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Archive for March, 2011

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.  – Donald Laird

As social animals, we human beings have no choice but to live in society which implies that we need to interact with others, adjust to the demands of societal norms and yet maintain our own identity and independence.  This poses a problem simply because the individuality that we pride on wants to break free of any shackles imposed on us while the social instinct in us forces us to toe the line that is determined by society and culture. It is reconciling this dichotomy that unconsciously poses a big dilemma for most of us.  Our quote today, provides a glimpse of the option available to us to effectively maintain our personal identity while also ensuring we do justice to our social and neighborly role.

To begin with, we need to asses our own approach to our personal values, beliefs and actions. Being pragmatic would perhaps gives us the smoothest passage forward and that is possible when we don’t get overtly emotional and become a tinge more practical thinking out solutions, selecting logical options and making choices that suit our individuality. Eg. When we lose a loved one, grief would be obviously what overcomes us. Yet in that moment of grief too we need to get control of our emotions and if we always believed in organ donation should initiate steps for that. On the other hand if we are more traditional then there is no need to take on the guilt of pandering to the demands of those urging you to donate the organs for it is a very personal and private decision.

On the other hand when we play our role as social animals and discharge our obligations as neighbors, friends, relatives or as another human being, we need to listen to our heart and less to our wisdom which is often based on reasoning, logic and taken without any emotions attached to it. Eg. If we are firm believers in organ donation, we cannot impose our will on others who may not share our sentiments because of their personal reasons. We must respect the sentiments of the parties involved and try to empathize with their emotions rather than quarrel or wrestle with their flawed logic as we would be tempted to think.  Take another scenario which is more prevalent the constant battle between parents who want their children to study and the children who are more keen to focus on their own interests be it games or computers or TV. Most parents use a hackneyed logic of equating studies with success in life which the children view as a bitter pill the parents are trying to push down their throat. On the other hand if the parents encouraged the children to pursue their own interests while setting some discipline to ensure that studies were also regularly  done, it could be a win win situation since the children would perhaps see the parents as allies in their efforts to excel.

Criticism offers perhaps the best opportunity for us to put the above maxim to full use. When we are criticized we should suspend our emotional discomfort and attempt to see if there is any truth in the points raise by our critics. If the criticism is untrue simply ignore it. However if it is true then we need to be grateful that out attention has been drawn to something that impedes our effectiveness and we should work on overcoming those flaws.  On the other hand when we have to be critical of others, then we must consider the emotional ramifications of our feedback on the other party and hence we must not be unduly harsh or hurtful. Instead we must handle their fragile emotions carefully and encourage them to overcome their flaws whilst also drawing attention to their strengths.  This will help them maintain their dignity, reinforce confidence in themselves and at the same time give them the self belief that they can improve with effort and persistence.

Remember: The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing. Blaise Pascal

Try this:

  1. Can you recollect the last 5 criticisms that came your way. Do you recollect who told them? Were the criticisms justified? What efforts did you do to learn and improve from those criticisms?
  2. Write down 3 strengths and 1 criticism you have concerning the following people.
  • Your favorite high school teacher
  • Your best friend
  • Your neighbor
  • Your own family members (list them out and write for each person)

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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One man practicing sportsmanship is better than a hundred teaching it. Knute Rockne

In an extremely competitive world, there is a strong temptation to take advantage of the slightest loopholes that one can get through even if it means bending the rules, conveniently interpreting the law or covertly sidestepping the norms. Giving in to such temptation means that while we may achieve our objectives, we would be hard-pressed to relish the fruits of our labor for at the back of our minds and deep in our hearts we know that we aren’t worthy of the success we craved and achieved. It is against this backdrop that one has to understand the importance of demonstrating sportsmanship and set a good example than merely being pulpit preachers.

The sports field is resplendent with shining examples of great sportsmanship. Go back to the 1936 Olympics and the sportsmanship of Luz Long the German long jump medal hope helping Jesse Owens the black American to make a clean jump and ultimately win the Gold medal is now almost part of sports folklore. Closer home, we have the legendry Sachin Tendulkar walk to the pavilion the moment he knows that he has nicked a bowl and is caught even if the umpire has given a not out verdict. What makes these people choose the path of righteous without flinching or having second thoughts. If one understands that psychology and applied it in our lives we would all be winners for we would never have to live a moment with a guilty conscience.

