Monday, March 31, 2014

Workshop on Goal Setting and Preparation

Conducted the workshop on 'Goal Setting and Preparation' yesterday. Shreya, Preeti, Krishna, Pranav, Harika, Tanvi and Nikitha participated in the half-day program.

As always the workshop started at about 1030 in the morning. We discussed the two components of the workshop, goal setting (being clear about what you want) and preparation (being prepared to receive what you want). Both, equally important.

Goal Setting
We discussed the importance of setting goals, the Harvard study on goal setting (contested by many of course but it's an interesting story), John Goddard's tale and why goals are good. The participants were asked to write down their goals (not differentiated from dreams or fantasies here), to write down all that they wished for on an immediate, short term and long term perspective.

We discussed the resources we have at our disposal - Time and Energy. The more time and energy we put behind goals, the better. But its also important to zero down to those few goals that one wants to put these resources behind. The search now was to identify the goals that matter to put our resources behind.

50 goals were listed. They were then filtered using filters of belief, desire, effort, responsibility, commitment and emotion. The 50 odd goals became a manageable number. Now we could zero down to the goals to achieve.

Among the five or ten goals left we identified an Enabling Goal. This is that one goal which would fetch us the kind of return for use of our resources (time and energy) and fulfill all our other goals. Expertise in a particular area for example could make one rich, famous, get travel, love etc. Once the enabling goals were identified, one or two at best, it was clear where to put one's effort.

The shortlisted goals were then aligned in the time frames of immediate (3 months), short term (3 months to 3 years) and longer term (3 years to 10 years or more). Once they were laid out in the time plan, all short listed goals now appeared gettable with number of hours deployed to attain the same.

The goals were vague so we needed to make them sharper and clearer. We used a method similar to the SMART goals i.e. made them more specific (removed words like good, well, success, hope etc), looked at specific outcomes (want to get into IIT, Engineer, IIM etc and wherever possible even clearer about which college etc). Then we added numbers to that i.e. metrics wherever possible (top the class, 85%, top 10% etc). Then we added a time aspect to it and made the goals time bound. 

Goals clearer now, we visualised them in our minds using all our senses - feeling the images as if we were already there. We then discussed the use of words can be as in affirmations (bringing the future down to the present i.e. I am studying in IIT, Chennai as opposed to I want to study in IIT, Chennai). Lastly we used the power of images as in a vision board or a chart where images of the outcomes are seen everyday to make the goals come true.

When the goal is clear, preparation becomes apparent. Bigger the goal bigger the preparation. Being a CEO of a company (your own firm) requires no preparation almost as against being the CEO of a Google or a Microsoft. That is the difference between an unclear goal and a clear goal.

Results do not happen by luck or chance. They happen because of a process of preparation. The best prepared win.

We discussed the 'Mindset - The New Psychology of Success' and the two mindsets - fixed and growth oriented mindsets. The desire to learn, to embrace challenges, to persist in the face of setbacks, to see effort as the route to mastery, to learn from criticism and to find lessons from others success is what the growth mindset is all about and it is far more empowering than the fixed mindset which relies on words like 'talent' and not on 'work'. Growth is about purposeful work.

We also discussed the concept of the 10000 hour rule to expertise and the 20 hour rule to competence. It was inescapable by now that hard work had no substitute. Champions were truly the ones who worked the hardest.

We looked at preparation which is almost 90% of the way we perform. Only 10% is actual implementation.
 We understood preparation in the three aspects - skill, physical and mental. One needed to prepare well on all three to deliver solid performances. The mental aspect is considered 80% of high performance.

The physical part is a factor of discipline, work and purposeful training. Skill can be learned from good teachers and coaches and requires a number of hours to attain expertise. Both constitute 20-30% of the performance. The 80% is in the mind, which also impacts both physical and skill as well.

The mental aspect involves knowing the context, process-orientation and beliefs and mindsets.

Knowing the context is to an extent addressed by expressing what one wants (the goals) and knowing where one stands. The gap between what we want and where we stand becomes apparent once the context is known.

Process-orientation is knowing the process of how to achieve anything. The process of self-correction is learned through this aspect which helps deal with performances under pressure. Process-orientation involves goal clarity, planning, action or execution, monitoring, correction, belief in the process and your abilities and achievement. Most goals are achieved through this process and once anyone understands it, setting a goal and achieving it down becomes as simple as following step 1 to 7. Having achieved a goal, one must reset goals to next higher level and go further up the ladder.

