When learning is ineffective


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Being a student for life is considered a virtue and a skill that is highly sought.

Having an everlasting thirst for knowledge and the will to learn and absorb is indeed wonderful.

No amount of learning or unlearning is useful to anyone unless you do one of two things; share the knowledge you gain so others may benefit from it and/or act on what you learn. Use the knowledge you gain to benefit from it. Apply it to improve your own life and the lives of those around you. If you do not do one of these two things, no matter what and how much you learn, is a sheer waste of time and energy. You might not think so since you are the one who has learnt something and perhaps, enjoyed learning it but, without application, that learning is not fulfilled.

Whatever is learnt has to be applied, not just because I am saying so but for in order to further the learning as well. Unless applied, what is taught and learned doesn’t evolve on its journey to its ultimate culmination. Of course, you might argue that there is no end point for anything that is coachable or can be learnt. Perhaps, how ever it can always be on a progressive journey and what we can do as the seekers of knowledge is accelerate that journey through application. And, in the process, benefit from such along its evolution.

Be curious and inquisitive, seek knowledge, apply and share for that is the essence of our time and our lives here.

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It takes a village to raise a child!


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It takes a village to raise a child, they say.

Whether on a job, running a business, when in school or even when raising a family, any pursuit demands constant self-analysis in comparison to the environment around to assess where and how you fit in, to make the most effective impact on what you have set out to do. I have come across many that pay more attention to what they do not know or aren’t the best at than what they do and rock at.

For instance, those with strong technical skills question the business acumen they possess while those with a strong business background, question their technical knowledge. Financial whiz’s’ are uneasy with specific business domain knowledge they work in. Operations stalwarts tone down when it comes to business development.

This is something that I have seen to be very dominant in our times. Being aware of your shortcomings is wise and essential. But, to fret over it is not. Not everyone can be a star at everything they do. What is important is that they make an effort to know about things the best they possibly can so they are, in the least informed, when it comes to understanding how that fits in the big picture and this gives them the ability to make good decisions, many a time in their own work realm.

When you know your preferences, likes and strengths, focus on being the best at them. Do not worry about the rest. In fact, find the best possible help you can get on things that you are not very good at. It’s smart to surround yourself with people who are better than you so that you have that part of what you want to do covered. Now, you can focus on what you are excel at and trust others to focus on what they are good at so, all around, you come out successful. Remember, everything in life is a team effort; no one person did it all!

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Reinventing Yourself!


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They say, you grow when you learn. Give up learning and you have stalled. There are many who deem that their learning days are behind them and that they can fare relatively well in life, using the skills they have learnt so far. Nothing wrong with that except that nowadays no such luxury exists to say that you will get through your earning years on skills you acquired years ago.

Ever evolving technology has sped up the way we have known organizational structures, roles and responsibilities and they, tend to evolve as well. It’s not changes occurring over decades or even years that I am talking about. Now, it’s down to months and days. Keeping abreast of what’s trending in your line of work is the only thing that allows you to survive and be viable, much less excel.

Let’s look at this through another lens that is more personal to you than just the environment around you. You are best served when you are intensely curious, have a sense of wonderment and in the true sense of the word, enjoy what you do. For some of us, our ambition and end goals are crystal clear early on. For others, it takes a little bit of soul-searching, a bit of trial and error before we figure out what we actually aspire to do. For yet others, they simply have no idea and end up doing something and then, learn to accept it. Better yet, they should learn to fall in love with what they are bestowed with and that love opens the door for their aspiration to get better at what they do; not just get better, in fact excel.

But, life is not just about doing what you do best. It’s also about seeking to discover qualities in you that you never knew you had. On your journey to discover the best in you at what you do, you tend to discover a lot more about you. Pursue what you learn about yourself and that will lead to greater opportunities and more than that, a sense of fulfillment and pride for what you are, who you are. And these qualities, when revealed, help open a plethora of opportunities for you to pursue which you had never imagined were available to you and in fact, you are absolutely capable of their pursuit and achievement. That, my friends, is reinventing yourself.

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In Pursuit of “You”


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It is said that as you hit middle age, you start to come to terms with yourself. Well, in some cases, I believe you struggle to do that. However, I have seen that most people start looking back and introspect to find themselves, their purpose, start to analyze if they are on the path to what they have always wanted to do. If not, they make plans to adopt the path they are on. Overall, everyone looks to make peace with his or her existence.

There are a lucky few, who get to do this much earlier in life. They are blessed. Blessed, because, this sets them on the path early on where they set out to do what they really wanted to. For most, the realization itself takes time.