Here are three guiding principles that uphold the values of sportsmanship:

The spirit of the game is bigger than any victory that is tainted. When a game is played be it on the sports field or in other facets of life, a level playing field and common rules are passé. It is therefore logical that anyone who plays the game recognize these and play within the framework of the same. Yet the urge to win, the desire to outsmart the competition and the devilish war cry’ victory at any cost’ exert so much pressure on the participants that some of them succumb and use foul means to attain their objectives. However these victories are often short lived for a true champion will always triumph by the strength of his own ability. They play in the true spirit of the game and don’t mind sacrificing a victory if they feel it would tainted.

There is only one standard that governs our life and that is the standard of fair play. True champions work hard, play fair and remain competitive but never will they ever resort to unfair practices, sly tactics or surreptitious means to corner a victory. Cheating in exams is perhaps the most widespread act of poor sportsmanship. One may argue that it hardly affects anyone since one is trying to improve one’s own marks without any real threat to toppers. The problem though is that we are being unfair to ourselves and erodes the values that good education would have instilled in us. In the long term this could be counterproductive for we would be embolden to skate on the thin ice of temptation to cheat.

Overcoming temptation is the biggest victory of all. The real victory that we all need to relish is victory over our own temptations. This is though because there is pressure to perform, there is competition snapping at our heels and there would be others who won’t bat an eyelid in using unethical means to trample over the competition. The urge to give tit for tat, to play the game by the redefined but illegal rules and the killer instinct that nudges one to slaughter the competition no matter what the cost are hard to side step. The real sportsmanship though is in controlling our selves and resisting the urge to compromise our principles for paltry gain. Real victory is in conquering our temptations for that is a lifelong process.

Try these:

  1. Recollect 2 instances where you bend the rules to gain some victory. Also outline 3 instances where you resisted all temptations and paid a price but have no regrets.
  2. You are not in good terms with a colleague who has in the past played dirty with you on some projects. However today he is representing your organization in a prestigious competition and urgently requires a reference book for preparation. You know someone who has the book which is now out of print. Would you volunteer to get the book to your colleague to help him prepare better and win?

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 swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.  ~Denis Diderot

It is human nature to seek recognition, enjoy appreciation, be elated when praised and  be ecstatic when put on a pedestal as an achiever. It is also true that we are hurt when criticized, annoyed when admonished, depressed when berated and livid when we perceive ourselves to be insulted. The reality is that as individuals we have to accept the fact that we will be subject to all these and many more such emotions in our lives for none of us is perfect. Yet a little introspection will reveal that most times when we are recipients of positive observations even if it borders on flatter we are lustily drink of it and if subject to anything negative we attempt to reject, rationalize, ignore and if forced to, swallow it with diffidence.

Temperance is a virtue that is critical for every individual to have a balanced view of ones own self. The reality can then be better appreciated, accepted and acted upon. To begin with our achievement however big or small needs to be savored without us gloating over it as if it is the only thing in life. If we do not perceive ourselves as achievers we tend to long for any positive comment and then drum it up to believe that we have attained success of rare proportions. The truth is that with every achievement we are actually raising the bar for us to perform even better. This is actually a tough call since we may be limited by our own weakness and fear of underperformance. Despite this even if we know that the praise we get is disproportionate to our achievements we lap it up with great relish.

Criticism is something that is always a very bitter pill to swallow. Even if it is sugar coated, the bitterness and the resentment is not easy to overcome. The biggest problem is our inability to stare at our misdemeanors squarely for it is both embarrassing and often a trifle shameful to handle. Therefore our way of coping up when criticized is to rationalize and justify our act often remonstrating and protesting indignantly. We are just not ready to accept blame, acknowledge our faults nor look objectively at the feedback when it is negative. While there may be rare times we are unfairly made victims of negative criticism the truth is that there could be a fair amount of truth in most other negative feedback that is received by us. Yet we tend to stall its impact, side step the core issues and underplay its seriousness.

If we see each day as being a new opportunity to improve ourselves we would be able to have a balanced perspective of the positive and negative feedback we receive. Our virtues when recognized must be viewed as strengths that we can utilize even more effectively and the blips that our pointed out can be studied with more calmness and equanimity so that we can work on eliminating all that actually hampers our performance and our personal growth.

