Maintaining Friendship

How many friends do you have right now? Is your lifestyle and job conducive to friendship.

As I look back, I find myself getting more and more alienated from all my friends. Having lived in different countries across continents and being in a very highly demanding job, I have found it difficult to maintain continuity with any friend. This was more because of my neglect than anything else.

In this crazy, high speed, multi-tasking, low attention span world, it is becoming more and more difficult to get good friends. What I have learnt is, that it is not only difficult to get good friends, but also to keep them. Friendship requires a lot of investment of time and attention.

I have decided today to revive my friendship with several of my old friends. With cell phones and internet shrinking the globe, there is no excuse for me, not to be in touch with my friends.

What about you? What are you waiting for? Make that call to a friend you have not spoken for in years.

I have a list of friends and I am going to call them.

Leadership must be earned

In every team you will find people who want to be leaders. However, very few people realize that leadership should be earned.

Few months back, I assigned few mini projects across my team members. Each mini project had a leader and a few team members, who will help the leader to complete the mini project. There were few projects, where the leader of one project was also a team member of another.

The results were very interesting:

There were few leaders who did a great job, while there were others who miserably failed. There was this one leader, who wanted to relinquish his leadership, as very few team members cooperated with him. He just couldn't move forward.

The lesson learnt out of this exercise were the following:
  1. Leaders who failed, were invariably, poor team members, who did not cooperate in other leader's projects.
  2. Leaders who failed were found to have a common trait-arrogance.
  3. Leaders who did not make it, were the ones who had relationship issues and were not liked by many of the team members.


Leadership must be earned. Even if you are the appointed leader, you need to build trust for you amongst the team members. You may have all the authority in the world and fail to be a leader, while someone else may have no authority at all but may be the the unspoken, unnamed, and undisputed leader.

There are times, when we make the same mistake again and again. We wonder, why we falter despite our resolve never to get into that mess again.

Every mistakes we do spring from a web of dysfunctional habits. For example- not claiming the expenses of shipping your household stuff even after months of relocation because you lost the cargo invoice. Why did you lose the cargo invoice? It is because you are disorganized. Why are you disorganized, even though you have read a lot of books about organizing things? It is because you procrastinate. Why do you procrastinate?---.

Hence if you want to prevent a mistake, you may need to take action in multiple areas, not just resolve never to do that mistake again.

A complete post critique of what went wrong and which habits contributed to the mistake will be the first thing to do.

Based on the post critique, you need to develop an action plan to prevent the mistake once and for all. Please remember, you may need to look beyond yourself too, because the dysfunctional habits that contributed to the mistake may not lie with you alone.

I think the best person to start with is yourself.

In my experience, I have always hit "pay dirt" when I started with myself.
How much deep do you dive with respect to information? Do you collect information only to get by or do you make a full study?

There are many things in life that require deeper study and understanding. Many of us short cut the process. While it is not possible to know everything about everything, it is important to know everything about few of the things that are important in life. Let me give some examples:

Things you use daily-cellphone, digital assistant, home theatre, credit card, your bank and it's services, your DVD player---.

More examples-your companies incentive policy, your country's tax laws, health and fitness,---. The list can go on.

Many of us know a lot about few things. It is important to take stock. We need to ask this question frequently-What are the stuff in my life that needs complete or near complete information which if I have will give me a quantum leap in tapping its benefits?

It will be a good idea to develop a list. You may be surprised at the lack of your knowledge in specific areas and how it is impacting you.
Anything too much, for too long a time, is tiring, this is what I discovered today. It is so easy to have too much of the same thing for too long a time.

Too much work and no vacation. Too much study and no play. Too much play with no serious goal seeking activity. Too much stress with no relaxation. Too much silence with no meaningful conversations. Too much email with no meaningful work done. Too much of stimilui and no quiet time. The list can go on and on.

We take these excesses for granted, but life is about balance. The ill effects of such imbalances soon begin to take toll on our health, our wealth, our relationships,---.

For most of us, the danger is, we are not even aware, before it is too late.

The solution that comes to my mind is to take stock of these imbalances in one's life and begin to correct them. One imbalance at a time.

I will report back after a few posts on this important aspect of life.

How about you? Are you ready to take a similar stock of the imbalances in your life?
How do you know that you are in the right job? How do know you have chosen the right career for yourself? I have changed careers and enjoyed the process of relearning and doing things that excites me. However, if you ask me, whether I am tapping all my talents and potential, I would answer with a big "NO.".

I feel I have not explored, sufficiently. I can blame it on my teachers and my education, but I know, that will be a cowardly act.

May be I could have become a great painter or an archaeologist, or a tailor, or a sailor---.

The point I am driving at is, unless we explore, we will never get out of our blind spot. You may be a good CEO, but you could have become the world's greatest author.

I think the good news is we always have a choice to try different things. May be we will, suddenly, come to focus on some hidden talent that will take us to the stars status.

The key is the courage to try. The courage to choose.

You always have a choice.
How do you tell a subordinate to go? I told him to search for another job. I had tell him firmly, while being professional. Iron hand in velvet glove.

This was after all attempts to coach and mentor him and he showed no sign of improvement. I had an option to fire him, but chose the option to ask him to search for another job.

It is important as a leader to take tough decisions while being compassionate.

Step by step: Coach and mentor-Ask him to seach for another job-Ask him to resign-Fire him.

The decision depends on the situation and the person involved. Sometimes there is no other option other than firing immediately and sometimes you need to take a longer route.

What do you think?
This is the time of the year for new year resolutions. I made one on the christmas day itself. I soon found that I had already defaulted by the end of the day.

Unless we carefully plan how we are going to implement the resolution, it will usually fail. This is, specially, true for any resolution that affects lifestyle change-exercising, meditation, spending more time with the family, etc.

