Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bouncing back

When life drops you; it only wants to see you bounce back, higher. Bouncing back each time one gets dropped is what separates 'winners' from the rest.

While there are quite a few factors to achieve success, in whatever it is that you're after, the 'one' that is most important is - perseverance. Bouncing back and keeping at it, when you're NOT at your best, is what has gotten results to each one, every single time that (s)he has yearned for anything.

Life could get rough, real tough at times and the goal you've set could appear distant. When that happens, don't waste time procrastinating or cursing your luck, because that is what it really is - waste of time. Instead, start bouncing back from that very moment you fall (or fail), to get the headstart and gain momentum. There will be better times to rest. Now's the time to be bouncing back.

Collect all you've got, analyze the situation and by all means, make course corrections where warranted, and bounce back. Take advice from friends, learn from your experience and others', think  and be positive, work harder and you're sure to be bouncing back. Sounds simple, but not easy without your perseverance, that is.

Be a leader. Lead your life to the greatness it deserves. Bouncing back, each time you fall.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The power of SMALL teams

The real power and potential of SMALL teams.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead.

We've often heard about the virtue of 'BIG' and 'LARGE' and it has its rightful place in the world. There are distinctive advantages of a large operation or team, but let's examine what being 'small' truly means and the potential of a small organization or team.

Small teams yield power, sometimes beyond their imagination, however counter intuitive it may sound. Smaller teams means being nimble, flexible and hungrier, which help them to be more customer oriented than larger teams and organizations. Small and stable teams over a period of time, develop the togetherness and bonding which large teams can seldom replicate.

Smaller teams have lesser decision lags, act faster, are quicker to change and provide a good breeding ground for innovation. Its easier for the smaller teams to look in 'one' direction and communicate effectively than it is for any large group. Also, there's less of pointing fingers, no working in 'silos' and 'escapism', given the small size of the team, which brings in more accountability and ownership. All of this produce more value to the customers, better profitability for the organization and more purpose for the people involved.

We will all do ourselves a favor by recognizing the "power of small teams" and leveraging that wisely. Large organizations could be well served by a cluster of 'small teams', but the biggest benefactor of this fact should be the "small organizations". Internet and digital media have anyway levelled the play ground to a very large extent already. It is now for the smaller teams and organizations to believe in their power and themselves.

Finally, it is the larger trees that fall hardest in a storm; the smaller ones withstand it better.
Herald the power of the small teams. Small is indeed BIG!

Being happy is a choice!

You could be glad, mad or sad at anything or anyone at anytime. Choose to be happy because being happy is a choice you make, it is a state of mind.

Most often we think of happiness as the "prize" we win after achieving a goal, conquering the enemy, accomplishing that big project, meeting that deadline and so on; while happiness is actually the fuel in your vehicle that takes you to these successes. It may seem like a paradox, but you don't get happiness when you succeed,, being happy helps you succeed. In other words, happiness preceeds success always. If that's not the case, it is just an accident and accidents don't happen all the time (thankfully).

Happy people make the most of their time and life, can be more determined, are more respectful of others, show gratitude and appreciate, celebrate and share, and are generally more optimistic of results and hence, they do more and expect nicer things. Now, that sounds like the recipe of success itself.

You don't need to be trained in psychology to figure a happy person when you see one. He or she radiates that feeling and guess what, it is infectious too. You'd like to hang around with these guys more often that not, coz they make you happy also.

It must've been said a zillion times earlier that life is about choices. The biggest choice anyone needs to make on how they lead their lives though, seems to be between being happy or not, more dependent on you than the situation. And the choice we make can take us on totally different paths which don't seem to cross, unless ofcourse we change course mid-way, in our minds that is.

Every situation, any day and each moment presents you with the choice. Choose to be happy!
Now and always.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fifties is the new thirties!

Fifties definitely seem to be the new thirties. Look at all the movie stars, the "young CEO's" and the like; chances are quite a few of them are nearing their fifties, with a few on the wrong side of it too. Increased self-awareness, the interest to keep oneself in top shape and ofcourse, medical advances are clearly helping the determined lot, to look and feel good.

