Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Ode to the Women of this World


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,

"Where are you ? It is so late, anything can happen ...."

 "Don't say anything ... let it go... don't you remember how she was defaced with  acid  ?"

"That job involves too much of travel and everyday you will be late ... what will people say?"

 "Sit properly , your straps are showing and  don't laugh so loudly, it is so unladylike .."


Where knowledge is free,

"We can't afford to educate you. Your brother needs education more than you. It is he who will earn and support us  .... You will get married and go to another family ...."

"You will never be able to cope up with the tough engineering subjects.  It is better if you can do a simple graduation in home science or something easy... after all you will just get married in another year or so ...."




Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls

"Why do you want to go to your parent's place so often ?  You should understand that your real home is your husband's place and your responsibility is to look after your in laws and not your parents ...."

"Put the pallu on your head ..."

"So what you too have come back from work ? It is your duty to  cook and feed your family... go and prepare tea for your husband .. he is so tired ... "



Where words come out from the depth of truth,

"And one day, a prince charming will come and sweep you off on a horse and make you a queen ...."

"You can do everything ... this world is equal for both men and women ... "

"Do not speak out ... one day people will realize how much you have done  for them ...."

"You are a woman... who selflessly sacrifices her own needs and desires for everybody ,..... "



Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,

"Don't worry too much about your poor marks.. you always have the option of getting married to a handsome rich guy ... chill ..."

"Don't tire yourself too much , it will show up on your face .. "

"Do you really need that promotion ? It will put more responsibility on you .. Will you be able to balance your home and work ? "


Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,

"Come on .. try this fairness cream ... you will become pretty in a month .... "

"You must lose weight ... it is embarrassing for me to take you to official parties ...."

"Don't argue ... , that is the tradition in this family and that is how the world  behaves ...."

"What value can  you add  by becoming a board member of our organization? We take tough decisions ... "


Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action

"This is a perfect job for you ... not very challenging and you will be able to give time to your husband and kids .... "

"You are almost 30 !! When will you get married ? "

"I feel very guilty .. of not giving proper time to my kids ....


Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

 Our father in heaven , when will the women of the world  go into that heaven of freedom ?



Happy Women's Day !!


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Poem "Where the mind is without fear " - By Rabindranath Tagore


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Heart and Science of it

1983. 

Two handsome men were standing near the huge window on the 10th floor of a building looking down on the stream of people and vehicles passing on the streets. 

They were silent . One of them was brooding and the other one felt a bit awkward.  The silence was "insanely" reverberating between them. 

Suddenly , the brooding man said softly  Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” 

Yes, you guessed it correctly. 

This is what Steve Jobs said to Pepsi executive John Sculley when he wanted Sculley to join Apple inc. 

Steve Jobs knew that this would hit Sculley where he wanted .  

His heart. 

Jobs had got  it absolutely right.  If you have to win over anyone, target his heart.  

Leadership - a science or an art ? This has been a topic of debate for at least the last 6 - 7 decades.  I ,for one ,strongly believe that it is an art. 

Leaders  lead. 

They have followers. 

They set a goal, motivate people and take them towards the vision. The mission of the leader becomes the team's mission. This can be achieved only if there is emotional bonding between the leader and her followers. And the emotional bonding happens not through any technology but through the heart.  Well , mind too perhaps. But the mind gets dominated by the heart. 

Take the example of the hit Sci-fi movie "ET".  It was a technological wonder when it was released. The concept, the animation, the technological bar was raised by Spielberg.  

But think about it. What was the film about ? It was about the emotions of the extra terrestrial who got left behind on the earth. It was about the bond which he forges with the kids. It was about the sorrow as well as the joy which we felt when finally the ET finally went back to his land.  


Similarly the animation movies "The Little Mermaid", the "Lion King" ... all my favourite , maybe yours too. When we saw the movies, yes, we appreciated the wonderful animations, the voice-overs , the music, but what we remember about them was the story, the joy which had made us laugh  with "Hakuna Matata" and the sorrow of Ariel when she loses her voice ... 

It is our heart.  

In this hour of uncertainty in the economy, I know of leaders who have had to take tough decisions. A leader who is an artist with his words and actions and has integrity, knows how to handle even these unpleasant encounters and still be trusted , respected  and coveted. 

Try this out. 

Name your favourite manager or leader whom you adored , respected and trust and tell me why you think s/he was the greatest.  Most of the things which you will list will be, in all possibility be something which had actually touched your heart and soul in some way or the other. 

