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Archive for November, 2010

The best mirror is an old friend. Anon

Before you read any further, get up go to the mirror and have a good look at yourself. Did you notice the creases on your forehead, the tiny pimple on your face, the beginning of baggy eyes or perhaps you noticed at least one grey hair. If you didn’t see any of these, then you need to look again or improve the lighting or change your mirror. The beauty of a mirror is not in what it reveals but in honestly displaying back warts, moles, pimples and all without fear or favor. Unfortunately a mirror cannot reflect the person in you; your attitudes, your inner feelings, the fears, hopes, desires that permeate your thoughts. An old friend is thus your best mirror who helps you see yourself from the inside.

An old friend is one who knows us intimately and more importantly someone who knows us for a long time. When we appreciate that friendship is all about a good understanding, a close intimacy and utmost trust we realize that over the many years we have shared most of our innermost feelings with our friends. They know how we behave, react, respond and express ourselves in varied situations and circumstances. It is also possible that they have in subtle and not so subtle ways pointed out what they felt were undesirable qualities, traits, behavioral tendencies in us. Depending on our moods, our interpretations of those criticisms and our closeness to our friends, we could have partially acknowledged some criticism, defended most and ignored what didn’t suit us. In extreme cases we could have attributed motives to our friends and perhaps made our friendship more circumspect and even unfortunately in rare cases broken a friendship.

As a friend to others, we too have a similar obligation to our friends. There is risk in being too upfront and forthright and so we need to be more tactful, time our feedback appropriately and be unbiased and fair. However many a time we believe that criticism will not be taken in the right spirit and so most times our observations and criticism of others are shared with other close friends while the protagonist remains blissfully unaware and incapable of taking any proactive steps. It is just as important for us to encourage our friends and point out their strengths and abilities. There are many times when a wavering friend on the verge of taking a major personal or professional decision requires a friend’s nudge by way of support to take the plunge. Many a time as a friend our responsibility is to stand by a friend when he/ she is going through a personal crisis even if it was self inflicted or a result of foolhardiness on their part despite your warnings. Unlike a mirror which stoically reflects, a good friend must proactively empathize and sympathize making us one better than the heartless mirror.

Remember: “Self-revelation is a cruel process. The real picture, the real you never emerges. Looking for it is as bewildering as trying to know how you really look. Ten different mirrors show you ten different faces.” Shashi Deshpande

Try this:

  1. Name three faults in your best friend. Have you been able to tell your friend about these faults? If not what has held you back?  If you have told how has the friend reacted to it?
  2. What are the 3 criticism you have received from anyone, which hurt you the most? Were those criticisms justified? Did any feedback from a good friend hurt you? Have you severed ties with a good friend because of what he/ she said and you didn’t like it because it hurt you? Have you ever apologized and made up with your friend?

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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A champion is afraid of losing.  Everyone else is afraid of winning. Billie Jean King

It is rightly said that winning and losing are primarily mind games which are eventually executed on the arena be it a battle field, a sports ground or on the personal and professional spheres. Long term winners are those who are able to synchronize their strength, skills and subliminal thoughts proactively, positively and purposefully to drive themselves to their desired goals. This is not as easy at it sounds mainly because we have less control on our thoughts whereas our strengths and skills are more readily manageable through practice, supervision, coaching and  sheer hard work. Our thoughts though require us to make much greater efforts to channelize, control and conquer.

Any champion would obviously have gone through the grind of playing and losing before maturing into strong winners. It is in those periods of winning some and losing a lot that a person develops the mindset that will decide if they are champions or end up as merely top rated with potential. A true winner would always go back after a loss to rework strategies with the single minded focus of winning. This is because they have developed their mindset to visualize themselves as winners. They simply hate to lose and it is this reluctance to lose that injects in them a renewed vigor, energy and killer instinct. When they have focused on the goal of winning, they are even prepared to take some calculated risks and that in many cases is the margin between defeat and victory. Winners also develop  a high sense of instinct which enables them to anticipate and respond with lightening speed which again gives them the winners edge.

