Wednesday, 26 July 2017

It is Complicated !

Yesterday I was in a very bad mood. I snapped at my husband, growled at my daughter, scolded my maid and was generally irritated.  Late at night, I tried a few minutes of "mindfulness" meditation , trying to sort out myself.  

But that made me thinking about Moods, emotions and affects ... It is really complicated ... but let me try a bit of rambling in this post to explain . 

Affects - this is a generic term that covers a broad range of feelings that individuals express 

Moods - they are less intense as compared with emotions and they frequently lack contextual stimulus. For example , if someone asks me why my mood was "off" yesterday, I will not be able to pinpoint to any specific incident or person per say !

Emotions : these are intense feelings directed at someone or something. 

But hold on ! Sometimes an emotion can change into a mood and a mood can change into a longer term emotion !  Again attitude and values are somewhat permanent and more stable than moods or emotions.  I may have negative emotion towards a person, but my value will forbid me to behave inappropriately with her . 

Coming back to emotions, research says that there are six categories of emotions . Anger , Fear, Joy, Love , Sadness and Surprise.  In the Indian culture we have "Nav Ras" . Nav = 9 , Ras = emotion.  The three extra emotions are namely Valor, loathsomeness and Peace

In life , including workplace we go thru hassles, uplifts and down periods.

It is very important to understand the influence of emotions at workplace and how charismatic leaders make use of emotions for transformative leadership.  For some job roles, it is imperative that you "put on " a smiling face irrespective of what you are feeling. Have you ever seen a grumpy air hostess or a customer care executive  ? 

For such jobs as well as in situations where the employees have to behave in a particular way their organization demands , during interpersonal transactions at work whether or not you are experiencing any emotion, is called "Emotional labor". The term "labor" comes because of the dissonance

The fact is that you cannot keep up the "labor" or dissonance for too long. If you are unhappy at your workplace, some day or the other, the mask will fall off and you will quit. 

Let me give you an example. 

Suppose , you believe that job responsibility and authority is a very important factor at workplace. If your supervisors and peers say or do anything which hits this belief, you will have an attitude of "I do not like my job" .  And once this feeling settles in, after a particular period of time , the result will be that you will quit your job. 

Here is where leaders and senior management of the organization has to step in.  For Job satisfaction, the following are the five facets : 

  1. The work itself - responsibility, interest and growth
  2. Quality of supervision - technical help, empathy, support
  3. Relationships - Respect, Integrity
  4. Promotion opportunities 
  5. Pay 
There are often constraints for the last two points , but the the rest can be easily implemented.  But to do that , the leader must have emotional intelligence , to understand her own emotions as well as the other person's emotions and then deal differently according to the situation. 

But it is not so easy ! 

Emotions vary across cultures.  Walmart's emphasis on friendliness did not work in Germany ! The Germans did not like the greetings and their helpful personnel.  In fact, I too find it quite irritating when I am browsing thru perfumes or clothes etc. in a mall , and an attendant comes and asks "Can I help you ?"

The Britishers do not like overtly show of emotions unlike the Americans. The Indians do not like showing affection towards their children or spouses in public... It is changing though ... I am told that in a business meeting in Japan, if they show eagerness and inquisitiveness , that means they will not sign the deal !

The same applies to individuals as well. So, the leaders have to deal with each one individually. The leader also has to put across a common goal for everybody. 

I am reminded of Bapu, Father of India, Mahatma Gandhi, how he motivated and got to the core of every Indian's emotion when he picked up a fistful of salt from the coastal sea shore of Dandi and said "We will disobey , but with non violence ... follow me ! British Quit India ! ". 

The crowd behind him swelled from 10 people to more than 50,000 Indians in that Dandi March.   

Such is the power of Emotion ! 

By the way, something to ponder upon. There are evidences which says  women suppress more negative feelings and emphasize more positive feelings !  Good in way and bad in a way. Good because this makes the females better leaders having higher emotional intelligence. Bad because , they will be a day when the females will just blow the top and dissent . 

Both at workplace and at home. 

Oh ... just to let you know, my mood is much better now ... Cheers !

