161 posts categorized "Gratitude"

Nuggets from Option B

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 

I just finished the reading the book "Option B" by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and Adam Grant (Prof. in Wharton Business School). 

After the sudden death of her husband, Facebook COO (and author of Lean In) Sandberg finds herself a widow and single mother.  It is a brave attempt to unveil the vulnerability with such rawness and honesty.Her book isn't exactly a checklist--which I think is a good thing--but it is a way to take charge of one's own response to tragedy or difficulty.

Sandberg researches what these things are, and does her best to follow them. Turns out these types of mindsets or mental exercises are good for all of us who have gone through something as tragic or even mildly difficult. And they are good for those of us who have stood by friends who have lost loved ones or are battling enormous life adjustments. Or smaller challenges, too. Or maybe we're parents of children whose lives will inevitably involve some hardship, and we'd like to teach them to be resilient from a young age.

Some of the things I picked up from the book and will carry with me as tools to face or overcome the loss or failure, both in my own life and others:

- The "3 Ps" can stunt recovery: 1) Personalization, or the belief that we are at fault; 2) Pervasiveness, or the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; 3) Permanence, or the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever. Challenging those responses and letting rational thinking return to the forefront helps.

- It's no big secret that learning from mistakes is helpful in school and at jobs. I liked the story of Kim Malone Scott at Google who brought a stuffed monkey named Whoops to team meetings. The person who had the biggest screw up got to have Whoops sit at their desk for the week. 

- I loved the idea of opening yourself in a humble way to feedback. Sue Ashford's studies "show that although fishing for compliments hurts your reputation, asking for criticism signals you care about improving."

- "Believing it will all work out helps it all work out."

- Loved the last chapter of adding humor back into life after a tragic event or loss. "Humor lowers our heart rate and relaxes our muscles. Humor is a signal that a situation is safe. Laughter breaks tension by making stressful situations less threatening."

For people going through a tragedy or loss, Sheryl offers some useful phrases: “you are not alone” is better than “I cannot imagine”; “I will bring dinner” is better than “how can I help?” which puts the burden on the grieving one to come up with something to do. And as for “how are you?”: It can be a punch in the gut to someone already in pain, since the answer is probably somewhere along the spectrum of awful to unbearable. A better alternative: “how are you today?”

I strongly recommend this book. I am in complete admiration of Sheryl Sandberg and her determination to move forward in a positive way for the sake of her children, family, friends and colleagues and  am thankful that she generously decided to share her nightmare with those of us who can always use a little advice of what to do when someone we love meets tragedy. 


Powerful words

-Karthik Gurumurthy 

A conversation with a friend, coworker and family member will turn into positive action when you ask these two words:

What’s next?

That question focuses on the next action to be taken, the new thing to be done, or where effort should be exerted. It moves you from dwelling on the moment to moving ahead.

“What’s next?” is all about what action–however small or large–you can take to create forward forward momentum towards results. “What’s next?” combats complacency. It gets you off your current plateau and breaks complacency. “What’s next?” goes beyond “thinking about” to “identifying and doing” what is necessary to make progress.

It gets an uncommitted prospect to make a decision. 

“What’s next?” uncovers what part of your big goal is achievable now. Over time enough questions like “What’s next?” results in an achieved goal. “What’s next?” identifies what it will take to make your relationship better, for you and the other person. “What’s next?” creates movement and progress with whomever you’re talking to.

Stumped? In a rut? Stymied about how to move forward? Just ask, “What’s next?”


Responding to critics

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have heard a story about Winston Churchill and his extraordinary integrity in the face of opposition. During his last year in office, he attended an official ceremony. Several rows behind him two gentlemen began whispering. “That’s Winston Churchill. They say he is getting senile. They say he should step aside and leave the running of the nation to more dynamic and capable men.” When the ceremony was over, Churchill turned to the men and said, “Gentlemen, they also say he is deaf.”

