Leaders – How Clean is Your Window?

It was raining very heavily and the little restaurant where I was having dinner was very crowded. All the tables were occupied and some hungry customers were waiting for their turn. Some children were crying as they had to wait and the harassed waiters were hurrying to serve the diners.

Amidst all this confusion there was one waiter called Chandran who was serving everyone with a smile. His communication skills were fairly advanced. He was serving each customer according to their need, carefully listening to each order, checking his understanding and then executing the order. But Chandran’s smile was short lived as very soon there was a huge commotion at one end of the restaurant. One angry diner had flung his plate across the room and was screaming at him.

All eyes turned to that part of the room. It was surprising to see that Chandran was involved in this situation. As a regular diner I had always admired Chandran for his skill at customer service. Always polite and quick to serve the customers, he was indeed very popular with everyone. In fact he had also very recently received the “Employee of the Month” award from his employers. So what was going wrong?

The customer was actually accusing Chandran of physically assaulting his little son. The manager rushed to the spot and, after pacifying the customer, got to the bottom of the issue. Most of the people around also had seen Chandran drag the little boy across the room but what was Chandran’s version?

Then we came to the final truth. Unnoticed by the parents the little boy was playing with a fan that was kept nearby. As Chandran was passing by he noticed that the child was pushing his fingers dangerously close to the fan. Chandran quickly dragged him away from danger. A moment’s delay would have had dire consequences. Instead of thanking him these parents were shouting at him!

The attitude displayed in this situation reminded me of something that I had recently read:

“And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.” – Author Unknown

When we look through a dirty window the world outside looks dirty and when we clean the window and look through it, the world outside is a beautiful world. The window we look through is really the perception we have of people and situations.

If only those parents could clean their window and look at the situation. Instead of shouting at him they would be thanking him for saving their little boy!

“We see the world not as is but as we are. By improving, refining, and defining who we are, we see the world from the highest, most enlightened perspective”.

– Robin Sharma in Leadership Wisdom

Business Communication: The Reader’s Perspective

Here is a story that will highlight the importance of clarity in written communication:

A blind boy once sat at the side of a busy pavement with a hat placed in front of him. He had a hand-written sign that said: “I am blind. Please help.”

Passers-by hardly took notice of the boy and there were only a few coins in his hat.
A man who was passing by stopped beside the boy. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then looked at the signboard, took it and wrote a few words on it. “Here you go”, he said and placed it where everyone could see, and then walked away.

Soon the hat began to fill up. The young boy was pleasantly surprised and happy. Later that day, the man who changed the signboard came by. He asked the boy, “How are things?” The boy recognized the man’s voice and said, “Hey mister, were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”

The man said, “I wrote what you wanted to really tell them. It was the same thing that you meant, but only written in a different way.”

He had written: “Today is a beautiful day. But I cannot see it.”

This short story indicates that communication can be made more effective by exploring a different perspective. You can see more results if you do so. This is especially true in written communication. In business communication, it is essential to think from the perspective of the reader. This will improve clarity and help the reader to understand better.

Empathy In Emotional Intelligence

Here is a touching story on Empathy in Emotional Intelligence. It is the story of a little boy who saw things in a perspective that was different from many other young children of his age.

A farmer once painted a sign board advertising that he had puppies to sell. As he was driving the last nail into the board on the edge of his fence, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down to see a little boy, his eyes wide with expectancy and excitement.

Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

“Well,” said the farmer, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

The boy looked down for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”

The farmer smiled. “Sure”, he said. And with that he let out a whistle, “Here, Dolly!” he called.

Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight.

As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared; this one was noticeably smaller. In a somewhat awkward manner the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up….

“I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the awkward puppy.

The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

Upon hearing this, the little boy looked into the eyes of the farmer and stepped back from the fence. He reached down and began rolling up the sleeve of one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg that was attached to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands him.”

This story of empathy, an important aspect of Emotional Intelligence, should set us thinking. The seemingly trivial act of the young boy was selfless and very understanding. If the story continued, it would have been on the lines of many happy days for the little boy and the puppy.

With a little bit of empathy, it is possible to relate to others, understand and help them out. This adds value to the meaning of life. We get so much in return, happiness being the greatest return.

Health Is Wealth

This article is second to a series of topics that was previously covered in the MMMTS blog. Like the previous one that was covered (The Pursuit of HappYness), this furthers upon a talk given by Mr. R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director – Tata Sons, who had addressed the youth present at the Indian Institute of Management, a premier MBA institute of India.

In today’s fast paced corporate world, everyone is in a race with time – deadlines have to be met, clients need to be satisfied and performance has to be at its peak; in the process the most vital aspect of existence is neglected – one’s health.

Furthering Gopalakrishnan’s view, I am of the opinion that it is imperative that young working professionals need to take extreme care of their health, especially in the first 5 – 7 years of their career. This is the time when habits – good or bad – get developed and sustained. During the early working years, a proper regime of exercise and diet can do wonders to health in the future. At the same time, this is a period where the greatest neglect of youthful health occurs. This is when normally active people become sedentary workers, alcohol becomes the social pre-requisite, cigarettes become the nocturnal wonder stick and rich food becomes a common parlance.

As much as youth is the best period of one’s life, it is important to remember that it adheres to the old adage: What you sow, so shall you reap. If you neglect your health on the grounds of non availability of time, the repercussions will be long term and detrimental. The criticality of an irresponsible lifestyle is generally undermined by the person.

Do not convince yourself that your health will be everlasting without proper care. Optimistic as this may sound, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Never keep away from a healthy lifestyle on the grounds that you do not have access to facilities or that you are addicted to detrimental substances to gain relief from the stresses of a professional career.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

– An excerpt from ‘Leisure’, the poem by William Henry Davies

I urge all youngsters – the youth of today and citizens of tomorrow – to find joy in taking care of their health and maintaining a responsible lifestyle. Moderation is the keyword here – excess of anything is good for nothing.

“So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.”
– A.J. Reb Meteri

I wish you a happy, healthy and wealthy life.