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The Lessons of Life NO SCHOOL really TAUGHT ME

I have always been an ACADEMIC STAR – Right from Nursery School way up until my Management Degree. Over the years, I gained knowledge on a wide range of subjects, upgraded myself on a great number of skills, accomplished several things, and achieved several successes in many dimensions of life………

Today, as I step back and ask myself if I learnt the Most Important Lessons of LIFE from the educational institutes I went to… Honestly, the answer is NO..

So, what are those Lessons of Life that NO SCHOOL really TAUGHT ME?

1) How to be a LIFELONG LEARNER?
We all learn a lot from the schools we study in.. But do they teach us how to be a LIFELONG LEARNER? Probably NOT! I figured this on my own and I guess it’s the same for many of you. Continuous focus on learning is absolutely VITAL in the journey of life – You have to make it a personal PRIORITY and focus on LEARNING all along the way. Only then is life exciting, enriching and evolving…

2) How to COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY?
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” By Tony Robbins
Effective Communication can sometimes be the ONE and ONLY thing that can help you in your transition from Good and Great in anything in life! And while there is no mantra for you to be the PERFECT COMMUNICATOR, the following definitely help:
i) Be clear on what you want to convey – Most times, the problem stems from here!
ii) Try and gauge you’re audience profile and  moderate your communication message and style accordingly
iii)  Aim for short and simple messages – They ALWAYS work!
Does any school really teach you this? Probably NOT!
Would it help if they did? Absolutely YES

3) How to deal with CHANGE?
The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” – François de la Rochefoucauld..
The reality is that life teaches you how to deal with change – usually based on experience (Many times the hard way, And sometimes we may NEVER accept the change!).
And do we learn how to deal with CHANGE at school? Probably NOT!
But had someone taught you ways to identify potential changes and deal with them, would it have made life a lot easier? A re-sounding YES!

4) How to build and nurture RELATIONSHIPS?
In the journey of life, if there’s one thing which will help you sail through the trying and difficult times; it is the quantity and quality of your relationships – both personal and professional. The BEST part is that it’s never too late to start – So you can build new relationships or revive old one’s today.  And then of course, you’ve to nurture them along the way so that they grow with you!
And did any school teach me this? Probably NOT! I figured this out on my own.
Would it help if someone taught us this? Definitely YES!

5) How to manage your PERSONAL FINANCES?
Personal Financial Management is the most important dimension which will determine the quality of your life today and into the future.. And formal education definitely enables you to earn.. So who taught you how to manage your money better? Who taught you how to invest and re-invest? Who taught you when to exit from an investment?
Did your schools teach you this? Probably NOT! And the wealthiest people I know figured this out on their own.
Would it have been a boon and blessing if some school had taught this to me? Definitely YES!

6) How to handle FAILURE?
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” By Winston Churchill
Over the years, I’ve realized the following about failure –
Failures are vital for life,
Failures are definite in life,
Failures are definitely stepping stones….to your chosen destination
And the reality is that no school really teaches us how to accept, deal with failures and learn from them!
Would it have been easier to deal with failures if some school had taught this to me? Definitely YES!

7) How to deal with LOSS? 
In the journey of life, we all deal with many kinds of losses – Loss of people (temporary and permanent), Financial loss, Loss of jobs, Loss of friends, Loss of peace of mind, loss of health, loss of … And we all find many different ways to deal with these losses.. Some losses we may NEVER be able to come to terms with.. And some we find our own ways to deal with…
But did any school teach me how to handle LOSS? – Probably NOT!
Would it have been useful if some school had taught this to me? Definitely YES!

8) How to THINK?
How you think about yourself, people and the world is eventually reflected in how your life eventually turns out. And hence, it important to create and fuel positive, powerful and purposeful thoughts!
Again, did any school teach me how to think? Probably NOT!
We all come across specific teachers, mentors and guides in our life who make us realize the importance of the RIGHT and POSITIVE THINKING! So, would it have helped if someone taught me how to think? Definitely YES! And the earlier, the BETTER!

9) When and How to say NO?
If there’s ONE thing which many of us find hard to say, it’s these 2 simple letters – NO. And try as much as we want, we simply can’t get ourselves to say NO! [Wonder why? – May be we exhausted our quotas of listening and saying NO during childhood ;) ].. And when you say YES to everything, life is steered through a course which you don’t necessarily like. Personally, I really felt truly LIBERATED when I started saying NO!
Did any school teach me this? NO!
Would it have helped if they did? YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

10) How to cultivate and enhance SELF-DISCIPLINE?
Anyone I know who achieved anything worthwhile in life will vouch that one of the key reasons was due to Self Discipline. And yet! Everywhere I look around, I see that Self-discipline is a dying virtue today.. Sad but true! Along the way, I figured out a way to be self-disciplined about the things that were important to ME!
Did any school teach me this? NO!
Would it have helped if they did? Of course YES!