How you respond to critics is very important part of building yourself. It’s all too easy to get defensive when critics rub us the wrong way or misunderstand us. There is also a possibility of us  being wrong as well. Ask yourself why the criticism was made. Is the person trying to help, to make things better, to help you avoid making mistakes, to suggest positive improvements? Is the person just in a cranky rude mood, having a bad day? Is the person just mean, or jealous? Is there good reason for the criticism?My dad gave me an outstanding piece of advice when I first left to US. He said, “If you take the blame when you deserve it, you will take responsibility and will improve and become a better person." I have found that to be very true. Difficult, but true. In my experience, until someone in a group (or in a family) accepts blame, everyone stays very anxious and focused on fingering the person at fault. Once I take responsibility and be accountable, then everyone else can relax. And then we can all focus on what needs to be done.

Thank the person offering the criticism. Sometimes they’re coming from a place of wanting to help you. That takes courage, and is a very generous thing. Be grateful for that. Even when they’re not trying to be helpful, they’ve taken the time to respond to you — and trust me, getting a response is better than absolute silence. Provoking a reaction means you’ve done something interesting — and for that, you should be thankful. Either way, thanking the critic will help lead to a positive exchange.

It is also important not immediately respond but delay the response.  Delaying the response gives time to think it over and not be reactive. Calm yourself down before responding. Always. Responding to a critic in anger is never, ever, ever a good idea.Respond rationally and calmly. Instead of being defensive, be honest. Share your reasons, acknowledge the other person’s points if there’s any validity, and come to a rational conclusion rather than jealously guarding your way of doing things.

Or stay silent. If you can’t respond with grace, then just don’t respond. Silence is a much better response than anger or defensiveness or quitting.


Miss you NR Sir

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I received sad news that one of my favorite teachers in high school had passed away. As children, we spend almost as much time with our teachers as we do with our parents. The teachers who have had tremendous influence on us are far and few and N. Rajendran Sir   (whom we used to fondly refer him as NR Sir) was one of them.  He created such a ripple effect with students that  there is not a day that goes by without thinking about him. I tutor Math almost on a regular  basis and I owe everything I learned in Math to NR Sir. I have lost close ones before, but have never felt such sadness and grief as I feel today. I really adored you Sir, and I will always. The infectious zeal with which NR Sir have taught so many of us continues to energize us even today. 

I was failing miserably in my IX grade in Math and was promoted to X with warning meaning I barely passed my Math in IX. In our school, Our X grade students were segregated based on our performance in our IX grade and luckily for us, NR sir was the assigned teacher.  We weren't sure what to expect of him as we never had classes with him or had an opportunity to interact with him. He sported a big moustache  which made him look scary. After I had classes with him , I soon  got over the moustache part and realized that he was a wonderful teacher who was able to connect us  really with the Math concepts. He used to make us do so many problems over and over that our hands used to hurt by the time we were done. I was sitting in the first row right in front of him, and for some reason he used to pick on me as well and asked me to go to the board and solve a problem.  I had low self esteem up until that point of time . His teaching boosted my self esteem big time.He always used to have chalk piece with him which he used to throw at someone who is not paying attention. He wanted to do everything under his control to help out students and  am thankful he took me under his wings to help me understand appreciate and enjoy Math to the fullest. I moved from barely passing in IX to being top of the class in his tests. I never had  the passion to  be the first or anything but getting a pat in the back meant a lot to me . I remember few tests which I didn't do too well,  He was very angry  at me and I was mad at myself for not giving my best and made sure I didn't  slack off after that. He was eminently fair, honest to the point of bluntness, ever helpful, but would brook no nonsense that would disrupt his classroom routine.  NR sir always exhibited extra bit of life in whatever he did and had the rare capacity to instill some of that in others he met.

I fall short of words to express my grief on the sad demise of our beloved NR Sir. I am what I am today only because of him.  The right way to pay tribute to him is to face this news boldly and go ahead and do a great job as his student and carry forward his legacy.

I hope his family can take solace in the fact that such a great man is surely looking down on them from the highest pinnacle of heaven.

Rest in peace NR Sir, you're probably lecturing God right now or having a breakfast with your Math teachers. 

Sukumar_NRSir

I am thankful to one of our seniors Sukumar Rajagopal for sharing  his picture. Few years back he also honored this wonderful teacher..and am attaching herewith the video of the same (with his permission).