The first ten years of life pass in playful abandon, blissfully ignorant of a higher purpose in life. The second decade brings along with it, the pressure of growing up. We set out on a path that we have grown to recognize during the first decade of our life; a path traversed by our parents, relations and other elders we see growing up. We are unsure; if this is our calling, yet trudge along on what is in front of us. The third decade brings with it the responsibilities of life: work, relationships, marriage, kids and all that raising a family entails. There is hardly time for anything else. Toward the fag end of this part comes the retrospection and introspection I talked about initially.

Better late than never, you correct course and proceed.

Life is actually very simple, yet we make it so complex for ourselves as we pass through it. Part of it is due to the continuous influx of all that life has to offer and the rapid pace at which we pass through it, that we never get a chance to catch a breath and look at it from an external vantage point. And, part of it is due to the fact that we have never known it any other way. Of course, there are those lucky few who catch a break early on and are thrown on the right track to begin with.

Life’s simplicity lies in not taking it seriously and just knowing that, you need to take it one step at a time, living in the present. Its like when you learn to walk, take one step at a time. Put your first foot forward firmly, and then lift your second foot to put it in front of your first. Once you do that, repeat the process.

At whatever juncture of your life you are at now, just remember this and follow through. You will be happy and fulfilled. Do not overthink or over do, just focus on what is in front of you and do it with utmost sincerity. Although the future may seem uncertain, as long as you are in control of your steps, the path you seek will reveal itself, guaranteed.

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What if you always received so much more than you expected?


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What if you always received so much more than you expected? Saw an ad on TV at the airport today for some hotel chain that said this.

What if you did? Well, I think it would be exciting for a while to be surprised, but soon that would turn into an expectation. That is where it generally stops but shouldn’t. With such expectation should come greater responsibility, to raise the bar on expectations, to think beyond what is normal at that point in time and to look forward to more surprises that build on the last one. Isn’t faster, better, cheaper what the world is driving toward every single moment.

Now, let’s review the other side of the coin; giving more than what is expected. What if you give more than is expected of you? Give more to your work, your colleagues, your partners, your clients, your family, your pets & yourself. What if you extend yourself a bit more, to give more of yourself, to surprise those expecting from you. Isn’t that possible? Of course, it is. You just need to make up your mind and put conscious effort initially, and before you know, it will become a habit; more so second nature due to the thrill you experience in surprising others, not to mention yourself. Now that the bar has risen, you cannot go back to your old self since that is no longer relevant in view of current expectations. The new “you” is the normal now. And as the new “you” is what those around you are accustomed to, time to raise the bar & share surprises all over. All this is very much possible and puts you on the path of constant improvement & growth, both on your professional and personal fronts. What’s in it for you? You come out stronger & more enriched, enriching the lives of those around you and when you look back at where you started, that will be a distant memory, right at the beginning of a sweet, successful & fulfilling life.

And what did you have to do to make this happen; a conscious decision to surprise those around you by exerting a little bit more than they would expect of you.

Think about it, will you?

Is Your Work-Life Flexibility Debatable?


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A few days ago, Yahoo! took the decision to summon all of its associates in-house, to work from one of their offices. It scrapped the remote work option citing that the most creative of ideas birthed from water-cooler conversations or rather, face to face interactions at work. Now, that’s their vision of extracting productivity and unique to their situation as a company. And here, we have the world debating the pros and cons of remote workforces!

Those of you who read recent articles about this step that Yahoo! took might have found it very clear that it is pertinent to their particular situation. When you have associates that are not accountable, don’t even VPN in regularly, what do you do? No wonder that with such a dispassionate workforce, the management had to get to the stick rule when the carrot of free lunches and free gadgets didn’t work. If you know that your kids are slacking and not doing their homework as they should, what do you do? You ensure there is a set time to complete the homework and sit with the kids until they learn to acknowledge the practice.

One company’s situation doesn’t categorize working from home as a boon or a bane. Remote work, when not abused is an absolute boon as it helps uphold associates’ work-life flexibility. This flexibility in turn, ensures reduced stress levels for the associates who work in their own environs and in fact, also helps improve productivity for engaged employees. Is remote working suitable for all employees? Not really since one needs to be a self-starter and have an immense sense of accountability and responsibility to be successful in a remote situation. Again, a change in scene also helps when the employees want to get into an office once in a while for that personal interaction they might crave for in an office setting.

In today’s environment where work extends beyond its stipulated time and associates seek the flexibility to work through their regimen and have to shuffle between life and work, it is a great tool that helps keep that balance, yet ensures that the time spent on work is of a quality nature and associates are fulfilled while delivering their best work.

