The Circle of Life

Last month my daughter flew the nest towards her desired college, leaving me unsettled and moping at first. I had been dreading this moment and she knew this. Her name for me in this pre daughter-going -away stage was “Lil Min Waterworks” which I bore with an apparent insouciance. As the days grew closer, every little thing she did or said left me with a wistful expression, causing hoots of laughter from my children -“look mom ! Dad’s crying,” was their constant refrain, much to their amusement.

She finally left on the 15th August and the whole family accompanied her to her new college. It was exciting for all of us and the 3 days of induction swept by in a happy swirl of fun and activity. The house seemed unusually quiet when we returned, but Life soon resumed at its frenzied pace once again.

I had two choices, either mope around and get stuck in a sentimental rut of emotion and past memories. Or wish my daughter well and pray for her to be strong – mentally, physically and spiritually as she embarked on this new and exciting phase of her life. I chose the latter approach and am glad it is  serving me well.

The ebb and flow of Life does not cease if you resist it. On the contrary, it will still flow unceasingly and in resisting it you only cause misery to yourself. Rather, let events unfold around you while you remain centred in yourself. Events by themselves have little meaning – their meaning gets coloured by our likes, dislikes and perceptions. In letting go of my daughter -both physically and mentally – I find myself in a calm space. Yes, I still miss her tremendously but my emotions are now tempered with a calm acceptance of the situation which helps me to move forward with my Life.

Life is meant to be lived, joyously at each stage, happy and grateful to have received her bounty and with an acquiescence of both the good and the painful, the perfect and the flawed. The memories of my leaving home to explore the world come rushing back to me, along with my father’s struggle to accept my resolve to spread my wings. The key to a peaceful existence, I realise, is detachment. 

A quiet realisation now dawns, life has indeed turned full circle for me. I now appreciate better both the trials and the triumph of raising children.

The full import of Kahlil Gibran’s profound declaration seeps into my consciousness “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”

This is the key to building a successful career.

When is it ok to be abrasive at work, to ride roughshod over people’s feelings and to hold the view of my way or the highway? The answer is never.

The early years of my career (and some later as well) were punctuated with incidents that showcased me as an aggressive pushy professional, keen to make his mark. My approach at work was to ensure my viewpoint carried through to the other, his or her feelings be damned. I was brusque in my attitude and said what was needed to be said, regardless of the audience. 

The end result was on expected lines. I was typecast as an abrasive person who while good at his work, was lacking inter personal skills. This of course impacted my appraisals as well.

After spending more than half my life in the corporate world, here’s what I have realised – this is not a make believe world where anything goes. It consists of real people who have real feelings and are just trying to make their mark while making a living. So it always helps to realise the human core at the heart of everything we do at work. 

To understand that all our actions at work would impact our colleagues in some way or another. This realisation requires that we be sensitive to them, in the way we interact – assertive yet respectful, honest yet tactful and professional yet with an inherent understanding and empathy towards their behaviour and actions.

This approach was amply demonstrated by quite a few SVP/ Directors that I have had the good fortune to work with. The more senior the person, the more sensitive he is towards interactions with colleagues, and towards making sure that work is accomplished in a collaborative manner. Sure there would be disagreements and different points of view. But the disagreement is always channelled in a constructive manner, away from the person and towards finding an amicable yet workable solution that meets corporate objectives.

This then is the core learning experience of my career; one that has changed my outlook both as a professional and as an individual.

Do you think this perspective is useful? What has been your biggest learning from the corporate world?  

3 Traits that will propel you to becoming a Super Achiever

I recently watched Bohemian Rhapsody (the movie) and was once again swept away by the sheer genius of Freddie Mercury and his band – Queen. It remains one of the most versatile rock bands of the eighties and each band member displayed oodles of talent that came to the fore with every album that they recorded. While reminiscing later about what I love about Freddie, I reflected that there were 3 traits of the Queen frontman that truly inspired me and are great takeaways for all of us.

The young Farroukh (Freddie’s real name) was supremely confident of his talent. His Self-belief was unshakeable – he knew he was destined for greatness. It didn’t matter that he got rejected by producers or other musicians. Freddie knew he had it in him to succeed.

In one scene within the movie, Freddie and the band are at an introductory meeting with EMI records. When the music company manager suggests that “if everything turns out right, you could get some airplay” Freddie instead of looking perturbed, states with a quiet confidence that he expects more, much more.