11) When, How and How Much to JUDGE?
If there’s one activity which many of us indulge in on a regular basis – It is that of passing JUDGMENT! We judge everything – People, animals, nature, trees, flowers, food, weather, technology, automobiles, organizations, institutions, governments, policies, movies, books, products, services, blogs,…. and of course OURSELVES! 
Its almost as if passing judgment is a need in life, a part of life and way of life.. And what I’ve realized is that passing JUDGMENT is probably one of the most time consuming and energy draining activities you can indulge in – especially mentally and emotionally! And if you step back and ask yourself “What do you really get after passing JUDGMENT?” … NOTHING really!..
So the point is this – Does any school teach you if you are qualified to JUDGE? When, How and How Much you should JUDGE? Probably NOT!
Would it have helped if someone taught you this? Of course YES!

12) How to LET GO?
The one inhibiting factor in your growth and progress in life is your inability to Let-Go: Especially of your past and of your fears. And many of us are never able to let go of these…
Does any school really teach you How to let go? Probably NOT!
Would it have helped if they did? Of course YES!

13) How to EFFECTIVELY manage your TIME?
Over the years, I’ve come to believe that you’re most precious and valuable ASSET is only your TIME! And yet, we don’t respect and value it enough – Both our own time and time of others! When you begin to value your time, you begin to effectively manage it – And then the sky is the limit to what you can do in 24 hours of the day!
Does any school really teach you this? Probably NOT!
Would it have helped if they did? Of course YES!

14) How to master the art of PRIORITIZATION?
Clarity on your Top 3 personal and professional priorities at any specific point in time will eventually determine how much you can get done and how well you can get them done.

Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” ― Stephen R. Covey

One of the most effective ways to figure out your priorities is to write down the list of tasks and ask yourself if any of these will take you closer to your goals – personal or professional. If yes, then they should be HIGH on your PRIORITY list. And the reality is that it takes time to figure this out..
And the reality is that no school really taught me how to do this!
Would it help if they did? Absolutely, YES!

15) How to give and accept COMPLIMENTS?
I’ve observed that many of us feel inhibited and shy to give compliments to other’s – We’ll probably think about all nice things to say to others; and then let it pass. Just because it’s out of our comfort zone!  The thing about compliments and human beings is that I’ve never heard of anyone ever tell me that they’ve had enough of compliments! - It is never enough! After all, who does not like to listen to good things about themselves? We all love it..
And then, many of us don’t know how to accept compliments – Some shy away, some run and some hide :). For starters, a simple Thank You is good!
Does any school really teach you this? Probably, NOT!
Would it help if they did? Of course, YES!

16) How to give and receive FEEDBACK?
Giving and receiving feedback is both a skill and an art. One which many of us fall short of – In terms of the timing, setting, the words and the expressions!  And the point about feedback is that the way a feedback is articulated can make or break a relationship of a lifetime!
Does any school teach you how to do this? Probably, NOT!
Would it help if they did? Absolutely YES!

17) How to feel INSPIRED everyday of life?
A daily dose of inspiration at the start of the day does wonders to your thoughts, your feelings, your actions and your deeds! But rarely do we all feel inspired everyday of our lives! The point is once you recognize that a daily dose of inspiration can make a DIFFERENCE in your life, you’ll begin to ensure that you draw in from sources of inspiration as a part of your everyday life.
Did any school emphasize the importance of daily inspiration and how to get it in your personal context? Probably NOT!
Would it have helped if they did! Absolutely YES!

18) How to be HAPPY?
What I’ve figured out is that Happiness is really a CHOICE; and I figured this out on my own – And this is probably true for many people in this world. Hence as of date, I’d like to believe that everyone is really the Chief Happiness Officer of their LIFE! Once, you start playing that role, HAPPINESS becomes a way of LIFE
And did any school teach me how to make this CHOICE? Probably NOT!
Would it have helped if someone did? Absolutely YES!

