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Archive for November, 2011

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  Howard Thurman

Many of us meander through life with a sense of regret that we have neither achieved anything nor made our mark in this world. One reason for this regret is the subconscious desire to make our presence felt and be recognized, applauded and rewarded for our contributions. In this quest to make our presence felt we strive to find a niche that we can quickly usurp and hopefully make it the showcase of our achievements. As many a dope tainted athlete would have realized, there are no short cuts to success and the illusion that our achievements are the focal point of attention is a myth that lasts only as long as we continue to hog the lime light.

On the other hand if we scan our immediate environment, we would find a large number of individuals who may not be changing the world at large but are definitely influencing the world around them. With a little introspection, we could also make the profound discovery that each one of us too has a deep and lasting impact on the many people who we come in contact with. The trouble is that we tend to undermine our own role, abilities and influence and fall victim to the irrational belief that we need to be a mover and shaker if we are to qualify as achievers. The truth is that every small, purposeful and positive action by an individual stirs up the environment around and its ripples reach out far and wide.

The skeptic in us would immediately question our contribution and influence rationalizing that we are too insignificant in the scheme of things. So then how can we really appreciate our importance and role in the mundane and humdrum existence that we seem to be destined for? The clue to this lies in seeking answers to three vital questions.

What are my values? While it may not be humanely possible to be a paradigm of every virtue, it is essential that we identify at least one virtue that we steadfastly hold on to. Most people would have a large list of virtues but it is the one critical virtue that would help one understand ones values in life.  It could be honesty/ sense of fair play/ compassion/ doggedness/ never say die spirit/ accepting challenges/ patience/ orderliness/ etc. The one central virtue is what will anchor the individual to the reality of life and inject in them the urge to proactively contribute and influence e.g. Those with a strong sense of compassion would seek out ways and means to be useful to the poor/ the destitute/ the suffering. Those who are dogged will resolutely pursue the goal they set themselves; be it bringing the guilty to justice or helping the underdog get his/her due.

How do I cope with my own personal weakness and failures? As human beings we are susceptible to a multitude of weakness and have to carry the cross of many a failure. The manner in which we cope with these limitations in us would have a profound bearing on our personality and life. .  E.g. those who are unable to cope with failure could be academically brilliant but completely risk averse. Yet the weakness by itself should be seen as an indictment of the individual for almost everyone has ample alternative strengths just waiting to be tapped. E.g. some of those who are prey to addictions would when sober be the most effective and efficient people to have around. The secret is to discover the potential and to harness that power.

What should I be doing? Nothing is more confusing than the answer to this question. How does a professional sportsman know when to retire? How much money would make a person happy? Should I give up a steady job to purse my passion and dreams? Should I be single or get married because that is the way of the world? When my conscience rebels do I succumb to the pressures of protecting my friends and companions or would I at the risk of losing everything stand up for the truth no matter how damaging it may be?  Once we are able to honestly and consistently answer this question of what should I be doing; then we would be doing what needs to be done voluntarily, proactively and confidently.

Answer the questions above in the silence of your hearts and they will open the doors to self awareness.  Life would then be more meaningful and fulfilling.

Remember: “I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.” Billie Jean King

Try these:

How will you cope with this hypothetical situation?

You have attended a week long leadership training program. On the last day each participant in the program was asked to give one negative feedback for every participant. You come home with the sealed cover containing the negative feedback you have received. You open the cover and find 7 slips each outlining a different negative feedback as under. How many of these allegations are true about yourself. Can you think of one person whom you know for whom the allegation fits? Can you think of a specific incident that leads you to this conclusion about that person?

Slip 1 – In my view you are very lazy

Slip 2 – Why are you such a loud mouth

Slip 3 – I wouldn’t trust you with my purse.

Slip 4 – Your arrogant way of interaction annoyed me a lot.

Slip 5 – You are an unreliable person

Slip 6 – Wish you weren’t so negative and critical

Slip 7 – My impression is that you are too cunning

Write down the following goals for yourself.

1 personal goal

1 financial goal

1 relationship related goal

1 social commitment goal

1 goal related to a passion you have.

Now  jot down at least 3 steps (for each goal) that you will take to attain the goal.

(e.g. My Passion related goal to read at least one book a month.

 Step 1 – Identify at least 50 books by February 2012 end .