This is great news because people are leading more active lifestyles than before, exploring outdoors more frequently, finding hobbies and doing the things that they've always wanted to do. Atleast when you look at cities in the world (the rural landscapes in the emerging and under-developed economies may tell a different story though). Not just are these folks delaying the ageing process but are finding more meaning, given they're accomplishing more with the same time in hand. Fifties hurrah!

While fifties may be the new thirties, the reverse may also be true. Thirties is indeed (and fast) becoming the new fifties from a healthcare perspective, rather unfortunately. The number of people who're suffering strokes in their thirties just seems to increase by the day, a lot more people in their thirties complain of stress and anxiety related to it, and other lifestyle diseases.

In a way, the new divide between people seems to be "healthy" and the "not-so"; and this gap seems to widen each passing year.

For the cricket fans amongst us, the new format of the game (read T20) actually records the number of times a batsman scores a "30", instead of "50" as recorded all this while in more traditional formats of the game.

Well, then; herald the new equation:

Fifties is the new thirties. Thirties is the new fifties.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Building a culture through right incentives

What you incentivize, positively or negatively, over a period of time, becomes your culture.

Incentives are the real key to understand human behaviour, whether in isolation or in a society. Incentives work for kids in a big way (ask the parents and teachers), while they are equally effective for large organizations and countries.

Incentives, both positive and negative, could come in a variety of shapes and sizes; also, one size may not fit all. Some could be in the form of an admiring glance, a gentle nod of the head or a Nobel prize; could also be a mild reprimand or the threat of a full-blown war, and in each case, incentives could motivate behaviour change. What makes this change long-lasting and a culture, is the commitment and consistency. Incentivizing the behaviour or act, over and over again until it is internalized and becomes a 'way of life' could be the most effective way of "building" or "changing" a culture.

While small adjustments in the culture may require simple incentives, big change calls for an "incentive environment" with a good mix of positive and negative incentives disbursed at regular intervals. While this seems simple and common sensical, this could perhaps be the biggest challenge of world leaders, CEO's, NGO's and any other change agent.

So much so that, designing  and implementing incentives for the group could perhaps be one of the most important tasks of a leader. A great plan without the proper incentives could well mean the results not meeting expectations, and could leave a lot of us wondering why things don't work as per plan.

Finally, change doesn't happen overnight and one can't rush it either. But the surest way to make it happen and help it last, is through placing the right incentive.
Now, what was the change you were dying to see...

Monday, December 5, 2011

An ode to team spirit!

Feel free to publish this article as long as the tagline (above) with links is included, and no changes are made to the article.
Would appreciate if you could share a copy of your publication or provide the link where it is posted.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fail well. Fail successfully.

Failing is inevitable, every once in a while. Fail well. Fail successfully!

Success is kind of over rated in our society; we are trained to succeed, we are expected and paid to succeed. Yet, one can't win "all" and remain sane. Spare a moment for the less-celebrated twin. Imagine if there is no failure interspersed, consistent success would create monsters, out of otherwise nice people. Success is a transitionary phase on the path which more often than not presents failure, yet another transitionary phase in itself. So, if failure is inevitable, we'd rather fail well.

Failure is an unintended outcome of a process merely, and not necessarily a "bad" outcome always. In fact, some unintended or accidental results of experiments (read failures) have resulted in phenomenal success either instantly or at a different time. Penicillin, plastic, our beloved Coca cola, this tiny engineering marvel which beats like the heart (pacemaker) are all results of failed experiments. Thank god for those failures (which failed well).

While at it, let's not look forward to failing. By all means, let's expect everything we do to succeed, but be more tolerant and respective of failure, when that happens; more importantly, not be afraid of it. Let's be a sport and take it in our stride (remember when you're playing against worthy opponents, like you do when you take on life, fate, your dreams or other people, the probability of success is not 100% ever). Fail often. Fail well. Keep failing until you succeed.