Monday, 17 July 2017

Aesop's Tales in Corporate Management

I love Aesop’s tales.

From my childhood , till date, I have learnt lessons from these cute tiny tales.

Here in this blog post, I present 4 Tales with Corporate scenario lessons.

Hope you like them .

The Dog and the bone

A dog was walking home with his dinner, a large slab of meat and bone , in his mouth. On his way home, he walked by a river. Looking in the river, he saw another dog with a handsome chunk of meat in his mouth.

"I want that meat, too," thought the dog, and he snapped at the dog to grab his meat which caused him to drop his dinner in the river.

Corporate Scenario lesson :

You are getting a good salary in your current organization. In addition to that your boss is good, the work is satisfying and you have got a good impression in your organization. One day you talk to an old friend of yours and come to know that he is getting about 20 – 25% higher pay packet than you are.

You become unhappy. You want what he is getting. You start looking out for a job change and get a 30% hike. You quit the current organization and join the new firm and after a few month, it gets bankrupt and all the new employees are laid off.  

Including you.


The Goose that laid a Golden egg

A man and his wife owned a very special goose. Every day the goose would lay a golden egg, which made the couple very rich.

"Just think," said the man's wife, "If we could have all the golden eggs that are inside the goose, we could be richer much faster."

"You're right," said her husband, "We wouldn't have to wait for the goose to lay her egg every day."

So, the couple killed the goose and cut her open, only to find that she was just like every other goose. She had no golden eggs inside of her at all, and they had no more golden eggs.

Corporate Scenario Lesson :  

This one is for the Top Management. 

An employee is loyal and has been working for several years in the organization. He has been constantly delivering results. But, taking his services and efficiency for granted, during the increment cycle,  the Top Management  doles out the same increment to him as an ordinarily performing executive.  They pay good salary to the people who negotiate and hold them at ransom and not to this silent performer.

One day , when he puts in his resignation letter, they realize his worth.

But by that time, the loyalty, sincerity and trustworthiness of the employee is dead.


The Fox and the Peacock

 A peacock was very unhappy with his ugly voice, and he spent most of his days complaining about it.

"It is true that you cannot sing," said the fox, "But look how beautiful you are!"

"Oh, but what good is all this beauty," moaned the dishearten bird, "with such an unpleasant voice!"

"Oh hear," said the fox, "Each one has it's special gift. You have such beauty, the nightingale has his song, the owl has his eyes, and the eagle his strength. Even if you had a eloquent voice, you would still complain about another thing."

Corporate scenario lesson :

As a team leader, you should be able to identify the USP of each member of your team. You should recognize them for their special abilities . This will motivate them to understand their worth and contribution to the organization.  One word of appreciation will make his self esteem soar sky high and in turn his performance and efficiency will increase.


The Fox and the Crow

A fox was walking through the forest when he saw a crow sitting on a tree branch with a fine piece of cheese in her beak. The fox wanted the cheese and decided he would be clever enough to outwit the bird.

"What a noble and gracious bird I see in the tree!" proclaimed the fox, "What exquisite beauty! What fair plumage! If her voice is as lovely as her beauty, she would no doubt be the jewel of all birds."

 The crow was so flattered by all this talk that she opened her beak and gave a cry to show the fox her voice.

 "Caw! Caw!" she cried, as the cheese dropped to the ground for the fox to grab.

Corporate scenario lesson :

This one is for the Top Management.

There will be many people who will flatter you. These are all “Yes Men”. Whatever you say,  they will nod their head and say the things which you would like to hear. Beware ! These are the ones who quickly change sides once the tides turns. 

With their flattery, you will imagine that you are a cuckoo , not being able to grasp the reality .  You need critics around you, who will tell you the truth and show you the risks, however unpleasant these might seem. These are your real friends and well wishers who love even your “Caw, caws“ !


Thursday, 6 July 2017

10 very effective tips for Time Management

Last month was very bad for me in terms of posting blogs . I was very busy(???) with the presentation of a research paper . I presented it successfully on 4th July. Three days have passed after that but still no blog post . 