Enjoying the  process is a side-effect where one loves the aspect of learning, getting better and is fully in the growth mindset. Enjoying the process.

We did a brief plan on three goals - immediate, short term and long term - by drawing a six step process to reach it. Planning can go pretty deep and must always have a time bound and action bound sequence as in a time table or a chart which clearly shows progress and work to be done. Most of us slack off here especially with goals we are not convinced about but one must do these few things. Make that time table and stick it up where you can see it. Go and get that immediate goal and see if the process worked for you.

Sustaining the process
What we learn in a 4 hour session cannot perhaps change a lifetime of beliefs and habits unless we are conscious of it and badly want those goals. Most of our big goals lie outside our belief system - that we do not deserve them and this is where the mind constantly puts it off. To counter the mind, we must remind ourselves of our resolve to achieve those goals.

Vision board
The best way to do this is to make a vision board with all the images of your future, the clearer and more specific the better, either on a chart or as a powerpoint. This vision board must be seen every day so the images draw you to them. Our mind starts accepting them as reality and lets us work towards them. This is the first thing one can do to see results.

Keep company that encourages you on this path, keep in touch with good mentors and guides (me included), maintain a journal, enjoy the process of growth, share and teach what you learned to those who are interested and who can benefit. Good luck all of you - Shreya, Preeti, Nikitha, Krishna, Pranav, Harika and Tanvi. The Universe offers us all equal chance at getting what we want, its a matter  of being clear about what we want and being prepared to receive it. I am sure you will all achieve far more than what you can imagine.

Participant feedback: 
Found the workshop extremely  helpful. Discovered that anything is achievable with hard work. Learned that being organised, efficient and consistent at work can take us places. Have to believe in myself and my goal. Going to put up a visual inspiration to motivate me. - Shreya

Wonderful experience. Helped me get more clarity on what I want to achieve. - Krishna Rao

Jotting goals down on paper gave me clarity. Scrutinising the same through filters helped to me identify SMART goals. Vision board - will definitely do that. - Tanvi Jyoti

Was really helpful. Learnt many new things. Got to know the right method of preparation and the power of words and positive imaging. - Pranav

Find myself a lot more focussed and I know where I am heading. It will eventually help me reach my goal. - Nikitha 

Very good experience. My goal is now clear. I know exactly what I want to achieve. I am confident that I can achieve it. Hard work is the only way to success. I know what I need to achieve my goal - Harika

Learnt about how one can achieve one's goals, how one can be clear about objectives. Hard work is the ultimate stepping stone to success. Learned about preparation and the growth mindset. - Preeti

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Story Idea - Down Memory Lane

Chap is close to committing suicide when he remembers an old teacher of his who tells him to repay his debts - one way or another - before he dies. Even a kind word can help, a small deed can help, he said. He decides to meet the teacher to whom he feels he owes a debt. When he goes to meet his teacher he finds the teacher is dead. How does he repay the teacher's debt now?

I am not sure what he will do to repay the debt at this point but it does open up many interesting possibilities. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dr. Strangelove - Movie Review

A 1963 classic by Stanley Kubrick on the bomb. Superb stuff. US and Russia and consequently the world are plunged into a crises that only man can create.

Movie begins with an US Air Force aircraft flying in a zone close to Russia. An order is issues by a base commandant General Ripper to drop nuclear bombs on Russia bypassing the President. He has a theory that the Communists are posing a danger to the American citizens bodily fluids. When his executive assistant tries to recall the planes he finds that the General has locked them in and given orders to the base soldiers to attack anyone who comes close.

In the war room the Air Chief tells the President that the Base Commandant seems to have used a clause in the rules that he can issue such orders in certain circumstances. As USA prepares to sort out this ugly situation the President realises that Russia has a doomsday machine which will explode and envelop the earth in radioactive dust for 90 years. All life would be wiped out. As the planes go closer the President tries to convince a drunken Russian President to attack his planes. The codes are decoded, most planes are called back except one which zeroes down on its target. While that is going on Dr. Strangelove, an advisor to the President tells him that tehy could take hundred thousand people with a male to female ratio of 1:10 and hide in deep trenches to avoid the radioactivity. They could come back after 100 years and live on.

Peter Sellers is brilliant as Mandrake the Executive Assistant to General Ripper, as President of the USA and as Dr. Strangelove. George C Scott as General Turgidson is outstanding as is Sterling Hayden as Jack D Ripper. Brilliant satire and one can only shake the head. It's all so possible.  