Case in point, one company’s situation and a corresponding decision to bring back the workforce in-house doesn’t mar the practice altogether as there are other examples out there who have leveraged the remote workforce model to save millions in infrastructure & logistics costs and continue to do so year over year while benefiting from a self-reliant, self-motivated & highly productive workforce. Some simple and immediate benefits include not having to depend on local talent and able to tap into the best of talent across the country and internationally as well, no relocation expenses, lower training costs by deploying on-line training, etc. Managing a remote workforce comes with its own challenges but the benefits outweigh the challenges. Of course, again; not all jobs are suited for this model. But, where possible, leveraging the practice is beneficial and trends show that this is on the growth path among U.S. organizations.

In fact, I know of a management consulting firm that was started using a remote model and till date continues without an office where the workforce is entirely distributed. The organization has a mailing address for a head office, some space to store secure and sensitive documents, conferences and client meetings are either virtual or at rented out conference rooms at one of the several business centers. The company concentrates on its core capabilities while all the functions of running the company such as payroll & legal are outsourced. Not saying that this is viable for every organization out there, but there are companies doing this and being highly successful with the model. Look up Brand Velocity to learn more.

What keeps you awake at night? Not an issue, I hope!


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What does your daily life comprise of?

A regular scheduled work week, chaperoning the kids to their after school activities, a family dinner night, a date night, drinks out with friends, some TV time, a weekend movie perhaps, so on and so forth.

But in between these regulars that we call “life”, is there anything else you do that actually excites you? Most people may find their calendars full and their strength & resolve exhausted just keeping up with the daily rigmarole. It may sound daunting but you can actually find rejuvenated energy by pursuing some exciting moments during your daily schedule that eventually will provide you with the excitement, the fuel and as a result renewed strength to refresh yourself and truly “live” unbounded. If you have heard the old adage of adding life to years and not years to your life, this is exactly what it is.

It could be gardening, golfing or spending time discovering the world with your loved ones. It could be doing service, reading, writing or singing and it could also be something totally unrelated to what you do daily. Perhaps a hobby,a project to the side or anything that piques your interest. Something, that takes your mind off your daily life, keeps you highly engrossed where you hardly notice the time spent and are not so much focused on results as you are in the act of pursuing it. And you do it, for the sheer joy of doing it. Some of us are lucky whose regular work is their passion too. For those pursuing an interest outside of your regular work, you will find renewed energy and zeal for your regular work as well resulting in better influence in that sphere. Not just your hobby or work, your life in general will be holistically vigourous.

Excitement, adrenalin pumping and pure joy are to be experienced. When I say that life is to be lived, this is exactly it, this rush of excitement is to be experienced and it only comes from your pursuing something for the pleasure of it. When work is not really work anymore, it is exciting, you want to pursue it further and this interest leads to your perfection and mastery in this pursuit of your choice. All of this sprouts from your interest in the pursuit and without you even knowing it, you excel in your choice. While you enjoy the pursuit, it further fetches you success unimaginable without your asking for it.

What is unique about us humans is that we are all wired so differently that we share a variety of interests. Imagine all of us pursuing our own excitement and as a result, we have every field flourishing due to the passion each one shares for their pursuits.

As I always say, seek & do things exciting enough to either give you a great night’s sleep or rob you of it, that’s when you know you are living!

Have your daily life themes planned for 2013?


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You wake up early, probably get some exercise, freshen up & get ready, have a quick bite and grab your coffee on the way out to work. Then, at the office, you spend an entire 8-10 hours tackling what you came for, work. Somewhere in between, you grab a bite for lunch and if you’re lucky, get a coffee during a break. You leave and on the way back, review the day’s proceedings in your head or perhaps, brood over that nasty meeting you endured that noon or mull over how to tackle that timeline problem or resource issue, take your pick. You make it home in the evening, acknowledge your family with a faint smile and go over to freshen up and change. Next, you grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage, park yourself in the couch and hit the TV remote. Your spouse wants to share their day and your kids cozy up to you and want to play with you or need you to help with their homework, but you hardly have the energy or the willingness to spend time away from relaxing. You may force yourself, once in a while to engage with the kids or the family in activities. Or you want to get down to completing the work at hand, personal or work related, that has been lagging behind.

Bored yet? Hey, this is the regular life of an average adult. Don’t you see yourself somewhere in there? Well, its regular, its average & it can be boring. That’s where you come in. How do you go about adding the zest into it? There’s not much you can do about how regular life is structured but you can slowly but surely make amends to its nature by consciously making changes. Resolve to change your day to day life for the better in 2013, conscious change for the better. What changes, you may ask?