I am a stickler for time . I want to utilize every second , but still I could not write a blog post ! I have written so many posts about time management , but I failed myself this time. Even while preparing for the presentation, I could have saved time. I lingered on it unnecessarily, changing a period  here and a hyphen there ! Remember Parkinson's law ? " Work expands itself so as to fill the time available for its completion ".  How true this is !

You know, it is easy to say certain things but we have to sustain doing it.  In this post today, I want to remind revise and refresh my time management skills. Hope this tips helps you too to do the same . 

  • Where are you headed ?  If we do not know the answer to this ? we will never be able to prioritize . If we are not able to prioritize, we will never be able to focus. If we cannot focus we will waste time and will be waylaid away from our goal . 
  • Do it Now !  The best way to do tough , challenging jobs or boring jobs is to do it NOW. Just jump into it without thinking or procrastinating.  When we know that we have to do it, then why delay
  • Sleep over it . This is just the opposite of the previous point. Sometimes, when we keep on trying to do something which is just not getting through or we are going dry on ideas, just leave it for the day. Sleep tight.  And the next day ... magic ! We strike upon the most amazing solution for the task and it gets completed successfully in a giffy. Yes.  This has happened many times with me. Actually, our subconscious mind keeps on working on the problem even when we sleep ! 
  • Work when you are the most effective . All individuals are unique. We all have our circadian cycles and specific time periods in the day when we are the most productive. We should identify this golden time period and utilize it for the work which is of the utmost priority.
  • Perfection... good or bad ? It depends.  For me what works is that the output should be good enough (not perfect) and a little bit extra.  Slogging away to do a task till you are 100% perfect (apart from few tasks like heart surgery or rocket manufature etc. )is usually not needed , neither very productive or noticeable.
  • Beware of Time thieves ! There are people who will try to steal away your time. For example , a phone call which is not related to your work, or some mindless whatsapp message or looking at social media.  Beware of these and try to protect your time like a new born baby. Yes , it is as precious !
  • Exercise and stay healthy and fit ! If you feel sluggish or tired , your productivity goes for a nosedive. So , keep moving, eat healthy, energize your mind and stay positive.  Believe me, it saves time !
  • Use your travel / wait time. I find this very effective.  I have a list of people with whom I need to talk.  While driving , I utilize my time to catch up on social talks, calling my parents or my daughter. Yes, I do try to see that I am not disturbing their schedule !  I can concentrate quite well on my writing while I am travelling on train. Also, I keep my kindle handy with me so that I can catch up on my reading whenever there is any traffic jam or I have to wait in a queue !
  • Learn to say "No " . Yes , at work or at home, you will be bombarded with activities , tasks or adhoc requests . I know we cannot say "No" everytime to our boss, but sometimes even that is needed.  First and foremost, I am the slave of my own tasks. There are ways we can say no, without being rude. 
  • No to too much of multitasking.  I am a big victim of multitasking. I want to do many things together.  As a result of that, I am spread across too thin and none of my work gets done in the time frame that I want to and I get the feeling of being unproductive. So, folks, I have started reducing my tasks . I am trying to focus . 

Half the year is gone, but another half is there ! So , I want to utilize each and every second and work towards my goal. 

What about you ? 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Teeny Weeny : Fairy Tale

Her face glowed as she undressed and stepped into the hot foaming water in the bath tub.

She sat on her knees , the water covering her breasts. 

She closed her eyes.  She could see her grandmother's wrinkled face , her toothless smile and  soft plump body adorned in white sari. The warm water on her body felt as soothing as her Grandma's caresses. 

She smiled. Her body felt light , just like a 7 year old girl. 

"Thakuma ... Golpo bolo na ... " (Grandma .. tell me a story ...) 

"And then the girl took the first dip in the river and she became as beautiful as a flower ..."

She pulled her head into the water and took a dip.  She felt as beautiful as a princess ....

"Then she took another dip and all her scars disappeared ...."   

She took a second dip .  Scars all gone ..... 

"With the third dip, she was dressed in the most exquisite dresses in the world .. she was now ready for the prince to marry her ... "

She dipped inside the water again ... Ah !! what a feeling ... red banarasi sari, golden jewelry ... fine gold bangles, tiara .... 