That’s self-belief which actually transforms your destiny because you are already visualising your success. And once you can visualise it and live it in your mind, the same success manifests itself in your physical reality. Believe in yourself and your uniqueness. Create your own destiny by believing and trusting your inner voice and your deepest desires.

The second hallmark of Freddie was Passion for his music. He always invested 100% of himself into every song. An indelible image in my mind remains Freddie’s face while he belted out his foot stomping hits or crooned a ballad – eyes closed, veins popping, a sweating face taut with the intensity and passion that was his forte and which gave Queen’s music that cutting edge. Freddie lived his music with a fanatical passion that ultimately propelled him to becoming a Legend in the annals of Rock music.

If you are a diehard fan of Queen (like me) you would have heard all their songs. And what impresses me most is the sheer Creativity of their repertoire. While the other band members did contribute to this aspect, it was Freddie’s creative brilliance that stood out in their best work. His indefatigable thirst to create unceasingly, without caring for censure or praise, was a testament to his work ethic. And the more he wrote and sang, the more the creativity flowed. 

A simple way to become creative is to create – do whatever moves you. Draw, paint, write, sculpt, write code, invent, discover – do whatever it takes to create your best version of who you are. The more you dive in and forget yourself while pursuing your own creative path, the richer would be the end product that you finally hold up to the world.

Find your passion, something that you love doing. Then just do it, over and over again. Passion gives you the edge, the reason for your existence and imbues your existence with vivacity.  

An unwavering Self-belief, relentless Passion to make the best music and a Creative outpouring that continues to astound fans even today. These then, were the cornerstones of Freddie Mercury’s greatness as a musician par excellence, one who was feted by his peers from the rock music genre as well as the classical elite and of course millions of fans.

As you may rightly observe, these traits are not confined to him or the music industry. These are the prerequisites for anyone who seeks to be Excellent at what he or she does.

Believe in yourself, fuel the Passion and keep Creating. That’s what I truly believe. 

But don’t take my word for it. Take a look around you and identify the achievers, the truly successful. Do they exhibit the qualities that we have discussed above?  What do you think ?

picture credit: by Frederico Birchal, via Behance

The Man in the mirror

I am not one to keep examining my appearance every now and then. The couple of times I do look at my reflection are  limited to my visits to the washroom. 

Earlier, even when I did glance at myself, it would be with a critical eye. Oh there I was again. I would search for the perfect version of myself. Always with a straight face, always serious. I mean,  looking at yourself is nothing much to celebrate, is it ? And anyways , what’s the big deal about admiring your own face in the mirror ? 

Then, after spending the most part of my life with the same face (you don’t get a choice, you know) and after reading countless messages about being kind to yourself,. I tried something. 

I smiled at myself in  the mirror.

The other guy smiled back and it felt good. The familiar eyes crinkling in recognition of a familiar face, the happy smile turning into a wide grin.

Why should we always need to smile at others – family, spouse, colleagues et al ? What about the one and only person true to you, always fighting for your cause, never expecting any kindness or love from – your own self.

We are always so judgemental about ourselves. At least I was, until recently. Always condemning my reflection for the mistakes I made, not happy with who I was or what I had become. 

Remembering only the mistakes ,  not the highlights, not ready to accept that I was who I really was – an imperfect human being with flaws, warts and all.

But when I smiled at myself, I realised that I do deserve it. I deserve to be kind to myself and doesn’t kindness begin with a smile ? Why am I so stern with me ? Is it because I am expecting myself to be perfect all the time ? 

Smiling at me makes me feel good about myself. It reminds me that I will always be there for me. That is a comforting thought.

So the next time you catch yourself looking at a mirror, smile at the person looking  at you. She’s your best friend and deserves your love. Smiling at the man / woman in the mirror makes you kinder to yourself.

When you can smile at yourself without judgement, without the need  to be perfect, you will feel a lot lighter and happier. After all isn’t being comfortable with one’s self a Happy feeling ?

Image: courtesy Depositphotos

What moves me

A silent prayer on wings of Faith,

never too early, never too late.

Beseeching a wish to come true,

keep them always in peace, happy not blue.

Music! It floods my heart with joy,

ever since I was an adolescent boy.

Invigorates, soothes and comforts me,

My Spirit moves and yearns to be.

The warm and friendly eyes of a lab,

windows to a species pure, without the gab,

Giving and seeking unconditional love,

Showing a quality that’s much above.

