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I welcome you to my blog

Dear friend,
This blog is an effort to share all the mistakes committed by me in my Life. I wish to share them with a hope that you may learn from my mistake and avoid committing them all over again!

I am blending my wisdom with that of all great Masters who have shown me the Light.

This blog is dedicated to everyone from whom I learned. Wish you peaceful life ahead.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

10 Principles of Leadership

Just like many other topics of self-development, Leadership is also one of the most difficult ones to comprehend and reduce it to cookbook size approach for implementation. During my recent experience of designing and conducting a leadership development program for senior executives and writing a book on Pragmatic Leadership, my mind was swarming with a lot of questions; one of them was, “Are leaders born or developed?” I am one of those firm believers of the theory “Leaders are developed”. According to me, “Leadership is not a position but a state of a being”. During my research, I found that many successful leaders are not from the B-schools of repute; but they have developed themselves into leaders over their lifetime; they have learned, observed, shifted their attitude, brought about desired behavioral skills and transformed themselves into leaders.

During the same training program, one of the participants asked me a very simple question, “What do I do differently, when I go back to my usual life after this leadership training, from Monday morning onwards?” It was a fair question from an inquisitive participant who wanted the formula for becoming a leader. This article is an attempt to simplify the application of leadership skills in daily life.

Trade off between Expert & Leader:

Growing up as a technical expert till my mid 40s, I was hoping to reach the pinnacle of corporate ladder very soon. But, I was in for a rude shock when my seniors informed me that I was an “Expert” and not a “Leader” and that I lacked general management skills. Over the time, I realized that leaders are the ones who manage even the experts, even if they themselves are not experts. It took a while for me to come out of the shock and realize that I had missed the bus already. There are very few positions on the top of the corporate hierarchy, and understandably so. And one needs to learn when to relinquish the urge to be an expert and acquire the skills to become a leader. This transition is extremely difficult, as it requires a “Let go” attitude at an appropriate time. When one is climbing Mount Everest, it is the last few steps that are the most difficult to climb; as even your garments weigh you down and unless you throw them away, you cannot reach the tallest point on this planet. Similarly, relinquishing your urge for technical expertize is the key for becoming a corporate leader.

10 Principles of Leadership:   
I am detailing below 10 easy-to-understand tips on leadership which are easy to follow and practice on a daily basis and which allow you to keep a log to check your leadership behavior.

Principle-1: Love for people
Abraham Lincoln said, “Love and leadership are inseparable”, one cannot become a leader if one hates people. A lone person can’t be a leader and a leader works with the people and for the people. Along the way, he inspires and develops other people into future leaders. So a true leader has to love people and he can’t afford to hate people and yet pretend to be a leader. If you examine all great leaders, including the prophets, they have made a great difference to mankind and have transformed this planet. Please examine your genuine love and respect towards people and cultivate an attitude that this universe is one integrated entity and that everything you use throughout the day is made by someone else working somewhere else; right from the toothbrush to the ‘n’ other things you use throughout the day. As they say, charity begins at home. Start by showing your unconditional love to people around you.

Principle-2: Humility
Benjamin Franklin, in his notes to himself on Humility, stated “Imitate Jesus” and at the end of each day he would evaluate himself and see on how many occasions he felt proud and on how many occasions he felt arrogant about his behavior. Humility is a state of a being and not a skill to practice. One of the Vedic seers, without disclosing his identity, once said, “More that I know; I come to know, I don’t know”. Lord Krishna in Bhagawat Gita said, “All that I have preached Arjuna was not my knowledge and it was there even before the Sun God came into existence”. Pride is the folly of ignorant people. Avvaiyar, one of the great thinkers of all times, once said, “What I learned is equivalent to a handful of sand; whereas what I haven’t learned is like the rest of the sand in the entire World”. Leaders may or may not be experts but they know how to work with experts to achieve their vision. They acknowledge the fact that they lack expertise with all humility; and this is the hallmark of a true leader.

Principle-3: Adaptable
Adaptability is one of the virtues of the Leader. In this universe everything around us is constantly in a flux of change; if you look at all those modern gadgets and conveniences around us which were not there thirty years ago, you will see how rapidly things change around us – internet, satellite communication, cell phones, ipads and so on. If one cannot adapt them, he or she becomes obsolete. In fact, it is believed that many animals have become extinct due to their inability to adapt to the changing environments. Only human beings are believed to have continued for so long without extinction due to their adaptability to change. Although adaptability is a common virtue for us, many of us are averse to any kind of change and thus become victims of change. There are three categories of people – people who become the reason for change - the Leaders, then people those who adapt to the change and finally the third category of people who are the victims of change. Leaders foresee the changing environment and orchestrate change by rocking their boats.

