Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Art of Public Speaking

"Presentation skills is one of the most important skills in the 21st century."  - Bill Gates. 

Imagine yourself standing in front of the mirror at midnight – panic struck eyes, fear hovering the face, and trembling limbs – a total wreck. 

Neither, a performance evaluation nor a board meeting. Still the adrenaline rush is so strong to keep you sleep deprived for few days now. What else could be the reason for such nervousness?
Astoundingly, these are “common” symptoms of a person preparing for a PUBLIC ADDRESS or a SPEECH.

PUBLIC SPEEKING – an art and skill we see and admire in many, my recent favourites being our PM Shri. Narendra Modi and the US President Mr. Barrack Obama, is a nightmare to a large number of us.

Our PM, Modiji’s speeches are feast to the ears. No wonder he captured world’s attention with his public speaking skill and all have seen him catapult to the present position which draws similarity, in strategy and execution, with yet another great speaker – Barrack Obama. Both brilliant with words.

Let me feel proud to share that one of the best speeches I have eared recently is that of Modiji’s address at the Capitol Hill at the joint session of the US Congress on 8th June this year. What a marvellous and breath-taking speech!! 8 standing ovations! 66 clapping intervals!! Truly spectacular!

The steps of Old State Capitol, Illinois on 10th February, 2008 along with the whole world, witnessed a spectacular exhibit of public speaking skills of Mr. Barack Obama, when he announced his candidature to run the presidential elections. His historic victory speech on being the 44th President- Elect, on 4th November, 2008 amazed billions around the globe, yet again. Not to mention, Mr. Obama connects well with his audience through his speeches. 
Both these honoured speakers gracefully inspire and influence the audience, which is quint essential trait for any good public speaker. One can learn quite a lot from these speakers. 

Today, we are in an era of rapid changes and high uncertainty and people look for clear directions and guidance. Whether forming new visions, or targeting an innovation to untried markets, or speaking to media, or addressing social functions or simply conducting business or team meetings, the ability to make effective speeches is mostly the crucial factor that decides success or failure.

The terms “hearing” and “listening”, though it may seem the same, have different meanings. Many a times, people only hear to speakers but don’t listen to what they speak. Making the talk interesting and participative can make the speeches more effective and result oriented.
There are, of course, natural speakers with inborn talent & aptitude for Public Speaking. But I strongly believe that good speakers are not always born – they can be trained as well. 
We all have latent skills. An awakening and perfecting these skills, along with the right perspective, a few Public Speaking tricks, and a couple of modulated punch lines will make the task less challenging.

Let me now share few simple tips that can help you be effective speakers. 

1. Define the Purpose: To create interest among your audience, you must offer a good reason to them to listen to you. Their time is valuable, which means that your speech should answer their one simple question: “What’s in it for me?"

2. Develop the speech: To make a great speech, you need to start by building on an appropriate outline that considers timing and the whats, whys, and hows of the speech. Keep both, the target audience and the objectives of the speech while developing the speech content.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice: Having a concrete outline and well prepared speech alone will not win the battle for you. The key is continuous rehearsals. Repeated speech practice and rehearsals help in identifying problematic areas and strategies to avoid any obvious mistakes from occurring. You can also join speaking clubs like Toastmasters, or volunteer to speak at local events, and practice at work. The more you speak, the better you will get at it.

4. Nervous to Natural: Be yourselves. Good audience can quickly identify if you are trying to imitate someone that you are not. Relax - your best self is your real self. Your audience is almost nervous as you are. Involve them as soon as possible to calm everyone's nerves.

5. Breath: Before you start uttering the first words, take a deep breath and look at the audience. Connect with their eyes, take in their energy and begin.

6. The magic of 3: The first 3 minutes of the speech is crucial, because during this time your audiences’ attention is naturally high. You have only one chance to make a first impression and you need to grab their attention, establish the rapport, and ensure they will buy-in immediately to what you are conveying.

7. Keep it Simple: Have a few key points listed and use numerous real-life examples for each one. Your audience is looking forward to learn something new from you. Understand that they are not waiting to test your knowledge.

8. Make all movements Purposeful: Moving around the hall, just for the sake of moving or to wash out your nervousness is annoying for the audience. There is no need to move all the time. Try standing planted from time to time. 

9. Check your Pace: People often speak too fast when they are nervous. Slow down. Take something to the podium with you that will serve as your reminder to slow down. Obama & Narendra Modi are masters in this and remember how effective it is.

10. Bring a Visual: Place something on the podium that makes you smile. It could be a picture of your family, a silly toy or a rock from the ocean. It might sound silly, but it really works!

11. Close it Right: A fine closing will make your audience feel good about what they've learned. Try to inspire them to Act and leave them with something that reminds them of you and your key message. Make sure to end your speech with a bang!