A verdant patch in the midst of concrete, 

soothes my soul, stills my beat.

Syncs my breath in tune with the trees,

the leaves, the flowers and the bumblebees.

A book is the window to my soul,

quenches my thirst, makes me whole.

Revealing plots and stories that enthral,

I crave them , I want them all !

Infectious is her peal of laughter,

the apple of my eye, my lovely daughter.

Questioning and challenging – that’s the typical way

Youth confronting Maturity, night or day.

Yet, above all, what moves my soul,

besides good old fashioned rock n roll,

is when I bow my head at His shrine,

And get a fleeting glimpse of Love Divine.

Five steps to achieving greater Teamwork

Recently, I was entrusted with leading a new team at work. The team’s previous manager had recently resigned and I was asked by my boss to step in and fill the gap.

As I was introduced to the eight-member team, I recognised the classic signs of team dynamics being played out. The team was clearly sceptical of me as the new leader and I could see the doubt in their faces. In some instances, I saw a marked indifference, as though the person couldn’t care less that I was now in charge. This was quite exasperating since whenever I would call the team together for our daily huddle, this person would sit with his laptop, pretending to be busy and hence not paying me the slightest attention. Of course, I made my intentions clear by pointedly requesting him to shut the laptop and participate. But the fact of the matter was that he did not consider me worthy of being his leader.

Now, two months into the team, I feel confident that the team is truly working with me rather than for me. As I introspect on what went right for me, I found the following factors enabled me to gain a foothold into the team and become one of them, thus commanding their respect. These then are the 5 steps that led my team to greater Teamwork:

#1 Roll up your sleeves

The number one rule I have learnt that governs all team interactions is this. The team want their leader to be in the trenches with them – getting his or her hands dirty. It is the single biggest motivator for them to realise that their leader is right there with them, grappling with issues, listening to problems and offering solutions. Being a team leader is all about working with the team. Never mind whether your team comprises 5 or 50 members.

The basic fact is that a leader needs to be seen as someone working side by side, shoulder to shoulder with the team. This gives them the assurance that their leader is not someone who sits in an ivory tower and barks instructions. Instead, he goes out there, sits beside them (this is another must do) and starts pulling the team together.

#2 Take notes and remember action items

The next important factor that engages a team into action is to ensure that the leader takes notes and remembers action items. Diarising the tasks to be done and then following up to check their status on a daily basis, demonstrates to the team that you are tracking the important deliverables and making sure that everyone knows and sees that. Besides the obvious benefit of tracking several action items to ensure nothing is missed, noting and remembering also shows the team that you are keenly involved in your work. Hence your fate is tied to theirs and success or failure affects the team as a whole, including yourself.

#3 Appreciate good work, even if it comes from the person who is resisting you.

Appreciation if sincere and given at the right time (immediately upon completion of the task/project) does wonders to the morale of the team. Members begin to realise that you appreciate their efforts and this makes them feel good. After all, who doesn’t feel the need to be appreciated?

So once an important mini project came to a satisfactory conclusion, I made it a point of congratulating the two team members at their desk, thus ensuring that others also heard me lauding their efforts. And yes, one of the two members was the same individual who was studiously ignoring me in earlier meetings.

I think it was Dale Carnegie who summed it up best – Praise in public but give feedback in private.

#4 Volunteer to take up part of the team agenda

This point is strongly correlated to the first one. Take up part of the team’s workload thus enabling them to focus on what they can do best. Initially, the team would give me numerous reasons why a particular piece of work could not be done. Sometimes it was merely to pass on the buck but mostly it was because the team felt overwhelmed with their priorities and could not decide what to tackle first.

I started volunteering to pick up certain actionables (corporate jargon for things to be done). This showed them that I was willing to shoulder some of their workload. And it really helped to break down the perceived barriers and helped me gel with the team.

It showed them that I was not above taking up part of the workload and pitching in when required. This also aided me in getting a handle on the work myself and pretty soon the team started sharing updates on a daily basis, helping everyone to move forward and achieve shared objectives.

#5 Identify individual strengths and assign tasks.

Not everyone in a team is the same. To revisit the cliché – not all the five fingers of your hand are the same. So the team leader needs to understand each individual’s strength and assign responsibilities accordingly, which will enable the person to shine by doing the things she does best.

This becomes all the more crucial when the team is faced with a multitude of tasks, all of which have to be completed in the shortest possible time. Assessing the individual’s flair and ability enables the leader to assign particular tasks to each person who would then complete the same with high quality and in the quickest turnaround time.