Remember: “You can bend it and twist it… You can misuse and abuse it… But even God cannot change the Truth.” Michael Levy

Try this:

  1. What is the one criticism about you that you felt was
  • Harshly said to you
  • Was unjustified
  • Was done with malicious intent
  • Was hurtful but true
  1. When and how did you praise
  • Your spouse
  • Your colleague
  • Your neighbor
  • Your best friend
  • Someone whom you are not too cordial with
  • A stranger

For the following situations ask yourself how you would react. Your options are

  1. Yes I will
  2. Am not sure what I would do
  3. No I won’t

The situations are as under:

  • If I had the opportunity to fudge my marks in an exam I would _____
  • If I found a wallet with no identification marks but containing a huge wad of money I would give it to charity_____
  • Your neighbor is a very irritating character.  One midnight he rings the bell and asks for painkiller for a tooth ache. Would you give it if you have it? ____
  • Your best friend at work wants you to lie for him/ her so that he/ she can claim to be sick and go out of town for a pleasure trip during the peak season which is against company policy and would put pressure on the other employees. Would you do it? ___

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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Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you. Frank Tyger

All of us, me included have a hundred different reasons and excuses to justify why we haven’t realized our full potential. The reality though is that nothing absolutely nothing is going to chance the past. Yet irrespective of one’s age, social status, financial status, academic background, past history and the like, there is a wonderful future that each of us can embrace whole heartedly if we are prepared to boldly accept the challenge and work purposefully towards it. There are 4 conditions that one has to fulfill in order to make the future you want for yourself.

The first is to remember the lessons of the past without holding on to the past. We fail to progress beyond our past performance simply because we live with ghost of past failures, keep brooding over the wasted opportunities that we never took advantage of and often meander into some of those rare moments of triumphs and successes we did relish occasionally. While we certainly cannot erase the past completely, we must learn to identify the key learning and keep that uppermost in mind as we proceed further so as to avoid the same pitfalls of the past. We must never let the bad past ruin a perfect present or take away from us the immense possibilities that lay ahead of us.

The second is to believe in yourself and yet be pragmatic about your strengths and weakness. Each one of us has it within us the ability to stretch ourselves to excel. Excellence is ensuring that we use our abilities to the fullest extend and must not be mistaken to mean always out performing others. It is obvious then that we need to asses ourselves dispassionately and leverage our strengths without letting our weaknesses become a stumbling block. It would also entail us having the courage of conviction to take calculated risks, the daring to fail and yet not give up and to pursue our dreams with steely resolve and self confidence.  As rightly said it is our attitude that determines our altitude.

The third is to always have a goal to focus on. What really lets us down is an indisciplined approach to the future. The prime reason for this is lack of clarity as to where we want to go and what we want to achieve. Perhaps we would be a lot happier if we could simply identify our personal, professional, financial and spiritual goals. Perhaps we have a hazy idea of our goals, but then we are tempted to change the goal posts in the hope of scoring at will. Goals helps us concentrate, enable us to channelize the resources required and helps us chart our progress and if need be take the corrective measures to ensure that we make the best of our future. It is sarcastically observed that if we do not know our destination any road will lead us there.

The fourth is to adapt, change, improve, transform yourself to ensure that you are progressing towards your goal. Simply put this means that one has to make umpteen sacrifices if one were to make the best of the future ahead. Look what happened to the dinosaurs of old who became extinct simply because they could not adapt, change, improve or transform themselves to meet the onslaught of change. While we make not suffer such an ignominy, it is very possible that the future we face by being rigid and uncompromising can be painful, frustrating and very regrettable. Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change. It is imperative that  we change else the chances are that we will fall in the second category.

Remember: “Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.”  Denis Waitley

Try this:

  1. Jot down 3 lessons you learnt from any failures/ regrets that you have from your past.
  2. Ask a few close friends to name 3 of your strengths and one weakness they perceive in you. Reflect on these particularly on the weakness and work out how you can use the new knowledge about yourself to shape your future.
  3. Take a pencil and paper and do the following
  • Make a sketch of your dream house. Now put a realistic price tag to it.
  • Make a realistic assessment of what your monthly savings should be and what you think should be your monthly income after you attain the age of 60.
  • Make a plan for an overseas holiday with your spouse and the roadmap to make it happen in the next 2 years.
  • Outline your definition of a successful person. Now write down your own success statement.

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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Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit. Hosea Ballou

Look around and you will find lots of laughter, plenty of smiles and chuckles and ample hilarity and mirth around. You make the pleasant discovery that there is an abundance of Happiness around and it is there everywhere. You might also make the painful realization though that you just don’t seem to get enough of it and this is also both hurtful and worrisome realization.  Perhaps we might also make an insightful observation that it is just a matter of finding it if we seek it earnestly . The problem though is in where we seek happiness.