12. Take feedback: Ensure you request and get a feedback from your audience after the session. Also have an evaluator, a speaker, to monitor your performance for the day. Discuss a couple of points to improve and later implement those suggestions.

I am confident that anyone who practices the above simple techniques while making a public speech, can do a neat job. However, let me remind you that true success in any endeavor is the will and attitude to improve continually. This starts with a commitment to improve. Audience feedback and suggestions are the best source to evaluate your performance and its effectiveness. A word of caution here is not to take these feedback personally or self-criticizing and be defensive against them. Remember, there can be lessons to be learnt from even a crank, if you have the will and patience to listen!

We may not be able to stand in the shoes of Mr. Obama or Modiji at Public Speaking but sure we can make good speakers out of us – speakers who can inspire any audience!


Shamim Rafeek
Corporate Trainer | Motivational Speaker | Business Coach | Author

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Prioritization - The Key to Time Management

Have you ever experienced this situation in life? When you step into office, the desk is filled with memos and papers, suddenly you hear the phone ringing, and the door open all at the same time! Remember the 'frozen feeling' that comes over you? Have you ever thought about why you experience this frozen feeling?  

To know this, you should know why animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions. Of course they have their whips and pistols but invariably they also carry a stool. Mind it, it is the most important tool of the trainer! He holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the wild animal. The animal then tries to focus on all four legs at once. In that attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal, and it becomes tame, weak, and disabled because its attention is fragmented. The same can happen to us, TOO MANY PRIORITIES CAN PARALYZE US!  

But in our complex business world, you can't wait until you have reached one long-term goal before neatly moving on to the next. Or any given day, you will be working on short-term tasks associated with multiple goals and objectives. So how do you decide which task to be completed first, second and so forth? Well the answer is Prioritization - The key to your Time Management. 
The first step in Prioritization is to have a clear understanding on what's involved in each task by asking the following questions - Who, What, When, Why and How. WHO? Who needs this to be done? Who will benefit from this? WHAT? Exactly what are you required to do? Just the benefit of doing the job does it justify the investment of your time, energy and resources? WHEN? By what date you need to complete your task? Do I have time to accommodate this task? WHY? Why have you been asked to complete this task? Why is it necessary in the context of long-term goals? HOW? How should you complete the task? How will your completed task be measured or evaluated? 

Remember, all the above questions have a huge effect on time management decisions and on the quality and cost of task. Once these questions are answered, the best way to begin is to make a list. I know you've heard this advise a thousand times : 'write things down'. Don't take it lightly, writing down things has a surprising benefit beyond merely helping you remember important information. After writing down what has to be done, you're more likely to experience a sudden 'aha' moment about the best way to accomplish things done. The truth is, this list will make you feel in control of your time! Having made this list you need to the following :
1)  Prioritize what is most urgent, second most urgent, and so on. Rather arrange tasks in order of their importance and urgency.
2) Rewrite your list as priorities change or fluctuate.
3)  Tackle your list by completing the first item on it, then moving on to the next one.
4)  Clean up and rewrite your to-do list every day before you leave the office.
5) Take an upbeat attitude toward your tasks so that each one seems worthy of your time.
6) Don't allow the tasks you don't complete to accumulate.
7)  Don't procrastinate, focus on how good it feels to accomplish tasks and dig in.
Unfinished weekly objectives muddy the waters of your goals to be reached. Executing the immediate tasks at hand sets the stage for executing your objectives and long-term goals. The only way to achieve goals and manage your time effectively is one small step at a time. You must address these small steps in the moment. That makes the 'now' priority number one. Use it or lose it !
Have you noticed, time deadlines and emergencies force us to prioritize. Just take an example, If you have only one letter to write, it will take all day to do it. If you have twenty letters to write, you'll get them done in one day! Like Brian Tracy says, one of the most important rules of personal effectiveness is 10/90 Rule. This rule says that the first 10 percent of time that you spend planning and organizing your work before you begin will save you as much as 90 percent of the time in getting the job done once you get started. 
Time management is really taking control of the sequence of events. And you are always free to choose the task that you will do next. Your ability to choose between the most important and unimportant is the key determinant to your success in life and work. So what's your call, to Prioritize or get Paralyzed ? Do visit my website www.winnerinyou.in for more!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year with 12 themes for 2014 !

We have come close to another year. And In early January, almost everyone is minted up by the desire to plan a wonderful New Year! We eagerly make New Year's Resolutions and set our biggest goals ever! It's a perfect time to reflect on the changes we want to or need to make and resolve to follow through on those changes.