19) The art of asking QUESTIONS
Asking Questions is both a skill and an art. I’ve seen too many people ask too many questions and they also get the answers. But what do they do with the answers! NOTHING! – Sad, but TRUE! I think its really important to ask yourself WHY you are asking a QUESTION – There has to be a reason, else why even bother ask! And then ask the RIGHT QUESTION to the RIGHT PEOPLE; and then do something about the RESPONSE!
And does any school teach you the art of asking QUESTIONS? Probably NOT!
Would it have helped if someone did? Absolutely YES!

20) How to solve a PROBLEM?
Problem Solving skills are probably the most important skills that anyone should build, develop and enhance in the journey of life. Simply because you never know when and what kind of problem can engulf you at which stage of life.
And a lot of schools definitely aim to lay the foundation for problem solving, but is it strong and good enough to take you through life? Probably NOT
Would more focus and rigor on PROBLEM SOLVING skills help? Absolutely YES!

21) How to deal with a CRISIS?
You never know when a crisis hits you – can be personal or professional. And crisis could mean anything related to your own health or the health of a loved one or a financial crisis or a loss of employment or …. And when a crisis hits you, your life turns upside down – Your mind and emotions probably spiral in dimensions which completely catches you off-guard! And the thing about dealing with a crisis is that the more you delay any positive and constructive action, the LARGER the CRISIS gets!
And does any school teach you how to deal with a crisis? Probably NOT
Would it have helped if someone did? Absolutely YES!

22) How to show that we CARE?
Many of us care deeply about a long of things. But find it extremely hard to express this.. And the beauty about CARING is that it is personal, emotional, very specific to a cause and subjective to an individual. And while there are many ways to show that you care.. What is most important is that you demonstrate how you really feel in front of those who matter, and in a way that they understand!
And does any school teach you how to care and show that you care? Probably NOT
Would it have helped if someone did? Absolutely YES!

23) The REAL meaning of RESPECT
Many of us don’t really undertand what respect truly is. Both Self-Respect and Respect for others. And those who understand find it hard to translate this to action. And the thing about respect is that it has to come from within (So you can’t force yourself to respect someone), You’ve got to earn it and You’ve got to give respect to get it back! And the best explanation I’ve come across on RESPECT is No blame, No judgment, No criticism and No control – Very short but immensely profound!
And does any school teach you the TRUE meaning of respect and how to demonstrate the same? Probably NOT
Would it have helped if they did? Absolutely YES!

24) What and How to SHARE?
Sharing is a basic human need. On a daily basis, we all share several things with others – From smiles, to words, to deeds, to gestures, to moments, to experiences, to finances, to knowledge, to wisdom, to a laugh or a meal……. But as we grow, we forget what to share with others and how to share… And many times end up paying a price for this…
And does any school teach you what you should share and how to share? Probably NOT
Would it have helped if they did? Absolutely YES!

25) How to set and manage expectations?
From all my life experiences I can say that the primary cause for most problems in life is due to expectations – Rather our inability to set / re-set expectations of us and others; and then our inability to manage changes to these expectations over a period of time

You expect someone to SAY something; they don’t – You are UPSET and that triggers a chain of negative thoughts and actions from your end
You expect someone to DO something; they don’t – You are UPSET and that triggers a chain of negative thoughts and actions from your end

And the thing about negativity is that Negativity breeds Negativity – certainly, rapidly and quickly! And before you realize, negativity has engulfed your life..  Not a pleasant situation to be in!
And if you can figure out a way to set realistic expectations for yourself and others; and a way to effectively communicate these expectations, your life will be a lot simple, stress-free and positive!
Does any school really teach you to set and manage expectations? Probably NOT
Would it help if they did? Absolutely YES!

26) How to apologize?
A lot of problems in life can be solved if you learn to apologize – At the right time and to the right people (people who matter). All this requires is for you to say SORRY – Sometimes you don’t feel like saying it and sometimes you need not say it.. And no matter how you say it – Most times it’s probably worth it!  
And the thing about apologizing is that there is a time value to it –And so if you don’t apologize within a specific time, then chances are that the apology does not matter anymore – So people have moved on (or appear to have moved on) – and they either become indifferent to you or there’s too much emotional baggage they are holding on within which is not healthy for any individual or any relationship! The other thing about apologizing is that if you do too much of it – Again it loses its value both for yourself and those around you!
Does any school really teach you when, how and to whom you should apologize? Probably NOT!
Would it help if they did? Absolutely YES!