These then are the vital gleanings from my new assignment which have helped me to bond with the team and earn their respect .

As Henry Ford put it so simply – “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Count your blessings

It was about 11 am and another hot muggy day in Mumbai. I was on my way home and was searching for a cab. As I crossed the road, scanning the vicinity for a cab, I saw one parked right across the road. After a moment’s hesitation – since I couldn’t see anyone inside – I saw that the driver was sitting on his haunches, next to the cab, clutching his head in his hands.

His face was deeply lined, the result of endless fretting and worry. His eyebrows, imperial moustache and shock of hair were all white. He was sweating, while sitting there, waiting for a rider, and complained to me about the relentless heat, as I got into the cab.

Along the way, the driver started to chat with me. Initially his lament was against the Gods conspiring not to send any rain and the relentless heat. After I murmured my agreement with him, he opened up a little more. He had two children and his wife had died of an accident a few years ago. He was trying to make both ends meet by ferrying passengers while his children went to school and gave themselves an education. He spoke about the loneliness of trying to raise the children on his own and the harsh realities of trying to eke out a living in Mumbai while plying a taxi.

The taxi driver’s plight made me feel sorry and grateful. I was sorry that there are such people in our cities who are fighting for survival on a day to day basis. They have no fixed income but the usual fixed commitments in terms of house, rent, education et al. How they manage to get through each day is a constant source of wonder to me. I felt sorrow that such poor, honest people need to suffer on a daily basis and undergo trials of endurance whereas at the other end of the spectrum, the rich are rolling in their wealth and amassing more and more of it.

As we neared our destination, I also gave up a silent prayer of thanks for the good health and financial security that has been bestowed on me.

We as a people, are prone to comparisons and always tend to compare ourselves and our situation with people who are MORE than us – more powerful, more rich, more educated. The list is as endless as our wants. We are always cribbing about not having enough, being enough, or getting enough. Our wants and desires are a never ending spiral staircase which we keep on climbing in the hope that one day we would reach the summit and achieve whatever MORE it is we are aspiring for.

The message I want to share today, dear reader, is two-fold :

One – Always compare yourselves with people who have LESS than you. This epiphany is not mine, rather I read it somewhere recently. But the message is loud, clear and strong and hence resonates with me. When we compare ourselves with people who are in a more disadvantageous position, we realise the true worth of what we possess. We have a lot more than many other people can ever dream of, especially in a vastly populated but still indigent country like ours.

Feeling bitter that you can’t own that Mercedes Benz ? Well look to the opposite side where the beggar sits with not a pie to his name. Feeling low about not having cracked the IIT/IIM entrance exams ? Look around you to see the nameless swell of population who are not even guaranteed a basic education. Longing for that overdue promotion ? Don’t fret – notice the hordes in the cities who do not have a steady job or an income. The list is endless, but I think you get the picture.

When we hanker after the material, we often lose sight of all the things we actually do possess – a sound mind and a fit body, a loving family, a secure home. The monkey mind is an expert at making you feel inferior and with its constant chatter in your brain, will try to make you feel embittered, angry or insecure. Don’t let it.

Two – Count your Blessings. As you realise that you have more than what many others in your city or country have, say a silent prayer of thanks  to God Almighty. Be grateful that you have been given enough and have the quiet confidence that you will always have enough. You may or may not get that 7 figure salary that you are hankering after or be able to afford your neighbour’s gleaming yellow Porsche – yet be grateful that you have enough to sustain yourself and your family.

The world is filled with the haves and the have nots. Don’t consider yourself in the latter category simply because you are missing some of the materialistic “must haves” that you think may make you happier. Rather, be content, grateful and humble that you have been given enough. Make efforts to always count your blessings and name them one by one.

Your outlook to Life will change at a fundamental level for the better. You will then learn to appreciate yourself and your surroundings with a calm acceptance and a feeling of deep gratitude.

photo credit :

David slays Goliath – Life lessons from Germany’s shock exit from the World Cup

David slays Goliath Life lessons from Germanys shock exit from the World Cup

David was the underdog. He wasn’t expected to even live upto a battle with the mighty Goliath. But live he did – much to the shock and anguish of Goliath’s fans.

South Korea’s historic win over the mighty German juggernaut was totally unexpected; yet the momentous victory highlighted some crucial lessons to the Germans and legions of disbelieving football fans at large.