The Passion of Ayn Rand - Movie Review

Recommended by a friend a long time ago, I was wondering what this passion of Ayn Rand was and it could be made into a movie. I did not read too much of Ayn Rand and often wonder how my life would have been if I had read her books when I was young. Perhaps it was all for the better. And maybe the time has come now. I catch myself staring at Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged each time I walk into a bookstore these days. I do admire her the courage and clarity she brought in her thoughts and do remember reading a play, January 16th or something like that.

Once again, the film is adapted from a book (get this producers), this one by one of the major players in the story, Barbara Branden. The story starts with a young and impressionable couple meeting Ayn Rand at her home in California, how she is taken in by young Nathaniel whom she considers her intellectual heir. Nathaniel and Barbara, his fiancee marry, and that's about when Ayn Rand discovers she is in love with Nathaniel. She moves to New York to be close to him and then what does the lady do? She calls her husband and Nathaniel's wife and proposes that she and Nathaniel have an affair in the interests of god knows what but that their lives otherwise would go on as normal. Would they give permission? Though they hate the idea, the two spouses realise that its better to agree. A stormy affair between the two, the ending of her 'Atlas Shrugged', Nathaniel's dalliances with another woman and the subsequent breakdown of his relationship with both Ayn and Barbara constitute the rest of the story.

Interesting to hear how the lady named herself (after the typewriter). Interesting to see her ideas on the affair and how she deals with it. Interesting to see the reactions of Ayn Rand's husband O'Connor (great performance by Peter Fonda who shrinks by the day) and Barbara. But what was the idea really? That Ayn Rand wrote her greatest work because of the affair? Or that she had certain ideas about life and principles which did not really hold? Anyway, her life. Nathaniel comes across like a weak man but that's what Ayn Rand does to all those in the room, dominate them totally. So he had no chance anyway. Helen Mirren is wonderful as Ayn Rand and Julie Delpy fits Barbara's role perfectly.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Story of Philosophy Part 1 - Will Durant

Rajan Bala called me from Bangalore and demanded in his usual manner. 'Have you read The Story of Philosophy? Get a copy and read it today. Your education will never be complete without it.' I remember seeing that book, perhaps at my father's desk. I noted down the details.

Next time in a book store I called Rajan Bala and asked him the name of the book. It was in 2007 perhaps and it took em a while to get down to reading it. Now I am a few pages into the book 528 pages of packed content and I know that by the time I get to the other side, much water would have flown. So decided to break it up into small parts and write about things that made an impression on me. To start with Will Durant's observation of what philosophy is.

"Specifically, philosophy means and includes five fields of study and discourse, logic, esthetics, ethics, politics and metaphysics. Logic is the study of ideal method in thought and research: observation and introspection, deduction and induction, hypothesis and experiment, analysis and synthesis - such as the forms of human activity which logic tries to understand and guide; it is a dull study for most of us, and yet the great events in the history of thought and the improvements men have made in their methods of thinking and research. Esthetics is the study of ideal form, or beauty; it is the philosophy of art. Ethics is the study of ideal conduct; the highest knowledge said Socrates, is the knowledge of good and evil, the knowledge of life. Politics is the study of the ideal organization (not the art and essence of capturing and keeping office); monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, socialism, anarchism, feminism - these are the dramatis personae of political philosophy. And lastly metaphysics is the study of the 'ultimate reality' of all things; of the real and final nature of 'matter' (ontology) of 'mind' (philosophical psychology), and of the interrelation of 'mind' and 'matter' in the processes of perception and knowledge (epistemology'."

As I read the thoughts of Socrates of Plato and Aristotle, of Bacon,  I find myself thinking how much I'd have learned discussing the same with Rajan Bala.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Today's Leaders Want Us To Remain Backward

It is clear from most manifestos that most parties want the majority of the people to remain backward. They do not want people to work and grow, show enterprise and earn wealth. They'd rather people took doles, reduce themselves with low benchmaks and never reach their potential. This way the people would never become a threat to them. They can easily be bought over by promises of free this, free that. Caste, community, economic, there are several ways to keep people backward.

I can understand that the poor and the needy fall for these promises. But how do the parties and leaders look at themselves in the mirror when they make these promises? Do they not think how dangerous this attitude of dividing, of making lesser and lesser people, of promoting mediocrity can get? They do. Yes, of course. They know very well that they will create a class of people so removed from reality, so used to freebies, so used to mediocre thought, that the ruling class can forever shine as the rulers. It's nauseating, to use a recently used term.

