Tag: Be proactive

Finding your way in life

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

A personal makeover

Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene. Arthur Christopher Benson

 Life, for even the most active person occasionally gets humdrum. The weariness of everyday living and the repetitive nature of sleep and work demands a change of scene so as to help us recharge our batteries, energizes our body and soul and rejuvenate our whole being. Yet, a short holiday, a weekend bash, or partying may not always give us the expected results and occasionally we come back more weary, more dispirited and in extreme cases very depressed. It will be reflected in our haggard pace of life, in our morose and insipid behavior and could culminate in illness and chronic lethargy. While, it is possible that this could also be the result of some undiagnosed illness, more often than not, the real trouble is our mental makeup and low self esteem.

Out tendency to see difficulties in every opportunity rather than opportunities in every difficulty is the first mental block that restricts our personal growth and happiness. When we have a minor aches and pains we worry about having major illness, when things don’t go as planned we worry about what fate has in store for us, when we are chided by someone we seek revenge instead of verifying the truth in the admonishment and when we are given some challenging tasks we are more focused on merely managing to complete it to avoid blame rather than seek out a chance to exhibit our abilities and capabilities. Then there are people who are inflexible in their thinking, lifestyle, behavior and attitude. They remain confined to the nuances of tradition, restrict their vision using the blinkers of sticking to archaic customs and practices and cloak their miserliness and frugality in the garb of simplicity. Worse still is their inward looking beliefs that make them prone to criticize those not toeing their thinking. They could also end up zealously inflicting their views on others without much success and hence getting frustrated with the ways of the changing world.

People with inferiority complex form the bulk of those who need a serious personal make over, both externally and internally.  These are people who see themselves as nobody’s, feel they are just a footnote in the epic called life, live as if there are consigned to wallow in mediocrity and those who lack confidence and have no self esteem. Typically they are back benchers, mere participants in any event, will always exhibit a false sense of modesty and avoid the limelight at any cost.   Juxtaposed to the above inferiority complex is the set of people who have a mountainous ego and an inflated superiority complex. They need to be at the center of attraction and will inch their way into all sorts of activities as long as they can hog centre stage. They can be loud and uncouth at times, can irritate with impunity and be devilish in their intent and behavior. Ironically, what is common to both sets of apparently opposing personalities is their personal turmoil that ignites this unsavory behavior.

What is important is for people to recognize these self limiting traits and acknowledge that they may be restricting your own growth . Attempt to change, initially in a forced and contrived manner, because unlearning is tough as we tend to lapse into our own set patterns. Focus on the positive results obtained by making some forced changes. Eg. If you are an introvert may be going for a personality development or Presentation skills workshop may help you overcome some of your inhibitions. Observe some role models and adopt and adapt their styles to match your own personality eg. You admire the communication style of a leader who uses humor effectively. However you find it hard to be naturally humorous but you are well researched and well prepared in what you do. So communicate your preparation in a factual but friendly way to be effective and avoid all attempts at humor unless you are confident about carrying it off. Finally be open to change and attempt new things constantly. This will enable you to have fresh perspectives, free your mind of constrained views and it will open up umpteen possibilities thereby giving you’re a constant stream of fresh ideas that will stimulate and refresh you every moment.

Remember: They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.  ~Confucius

Try this:

  1.  What is your genre of music, art, sport, reading, fashion, food etc? Now make it a point to consciously attempt to savor something different that you have never tried or are very wary off. Make it a point to focus on what was good about your attempt  and reflect on some new perspectives you got from it.
  2.  Make an attempt to change your route of daily travel if possible or your daily diet. Do attempt to view a different TV channel than the ones your addicted to. Visit a place of worship of another religion. Surprise your spouse/ children/ friend with an unexpected gift . Focus on breaking your mould and being different consciously.

 This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

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

Reap as you sow…

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

Actions speak louder than mere feelings

To feel sorry for the needy is not the mark of a Christian – to help them is. Frank A. Clark

Look around and you will find poverty and pain in plentiful and the sight gnaws your conscience, disturbs your sense of fairness and provokes a rage within your heart. Alas, the feeling lasts for a definite time frame in which you deeply sympathize, loudly criticize the system and conveniently rationalize the whole episode as a reality that cannot be singlehandedly resolved. The problem is that the whole gamut of emotions, the train of the thought process and the ultimate indifference are logical and not restricted to a few but is the norm that has defined the ruthlessness of society at large and we as individuals in particular. The real question is can we make a difference in any other way?

To be fair to the vast majority, it is difficult for us as individuals to visualize us making a substantial contribution to what is largely perceived as a humongous problem. With this mind set, the best we can possibly do is sympathize and as a mark of empathy articulate our feeling aloud or casually donate some alms for the rehabilitation of the unfortunate. In this process we achieve the twin objectives of easing our conscience of a burden and simultaneously feeling nice that we have proactively done our wee bit for a cause.  The problem for vast majority is that none of us want to make a definite commitment to any cause for that involves us investing our time and money without any commensurate return. The reality though is that unless we commit ourselves we can never appreciate the rewards of our self belief for they are incalculable, difficult to express and can only be experienced personally.