Go ahead, share the names and the reasons in the comments below. 

Cheers !

Monday, 13 February 2017

Mind Games

Answer the following in 3 seconds .

What do you think of  Prashant and Jack from the following statements ? 

Prashant : Intelligent, smart, industrious, critical, stubborn , envious 
Jack        : Envious, stubborn, critical, industrious, smart, intelligent

If you are true to yourself , then like most of us, you have viewed Prashant more favourably than Jack.  But if you have taken more than 3 seconds to answer this, then you would have noticed that the adjectives are exactly the same ! But still 90% of us have concluded that Prashant is a better candidate !

Dear readers, our mind is a very very complex thing. 

Here , many things have come into play in the 3 seconds. One is called the "Halo Effect" and the other is called the "Recency effect" . The sequencing of the adjectives have proved to be vital. 

Our mind has believed and visualized the personality of the person after reading the first three adjective.  The "recency" of the words have cast a shadow on our mind and the Prashant got away with the "halo" created around him.  

This is a very subtle thing and in the office environment, this can make or break a person. 

As leaders , we should be aware of this and when we are judging any employee, we should ask ourselves, am I being directed by the mind to believe what I am hearing ? Am I hearing the correct thing ? Am I being fair ? 

A professor realized that when she is correcting the examination papers,  she tends to give marks which are homogenous. That is, if the first answer is very well written and the student got high marks, even if the second answer was not so great, the professor's mind said "How can he make such a mistake ? I am sure he was distracted ...".  So, the marks got influenced. 

Then she changed her method. She corrected the first answers of all the students and then the second answer of all the students and so on ... Though the correction took more time, she was satisfied that she had judged the students fairly without any bias. 

I will end this post with another question. 

Please answer this in 2 seconds . 

A bat and ball costs Rs 1.10
The bat costs one Rupee more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost ?

What number came to your mind ? I know, the number is 10 paisa. 

Sorry, it is the wrong answer. 

It is simple maths. If the bat costs one Rupee more than the ball and the ball costs 10 paisa, then the total cost will be Rs 1.20 ! 

The correct answer is 5 paisa !

The point I want to make is that, the number 10 came intuitively to us and it was wrong !

Leaders, let us be humble. Sometimes what comes instinctively to our mind is not correct. We have to take our minds in control and think rather than jumping to conclusions.  These are the situations where we should try not to be guided too much by our intuition , rather we should try to be more rational. 
 

Now that the performance appraisal season is soon approaching, can we look at these little things which matter, take our minds and intuition in control , try to be rational before judging anyone ? 

Remember,  for you it might be a small mistake (if you realize it later), but for the person on the other side of the table, it means a lot.  

It is his future, his self pride, his self confidence. 

Take care .  

Be Fair !


Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Three Dolls


I am a great fan of the wit of Tenaliraman's  stories (See Wiki :TENALIRAMA). 

Apart from the humour and the wit, I gather a lot of  corporate lessons from these.  From this story we can gather two lessons. But this will be later in the post. First read the story. Here goes ...

The great king Krishna Deva Raya had a lot of wise ministers in his court. The wisest of them was Tenali Rama. One day, a merchant came to the king’s court.  He saluted the king and said, “Your Majesty, I have heard from many people that you have very wise ministers in your court. But with your permission, I would like to test the wisdom of your ministers.” 

"Go ahead " said the King. 

The merchant gave the king three dolls that looked identical

He said, “Though these dolls look similar, they are different in some way. If your ministers can find out the difference, I will bow to their wisdom. But if they can’t, I will assume that there are no wise ministers in your court. I will be back in seven days for the answer.”

Tenali Rama was sick and he was not available in the court.   At the end of three days, none of the ministers could figure out the difference

The king got worried and went to visit Tenali Rama . 

He said to him, “Tenali it is a matter of our honour now. Since no one has been able to find the solution, it is up to you now. You have to find the difference between these dolls.” 

The problem proved difficult for Tenali too, but at last, he was able to figure out the difference. 

He went to the court with the three dolls on the day that the merchant had to return. Then, he announced in front of the whole court that he had found the difference between the dolls. 

He said, “These three dolls are different because one of them is good, one average and one bad.” 

When everyone asked Tenali that which doll was which, he showed them a tiny hole that was present in the ears of each of the dolls. Then, he took a very thin wire and put it in the hole of the first doll’s ear. The wire came out from the doll’s mouth. He did the same with the second doll and the wire came out from the doll’s other ear. In the third doll,the wire went to the heart and did not come out.

