towns and cities all delivery services like Swiggy, Zomato, Big Basket are not permitted for fear of spreading the infection
  • All maids, drivers and house-help are not allowed into the homes or apartments
  • Only shops of essential items like groceries, medicine, vegetables etc are allowed to open for limited duration everyday.
  • All places of worship like Temples, Churches, Mosques are closed
  • Parks, beaches and other public places are not accessible to the public.
  • All sports events like Olympics, IPL etc have been cancelled or Postponed across the Globe
  • All religious and social gatherings have been banned.
  • Funerals related gatherings are limited to immediate cohabitants and max 15-20 persons and too with Police permission
  • Schools have been closed since mid March and most schools have started online classes on Zoom. 
  • There are floor markings outside and inside the stores to maintain appropriate distance between people.
  • Only limited number of people are allowed to enter a shop and the rest have to form a queue outside. When one customer exists then one from the queue is allowed to enter the shop
  • Friendly social gatherings even with neighbours or friends are not happening. Most sane folks are maintaining discipline and social hygiene.
  • People are scheduling video calls to connect with friends and relatives 
  • There is widespread fake news on social media
  • World-over there is shortage of masks, gloves, PPE kits and medical equipment like test kits, ventilators etc and most countries are having to buy it from China which miraculously has overcome this crisis and is back to business
  • People are wearing masks, most places now REQUIRE that you wear them to enter!  People are even making their own masks for sale or donation to medical facilities!
  • Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and anything Lysol or Clorox is in short supply and limited per person.
  • Every city has been divided into tiny zones & an instant fine is being issued for crossing the zone without a valid reason. (Transport workers, Essential services, etc)
  • IT companies have adopted a work-from-home approach and are able to run most of their operations remotely
  • Small businesses and daily wagers are hard hit. Government is trying to provide food and assistance to the daily wagers, poor and needy folks
  • Amidst all this the silver lining is that the pollution levels have come down drastically and nature is thriving. 
  • There is hardly any noise pollution and we can hear the birds chirping again. 
  • I have heard in news that the long standing Ozone layer holes have self healed
  • At least everyone is acknowledging that probably we humans had taken too many things for granted and the pace of life was accelerating with every passing day but now this pandemic has put brakes on that mad race and everything has come to a standstill forcing people to reflect on they actions and their consequences
  • Today the Lockdown 2.0 comes to completion and Lockdown 3.0 begins for next 2 weeks. 
  • I am not sure what the future holds for us and how the “new normal” will evolve as we try to adapt to the changed circumstances and environment. However I hope people will remember at least a few lessons from this worldwide pandemic and will adopt a more responsible and deliberate lifestyle.
  • Remember life is precious & that nothing should be taken for granted. And above all let’s be grateful for where we are and what we have.
  • Stay safe and healthy…!
Posted in Life Gyan

After The Lockdown…

After the lockdown…what is the one thing that you will do differently as an individual?

It could be
– reducing the consumption of one time use plastics
– continue to help with household  chores
– buy more from local vendors etc etc..

The point is – are we going to do anything different after this experience or will we be back to our older ways and that too with vengeance.

So what is it that you will change in your lifestyle?

Posted in Leadership

Abilene Paradox

The Abilene Paradox refers to a situation when a group makes a collective decision that is counter to the thoughts and feelings of its individual members.  

The Abilene Paradox was introduced by management thinker Jerry B. Harvey, Professor, Emeritus of Management at The George Washington University, in an article on the subject. 

It occurs because human beings have a natural aversion to going against the feelings of a group – they want to conform socially. According to Harvey, the paradox may be driven because individuals believe they will experience negative attitudes or feelings if they ‘speak up’ on a topic. And if no one ‘speaks-up‘ then the group ends up  making a decision that is quite opposite to the wishes and feelings of the group.

The below example illustrates this concept beautifully – 
On a hot afternoon visiting in Coleman, Texas, the family is comfortably playing dominoes on a porch, until the father-in-law suggests that they take a trip to Abilene [53 miles north] for dinner.
The wife says, “Sounds like a great idea.”
The husband, despite having reservations because the drive is long and hot, thinks that his preferences must be out-of-step with the group and says, “Sounds good to me. I just hope your mother wants to go.”
The mother-in-law then says, “Of course I want to go. I haven’t been to Abilene in a long time.”

The drive is hot, dusty, and long. When they arrive at the cafeteria, the food is as bad as the drive. They arrive back home four hours later, exhausted.

