Saturday, November 30, 2013

Achrekar's Coins - Two Great Lessons for Teachers, Managers and Mentors

That Ramakant Achrekar was a good coach is obvious and it sinks in every day. Take these two stories - one of his coins and the second of not ever having told his protégée 'well played' in all these years.

Achrekar's Coins - Challenge Them to Get Their Best
Achrekar's coins have now become folklore and occupy pride of place in Sachin Tendulkar's collectibles which include a guitar from Mark Knopfler, signed gloves from Mohammed Ali, signed bat from Don Bradman among others. The story behind the coins is this. Achrekar would place a coin on the top of the stumps when Sachin was batting (or any batsman in those nets I'd reckon) and challenge him. If the batsman does not get out, the coin is his.

He earns the coin.

Challenge is the key to make anything interesting and drawing the best of anyone. And Achrekar's wonderful understanding of human nature made him challenge his wards by this simple challenge. If you're so good, hold your own. Earn that coin! It is a wonderful way to build concentration, to draw the best out of the trainees - batsmen and bowlers alike. How many coaches have the sense, the understanding and the security to be able to quietly challenge the wards with such simple tasks and draw the best out of them? Great lesson for all aspiring coaches, mentors, managers etc. Use your creativity and challenge the team, the individual.
That will keep them working at it.

No Praise - Keep Them Hungry
Another wonderful lesson that Achrekar taught with his superb man management skills is this - he never praised his protégée even when he was so far gone. The whole world can say you are the greatest but you always crave to hear it from those who matter - the coach, the sibling, the father. They are your harshest critics, they know you well, inside and out. The smart mentor looks at the effort and says 'good effort' and that is about it. He does not singing high praises because they create a ceiling. Praise has that effect - of creating a false ceiling leaving nothing more to explore. And a true mentor wants his wards to go higher and higher, to never be satisfied, and stay hungry always.

If there were two lessons to learn for any man manager these two stories can do wonders to get your people to perform at their best and to keep at it forever.

The first is about introducing a personal challenge that is dubiously simple and keeping that going everyday so it improves skill, concentration and aids purposeful growth-oriented performance. The second is to keep the person in a state of dissatisfaction always with a so-what?- you did a fair-job-but-you've-still-not been-perfect-yet.

I am looking out for more such stuff from this wonderful coach of men and their minds.

Why Can't We Do The Right Thing And Accept That We Made a Mistake

The Tarun Tejpal case had me thinking for some time now about somethings that always bothered me. About how subtly power is used in our society - at homes, in families, in offices surely, in society - to make women feel guilty about their existence. About how brazenly it is used is corporate offices and how well it can be manipulated considering the amount of influence some of the officers have on the victims. Jobs, money, career everything depends sometimes on this one man - and it can be wielded subtly by men in power.

And then, about how we never seem to accept a mistake these days.

Big or smallness of the crime, past history or not is never the issue. I'd think it is just not the right thing for a man in power to push a junior against his/her will even for a moment because it always comes from a position of power. Power issues a veiled threat, even by a change in a facial expression one can threaten a youngster with much. A boss is a guru and to make a mockery of the guru-shishya relationship is one of the foulest in my opinion. I am not passing any judgment on this case because I have only the knowledge that I have from he papers, and will instead, look at what I think happens in similar cases.

The dangers of such liasons are many. But if one probes, there will be millions of such cases crawling under the carpet in India. Many thousands of such relationships between a man in power and a women who is his subordinate die out and are unreported. Many women delude themselves that their relationship with the boss does not fall into this category and that the boss was always nice - but the sheer fact that the boss was in a position of power makes everything different. Sexual harassment is huge and in these days of late night parties, alcohol driven off sites, Goan binges etc - everyone thinks that everyone and everything is game. Colleagues on colleagues, bosses on subordinates and so on and on.

It is all fine until it crosses the line.

While at the height of power, many make errors that bring the entire edifice down. Most hope that they can get away as they always did. Every single scandal we have seen in the recent past has pointed to that. Somehow they thought they could get away with it.

And when they do not, the bosses gets upset. That's the irony of it.

The first thing that happens when the line is crossed, is that one does not want the world to know the incident. It is better that such things are hidden and the 'bigger' picture protected. Moral stands are taken, and even legal stands. Everyone with a motive to keep the falsehood going, at the cost of a pawn, will side up with the boss's story and many women will testify to that. (And as I am sure is done, in many other unreported cases where women in power will brand the woman in the case and take a moral stand against the victim instead of doing what is right - for example all the wives and mothers of rapists etc who defend their sons and husbands and try to protect them because without them, their livelihood is at stake.)  Much is at stake for all of them and it is better that things are kept under wraps. So much of the edifice will try to protect the wrongdoer because their own security and lives are dependent on it. They will sacrifice the junior despite the evidence, the gender, caste, community and whatever issues one takes. There is no money there really. Not much anyway.