The same mediocrity stretches over to leadership across the board. The BCCI is amazing in the manner it is conducting itself, or rather its President is conducting himself. How so few voices are being raised against him is a wonder, or is it? In fact many even praise him for being an able administrator. It is not just being an able administrator that counts, it is imperative that one also displays integrity when the time comes.

The paying class will be taxed ad nauseum, businesses will be troubled similarly. No one will be allowed to go forward and the backward will be kept backward by never raising the bar for them. And it all looks like they are doing them a favor really. It's like giving someone a low standard to reach and telling them that they are helping them. The only way one is helping them is keeping them low. If you want to truly help, raise the bar. Because they are as equal as anyone else.

The first leader who offers a freebie for no work should be banned from the elections. I am reminded of the NGO Goonj which gives poor rural people clothes, shoes and other things made out of urban waste. But they treat the poorest of the poor with dignity. The thought is that they never give anything for free. The people work together on a community project and earn their material. They do not need to fall at any body's feet. They can proudly wear stuff they earned.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

Reread the classic again to see if it was anything different. As with all these books, it did make much more sense now. I do not remember what I took from the book fifteen years ago when I first read it, but now I am blown away by the simplicity of presenting such a complex thought, the meaning of life itself, from the perspective of a Indian youth not too different from Gautama Buddha really.

Siddhartha is the son of a Brahmin and as he grows up he is seized by the need to seek knowledge. He leaves his home against the wishes of his father and joins the Samanas, who live in the forest and live almost like wild men with no clothes. Accompanied by his friend Govinda, Siddhartha seeks knowledge, trying out different philosophies austerities, rituals and penances but finds it not. He does not join the fold of the Buddha whom he meets though Govinda does. Instead Siddhartha goes out seeking knowledge on his own, just as Buddha had done. Knowledge can be taught, wisdom must be experienced he feels.

In his quest he realises that perhaps his route need not come from renouncing life. So he embraces life and its pleasures, meets Kamala the courtesan who tells him that she will teach him the art of pleasure and love if he earns riches and comes in fine clothes. Siddhartha does that, using the three things he knows - I can think, I can wait and I can fast. He earns much, loses his focus, loses interest in life and leaves the life of Samsara. As he wanders he meets Vasudeva the ferry man who knows the art of listening and nothing else, who knows the river better than anyone else.  Siddhartha joins him and the two old men ferry people across the river and learn about life from the river. Kamala, who has now given up her job as a courtesan, brings her son with Siddhartha and leaves him with his father. Siddhartha goes through the cycle of suffering for his child again, wishes to protect him, and finally learns to let go. When he lets go, he allows wisdom to flow.

As the book draws to a close there is a great energy that builds with it, great knowledge seeping through the words and acts.

'You seek too much, and as a result you cannot find. Seeking is to have a goal, finding is to have no goal, to be free, to be receptive.' 

'The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source, at the mouth...' 

It is a wonderful piece of work and I cannot help but think how Herman Hesse thought so clearly as he told the story firmly placed in such a rigid structure as that of our lives. Wonderful. Must read every once in five years.

Thought for the Day - Fear Comes First, Then Creative Thought

This happens in many cases. We are hit by fear at the first stage to our progress. Most of us give up at that stage. But the one who is looking at it creatively, will go further and say 'how do I get past this?'

And while one is looking at this solution, finding a way to get around a seemingly impossible block, creative thought flows in. Just like that. You prepare the ground, you keep thinking and are almost at the end of your wits when voila, out of the blue, a flash of inspiration happens.

A new thought that fits in perfectly. But you must go past fear to get there. Which is why creativity is all about courage.

Muppets Most Wanted - Movie Review

'It has everything,' said the six and a half year old. 'There is happiness, sadness, funniness. I liked everything about the movie. All the muppets. I found it very funny when Miss. Piggy hits Constantine in the helicopter.' Pretty emphatic from the target audience I'd say.

Muppets Most Wanted certainly had everything. Delightful characters, evil villain, compromised hero, romance, villain usurping hero's place, grand plans of stealing the Crown Jewels, intrigue, interesting characters from the police, a good looking jailer who falls for the loveable Kermit, what else do you want. Oh yes, some wonderful songs too.

