Find your inspiration closer home!


Do that. That’s where you should go looking to find some true inspiration; inspiration you can touch, feel and that will build with time and show you the path to tread on.

Shooting for the stars and reaching for the moon is what ambition is all about and that’s what we have been taught from day one. But, what about the journey from your “Now!” to get to that moon? How do you learn about the path to take, the incremental steps that get you there, the defeats you need to face before you arrive?

Defacto, attention is drawn to stalwarts of our time and times before. Gandhi, Edison and such famed personalities are pointed to as historical figures to emulate from. Go ahead and learn about them. They lived in a different time and did different things that influenced the course of our past and present. However, it’s difficult to find a constant in the realm of inspiration from them. The more recent personalities such as Steve Jobs of Apple and Dr. Abdul Kalam, the missile man of India also provide inspiration. Mostly, it is inspiration that points to aspirations to reach their heights. All of these people have a place and time in our own lives to learn from, no doubt about that. But, it’s the aspiration of their heights that is the driver more than anything else. And, we all know that there was one Steve Jobs or one Gandhi.

Everyone of us and our own lives are unique. What you do or will do is unique and it’s for you to chart your individual path while drawing inspiration and lessons from far and near as you chisel your own destiny. Mind you, none of the personalities we look up to, set off to say that one day I will make my mark and influence the world. They all set out to do what they personally wanted to achieve, in many a case not knowing when or how they will pave their path, leave alone where they would end up. They started for themselves and soon, many others found a unity in purpose with them, which made them out to be the personalities they are today.

Look for your inspiration closer home. It doesn’t always have to be a towering personality you need to look up to. My kid’s bus driver who makes it on time early in the morning every day, to pick them up and drive them to school safely, inspires me. I am inspired by the teacher who has an extra-curricular activity planned for the kids an hour before the school starts and holds the door open for them to come in even before the sun breaks out. The dad or mom who goes out to win bread for the family against all odds, no matter what, inspires me. Parents who multi-task to provide for a family yet, pursue meaningful careers and hobbies inspire me. Some venture to take on and tackle challenges of the world.

Look around you and find inspiration from those you interact with everyday. Learn from them as well as influence them with what is good in you. This keeps the flow of inspiration fluid and constant. Then, continue to build your aspirations, look to learn from the experiences of towering personalities and tweak your own agenda and actions to get to where you want to be. Following in someone’s footsteps is one thing, but the current times provide you the opportunity to tread and create your own paths and go, discover unchartered territories.

Get inspired, aspire and accomplish!

The Paradox of Expectations


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“Work hard, you’ll succeed and be prosperous.” What if you do not?

“Study well, get straight A’s; you will land a great job and have a successful career.” What if you do not?

“Follow your passion and you will find success.” What if you do not?

These are ingrained expectations and notions that we grew up with and we continue to pass it along to our children. How sure are we of these? Did your life turn out the way you expected? Did these assumptions work to your expectations? Did you not hit a wall, feel around and find your own way? If not, you are a rare anomaly and I would like to hear your story.

The truth of the matter is that everyone seeks security, shuns insecurity. We all need a great paying job, a nice house to live in, a well fed family, kids in good schools preparing to live the secure life similar to what we wanted, if possible, better.

There are expectations and guarantees needed. If I do this, I need to be assured that. Not just assured, I deserve that! Anything that takes this plan off course causes pain, frustration and doubts. Where does the issue lie?

It lies in setting expectations and seeking guarantees. Is having an expectation wrong? Not at all. Aspirations are good for progress. Have them; imbibe them in your kids. But, leave the path to be traversed open to freedom. Show the path, don’t give guarantees. Show examples of doing what begets what but don’t make promises that you do not have control over.

Freedom to think, act and achieve should be left to the aspirant, the doer. Freedom is costly, comes with the promise of facing fear, risk and failure. But, it also provides the excitement of doing something phenomenal and reaching goals that are new, exciting and further lay the road for the next adventure. The excitement of the unknown, the tension of seeking it out is what living fully is all about.

Do not embrace of preach complacency, don’t draw boundaries with expectations based on performance. With expectations, come disappointments upon not meeting them and as a result, de-motivation. As a result, with the lack of further pursuit, you only fail once.

Leave it as open as the wild, wild, west with no promises of what’s out there. Just know that you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime and you might walk away with the treasure. Well, if it doesn’t happen the first time, you now have lessons learned to keep going forward and those lessons applied, pave a different path taking you on a new adventure, with newer rewards in sight. With a failure behind, there is nowhere to go but forward, for success beyond, eventually to seek out that success.

Seek freedom, pursue freedom, attain freedom for what its worth.

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Who do you work for?