It is not about right or wrong anymore - it is about what is the smarter decision. Or what we think is the smarter thing to do.

The second thing that happens once the first reaction of cover up does not happen is to get even more 'smarter' and try to convince, threaten or blackmail the weaker pawn one in the game with all the power one has. Come on, cannot you see how upset I am now? Can you not see how you have no chance? Can you not see that I am losing patience? That I can do anything? Be it the teacher, the General Manager, the bada babu, the labour leader, one has power and one can use it. But by this time the man in power also realises that most times people in the system also pick and choose whom to support and when to suit their needs. No one will lend support for a losing cause - with evidence - no one will touch the man with a barge pole.

Both reactions normally do not hold much water if the pawn decides to fight on. If anything does happen to the pawn, the hole gets deeper for the king. So by now the pawn is secure, alone, pressured by towering personalities around and the guilt of being the one who brought down this edifice. But she has to hold, because it is only in that position, that she will survive this.

(I hope that the many women who suffer by just being women at workplace find the strength to stand up and hold themselves. I hope that they also see the truth and accept and realise that they have choices too. They can stand up, complain, get their way, because in such a one-sided relationship, the older and wiser guru is always the one where the fault lies. Despite all this talk of 'why-is-she-coming-out-now' I do hope that many more women come out with their stories now.They are not the only ones to blame - even if they had erred - the bigger error comes from the guy in power.)

Given the fact that we all live flawed lives we must accept that most of us make mistakes.Errors of judgment. A few get caught.

The only thing one would expect from the older and wiser - especially when there is evidence against - is the old fashioned acceptance of the crime publicly and paying for the damage done as per the law. One can stop oneself from falling further. But by taking the easy way out, the coward's way, it will not help even if all of legality supports you and tries to get you off the hook. It's one game that is already lost.

I have not seen many public figures speak the truth or show the courage to accept a crime, a mistake. An apology is rare - they are always right. But I remember that Shahrukh Khan did apologise after that fracas at the IPL game - a minor issue but he did not let his ego come in the way. If one can do that, look into the camera and apologise sincerely to the victim and accept the punishment, it would be the right way to go about it instead of trying to prove that one has the might and the right. As opposed to that we see so many of our public figures lying and taking recourse to the first two routes, running away, hiding, doing everything possible to avoid what is inevitable. One does not expect saints these days - but one at least want some of the many public figures who have cases filed against them speak up the truth and pay the time. It is the only decent thing to do.

Story Idea - The Frames

Hook: Chap has developed a pair of glasses that can change the way one looks at the world. This pair of glasses can make people who are leading extremely sad lives feel as if they are actually living wonderful lives and vice versa. He hopes to dupe the entire world with these glasses but gets stuck inside them.
Pic coutesy Anjali Paruvu

Core idea: The world appears as we see them or as we are sometimes shown. By the power of external persuasion or a frame, we start believing its true. However once the beliefs set in, one cannot change them as the inventor finds out.

I think it should be a good one to blow up into a full-fledged story.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sweet and Lowdown - Movie Review

One never knows whether Emmet Ray existed as long as one watches the movie. People, including Woody Allen, come up in between and talk to the camera about what happened to Emmet Ray's life as if they knew him intimately (Emmet Ray is supposedly the guitarist who considered himself the second best guitarist in the world in the 1930s.) The movie is about this guy who could play the guitar brilliantly but who has a drinking problem and a confidence and attitude problem too. That's okay but where we get interested in Emmet is in his relationships with women. Or so we think.
You see Emmet thinks he cannot fall in love because his musical genius might get affected. But he seems to fall in love with a dumb girl he meets and they form an unusual relationship - Emmet's chief interests in life apart from playing the guitar are playing pool, drinking, shooting rats at garbage dumps and watching trains. Enough to drive normal girls crazy. But Hattie, the dumb girl, stays by, quite content in this life. However Emmet leaves her for a socialite Blanche, finds out about her affair, and realises that he has made a mistake by leaving Hattie. He smashes his beloved guitar in his anguish (a familiar scene I remember happening to another anguished lover I happened to knwo about!) After that Emmet vanishes and no one knows what happened to him.

Did Emmet touch me? No. Was it funny? No. Was it dramatic? No. Did I care for Emmet and his problems? No.

