Category Archives: Life
“Passion is the genesis of genius.” BY Tony Robbins
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” BY Oprah Winfrey
“Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.” BY Joseph Campbell
“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.” BY Federico Fellini
So what is PASSION?
According, to the Wikipedia, passion is derived from the Ancient Greek verb πάσχω (paskho) meaning to suffer. Passion is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. The term is also often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love – to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject.
yes, I have to agree that passion is an important ingredient in the journey of life.. And one can be passionate about anything – People (Family, Friends, etc), Hobbies (Art, Writing, reading, Cooking, Food, Dreaming, etc.), Specific causes (Empowerment of women, Wealth Creation, Primary Education, Affordable healthcare for general masses, Quality of eduction, etc.), Creating and building enterprises…
So is PASSION important in Leadership?
The BEST and most SUCCESSFUL leaders are I know are fired by passion – By day and night! In thought, word and action
Leaders exhibit passion…
Passion to solve a problem
Passion to serve a customer need
Passion to lead
Passion to learn and un-learn
Passion to create value
Passion to generate wealth
Passion to make a difference
Passion to build world class enterprises
Passion to nurture and groom next generation leaders
Passion to leave a legacy
PASSION and LEADERSHIP go Hand-in-Hand
I can’t help but end with one of my favorite dialogues from one of my all-time favorite movie “The Legally Blonde” – The graduation speech given by Elle Woods. And I will sign off leaving you with the excerpt of this.
“On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise Professor quoted Aristotle “The law is reason free from passion”. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law, and of life. It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct, you must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.”
“Decision Making” Skills are important for any leader; and sometimes this can be the one and only thing that truly DIFFERENTIATES you from others, and DETERMINES your level of success..
For any leader, the following aspects of decision making are key:
(1) Speed at which you can make decision (under normal circumstances)
(2) Speed at which you can make decision (when in the HOT SEAT)
(3) What do you rely on for decision making (data & analysis or intuition or a combination of both)
(4) How you communicate your decisions with those who need to know?
In an attempt to understand what others had to say, I did some research. And found some great quotes which I am sharing on this blog.. Some of them are really food for thought from the wise!
“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.
The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.
If this sounds too mystical, refer again to the body. Every significant vital sign- body temperature, heart rate, oxygen consumption, hormone level, brain activity, and so on- alters the moment you decide to do anything… decisions are signals telling your body, mind, and environment to move in a certain direction.”
― Deepak Chopra,
Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
― Peter F. Drucker
“The greatest accomplishment began as a decision once made and often a difficult one.”
― Michael Rawls
“You will rarely make wise decisions if you surround yourself with fools”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru
“Many people fail in their career, business and relationship, and others get stuck because of their inability to make quality decisions.”
― Nkem Mpamah
“Accepting trial and error means accepting error. It means taking problems in our stride when a decision doesn’t work out, whether through luck or misjudgment. And that is not something human brains seem to be able to do without a struggle.”
― Tim Harford
“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome’. You must be willing to fire.”
- T. Boone Pickens
“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” – - Dr. Robert Jarvik
“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.”
- Jim Rohn
“It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.”
- Antony Robbins
“More than anything else, I believe it’s our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny.”
- Antony Robbins
“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.”
- General George S. Patton
You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”
― Michelle Obama
Sheryl Sandberg’s (FaceBook’s COO) new book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” published in March 2013 has been in the news for the past few months for many different reasons. There has been applause and appreciation from many quarters; and at the same time criticism and negative feedback from many other quarters.
Personally, I think it’s the law of averages at work. For any creative piece of work (Writing is a creative process); there will be people who will say something “Good”; and others who will say something “Not So Good”. That’s the way of the world. Especially if the creator (writer in this case) is someone well-known, successful and prosperous and a “woman” – Then it is the topic of debate, and it is in the news!
After the launch of the book, Sheryl launched the Lean In community as a global community committed to encouraging and supporting women “leaning in” to their ambitions. Again, a great initiative because it provided a platform for women to discuss, collaborate and speak about many issues / challenges / choices and decisions which plague them on their journey through different career phases and different life choices.
