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40-family-treeThe Christmas season is fast approaching and that is a time when most times families, particularly in countries that celebrate Christmas get together to bond and renew ties. Equivalent festivities are definitely present in various other countries and cultures too. So what is common to all these festivities?  It is a time when we realize how each person has evolved and found his/ her own path in life and chalked out their destiny. What makes the season special is also the fact that gifts are exchanged, which means each gift is thoughtfully selected for the person to whom we gift it. It is also a time for fun and bonding, a time to reminisce and a time to realize how each one has grown and yet remained rooted.

This is a good time to have a re-look at our own family tree.

Branching out – The individuality of people, the paths they tread and the way each one evolves is reflected in the way one branches out and chalks out one’s own destiny. The beauty of this branching out is that it helps people evolve, it is the blooming of the child into maturity and it is the culmination of how one attempts to give expression to ones dreams, hopes and aspirations. Some are fortunate to have a smooth passage with encouragement and relatively easy success paving the way. However, for many, branching out is a challenge. There are parental expectations, personal weakness and conflicting alternatives that we need to overcome, before we reach stability in personal and professional life.

Remaining rooted –Branching out happens because we have our individualistic thoughts, dreams, passions and abilities that are different from the other family members.  However, what gives us identify apart from our own achievements are the family ties that bind us, the support system they represent, the commonality of emotions that draws us close to each other. We can fondly reminisce about the good old days; go through the ecstatic and most depressing moments together, feeling it as one. It is also the bond that makes us come together for a joyous celebrations like weddings in the family or a significant birthday of a loved one and it is also the same bond that enables us to be present during traumatic moments of our extended family  be it a an accident or a death. Our roots bind us together for we are all nourished by the same love that runs through our branches, leaves and fruits.

Growing – For a tree to become a tree, it is essential that both its roots and its branches grow healthy and strong. The same holds true for a family. So while the individuality will help one find his/ her own future and destiny, it is the bond with the family and extended family that provides one with values, culture and nourishment through support in testing times. If the roots are strong, the tree will always grow and flourish and a family that is grounded in good values, culture and close bonds would be the same too. Give space to individuals to bloom and flower and keep them close so that they continue to be nourished by the bonds that tie one another.

Try these:

  • Make a family tree and share it with the extended family.
  • Hold family reunions to ensure there are more meetings and interactions especially between the younger members of the family.
  • Share interesting tidbits of family members who have some remarkable achievements/ talents / success so that others can be proud of them and also benefit from their success.
  • Surprise a family member with a surprise gift on a significant occasion for the person.

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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13-9- One step back 2 forward

It is that time of the year when the exam fever is at its peak and both students and parents are in a tizzy coping with the stress of doing well in the exams. The real stress actually comes a wee bit later as the day of the results draws near. While for some there could be jubilation, for a fair amount of people there could be dejection but the vast majority would be plagued by a sinking feeling that the outcome could have been or should have been better. An analysis would possibly reveal that an overwhelming majority are disappointed that the outcomes fell short of their expectations. In effect just about everyone seems to think that the academic pursuits have actually dragged them back or atleast impeded them in the race to a successful future.

The scene with the adults is no different. On one hand they seem to be dragged down by the weight of propping up their wards to excel, they also are bogged down by the pressure to attain personal success professionally, financially, personally and socially. Many a time, success seems elusive, the goals seem distant and the pressure becomes overwhelming. The collective weight of balancing personal expectations, professional growth and domestic bliss seem to be huge load to manage. Often we are tempted to throw in the towel and give up; our spirits are drooping and the rewards seem unappetizing.

Yet it is at the very nadir that one must dig his /her heels in, take a deep breath and with faith and hope launch a herculean effort. Be it an arrow, a trigger or a shotput; to get results we need to take that vital pull back to get the momentum to hit the mark. Take a look at a pole vaulter and notice the sharp arch of the pole brought about by the weight of the individual before the momentum and the technique dramatically enables the pole valuter to go much higher than the pole and safely cross over the barrier. The subtle message is that one often needs to take one step back before one can take two steps forward.

