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

Living With Emotional Intelligence – Learning From The Mosquito

An important aspect of Emotional Intelligence is optimism. Here is an amusing story based upon positive thinking that I recently heard. I’m sure that it will help us understand that life becomes more beautiful and exciting when perceived from an optimistic perspective.

This is a story of a mosquito family. Like any other mosquito child of his age, the little mosquito of this particular story had to go to mosquito school. This was where he would learn how to fly and feed himself from the best available resource available to mosquito-kind – the humans.

After its graduation, the little mosquito left home on its first assignment. Its parents were excited and worried at the same time – their little one had grown up, and was about to take its first flight into the big world. The little mosquito calmed them saying that he would definitely return and share stories of his taste of success.

Time passed by. The little mosquito was gone for a while now, and his parents were beginning to get nervous. Just when they thought that all hope was lost, in he flew. He looked very happy, and was jubilantly smiling. His proud and relieved parents asked him, “How did you do it son? We’re so happy that the humans haven’t swatted you!”

To this the little mosquito replied, “Swat me? No way! I think they somehow came to find out that it was my first assignment. They were so happy to see me that they encouraged me throughout – by clapping hands and cheering me on!”

This humorous story brings out an important facet of life through the perspective of the little mosquito. Life is what you make out of it – you can choose to be happy and enjoy the journey and the challenges it brings; or you can choose to be pessimistic and appear downtrodden in your own eyes – seeing every hurdle as a mountain in your path, and ultimately having nothing to look back and be proud of.

We should lead life in an emotionally intelligent way, and ensure that we have something to look back at and be happy that we have done something, rather than wonder why we had not done the right thing when it was demanded of us.

Emotional Intelligence – The Seed You Sow For A Fantastic Life

In this blog post, I would like to help readers understand an important aspect of Emotional Intelligence – life is what you think it to be. Read on…

On May 29th, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak at 29,000 feet. In his book, High Adventure, Hillary mentions that he had to grow into this success: In 1952 he attempted to climb Mount Everest, but failed.

A few weeks later, a group in England asked him to address its members. Hillary walked on stage amidst thunderous applause. The audience was acknowledging an attempt at greatness, but Hillary saw himself as a failure.

He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform. He made a fist and pointed at a picture of the Mount Everest and said in a loud voice, “Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow… but I’m still growing!”

Such extreme achievements have a lot of physical, mental and emotional power involved. If Hillary would have given up, or relaxed after the first attempt, the world would not have known such a great mountaineer today; he is a man known for his sheer determination and grit – and I would like to see him as an individual who sowed the right seed that led to a great achievement.

This is an example of Emotional Intelligence that harbours many facets. Taking the right step is an important beginning that would chart out a better view of the challenges that you are faced with. So by thinking in the right way – optimistically – you pave the way for continued success in your life.

Emotional Intelligence – The Story Of Two Horses

Emotional Intelligence, today’s corporate buzzword, is a concept that is more concrete than abstract. When you open your eyes and start to think, there are a lot of instances, examples and anecdotes that will come to your mind with regards to it.
Here is an excerpt of a short story that I recently read that once again drives home the concept of Emotional Intelligence that is, or should be, at work in our life…

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it. From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you get a closer look you will notice something quite interesting…

One of the horses is blind.

His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made him a safe and comfortable barn to live in. If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. It comes from a smaller horse in the field. Attached to the horse’s halter is a small, copper-colored bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so that he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, he will stop occasionally to look back, making sure that the blind friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell..

– Author Unknown

The display of empathy and inspiration is common amongst animals as it is in man. Think of your personal and professional life up to date: there are a lot of instances where you don the role of the blind horse and other times when you become the horse with the bell.

The blind horse signifies the times when we needed to be inspired and motivated, just so that we realize and are reminded of our infinite potential and strength. Other times, we become the horse with the bell – that is, the source of inspiration and motivation to guide others so that they can find their way through, and achieve what they are capable of.

In a nutshell, what more can Emotional Intelligence mean, when applied to our lives?

Success Is Failure Turned Inside Out

Winston Churchill was to have quoted,

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”

This attitude is an important characteristic to possess if we aim at success in all that we do.