Resolutions if carried out successfully not only act as short-term goals to success but also help in improving life and overcoming those habits, which we ourselves do not like. New Year's Resolutions offer the first of many important tools for remaking ourselves.When we review last year, We focus on what worked and what didn't. We spend time applauding ourselves for accomplishments achieved and looking for ways to improve the stuff that didn't work. In addition to setting our goals for the year, let me suggest you with "12 Themes for 2014".

12 themes for the year 2014

1) Make a difference : I want to make a difference in the lives of others this year both with my work and in my personal life. 
2) Integrity : I ask myself the question, "Will this keep me awake in the middle of the night?" 
3) Give : The more I am willing to give of myself - the more fully I experience life. 
4) Encourage : When I listen and pay attention, I find opportunities to encourage others every day! 
5) Laugh : I need to lighten up and make an effort to laugh more this year. 
6) Smile : when I am smiling, I can't be angry, stressed or negative. This year I will smile more! 
7) Learn : This year I am making an extra effort to learn a few new skills. 
8) Be authentic : Authenticity means I am comfortable being myself no matter where I am or who I am with. 
9) Dream : I want to continue to dream big dreams and take the risk of acting on them. 
10) Believe : I want to believe in my dreams, in others and in the good that exists in the world. Being negative and doubtful wastes time and energy. 
11) Health : I want to get a good fit this year and will focus on my health. 
12) Grow : I never want to quit growing. I want to continually improve who I am and the impact I make in the world.

Sounds interesting? Why not give it a try? Let 2014 be your best year yet!

Happy New Year!

With best wishes
Visit - www.winnerinyou.in

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gossip - The Relationship Killer Grenade!

It's a Saturday night party and it starts out innocently enough with some in the corner saying, "Did you hear about Sam? Clueless, you reply, "What happened to Sam?" "Don't you know about his business?" When you answer in the negative, your friend seizes the moment to fill you in on all the gory details of Sam's business and how bad it is doing.
The situation sounds familiar ? Yes you got it right - Gossip ! We live in a gossip oriented society so naturally almost everyone loves to gossip. Many of us do it and do not even realize the implications of it. When gossip is being spread through the grapevine, people's reputations, careers, and lives can get destroyed very rapidly.
The other day I was reading a magazine which carried the much controversial Nira Radia - Ratan Tata tape conversations in which we have a classic example of how a Gossip can start and get activated. I am not getting into the phone tapping & right to privacy controversy but a lighter but important aspect in their conversation. Nira Radia asks Mr.Tata "innocently", " the latest rumor is that 'Raja and Kanimozhi' are having an affair to which Mr.Tata responds "It's spread by whom" ? She takes off from there- The beginning of a gossip session!
This conversation reminded me of a fantastic story I have come across about Chanakya, the famous Indian Politician, Strategist & Writer who lived between 350 BC to 75 BC during Chandragupta Mourrya's period. The story goes like this : One day a known person approached Chanakya and enthusiastically started saying, “Do you know, just a while ago, I heard few things from your friend about you?”

Chanakya was famous for his wisdom, knowledge and good behavior. He said to his known person, “Before I listen to what you have to say, I would like to test it through my three step testing.”

“What is this three step test?”, the person asked.

Chanakya made him understand, “ Before you tell me about what my friend has said, let us test it. I call this testing – a three step test. The first test is of truthfulness. Is it sure that whatever you are going to say is a truth?”
“No”, the person said, “ I have heard it from somewhere.”

“Okay”, Chanakya analyzed. “If you don't know whether this is truth or not, we will do another test. The second test is for goodness. Are you going to tell me some good thing about my friend?”

“No, it’s opposite to it…..”

“Then”, Chanakya asked further. “Whatever you are going to say, is not the truth, is not positive about my friend then lets do the third test. The third test is of usefulness. Whatever you are going to tell me, is that useful to me?”

“No, it’s not like that.”

Chanakya then said the last thing.