"So , can anyone tell me which Doll is which ? " Tenali said

There was a minister in the court who was very jealous of Tenali Rama. 

He laughed derisively. 

"That's easy" he said . 

 “In the first doll, the wire went in through the ear and came out through the mouth. So, this doll is bad as it represents people who cannot keep a secret. In the second doll, the wire came out of the other ear. So, it is average and represents harmless people who do not understand what is said to them. The third doll, in which the wire went to the heart and did not come out, represents good people who will keep the secret that you tell them.”

The king, the merchant and all the courtiers were very impressed with this wise answer. He jealous minister beamed. 

Then Tenali said, “But there can be another explanation too. The first doll represents people who gain knowledge and spread it among others, so it is good. The second doll represents people who do not understand what they are taught, so it is average. The third doll represents people who have knowledge but keep it all to themselves. They do not teach anyone anything and so they are bad people "

The King smiled. The merchant smiled.

I gathered two insights from this story . 

We  see that there are always two sides of any analogy. The personality  of the person reflects through his thoughts. If you are crooked, your thoughts will be crooked and if you are straight and fair, your thoughts will be likewise. 

Second lesson is from Tenali Rama's explanation.  In our organizations, we look for the third kind of persons to be leaders

Leaders  who spread knowledge , grows himself and help others grow !

Cheers to Tenali Rama !


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Teeny Weeny | Perspective



Sometimes you need to look at life from a different perspective....


Monday, 16 January 2017

Is Leadership in the Genes ?

I have been doing some reading on Genes and heredity. I find the subject to be fascinating.  How are we made ? What influences how we look, how we behave, how we interact ?

 Is it Genes or is it our experiences and upbringing ?

The debate of Nature vs Nurture  has been on since the last two centuries. The term “Nature vs Nurture” was first coined by Francis Galton (1869) , the second cousin of Charles Darwin.   

He theorized that parents transferred intelligence to their children, who in turn passed these intelligent-boosting genes down to their offspring. 

He argued that the ancestry and a person’s genes were responsible for the characteristics the person possesses. On the other side, the social learning theory says that how a person behaves can be linked to influences such as parenting styles and learned experiences. For example, a child might learn through observation and reinforcement to say 'please' and 'thank you.' 

Another child might learn to behave aggressively by observing older children engage in violent behavior on the playground. In his famous Bobo doll experiment, it was  demonstrated that children could learn aggressive behaviors simply by observing another person acting aggressively.

Galton was also the father of “Eugenics “.  “Eu” means good and “genics“ means race, stock, kins.  His revolutionary idea to improve the population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. To make it simple, the theory of eugenics talks about elimination of the “weak”, the “bad” genetic traits by eliminating the “breeding “ of the negative people !  

Sounds terrifying … !  In the 1920’s the American Eugenics Society campaigned for the sterilization of men and women in psychiatric hospitals.  However the most chilling of all implications drawn from this view of the natural superiority of one race over another took place in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

Coming to think of it,  genes definitely has a major role to play in shaping up the constitution of a person – both physical and mental .  There have been experiments involving twins who have been separated at birth – they have been found to have eerily similar looks, physical traits like colour of the eyes, gait, hair, medical history and also their behavior patterns like their likes, dislikes, mental makeup, intelligence level etc .  Is it a mere coincidence that the famous litterateur Upendra Kishore Ray’s son was the famous author Sukumar Ray and his son was the famous author, filmmaker Satyajit Ray ? Similarly, is it just by chance that Collin Hanks , the son of Tom Hanks , is equally , if not better  actor ?

This brings me back to another age old debate : Is Leadership in the genes ? Some research say that leadership is found to be “hard-wired” in people till they reach their early twenties.  But similarly, many experiments have also shown that leadership can be nurtured by using suitable environment and reinforcement techniques.

It has been observed that families tend to have similarities in terms of individual family members moving into leadership positions.  Examples are  Presidents John F. Kennedy, George Bush, and others who have family members that have taken on leadership roles.  However, there is a problem of determining whether such communality is genetic or environmentally produced because families have both environments (e.g. similar wealth, educational opportunities, etc.) as well as genes in common—thus determining whether  leadership is caused by genetic or environmental factors is impossible to fathom.