The Muppets have just wrapped up a film and don't know what to do when they are made an offer by a leading agent Badguy (it's badgee in French he says, which means good guy) to go on a World Tour. The Muppets are not ready but get conned into it and off they go. Meanwhile the world's most dangerous frog Constantine escapes from  prison, a Siberian gulag, and sticks his trademark identification, a mole on his cheek, on Kermit who now looks like Constantine. Kermit is arrested and sent to Siberia. With Kermit out the way Constantine now becomes Kermit and leads the Muppets world tour in complete chaotic fashion. But there are deadly plans afoot between him and Badguy. The Muppets play along, Miss. Piggy almost marries Constantine. Will someone find out the truth? How will Kermit escape from  the Siberian gulag and the suffocating love of his jailer, the beautiful Nadya? And how do the two cops trace the real crime?

Lovely fare. I enjoyed a children's movie after a long time. No 3D was one great attraction. All those stars popping into small roles here and there was fun too - Salma Hayek, Tony Bennett, Christoph Waltz, P. Diddy, Lady Gaga and a host of others. The movie was fun, well made and like Anjali said, it had everything. Take your kids and go.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Movie Review

Based on Truman Capote's novella - isn't it amazing how many hit films are based on novels - I have been wanting to watch this 1961 classic for a long time. It's the story of Holly Golightly "a real phoney" in the words of her benevolent Hollywood agent friend, and her pursuit of riches by climbing the social ladder, and her love story with an equally clueless writer, living off his rich girlfriend. The movie is enhanced a thouand times by Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of the role. Else it would have been just another story.

Holly (Audrey Hepburn) meets Paul Varjak (George Peppard) a new neighbour. He learns of Holly's ambitions to scale the social ladder and secure her life, and she of how he has secured his life as a struggling writer by hitching on to a rich lady friend. The perpetually broke Holly talks of how she is never able to save, lives off dressing room tips that rich boyfriends - the rats and super-rats as she calls them - give her and the 100 buck tip she gets for visiting notorious gangster Sally Tomato in jail. Paul is drawn to the girl-woman who lives on the edge, in her pursuit for riches and comfort. Couple of twists later and the inevitable stop by the cops to question her about Sally Tomato finds us leading to a dramatic ending when all's well - without rich financiers as lovers and prospective wives and husbands.

Audrey Hepburn is brilliant as Holly Golightly and she holds the movie together with her capricious, naive and flamboyant performance. Apparently Capote wrote the story with Marilyn Monroe in mind and felt let down when they made the movie with Audrey Hepburn. George Peppard and the rest kind of fit in through the Japanese character jarred a bit. The title, I don't know what it was about except that Holly goes to Tiffany's the jewellery store whenever she wants to feel good and uplifted about life. Perhaps the first shot explains it, when she gets off a cab and stares into the windows of Tiffany's munching on a pastry and drinking coffee before she goes home to bed. Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Paradoxes of Our Lives - Take the I out of the goal, Add the goal to the I

This one is tricky. First, remove the 'I' (what's in it for me) from a common goal and become one with the goal.

Pic courtesy. Satish Nargundkar
And then, add the goal to the 'I'.

In other words, get personal about fighting for the common goal. And remove all traces of thinking of the personal when contributing for the common goal.

Ask not what's in it for me in the common goal. It's ours and you shall die for it. And then internalise the common goal to you at a personal level.

You are then, the ideal team man.

Idris, Keeper of the Light - Anita Nair

The latest from Anita Nair, one of my favorite Indian authors, is a departure yet again from all comfort zones. This time she ventures into the world of historical fiction, a time set in the 1600s in Kerala. Idris is the one eyed Somalian traveler who travels the world, seeking the measure of earth and man, has a golden eye in place of one pierced accidentally when he was young, and one suspects a golden heart too, because he genuinely seems to care for people he likes. (A bit like Zorba you suspect, but a very dignified version.) Idris, the traveler and trader, finds himself drawn to a young boy Kandavar, in a chance meeting. His own son it turns out, whom he had fathered in a night of passion on an earlier trip. Unknown to the boy and his relatives, Idris meets the mother, Kuttimalu, now a consort of another man. The equations are crazy, the caste lines, the young Kandavar's desire to be a Chaver and kill the Zamorin, and now the appearance of his father, whom he knows not. Anyway Idris stays long enough to influence the boy's thinking, has him train in the art of war in Kalaripayattu before he takes him away on his journeys, promising to return the boy after an year.