This one goes down in the pile despite a heavy duty cast that included Sean Penn (brilliant) and Uma Thurman with Woody and company popping in once in a while to describe what they believe happened to Emmet. Apparently this Emmet is a fictional guy. Not interesting really. I'd give it a miss. (Watch 'Bananas' instead!) 

How To Learn Anything New - Fine Talk on TEDx by Josh Kaufman

How long does it take to learn anything new and gain reasonable competence? Josh Kaufman says 20 hours - or 45 minutes a day for one month. Check his talk out at the following link.

I loved what he said about how to do it.
1) Deconstruct the skill
2) Learn enough to self-correct (or get expert help)
2) Remove practice barriers
3) Practice 20 hours

Learn a new language, learn to speak or write, learn a new instrument (Josh plays a ukulele which he had put in a mere 20 hours at before he came to the talk). Hugely empowering especially if we can identify the one or two things that bother you - could be communication or public speaking - for many. All you need is 20 hours of deliberate, growth-oriented practice.

Thought for the Day - To get clarity, deconstruct to the basics

To get a grip on anything, deconstruct the issue to its most basic unit. And from there build it again as you see it. Then it will make sense to you. Skill, mental and physical preparation can be deconstructed into their basic units and built up from there. Skill from the basic input-output understanding, physical from the basic act, and mental from the basic thought.

Go down to the basic unit, deconstruct the entire thing and build it back on surer ground.

Rubaiyat - Omar Khayyam (Edward Fitzgerald's translation)

This one by Jaico bought by my father, several decades ago as one can see, is such a pleasure to read for many reasons. What it means to me is one thing, what the book carries is another and it was a pleasurable read in every way. I enjoyed the stuff about the potter and the pot.

Omar Khayyam was apparently born Ghiyathuddin Abulfath Omar bin Ibrahm Al-Khayyami at Naishapur in Khorassan, Persia during the latter half of the 11th century. He was the son of a tent maker and though he continued his father's trade of tent making, he also pursued maths, astronomy and science, writing on algebra, revising astronomical tables, and even coming up with his own version of the calendar. Poetry he indulged himself when he had the time - and wine, he loved. He composed about 500 epigrams in quatrains or rubais - each an independent and self-contained idea, before he died in 1123. This work remained unknown for six centuries until Edward Fitzgerald, in his fiftieth year of a quiet life wrote a translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Starting slowly though, the book became a popular hit within a decade.

One remembers a quote - "He who does not love wine, woman and song, remains a fool his whole life long." Was it he who said it? Must have been? A quote I used often in my youth at college.

Some more, some not from the book as well (from the link.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

"And strange to tell, among that Earthern Lot
Some could articulate, while others not;
And suddenly one more impatient cried -
'Who is the potter, pray, and who the Pot?

'None answere'd this; but after Silence spake
A Vessel of a more ungainly Make:
"They sneer at me for learning all awry,
What? Did the Hand then of the Potter shake?'

Then said another with a long-drawn sigh
"My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry;
But fill me with the old familiar Juice,
Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!"

“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

“I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return'd to me,
And answer'd: 'I Myself am Heav'n and Hell”
“Dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows, why fret about it, if today be sweet.”
“As far as you can avoid it, do not give grief to anyone. Never inflict your rage on another. If you hope for eternal rest, feel the pain yourself; but don’t hurt others.”
“Oh threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain - This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies -
The Flower that once has blown forever dies.”
 “It’s too bad if a heart lacks fire,
and is deprived of the light
of a heart ablaze.
The day on which you are
without passionate love
is the most wasted day of your life.”

 “When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow, I look back.”
“A book of verses underneath the bough
A flask of wine, a loaf of bread and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness
And wilderness is paradise now.”
“O friend, for the morrow let us not worry
This moment we have now, let us not hurry
When our time comes, we shall not tarry
With seven thousand-year-olds, our burden carry”
“There was a water-drop, it joined the sea,
A speck of dust, it was fused with earth;
what of your entering and leaving this world?
A fly appeared, and disappeared.”
 “Oh, come with old Khayyàm, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown forever dies.”
“Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and--sans End!

“How much more of the mosque, of prayer and fasting?
Better go drunk and begging round the taverns.
Khayyam, drink wine, for soon this clay of yours
Will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar.
 “When you are so full of sorrow
that you can't walk, can't cry anymore,
think about the green foliage that sparkles after
the rain. When the daylight exhausts you, when
you hope a final night will cover the world,
think about the awakening of a young child.”
“Poor soul, you will never know anything
of real importance. You will not uncover
even one of life's secrets. Although all religions
promise paradise, take care to create your own
paradise here and now on earth.”