“Whatever you are supposed to tell me, it is not true, its not positive and its not useful also, then why you want to tell me?”
What a fabulous way to stop gossip. Even though both men and women gossip, women tend to get the brunt of the blame. I think contrary to this opinion, women have no exclusive franchise on gossip! Every day men, too, live in a partially-poisoned environment. Conversation is a big part of our psychological environment. Some conversation is healthy. It encourages you. It makes you feel like you're taking a walk in the warm sunshine of a spring day. Some conversation makes you feel like a winner.
But other conversation is more like walking through a poisonous cloud. It chokes you. It makes you feel ill. It turns you into a loser. Gossip is just negative conversation about people, and the victim of thought-poison begins to think he enjoys it. He seems to get a form of poisoned joy from talking negatively about others, not knowing that to successful people he is becoming increasingly unlikable, and unreliable.
Let's make one point clear: all conversation is not gossip. You can test purpose when they are constructive. You can test your proneness to be a gossiper by taking this test :
1. Do I spread rumors about other people?
2. Do I always have good things to say about others?
3. Do I judge others only on the basis of facts?
4. Do I encourage others to bring their rumors to me?
5. Do I Predict my conversations with "Don't tell anybody"?
6. Do I keep confidential information confidential?
7. Do I feel guilty about what I say concerning other people?
The right answers are obvious. Meditate on this thought for just a moment: Taking an axe and chopping our neighbor's furniture to pieces won't make our furniture look one bit better; and using verbal axes and grenades on another person doesn't do one thing to make you a better you or me a better me ! Don't you feel, its really not benefiting anyone, and is likely causing harm somewhere along the line--a friendship will end, someone will get their feelings hurt, or it will just create drama.
I am sure you will agree with me, if we stop gossiping and tighten our lips, we will find that our life will run a lot more smoothly. The question is can we get rid of gossiping - the relationship spoiling grenade? The answer is simple- YES, provided, like Chanakya, if we can check our conversations with the three test parameters - TRUTHFULNESS, GOODNESS AND USEFULNESS!
Visit - www.winnerinyou.in

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Care Your People - "Achieve Amazing Results"!

Another year has passed by. While looking back, I am glad that I could deliver lot of lectures and do training for several corporates, small businesses, nonprofit institutions, social organizations, service clubs, schools & colleges.

When I reflect these experiences, one of the things that strikes me is the amount of confusion that surrounds the act of caring about others. While most people quickly admit that caring about others is a good thing to do, they fail to appreciate two very important aspects of caring : how huge the return is that comes back to us from caring and how quickly our personal and professional lives can change for the better once we start.

I believe our success depends on the support of other people. The only hurdle between us and what we want to be is the support of others. A person is not pulled up to a higher level job. Rather he or she is lifted up. We are lifted to higher levels by those who know us as likeable, personable individuals.

If caring can energize us and our work place, let me share with you some simple steps that will show us how to maximize the return that comes back to us from caring.

1) Master your Emotions : Even the best leaders have personal problems at one time or another. In those situations, the most effective leaders reach down inside themselves to find the strength to keep their emotions in check, especially at work.
2) Listen to your Inner Voice : When you share your dreams and goals with those close to you- a change of career, starting a new business, going back to school- you're very likely to hear a negative response. Don't let others rain on your parade- instead, go for it!
3) Engage with Attitude : Have you ever heard the phrase, “Attitude is everything”? Take it to heart, for there’s no such thing as an effective leader with a bad attitude. The best way to engage people is with your attitude, enthusiasm, and excitement.
4) The Power of Positive Action : Don't be nice to people just because you want something from them. Be positive just to be positive, and watch how your life changes for better.
5) Sincere Appreciation gets Results : One of the deepest needs of our human existence is the need to be appreciated. Each and every one of us absolutely loves to be appreciated for who we are and what we do.
6) Get others to go Extra Mile : To really energize those around you, you need to not only take a sincere interest in them and what they do, but also blow them away by doing something incredible and unexpected
7) Excitement is Contagious : So is passion. If you're fired up about what you do, chances are that those around you will be, too!
8) Engage People by Involving Everyone : The key is making sure that everyone has a voice in making suggestions on how things can be improved.
9) Leave a Trail of Gratitude : When people really hit one out of the part for you, or even if they do something simple but well –meaning, find a sincere way to express your appreciation.
10) Give Credit to Others : The best leaders are confident enough to give credit to others when things go right-and to take the blame when things go wrong.
11) Turn Enemies into Allies : The workplace is too small a place for you to have enemies. They can only sidetrack you from important things. If someone seems to have an axe to grind, find a way to engage that individual informally to find out the problem.
12) Celebrate your Success : When you achieve something that is important to you, make sure you don't let the moment pass without celebrating. It recharges your batteries!

Caring energizes everyone around us. When we open up and really care about people, we make them feel really good about themselves. This releases the reservoir of positive energy that resides in all of us. Let me assure you, if we can put the above universal principles into practice, our success at work will immediately begin to skyrocket and our personal life will thrive as never before.

Ready to energize every one ? Let me warn you, it may cause extreme enthusiasm and lead to real result in the workplace !!!

Ref : "Revved" by Harry Paul & Ross Reck

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Little Squirrel from 'Ramayana' - A Dream Employee for Entrepreneurs!

A friend of mine in business recently told me," I have got several employees who have got long standing in my company but they have no ownership and accountability for what they do. How do I make them accountable & take ownership on what ever they do? "

Sounds familiar? His complaint or question is not unique rather a universal problem which every entrepreneur and manager face on a day to day basis - Lack of Ownership & Accountability among Employees!