"But the witch had warned her not to take any more dips ... if she did so, she would become ugly ..."

With her eyes still closed, she stepped out of the tub and dried herself with the towel and felt the dress hanging on the hook.  

As soon as she opened her eyes, the dress got transformed into a faded maxi. 

She looked at herself in the mirror . The scars on her face, shoulders , arms and back were red and bruised.  

Her prince charming was waiting impatiently for her.

"How much time do you spend in bathing,  huh  ? I have been waiting for ever for my breakfast. Be quick or else you can leave the house ... " he scowled at her 

"Granny, I did not take the fourth dip ! Then why .... " Her eyes welled with unshed tears. 

She knew that the fairy tales were over for her. 

For ever.


Teeny-Weenies will spice up the monotony of the leadership posts . Hope you like them.     

Looking forward to your comments.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Amazing Tomato - POMODORO

A few days back , one of  the followers of my blog sent me a  message .

Ma’m , I read your blog posts regularly and I find them very useful.   I am a budding author and I am in the process of writing a book.  I followed the tips you had given in the  post and I am following it regularly. But somehow,  things are not getting done !  I cannot concentrate .  As soon as I try to write something, that very moment  I want to check my emails or remember  an important call that I have to make.   Once I get over with these,  I get disturbed or distracted with something or the other.  The net  result is that at the end of the day, I realize that I have not even written 25% of what I had planned to write .   Can you suggest how  I can get over this problem ?  Please... please  help  Ma'm ....

The reader was referring to one  of my earlier posts where I had  talked about  “The most powerful Productivity tool “.  (Click on the link to  read it).  That blog  post talked about the simple but very effective “To-Do List” , where you define the tasks or goals what you plan to do in a week and then break it down and list out tasks for the day. 

But the problem elucidated  was not about identifying and planning the tasks. The problem she is facing is one of the most common problems most of us face nowadays.  

The problem of  distraction . Very small attention spans. 

Multitasking. Information overload.

All of us face this problem nowadays. 

With the internet in my palm, Whatsapp messages, social media, video calls ,  sometimes I feel my  time  is no longer mine.  

The craving for looking at my smartphone at least once in 10 minutes is too strong (except when you are flying or in a no network zone – ha ha !).  We have become too much connected.  This is intruding in our lives and eating away precious , productive moments .

If this problem was posed to me four years ago, I would have recommended “meditation”. 

But today,  I will recommend a simple method named “POMODORO” .  I came to know about this technique from my daughter, who is trying to crack a very tough exam. 

The Pomodoro Technique can help you power through distractions, hyper-focus, and get things done in short bursts, while taking frequent breaks to come up for air and relax. Best of all, it's easy. If you have a busy job where you're expected to produce, it's a great way to get through your tasks. 

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. His best-selling book of the same name was updated and revised in 2013. 
"Pomodoro" is Italian for tomato. The technique works by getting you to structure your work in 25-minute sessions, each separated by a short break. Cirillo took the name from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that he used to manage his time as a university student. 
The method is remarkably simple. Each 25-minute session is one "pomodoro." When you complete one, take a five-minute break before embarking on the next.   Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

At first, it might seem counter-intuitive to take so many breaks throughout the day. But research shows that this can actually enhance your focus when you return to the task you're working on. 

To make it simple, the following are the steps for combining the To-do list and the Pomodoro technique:
  • Make your weekly list for the tasks to be completed
  • Break it down to daily to-do list.
  • Prioritize the tasks
  • Choose a task to be accomplished
  • Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
  • Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  • Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
  • Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break.

Remember that during each sprint, there has to be absolutely no distraction. For example you will set your cell phone to the silent mode, if needed put a Do Not disturb sign near you, you will not look at emails, no multitasking.  You will fully concentrate on the task that you have set for the Pomodoro. 

After your timer buzzes, you will take a break of 5-6 minutes and then again set the timer for the next sprint.  When you have completed four "pomodori," take a longer break to rest and recharge. 

It is not necessary that you do 3-4 sprints in continuation. You can start with 1 or 2.  

In fact, I am writing this post as a Pomodori Sprint ! 😊  And I am happy with the result.  I will try more Tomatoes ... errr Pomodoris every day. 