“I value the lover's
sighs of happiness and I despise the hypocrite
mumbling his prayers.”
“When you have planted
the rose of Love into your heart
your life has not been in vain.”
"Paradise? For me it means
a moment of peace.”
“From the house of unbelief
to true religion
is a single breath;
From the world of doubt
to certainty
is a single breath;
Enjoy this precious single breath,
for the harvest
of our whole lives
is that same one breath.”
“I have not asked for life.
But I try to accept whatever
life brings without surprise.
And I shall depart again without having
questioned anyone about my strange
stay here on earth.”
 “Scholars really have nothing to teach you.
But from the soft touch of the eyelashes of
a woman you will know all there is to know about happiness.”

“It is a shame for anyone
to be well-known for righteousness.
It is a great disgrace to feel
distress at the injustice of
the turning of the wheels of fate.”
 “To wisely live your life, you don't need to know much
Just remember two main rules for the beginning:
You better starve, than eat whatever
And better be alone, than with whoever.”
“Don't pursue happiness!
Life is as short as a sigh.
The dust of people that were once famous
turn with the reddish clay on the wheel you are
looking at. The universe is a fata morgana;
life is a dream.”

“When your soul and mine
have left our bodies and we are
burried alongside each other,
a Potter may one day mould
the dust of both of us
into the same clay.”
 “When Allah created me, he knew that I
would drink a lot of wine. So if I didn't, the
omniscience of Allah would stand on its head.”
“Shall I still sigh for what I have not got,
Or try with cheerfulness to bear my lot?
Fill up my cup! I know not if the breath
I now am drawing is my last, or not!”
“Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!”
“The creator of stars, heaven and earth
surpassed himself when he also created pain. Lips like rubies, delicious-smelling hair, blooming flowers, how many of you are
already buried in earthy soil?”

“Whether at Naishápúr or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.”
“We come into this world in the waters and leave it in the winds”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bananas - Movie Review

After a long time I laughed like crazy and almost fell off the chair when I saw the translator scene in 'Bananas'. Woody Allen makes such a farce of the banana republics and what happens there and what the USA does with them in his own inimitable way. Woody was young (this is a 1971 movie) and at his cynical and satirical best. He has his usual problems of feeling inadequate, being dumped, having a job he does not like etc.

Fielding Mellish, the person who is used to test new products (exercising office chair, electrically warmed toilet seat) is not happy with his job. He also has no love life. But he meets an activist who is collecting signatures to help overthrow an armed coup in San Marcos a neighboring banana republic and hits it off with her, even joining protests etc and almost getting killed. But she soon discards him saying something is missing. Distraught Mellish heads off to San Marcos on his own. there he meets the new and broke President (Woody has to pay the bill for an official state dinner with his credit card) and survives an assassination attempt on himself (by the President's men armed as rebels because the president wants to get money from the USA to fight the rebels who killed an American citizen). But Mellish is saved by the rebels led by  Fidel Castro lookalike. In the rebel army Mellish grows and when the rebels come to power, they replace the growingly arrogant and drunk-with-power Castro look alike (who starts making some crazy laws like people wearing underwear on the outside) with Mellish as President. Mellish goes to USA in a thinly veiled disguise (you must see that disguise) and it is when he descends the plane that the incident with the translator happens. As the Secretary of State speaks in perfect English, the translator translates it to Mellish in an accented voice, Mellish replies in perfect English, which is then translated again in English until some people come and take that guy away. Never have I laughed so much in recent years.

Anyway President Mellish tries to raise money and fails, meets the old activist girl friend and again reignites old passions. When he reveals that he is in fact Mellish in bed, she cries - Oh, I must have known. Something was missing. Anyway Mellish is found out and there is a crazy court case where Mellish successfully defends himself and finally gets married to the activist.

It's a crazy, crazy movie and one would want to watch movies like this. I can watch it again and again. And that scene from the translator makes me laugh even to think of it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The 3-Day Champion MBA Workshop Concludes at the School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad - Most Satisfying

It was a full 3 day affair in the end and I am quite satisfied with the way it went. The students stayed back after their exams, before their one month long vacation, and turned up in good numbers which speaks much for their commitment (and the esteem in which they hold Prof. Jyothi). They hung on to rather difficult concepts that asked awkward questions about themselves. They did their best and I am certain there will be some benefit overall.

Growth Lab - 3 Day Workshop for MBAs at School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad
The Mindset
The 3 days dealt with the Mindset of the Champion MBA - or more precisely the mental aspect of doing a good job of what they set out to. I believe that much of the mental aspect - strength, discipline or determination - depends on having clarity of the process. If one can deconstruct the mental aspect and bring it down to a level that is easy to comprehend, it is a great place to start. That was what I endeavoured to do here - break down the unknown into what was known to the extent possible.