And so the travels start, of Idris and his son, the boy, Kandavar, and Sala Pokkar a khalasi and the ideal Man Friday. The trio go to Ceylon, to the eastern coast for pearl fishing and then to Golconda and its famed diamonds. In the diamond mines Idris finds Thilothamma, the regal, beautiful landlady, who lives like a queen and who has in her possession a lonely heart and a large diamond that her father gave her. The heart finds temporary solace with the arrival of Idris, but Thilothamma knows Idris will not stay. So she does him a favour. She tells his son that he must be blind not see that Idris is his father, they are so alike. Young Kandavar fears for himself, his mother and Idris, because if the likeliness is too obvious they will be killed or ex-communicated by their caste people in Kerala. As the book draws to a close Idris finds himself being pushed by his son and nudged back to the Kollur mines of Golconda, to Thilothamma, who has promised him a place with her anytime.

Idris is large in scale, much like the character, with no boundaries, and is packed with adventure. One does not know what the trio will encounter next, as they wind their way to Golconda, picking up an assortment of friends and animals, Golla, Musa, Vajra. The stage is now set for young Kandavar to take over and fulfill what he believes is his destiny. Idris, is quiet, looming and brooding as he wanders, one who speaks less and acts and thinks more. His women are interesting, both of them living on the fringe of society, spirited, carefree and strong women. They do not care to be nice or conventional.

Anita Nair effortlessly steps into the shoes of the Somalian traveller coming off the heavy brown police shoes of Inspector Borei Gowda and tells a new story without skipping a beat. They are very different men, these two, except perhaps for their habit of being drawn to women who think and live independently and dangerously. Idris is made of all the right things certainly, noble and passionate, a man of his own mind, courageous and proud. He will ask for no help but will get enough wherever he goes precisely for that reason. One wonders what will happen now to Kandavar, now that he knows the secret, how Kuttimalu will react, how Thilothamma will react and what will happen when they all meet. I somehow find that possibility very juicy in an almost Hindi serial manner.

Research is exhaustive, all those Arabic words, astronomy, ships, diamonds, 16th century, trade, geography, kalari, and so it must be for a book of this scale. I am glad we now have a South Indian hero, though half-Somalian, stepping up from the world of historical fiction. And an interesting one at that.Now for Kandavar and hopefully an epic fight.

Anita Nair's greatest strength is her courage to try new ideas, new perspectives and areas and step out of her comfort zone fearlessly. It is a wonderful way to stay alive, to think, and probably the best way for a writer to evolve into a great one. I would not know of many writers who would step out of the comfort of what they know works for them. It is this same courage that seeps into her characters and makes them unpredictable and adventurous, loveable and strong at the core. From men struggling to come to terms with their fathers, the ugly truth behind female foeticide / infanticide, murderous transvestites and eunuchs, women who feed their vain husbands rich foods so they become unattractive to other women and many more such characters have already come alive from Anita's pen. Almost all her books have challenged status quo, have taken the more difficult path even when the easier path was available, and that is a quality one cannot but admire and also try to emulate. And just for that, one cannot but say, good going Anita. Don't even pause for a moment. You're doing a fantastic job of telling fine stories.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Top 100 Leadership Quotes

Here is the list of my top 100 leadership quotes (from various sources). Lao Tzu tops the list easily.