And my dear budding author, I hope this helps you !

Why don't you too give it a try and let let me know if it is working for you or not? 

 Best of Luck ! 

Stay productive , Stay happy, Achieve your Goals!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Stranger

Dear readers,  in my last blog post I had asked you to stay tuned ... So here you go.... 

The post "Who Won" , talks about restoration of trust in humanity. In this blog post, I will describe an incident which I personally experienced. Whenever I become too cynical and  distrustful about any person or a situation or life in general, I try to recall this real life story . It gives me hope.

The first experience goes way back , about 18 - 19 years ago  when I had to visit Cyprus for a very difficult assignment.  My return itinerary had a flight change at Dubai. I was travelling alone. The inward flight from Nicosia, Cyprus was late by 4 hours due to bad weather. The next flight was on the next day, early morning.  

This disruption was not too unwelcome from me. I am a travel bug and I saw this as an opportunity to see the Dubai city. And this was like a Godsend opportunity for me to buy some dresses and toys for my 5 year old daughter. Due to work pressure and a bit due to lack of planning, I could not buy gifts for her from Cyprus.

By the time I got a one day transit visa made at the airport, checked in at the hotel booked by the Airlines, it was already 6 pm in the evening.I did not know  anything about Dubai , where to go, how to go ! Understand that there were no Google maps or Ubers or such prolific internet facility at that time

I inquired at the lobby helpdesk but could not understand anything due to the heavy Arabic accent.  All the signage were mostly Arabic. I could hardly see any females on the streets. I did not want to go alone in a taxi as I did not know the place or the markets or anyone there. 

I sat down on a Sofa, feeling disappointed. Suddenly, a bearded young man came and greeted me "Salaam Alekum !" 

"Hullo" I said. 

"You want to go to a market to buy toys ? There is a huge market quite nearby where you will get fantastic electronic games . I heard you inquire about it at the reception "

"Err.. yes.. but ... " I faltered.

"I am also going that way, if you want we can go together and come back together"

Maybe because I was too distressed by visualizing my daughter's disappointed face, I jumped at the proposition.   

If I look back now, I shiver. 

An unknown place which has very strict laws, I am alone, I do not know the language. I do not have a cell phone, I have very little money on me and a stranger proposes to me about accompanying him to the market which I do not not know is real or fictitious and I accompany him happily

I did not even know his name and till date I do not know it ! 

As we sat in the taxi , he said he was from Pakistan ! That made me very uneasy. But the damage was already done.As I sat stiffly without uttering a word, my friend (??!!) asked the taxi to stop infront of a well lit mall. The market was really a paradise for electronic toys. I went about browsing the toys, asking the price , checking what best I can fit into my budget and he too did the same. Finally I bought the toys and also a very cute frilly pink frock (My daughter still remembers the dress ) . 

With my hand full of bags, I was contemplating whether to return to the hotel alone or not, suddenly I saw the person running towards me . 

"Oh ! Sorry ! I was buying some chocolates and you had disappeared . I got worried.  It is quite late , let us have dinner and return to the hotel"

Some sense had come back to me . 

"No.. I don't want any dinner . I will manage alone. You carry on ... "

 He contemplated for a while. I stood still. I had bought a small pocket knife by then.

"Ok ... lets go then ..." and he hailed a taxi. 

I sat stiffly beside him, holding the small knife tightly in my palm.  I was tense. I prayed. 

It seemed like eternity but finally we reached the hotel. I was sweating in trepidation by then. 

He helped me with my packets till I reached the elevator . As the door closed, he smiled and said "Bye ! Good Luck !

That was the last time I saw the gentleman. 

I do not know his name. I do not know his address , contact number or email. 

I could not say "Thank you " to him, ever. 

The world does have good people. 

Let us not put narrow walls around us based on religion, nationality, race , colour, sex or appearance. Yes, we have to be careful since there are wolves around us  too.  But let us not lose trust. 

Let us not lose hope ....

Cheers !

Friday, 12 May 2017

Who Won ?