What makes us
Day 1 was about What we are, What we want. As usual we started with trying to understand what or who we are. It does seem a rather unfair question but it only shines a light on our uncertainty of knowing ourselves (considering the fact that we can easily answer the same question about others). One way to address this seemingly large emptiness of our concept of ourselves is to look at all the facts and stuff that describe us, that we use to describe ourselves - qualifications, skills, awards, achievements, expertise, compliments and praise, things we think we do well, things we love doing - and stuff them into the emptiness and stand by it. This part of the resume is filled in by the students. (When we realized that there were some who had less than 10 compliments on their list we decided to compliment one another and the amount of joy and good energy in the room went up by 15 times. Lovely moment really to see so much unadulterated joy and I could have let that go on and on.)
One half

To this list we added a list of 5 strengths that the students sought from 5 people who knew them well - parents, friends, mentors, coaches, siblings, teachers etc adding up to 25 strengths. In a plain and basic manner we constructed the person again with what we know and what is in the public knowledge. (Later we looked at the parts we did not like about us - the parts that made us feel less than - and decided to accept those parts anyway. They were part of us.) Now, we had nothing to hide. Maybe we were small, but we were true and integrated. This-is-me.
If we feel integrated, and as good as anyone else, I think its a good job done.

What we want
Then we looked at what we want - with no constraints. We created a list of 50 goals. Then we split them into immediate goals (three months), short term (3 months to 3 years) and long term (5 years and above). These goals were then subjected to the filters of belief, desire, effort, commitment, responsibility and emotion. The 50 goals filtered down to a manageable list by then. From these we identified a long term goal (the enabling goal) into which we could put our resources (time and energy) which enabled the fulfilment of many other sub goals. That enabling goal would be the focus. Working backwards, we also looked at short term and immediate goals that were in alignment with the long term goal. If I wanted to be rich, travel the world, buy cars and houses etc what would enable me to do that - perhaps a good job, a business. How would I get going on that goal would be the key.
And another
Goal clarity
The next job was to make these goals clear. Goal clarity is one of the biggest things that spurs action (to me it is the most critical aspect because it sets the ball for the effort or preparation going). So we spent much time trying to make the 3 goals clear. Each goal was to have a time frame, a name and a number (as in for example the CEO of a specific company in a specific industry drawing such and such salary etc - say CEO SBI would require a different planning from CEO Citibank or CEO Microsoft or CEO your own firm). The students were made into groups and asked to get their goals absolutely clear. That then was what we did on Day One - looking  at what we have, what we are and what we want.

Opportunities Available
As an assignment the students were asked to look at the many permutations and combinations that were available to them by mixing and matching the various attributes - qualification, strengths, skills, awards and achievements etc. These represent some of the opportunities that are available to us. From these we may find the best course for us to follow.

How do we achieve these goals
Day 2 was about the how to achieve the goals. But before that we examined the concepts of the fixed and growth mindsets (Mindset, Carol Dweck), the 10000 hour rule by Eric Andersson and understood that there was no substitute for effort. (Work cannot be escaped.)

Detailed Action Plans
Having a clear goal in mind we examined the how to achieve the goal at thought-level and made a detailed action plan that had the goal clearly written down, the milestones in which to achieve that, a start date and a completion date, actions to take in between and the resources required. This back-of-the-napkin plan makes the entire goal appear plausible. More detail can reduce uncertainty further. But the key to plans is to pay attention to areas of discomfort and sort them out with more information until you feel absolutely sure in the head. (It is what we are doing with ourselves too - sorting ourselves out and getting more information about ourselves until we are certain about what we can do.)

Knowing The Process
The second 'How to achieve' the goal was the Process of achieving. We examined the process - deciding to achieve the goal at any cost, sharpening goal clarity, detailed planning to minimize uncertainty, process-oriented preparation to ensure plans are executed well, action, belief, monitoring and correction and achievement. I shared with them my 158 run story. We understood that most things that we achieved in our life by the same process even though without paying heed i.e. stuff that we decided upon and achieved, had these elements. But if we deconstructed the ones that we made a conscious effort to achieve, we could see the process was the same and started with deciding.