  1. A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. —Lao Tzu
  2. I must follow the people. Am I not their leader? —Benjamin Disraeli
  3. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree
  4. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
  5. A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte
  6. You don’t need a title to be a leader. –Multiple Attributions
  7. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell
  8. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. —Peter Drucker
  9. The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. —Warren Bennis
  10. To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less. —Andre Malraux
  11. He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. —Aristotle
  12. I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. —Ralph Nader
  13. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. —Peter Drucker
  14. Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. —Publilius Syrus
  15. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
  16. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. —Theodore Roosevelt
  17. You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. —Ken Kesey
  18. When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him to find the means to carry it out. —Napoleon Bonaparte
  19. The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh
  20. The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. —Kenneth Blanchard
  21. A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. —John Maxwell
  22. Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton
  23. A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. —Douglas MacArthur
  24. A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward. —Ovid
  25. No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it. —Andrew Carnegie
  26. Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. —General Dwight Eisenhower
  27. Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. —General George Patton
  28. As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. —Bill gates
  29. Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. —Stephen Covey
  30. Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand. —General Colin Powell
  31. He who has great power should use it lightly. —Seneca
  32. I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody. —Herbert Swope
  33. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams
  34. It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. —Nelson Mandela
  35. Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. —Vince Lombardi
  36. Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. —John C. Maxwell
  37. Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy
  38. Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day. —Jesse Jackson
  39. Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. —Norman Schwarzkopf
  40. Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. —Colin Powell
  41. Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts. —Erskine Bowles
  42. Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better. —Bill Bradley
  43. Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. —Tom Peters
  44. Never give an order that can’t be obeyed. —General Douglas MacArthur
  45. Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. —Chinese Proverb
  46. One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. —Arnold Glasow
  47. The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on. —Walter Lippman
  48. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. —Harvey Firestone
  49. True leadership lies in guiding others to success. In ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well. —Bill Owens
  50. A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops. —John J Pershing
  51. A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. —John Maxwell
  52. There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage. —Fuchan Yuan
  53. My responsibility is getting all my players playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back. –Unknown
  54. A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. –George Patton
  55. The supreme quality of leadership is integrity. –Dwight Eisenhower
  56. Leadership is an action, not a position. ~ Donald McGannon
  57.  The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly ~ Jime Rohn
  58.  Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. ~ Winston Churchill
  59. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ~ John Quincy Adams
  60. Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another. ~ John C. Maxwell
  61. Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. ~ Brian Tracy
  62. Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing. ~ Mary D. Poole
  63. My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better. ~ Steve Jobs
  64.  The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. ~ Ronald Reagan
  65. Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. ~ Jack Welch
  66. I was never the smartest guy in the room. From the first person I hired, I was never the smartest guy in the room. And that’s a big deal. And if you’re going to be a leader – if you’re a leader and you’re the smartest guy in the world – in the room, you’ve got real problems. ~ Jack Welch
  67. Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders. ~ John Holt
  68.  Too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted people never are. They have unique talents. Such people cannot be forced into roles they are not suited for, nor should they be. Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do. ~ Warren  Bennis
  69.  Contrary to popular opinion, leadership is not a reserved position for a particular group of people who were elected or appointed, ordained or enthroned. Leadership is self-made, self-retained, self-inculcated and then exposed through a faithful, sincere and exemplary life. ~ Israelmore Avivor
  70. You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  71. If you tell me, I'll listen. If you show me, I'll see. If you let me experience, I'll learn. - Lao Tsu.
  72. Inspiring leadership is about being able to make his soldiers feel that they must follow him through fire and in any adventure.- Xenophon
  73. Some rowing masters can say and do the right thing and raise the men's spirits and make them work with a will. Other rowing masers are so lacking in this ability that it takes them twice the time to finish the voyage. Here they land bathed in sweat, with mutual congratulations, master and oarsmen. There, they arrive with dry skin; they hate their master and he hates them.
  74. A leader puts his words into action before allowing his words to follow his action. 
  75. When people are of one mind and heart, they can move Mount Tai"- proverb.
  76. When spiders unite they can tie up a lion. -Ethiopian proverb
  77. Once we are bound together to our brothers by a common good that is outside us, then we can breathe. Experience teaches us that love is not to gaze at one another but to gaze in the same direction. There is no comradeship except through unity on the same rope, climbing towards the same peak. - Antoine de Saint Exupery
  78. Ten good soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head. – Euripedes
  79. Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys, look on them as your beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. – Sun Tzu
  80. Evidence of trust begets trust, and love is reciprocated by love – Plutarch
  81. To be able yet to ask the advise of those who are not able. to have many talents yet to ask the advise of those who have few. to have yet to appear to want. to be full yet to appear empty. to be transgressed against yet not mind. - Tseng-Tzu on Confucius's approach to leadership
  82. Over daily routine do not show weariness and when there is action to be taken, give your best.
  83. It is happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust. - Samuel Johnson
  84. When the shepherd is corrupt so is his flock. - Moorish proverb.
  85. The best leader is easy to serve but difficult to please.
  86. Be economical with praise - like gold and diamonds it owes it value to scarcity.
  87. The chief has no relatives. - Tsonga people of Africa
  88. By asking the impossible you get the best possible - Italian proverb
  89. Don't compromise your standards or values. Demand the very best from your team and reward those who give it.
  90. Justice is the first expression of love.
  91. The one nearest the enemy is the real leader.
  92. You can tell what type of a person someone is by the way they treat strangers
  93. Leadership should mean giving a lead by example, even without a position of authority. True leadership ...displayed by men who have no high position or reputation at stake, but with much to lose in terms of security, in comradeship and convenience, who stand up for what they know, from their conscience to be right.- John Hunt
  94. Leadership is best described as the art of inspiring others to give their best, and the courage to use this art. ..demands that the leader operates from within the group and not above it, that in setting a good example he does not steal the initiative of others; in other words, he takes his full share - but no more than his share of the job at hand.' – John Hunt
  95. '.. implies a willingness not merely to decentralize or apportion the burden, but an ability to persuade each member of the group that is an equally essential job and that each has his liberty as well as responsibility to develop that part of a whole.'- John Hunt
  96. is the art of combining the efforts of everyone to produce a combined result. No place for arrogance." – John Hunt
  97. To say you know when you know, and to say you do not when you do not, that is knowledge.
  98. You are not born a leader, you become one. - African proverb
  99. An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep – Anonymous
  100. 'A servant leader should be a performance coach. The job includes performance planning, day-to-day coaching and performance evaluation. Most forget the day-today coaching bit and focus on evaluation. The 5 Key steps are -Tell them what to do, Show them, Let them try, Observe, Train program, redirect. – Ken Blanchard
One cannot have a better education than read the masters and their views on these subjects. What a wonderful repository of wisdom on such a complex topic.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Leading by Giving - Workshop at StratApps Day 4