Principle-4: Positive attitude
Attitude is the GPS that shows the way for progress in life and Leaders are always found with a positive outlook of life. For some unknown reasons, some of us are highly negative and always believe that the future is going to be bleak. Unfortunately, the universe creates what we intrinsically believe; if we believe health, we become healthy; if we program ourselves for disease, we end up in hospital. Shiv Khera defines competency as knowledge, skills plus attitude; if one possess knowledge & skills but wrong attitude, he/she never performs well. Unfortunately, those who have attitude issues can’t see this and are often blindfolded; you cannot act on something that is not known to you in the first place and lies in “I know not that I know not” domain. As Leadership is creating a future, it is impossible to create one without believing in it.

Principle-5: Ethical
There are certain physical and spiritual laws that govern this universe; a law is the one that exists whether you believe in it or not; e.g. law of gravity. It cannot cease to exist or fail to act just because you don’t believe in it. A spiritual law is one that governs the cause and effects; say “what you sow that you reap” is an example of a spiritual law. When you hate someone, you have already made a choice of him or her hating you in return. When you decide to drink, you have already made a choice of a hangover for the next day! When you violate temperance and over eat, you have made the choice to feel sluggish. Examples can be multiplied; it means that “principles” are unwritten laws that run this universe. Leaders are principle-centered and they let these principles manifest in their life and their behavior Integrity is one of the principles that leaders follow; what you think, what you say and how you behave are aligned. 

Principle-6: Envisioning
Amongst all the creatures in this world, it is only human beings who have the sense of self-awareness. It means they at any given point of time, are aware of where they are and what is happening around them. This higher faculty, which animals don’t possess, enables humans to visualize a future state and work towards creating it. Although it seems ridiculously simple and even when it is a common wisdom of all human beings, we rarely come across people who visualize a lofty future and inspire others to join them in creating it; People like Abraham Lincoln of the USA who dreamt of freedom or Mahatma Gandhi of India who visualized a free nation are hard to come by. Most of the human beings dream only for their own material prosperity, and do not really think much about the entire mankind or serving some higher purpose. When someone dreams about purposes larger than their own selfish motives, the whole universe conspires to help them achieve it. Strangely, the kind of followership the social reformers enjoy is not really seen much in the corporate world. This is mainly because the focus is limited to making money and this only inspires or engages people up to a point. If you wish to unite people, you need to pursue a vision and purpose that are larger than just making money.

Principle-7: Integrity
Vivekananda described Integrity as, “Integration of your thought, speech and actions”. Lord Krishna defined hypocrisy as “Non-alignment of thought and actions”. One of the most important qualities of a Leader is integrity, which in management language translates as, “walking-the-talk”. As we go higher up the corporate ladder, what we really need to improve is our own behavior as at higher levels we are more involved in inspiring, guiding and motivating others than in “doing” office routine. ‘Do as you preach,’ they say. A father who smokes, loses his right to stop his son from smoking. The leader who never shows up on time loses his right to expect his people to be punctual. Integrity is the most important virtue of a leader. If a leader is faking, it won’t take long for the followers to realize this and to stop following him.
Principle-8: Persuasiveness
A leader always tries to see things ahead of their time, which others do not care to see! “Seeing is a physical process and envisioning is an intellectual process,” as I have said in our previous issue. It is this quality of a person that makes him/her a leader, ie “Visualizing something which others are unable to”. Mahatma could see that India could become a free country even after 250 years of slavery and he passionately believed that Satyagraha was the route. He used to say this, “They will insult you, punish you, hurt you and then will accept you”. Associates of Gandhi were unable to see what he could vividly see. For uniting and engaging all people, the leader has to communicate his thoughts and has to have patience and persuasiveness to get their buy-in. In corporate world today, many a times, the second line of managers do not believe what the CEO visualizes and trusting their silence in the boardroom is suicidal. The leader needs to persuade his senior management to align to their corporate vision and goals.