At the workplace it may sometimes seem impossible to keep your chin up through all the stress, pressure and the effort to balance life and work. It is an accepted fact that on some days at work, you may not be able to be as productive as you would like to be. The causes can be many. But the point here is that you should not be put off by failure. When the clouds of doubt cloud your vision, do not succumb to it. Instead keep endeavouring.

Always learn to derive enjoyment while on your path towards success, since it is equally important to make the journey an enriching one. After all, life is a culmination of experiences from which we teach the next generation on how they may live their life in a balanced manner.

Always be motivated to think and act positively. After a while you will find that being positive and motivated comes naturally. During our Soft Skills Training sessions in Motivational Training, participants learn to deal with setbacks and strive forward with a positive mental attitude.

This then is the very essence of success – the more we keep persisting despite setbacks and failures, the more chances we have at succeeding. Remember what Thomas Alva Edison said,

“I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work”

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

I recently read an excerpt of Steve Jobs’ Commencement Address that was published by the Stanford Report dated June 14th, 2005. His closing lines revealed an amazing idea of inspiration in me.

Jobs credited the birth of this caption to a publication called The Whole Earth Catalog. This magazine was synonymous to today’s Google and other search engines – and according to the founder and CEO of Apple and Pixar Studios, it was “idealistic and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.” When this magazine rolled out its last publication in the mid 1970s, the back cover carried a picture of an early morning country road. Beneath it were the words: Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

At the first glance, this catchy caption would not make much sense to the busy internet reader. But when I gave it a few seconds of thought, the idea dawned onto me. Firstly, it essentially means that we should always remain restless for knowledge. Secondly, and more importantly, it means never to be proud – we should always be under the impression that we do not know much. This feeling would in turn further fuel the thirst for knowledge, whereby we constantly persist in attaining it.

It is a well understood fact that knowledge is like an ocean. It needs to constantly wet the shores of your mind and bring wisdom. It is like oil to the lamp that burns bright on a dark night. With the knowledge we have, others should be able to light their candles.

Ever endeavour to acquire knowledge.
Never fall into the bottomless pit of know-it-all.
I encourage all of you to: Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Roger Federer Does It Again

On 5th July, 2009 Roger Federer recreated magic by the epic win of his sixth Wimbledon Crown and a record 15th Grand Slam Trophy. The 27 year old Swiss is now honoured with the title of being the most successful man in tennis.

Federer had been in the news earlier because of the fact that he did not have a coach. At a time when he was struggling in his career, tennis experts had a unified view that he needed to be coached. But Federer’s deep understanding of himself helped him to realize that his stubborn professional personality would not yield easily to being under the authority of a coach. This fact, however, did not deter him from achieving his aim. He single-mindedly focused on being the best; and now, after surpassing former champion Pete Sampras’ record of the highest Grand Slam Trophy holder, Federer has proved that he is the best, beyond a shadow of doubt.

What is the secret behind Roger Federer’s success?

This is a question that can be answered by anyone who knows Federer. Most of this success can be owed to his undeniable grit and sheer determination in the game, which allowed him to strategize and formulate his moves in the final match at Wimbledon against Andy Roddick. Brilliant that he is at tennis, his resounding success would not have been possible unless he put in undivided focused energy towards his goal.

Federer has shown that life is a journey with cobbles along the way, but what makes the difference is the manner in which these are perceived – they are either tripping stones to failure, or stepping stones to success.

MMM Training Solutions congratulates Roger Federer, Wimbledon Champion 2009, for his persistence, positive outlook in life and never say die attitude; all of which has given him the glory that the world now applauds.

The Pursuit of HappYness

Mr. R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director – Tata Sons gave a talk at the Indian Institute of Management, a premier MBA institute of India one day. In his discourse, he addressed the youth of today’s world. One of the points he touched upon was about enjoying one’s work. I would be covering many more of his points in my subsequent blogs.

“There is no greater fun than hard work.”
~ Sir James Lipton

In the dynamic corporate world of the 21st century where work dissatisfaction and attrition is the norm, it is evident that one has to make sincere efforts to “enjoy” one’s work. Gopalakrishnan pointed out that all individuals should not only work towards achieving happiness, but should strive to work as happy people.

These two concepts are very different.