Here is my take on what we can learn from the Koreans humbling the Germans on the biggest football stage in the world:

  1. Size does not matter: One look at the German team and you know that these guys are built to last. (like their cars). Almost all of them are strapping men with a physique that is powerful and intimidating. The Koreans on the other hand form a diminutive sight, all of them shorter and lighter than their German counterparts. Yet what we saw today on the field was an inspirational fight by the smaller, cockier team, who took on the muscular Germans and saw them through the crucial 90 minutes of play.

Life lesson 1 – Dont get intimidated by the opposition however strong/powerful/impactful they may be.

  1. Reputations dont matter: Just so you don’t miss the irony – a 4 time world champion gets soundly defeated by a team that is ranked 57th in the world. Had the Koreans been in awe of their opponents, the German team would have steam-rollered them into submission. After all, they are the World Champions, current and past with an arsenal boasting of star players like Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and the charismatic goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

 But the doughty Koreans didn’t care about their opponents’ reputation. They systematically played to a plan, which basically was to thwart the forward and mid-field attacks with a stubborn and tenacious defence that the Germans found impossible to penetrate.

Life lesson 2 Dont worry about your rivals reputation play to your strengths.

  1. Never say die: At no point in time did the Koreans give up the match,. They ran endless sprints, tackled the beefy Germans with spirit and verve and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

This made the German team sweat bucket loads, not just because they weren’t winning , but because the Koreans were looking like they might actually win ! And win they did – in style. Their omnipresent defence and a gutsy young goalkeeper thwarted numerous attempts at the goal – and there were quite a few chances that Germany missed.

In the end, it was not the mighty warriors who won. The minnows were the ones who cruised to a hard-won victory. Not that it came early. The first goal was in the 91st minute and the second goal was slotted in during the 95th minute. A series of last gasp goals finally breached the usually impregnable Neuer Gate.

Life lesson 3 Never give up. Persistence pays rich dividends, no matter how late it may be.

4. Self belief is crucial : If there was one quality which separated the two teams, it was this. The Germans despite their track record just didn’t seem to be convinced that they would win. Their body language was awry. As the game progressed and gradually slipped out of their hands, there was no rallying around by the team, no call for urgent teamwork.

 Instead there were repeated visuals of the German players grimacing in disgust and disappointment at their shots missing the mark. By contrast the wiry Koreans gave it everything they got – and some more. They were filled with a purpose, a shining self belief that sustained them through till the end.

Life lesson 4 Believe in yourself because you will win.

5. Celebrate your victories, however insignificant: At the end of the match, the Koreans celebrated as though they had won the World Cup. Never mind that they bowed out of the cup due to their overall group standing. What was heartening about their heroic efforts and the end was the fact that the Korean team lived their dream and celebrated their success thereafter. A success that was truly theirs to deserve.

 The players were ecstatic that they had defeated the defending champions!  The tired Koreans were overjoyed at winning and it showed on their faces and their body language as they knelt in supplication on the field. It didn’t matter that they were going home. They had got the better of their superior rivals and now was the time to celebrate.

Life lesson 5 Celebrate your successes – thats what makes Life delicious.

So, the beautiful game that enthrals also has an uncanny ability to reflect truisms that stem from our own beliefs and character. What you are as a team, you display in your game.

Then again, what is Life if not, the ultimate game?


picture credit :

Motivation is overrated – This 1 trait instead will help you achieve your goals.

Let us assume you are embarking upon a diet – Keto, paleo, low carb, etc. You have done the necessary research and are convinced about the diet that sounds right for you. Day 1 starts with great enthusiasm and you are super excited about your plan and vow to stick to it. Day 2 also starts well and you go as per plan. But a couple of days later, the inevitable happens. You go out with friends to a pizzeria and upon seeing the cheese laden marvel, your mind coaxes you to pick up one slice. It doesn’t help that your friends also egg you on and before you know it, you have devoured the slice.

If the single slice was an aberration and you are strong enough to say no, the diet journey continues, albeit with a few hiccups as mentioned above. But if you are prone to one hiccup every day or other day, there goes your diet and plans to fit into those slim fit jeans. So, what went wrong? Did your motivation levels dip upon seeing the delicious calorie laden slice? Why did your brain not stop you from reaching for the pizza ? Where was the motivation to stick to the plan ?  Turns out that Motivation doesn’t really matter. It is a Discipline that is required to sustain your diet plan.