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When asked the question, some of the common answers are – myself, my family & my company. There are those that refuse to acknowledge they are working for anyone, be it a person or an organization and use the word “with”, I work “with” xyz. Semantics, I guess. And then, there are those that state they work for their boss.

We all work to provide for our dependents and ourselves. The question is not what do you work for, but who.

If you are an entrepreneur and pride yourself in working for yourself, there is some truth to that, but ultimately, the superior power that determines your actions lies with your customers, suppliers & investors. They can dictate the terms of your work. If you work for an organization, ideally your work and its attributes should be focused at fulfilling your organization’s obligations toward its customers and shareholders. Each of us that works in the corporate world falls somewhere on an organizational ladder with a “boss” that we report into. The boss has the power to determine your paycheck, your upward mobility within the organization and responsibilities you’ll handle. Some bosses are company focused which means your expectations fall in line as well. In such situations, there is more transparency built-in between levels i.e. employee reach extends beyond the immediate boss and through a couple of levels above. This is healthy as hierarchical stress is not as much and opportunities open up for those truly talented and doing the right thing. Others are self-serving and that’s when conflict may arise. That’s when one may end up working for a boss. Corporate politics can dictate where ones’ loyalties lie. Much depends on the employee-boss relationship & the personalities involved therein. Many employees are in the process of pleasing their bosses than in the actual performance of their job to meet the objectives they signed up for. And, these employees cannot be blamed altogether for it since they are acting in defense of their position and in many a case, they themselves are the only defense they may have.

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There have been arguments that state flat organizational structures may be the answer to curb such influences, where employees work in teams and natural leaders emerge as a part of the execution strategy. The emphasis is on actually getting things done to meet common objectives sans a hierarchy within the organization. Well, it may work to an extent in smaller organizations but flat structures are not scalable for growth. As organizations grow, flexibility & controls need to be established using the hierarchy model. And, in every mid to large organization, there are numerous rungs on the corporate ladders. Then, what is the optimal strategy for ensuring that the focus of every employee is truly on corporate goals and not hijacked by personal corporate politics? A strong HR policy propagated by a strong HR team with the support of top management can achieve this to an extent but in a complex business environment, it is difficult to altogether do away with it. Again, having an HR team that functions independently is a difficult thing to achieve in an organization. The HR team too falls on the corporate ladder. There will always be employees serving bosses for various reasons. Although, not completely healthy, this is a true fact in the corporate world and should be managed to optimize it.

When faced with such a predicament, employees who find it detrimental to their principles & career might look for other opportunities so as not to sacrifice their potential & aspirations catering to the whims of an overbearing, self-serving boss. There are also employees who do the boss’s bidding and focus on keeping the boss happy in order to safeguard their jobs. In both cases, it’s detrimental to the corporation, whether through the loss of productive employees for the wrong reasons or by having unproductive employees stay just managing their supervisors. But, at the same time, such bosses are a more serious predicament since their influence and its effect tends to be on a larger scale. It’s the prerogative of every organization to take this issue seriously and work through its channels to monitor and minimize such situations, if not totally eradicate them to ensure optimal productivity of the employee base. Much of it comes from encouraging true transparency throughout the organization irrespective of reporting relationships. And such transparency can be propagated through frequent top-down-top communication, more objective 360 degree performance appraisals, employee reviews as well as supervisor reviews, career pathing, ensuring employees with the right skills are not in wrong jobs etc.

That’s a starter list of ways to nurture healthy employee-work dynamics within organizations. I look forward to see you add to it.

What does success mean to you?


Yesterday, I called an old friend in India. His 6 year old son picked up the phone and we chatted for a few minutes. The kid was animated about an event at home from a few days ago and started relating it to me. His grandpa was felicitated by a group of people who came from different places. I asked him who they were and what did they felicitate him for. He replied that they were a group of 60, some seemed young and some older and they had come from different places in India. Some were from abroad too. They came together to honor his grandpa, their teacher from years ago. The little one was thrilled to see the happy crowd and a happier grandpa. My friend took the phone next, had an equally excited tone and talked about how thrilled everyone was to come together and honor his father! Sept. 5th was teacher’s day in India and these students of his dad from over the years, took the time to come over and meet his father and the family; reminisce about times they had spent together and thank him for shaping their lives. By the time, I let go of the line, I was excited too!

Isn’t it amazing? These erstwhile students made an effort to get together, meet and greet their teacher and show their gratitude. He must have been a wonderful teacher to have left such an indelible mark on these students that they came looking for him. I consider him a very successful teacher.

Success means many things to many people. What does it mean to you? Revenue, profits, bank balance, power, position, a luxurious lifestyle, large cars, bigger homes, etc.