The first problem is that we pine for happiness that seems to be unfairly nestling in other people’s lives in plenty while eluding us unfairly.  We selectively choose what seems to be the elixir of happiness for others be it material possessions, wealth, power and fame.  The fact is that wealth, fame, popularity, power and possessions are mere indicators of a certain measure of success but do not necessarily bring happiness.  Happiness in fact is the feeling one enjoys when one knows how to deal with whatever success one has got. E.g. For a below average student passing the exams is a major achievement and he/she should be taught to enjoy that moment rather than be unfairly pressurized to improve performance to meet the grades of the person who stood first.

The second problem is that we are blinded to the happiness that is available to us for we do not seek it within us but probe and prod all around us. The secret to happiness lies in relishing and savoring every moment of our life for all the riches in the world cannot recreate it, bestow it or extend it. Good health, strong family ties and bonds, a well groomed upbringing and the capacity for hard work and enterprise are the riches that we really need to value and appreciate if one has to be truly happy. E.g. If one can cycle to work it is perfect proof of excellent health and more importantly provides one the opportunity to remain fit, helps us contribute to a clean environment and saves us the stress of daily driving and rush hour traffic, parking woes etc.

The third problem in identifying happiness is our inability to be positive. If one is positive one becomes optimistic and happiness often masquerades as opportunities which someone with a negative mindset views as problems.  To accept the reality as it exists and to then seek the positives in it leads us to the path of happiness. E.g. If a personal financial resource crunch did not give you the opportunity to pursue the studies you passionately wanted to pursue rather than brood on it focus on making your mark in the current course or work.  The success you attain will soon make you even more happy and sooner than later, excellence will be noticed and will never go unrewarded too.

The other effective ways to remain happy is to be in the company of those who radiate happiness, to channelize your energies on those ethical activities that give you maximum pleasure,  to enjoy the pleasures of jokes, comedy movies and humorous stories and books.  Of course spending time with children, the aged, the challenged and the sick would be the real icing on the cake of happiness.

Remember: “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” Dale Carnegie

Try this:

  1. Consciously make an effort to praise all those whom you come across in your daily life. If possible also share a joke, spread some good news and / or share some chocolates/ toffees/ biscuits etc. with those around.
  2. Jot down the name of  one person known to you and qualifying as under
  • A close family member
  • An office colleague
  • An old school mate
  • A person whom you envy
  • A well know personality you know a lot about

Now against each person write down 3 qualities they posses/ display that you really envy. Also jot down 3 points that you perceive to be their limitation/ weakness/ problem areas. Now jot down 3 of your good qualities/ strengths that they do not posses. Finally jot down3 points that give you real happiness.

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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What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. George Levinger

Strange as it may sound, the theory of opposites attract as is proven by magnets is perhaps just as applicable in marriages. The genesis of the marriage could be anything from love marriages to arranged marriages or marriages of convenience as would perhaps happen when a divorcee marries another divorcee or   a widower marries a widow ;  the focus though  is often on how compatible the couple is and we mistakenly believe that compatibility will cement the relationship. Compatibility certainly plays a vital part in getting a couple together else there would be no commonality of interest/ purpose/ objective/feelings. However compatibility does not really address the reality that surfaces after the courtship and honeymoon, that of the individuality of the partners that manifests itself in differences, disagreements, opposing style and personality traits  and even in completely divergent expectations and behavior.

The real issues in marriage often surface soon after marriage but the emotions of love, tenderness, joy and the eagerness to please the partner and respective families and friends camouflage the differences that may have crept in. In many ways the earlier the differences come to the fore the individuality of partners becomes more obvious and enables the couple to find ways and means of handling it using all the positive emotions and by suppressing ones ego and making adjustments. There is no doubt that in this process each partner also does sacrifice a part of his/ her individuality and adapts and adjusts to the demands of married life. The good part is that we get used to the adjustments early on and so the process is easier than unlearning and relearning which is tedious, painstaking and above all a major psychological hurdle to cross. To explain, if one partner is obsessed with brushing the teeth before going to bed and the other couldn’t care less the earlier they adjust to the reality by either accepting each one’s differences or one of them adjusting to the others pet peeve it won’t be long before the issue becomes a major bone of contention in a temperamental married life.