The key difference between the two approaches lies in the underlying rationale. Motivation is based on an emotional or feel good factor. If one is feeling lively and energetic, we say the person is high on motivation. Conversely, a low morale and a dispirited approach is likely to be termed as low motivation. Motivation is fickle as it relies on feelings and the emotional quotient of a person.

By contrast, Discipline involves zero emotions, as it well should. It relies on a strong sense of purpose and completion of the task, without any regard for emotion. Discipline is when one trains the mind to be strong and forge ahead with the task at hand, irrespective of the emotional state of mind. Discipline brooks no excuse and needs to be adhered to.

A strong focus on discipline trains the mind and makes it stronger. You are what you think said the Buddha and this truism is reinforced every time we follow a disciplined effort or plan. When you rely on motivation, it is a crutch to lean on – an excuse for failure. When the mind is disciplined, there is no need for falling back on any emotional or mental support. You are your own support. The more you stick with discipline, the easier it gets. The mind becomes stronger and less prone to being buffeted by the whimsical winds of emotion.

The beauty of Discipline is that it can be applied to complete any task. A gold medal in swimming ( a la Michael Phelps), a Phd. In robotics or the will to learn salsa – all these are possible with a steady dose of Discipline. Think of it as a bitter but extremely effective medicine.

The obvious question now would be how do we build this bedrock of Discipline in our lives ? Is it even possible to inculcate in oneself such a trait, with the world constantly pulling at your senses from every direction? Discipline seems such an archaic virtue in today’s context. How does one internalise this character defining trait ? The answer lies in following the plan below :

Focus: Any effort that you make to start building Discipline within your daily life must have one essential ingredient – an unwavering focus. Don’t get distracted by the flashy and the trivial. Our phones are designed to distract and deter us from pursuing any worthwhile goal. Ditch those meaningless updates and whatsapp messages. Keep your focus on your goal.

Remember that you are doing this for a purpose. And make that purpose the centre of your focus – the bullseye. Swami Vivekanand summed it up brilliantly – “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on it. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to Success ”.

Take baby steps: I am a big believer in this philosophy. The road to a thousand miles begins with one step. Don’t let the enormity of your goal deter you. Start small – one step at a time. I used to think earlier that going full blaze after your goals is the way to success. I was wrong. A small but powerful book helped me realise the beauty and effectiveness of this approach – Mini Habits : Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise. If you are serious about cultivating Discipline, I urge you to read this book. The mind is tricked into believing that you will write only that one page, climb only one flight of steps or lift only that one weight. Do it – trick your mind. Once you start on that one small activity, you will soon get immersed in it and your mind will automatically reach out to do more. You are then on the path to winning.

Repeated action : Discipline gets reinforced by repeated action. A difficult exercise routine seems an unbearably uphill task on day 1. By day 3 it gets slightly easier and by day 7 it even becomes pleasurable to complete. The repeatable nature of a disciplined approach helps make the task /activity progressively easier to complete. On the other hand, an approach that relies on motivation alone, is not consistent and is at the mercy of mood swings. Such an effort cannot last. Keep doing what you do, don’t get distracted and stop.

An unwavering focus on discipline helps you to stay the course. Discipline is a hard taskmaster. It brooks no excuses and needs to be built on the foundation of an iron will. Once started, you must not stop. There is no room to give in to excuses. Although there will be a multitude of reasons why you should give up, these are all false. They are designed to thwart your ambition. Don’t let them.

You now know that the way to cultivating a Disciplined mindset is to start small, stay focused and repeat your actions till it becomes a habit. This will bring you slowly but surely to your goal, whatever that is. The fulfilment of your goal is the end result of all your effort and must be that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right ?

As it turns out, the goal is the end result but something greater happens to you once you embrace discipline in your daily Life. Your mind becomes calmer and stronger. Your mental reserves of strength increase and this in turn gives you the quiet confidence to take on further challenges. The expansion of the mind helps you to grow as an individual and fulfil your destiny. As Jim Rohn has wisely said – “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

So what is your plan to make Discipline a part of your daily life ? Let me know.

Image credit : truly tafakari.

5 Traits that define great Leaders

Great Leadership is a cliched phrase today. Managers keep harping on why it is essential that we grow out of being good managers and become Great Leaders.