The best ofcourse is to remain neutral to, and stay unaffected by success or failure, but alas, only the best amongst men (as in people) can do that. Hence, let's take the easier alternative of embracing failure, accepting the fact that things don't necessarily pan out the way we intended (always) and make peace with the situation, and may I say - celebrate failure! For what is failing well, if we can't enjoy being taught by the best teacher there is, take a deep breath, introspect (as to what could've been done differently) and carry on the journey. And, round the corner lies success, waiting for you take the next bend on the road. (Hurray! I failed). Fail well. Fail successfully.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I am with you!

Neither ahead nor behind
Not higher up or down below
but WITH you! I am with you.

Walking alongside on your journey, holding you when you need help, being there when something goes wrong, pulling you up when the chips are down, nudging you to be better than you already are, caring for you, sharing with you the joys and laughter, smiling and showing that little gesture to say "You really are special" and "I am with you"

Now, who wouldn't want people like that around (or should I say WITH) us. It's only when we get into these shoes that we see how difficult this 'seemingly simple' thing to do actually is. It's easy to give an opinion, pass a judgement, form a bias, comment and criticise than being WITH people.

Most of us are so lost in being ahead or above each other, that we don't actually be WITH each other. There is this mad race, the one upmanship, the ego wars, the personality clashes, the power struggles, the "what's in it for me?", jealousy, indifference, the desire to win 'at any cost'; that clouds judgement and blurs the vision of 'purpose in life'.

Whenever someone is WITH their friend, their spouse, their neighbour, their leader or for that matter, anyone; the results have been phenomenal, beyond logic or math, and can show how people come together to make forces much beyond the arithmetic sum of all constituents. Efficiencies multiply, productivity increases dramatically, the belief system is in place and NO goal beyond reach. I am with you.

The world would just magically transform itself to a different and better place if most of us think and do like that. Consider, I'm not suggesting all of us being like that always with everyone; it may not be possible. Also, consider, people are different from each other, sometimes very much so in how they think and live. Your values and belief systems should allow you for this to happen, but let's agree to be WITH the ones we can be WITH. I am with you.

Starting with you and me, how many people can we be WITH? Let's challenge ourselves to be WITH ten people each (a number that we can count on our fingers and yet something that would take a special effort). No hurry, as long as we can stand and walk with them in our lifetime. Not for feeling good, not for the hope that someday they will repay, not with any deal or condition, but, just like that - I AM WITH YOU, come what may!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Potential i-phone/ android app

It is common knowledge that "what-if" analysis can be done using data to show the various possible results by changing variables, for business or otherwise.

What would be interesting to see whether "what-if" could be applied to something very personal like our photographs. Imagine the everyday applications of an app like that - which could take a sampling of your photographs since childhood to recent past, use the facial features and the development seen, to predict say, how you'd look like in 10 or 20 years from now. What if you went on a diet and lost 5 or 10kg, what if your complexion is 2 shades lighter or darker and the like. Also, it could also be very useful for people under the knife of a plastic surgeon.

Given, we have face recognition tools and editing software availabe these days, this should be possible and may sell as a cool i-phone or android app. "What if" someone really gets inspired and turns this into reality!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What's your sucess criteria?

What's your success criteria? Or would you rather call it SLA's, metrics, benchmarks, goals, targets, end state and the like? And who defines it for you?

We typically use any of the above terms at work, and while at work the boss decides these (or atleast is supposed to) for you in your role and capacity. And then, most of us would do our best (the others would do better than best) to get closer to these high standards and sometimes exceed them. These are cherished times, the performance appraisals are smooth, smiles are around and money finds its way to the bank. Now, that's clear; documented, signed off, agreed by both parties, and checked at regular frequencies to keep you on track.