Principle-9: Learner     
Mr. Narayan Murthy once said, LQ – Learning Quotient is the most important virtue for a Leader. I would say IQ is the least important attribute for a leader as he/she is not expected to be an expert but is expected to manage experts in achieving corporate vision. LQ is the sixth sense that helps us to decide what to learn, how to learn and how much to learn. As a leader, one must be abreast with all the developments and must know his/her place in the larger scheme of things. For example, a Leader in our space of work should know what is Lean or Six Sigma and how it fits in his/her agenda to improve the organization. He / She needs to have the working knowledge of the subject; he/she doesn’t necessarily have to be a Master Black belt. LQ keeps a leader ahead of time and makes him / her act like a guide to other people.
Principle-10: Contribution
A leader contributes while still remaining as a non-doer; very paradoxical but true. Then how can one contribute without doing anything? As one moves up the hierarchy, he is not expected to be involved in everyday working of the business and the trivia. He has a bigger role, he has to envision the future for his organization and create a suitable road map to achieve it, and he / she has to worry about the allocation of resources and other such things. At the pinnacle of the corporate hierarchy, his only job is that of envisioning, strategizing, setting goals, communicating, motivating and reviewing progress. All great leaders are remembered for their significant contributions. Gandhi is remembered as Mahatma for his great contribution to India. If a person is not able to contribute substantially to the organization during his tenure, he would hardly be called a leader or be remembered.

In summary, there could be 100 different attributes of a leader, which are mostly personality ethics, but these above ten are attributes, which a principle-centered leader should follow for making a difference to his organization and community at large. Wish you a great leadership career. 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kindle Life- Episode:10 – Shantha Rasa

Last 3 months I was inactive in blogging due to travel & other commitments. With the result I could not complete my series on Navarasas. In the previous episodes I wrote commentary on eight rasas and here is the last and most important rasa namely “Shantha Rasa”.

Quick Recap:

The Navarasas are the nine different states of our being that manifests at different circumstances without our consent, as they are our non-voluntary emotional responses like our physical responses; for example increasing heart beat while panic. Before we take up Shantha Rasa, here is a quick summary of each of rasas for your reference. 
1.    Hasyarasa –  sense of humour -
2.    Adbudharasa – sense of Wonderment
3.    Shringararasa – Romance (very approximate translation)
4.    Raudrarasa - Anger
5.    Karunarasa – Empathy & Compassion
6.    Veerarasa – Valor (Fearlessness)
7.    Bhayarasa (Fear)
8.    Bibhatsarasa – Disgust
9.    Shantarasa – Peace

Why it is nine? Your state of being falls into only these nine categories and one cannot add any more.

Why this order?

One may wonder why the above sequence? I was looking at different angles to explain the order in which they are expressed and found the following explanation very convincing. Let me try to bounce it upon you!

  • When we have born and grew up as a toddler, we always had fun in everything – Hasyarasa - humour.
  • As we grew up everything was a wonder; the toys, the colors, animals, flowers and so on – Adbudharasa – wonderment.
  • When we reached teen age, we were looking for a girl or boy to fall in love with - Shringararasa – Romance.
  • As we grew further in our middle age we became impatient for everything and got angry with everyone – Raudrarasa – Anger.
  • At forty we developed empathy towards others as our blood chemistry changed, developed BP, wearing bi-focal etc. – Karunarasa – compassion.
  • During the same period we were courageous to explore new opportunities and willing to rock our boat – Veerarasa – Courage.
  •  When we reached 50+, fear of old age and retirement started haunting us – Bhayarasa – Fear.
  • Around sixty, we were disgusted about our whole life feeling sorry about missed opportunities, strained relationships and so on - Bibhatsarasa – Disgust.
  • During late sixties if we are lucky to survive, we start thinking of peace as everything lost significance by that time – Shatharasa!! 

Note: There is no guarantee that as we grow, we will get matured; there are people in sixties still having Shringararasa!!

Shantharasa defined:

Shantharasa is a state of a being when we are cool and centered – this is the nearest explanation I can think of. This is a state where we experience peace of mind, every one of us are longing for through out our life. In our modern life we hardly experience this state for variety of reasons. Let us examine how this state is reached. Hindu philosophy says “Shantha” is our natural state of being by default; hence why we have to reach something we already possess? If it is true, then why we are always in a state of agitation? Let us examine where have we lost this natural state and how to regain. Above all I am keen to deal with the necessity to attain tranquility for material progress in a corporate world.

The synonyms of “Shatharasa” are tranquility, serenity, harmony, stillness etc. I have observed many corporate leaders holding top management positions are always in a state of tranquility. It is very strange some times to see some one shouldering such a big responsibility seen in a serene state. I wonder when they face some issue or the other every minute, how they are able to maintain their cool, when we see mundane people are always seen in a state of flux. From this we can draw conclusion that, it is not the situation external to us is responsible, but our texture of our personality is the root cause.