During my career spanning 26 years, I have had the good fortune of working with and observing some of my senior managers and leaders. These individuals have shaped my perception of what a good leader is and more importantly, how he interacts with his teams or people at work. What signals does she emanate to her team? How does he respond and react to a subordinate’s request?

I would like to call out some of the traits that I consider as being vital towards great Leadership. These are qualities which I greatly admire and have experienced first hand from my bosses.

# 1       A great Leader shows respect

This is the single, most vital characteristic of senior leadership that has shone through in my dealings with some of my senior colleagues. A good leader respects you, regardless of the seniority of his or her position and your standing in the organisation. Or rather, the leader goes out of his way to make sure that he interacts with you in a way that makes you feel respected.

If you were to meet your senior leader in a hallway, she would acknowledge your presence with a cheerful hello and a smile. This would make you feel good, that you are a part of the organisation and that the leader knows you and respects you. This can be done even if the leader does not know you personally. After all, when the layers of corporate culture are stripped away, are we not at a fundamental level – all human beings? And do we not as humans, crave mutual respect?

#2        Politeness is his forte

Another singular trait that seems very old school in today’s super connected, real time world is the habit of being polite. But is being polite mutually exclusive with being a great leader? I believe that the opposite is true and essential. How can someone who is impolite and rude be recognised as a great leader? A true leader recognises that politeness is acknowledging the human being facing you in the one on one meeting. She understands that politeness costs nothing, yet it is the hallmark of an evolved leader.

A polite leader is one who would speak to you in a professional yet gentle manner. She would enquire about your well being and be genuinely interested in you. A leader who is polite is acknowledging your presence again at a fundamental level – you as a person and an individual and not concerned whether you are a General Manager or a peon.

Politeness also extends to the simple courtesy of acknowledging emails and phone calls. A senior leader who responds promptly to an email enquiry, that you sent out with butterflies in your stomach, is displaying a keen sense of politeness and empathy. Responding to the electronic communication is again not mandatory but shows maturity and class from a senior leader whose behaviour is often looked upon as an example to be followed.

# 3       Positivity is the hallmark of a great leader

A true leader exudes positive vibes. I am not referring to global icons, whose behaviour and mannerisms are already in the public domain, but to the few shining examples that I have been fortunate enough to interact with, in my career.

A good leader is one who has a positive outlook towards life and the workspace. For him nothing is too depressing or unworkable. As managers, we often tend to look at the gloomy side of things, at the constraints that we face and the challenges that loom like huge boulders on a turbulent sea shore. The leader remains cheerful in the face of all challenges and his optimism and energy rub off on you. He remains energetic and active and you soon realise that things can’t be all that bad and that the rough spots would even out soon.

# 4       True Leaders are responsive

A truly effective leader is responsive to your needs. This applies to her behaviour at the minutest level. From responding to a text message that you send to picking up that phone call, a good leader acknowledges your request and reverts, even if it’s to tell you that she is busy for the day and will call back later in the evening.

Being responsive as a leader is further accentuated when the leader hears your proposal and agrees with the same, even if it disrupts the organisation flow in the short term. I remember my enthusiasm, when having secured migration rights to Canada, I was all charged up and met with my Operations Head to ask for extended leave. He didn’t have to agree to that and in fact could have denied my request at face value, since this would have caused the company short term inconvenience to him and his managers. Rather, he adopted a very responsive and flexible stand and allowed me to explore the new frontiers that were open to me at that time in my life.

#5        A great leader is constantly sharing her life lessons 

An astute leader is one who is well versed with coaching her team members. A team is an assortment of individuals and as such they all come from varied backgrounds and with a rainbow of differences in opinion and approach. A good leader understands this and engages in coaching his team on an individual, one on one basis. A person in need of direction in his career or a young lady looking to tie the knot while at the ascendant in her profession, both call for a high degree of empathy and an underlying approach of coaching from the boss.

A true leader is one who readily dispenses with his or her wisdom and guides the team member to taking an informed decision.

In conclusion, the litmus test of a true leader is not that she commands respect or is the most competent person in the organisation. Rather, a strong and effective leader is one who is respectful of his team members and is polite and responsive to the varied needs of his team members.

A true leader strives to maintain a personal connect with each individual, and in doing so reinforces the basic truth that we are all flawed human beings, striving to make a living. She is also keenly appreciative of the fact that all individuals seek mutual respect, recognition and understanding while growing in their careers just as much as they need these in their personal lives.

It is in imbibing and practicing these traits that we too can hone our people skills and aim to become competent leaders.