Before we discuss more on this, let me share with you a small story from the great epic 'Ramayana' which always inspires me. The story is about a little squirrel’s contribution to the construction of the mighty bridge to Lanka. In order to reach Lanka when Hanuman’s vaanar sena was busy building the bridge, a squirrel was seen doing something funny: rolling herself in the sand and then shaking off her body to deposit sand particles amongst rocks brought by the monkeys. When asked, she said, “I am making my own small contribution to build the bridge for ending the injustice against Sita.” The monkeys roared in mocking laughter: “We have never heard anything so foolish.”

Listening to this, Lord Rama remarked, “Blessed be the little squirrel. She is doing her work to the best of her ability. Therefore, she is quite as great as the greatest of you. Never despise those that are not as strong as you. What truly matters is not the strength one has, but the love and devotion with which one works.” Then he gently stroked the squirrel on the back, and it is believed that the marks of Rama’s three fingers are still seen on the squirrel’s back.

I am sure, many of us wish to have an employee like the little squirrel. Dedicated and motivated, ready to do anything, stretch to any level to contribute the best. We know, when we motivate our workforce to create a sense of ownership and accountability for desired results, the job of getting results gets easier. But we should also understand for our people to get desired results, it is imperative that the leader attempt to create an environment in which employees have a sense of ownership in activities he or she is engaged.

The easiest answer we can say is, use motivation as a tool to create ownership and accountability. But to me, motivation is not simply a means to get people to pursue organizational goals; rather, it is a means to get people to buy in and take ownership of the organization's needs as well as their own. It drives to two areas, (1) things to increase ownership of performance and (2) things to create accountability for results.

Let's zoom into it and understand what are we supposed to do to create ownership & accountability among employees :

Things to Increase Ownership of Performance:

1) Develop a personal connection with each employee so that we know and understand that employee's strengths and weaknesses. We can encourage ownership by developing trust and maintaining a positive attitude with the employees.
2) Clarify each employee's responsibility through effective delegation so that they all know what challenges they must meet and what work they must take ownership of.
3) Ensure that people are properly trained and equipped to perform their work so they will feel prepared to succeed. Make it clear that we want all our people to be successful.
4) Make sure that employees are empowered with the authority and information they need to make decisions that affect their performance.
5) Involve employees in key practices that affect them-such as goal-setting, planning, and implementing change-so that they take ownership of decisions that affect them.
6) Always listen to employees, and when problems emerge, encourage participation, new ideas, and ownership of solutions.
7) Practice "open-book management" with employees in terms of sharing organizational goals, plans, and performance feed back. In this way, our people see the bigger picture.
8) Develop linkage between desired performance and rewards and incentives to demonstrate to people that there are good reasons to take ownership of their performance.
9) Allow people an opportunity to grow and develop new skills and talents. Dong so causes people to be more committed to both the job and the organization.
10) Celebrate success because people want to be part of a winning enterprise and because feeling successful makes it easier for people to come to work. Recognition for strong performance increases the desire for more good performance

Things to Create Accountability for Results:

1) When responsibilities and goals have been clarified, always establish standards of performance that should be challenging yet realistic enough to encourage people to hit the mark.
2) Provide balanced, ongoing performance feedback for our people so that they know and have no doubt about how well they are performing.
3) Provide ongoing coaching for our people on how to improve their performance and be very specific in doing so.
4) Use the formal appraisal process as a strategic planning activity to review performance, identify ways to improve, and recognize and reinforce desired levels of performance.
5) Deal with non performers who are damaging group performance and morale by either implementing a corrective action program or setting the stage for the person's departure from the organization. To not do so is to send all the wrong messages to non performers and performers alike.

I hope these tips will help you to create a workplace that brings out the best in your people, while at the same time increasing their ownership and creating accountability which will result in developing effective systems and processes that improve performance. All we need to do is to give a gentle stroke on the back of our employees like Lord Rama did to the little squirrel and remember his motivational words as well.

Fill your Organization with such little dedicated squirrels and sky rocket your results.

Good Luck.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Want To Be A Chicken Or An Eagle?

I always felt our thinking plays such a huge role in how we operate on a daily basis but seldom do we realize it. There are many people who will never experience the joy of success, all because they have already decided that, success is going to be too hard for them and that it is only there for a few lucky people.

Once after my training session got over, a participant came over and said, " I will never be able to speak like you". You know, he is exactly right! He never will. Not because I am any better or smarter than he is. But because he has already made up his mind. His thinking controls his actions, which in turn will control his outcomes. His mindset has determined his end result.

To make things clear, let me share with you a simple but powerful story. Once upon a time, there was a large mountainside, where an eagle's nest rested. The eagle's nest contained four large eagle eggs. One day an earthquake rocked the mountain causing one of the eggs to roll down the mountain, to a chicken farm, located in the valley below. The chickens knew that they must protect and care for the eagle's egg, so an old hen volunteered to nurture and raise the large egg.