Recognising The Process From Our Lives
The students shared some wonderful stories from their lives about how they achieved certain things - from cracking tough subjects to organizing festivals, from winning competitions and lotteries to working hard to overcome a physical constraints, working for promotions to saving people from accidents and risking oneself to remove a mad dog that was biting people and so many more - the stories were marvelous stuff and I am only sorry that we had to wind up before I heard them all. One could see how each of the stories had the same process of decide, clear goal, plan, prepare, act, monitor and correct to achieve what they wanted so badly. The story of one student who deconstructed his entire education to get better at mathematics - he went back to class I and started learning from 1+2 and worked his way up - was a fine example of how to learn anything. (Deconstruct to a level where you can self-correct, remove practice barriers, practice.) It was then evident that each of them had followed the same process themselves. They knew it, only they did not recognize it. But thanks for sharing every one and baring some personal stories to us all and inspiring many in the room.

How Prepared Am I
Day 3 was about the importance of preparation - skill, physical and mental - and how they contributed to performance and self worth. While skill, physical aspects and process orientation can contribute to expertise and growth, one also needed to work at improving self-worth by growing the mind's boundaries about what it thinks you as a person are worth. Many experts live in poverty because of the lack of self-worth. Preparing on both expertise and self-worth is important i.e. adding a value and at the same time being aware of its value. Somewhere there must be a tipping point where one feels deserving of all the good stuff and that point comes in only with boldness, joy, excitement and enthusiasm. So the process of growth and self-worth must be exciting and fun too! Making growth interesting could include making groups for discussion, sharing, teaching, calling in experts, getting feedback, challenging oneself constantly with small stakes and so on. Think and be creative and challenge yourself and keep a support group going.

Ideal MBA
Here we constructed the Ideal MBA and took 10 important attributes - knowledge, communication, leadership skills, inter personal skills, attitude, presentation skills, responsibility, managerial skills/professionalism, analytical skills and ethics . On these the students rated themselves on a scale of 1-10, figured out which attributes need work.

The amount of time available to the students at 12 hours a day for the remaining part of their stay on campus was calculated to be about 6500 hours. Now they had to decide how to use them best to get the results they wanted. We also looked at areas that were considered weaknesses, or rather areas of improvement, and decided to pick two attributes to work at that hindered their growth. Here the concept of the 20 hour rule - to learn anything new to a reasonable level of competence was explained. by applying a mere 45 minutes of time for a month, they could become reasonably proficient at communication, at subject knowledge or whatever aspect they chose to work on.

The Benefits of 100% Living, or 100% Responsibility, or Ownership
The process of growth orientation was once again looked at and integrated and understood. The core concepts being that of ownership (or bringing the individual into every act) or the 'I' into every act, the aspect of taking 100% responsibility for all one does, the aspect of taking greater challenges because that means growth (which means uncharted territory and a conquering of something new), the applying of 100% to reach a new limit until one feels that one can do no more were discussed. By giving 100% to one area of expertise, one could soon see that they grow from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset position - from a taking to a giving position.

All that we need is already within. All one needs is to apply it in a fashion that helps growth. It is a process one must embark on and realize that we can always come back tomorrow and work harder, that nothing is fixed. Not intelligence, not failure.

The feedback was very satisfying. Even more so when I could see the effort that they took to overcome their fears and doubts and came and spoke genuinely from the bottom of their hearts about what they experienced. It is one workshop I will look back with satisfaction where I think I got most parts of the delivery right. I need to work on a couple of aspects though (to get ownership across in a more visual and powerful manner). But it did appear that goal clarity seemed to have been achieved by many and most seemed to identify with knowing the process and that effort and efficient use of resources was the key to the success.

(If any of you students are reading this blog please do send me your feedback by mail. It may make more sense now than in the euphoria of getting done with the 3 days. I would like to publish it here. That would be nice. Also do keep checking the blog because I will certainly share any ideas that may help get the core ideas across better and also address certain questions that were commonly asked.)

Thank You All
As always there was one moment when I saw true empowerment in a pair of diffident eyes and that, along with all the genuine warmth and affection in each and everyone that reflected in their eyes, made the 3 days absolutely worth it. Thank you Prof Jyothi for giving me the opportunity, Raghavan for his wonderful company, Chitra, Prof Srinivas, Ramaiah, Narsimlu.