One of them dishonestly says, “It was a great trip, wasn’t it?”
The mother-in-law says that, actually, she would rather have stayed home, but went along since the other three were so enthusiastic.
The husband says, “I wasn’t delighted to be doing what we were doing. I only went to satisfy the rest of you.”
The wife says, “I just went along to keep you happy. I would have had to be crazy to want to go out in the heat like that.”
The father-in-law then says that he only suggested it because he thought the others might be bored.

The group sits back, perplexed that they together decided to take a trip which none of them wanted. They each would have preferred to sit comfortably, but did not admit to it when they still had time to enjoy the afternoon.

In groupthink theories, the Abilene paradox theory is used to illustrate that groups not only have problems managing disagreements, but that agreements may also be a problem in a poorly functioning group.

There are three things that leaders can do to avoid their teams being a victim of Abilene Paradox – 

  1. Create a safe environment where team members are encouraged to voice divergent opinions freely
  2. Expect disagreement in teams – that is the reason why diversity is encouraged in teams so that you can get different perspectives on critical issues. 
  3. Actively listen to feedback – leaders must be willing to listen to feedback and not surround themselves with only the “yes” men

Do you want to share any of your examples?

Posted in Life Gyan

The 99 Club

Once upon a time, there lived a King who, despite his luxurious lifestyle, was not happy at all. One day, the King came upon a servant who was singing happily while he worked. This fascinated the King; Why was he, the Supreme Ruler of the Land, unhappy and gloomy, while a lowly servant had so much joy?

The King asked the servant, ‘Why are you so happy?’
The man replied, ‘Your Majesty, I am nothing but a servant. My family and I don’t need too much – just a roof over our heads and warm food to fill our tummies and your blessings.’

The king sought the advice of his most trusted advisor. After hearing the story, the advisor said, ‘Your Majesty, the servant has not yet joined “The 99 Club”.’
‘The 99 Club? And what is that?’ the King inquired.
The advisor replied, ‘To truly know what The 99 Club is, just place 99 Gold coins in a bag and leave it at this servant’s doorstep.’

When the servant saw the bag, he let out a great shout of joy…so many gold coins. He began to count them. After several counts, he was at last convinced that there were only 99 coins. He wondered, ‘What could’ve happened to that last gold coin? Surely, no one would leave 99 coins!’

He looked everywhere, but that final coin was elusive. Finally he decided that he was going to work harder than ever to earn that 100th gold coin.
From that day, the servant was a changed man. He was overworked, grumpy, and blamed his family for not helping him make that 100th gold coin. And he had stopped singing while he worked.

Witnessing this drastic transformation, the King was puzzled. The advisor said, ‘Your Majesty, the servant has now officially joined The 99 Club.’
He continued, ‘The 99 Club is a name given to those people who have enough to be happy but are never content, because they’re always wanting that extra 1, saying to themselves: “Let me get that one final thing and then I will be happy for life.”

We can be happy with very little in our lives, but the minute we’re given something bigger and better, we want more…and even more! We lose our sleep, our happiness, as the price for our growing needs and desires.
That’s “The 99 Club“…Zero Membership fee to enter, but you pay for it with your entire life !!!

Posted in Life Gyan

Ideas to Add to Your Bucket List

Here are a few more (read my previous post on Bucket List here) experiences to add to your bucket list. Pick the ones that excite you –

1.    Float in the Dead Sea
2.     Sky Diving
3.     Bungee Jumping
4.     Visit the Nalanda University
5.     Whitewater Rafting
6.     Visit the Ram Setu
7.     See the floating stones in Rameshwaram
8.     Take a yatch ride in Dubai Creek
9.     Walk on the Great Wall of China
10.   Visit the Taj Mahal
11.   Click the iconic pic in Maladives
12.   Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
13.   Take the Maid of the Mist ride at Niagara Falls
14.   Watch the change of Guard @ Indo-Pak border
15.   Try pushing the Krishna’s butter ball at Mahabalipuram
16.   Walk thru the clouds at Cherrapunji
17.   Smell the tulips in Kashmir
18.   Snorkelling
19.   Watch Coral Reefs
20.   Walk the Strip, Las Vegas
21.   Visit the Kumbh Mela
22.   Trek to the Manasarovar
23.   Watch the Kanchenjunga turn golden at Sunrise
24.   Experience the luxury of a Cruise
25.   Travel in a Limosine
26.   Drive a Ferrari
27.   Desert Safari
28.   Visit the Chilka Lake

Do you have any other interesting ones to share?