The right way to approach our concerns is to focus on how as an individual we can lend our shoulder to the task on hand. If there are sufficient people committed, it is but obvious that the momentum will automatically pick up and together the goal will be realized.  No sooner we isolate our efforts and try to perceive it on a standalone basis we get demoralized and disheartened that the task is huge and our contribution will be insignificant. Once we can see the big picture then it is critical that we restrict our commitment to our abilities and then being once committed give our all to the task. E.g if we are concerned about the lonely elderly who live a forlorn existence because  the children have migrated or they have no family to speak about, then decide if this is really what we feel most strongly about. We should not be distracted by the plight of orphanages or AIDS victims etc for we cannot spread ourselves thin.

Most times we are constrained by the tunnel vision of what our role is and we cannot think beyond spending our time and our money. The reality is that in addition to these, one can contribute his / her talents to the cause in many varied ways. Perhaps being a zealous evangelist for the cause is one of the biggest contribution that one can make.  This is as simple as talking about your pet cause, spreading awareness about it, cajoling others to join the cause etc. One can also function as a facilitator for our pet cause by suggesting the names of potential sponsors, direct enthusiastic people towards our cause e.g college students doing a social service project or corporate looking to sponsor something as part of their CSR. One can use our talent of writing skills or speaking skills to propagate the movement. Suddenly sympathy seems to be a very primitive way to express our deep concerns and participation in the process is obviously the way forward.

Remember: Some people want it to happen, some people wish it could happen, others make it happen.

Try this:

  1. Specify your pet social service cause. Now list out 3 different ways that you can contribute to the cause without spending any of your money or committing more than 1 hour of your time per week to that cause.
  2. Specify what is the amount of financial resources that you can raise for the cause (without committing any of your own money) Now work out at least 3 different fund raising programs/ activities/ sponsors and try to exceed your own target.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

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

Don’t let yesterday ruin today

Never let yesterday use up today. Richard H. Nelson

When we tend to reminiscence there are two types of viewpoints that come to the fore.  One set of people are prone to look back at the good old days and lament that the world today is in terrible shape and that they would love to relive the past.  The other reaction is that of those who may have gone through terrible times in the past and are unable to exorcise the ghost of the past and they repeatedly relive that trauma messing up their present. What is common in both sets of reactions is the fact that the people involved prefer to let the past dominate their present and as a result they just cannot utilize the potential of today to the full.

The problem with living in the past is that the whole exercise is in the realms of fantasy or borders on psychological trauma. Either way we cannot either duplicate the past now nor do we attempt to erase the horrendous memories; the net result is that we continue to be in the vice like grip of the days gone by. This impacts us today in a wide variety of ways. To begin with, our focus on today is blurred by the constant unconscious interferences by the memories of the past. Indirectly, we become victims of past prejudices, unrealistic fantasies and frozen memories. Those who were blessed with a very pleasant and satisfactory past would make efforts to duplicate the same today thereby ruining the harmony of the present. This is because while the whole world has moved forward these people are caught in a time warp and fight progress in general and change in particular.

For those who experienced a traumatic past, the present seems to be an extension of the past in as much as they see a demonic future and so get sandwiched between the demons in the mind. They adopt a fatalistic mentality, become superstitious and seek refuge in the powers of the occult or succumb to the lures of faith healers and spiritual guides.  Today then becomes burden for this lot, painfully experienced, wearily lived and fatalistically approached. Innovation, change and progress are often sacrificed today simply because the way ahead is perceived to be best lived by emulating the past for then we have the past experience to fall back on should lightening strike twice.

One needs to become aware that the past is long dead and though history may repeat itself, with the help of past experience we can always face up to the challenge. One must also not let the past overwhelm us to the point where we cannot think logically, act intelligently and live confidently. We must constantly remind ourselves that today has to be encashed and the past is a cancelled cheque that is pretty much worthless.

Remember: “What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now.”

Try this:

  1. Read the contents of the following blog http://poweract.blogspot.com/2009/12/8-only-today-is-ours-use-it-now.html
  2. List out 3 most painful memories of the past and 3 best memories of the past. Reflect on how these events impacted your life subsequently. Objectively ask yourself if any of these events still play a big part in your attitude, behavior, style and temperament.  The feedback you get from others would be a good mirror to your life and a good reference point for evaluation of how your are utilizing today.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

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

Light a candle…

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Chinese proverb

As we go through life each of us will face our shares of troubles and challenges. How we respond to these hiccups in life has a major bearing on how our future pans out. Most of us will attempt to put on a brave front and tackle issues sometimes successfully occasionally failing and feeling despondent. A few of us will, at the first signs of our inability to cope up seek help from others.  Some of us resign to our fate and simply give up and surrender to our fate. What is common to all these approaches is that our initial reaction is to get annoyed, irritated and frustrated that the smooth flow of our life is disturbed.