Think and make a list. Then, follow through with the execution of that list. For example; spend time with your family & kids, get them involved in your life and you involve in theirs. This strengthens the bond between you and cultivates positivity in mutual involvement. Instead of spending time with the TV, play a game of chess or scrabble with the kids. If there is an activity you are inclined toward, perhaps there is something that the family can contribute to. Delegate to them, no matter how small and complete together. Togetherness is key here.

You don’t want to sacrifice your TV time? Find a time that works for all and watch a favorite show together. Make it a habit to have dinner around the table as a family and discuss the day or any topics of choice together. Communication is key here.

Have a hobby and encourage everyone in the family to have one. Pursue hobby time together. Variety is key here.

Just the way you plan your career and work toward it, plan your daily life and work it. Trust me, it’s as important, if not more as your career, for a healthy home life ensures you have a happy and successful life outside the home. Find the themes you want to pursue in your and the family’s daily life, set goals, milestones throughout the year; plan for togetherness, happiness & sharing; cheer for each other while building a great quality of life. Act consciously and track progress. You will be surprised at how much more time and variety you can find within the 24 hour day. Don’t let life fleet by at its own pace and will. Take Control. Well, what are you waiting for? Get started!

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After all, you create your own legacy


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I saw an interesting facebook post by a cousin the other day. He, being around 40, concluded that he might live for another 20, perhaps 30 years which he stated turn out to be roughly 10K days. He realized its time to have a plan in place and ensure none of these days are merely wasted. Now, that’s an interesting way to look at the future; 30 years vs. 10K days. Suddenly, things seem to fall into perspective, don’t they?

One of the secrets to a zestful life is having an aspiration and a strong determination to follow through, no matter what your age. It doesn’t necessarily have to be just one or something lofty. It may be numerous aspirations, which are perhaps simple pleasures in life. Some of you, my friends may prefer to call it the bucket list.

Once you aspire for something, to plan for it meticulously, executing on that plan while ensuring you aren’t deviating from your goal, impromptu decisions to tackle unforeseen obstacles and finally, achieving what you planned to accomplish have their own unique sweetness and sense of fulfillment that each must cherish.

Change in perspective only helps put us back on track where we might have indulged in inertia for too long. I believe that such incidents or differed views only help refocus on a track previously treaded on and perhaps you meandered away from. Although, such wake-up calls are necessary, one in pursuit of a burning aspiration should never need them. Constant focus is imperative but, being human does come in the way and that’s where they bring you back on track.

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While doing this, you will time and again come face to face with your persona, will be able to review and improve upon a better self, will cross your achievements and cherish that sense of fulfillment I related before.

Not just professionally, but aim to have these aspirations in your personal life as well.

Seek to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better brother or sister, a better friend, a better you.

After all, you create your own legacy.

A little self-restraint can save you some precious “Ahs” and “Ohs”!


                                           

One would think that one can be a free soul in certain scenarios; be yourself in the midst of your loved ones, primarily your family. Well, sure. But, every situation has its own rules and tenets. After all, we are humans. How did you ever think there would be a situation or scenario where all rules could just be blown away?

In any case, what we are discussing today is about self-restraint. Every person has a unique temperament. I know “spur of the moment; say it on your face” folks as well as “duh, were you talking to me?” folks. There are those that just absorb a situation and do not react to it at all versus those that absorb, analyze and then, come out with a self validated reaction based on their experience. And, then there are those that first react and then, go on to analyze what just happened.

There are several situations you tackle every day, be it at home, at work, in a social circle or even, in your virtual world, you know what I mean, social networks on the web, your e-mail etc. With the rapid exchanges these days and a horrendous influx of information to assimilate and analyze, it somehow seems that impromptu reactions are the best way to keep on top of such daunting interactions. As tempting as it might seem, it is in your best interest to exercise some self-restraint. If an interaction is important to you, take a moment, pause, think and store your reaction away to come back to later. That “later” might be a few minutes away, a few hours away or if possible, a few days away depending on the urgency of the matter at hand. When you come back to react at this later time, you will be amazed at your self and the vast difference in your reaction then, and now. Time is a great healer and brings about the balance in your reactions, the right balance that just probably saved you a job, a relationship, a life.

I am not saying that there should not be instant reactions at all. There are situations that definitely need these to save the day or cherish a moment, but judge those and react accordingly. But, if you feel hurried before reacting or feel that your urge has gotten the better of you, STOP! And follow the wait and react approach. You will never have to cry over spilt milk!