Sheryl has been fortunate to have had an Ivy League education, a remarkable career track record, the opportunity to work in some renowned organizations / institutes, a personal network that include the “Who’s Who?” and of course, personal wealth which many can only dream of; before she authored this book. And that’s been one of the points which most critics have made – That she had everything easy for her. Personally I do appreciate the fact that she took the initiative to write the book. Trust me! For any working mother (No matter who you are and what you do), writing a book along with your doing justice to your professional responsibilities, & managing your home / personal commitments and expectations is no easy task – It requires significant amount of will-power, focus, planning, determination and support. And these are life skills worth emulating from any individual! And you have to give Sheryl credit for that.
After all, how many successful women have authored books on the issue of women reaching their “true goals”? How many successful women have started global communities around the issues of “working women”? How many of these communities are truly “active” and engaging in every day conversations and dialogues with women to help them grow in their careers? How many of these initiatives are truly making a DIFFERENCE to the lives of women?
“Lean In” has definitely been the cause and catalyst for ongoing conversations, discussions, expressions and debates around gender equality, women and ambition, women taking responsibility for your career & choices and not being afraid to face your fears. And these discussions include people from all parts of the world, and in an organization context include all levels of leadership and executive management.
Sheryl’s central point is that many women are not “Leaning In” enough to achieve their career ambitions. And her key message is requesting women to “Lean In”– Take responsibility for your career and work towards achieving your goals.
The more I read about this subject, the more I am compelled to think about the situation in India.
“Do we need a LEAN IN Movement in India?”
Agreed that the issues of working mothers across the world would be common to some extent. The eternal quest of “Doing justice and maintaining a balance between personal aspirations, professional responsibilities and family commitments”.
And yet as a working woman, you can’t ignore the influence of your immediate living environment on your choices and decisions.
Every country has its own history, evolution, growth story, political scenario, policies, laws, educational framework, economic growth, culture, “ways of living” and employment guidelines which influence the mind-set of the “community at large”; and this creates unique set of country-specific-issues when it comes to the topic of “Women and their Careers”. India is no exception.
In India, looking at the women around me and the choices they make, there are 4 critical factors which drive and determine the career choices that a woman makes:
(1) Your upbringing and the mental conditioning you’ve had on “The role of a woman at home and society”: This makes an ocean of a difference on the core belief system, self-esteem and self-confidence of a woman. So if you have daughters in your house; educate them, encourage them to learn, dream, grow and make meaningful contributions to society – beyond the four walls!
(2) When and who you marry? : For many women, the dream to have a career ends after marriage! And for many women, they start thinking about their careers right after marriage. Yes! Marriage can be a very critical milestone in the life of a woman.
(3) Becoming a mother; and the decision to be a Stay-At-Home Mom or a Working Mother : Either by virtue of personal choice or personal circumstances: There’s no right or wrong here – It is just a personal choice, and most women don’t comprehend the full impact of this one choice till they hit their twilight years! The point is what starts of a temporary hiatus from work, extends indefinitely. So at some point in their journey as a mother, it is important for women to re-look at their choices and decisions, and see if they want to / can step back into active careers
(4) The “Family Responsibility”: The “implicit” role a women is expected to play in taking care of aged / elderly / ill people in the family; and how she has to put everything else “on hold” – to nurture and nurse people to good health.
All of the above influence the “career choice” that a woman makes. Agreed that something’s are not in your control, something’s are driven purely by your circumstances; and something’s are not even your choices.
But my question to Indian women is “When you do have a choice, do you “LEAN IN” enough?”
And back to my original question “Do we need a LEAN IN Movement in India?”
I think YES!
• We need women to “Lean In” to their careers
• We need men to enable women to “Lean In”
• We need children to help their mothers “Lean In”
• We need educators to enable women to “Lean In”
• We need policies to enable women to “Lean In”
• We need law makers to make it easy for women to “Lean In”
• We need mentors to guide women to “Lean In”
• We need people in power to help women to “Lean In”
• We need employers to make it easy for women to “Lean In”
• We need families and friend to condition / support women to “Lean In”
• We need successful women leaders to speak up / share to inspire women to “Lean In”
We need a whole ecosystem in India to enable women to “Lean In”
So YES! We do need a “LEAN IN” Movement in India
I’m doing my bit and best every single day to “LEAN IN”… What about you?
Published on PeopleMatters ; Edited and re-published here
Every day I come across at least a couple of articles on “Work Life Balance”. But I am yet to find a definition which I found apt!