The problem with those who are on the cusp of winning but do not really end up as consistent winners is the fact that they primarily lack the self belief of a winner. Far too often they rationalize their defeat instead of analyzing it threadbare and going back to the drawing board to iron out their flaws. Even more problematic is their inability to visualize themselves as worthy winners and true champions. They lack the killer instinct that winners have embedded in their mind, body and spirit. The swagger, confidence and authority of a winner is rarely seen in the body language, words or attitude of a person who does not fit the bill. When a person does not think like a winner, the fear is that of having to keep up the winning streak and so victory becomes just a desire and not a passionate want. Psychologically therefore anyone who is not fully focused on a win is actually setting themselves up to reconcile to not winning. They seem content with having participated and having reached standards which often do not reflect their true potential.

The best victories though are the ones where we keep upping our expectations from ourselves every single day of our life.  If we have progressed much beyond yesterday, if we have overcome challenges that would have normally kept us down, if we have leveraged our potential and gained superlative victories, if we have overcome our own shortcomings be it addictions, personal disabilities or unfortunate quirks of fate and if each day brings us renewed joy, happiness and peace, we can then be sure we have become champions of our destiny .

Remember: “Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.” Muhammad Ali

Try this:

  1. The next time you are playing a game, preferably an individual sport even if it is whilst on a holiday check your own attitude and the results. Assume you are playing against someone much younger do you feel a sudden surge of energy if you are losing the game and the urge to win suddenly overpowering?
  2. When attempting to play a new sport, be aware of your own attitude to learning it. Do you mentally say, it is a new sport so it is ok if I cannot learn it or do you say here is something that I have to master? Notice the attitude you have will reflect in the commitment you make to learning and the speed and progress you make in the learning process.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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The soul that has no established aim loses itself. Michel de Montaigne

The biggest problem that people face is a troubled mind. Sometimes they are sad, other times worried, occasionally they are angry, then there are times when they are fearful, often they are lonely and most times they are simply aimless and frustrated. In fact most times the soul is restless because it is drifting around aimless and frustrated and as a result, the natural tendency is to lapse into a poor me syndrome. Thereafter it is simply a matter of choosing the theme to mop around on and wallowing in misery. When we are aimless there is no motivation and definitely no goal that we have to aim for and this results in a complete confusion and consequentially translates into frustration.

Why does one become aimless is a moot question that defies easy answers. The major reason is our own lack of any worthwhile ambition which is partly because of our casualness and largely because we do not really understand our own strengths and the immense possibilities within us. Then there are so many competing interests that we are passionate about, that we find it hard to make up our mind and perhaps find it difficult to commit to the rigors of those disciplines. E.g at a point we may want to be a writer and at the same time when we see the success of cricketers we want to pursue that.  Then there is our own limitations and weakness that impede us from focusing on a goal. These could include wanting quick money, instant fame, parental expectations, peer pressure etc.

So how does one attempt to ensure that the soul has the right aim and focus? It is imperative that we have some value systems and tangible beliefs, if we have to establish an aim in our life. Unless we are anchored to some firm values and aspirations our aim can never be steady. It could be religious values, it could be personal values or it could be acquired values from the examples of others but we must have some values to hold on to. Using these values as the fulcrum, we can explore the possibilities of zooming in to deciding on our goal. We can have a major guiding principle like some fixed values systems that govern our thoughts, deeds and actions and our goals can then be developed around it. It is equally important that we be aware of our personal weakness and limitations so that we can factor these in when firming up our goals. E.g if we have a short temper or have a tendency to be too critical then we need to know that being a customer care executive or a marketing man would not be a very apt choice for our professional life.

By having something to anchor our life, we ensure that we are never adrift in the sea of life. It is when we take life casually, treat opportunities carelessly and meander around like cows and sheep in  a pasture then we are setting ourselves up for trouble. Life passes by swiftly and suddenly we wake up to the terrible realization that we have no clue about the way forward. This is when many people give up hope, turn recluse, become cynical and worst of all experience terrible loneliness and suicidal tendencies. With an aim in front we proceed with focus, work with ambition and experience the joys of life fully and completely.