Thank you students for giving me your time, energy, learning and so much satisfaction. Let me get the names I noted down - Divya, Niyoshta, Keerthi, Pavani, Sheena, Manasa, Priyanka, Momita Roy, Sesha, Keertana, Pratyush, Aatish Singh, Deepika, Tanushree, Ram Narayan Yadav, Vidyanath, Ramadevi, Himabindu, Aditya, Ramakrishna, Dinesh, Mahesh, Saketh, Raj, Satish, Raj Kiran, Abhinav, Raghava, Apurva, Srikant, Sriyotsu Sen, Prashant Pandey, Saleem Basha, Kinshuk, Mridula, Monica, Madhavi, Devendra Tiwari,  Monadeep, Blessy, Shweta, Anuradha, Srikanth, Avinash Paswani, Akshay, Khemashish, Vikram, Veera, Raju Ajmera, Samant, Avdesh Sonkar, Anita, Neelima, Tulasi, Dev, Sai and Anudeep and the others whom I missed. I have great expectations from each one of you and I know there will be a day when I will look with great pride at this photograph and say - that was me standing next to those champions. Wishing you all well.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Champion MBA - Workshop at HCU

Thanks to the energy, enthusiasm and belief of Prof. Jyothi, I have been conducting what is called the Growth Lab (and what I call the Champion's Mindset for the MBA or Recognising Excellence etc) for the students of the School of Management Studies University of Hyderabad for the past five years. Mostly aimed at the first year students who come into the University with big dreams but no clear path, the workshop is aimed at throwing some light at the path, the process, the tools and the resources and make the students think about the benefits of using heir champion side - the best way to be.

This time its a 3 day intervention and as always it will focus on what the workshop is about. In a nutshell it is about being the best us - by which I mean the best unfulfilled potential in us. The best us concept itself is one of growth and when we look at our effort, focus and intensity that we take towards our growth, we find that it does not rank high up. Most feel that they are at 50-70% or below.

The idea is that the champion MBA, or the one who is aiming for excellence is aiming for the 100% effort and looking at a 'best in class' result. It is of high aspirations and goals and high effort. It is something that each one of us must aspire for in our own way - not because we will all become first in class but because it will grow us in ways that we become what we were meant to become. Understanding that growth, the need to be 100%, the need to have high goals, the need to put in effort and the need to feel the pushing of new limits is pretty much part of the process is the first thing we look at.

The benefits are obvious. If we give 100% we get much more because it grows us and we aim for more. If we give less than 100%, say 50%, we will be judged at that and we will over a period slowly shrink. 100% is a core concept.

The next question is why we do not give our 100%. In most cases it is one of the three
- lack of understanding of the process
- doubt whether 100% may not be enough and one may fail even after giving 100% (want insurances)
- fear of failure and fear of success

When we understand that the only logical way is to take the risk because it is a no win game anyway (you are stuck at mediocrity anyway) it is better to give 100% because that way there is always a chance that value is being added. Also as per the duality principle, if one recognises mediocrity inside, there must be excellence within too.

The next issue to look at is the concept of managing one's own life. This means one must understand and design their career. One must take 100% responsibility and have the courage to be the captain of one's ship and master of one's fate. How we go about a whole life studying, using and making things out of design and in our private lives believing that design will not work, is something we discuss. We must give our best effort and only then any superior master fate will help. But to expect fate to guide us all through with no effort from our side is plain foolishness, laziness and cowardice. We will therefore look at having some design which means we will look at planning ahead in some detail.

Having dealt with the core concepts we look at the workshop from the perspective of the whats, the hows and the whys. What do I have (stock of current situation), What do I want (the ideal situation), How do I get what I want (the process), What is my level of preparation (work to be done), How do I sustain it (repeating the formula) and from all these, the why of it which is looking at achieving one's potential.

More tomorrow.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Quotes from Socrates

The order is a bit muddled but one cannot do Plato and Aristotle and miss out the great Socrates. Some drops of wisdom from the great philosopher.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

“By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

“Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.”

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

“If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can't hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

“Know thyself.”

“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”

“Let him who would move the world first move himself.”

“Every action has its pleasures and its price.”

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.”

“Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.”

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

“I am not an Athenian nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.”

“Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual”

“We cannot live better than in seeking to become better.”
“Envy is the ulcer of the soul.”

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

“understanding a question is half an answer”

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows.”

“The hottest love has the coldest end.”

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

“Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.”

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.”

“If you want to be a good saddler, saddle the worst horse; for if you can tame one, you can tame all.”

“I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.”

“I pray Thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within. ”

“The really important thing is not to live, but to live well. And to live well meant, along with more enjoyable things in life, to live according to your principles.”

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

“In all of us, even in good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep.”

“If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be content to take their own and depart.”

“The greatest blessing granted to mankind come by way of madness, which is a divine gift.”

“Be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth, that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”

“Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.”

“Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults.”

“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.”

“The easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves. ”

“One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him.”

“All men's souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.”

“Through your rags I see your vanity.”

“If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of the Muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the performances of the inspired madman.”

“Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.”

“I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled [poets] to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.”