Following things needs to be done:

  1. Remind yourself of the resolution constantly
  2. Plan how you are going to implement it daily
  3. Identify your habits that may be barriers to the new resolutions
  4. Have a plan to overcome those barriers-renegotiation with yourself may be needed
  5. Do a post-critique everyday on how you are faring with respect to the new year resolution
  6. Take corrective measures immediately
  7. Do not be a perfectionist-few slip ups are OK. Don't give up because of the slip ups.
  8. Allow a months time for the new habit to set in
  9. Expect resistance and disinterest in you initially. It is normal to have resistance.
  10. Allow time before the fun begins.
  11. Enjoy the fun and the feel good when it occurs. Nurture the fun and talk about it to others
  12. Take the support of others to help you to build this new habit

I am going to try these out. In case you want to try them, please do so. If you are trying these please do share it with me. Your success story will definitely inspire me.

A person ,whom we know closely, refused to send his daughter to a Christmas party. The reason he gave us was, that, his daughter felt the people who hosted the party were rich and were getting differential treatment (Her uncle-father's brother- and family had stayed with the "rich folks" instead of coming to their house, directly, few weeks back.).

How do parents tell their children the difference in their economic status compared to their relatives and friends?

I feel this was a golden opportunity, that, this father missed. They were not poor. They were well of themselves. I think all of us will be relatively poor compared to some other person. Unless, of course, you are the world's richest man. Even if you are, still, you may be dethroned some day or the other.

Children should be taught that their self-esteem is independent of anything else. Their self-worth is a given, because they are unique and have the potential capacity to contribute in unique ways. Moreover, people who get differential treatment need not necessarily be bad themselves. These "rich folks" in question are very nice folks. It is also important to teach children not to differentiate people based on status, wealth, etc.

This incident reveals another very important point. Every parent needs to process the events, positive and negative, openly, with their children. They should not leave it to the child to process it on her/his own. This is one of the best ways to inculcate sound values.

However, to do this there needs to be a lot of internal work and thinking through by parents themselves, in addition to developing a shared set of sound core values.

What do you think?
I got a call from a long lost relative. I use to hate him right from childhood, purely because he was self-centered and selfish. He treated my parents with disrespect and never took responsiblity of his near and dear ones. He always shirked his responsibility and my parents had to offer support and fill the gap.

My mother used to advice me to forget and forgive. Somehow, I could never do it.

He called today for his needs. I found myself talking to him with respect and compassion. I felt good having talked to him. I also felt strange. Where is my anger and hatred?

Did I forgive him because I forgot? I spoke to him after 25 years. I don't know.

May be time erases everything. May be I followed my mother's advice. I don't know, but I do know that it felt far, far better than nurturing the hatred and anger.

I think we need to be compassionate and forgive others totally and let time do its work of erasing the hurt. If you forgive time may erase it quicker.

What do you think?
What do you do when all your attempts to correct a subordinate fails? You have given him sufficient time and now you have to take a decision and ask him to resign.

What will you further do, when he suddenly, also begins to exhibit disloyalty? There are times when you have to be ruthless as a leader. If you are not ruthless, it will confuse your other team members working for you.

During these times, you also need to communicate about this wayward team member to the others in your team. If you do not communicate, the only message they may get will be from that wayward employee. What he will tell about you and the situation will not be the one corresponding to reality.
A basket of apples is good one apple at a time. It is said, that even one spoilt apple can gradually spoil all other apples.

This true for us, humans, too. The only difference is, we have a choice not to get spoilt, eventhough, many of us are not even aware of such a choice. To take this observation further, we not only have a choice not to get spoilt, we also have a choice to "change the spoilt apple" to speak metaphorically.

Alas! Many of us are not even aware of this important truth and even if we are aware, many of us do not act based on this truth. We give into group norms.

You always have a choice!!!
Today, my daughter narrated to me something that happened in her college. They ridiculed her for buying or taking a stand to buy only original software, music, movies, books etc. She said, "Dad! Our family is a minority in the context of being very ethical and value based in buying only original versions of anything.".

As a family principle, we have always bought only original stuff and refused, completly, to buy or download, any pirated version of anything. This has been our way of life.

It is important for families to think through deeply and act on wholesome values that are based on eternal principles of honesty and integrity. As we scanned our families and friends list in the context of their stand on piracy, it was sad to note, that many of them bought pirated versions of music/movies or downloaded them. We found one family that bought only original stuff, but when we analyzed a little deeper, it was more, because they considered themselves well off and to buy any pirated version was below their status, rather than they being aligned to any well thought out principle of honesty and integrity.

This small conversation threw light on following points:

  1. You cannot be dishonest in one department in life and be honest in other areas.
  2. The best way to teach children is to role model and be the principle you want to teach them.
  3. Rolemodeling of wholesome principles will hardwire them in your children, in such a manner, that these principles will guide them to decide and to act in honest ways, even when the peer pressure and other forces try to tempt them to act in the dishonest manner.

I am sure there are lots of families like us. My daughter told our family is a minority based on her experience in her small teenage universe.

What do you think? Are honest people and families a minority in todays world? I hope not.

The more you pamper your children with love and kindness, the more you build their trust in you. This gives you the freedom to be stern and firm when it is required.

It is important they have a paradigm that they are valued and loved. Without such a paradigm and foundation of trust no critique can get through.
It is important to ask "what if?" question and break the routines that get set in our lives. For the pasr few months we were visiting a Mall frequently, however, yesterday we went to a different mall far away from where we live. We could make totally different kinds of purchases.

It is important you ask the "what if?" question to different areas of your life periodically. What if I go after this new career? What if we go to this new vacation plave? What if I start this new hobby? ---.

What do you think? When was the last time you asked the "What if?" question? For many of us it will be way back in time. Try it!