Success is often like a game of snakes and ladders. There are times when we get lucky and climb up faster but many a time we get gobbled up by the snake and come right down. Do we stop playing the game every time we get gobbled by a snake? The challenge in real life is not to let the snakes, be it poor academics or a personal handicap or poor self esteem or financial setbacks or a colossal blunder, become an excuse to give up.

Try this:

  1. Go to a long jump pit and stand at the edge and jump. Have 3 tries and measure the best effort. Now walk back 10 steps and then run down and jump and measure the distance. You can be sure the latter effort where you actually walked back, away from the pit and then gave it your all gave you superlative jump.
  2. Find out the personal limitations / failures that the following overcame before they achieved success
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Helen Keller
  • B. S. Chandrasekhar
  • Walt Disney
  • Tapishwar Narain Raina

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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Look back at some of the most embarrassing moments of your life and perhaps it will evoke painful memories of ridicule, taunting and shame. Remember the first time you failed an exam or the time you came last in a race or the time the teacher humiliated you in front of the whole class or the time you were foisted with a nasty nickname. If you were subject to such abject humiliation, the one overwhelming thought could possibly have been to just disappear from the face of the earth. Surprisingly, as you would have realized, life didn’t stop then although you must have wished it ended right then. Even more surprisingly, the past didn’t haunt you nor did it drastically affect your present. Dig a little deeper into the recess of your mind and you would recollect with fondness that your were shielded by a protective, caring, affectionate, understanding and loving people , be it parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors or understanding teachers.

In a similar way there are plenty of us who are often outwardly very extrovert but deep inside lonely, dispirited, confused, wanting acceptance, seeking companionship and /or wanting understanding. Perhaps some of us want to pursue our passion but parental pressures have pushed us to pursue a career that is just another job. There could be others who have failed to realize their full potential in their chosen field either because of ill luck or because there were others far superior in aptitude and skill. For others a minor mistake or lack of judgment or sheer silliness could have led them astray and they repent for it but find no takers for their remorse. A touch of love, an iota of understanding, a word of encouragement, unconditional forgiveness and or simple acceptance would be enough to rekindle the spark of life, achievement and success in their lives.

We don’t need to look far to find such individuals. Some of us could be in the same boat. There could be friends or siblings in a similar predicament. There could colleagues or acquaintances seeking a touch of humanness. You can be the catalyst who can find such lost souls to find themselves. Ponder over these questions and act with a clear conscious and you could be savior to many including yourself.

Can we just LISTEN ?  Can we stop being Judgmental? Can we accept them unconditionally? Can we attempt to understand them? Can we guide them to the right path? Can we help take the initiative to address their concerns? Can we be more patient?  Can we just be there for them?

Action Points:

  1. Outline 3 ways you can express your appreciation to others and make them feel nice.
  2. Can you recollect the most touching gesture / compliment / gift that you have ever received?
  3. What was the biggest failure you ever encountered personally and who helped you cope with it? How did that person help you regain your confidence?
  4. Write down 3 of your favorite quotes or proverbs. Reflect on why they appeal to you.

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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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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He who is ashamed of asking is ashamed of learning.  – Danish Proverb

It was Rudyard Kipling who wrote the Poem that began as follows

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Almost all of us have extensively used these six honest serving men throughout our school life and possible till we graduated. However thereafter most of us felt a little ashamed of using the questioning technique and preferred to remain in ignorant bliss rather than admit we lacked the knowledge. It is also possible that we continued to believe in some possibly mistaken notions. The reality of life is that there is far too much knowledge for any individual to grasp and absorb and so the only way forward is to humbly seek out the facts when we lack the knowledge; yet we have our psychological block of admitting our ignorance.

The technique of questioning had 3 distinct advantages.

It keeps us grounded to the reality that we have a lot to learn.

When we are willing to question, we are acknowledging our own limitations and weakness and readily accept the wiser counsel of others. It opens our eyes to the fact that it is not our intelligence alone that helps us to grow in life but our ability to harness the knowledge that is around us provided we first accept our personal limitations.

It facilitates us learning.

Questioning also helps us to search for answers and makes us aware of the need to seek out more intelligent people, find out more authentic information and search for new avenues of updating ourselves. When we ask questions we also are looking for answers. We use the questioning technique very effectively when we are faced with a problem and require some answers to progress ahead.