Remember: “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”  Henry Miller

Try this:

  1. Jot down the following
  • You long term career goal
  • Your personal goals for your own self satisfaction
  • Your goal as a committed citizen of this country
  • Your one value system you will never compromise on
  • Your commitment to a social cause
  1. Assume that you are really concerned about the dwindling tiger population in the world. Outline the various proactive steps you would take to actively contribute to this cause. Implement at least one of these and ensure it is not a very simplistic thing like merely forwarding links about the problem, on various social networking sites or by email.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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Results are what you expect; consequences are what you get. Anon

Every morning we get up in the fond hope that we shall attain some worthwhile and tangible results during the course of the day. We maybe unsure of what exactly we expect but we are fairly sure that it has to be something that is to our liking. At end of day, when we look back we could possibly be left with a mixed day some good coming out, a large amount of indifference and monotonous happenings and occasionally some disappointing and frustrating moments. We react in different ways to each day, most times reasonably happy but when going through a rough patch as would happen if a close family member is very ill, then we would be upset, irritated and annoyed. At this critical junction in our life, we actually question the unfairness of the world and wonder aloud as to what wrong we have done to face such drastic consequences.

One needs to distinguish between the consequences of our actions and the happenings of fate in order to appreciate the reality that we are faced with. Death, illness, calamities are often the work of acts of god which are beyond the realms of human understanding or reason. However, there are plenty of self inflicted consequences that we are witness to and this is purely because of our own folly. A alcoholic getting liver cirrhosis or an obese person who takes no precaution to keep fit and suffers a heart attack are examples of self inflicted consequences. When we drink excessively or take no precaution to reduce weight, we never expect life to be too harsh and so we are confident that the results of our tardiness will never be serious. Unfortunately when calamity strikes, it is then it dawns on us that we are suffering the consequences of our lethargy and indifference.

In our day to life though we often make elaborate plans and preparations and when things don’t go our way we are terribly distraught and hate the consequences. What we fail to really appreciate is that with rare exceptions when acts of god override our plans, most times it is our flawed planning or unrealistic expectations of the results that leads us to face terrible consequences. A student who despite being advised to study regularly wastes his time and hopes to do well with a last minute studies and banks on some unethical means to score well would be mortified when he/ she fails the exams. Worse still is their rationalization of the consequences as being the result of questions being asked out of the syllabus, exceedingly tough questions paper being set, the perceived unfairness  of very strict correction etc. Nothing changes the reality though and the consequences are there as proof of some very unrealistic expectations of the results.

The concept of flawed planning goes beyond just the planning but extends to the poor execution of the plan too. The sports arena is resplendent with numerous examples of these phenomena. While at the briefing the coach would have meticulously chalked out the strategy and carefully selected the players, if the opposition has unleashed an action plan not considered at all, the entire pattern of the game is now turned on its head. The root cause of flawed planning is the basic assumptions made around which the plan is drawn up. The thousands of students who attempt very competitive exams, more in hope than in faith because  their own academic credentials are weak is a classic case of how our basic assumption of our ability itself is wrong and yet we plunge in with bravado. The concept of positive thinking does emphasize that we need to keep our face to the sun so that we do not see the shadow but this does not means we should not pay attention to the potholes along the way because of which we could stumble and fall. While hoping for the best results be pragmatic and then the ultimate consequences will never be a rude shock or a result in unbearable pain.

Remember: Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts inevitably bring about right results. James Allen

Try this:

  1. Attempt something that you have never tried before like going on a trek, or being a master of ceremonies or organizing a party / picnic. This requires a lot of planning and hard work all of which is centered around the results you expect. After the activity is over evaluate the outcome and study it both from the point of view of the success it gained and the areas of improvement.
  2. Recollect some of the most wonderful moments in your life and 2 of the worst moments. How much of influence did your planning or lack of it have on these good and bad moments? Do you think you would have done / reacted differently to those outcomes?

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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We are betrayed by what is false within. George Meredith

One of the easiest signs to spot is someone lying because there is an involuntary tendency to look away from the others person eyes while lying. Body language experts will be able to spot numerous meanings in our actions and mannerism which would reveal a lot more than what our words convey. The rule of the game is simple; we cannot hide our emotions even if we can mask our thoughts when expressing ourselves in words or deeds. It obviously stands to reason that it is best that we be true to our innermost feelings rather than put on a façade. Unfortunately the ways of the world are so crooked that we are forced to either adopt or adapt to that or risk being in a minority or being ostracized.