It is essential to accept the fact that when we express our individuality there would be a hugely disproportionate number of differences that come to the fore. While many of these could be insignificant it is the serious differences that could often mar an otherwise harmonious marriage. It is equally possible that the differences small or big get to be more frequent, more stressful and more acrimonious and that is when the strain of living together comes to the fore. The chief culprit that actually stretches the relationship to breaking point is often cited as incompatibility but this is just a pseudonym for intolerance, ego hassles, inflexibility, bickering and nagging not to mention finger pointing and possibly culminating in use of vile and abusive language tone and threats. If one can manage to bridge the differences that crop up in a relationship through a combination of understanding, give and take, acceptance, adjustments, sacrifices, forgiveness and unconditional love, handling incompatibility would never pose a problem ; ask those couples who tenderly hold hands even when they squabble, have a love tinged mischievous smile when then poke fun at their other half and revel in the affection of their partner and display both concern and pain when the other is suffering. The vows of marriage when the couple get married offer a clear clue to the incompatibility that is central to marriage when they  vow to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us par.

Remember : “More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.” Doug Larson

Try this:

  1. If you are married outline the 3 most annoying traits in your spouse that you never realized before marriage. In the same breath also jot down 3 wonderful traits that your spouse has that really surprised and elated which you never knew before marriage. If unmarried, list 3 traits that you would hate to have in your future spouse and 3 traits that you hope he/she will have.
  2. Identify 3 ideal couples known personally to you (other than your own family members)who have been married for  less than 5 years, married for 5-10 years and 20-25 years. Why do you think they are an ideal couple? Is there some trait that you can emulate in your relationship now or in the future?

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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Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good. Bertolt Brecht

Observe a tiny tot making his/her first move to becoming a toddler. It would first attempt to stand and promptly fall for it lacks the balance and the strength in the legs. Yet the natural urge to get up and be independent will stimulate the tiny one to keep pegging away despite many a futile attempt. At this point the concept of failure and mistakes is alien to the little one and that helps the little ones have no inhibitions or apprehensions.

As one grows up we acquire many a skill and knowledge and with it the concept of success and failure, right and wrong, possibilities and impossibilities, truth and fiction etc. In this process making mistakes is often severely punished and kudos liberally given to those who do not make mistakes and they are considered intelligent. As a result the average person tries hard not to fail and make mistakes and therefore avoid anything that hints at failure. Yet ironically no invention or discovery or noteworthy contribution of the human race has ever been error free or perfect in the first attempt. This brings us to a notable reality that success is in harnessing ones intelligence to pursue ones dreams against all odds and achieve it.

Mistakes could be due to a number of reasons from overlooking the obvious to complete misjudgment is one such spectrum. It could also be due to carelessness, misunderstanding, inefficiency and /or wrong assumptions.  The net result though is that the end result we seek is not achieved thereby implying failure which in turn leads us to question our own competence and intelligence. Yet for those who believe in themselves, the mistakes are merely a pointer to the elimination of a failed possibility thus offering us the opportunity to pursue another line of thinking by harnessing our intelligence.

Creativity and logic form the axis around which intelligence revolves. Memory, quick thinking, number crunching and reasoning polish up the shine of intelligence. However, intelligence unless harnessed and utilized remains just an adjective but mistakes provide the perfect opportunity to translate it into an active verb. Real intelligence is in also recognizing that even the most perfect person is bound to make a mistake and that despite that one can attain unparalleled success if one were to relook the mistake and make the corrections. It is said that Jesus Christ got 1 out of 12 decisions wrong when he chose Judas to be one of his 12 disciples because ultimately he betrayed Christ.

Remember: “Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used”  Dr. Carl Sagan

Try this:

  1. Jot down the 3 biggest mistakes of your life. Were you solely responsible for each of those mistakes? If yes does the consequence of the mistake still rankle you? What was the learning from each of these mistakes?
  2. Assuming that you made all the three mistakes mentioned below which of these would you want to correct first if you had an opportunity to do so?  Why have you chosen that option?
  • You could not give your exams due to poor attendance and therefore lost an academic year.
  • Your drove your car in pouring rain with the driver’s side wiper not working and as a result banged into a care ahead of you which braked suddenly. The other car was damaged badly and the driver of that car had to be hospitalized.
  • You broke up with your partner over a minor misunderstanding and are not on talking terms simply because you want your partner to apologize first.

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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