Take It or Get It

Can you get something without wanting it? If you do manage to get it, what will you do with it? Will it mean anything to you or will you start looking at it differently once you get it.

Knowledge, learning, mentoring, direction, and development are some things that people expect to get from a Master or a Guru. The question however remains, ‘Do you have to take it?’ or ‘Do you have to get it?’

Knowledge is ubiquitous. People looking for it have found it from the most unsuspecting sources. Some have sought it and some have stumbled upon it. The key has been the desire, the hunger or the absolute need that has driven people. Yes, many people have become what they are all by themselves.

Self-suggestion makes you master of yourself. – W. Clement Stone

The essence of self-development lies in the two words that define it. Self and Development. You take it upon yourself to develop yourself and do everything you can towards that purpose.

However, a lifetime may not be enough to achieve what lies inside you if you were to work all by yourself. So in the journey you discover many people who help you discover more of yourself and achieve more.

A slave has but one master. An ambition man has as many, as there are people who helped him get his fortune. – Wilson Mizner

As the journey progresses one realizes that life is all about learning from others. And while there’s a lot to learn you do need someone to guide you, show you the path and bring light in the areas of darkness.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. – Buddha

So, we are back to the same question. Do you take it? or Do you get it?

Liberation is not anywhere outside you. It is only within. If a man is anxious for deliverance, the internal Guru (Master) pulls him in and the external Guru pushes him into the Self. This is the grace of the Guru. – Ramana Maharshi

A true master can at the most only inspire you to live your being…live in your light – Swami Rajneesh

We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master. – Maria Montessori

The guru cannot awaken you; all that he can do is to point out what is. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

I hope all these words of the masters are a testimony that you have to take it. I hope we get it.

Posted in: Motivational, Work Culture

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Two Choices

Two Choices

You can choose to focus on the Problems or the Solutions

The difference between focusing on Problems and focusing on Solutions:

Case # 1 : When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out that the pens would not work at zero gravity (ink will not flow down to the writing surface).

Solution # 1 : To solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12 million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down, underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in a temperature range from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.

Solution # 2 : And what did the Russians do…?? They used a pencil.

Case # 2 : One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soapbox, which happened in one of Japan ‘s biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soapbox that was empty.

Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly Line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soapbox went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem.

Solution # 1 : Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all  the soapboxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent whoopee amount to do so.

Solution # 2 : But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, he did not get into complications of X-rays, etc., but instead came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soapbox passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.


Always look for simple solutions

Devise the simplest possible solution that solves the problems

Always focus on solutions and not on problems

“If you look at what you do not have in life, you don’t have anything. If you look at what you have in life, you have everything” 

Posted in: Focus on Solutions, Motivational

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The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind
Barbara Strauch

“Can I still compete?”

It’s a question many of us increasingly ask as we reach middle age.

We watch younger colleagues master new computer systems with ease or pull all-nighters with nary a hair out of place and — quite naturally — we’re concerned.

Luckily, recent research in brain science suggests that perhaps we should fret less.

Over the past few years, neuroscientists have begun to zero in on the brain’s changes in middle age, and what they’ve found is encouraging. Results of long-term studies show that — contrary to stereotypes — we actually grow smarter in key areas in middle age which, with longer life spans, now stretches from our mid 40s to our mid to late 60s.

In areas as diverse as vocabulary and inductive reasoning, our brains function better than they did in our 20s. As we age, we more easily get the “gist” of arguments. Even our judgment of others improves. Often, we simply “know” if someone — or some idea — is to be trusted. We also get better at knowing what to ignore and when to hold our tongues.

Not long ago, a mid-level executive told me how he’d recently changed the way he deals with younger colleagues. When gathered to discuss a problem, he keeps his “mouth shut” and listens. Even though — more often than not — he has a good solution, he waits. He does not speak.

“I find it works best if I let the younger workers talk first, wrestle with the problem in their own way,” he told me. “Then after a while, I say what I think might work. I’m not sure why, but this seems to work best and to help us all learn and solve the problem better.”

In fact, though he did not realize it, the executive was using the best parts of his calmer and more experienced middle-aged brain to help him manage his situation — and get better results.

It’s true that by midlife our brains can show some fraying. Brain processing speed slows down. Faced with new information, we often cannot master it as quickly as our younger peers. And there’s little question that our short-term memories suffer. It’s easy to panic when you find you can’t remember the name of that person you know in the elevator, or even the movie you saw last week.

But it turns out that such skills don’t really matter that much. By midlife our brains have developed a whole host of talents that are, in the end, just as well suited to navigating the modern, complex workplace. As we age, we get better at seeing the possible. Younger brains, predictably, are set up to focus on the negative and potential trouble. Older brains, studies show, often reach solutions faster, in part, because they focus on what can be done.

By the time we reach middle age, millions of patterns have been established in our brains, and these connected pathways provide invaluable perspective — even when it’s subconscious. For instance, some middle-aged managers I’ve spoken with talked about how solutions seem to “pop” into their heads “like magic.”

It doesn’t come from magic, of course, but from the very real — and often unappreciated — talents of our middle-aged brains.