For me,  as written in a few of my earlier posts, I go by instinct when I have to recruit a leader and while promoting a person to a leadership role, I go by my instinct as well as my observation. I find that if a person has succeeded in organizing and coordinating any game or an event successfully , he is a potential leader. If a person is open to feedback, has good comprehension ability,  good interpersonal skills , he has leadership in him/her.  If a person is not afraid of taking up challenges, appreciates others and has a good sense of humour, it accounts for his leadership genes.  


Though the ethical code of conduct in organizations do not permit asking questions about the heritage of the employee , but looking at the pace of change in the area of technology as well as the society, the day might not be too far off when looking up a potential leader thru an app (maybe) will tell us the full genealogy of the person , aiding the organization to take a decision whether to invest resources in him or not .


Will  “Survival of the fittest“ go to it's extremities and cast a societal holocaust as it did in Germany during Hitler ?


Scary , isn’t it ?


Friday, 6 January 2017

Different Strokes for 2017

Dear Readers, 

First of all I wish you a very happy , healthy , peaceful and productive New Year!

As I had written last January and maybe the January before that there is something about the first month of the year.  At least I feel so ! As if a brand new notebook has been gifted to me , its pages crisp and blank with the heavenly odour of the unopened and unwritten pages

It takes me back to my childhood when after the annual exams in December, before the Christmas vacation,  I got a new set of books for the next class.  I remember the feeling when I touched them every day,  opened them a little bit and peeped inside ...  fearing that if I opened it fully, it will get damaged. I poked my nose inside the tiny opening and smelled the books. 

Heavenly... I still can close my eyes and savour the nostalgia ....

Every year, the first week of January brings back the same feelings.  

12 new notebooks ... 365 pages ... crisp and clean ... for me to use !

It is up to me how I use them ... fill it up with junk or something valuable ... whether I keep them clean or whether I make them untidy . Remember the erasers and how after vigorous rubbing, there was a hole in the page ?  Do I want that or something as beautiful as the  slam book which we still cherish ? 

Every year I make resolutions in January. 

Some are met and some are not. Some recur ... like losing weight, exercise etc...  Unlike some cynical people, I still keep them, because even if I don't hit the target, I am at least improving. What say ?

This year, I have thought of giving a different punch to my resolutions.  A few different strokes.  

  • Don't say "I don't have time" : Yes , I have time . 24X7 = 168 hours in a week . So, if I spend 40 hours in a week on work,  50 hours for sleep, 10 hours for misc. activities, still there will be 68 hour for me to spend ! And that is not a small number. So, whenever I utter the words "I don't have time" , I will stop and think. "Is it so ? Or is this not in my priority list ?"


  • Free the way : Enough of hustling and jostling.  Everyone is in a hurry. I am in a hurry. I want to pause. Take a deep breath. Smile. Let the other car merge ahead of me. While pausing, I will free the way for others. I wil take the opportunity to spend more time with my loved ones. Do at least 1 act of kindness every week. I will free the way for others as well as for myself . I will set myself free from the clutches of social media. I will meet my friends physically more often. I will not limit myself in anyway . I will speak the truth and convey my mind and feelings whenever and whatever I want to, without mincing words or without thinking what will the other person think.    


  • Measure regularly : I have been bad at measuring my goals.  This year I will measure and track regularly and take corrective actions. Have I written the blog post on Wednesday ? Did I spend enough time on my writing ?  I will track diligently and regularly in a planner


  • Take better care : ... of myself. This year I plan to be a bit selfish about myself. I will try to put myself first.  I will handle myself delicately. My feelings, my thoughts, my health, relationships which matter .  Drop a few kilos, get a new haircut,  protect my "me" time , read the novel which has been sitting on the table for a while, listen to 2-3 TED talks a week, get the long pending operation done, go to a wellness centre for a week  ....  So, 2017, here I come ... I will be a better "me" ... both physically, mentally and spiritually !


  • Grow more and reflect : This is one of my recurring goals and I have made quite good progress on this for the past 3-4 years. This year, I want to ow more take it to the next level. I want to grow  more in the area of writing - publish my book. I will complete my dissertation and put honest effort on this.  I will spend time on self reflection ... try to figure out the million dollar question "What do I want ?

These are few of my thoughts which I will blow up to create small measurable tasks.  And then I will  put them in black and white and start my weekly tracking !


I am all set for writing beautiful words in the blank 365 pages and create fond memories for a better tomorrow. 

What about you ? Are you ready ?

Cheers and happy new year again !