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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Keep the Spark Alive

The famous Author of The Three Mistakes of my life Chetan Bhagat while addressing students at Symbiosis Pune beautifully narrated the purpose of life.

There are few days in human life when one is truly elated. The first day in college is one of them. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining.

Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them.I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost. So how to save the spark?

Imagine the spark to be a lamp's flame. The first aspect is nurturing - to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms.

To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn't any external measure - a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house.

Have Purpose of Life

Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement. But it isn't the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr. Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won't be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already.

Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday? They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive. Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important.

I must add, don't just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One last thing about nurturing the spark - don't take life seriously.

Love Your Spirit first.

Finally, the point that can kill your spark is isolation. As you grow older you will realize you are unique.. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. . And you may drop some of them. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. They give up something that meant so much to them. They do it for their family. But in doing that, the spark dies. Never, ever make that compromise. Love yourself first, and then others.

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Don't Be Serious, Be Sincere

Few speeches remain fresh for ever in minds. Here is one such from the famous author of hit books like Five Point Someone, A Night @ Call Center, The Three Mistakes Of My Life and 2 States - Chetan Bhagat. This was given in June, 2008 as Inaugural Speech for the new batch at the Symbiosis BBA program, Pune. But this message is for all. Some portions are deleted to reduce the length.

 Don't just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order. There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your break up. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

You must have read some quotes - Life is a tough race, it is a marathon or whatever. No, from what I have seen so far, life is one of those races in nursery school, where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same with life, where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One  thing about nurturing the spark - don't take life seriously.  Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends.  Do we really need to get so worked up?

It's ok, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Six Golden Rules to Live Happily Ever

1.Don’t hurt anyone- It takes only a few seconds to hurt people you love, and it can take years to heal.


2.Live today-There are two eternities that can break you down. Yesterday and tomorrow. One is gone and the other does n’t exist. So live today.

3.Value - What is most vulnerable is not, What you have in your life but who you have in your life.

4. Money- Money can buy every thing but not happiness.

5. Marriage- Do not marry a person that you know that you can live with; only marry someone that you can not live without.

6.Trust- It takes years to build trust, and a few seconds to destroy it.

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Keep the Spark Alive

New Year Resolutions for 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

When Both The Tortoise And The Hare won the race

An age-old fable revisited with changing times:
Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was fasterThey decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race.
The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race
He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep.

The hare woke up and realized that he'd lost the race.
The moral of the story is that slow and steady wins the race.
This is the version of the story that we've all grown up with.

The story continues …

The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realized that he'd lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him

So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed.
This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.

The moral of the story?
Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. If you have two people in your organization, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable chap will consistently climb the organizational ladder faster than the slow, methodical chap.

It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable.

But the story doesn't end here …

The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there's no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted.

He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route.
The hare agreed.
They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river.

The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.

The moral of the story?
First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.

In an organization, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create opportunities to give presentations that enable the senior management to notice you.

If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research, make a report and send it upstairs.
Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancement.

The story still hasn't ended …

The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better.

So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time.

They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank.

There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back.

On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they'd felt earlier

The moral of the story?
It's good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly and someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.

There are more lessons to be learnt from this story.
Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could.
In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both.

The hare and the tortoise also learnt another vital lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.

When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he was faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke's growth. His executives were Pepsi-focused and intent on increasing market share 0.1 per cent a time.

Roberto decided to stop competing against Pepsi and instead compete against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth.


He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an American per day? The answer was 14 ounces. What was Coke's share of that? Two ounces. Roberto said Coke needed a larger share of that market. The competition wasn't Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public should reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something.

To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since.

To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things:
 Never give up when faced with failure
  • Fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady
  • Work to your competencies
  • Compete against the situation, not against a rival.
  • Pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers
 Let’s go and build stronger teams!