Step 2 – Buy at least 3 books before December 2011 end.

Step 3 –  I will read every Sunday between 4 and 6 pm)

Take a look at this poster that perhaps captures the gist of this post succinctly.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our Inspirational and Motivational Blog

www.poweract.blogspot.com

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Assert your right to make a few mistakes. If people can’t accept your imperfections, that’s their fault.  Dr. David M. Burns

Perfection is what is ideally expected from each one of us; our parents want us to excel in academics and sports and the extracurricular activities. The expectations from teachers, friends and extended family are almost equally demanding. Subconsciously then, we have imbibed the need to be fiercely competitive, strive to be perfectionist and despise mistakes of any sort. There are broadly 3 long term negative consequences of these subconsciously imbibed thoughts .

Our fierce determination to succeed no matter what the means used. With high expectations prodding one along, the pressure to succeed and the terrible fear of failure invariably leads one to find ways and means to succeed. We may find some ingenuous loop holes, interpret the rules to suit our needs and in rare cases even resort to dubious means to succeed. The most common example is the invariably temptation to copy, be it in exams or in assignments. Bribing, cheating, swindling are the invariable scale up of this mentality that pressurizes us to seek success at any cost.

Our reluctance to accept or understand our imperfections When criticized our immediate reaction is to rationalize and often we accept the criticism with poor grace. With rare exceptions almost every time a criticism is leveled against us there is fair bit of truth in it, but alas our mind has been conditioned to accept only praise and acceptance and criticism is taboo. Our imperfections become more accentuated when we face more competition, are exposed to people having superior skills and we face challenges that daunt us. Excuses are the most favored means of deflecting criticism. Fault finding, rebuttal, counter criticism, backbiting are other common means of expressing our reluctance to accept the reality of our imperfections.

Our reduced risk taking ability. The fear of not succeeding, the lack of confidence that comes from the intense pressure of expectations and the inability to accept failure as an acceptable option, forces a person to avoid taking any risks. In life taking a calculated risk is the norm but when our calculations are mentally skewed to ensuring only success then more often than not we prefer not to participate if given the option. Other times we put on a facade of participation giving up too quickly under some pretext, make excuses to prepare others not to expect too much and line up a litany of reasons to rationalize or justify failure or non participation.

All this adds to up to one leading a life filled with numerous negative emotions including remorse, regret, fear, jealousy, doubt and a feeling of inadequacy.  To overcome this one has to do the following 3 things.

Learn to accept the reality. Be pragmatic about ones strengths and weakness. In every race on the tracks there can be only one winner, yet there will be numerous participants who despite their reservations about being the best believe they have a chance for they are one of the best. There are many who participate to gain experience and learn from it.

Be less critical both of self and others. We are often harsh on ourselves especially when we make silly mistakes. In the same vein we can be extremely harsh with others who we perceive to have made silly mistakes. This attitude minimizes our ability to trust ourselves, makes us habitually see the pitfalls and does not infuse enthusiasm to attempt. By being less critical, more tolerant and heartily embracing the outcome of our efforts and that of other irrespective of the results, we can emerge from our self imposed hiatus.

Prepare and participate enthusiastically, embrace failure with grace and try again with fortitude and self belief. Unless one has taken efforts to succeed mere participation won’t result in success. Just as studying is a prerequisite even for the most brilliant to succeed it is essential that one prepares before enthusiastically participating. Thereafter the outcome should not be seen as indication of either a comprehensive success or a decisive failure but merely as a fair outcome. Let not failure impede your will to try again nor let a fluke victory be seen as the pinnacle of success. What is important is to try to exceed the benchmarks attained.

Remember: The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. Elbert Hubbard

Action Points:

  1. Choose the one or two aspects of your life that you are most criticized for and try to resolve the issue by trying consistently for a month. Eg. Reducing your weight/  girth or a bad habit of being critical of everything / your tendency to overuse certain words like you know, ummm., hmm, you see  etc.
  2. Try the following simple activities and see if you can overcome your own inhibitions.
  • Thread a needle
  • Learn 3 new words every week and use it in your communication
  • Find something positive everyday in someone you dislike
  • Experiment with something goofy eg. Wearing mismatched clothes/ wearing a hat to work (if that is not part of the attire)/ surprising your friends/ colleagues with some goodies for no particular reason.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

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

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