When I was in class 6th, there was a short story prescribed in our Hindi literature book.  It was written by a famous author named Sudarshan. The name of the story was "Haar Ki Jeet " (हार की जीत) I don't know how to translate this in 3 words in English, but the essence of the story title is "The winning of the loser". 

The storyline goes like this ... Once upon a time there was a hermit named Baba  Bharti. He had a very beautiful white horse named Sultan. Baba Bharti loved Sultan very dearly and he used to say that he will never be able to live without Sultan.  His day started with a  ride on his favourite Sultan and it ended by feeding and caring for the horse.  In that village lived a dacoit named Kharag Singh. He had heard about Baba Bharti and his Sultan from many people and one day he went to the temple to meet the hermit.  

"I have heard a lot about Sultan. Can I see him once ? " Kharag Singh pleaded. 

Baba Bharti was very pleased and he proudly took Kharag Singh to the stable to show him his prized possession. Kharag Singh was amazed. He had never ever seen such a beautiful horse. He thought that this horse should be with him rather than with Baba Bharti. After all Baba was a hermit. Why would he need such a horse ?

While leaving, Kharag Singh looked at Baba Bharti and said " Baba ! I will not let this horse stay with you !" , and went away. 

Baba Bharti was scared. He lost his sleep.  He would wake up with a start at midnight, go to the stable a check on Sultan. 

But months passed by and Kharag Singh did not return. Baba Bharti became relaxed and thought that Kharag Singh had just jested with him. 

One evening, Baba Bharti was riding on Sultan. Suddenly, he saw an invalid man , walking with a limp coming towards him.  He was stooping and his white , unkempt beard made him look very old. 

"Baba ... I have to go to the next village which is 3 miles away . I legs are paining and I cannot walk. Please let me sit on your horse and take me till the end of this village ... I will remain ever grateful to you ... God will bless you , my son !" 

Baba Bharti was very kind. He stepped down, helped the  crippled person on the horse and he held the reins and started walking slowly. 

Suddenly, Baba Bharti felt a jolt.  The cripple was sitting straight on Sultan and laughing. The reins of the horse was in his hands.  He was dacoit Kharag Singh ! He pulled at the reins and started riding away . 

"Wait ... !" baba Bharti shouted. Kharag Singh stopped. 

"Tell me Baba ! I will do whatever you tell me to do. But I will not v return Sultan to you " 

Baba Bharti looked at Kharag Singh and said softly . 

"I will not talk about the horse. But I have one request ... " 

"Tell me , O hermit ! I will obey "

"Kharag Singh, I request you not to tell about this incident - how you took away Sultan from me, to anybody ... "

Kharag Singh was very intrigued and surprised.  He had never imagined that Baba Bharti will have such a request.  He tried to comprehend , but could not think of any logical reason... so he asked

"Baba, why such a strange request ? What purpose will it serve for you ? "

Baba Bharti looked straight at his eyes 

"My son... If you tell about this incident, no one will ever help a person in need ... they will never trust the weaker person ... "  

After saying this, Baba Bharti slowly went away . He did not look back at Sultan even once. 

Baba Bharti went away , but his words kept on echoing in Kharag Singh's ears. He was filled with remorse.  At the dead of the night, Kharag Singh sneaked into the temple with Sultan .  The stable doors were wide open ... Baba Bharti did not care to close them ... 

Kharag Singh slowly tied Sultan.  He had tears in his eyes. Tears of repentance and guilt.  A few drops fell on the ground. Kharag Singh closed the stable doors slowly and went away. 

The next day Baba Bharti got up a dawn and habitually walked towards the stable . Suddenly he realized that Sultan is not in the stable anymore. He stopped short and with a heavy heart started walking away.  Sultan recognized his master's footsteps and started whinnying. 

Baba Bharti could not believe his ears. he ran towards the stable and saw Sultan... Baba was overjoyed !

He embraced Sultan and started crying.  "My Sultan is back ... Now no one will distrust the poor and the handicapped ... "

Baba Bharti's tears fell on the ground ... at the same place where Kharag Singh's tears had fallen...  

Reader, you must be wondering why I have recounted this story ... well there is a reason ... Read my next post ..

Stay Tuned ....