So the question one needs to ask is if the old adage of ‘honesty is the best policy’ still holds true in today’s world. The reality is that the adage still holds very true but its implementation poses a huge problem for the overwhelming majority. There are numerous reasons why the average person finds it difficult to traverse the straight and narrow path of transparency and honesty. To begin with, the general value systems of the world have undergone a major metamorphosis. We too naturally are pressurized to adapt to this change and therefore we rationalize our attitudes and behavior thereby deviating from our core values and morals. E.g. taking a gift from a supplier is not longer taboo for a purchase executive and giving it is the norm for the suppliers.  The purchase executive is certain that the gift won’t influence his decisions and the supplier is certain that the gift is just a token of festivity and won’t have any bearing on the business decisions.

The numerous temptations that abound are the second major reason for us being false within. We are constantly being lured by false advertisements, tantalizing models, quick rich schemes, false promises etc. Once we fall prey, then we are no longer ashamed of the consequences. Thereafter, we convince ourselves that we are indulging in harmless activity and that we are simply stretching the rule book to keep up with the times. Most of us lack the moral courage to be different from the crowd and to stand firm and true to our personal values systems. E.g a studious student who is pressurized to allow a dullard to copy from his answer sheet, will find it difficult to handle the group pressure exerted. Thereafter, the studious student in pursuit of getting full marks would not be too repulsed by the idea of copying if it means he can get that one mark that will make the big difference.

There are many times when our own falseness pricks our own conscience hard and some of us do try hard to traverse the road less travelled by. Many a time this happens when our bluff is called or when we find it too hard to suppress our person repulsion of our own double standards. This actually reflects the reality that sooner or later our falseness betrays us and we make a valiant attempt to right the wrong. It is rightly said that if one sticks to the truth then one will not have to remember the numerous lies that one would otherwise have to resort to order to keep our lie going. It is also good to be aware of our own tone, choice of words, rate of speech, mannerisms and body language for  they are the ones that betray us first when we are false inside. Eg. Sarcasm is all about interpreting the words spoken through the timing, the choice of words, the background of communication and the tone and style in which the comment is delivered.

Remember: “False happiness renders men stern and proud, and that happiness is never communicated. True happiness renders them kind and sensible, and that happiness is always shared.” Charles de Montesquieu

Try this:

  1. Play the card game called bluff. It succinctly brings out the difficulty of being poker faced when lying and the manner in which other interpret body language.
  2. Jot down the three most embarrassing moments when you lied and were caught red handed. Also jot down the three acts of falseness that you committed and were never caught but its memory makes you ashamed.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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No great things are done more through courage than through wisdom. German proverb

A careful analysis of history would reveal that all major victories in war were due the exemplary courage of the soldiers and the tactical acumen of the generals who led their forces. Similarly a scan of all the progresses made in science and technology would amplify the courage of conviction of scientist who passionately and diligently worked towards their intelligent hypothesis. If we introspect our own achievements and successes we would be bursting with pride at the key embolden steps we have taken in our lives like changing a job, taking on a big challenge and getting recognition for  its success  or simply being courageously patient till the opportunity came our way. While we may gloat at our own bravado and daring we would also slowly realise that at every stage we let our mind work overtime to help us decide on the appropriate course of action.

The common thread visible above is that without the wisdom of tactical acumen the sheer courage and daring shown would be useless. Remember the famous poem Charge of the Light Brigade that is testimony in verse to this reality. (Here a company of soldiers valiantly followed orders and perished simply because they were not given the right orders). The failure of battles, expeditions, business and economies can be traced to incorrect or fallacious conclusions based on which wrong decisions were taken which when executed even with passion and grit resulted in failure. There are times when retreating is the most ideal decision for then there is a hope for tomorrow although it might seem like a temporary setback. By merely pushing ones luck more in hope than with conviction or calculation, the wheels of failure are set in motion by ourselves. E.g. For a mountaineer, when faced with adverse weather conditions the peak that is in sight might be teasingly alluring but better wisdom would compel one to opt for abandoning the expedition than risking life and limb.