It enables one to connect dots and be creative.

Questioning is the best method to solve problems. By constantly seeking to find answers we would stimulate out thinking, dream up apparently illogical possibilities and succeed in finding unique solutions to our problems. Riddles that we asked in school may now look ridiculous and childish but provided the vital stimulant required to develop the spirit of questioning and sharpening our creativity. Eg  Two mothers and two daughters went for a picnic but they were only 3 of them. How is this possible? Or Name 3 consecutive days that does not include Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday in it.

In fact the questioning technique was the bass of most human progress. One of the key players in the development and enrichment of human thinking and philosophy is the Greek Philosopher Socrates whose Socratic Method of inquiry revolved around asking questions. Notice that the educational system irrespective of the discipline of study uses the questioning technique to evaluate the knowledge and aptitude of the students. Similarly the journalistic profession extensively uses the questioning technique to get quote and sound bytes to feature as news.  Researchers and scientists too use this technique to come up with new inventions, discoveries and improvements. Finally it is important to note that the questioning technique is what makes the human race very distinct from the other living creatures. Our evolution and progress can be solely attributed to our ability to use the six honest serving men effectively.

Remember: “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”  Benjamin Franklin

Try this:

  1. Play the game 20 questions in which the leader thinks of a well known personality and will respond only with a YES/ NO/ Pass (if they do not know the answer) to your questions. You have to ask questions and based on the response of the leader guess the personality in 20 questions.
  2. Ask yourself if you suffer from the following indicators of being question shy.
  • You are lost in a new city and struggling with the map but feel awkward to ask the local person to help out
  • You watch Formula racing and / Golf on TV but have yet to find out the rules of the games.
  • You recently shifted to a new home. You are finding it hard to make inquiries with the neighbors to know more about the locality and the important landmarks.
  • Your child’s progress report indicates that he/ she is lagging behind. Yet you do not make efforts to meet the teachers and learn more about the reason for the child’s poor performance.
  • You are invited by your host to a fancy restaurant serving French cuisine. The menu card lists all the dishes in French. You feel awkward to ask the steward to update you about the dishes.

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 we see depends mainly on what we look for. – Sir John Lubbock

If you are one of those who ends up as a frustrated shopper rarely finding what appeals to you or one who finds too many faults in what  you plan to purchase, ask yourself the question ‘Do I really know what I want?’ Take the simple case of buying a new mobile phone for personal use. While the budget constraint might be very clear, the other parameters of type of the phone viz. style, color, features, utility, functionality etc. are not very clear to us. Obviously then we flirt from phone to phone secretly wishing to own all, but finding it very difficult to narrow down the personal choice. On the other hand when we have to book tickets for travel, we are fairly sure of the dates, the mode of transport and the preferred choice of seating. We are clear about our requirements because the choices are so limited and we need to decide clearly before we lose out the opportunity.

Many a time, we do not leverage this great insight and that is why we often end up angry, frustrated and despondent when we are challenged, face obstacles and are confronted with seemingly insurmountable problems. The trick is not to avoid the problem or deflect it or give up in frustration. Instead if we continue to persist seeking the answer we will come up with some of the most innovative solutions and perhaps there are extremely simple solutions at hand which we have overlooked. All the great innovations of the world are testimony to the unquenchable thirst of the scientist and discoverers to search for that solution to their challenge. In fact the progress of mankind can be attributed to man’s self belief and search for answers for his/ her problems.

This brings us to another powerful use of this wisdom of seeking and finding what we search for. When we are prone to complaint, criticize, run down, cast aspersions or find fault we need to take a pause and see the good points, the positives, the strengths and the opportunities that exist and our negative mindset will be largely nullified. Similar if one wants to get the best out of people all we need to do is look out for their strengths, seek out something to praise them for, identify their positives and seek out opportunities to communicate these positives to them. Notice how they get charged up, work to live up to their promise and actively seek to get your attention and a reinforcement of the earlier appreciation from you.