One day, the egg hatched and a beautiful eagle was born. Sadly, however, the eagle was raised to be a chicken. Soon, the eagle believed he was nothing more than a chicken. The eagle loved his home and family, but his spirit cried out for more. While playing a game on the farm one day, the eagle looked to the skies above and noticed a group of mighty eagles soaring in the skies. "Oh," the eagle cried, "I wish I could soar like those birds." The chickens roared with laughter, "You cannot soar with those birds. You are a chicken and chickens do not soar."

The eagle continued staring, at his real family up above, dreaming that he could be with them. Each time the eagle would let his dreams be known, he was told it couldn't be done. That is what the eagle learned to believe. The eagle, after some time, stopped dreaming and continued to live his life like a chicken. Finally, after a long life as a chicken, the eagle passed away.

The moral of the story is very simple, we become what we believe we are. For this, we need to be aware of who we are, what we are capable of doing, rather, define our identity which will keep us focused as we set our priorities, organize tasks, deal with emergencies, and accomplish challenges in our personal and business lives.

How can we make ourselves realize that, we are not just chickens but we are eagles both in our personal and professional lives? Let me share with you some simple tips :

1) Believe in ourselves : Allow only positive thoughts to dominate our thinking such as, I am worthy, I like myself, I am strong & self secure, I can handle what comes my way & I know the future holds opportunities for me.
2) Overcome fear : Fear creates stress, panic and anxiety. Fear defeats our plans and goals. Over come it by building self-confidence. Identify our fears then take action. Once we start to do something, our fears will disappear.
3) Build on failures and mistakes : Socrates once remarked that there is more risk in buying knowledge than buying food. He is correct. If we purchase spoiled meat, we throw it out, not allowing it to harm our body. But ideas imprinted on the mind are not so easily dislodged. Once we learn from our failures and mistakes, they should be discarded like spoiled food.
4) Welcome challenges : Challenges are opportunities to break out of the routine of our job and expand our skills. Challenges can be spring boards to professional growth if they are welcomed as opportunities rather than tolerated as nuisances.
5) Take pride in achievements: As we progress in life, it is important to take pride in our achievements. Though we cannot overlook the problems of tomorrow, we should not forget to celebrate the successes of today.
6) Visualize success : As clearly and vividly as we can, we should visualize the rewards of our success in our mind. Make it such a good picture that we'll do almost anything to be part of it.
7) Be flexible : Sometimes, lack of self-motivation is because of failure to adapt or change. The solution to this may be flexibility- a willingness to adapt goals so they more nearly fit our values and skills.
8) Start now : Get in motion as soon as possible, and as our momentum builds, so will our motivation.

I believe, in life, what we focus on is all that we will see and gain. If we believe we cannot, we never will. It's time to unleash the potential inside us, realize who we are, what we are capable of. We can choose to live as a chicken who will always look up and envy the mighty eagle or we can be an eagle and enjoy the thrill of soaring in the sky.

Time to decide, Chicken or Eagle - choice is all yours!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Opportunities in Life- The Touch Stone!

I got the the seed for this article when I read a quote by Disraeli, who said, “the secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” But most of the time, we always wait for the right time before they begin. But the right time never comes! It's because opportunity has always been with us. But we are not ready for it. Let me share with you this small but interesting story on opportunity which I had read recently.

When the great library of Alexandria burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.

The book wasn't very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the "Touchstone"!

The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold.

So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles. He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold - throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.

The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about mid afternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away.

So it is with opportunity. Unless we are vigilant, it's easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it's just as easy to throw it away. The problem is we never know when the door of opportunity is going to open wide. For some, the big break comes early in life and for others later on. But for all of those who become successful, there is one key similarity: They were ready. And for every one of those who were ready, there were thousands more who weren't. So, the principle for us is: Be ready!

All we need is to adore and praise the opportunities in life. These opportunities lay foundation to the success of our life and destiny. Every other day, new opportunities will keep on knocking the door and we need to use it for our personal and professional development. All of us face crisis and disappointments in life and In the midst of crisis, we often find us deprived of guidance and support. The fact is, in such adversities, one has to stay focused and extremely dedicated towards hard work, then automatically the door of opportunity swings open. These adversities maybe looked upon as a break or an opportunity, to use all these obstacles, as a stepping stone towards achievement. It all depends upon how we choose to face it.

We need to cultivate a continual sense of adventure to take advantage of opportunities. As we know, winners make the best of opportunities while victims whine on counting their numbers. Our growth and development enables us to understand the ways through opportunities and chances creep into our life and we neglect it or ignore it by considering it as a mere or ordinary situation of life. We need to identify such prospects at right time which is necessary to bring accomplishment in life, as it is not an one-time process but an ongoing practice through out our existence. Each time a new probability must be embraced with much more passion and enthusiasm.