26) How to ask from Help?
If you think deeply about life, you will realize that it is probably way too complex, that there several things which are beyond your comprehension and it is mind-boggling in more ways than one.  And yet whether you think or not, you will find a way to live … And as you live and sail through life, you begin to realize that while being independent is great, there are times in life when things are beyond your control because of the inherent interdependency or dependency on others. Hence, there are times when it is imperative to ask others to help you in more than one way and for more than one thing!
And the reality is that for many of us, it is very difficult to ask others for help. We just can’t get ourselves to say “Please can you do this for me?”. And for many of us, asking for help is our first nature– without even trying or thinking. Both these extremes are not really beneficial for personal growth!
And so knowing when to ask for help and to whom you should ask for help is both a skill and an art!
Does any school really teach you when, how and to whom you can ask for HELP? Probably NOT!
Would it help if they did? Absolutely YES!

28) How to find your TRUE CALLING in LIFE?
Many of us sail through life without really finding our TRUE CALLING! And when you do, it’s sometimes just a little TOO LATE! Wouldn’t it be great if you figured this early in your life? Absolutely!
Does any school help you figure this out? Probably NO!
Would it help if they did? Absolutely YES! [Though of late, I’ve heard of several institutes across the globe enabling and facilitating this process of self-discovery! ]

29) How to live the PRESENT MOMENT to the FULLEST?
The reality is that the PRESENT MOMENT is all that you’ve got.. And yet many of us spend too much time holding on to the past, or looking into the future! The best lesson of life is to Seize the MOMENT and Live life NOW!
Again, does any school really teach you this? Probably NOT!
Would it help if they did… Of course.. YES!!!

30) How to BREATHE?
The most important requirements of every cell in the human body are Oxygen, Food, Water and how to excrete waste. Along the journey of life, we’re taught what and how to eat right, the importance of replenishing yourself with water and fluids and of course, we naturally eliminate waste from the body in one of many ways!
But what provides your OXYGEN? Evidently, it is your BREATH. And whether or not you realize this – The reality is that if you figure out how to breathe RIGHT – You’re life will be transformed. Simply because, breathing RIGHT ensure that there is optimal flow of “Prana” / Life energy within your body and that leaves you feeling more energized, active and of course, in control of your thoughts and emotions!
Does any school really teach you how to BREATHE RIGHT? Probably NOT!
Would it help if they did… Absolutely YES!!!

What about you? What are the Lessons of Life NO SCHOOL really TAUGHT YOU? Leave a comment to let me know

The 7 Treasured Lessons from Corporate Innovation Experiences

I’ve been part of different corporate innovation initiatives from 2008 till date. And during this tenure, the most noteworthy change is that corporate innovation has transitioned from “Nice to Do” to “Good to Do” to “Must Do”…

Along this journey,
• I have had the opportunity to play a diverse set of roles and shouldered varied responsibilities – The key ones being a Business Owner to a Project Manager to a Business / Process Analyst to a Marketing / GTM (Go-To-Market) Specialist to Solution Specialist to Requirements Specification Owner
• I have interacted with a diverse set of individuals – internal and external to the organization {partners, analysts, customers (Diverse domains, Diverse positions in the organizational hierarchy [starting from the CEO to end-users] and from different parts of the globe}
• I have been involved in diverse kinds of innovation projects – from business to technology to process; each with a different team composition (2 to 20)

And the bottom line is this – Each of these initiatives achieved a different level of success.

How do you define the success of a corporate innovation?
The answer is simple and straight forward: The innovation initiative should generate the promised Return on Investment. If not, it is usually considered a failure in the business sense.

Going purely by this definition, I’d have to confess that some of the corporate innovation initiatives that I’ve been a part of were SUCCESSFUL and some were FAILURES…

Did we have cool ideas? Sure – We did!
Did we have a grand vision? Sure – We did!
Did we have a great team? Sure – We did!
Did we build what we set out to? Sure – We did!
Did we win business? Sure – We did!
Did we impact the organizations brand image in a positive way? Sure – We did!
Most importantly, Did we LEARN, GROW and EVOLVE? Sure – We did!

In this article, I will list the 7 TREASURED Lessons from the experiences in CORPORATE INNOVATIONS that I was a part of:
1) There are three distinct phases in the Innovation Life Cycle and each requires a different mind set
2) Your idea need not be unique; How you position your innovation makes all the difference
3) The Business Plan is just a baseline plan
4) When you start the GTM [Go-To-Market] activities can make all the difference
5) The first customer is the most crucial in your journey to success
6) Corporate Innovation should be a priority from the top
7) Internal communication and collaboration is critical to succeed

For full reading, refer to my artcile in the IIMB Alumni Magazine | Summer 2012 (pages 22 – 25)

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