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Theory of Work Culture

Demystifying the complexity of team behavior

Based on an actual experiment conducted in U.K.

Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up.

Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder. One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious. But undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder. All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why. However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.

A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him. This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he’s attacking the new monkey.

One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why.

This is how any company’s work culture gets established.

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Two Sides of Branding

What’s more important? Content or Packaging

If your last birthday cake was flooded with candles, chances are that you believe more in content. However if you had fewer candles it means that probably you believe more in packaging.

For ages, people and businesses were judged by their content, what they were made of. Strong foundations, sound business practices, and good fundamentals were those that met the approval of the people. Packaging was considered just an optional extra that completed an otherwise perfect picture.

As people and markets have evolved, so have the evaluation processes. Today, packaging has taken centre-stage and is inseparable from the person, product or service. And there’s where branding makes a compelling presence.

The evaluation processes have turned full circle. If you don’t make the right first impression, or don’t tick the right boxes in the minds of the people, you don’t move to the next level in their mind space. You don’t make the cut. You are simply abandoned.

While this is true on an elementary level, it doesn’t stop there. Brands are getting more sensory and real. People are defining which brands they want to be seen with and those they don’t. So marketers are spending the midnight oil to get into their mind spaces and eventually seek their acceptance.

Branding has now to shoulder the entire burden of breakthrough. It can make or break the marketability of a person, product or service that is full of promise inside. It has to create an external appeal that will induce people to break the shell and look inside.

Posted in: Branding

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Truth or Lies?

The op-ed article of Greg Smith who served Goldman Sachs till the day of the article opened a can of worms. Let’s face it; this episode has raised a storm in every tea cup wherever it has been consumed.

A corporation which takes years to create a brand and has thirty thousand employees finds itself at the wrong end, facing the music.

Some thoughts on the episode:

  • David and Goliath: Increasingly people are looking at David’s view of Goliath. When confronted with the reality that Goliath was too big to hit, David’s view was, it was too big to miss. Large organizations and people who are known or popular run the risk of being hit. If an employee of a non-descript organizations has such revelations, it will hardly have any ears. If a husband gets slapped with a shoe by his wife at home, or a neighbor features in a fight, it doesn’t constitute as news. But slapping a well-known politician will surely get you column centimeters, tweets and eye balls.
  • Insider Credibility: When an intern at Washington House, a wife of a famous personality, or a disgruntled employee reveals some juicy inside information, people are drawn to the bites as bees to honey. Due to the insider status, a healthy claim of credibility is established and usually the onus of proving otherwise falls on the accused.
  • Damage: Genuine or not, unless outrageously ridiculous, the damage is caused by the accuser. The defense strategy that the person or the corporation adopts is also tricky. You start defending and you get dragged into a war of words, which could be the intention in the first place. And when the accuser is an unknown entity, he has nothing to lose and can exit at his option. If the accused stays quiet, your silence adds credibility to the claims. In this case, the Goldman Sachs PR machine tried to blunt some of the damage by stating Smith was just one of over 30,000 employees, but its defense, thus far, has been tepid at best.
  • Truth or Lies: The acceptance of the allegations depends on the reputation of the organization and the type of allegations that are leveled. If the allegations are in total variance of the public opinion and reputation, the facts claimed by the offender need to be backed with a lot of concrete evidence to lend credibility. However, if there have been some doubts, this salvo serves as the nail in the coffin. It serves as an important piece to complete the jig saw puzzle in the minds of the doubters.
  • Objectives: History has shown that this strategy is used many a times as a bargaining tactic. You open your mouth, show the extent of damage you can cause which gets the opponent to the bargaining table. Or it could be a last ditch effort by a disgruntled soul to inflict whatever damage he can when all doors seem to have been closed.
  • Social Media Vulnerability: With social media becoming an integral part of our lives and the cascading effect of its bombardment across the globe – genuine, malicious and innocent barrages have a telling effect. Social media strategies towards such situations are in its nascent stage. With few case studies or precedents in the wisdom bank of what works and what doesn’t, people have yet to crystalize the best strategies to such issues.
  • Motivation or Opportunism: Was Greg smart or dumb to make such a spectacle of his departure. Did he genuinely want to correct a system which he thought was unfair and unjust? Or did he aim at instant stardom? Few of us knew Greg’s name before March 14th, he is now the toast of Wall Street and has gained instant worldwide recognition. Reports suggest that he is now in talks with leading publishers for a book deal. This may be better than a 9 to 5 job at Goldman Sachs for the next decade. Sounds like a neat strategy, if that was the purpose.
  • Larger Picture: With the advent of internet and social media, news travels across the globe in nano seconds. There was a time when rumours could be suppressed before they assumed dangerous proportions. But not today. The tweets, Facebook walls, the instant messengers, and the like transmit the news instantly across the world. People pass on anything without verifying and in many cases verification, as in this case, is difficult. So the damage is done. This causes the risk to grow exponentially.

Brands will have to work harder to protect themselves from this assault. They will have to create the bond, proximity and emotion quotient with their customers to make them look at such barrage as trash rather than give it credibility.

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