Our focus must be to create new ways to increase independence and opportunity improvement, for further actions in life. We all are possessed with broad range of skills and abilities and a hidden inner power to excel in preferred field. All we need is to realize our potential and back it with a strong background of experience and sensitivity to the problems we face in performance. We need to understand that, the opportunities count blessings instead of tribulations; it’s a force for bringing meaningful change in healthy magnitude. If we utilize it in proper manner it acts as a reason of mental peace, tranquility and harmony in life.

Our door will open someday like it opens for everyone. It may only open once or it may open many times. It may be different for everyone and life just isn't fair that way. But the truth is everybody gets a shot. Question is will we be ready? Once that huge door of opportunity opens up, will we be able to walk boldly through it? All we need to do is, list the things that we must do to ready ourselves when opportunities come. Then prepare them. When we are ready, we can recognize and seize every opportunity, and every opportunity will seize us.

Let's do everything we can to grab it. Let's not just sit and wish and dream. Let's be proactive and make sure that we are the most qualified when the door opens and make sure that we are the hardest worker. All we need is to make sure we are the closest to the door! When it opens – Be Ready!

Ssshhh....... Do you hear that sound? Hinges creaking! It is the sound of the door opening. Our door of opportunity - The touch stone! I am ready, how about you?


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Leaders- Help Others, Help Yourself !

To be a successful leader, we need other people’s intelligence and other people’s cooperation. We need to be able to attract into our life and work the help, assistance, influence and active involvement of lots of other people in achieving our goals. Let me narrate a funny but interesting story which tells us the importance of being useful to others that makes us lovable & respectable in our organization.

Once a stranded tiger entered the washroom of a corporate office and hid itself in a dark corner. As there was always human movements outside, the tiger was afraid of coming out. Many persons frequented the washroom, but the frightened tiger did not attack any one.

But after four days it could not bear the pangs of hunger and caught the man who went in and ate him up. This man happened to be an Assistant General Manger of the organization, but nobody noticed his disappearance. Since nothing happened by way of attacking, the man-eater tiger became more daring and after two days caught another man and ate him. This man was the General Manager of the organization. Still nobody worried about his disappearance (some people were even happy that he was not in the office).

The next day, the tiger caught the Vice President who was a terror in the organization. Again, no one tried to finish off the tiger. The tiger was very happy and decided that this was the right place for it to live.

The very next day, the happy tiger caught a man who had entered the washroom with a tray of teacups. The frightened man fell unconscious. Within 15 minutes, there was a big hue and cry and everyone in the office was out in search of the missing man. The search team reached the washroom, flushed out the tiger and saved the unconscious man. He was the tea supplier to the office!

The story tells us, it is not the position but usefulness to others that makes one lovable and respectable. We need to realize the fact that, no matter how independent we are as individuals, we depend upon others to define ourselves and create purpose in our lives.

Let me share with you seven things we need to do in an organization which form the basis for effective work relationships. These are the actions we should take to create a positive work environment for people:

1) Talk about solutions- not just the problems: Most of the people spend lot of time identifying only problems. That's something any one can do. But the solutions to the problems are the challenge that will earn respect and admiration from team members and leaders.

2) Never play the blame game: We tend to alienate team members, subordinates, and people reporting to us. But, we may need to identify who was involved in a problem. We also need to understand about the work system which caused the team member to fail. Instead if we say, it’s not my fault and publicly blaming others for failures will earn enemies. These enemies will only help us to fail. All we need is allies at work.

3) Our communication matters: If we talk down to another team member, use sarcasm, or sound nasty, others hear us. Once a senior manager of an organization told me, "I know I shouldn’t scream at my team member. But, sometimes, they make me so mad. Tell me when is it appropriate for me to scream at the team members?" My answer is simple- Never! Giving respect for our people is a hallmark of our organization.

4) Don’t blind side a team member, manager, or people reporting to you: If a team member hears about a problem related to him through an email sent to his superior, we have blind sided that team member. It’s better to discuss problems with the people directly involved. We will never build effective work relationships unless our team members trust us.

5) Keep our words: In every organization, the jobs are interlinked. When we fail to meet deadlines or commitments given, we affect the work of other team members. It’s important to keep up our words, and if we can't, make sure all affected team members know what happened. Give a new due date and make every possible effort to honor the new deadline.

6) Give full credit for accomplishments, ideas, and contributions: Can we accomplish a goal or complete a task with no help from others? As a leader, how many of the great ideas we promote were contributed by our team members? Take time and energy to thank, recognize, reward the contributions of the team members who help us succeed.