So what exactly is “Work-Life” Balance ? I ask myself
It is one in which one is able to “Maintain long term equilibrium between personal aspirations, a professional career and family commitments”
- In terms of “professional career” : In the long run, your work and contributions are in line with your background, experience and qualifications; you achieve notable progress in an acceptable time period and most importantly – you earn income which is commensurate with your work contributions
- In terms of “family commitments”: You are able set, define, refine and re-define the expectations of the many roles you plays in the context of “family”(For a working mother – the roles include that of a mother / wife / daughter / sister / daughter-in-law / sister-in-law, etc.), and live in peace with this.
- In terms of “personal aspirations” : You are able to find some time on a regular basis for yourself, doing things that you truly enjoy or fulfilling your own personal secret wishes
Ever since I started my journey as a mother, I have been on the quest for this “elusive” work life balance. In the past 4 years, here’s what I realized about “Work-Life Balance”
1) There is no universal definition of “work-life balance” – To each his / her own. And rightly so!
2) “Work life balance” is elusive; and will possible elude you till eternity!
3) As a working professional, it is almost impossible to maintain “work-life balance” for an extended period of time. There will be phases of imbalance (more than you’d like) – In some phases, work takes Number 1 priority, and in other phases your personal life takes Number 1 priority.
As a working professional, you will most likely have to make tough decisions, trade-offs and choices. Each of these will come at a price – The price can be in terms of having to let-go of personal aspirations for several years of your life OR putting a brake on your career / taking a career break OR letting-go of something’s as far as your children’s upbringing / family expectations are concerned.
That’s my view.. What’s yours? Leave a comment to let me know..
Looking back at my life for the past few years, the one thing that has made a REAL DIFFERENCE is CLARITY on my PRIORITIES.
I don’t think I was so clear about my priorities till a series of events (which included loss of a loved one, becoming a mother and a couple of other “life-changing and thought-provoking” events) compelled me to introspect and reflect on my own life.
As I go down memory lane and look at my own life; and also see people around me, I note the following:
(1) A vast majority of individuals DO NOT have clarity on their priorities in life – Be it as a part of their personal life or professional life. So if you ask yourself or someone to list the Top 3 Priorities for the day / week / month / life / home / work, majority will struggle to respond. And those that do will not be so sure about their answer.
(2) Those individuals who do have clarity on their priorities in life don’t translate these priorities into everyday action. For e.g: In my priority list, health and fitness was a TOP Priority. However, if I looked at my everyday routine, I had not really factored any time for any physical exercise. So, there was a fundamental gap between Thought and Action.
(3) A vast majority of individuals have too many items on their list marked as TOP Priority. And hence over a period of time (say monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) – They are not able to show or see or demonstrate any visible / tangible difference in progress. And hence wonder what went wrong and where?
The other important aspects about PERSONAL PRIORITIES are:
- Your priorities are personal to you – No one can decide them but YOU!
- Your priorities WILL change as you journey through life – Be aware of these changing priorities and model your life accordingly!
How can CLARITY on your PRIORITIES help YOU?
Having clarity on your priorities can help you in umpteen numbers of ways. From my personal experience, the most important one’s are:
(1) Focus: If you are clear on your priorities, it enables you to focus better on what you’re doing. Simply because you know what’s TOP on your priority list and what’s not can be truly empowering; and can aid you to focus on the task at hand.
(2) Decision Making: Decision Making becomes a lot simple and easy if you have clarity on your priorities. You know whom to say Yes / No to and Why?, You know what can / can’t wait and Why?, You know
(3) Letting-Go: Many times we hold on to things simply because that’s how it’s always been or because we don’t know any other way or because we don’t know what else to hold on to. But the minute you have crystal clear clarity on your priorities – You will recognize what you really need to hold on to, and letting-go becomes a lot easier – in the emotional and intellectual sense.
(4) Expectation Management: Many of us live our lives living up-to “expectations” of others. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe it is also good to live of our lives up to our own “expectations”. And your expectations of yourself become a lot clearer if they are driven by your priorities of life!
(5) Saying NO: NO are two simple letters, but form an extremely powerful word. NO can make our life so simple if we just use them more often. And yet the fact is that most of us complicate our lives way too much simply because we find it so hard to say NO. And why are we conservative in the usage of NO? – Because we are not used to saying it or we worry too much about the implications of saying NO.
But when you have clarity on your priorities, it is a lot easier to say NO. Simply because you know that what’s being asked of you does not figure in your priority list, so it’s better to refuse! This one benefit is probably the most liberating!