Fate hands us many pleasant surprises and a few shocks too. When faced with a some of these unexpected shocks the easiest reaction and the most common is one of absolute helplessness and frustration. The next step in this line of thinking is searching for a convenient event, person or things to put blame on and deflect attention from our own inadequacies. If for example we have been careless and lose our wallet in a crowded train we will quickly abuse the poor policing system, the overcrowded trains, the growth and mushrooming of undesirable elements in society and of course the administration in general. Only the really balanced person would attempt to study our own culpability in the event.

The balanced person takes a more calm and realistic approach first pinning blame on self for not taking adequate precautions and for being negligent. They would view the tragedy as a wakeup call to be more careful and aware instead of the normal reaction of panic and over reaction. Through this approach they reorient their thinking to focus on getting results rather than apportion blame. Blame merely transfers the responsibility without any serious attempt to rectify the situation.  Instead of blaming one would achieve more by making attempts to fix the problem and taking steps to mitigate a recurrence.  In the long run this is what each of us wants ; plugging the problem firmly and avoiding recurrence.

To ensure that one has the right cure for the disease it is important that one identify the problem correctly. This is to be followed by scanning the environment for appropriate solutions. Sometimes the solutions may be cumbersome to implement, resisted by certain sections for selfish reasons and may become too bureaucratic to implement. Yet one must be prepared to swallow the bitter pill. More than anything else one must be proactive and willing to shoulder the responsibility to overcome the problem with standard solutions or if forced to search out creative options. We must be passionate about overcoming the problem and if possible implement a long term solution.

Remember: “There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle” Robert Alden

Try this:

  1. The next time you don’t get rail tickets for a long term travel what kind of approach will you take? Jot down all that you will do to light the candle ( reach the destination)  than curse the railways.
  2. As a dutiful citizen of this country you would definitely be concerned about some of the ills that plague this nation. Eg  Rampant poverty/ growing population etc. List out at least 5 such problems. Now what steps will you take to make a positive impact to solve each of these problems ?

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

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

Never take for granted

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. English proverb

All of us tend to take too many things for granted. The fact that we are blessed with all basic needs and a lot of comforts make us believe that all of it is available in plenty and that it is our birthright.  If for example the internet line drops even as you are reading it, it is possible that you would be cursing the service provider, the state of technology and perhaps even the general administration for the minor inconvenience which suddenly seems like a major calamity. We generally value things only when we cannot have it or when the alternatives are too poor to replace the original.

Let us look at the three most important things that we take for granted – relationships, our own self and the environment.

The people we take most for granted our own immediate family parents, siblings, spouse and children. We do we in most cases share a strong bond with them, ironically it is this bond that widens our relationships. We assume that our parents will support us no matter what, and when they side with the truth when we are on the wrong, it comes as a rude shock. All the while we may perhaps have believed that our siblings will be united in matters of division of property and inheritance till we make the painful discovery that everyone  has a mind of his/ her own and that we made the mistake of taking our relationships for granted. Many of us are guilty of planning for our children’s future and urge them to follow what we feel is the right future. Alas our children display an independent streak and prefer their hearts call than the dictates of the parents; too late we realize that our relationships changed along the way.

We erroneously believe that we know perfectly what is best for us; be it in food, clothing or living and saving habits. We take our jobs for granted, consider our health to be ideal without any tangible proof by way of checkups and believe that we know best how to plan for the future. In the process we might be facing grave dangers be it that of sudden job loss or an unexpected lifestyle disease like heart attacks or stress or diabetes. Just because we have a large social circle we cannot assume we are popular. It is more plausible that people make you feel popular because they want to curry favor with your or would like to piggy back on your contacts and influence.

The environment includes that space that we are concerned with and is not limited to just the ozone layer depletion or carbon emission. The political space, the economic space, and the social fabric are also key elements that make up the environmental space. By not participating in the election or political process, we are taking for granted that the rest of the population will vote or raise concerns which will reflect our concerns or beliefs. Similarly our casual and limp reactions to issues like price rise, inflation and poor governance reiterates the fact that we take our democracy for granted. Our feeble or cursory reactions to social unrest, strikes, hartals, bandhs etc. as also to the hoarse cries of the environmental activists is further proffer that we take the environment around us for granted and do not see any major upheavals that  will threaten our smooth life.

Our passive involvement and poor rational for remaining passive are merely symptomatic of the large malaise; that of taking the system for granted.

Remember: “There is no longer a way out of our present situation except by forging a road toward our objective, violently and by force, over a sea of blood and under a horizon blazing with fire.” Gamal Abdel Nasser

Try this:

  1. Have you made a will? If yes have you updated it? If no is it because you take it for granted that you still have a long life?
  2. Do not take anything for granted and to this end let us attempt to do some of the following
  • Write letters/ emails/ send thank you cards, birthday cards, get well soon cards etc to those whom you really feel deserve it. It could be relatives, former teachers, mentors at work etc.
  • Have at least one environmental issue as a concern and do what you can to support the cause. Donations, taking membership of a concerned organization, spreading their message to people around etc. are highly recommended.
  • Make it a point to have a wide circle of friends from all sections of society. Do actively participate in their religious, social and cultural activities so as to enjoy inclusive living and appreciate the varied dimensions of life and its splendors.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

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