It might sound ironic but good friendships are often developed not because we are consciously aware of our requirements for a type of friend but invariably it is our sub conscious that helps us gravitate towards the right people with whom we blend well, have the perfect rapport and forge a long lasting bond. This again simply proves the point that when we seek consciously or unconsciously, we get what we want.

Remember: Seek first to understand and then you will be understood.

Try this

  1. Assume you are rushing to a formal meeting. You are not wearing a coat but just a full sleeve shirt and tie.  Unfortunately your sleeve gets entangled in a nail and the button is ripped off. You wouldn’t want to attend the meeting with one sleeve buttoned and the other unbuttoned. What are the various options before you to salvage the situation.  ( You have no time to resew a button). Come up with at least 3 different answers and email it to contact @actspot.com.
  2. Find at least 3 positives in the following situations
  • You have lost your wallet
  • You get injured on the eve of an important match and you miss the opportunity to play the match.
  • Your best friend suddenly stops talking to you and avoids your attempts to communicate with him/ her

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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Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing. – Albert Schweitzer

Our initial learning is from imitating others particularly our parents, grandparents, neighbors, the au pair or nanny and those with whom we are in close contact. Obviously we end up learning both the good and the bad from these influencers since we are unable to distinguish good from bad at that stage. This method of learning continues to influence us deeply till our dying day although as we grow we can become selective in our learning. However the example set by others often tends to have an overwhelming influence on us and very often we unconsciously imbibe a lot of bad, negative and avoidable qualities, traits and mannerisms from others. The best example is our use of profanity when irritated, annoyed, angry or furious. Our accent too is a good example of how we get unconsciously influenced by those around us.

While logic, understanding, rational and reason have a major bearing on how we shape up in life, we have always underestimated the power of examples of others in shaping us. The rituals we follow at home have a major bearing on how we imitate the same as we grow up and then set an example for others. From the time we rise up each morning, to the chores we perform and even the subtle mannerisms, attitude and behavior are often molded by the examples set by those who are key influencers in one’s life. Teachers for example have a very very important role to play as role models and prima donnas of good example. Those teachers who demand the best, often get the best from their students. Those who lack that charisma and self will, end up having a set of mediocre students to battle with. While the strict teacher might not be very popular when one is in school, with maturity and the advantage of hindsight, one would easily realize that those  teachers who were strict but not whimsical or biased gave you the strength, the motivation and the self belief to excel.

While a role model would have a strong influence on helping us set standards, the choice of the wrong role model could critically hamper us and even negatively influence us. Thus many youngsters are mistakenly drawn to the antisocial and undesirable mannerisms and communication of those role models who seem to be larger than life simply because they are anti establishment or rebellious. The hippy culture of the 70’s and similar fashion trends that tend to be gross and the trend to splurge on brands promoted by our person role models, the abuse of drugs and promiscuity are but the tip of the iceberg. Selective idolization of role models is another dangerous problem. While everyone sees the success, the fame and the adulation enjoyed by our role models very few of us pay attention to the tremendous effort, hard work and sacrifices they make to reach the top of their profession. We tend to follow only the example that is suitable to us and conveniently ignore the tougher part. The net result is that we end up frustrated and disheartened by the lack of success.

The best way to improve ourselves is by the realization that each of us has both a responsibility and an obligation to be aware of our own power to influence those around us. We would then consciously attempt to change and put forward our own best efforts and suddenly we would notice that everything and everyone around us seems to be very close to the ideal we would have visualized. Both, us who set the example and the others who imitate our example would then be doing the perfect tango in sync and with grace.

Remember: “A good example has twice the value of good advice”

Try this:

  1. Can you identify 3 bad habits/ mannerisms / qualities in you that you would like to change. Do you think you imbibed it because of the influence of those around you?
  2. Identify the 3 good habits/ mannerisms/ qualities that you imbibed/ developed because of the influence of someone around you. Name the person who was responsible for it and if possible thank them too.
  3. Make a list of one role model each for the following and the one quality that you would like to imitate.
  • A sportsperson
  • A politician
  • A businessman/ business woman
  • A teacher
  • A social crusader/ social activist

Ps. As I am out of station till Sunday 6th Feb’11 the blog will be resumed from Monday 7th Feb’11

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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