7) Help other team members to find their potential: Every team members in our organization has talents, skills, and experience. If we can help them to harness their best abilities, the entire organization will grow. Let’s compliment, recognize, praise, and value contributions. By doing this, team members do find and contribute their best.

Like Brain Tracy says, we can accomplish anything we want in life by simply finding ways to help other people to accomplish their goals in life. And the more creative we are in leveraging and multiplying our talents and abilities times the talents and abilities of others, the higher we can rise and the faster we can move forward in our life.

Want to help yourself? Then be ready to help others!


Monday, August 31, 2009

"Working Together Hand In Glove"

Working with others, whether as an individual or as a leader of an Organization, is an essential part of every individual, manager's and entrepreneur's remit. Team working is rapidly becoming the preferred practice in many organizations as traditional corporate hierarchies give way to flat, multi skilled working methods.

Whether we are Entrepreneur's, CEO's, Manager's or something else, there's a pretty good chance we'll interact with other people along the way. Unless our plan is to work in a vacuum and be unknown to anyone ever, we'll have to factor these people into our equation of success - partners, patrons, investors, bosses, colleagues, clients, customers, and / or critics. Depending on our goal, working with others may be a big factor or a little factor, but it almost certainly counts.

The famous quote by Ryunosuke Satoro, " Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean " reminds me of a good Chinese story which tells us the importance of working together.

In ancient China, during the period of the South-North Dynasty, there was a kingdom called Tuguhun, which was established by the Xianbei ethnicity at the Northwestern border region. The legend Acai was the emperor of this kingdom.

Acai had twenty sons, each one of whom was strong and skilled at fighting. Each had his unique expertise. When Acai was very ill, he called all of his sons together and asked each one of them to give him one arrow. He then said to his younger brother, Mu Liyan, "Please take one arrow here and break it." Mu Liyan easily broke the arrow. Acai then said, "Please take nineteen arrows here and break them." Mu Liyan could no longer break the bundle of arrows. Acai said, "Now do you understand? One arrow is very easily broken, while a bundle of arrows is hard to break. As long as all of you work together with one heart, our kingdom will be stable."

Acai's words, "One arrow is easily broken, while a bundle of arrows is hard to break," tells us the same thing that has been said by the ancient people, "When people's hearts are joined together as one, even a Mountain can be moved,". The story points out the importance of people working together with one heart.

In his best seller book " Success ", J.Pincott talks about how we can successfully work with others. Let me share with you these simple tips which can help us in effectively working with others :

1) Realize that we need others : No matter how independent we are as individuals, we depend on others to define ourselves and create purpose in our lives.

2) Get them to identify with us : Finding out how successful people get others to work with them or for them is always interesting. The bottom line is that we need to make an effort to identify with others and to get others to identify with us.

3) Don't worry so much about getting credit : We may need to work with others as partners or in teams, or working under another person or within a company. Our job, always, is to make that person above us look good at the same time that we get what we need from the job. Actually, the better job we do, the better it is for the person above us. Don't worry about the boss getting credit for what we do.

4) Earn the respect of others : Respect is a strong motivator for success. But it's not easy to achieve the kind of success and respect we wanted. It requires a consistency of behavior that is truly impressive. It requires that we treat others in a honest and caring way.

5) Watch our words : To successful people, working with others means knowing what to say - and what not to say.

6) Handle difficult people with care : Some jobs require better social skills than others. From those who must constantly interact with others, there's a good chance we'll encounter difficult people. Sometimes people say unkind or thoughtless things, and when they do, it is best to be a little hard of hearing - to tune out and not snap back in anger or impatience.

7) Have a healthy skepticism of authority : Like Buddha says, " Do not believe in anything simply because we have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. But after observation and analysis, when we find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. "

8) Don't be afraid to depend on others : Don't be afraid to ask for help; our success might depend on it. There is a magic that results when a person invests in us. He becomes a big-time investor in our success, a stockholder in our dreams. Because, when we ask someone for help, we are implicitly asking him to place a bet on us. The more people we get to bet on us, the larger our network of investors and the shorter the odds.

It goes without saying, the basic principle of working together with our team should underpin how we operate. Managing people doesn't just mean acting as a watch dog but it to see that they get their work done satisfactorily. It also means involving people throughout in a creative role, to ensure that together we are all able to succeed.

When we involve people on broad issues, it will motivate them. Let's not underestimate our people and always remember, their views can enhance everything: methods, standards, processes and overall effectiveness. The managers are not paid to have all the ideas that are necessary to keep their section working well in a changing world, but they are paid to make sure that there are enough ideas to make things work and go on working. Let's use our people and make it clear to them that we want and value their contributions.

Like Henry Ford said, " Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. What are we waiting for, " Let's come together, keep together and work together to be successful in personal and professional life.