While the participants trickled in I had the opportunity of discussing the story of Sholay and the leadership behind it. How Sippy stood his ground, how Sailm-Javed held their belief when everything seemed to be going down, fine stuff.
Leaders all - The StratApps team, from Lto R, Anuradha, Rajaneesh, Surendra, Sreenivasu, Sreenivas, Raghavendra, Kiran, John, Sandeep, Satish, Gopinath, PV, Me, Satish and Praneeth

PV administered a case study to three groups on which they applied the principles of goal clarity, role clarity etc and presented their plans. It was an engaging activity and I am sure everyone benefited by the process. The importance of clarity and communication was emphasised once again. He followed that up with another fine model - the AAC model - which gives great clarity in roles. It is the Accountability (whose head is it), Authority (to decide) and Competencies (skills and traits required) model. Very interesting.

We were coming to the end of the session and I summed it all up and put it into context. Organisations start with a vision. The vision can be fulfilled only by a series of tasks i.e. work. To fulfil the tasks resources are taken on board. Certain basic processes fall into place once resources are on board so it interconnects the effort.

So far so good, but it is here that the second line of leadership, or even individuals who have the leadership attitude, can make a difference. Using all the resources efficiently is the key for the leader on the job. If the leader has no belief in people, has no process, no knowledge and no vision, he will be akin to a bullock cart leading a posse of powerful cars. The entire team is restricted by the leader's lack of vision and efficiency. The next type of a leader who knows the process and has some knowledge can use the resources enough to perhaps achieve the vision or task as set out. The inspirational leader however gambles big on the potential of his resources, gives them freedom, allows them to grow, helps them grow and as they grow, sees the vision expanding exponentially.

Leaders will be finally judged only by their performance and the growth of their team as individuals and as a team. If the team performs but individuals have not grown, the leader has not done his job. It is obvious that leaders must prepare themselves for the role too as with everything else. On skill and physical aspect first and then on the mental side which is about 80% of the performance. The mental aspect involves knowing the context, process-orientation and understanding the belief system of the leader. The better prepared leader will be able to apply more principles of inspirational leadership.

Leadership finally is about power. The power to make a real difference. However the biggest problem is using the power that one is vested with, one has access to. Most of us use very little of the power we have and this could come from a space of being slightly insecure. In my mind being secure happens when one accepts oneself as he or she is. There will be imperfections, weaknesses, but this is me. All one needs to show is the intent to accomplish the task, intent to work hard and learn and to come back until the work is done. One who can think like that cannot be insecure. He will say he does not know when he knows not, and is willing to learn.

Inspirational leadership is about love. The quote says that true love is in bringing out the best in people around us. It does strike you that we do not really do that - we do not really care for bringing out the best for people in our families in our teams. Its time we made a difference there as well.

The team was asked to stay in touch with one another over a period of 100 days. Tasks to keep the team together and have while being on the job were assigned and each took responsibility for a task. I do believe we need givers, contributors at leadership positions in our world, and there is no reason why this group pf young, driven professionals cannot become inspirational leaders who are greatly influencing the space they choose to be in.

I must leave you with this link to a youtube video. If any of you from the StratApps team is reading this blog, pass this along. It is Simon Sinek speaking of inspirational leadership in a simple model, the importance of the purpose.

Thanks you StratApps for the opportunity, Naveen and Lalitha, PV for bringing us together. And so with the entire team of participants, leaders all from whom I expect much, Sreenivas, Praneeth, Satish, Rajaneesh, Gopi, John, Nagendra, Surendra, Kiran, Anuradha, Sreenivasu, Raghavendra and Sandeep. Good luck to you all and god bless.