This is not to belittle the role of courage, for it has a vital role to play in ensuring victories. To begin with, all great plans remain plans till someone has the courage to execute it. In some cases, especially in battle, there are times when raw courage ends up in death for an individual but in the overall context of the battle it could be a decisive sacrifice that paves the way for victory. Moral courage and courage of conviction are perhaps the sternest test of courage. In both cases, often a person in a minority ahs to battle the collective wisdom and pressures of peer groups and even sometimes dodge through minefields of sabotage to prove their point and raise the victory flag. However, all these types of courage end up in victory / success only when it is firmly rooted in the wisdom born out of experience, intelligence and sound knowledge.

Remember: This wonderful Prayer — God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference

Try this:

  1. Examine your irrational fears that you still find hard to overcome. E.g. Fear of dogs, snakes, lizards etc. or overcoming superstitions that we believe in etc. Now try to rationalize the fears so that you are prepared to accept that the fear is not as serious as you first thought. Attempt to overcome the fear by using both the understanding you have gained and by being courageous enough to try.
  2. Attempt to write your own ‘Epitaph’. This is real test of both courage and wisdom. (An Epitaph refers to the wordings written on a tomb stone of a person who is buried and which eulogises or highlights the qualities of that person for which he is remembered)

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com 

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He who begins many things finishes but few. Italian proverb

Multitasking is the buzz word that sets the cat among the pigeons in this fast paced world. The ability to do manifold work of varied nature is considered a key differentiator when selecting a recruit and yet this can also be the bane of the work place. While people may be adept at a variety of tasks it is obvious that he/ she will be excellent in some tasks and reasonably good in others and perhaps passable in a few. The trouble though is that human beings are prone to mistakes of omission and commission and so the effectiveness of the multitasking can be just about average. More importantly, there is a tendency to start working on many tasks and leave almost all of it partially done by the time deadline has arrived.

Many a time we are under the mistaken delusion that without us nothing can happen and as a result we end up poking our finger in every pie. We enthusiastically jump into every new challenge with gusto and bravado, little realizing the commitment and complexities involved. No sooner we hit a road block our enthusiasm is dampened, our gusto is diminished and our self belief takes a beating. Thereafter we give only cursory attention to the task just enough to show involvement but not enough to take it to its logical end. There are some of us who just cannot say no and so go on taking new assignments. Many of what we take on is half hearted. The other tasks are not our forte and what is really our core strength can get marginalized in the process. At the end when we take stock of our achievements we are left frustrated that our potential has been wasted and there is very little left to show as achievement.

It is the procrastinators who have the biggest problem for they always have a perennially unending list of tasks all in various stages of urgencies that create a chaos in their lives. It is a catch 22 situation where their tardiness expands their list of tasks and the huge list of tasks in turn terrifies them and so the quality of output is dismal, leaving behind a trail of unfinished jobs. Finally there are those people who are terrified of delegating any tasks for fear of someone usurping them or taking credit for the tasks. The end result is that they end up getting involved in menial work, unproductive work, focus on jobs they are comfortable with and their critical jobs are then handled in a rush thereby leaving gaping holes in it and completing it in a shabby and unbefitting manner.

The way forward to ensure that we are not overburdened with useless, futile and unimportant jobs is in classifying all the jobs into jobs to be done by me, jobs to be delegated and sundry jobs that can be taken care of by others. This classification is tricky for there is a matter of judgment to be exercised and that comes out of experience and practice. It is also a good practice to focus on the toughest tasks and get it out of the way so that the anxiety and pressure associated with it is mitigated at the earliest. Our mind is then free to focus on other relatively easier tasks. Putting deadlines and breaking major tasks into smaller sub tasks can also help dramatically. Without deadlines tasks have no seriousness attached to it. The deadline also helps us focus more vigorously and push ourselves to completing whatever is on hand.

Remember: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”  Alexander Graham Bell

Try this:

  1. Recreate the school science experiment by taking a piece of paper and using a magnifying glass to let the suns rays pass through in a concentrated form to ignite the paper. This will help us realize the power of focusing and also transport us to the good old days.
  2. Make it a practice to write down your thoughts and list out the tasks to be done. This means that you always carry a paper and pen and /or ensure they are always handy.  It would also help if you use a daily or the appointment function in your mobile phone more efficiently. To begin with make it a practice to make a birthday list of as many people as you can and wish them without fail. This is a routine but effective task that cannot be delegated.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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