When you really look at the core of any job done; there are two things that matter. At the point in time, do you enjoy what you do and are you giving it your best? Your ultimate goal might be to become a CEO and run your own company or more generically, is at the pinnacle of your career, but you may not be there yet. Right now, this moment, there is a job you do and you are responsible and accountable for it. Do you take that seriously? If you do, you ought to give it your best. Your best will translate into the best possible results on the job no matter how they are measured. With this affable demeanor, you will make associations that take note and these combined with the results you show pave the path to your dreams. Going back to the two things I mentioned, they are enjoying what you do so you can give it your best. That itself is true success! Everything else is an outcome.

The emoluments of a job and the perks that come along with it are outcomes, not success. Success lies in the relationships you make along the way, the lives that you impact and improve, the lessons you learn and impart, inspiration you provide and the respect you command. What one would consider as success in terms of material wealth or better lifestyle are all outcomes of the success you cherish.

Outcomes, as we discussed are natural results of a job well done. Is it a crime to aspire for outcomes? Not at all, but when you focus only on outcomes instead of enjoying what you do and giving it your best, the success measures get compromised and it all remains just that, aspiration and never a reality.

True success is in the relationships you build and maintain over time. There is an old saying that inspires us to count our blessings in the friends and supporters we have. Look for success in your friendships, camaraderie and in a job well done. Trust me, all else that shapes a happy and fulfilled life must and will follow through.

Exit Route – Exercise Your Choice!


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John is on his way to the office one morning. He gets on the 3 lane interstate. In another 2 miles, he would need to take the exit toward his office. He notices that the right most lane is cordoned off a long way since there is some construction activity in progress in that section of the interstate. The other 2 lanes to the left seem congested with all the out flowing traffic. The inner lane is moving slow while the outer lane is somewhat fluid.

If you were John, what would you do?

Since its only 2 miles to your exit, you could stick to the inner lane and drift with the traffic until you reach your exit. Between your exit and where you currently are is an intermediate exit that has incoming traffic flowing onto the interstate which could be reason for further congestion and slow moving traffic. It might take a little longer, not sure how long, but you will get to your exit eventually. Perhaps, the safest option in this congested state.

Another option is to watch for an opportunity and get on the outer lane which has traffic moving a bit more fluidly. You would need to be alert and cautious as you move through this lane and eventually shift to the right lane when you get closer to your exit. You need to be watchful of finding that opportunity and space between the trail of vehicles on your right in time, to not move over too soon to get stuck in the slow moving lane and not too late to miss your exit. At the same time, you need to be careful of not causing an accident in this already congested traffic.

Why am I going through this; about something as simple as driving on an interstate which we tend to do subconsciously everyday.

This simple task translates into something as profound as managing your career or even your entrepreneurial venture! It’s amazing how closely our day to day lives reflect lessons that can be applied to our actions in canvases larger than us.

In everything you do, whether being on the job and seeking to be successful at it or pursuing success in a project taken up or an enterprise you set up, risk in an integral part. What determines the level of your success is the amount of risk you take and come away managing it skillfully.

In the example given above, John has the less risky option of just being in the inner lane and following the traffic to reach his exit while he watches to maintain his distance between the vehicles in the front and back, but the pace of movement is totally dependent on the traffic in that lane. John has no control on that pace. If the traffic sits for an hour before he inches towards his exit, that is what it is.

On the other end, he takes a risk by getting into the outer lane. While he has to watch out for the vehicles in the front and rear as he maintains his position and moves along, he also needs to be watchful of the traffic in his right lane to judge where he is in relation to his oncoming exit. He needs to make the correct judgment about moving into the traffic in the right lane. Entering too soon or too late would defeat his purpose.

Although, there is a little risk and the need for being more alert in the second option, it would be the ideal one for John if his goal is to reach his exit sooner than later. The time saved by not being stuck in the traffic might be well worth it, but needs some quick decisions and deft execution by John to make it possible.

Of course, there are unknown risks, one of which is an accident upfront, which could slow down the outer lane too. In such cases, John would need to look for other options or go with the one that works best in the situation.

Similarly, in our lives and in everything that we do in our careers as employees or as entrepreneurs, there are options. You need to determine what the end goal is and based on that, make assessment of what path to choose to get there. Risk is inevitable in every thing you do. You can take the risk averse option but, be prepared to not be in control and do not expect much to happen or you can decide to take a calculated risk which with some ingenuity and exertion on your part can ensure you great success!

What kind of a person are you? The one who takes the inner lane and lets the traffic determine when you reach your exit or the one who gets on the adventure of the outer lane and makes it happen while pulsating with the excitement of controlling your journey to the exit!

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