Anatomy of Our being:  

Human beings are the most advanced version of the species with complex brain that can be wired in many different ways depending on our childhood and conditioning. In fact conditioning and un-conditioning is possible only in human species. For example embracing a religion is a conditioning, which is nothing but a belief. People who change religion have re-conditioned their belief. Our adult personality is a manifestation of our conditioning in which few rasas are more predominant, for example anger. Some of us wired to have sense of humour in every situation and end up as a comedian or declared as “not serious person” in a corporate world.

Never the less, the person who has an imbalance in rasas is never successful in material world. Most interesting aspect is, in addition to balance of all rasas, one needs Shatharasa to lead an organization. Only the difference between a leader and follower is their “behaviors”. I am not concluding that if you are wrongly wired you have no redemption; it is important to know that we are wrongly wired and one must have will to re-wire oneself with the help of a mentor. In summary, Shantharasa is nothing but EQ – Emotional Quotient proposed by Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of the book “Emotional Intelligence”.

How to improve Shantharasa?

Tip:1 Know Thyself

First and foremost to know what rasa in you is more dominant from the perception of the people around you, both peers in office as well as loved ones. It is very rare and almost impossible to have a well-balanced rasa. If the feedback says that you have well balanced rasas; then either people are trying to please you or afraid of telling you the truth. Throughout the day read the state of your being by witnessing your mind as someone else? Lord Buddha says one must witness them as though “watching the vehicles by sitting in your balcony”; here vehicles are the thoughts in your mind and observer is your intellect. This needs some practice through meditation and one can master this art of “witnessing” over a period of time.

Tip:2 Know the root cause of Anxiety

Somewhere down the line we are programmed to believe that material wealth will save us from death. Alas! What a wrong expectation? We got a false sense of security by believing that money will give peace of mind and ended up in chasing it resulting “piece of mind”. The only purpose of life today for a modern man is chase wealth postponing the peace for a later date. We started saying “I will be happy after…….this & that”. The society and parentage conditioned us to run in the rat race to amaze wealth. We are programmed to believe that wealth is the only means to achieve peace of mind. We have heard of the famous story of Alexander the Great having a dialogue with the lazy man lying idle and doing nothing. Whatever we have got is not enough as what we are chasing is a moving target. This perennial pursuit of postponing happiness cannot give us a glimpse of Shatharasa. It can give us a sense of incompleteness, anxiety leading to blood pressure and diabetes.

The only way you can break this vicious circle is by chase wealth without postponing peace of mind. It is very paradoxical but doable. In fact peace and happiness is the result of vibrations of mind settling down and not by the external object. A Gulob-jamun (sweet) is irresistible in spite of knowing it is bad for oneself. When you eat third or the fourth one it is not as tasty as the first one; but if you continue until say 25, it will be nauseating to even to look at it. It is not the object made you happy, but the craving vibration settling in your mind gave you the sense of happiness or peace. Please read Ramakrishna Paramahansa story I shared in one of my previous blogs.

In essence, please re-educate your mind understanding the peace is not in material object. As Rajneesh says, the sexual orgasm is happening inside your being and the other person is an object that makes it happen. Yogis are believed to have organismic experience even without a partner.

In summary,

1.    Navarasas are nothing but manifestation of our emotions in nine different states. Rasa is a state of a being.
2.    Rasa is an involuntary expression of life, which you cannot control them.
3.    A human being is complete and has happy life when he has balanced rasas.
4. If a person has very few predominant rasas only, he/she will have issues in their relationships and hence progress in their material life.
5.  Age and rasas have no links between them, as one is expected to have balance of all rasas through out their life.
6.   All rasas have their own place in life and wrong ones manifesting at wrong times will pose a problem – for example Humour in a serious discussion.
7.  There is no negative or positive rasa and all are needed including anger, fear or disgust. Only difference they must appear at the right occasions. Fear when you give a speech is the wrong manifestation of a rasa.
8.  Shatharasa is the center of your personality and if it is absent, you will have poor EQ – emotional quotient.
9.  Shatharasa is the substratum (the base or foundation) of all rasas. You can have anger even in a peaceful state of a being, which is a controlled expression of discontent.
10. Essence of life is “Shantha” which is your natural state which need not have to be searched, but to be realized by meditation.