The fact is all the above are critical for anyone playing a LEADERSHIP ROLE. And hence being clear on your PRIORITIES is of paramount importance for any LEADER
Call for ACTION Now
(1) Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 priorities for your Personal Life
(2) Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 Priorities for your Professional Life (Ignore if you don’t have an active professional life)
(3) For each of these priorities, ask yourself
- “Are these PRIORITIES taking you closer to your GOALS”
- “Are you taking any specific action on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc.) to address these priorities?
(4) If yes, Great! You are on the right path. Best Wishes and Good Luck to you
(5) If no, then Pause & Reflect. And make the required course corrections. It is NEVER too LATE!
As I end, I’d like to leave you with a few quotes on prioritization from the wise.
“Action expresses priorities.” BY Mahatma Gandhi
“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.” BY Scott Caan
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” BY Stephen Covey
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to conduct a corporate session on “Time Management”. I’ve been conducting this corporate session for a while now and usually the sessions have a small audience. For the first time, there were a record number of nominations (highest till date) and also record number of participants – in terms of attendance! So Time Management is increasingly becoming an area of significant interest for working IT professionals. Employees are recognizing the CRYING need to effectively manage their time, and find ways to improve their current Time Management techniques.
Usually when I start such sessions, I elicit audience responses to identify the top “Time Management” challenges. In this session, the key “Time Management” challenges as shared by the participants is listed below
(1) Challenges in playing many roles and shouldering different responsibilities in the corporate context – especially in scenarios where an employee is reporting directly / indirectly to more than one manager
(2) Challenges in finding that elusive “work life balance”
(3) Finding time to invest in your health – especially exercise
(4) How to prioritize work?
(5) How to stick to a plan, in spite / despite of several priorities?
(6) How to effectively multi-task?
Sharing in this blog the key points from my Session
Effective Time Management is not rocket sense. It’s about awareness, practice and adopting what works best in your context – to get the best productivity and output.
From my experience, Effective Time Management at the workplace is really about 3 things
1) Effective Planning and Prioritizing
2) Dealing with Interruptions
3) Working Style
Effective Planning and Prioritizing – What makes the difference?
1) Get your priorities clear and keep them in mind. Your priorities should be aligned with your goals and objectives, and in line with your own growth path (professional / personal). Write them down if that helps. Validate them with your team / manager on a regular basis – so that there is no gap in expectations.
2) Plan your day and stick to the plan (unless there’s a burning need for a deviation). To effectively plan your day, develop a Daily Schedule which includes Task, Time, Importance, Urgency.
3) Set realistic deadlines. Be cognizant of your working style, constraints and possible interruptions.
4) Look ahead to possible problems
Dealing with Interruptions – What makes the difference?
Interruptions are an integral part of work life – Learn to deal decisively with Interruptions. Some tips which help:
1) Act Assertively on the interruptions
2) Learn to limit Phone Time. Use a stop-watch if that helps!
3) Learn to deal with people; especially those who always have something URGENT for you to do
4) Do NOT over- schedule : there are only X number of business hours available
5) Do take scheduled breaks
6) Plan for some element of unscheduled breaks
7) Learn to say NO
Ways of Working – What makes the difference?
1) Do the difficult things first
2) Cut the Clutter
3) Focus on One Task at a Time – At least for the most important tasks
4) Concentrate on limited number of Tasks
5) Build in Thinking Time as a part of your work
6) Be Conscious of Time
Personal Nuggets based on personal experiences (While I am no expert on Time Management, I honestly believe you can always learn a lesson or two in Time Management if you speak to any working mother!)
Mantra 1: Before you start your work for the down, list down the 5 most important tasks that you need to finish for the day!
Mantra 2: Before you start any work, think about the most effective and optimal way to do it!
Mantra 3: Time-Box non-productive hours during a business day (This includes lunch breaks, coffee breaks, chat breaks, time on Google / Social Media, etc.)
Mantra 4: If you don’t know how to do something, ask. But Think before you ask! And don’t ask all the time!
Mantra 5: Eat Healthy, Sleep Well, Laugh and Do something you love everyday (even if it is for 10 minutes). These will make an ocean of a difference to your productivity, thought process and spirit
As I conclude, I end with a few words which highlight the importance of TIME
To know the value of
ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
ONE DAY, ask a daily wage laborer with kids to feed.
ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.
ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.
What are some of the Time Management practices that you follow? Leave a comment to let me know
That final “Adieu” Mail that IT employees send when they QUIT – How it’s changed in the last decade?