When we work with happiness, it gets reflected in everything that we do. It is all about the attitude. Happiness should be a means to an end. We should be happy in whatever we do.
Hence work and career should help an individual in reaching full one’s full potential. Indeed, the satisfaction that is derived from this is overwhelming.

Through the myriad instances of life, it is vital to maintain a sense of humour. We laugh a lot as children, and then somewhere along the way, we forget what it means to laugh open-heartedly.

Many people get uptight and impersonal when they start ascending the ladder of success. They feel that sharing a good laugh with old friends and subordinates would make them look less powerful than what they perceive themselves to be. This is beautifully summarized in a quote by General Joe Stilwell (1904-1946, United States Army four-star General best-known for his service in China and Burma) below:

“Keep smiling. The higher the monkey climbs, the more you can see of his backside.”

So laugh a lot and be happy. Love your work – this approach gives a fresh new outlook to life. The satisfaction and fulfillment you will derive from this will surpass all boundaries within which you have been restricting yourself.

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.”
~Edith Wharton

An amazing story of Perseverance and Persistence!

Today we are facing global recession and the only stories we are hearing on the news are the ones of grief, sadness and loss. So we decided to write about an Indian named Sarathbabu who grew up in dismal conditions but through his persistence, perseverance and belief in himself, he is now a successful entrepreneur employing over 200 people – most of whom are from the village he grew up in.

Sarathbabu grew up in the slums of Madipakkam within the metropolitan city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. His large family of 6 people was solely supported by his mother who had to work 2 jobs in order to sustain the family. During the day time she made idilis (rice cakes) and sold it on the roads of Chennai, in the sweltering heat.

As a boy, Sarathbabu was very intelligent; a topper throughout his years in school. He worked from a very young age to help pay his school fees by binding books. Very soon he got the taste of entrepreneurship and within a short while of graduating from 10th grade, he started his own business of binding books. He provided employment to the children of his own village. The good will that he built up with this decision to hire people from his own village set the stage for the success of his present venture, Foodking.

Upon graduating from one of the most premier management institutes in India – the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, he was offered a very lucrative job making Rs.20 lakhs per year. He turned down this offer in order to pursue his dream of helping the people he grew up with. His growth from the slums of Madipakkam to the posh regions of Hyderabad where he founded Foodking Catering Services, is no ordinary story.

His ambition had been to employ as many poor people as he can, and to improve the quality of their life. In all of this, he has not forgotten his mother- his inspiration; the root of his strong character and extraordinary success!

This inspiring rags-to-riches tale, that of the real life Slum Dog Millionaire, is one amongst the various stories that just goes on to show how one can succeed regardless of hurdles and difficulties that come in the way. If you couple the thought of good intentions with the qualities of integrity and sincerity- you have a venture that would see its way through any blinding storm.

Road to success for Leadership

The Road to Success

There are numerous values that are essential to achieving success. Over the next few months I will be addressing these values and asking some tough and controversial questions. These values are the focus in our soft skills training programs. The first value is Character. What is Character? This question is powerfully answered by two dynamic and influential people. “Character is the sum total of a person’s values, beliefs & personality. It is reflected in our behavior, in our actions. It needs to be preserved more than the richest jewel in the world.” – Shiv Khera I would like to ask a very provocative question (especially to my fellow Indians), “Does lack of punctuality reflect poor character?” In my opinion the answer to this question is a simple, “Yes.” The intense uptake of breath indicating surprise is audible to me. The reason for this response is that if you consider other people’s time to be as valuable as yours, you would never be late. So could this relate to your values and belief systems? I often say, “It is not the perception that you have of yourself that matters but the perception that other people have of you that is important.” I conduct leadership programs for people holding middle and upper management positions in multi-national companies. The above statement initially arouses disagreement but as it is processed in the group the participants start to see the wisdom. Let us now apply this to punctuality. If you are a project manager and you have been late the last three times for a meeting with your client who is paying a considerable amount of money for the project, what is the client going to think of you? Regardless of the fact that you have done a great job on the project, the client is going to question your dependability. Once this opinion is formed, it will be very difficult to change it. All your achievements will be measured against this yardstick. What a wasted opportunity! Character can only be achieved when we make the decision to be concerned about others more than we are about ourselves. This is not an easy life but it is worth the sacrifice. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.” -Helen Adams Keller