What some of us may not have is the same rigour and diligence with other facets of life, which may be of equal importance, if not more. Lets talk about a few - family, friends, society at large, country, religion all have set us 'de-facto' or 'de-jure' criteria for success. Depending on when and where you're born, which community you belong to and what religion you do or don't practise, there are a few stated and a lot of implied expectations from you. These translate into your success criteria, in their eyes. Now, living upto these expectations can never be easy, primarily because what we have called family and society is really a collection of individuals with a diverse perspective. So, even if your life revolves around say 50 people that really matter to you, you still have 50 success criteria to live upto. And remember, these criteria itself change based on situation, the challenge you're facing and generally from time to time (generation to generation, era to era) with all possible combinations. Whoa!

Finally, then there's the teeny-weeny little voice from inside once in a while (although most of us would have trained it not to speak up) that adds to the porridge, making it dangerously explosive. Well, that's the burden each of us carry on "our shoulders" every living day, with or without knowledge. Now, did someone say they (or their porridge) feel burnt out?

Each of us (not counting the enlightened ones here) is living several lives and trying to fit in even more in ONE LIFE, now that's where it get's complicated. Life is not meant to be complicated, it is supposed to be simple and serene, happy and joyful, with meaning and purpose. While each life has in it abundant space for one life (and one wife :-), we got to figure whose life we want to live.

If only we could cut through this clutter and drown the noise, we may hear this voice, feeble in the beginning, but distinct nevertheless. Chances are that you may have already have heard this, but have either ignored it, riduculed it as being childish, or have fought it valiantly. If, and only if, we could listen again, this time with the right intent and belief, one could live HIS LIFE at last, and before last.

The best practice, ofcourse, is to set "your success criteria", document it, measure against it, track progress and, well, you know the drill...please don't forget "CELEBRATE" though.

Monday, October 17, 2011

You are not alone - no matter what!

You are not alone - no matter what. You can never be; not just in the philosophical or "believer" kind of sense.

Firstly, consider the many conflicts we have today, which btw establish that all of us don't think alike, while also noting there aren't always 2 sides to the proverbial coin. That happens in movies and stories, where one doesn't have enough canvas to paint reality OR where a decision is required. Life doesn't give us the switch with "On-Off", but a slider with infinite length and you set your meter to your comfort on all matters. There could be a tolerance range on the slider, beyond which there is disconnect.

Statistics could show that whatever your thought, inclination, intent, idea, feeling or action; there'd be hundreds, if not more, on the planet who've set their slider to the exact point as yours. You are not alone.  It's not that hard to believe any more, given about 7 Billion homo-sapiens tread the earth today. Pretty good chance, that some had this idea on the same day as you. That also explains why the whole city, or atleast it seems that way where I live, shows up the day/ time you go out grocery shopping.

Looking back, whether it was the ancient greek philosophers, Newton's experiments to prove gravity or for that matter, any of the modern inventions; while there are a lot of nay-sayers to the unknown, there were and will be a few believers, some more open than others. Radicals or terrorists, for instance, don't look upon themselves as such and for what we know, there'd be a few sympathizers, some of whom form the available talent pool.

Just imagine, you're 50,000ft above ground and could see thoughts and deeds in distinctive colors (hoping there are as many colors and one is not color-blind); you could match the like-minded and perhaps count too! Survey poll companies would hate this though.

Simply put, "if you did not find anyone agreeing with your point of view, supporting your cause or joining you on the journey; well, you haven't reached out enough yet". In essence, you are not alone; can never be. Now, that already feels good.

What varies though is the number. As long as one figures good from bad (and we're not talking about that now, later maybe), you'd find a lot more people 'with' you when you think/do what tends to be 'right'; and fewer as your scale points in the other direction, that's how it is supposed to be atleast.

So, whether you're afraid of long words like I am (btw, the fear of long words is called "Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia", god bless) OR fancy scaling Mt. Everest in your pajamas (do I see heads nodding here), you are not alone.

Well, the downside is, if you'd really want to un-belong from whatever that is, you'd still be part of the "un-belongers" group, you are not alone!

P.S: And again, I'm hoping a few mates will also like this blog :-)