Employee resignations, attrition, people leaving, new people joining have all been part of any organization story and growth. And the Indian IT industry is no different. With the unprecedented Year-on-Year industry growth for the past decade, employee attrition are a common part of work and office life.
However, one interesting observation is in that final “Adieu” mail or the very last “Good-Bye” mail which employees send out to others within the organization announcing that they’re moving on – to greener pastures, I’d assume.
Having been part of the industry for more than a decade now, I can definitely say that there is so much of difference in the way it was done in say 2000 and the way it’s done today.
Firstly, from what I’ve seen there are a few factors which influence this mail:
(1) How long he / she have been with the organization?
(2) The overall “employee satisfaction” in his / her tenure within the organization. So essentially, are she / he leaving with a positive experience and in good taste, or a not-so-positive / negative experience and in bad taste
(3) The reason for “quitting” – And whether it is personal / professional reasons which are driving this decision
(4) The kind of internal networks / relationships that he / she have built within the organization
Now, coming to what areas the stark differences are in – Listed below:
(1) The subject of the mail
(2) The length and content (including emotional quotient) in the mail
(3) Whom the mail is sent to
(4) When the mail is sent
So what are the differences and how did they evolve?
(1) The subject of the mail
About 10 years back
When you read the subject, you know for sure that this is the mail. Very clear that he / she is leaving. For e.g.: The subject would read as: “30-Jun is my last day here” or “It’s time to say Good Bye”
About 5 years back
When you read the subject, you kind of know that this is the mail. So a little hint in the subject, but you’ve got to read the mail to really be sure. For e.g.: The subject would read as: “Moving On” (You can’t be sure if he / she is moving to a new project or shifting from the company) or “Time for a change” (Again, you can’t put a finger on the kind of change involved here)
When you read the subject, you really don’t know what this is about. Also, given that most teams are globally dispersed and such decisions are generally not discussed about in all circles, you really don’t know till you read the mail. So the subject reads as “Surprise” or “Good news” or “Finally” or “Guess what?” or even “Hi”
(2) The length and content (including emotional quotient) in the mail
About 10 years back
The “Good Bye” mails typically used to be looooooooooooong heart-felt emotional mails – Starting off with a Thank you to Who’s Who? , and how the organization gave opportunities to learn, grow and taught the individual so so much. Also highlighting how the memories and experiences were a great part of the employee’s career and growth. And then sharing some special personal moments, milestones and fun memories – and also specifically calling out names of important / special people who made the journey so worthwhile! Most mails ended by asking to stay in touch, and provided contact details / personal mail ID’s.
About 5 years back
The “Good Bye” mails typically used to be of medium length. Somewhat more formal, and less emotional. There definitely was a Thank You to everyone, and a note on how the organization played an important role in his / her career. Most mails ended by asking to stay in touch, and provided contact details / personal mail ID’s.
Increasingly, the mails are very short and crisp. The shortest and (somewhat sweetest) note I received had a subject line as “Hi”.. The body simply said “This mail ID will not work from tomorrow. If we’re already connected otherwise, great – let’s keep the connection going. Else, it was a pleasure knowing you”. In many cases, there are no alternate contacts provided and in some cases, social media profiles are shared (Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn profiles, etc.). In rare occasions do people share their contact numbers and personal Mail ID’s
(3) Whom the mail is sent to?
About 10 years back
Typically the mail would be sent to everyone in his / her Address Book. So you’d end up receiving good-bye mails from people whom you barely knew.
About 5 years back
Typically, the mail would be sent to a more restricted group from the Address Book, based on the work interactions
Typically, it is sent to a very small group which includes immediate manager, colleagues and teams. Even within this, there is a selective filtration which is done – and not everyone receives the communication
(4) When the mail is sent
About 10 years back
A couple of days (4-5) before the last working day
About 5 years back
2 – 3 days before the last working day
On the last working day
Food for Thought
I don’t know what’s driving these changes.. But it’s a huge change.. Earlier, the “Good Bye” mails in itself used to be a topic of conversation for days at length. Today, people leave and many times you end up reading the mail days after he / she has left. In many cases, you don’t even know that they’ve left till you send them a mail and get an Error which says “Email ID not found”
Anyways, I wonder if these changes have anything to do with people or organizations or both.. But something has changed in a span of 10 years. And its hard to exactly put a finger on what! Needless to say, you got to accept the changes.. and Move ON!
Do you have a view on this subject? If yes, leave a comment. Would love to hear your views…