“Virtue does not come from wealth, but. . . wealth, and every other good thing which men have. . . comes from virtue.”

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”

“The highest realms of thought are impossible to reach without first attaining an understanding of compassion.”

“And therefore if the head and the body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first and essential thing. And the care of the soul, my dear youth, has to be effected by the use of certain charms, and these charms are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where temperance comes and stays, there health is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but to the whole body.”

"To be is to do”

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

“Living well and beautifully and justly are all one thing.”

“God takes away the minds of poets, and uses them as his ministers, as he also uses diviners and holy prophets, in order that we who hear them may know them to be speaking not of themselves who utter these priceless words in a state of unconsciousness, but that God himself is the speaker, and that through them he is conversing with us. ”

“To express oneself badly is not only faulty as far as the language goes, but does some harm to the soul.”

“There is no solution; seek it lovingly ”

“Give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward and the inward man be at one.”

“For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles.”

“What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it's supposed to be.”

“…money and honour have no attraction for them; good men do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing and so to get the name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves out of the public revenues to get the name of thieves. And not being ambitious they do not care about honour. Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them, and they must be induced to serve from the fear of punishment. And this, as I imagine, is the reason why the forwardness to take office, instead of waiting to be compelled, has been deemed dishonourable. Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself. And the fear of this, as I conceive, induces the good to take office, not because they would, but because they cannot help — not under the idea that they are going to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, and because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to any one who is better than themselves, or indeed as good. For there is reason to think that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office would be as much an object of contention as to obtain office is at present…”

“The mind is everything; what you think you become”

“I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.”

“When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you want to breathe, it is then you shall have it.”
“Beauty is a short-lived tyranny”
“One day, the old wise Socrates walks down the streets, when all of the sudden a man runs up to him "Socrates I have to tell you something about your friend who..."
"Hold up" Socrates interrupts him "About the story you're about to tell me, did you put it trough the three sieves?"
"Three sieves?" The man asks "What three sieves?"
"Let's try it" Socrates says.
"The first sieve is the one of truth, did you examine what you were about to tell me if it is true?" Socrates asks.
"Well no, I just overheard it" The man says.
"Ah, well then you have used the second sieve, the sieve of good?" Socrates asks "Is it something good what you're about to tell me?"
"Ehm no, on the contrary" the man answers.
"Hmmm" The wise man says "Let's use the third sieve then, is it necessary to tell me what you're so exited about?"
"No not necessary" the man says.
"Well" Socrates says with a smile "If the story you're about to tell me isn't true, good or necessary, just forget it and don't bother me with it.”

“It is better to change an opinion than to persist in a wrong one.”
“Nobody is qualified to become a statesman who is entirely ignorant of the problem of wheat.”

 “Well, then, let’s not just trust the likelihood based on painting.”

“I do believe that there are gods, and in a far higher sense than that in which any of my accusers believe in them.”

 “Is it true; is it kind, or is it necessary?”

“Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.”

“Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity.”

 “Those who are hardest to love need it the most.”

“My plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a
proof that I am speaking the truth.”

“I only wish that ordinary people had an unlimited capacity for doing harm; then they might have an unlimited power for doing good.”

 “How many things can I do without?”
“.. is there not one true coin for which all things ought to exchange?- and that is wisdom; and only in exchange for this, and in company with this, is anything truly bought or sold, whether courage, temperance or justice. And is not all true virtue the companion of wisdom, no matter what fears or pleasures or other similar goods or evils may or may not attend her? But the virtue which is made up of these goods, when they are severed from wisdom and exchanged with one another, is a shadow of virtue only, nor is there any freedom or health or truth in her; but in the true exchange there is a purging away of all these things, and temperance, and justice, and courage, and wisdom herself, are a purgation of them.”

 “I examined the poets, and I look on them as people whose talent overawes both themselves and others, people who present themselves as wise men and are taken as such, when they are nothing of the sort.

From poets, I moved to artists. No one was more ignorant about the arts than I; no one was more convinced that artists possessed really beautiful secrets. However, I noticed that their condition was no better than that of the poets and that both of them have the same misconceptions. Because the most skillful among them excel in their specialty, they look upon themselves as the wisest of men. In my eyes, this presumption completely tarnished their knowledge. As a result, putting myself in the place of the oracle and asking myself what I would prefer to be — what I was or what they were, to know what they have learned or to know that I know nothing — I replied to myself and to the god: I wish to remain who I am.

We do not know — neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I— what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it. As a result, all this superiority in wisdom which the oracle has attributed to me reduces itself to the single point that I am strongly convinced that I am ignorant of what I do not know.”