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August 2005

Art of Communication

The best way to learn the art of communication is to be with people who are good at it. Words can build bridges as well as walls. We have to learn to build bridges. Very often we find we have not learnt the art of using appropriate words and we land in trouble. Some of the things I have learnt by observing the leaders are as follows:

  • Feel good about yourself.
  • Do not be tempted to impress others; instead express yourself.
  • Learn to avoid using ‘I’ and ‘Me’, instead use ‘You’ and ‘We’.
  • Make the other person comfortable in your presence.
  • Practice pause, pace, pitch and voice modulation while speaking.
  • Learn to adopt the emptying technique while talking to people.

The emptying technique involves asking questions in such a way as to empty the others minds while bringing out their likes and dislikes. This would give us a picture of what the other wants, so that we can present our communication again in an accommodating climate.

Practice the SOFTEN technique. While socializing, find out who among the strangers has S = Smile, O = Open body posture, F = Friendly energy, T = Touching while talking, E = Eye contact, N = Nodding in affirmation. Then, strike a conversation with those who have such qualities. Invariably you will feel comfortable with them.


Responsibility: Greatness

"No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines greatness."
- Charles Kendall Adams

"Here is a simple but powerful rule: Always give people more than they expect to get."
- Nelson Boswell

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you."
- Henry Ward Beecher


Give it time

GIVE IT TIME: JOHN C. MAXWELL

Merging on to a crowded expressway can unnerve even the calmest driver. Despite the stress, most Of us just check our mirror and cautiously forge ahead, hoping that the hole we're shooting for remains open until our vehicle has safely entered the highway. We obey the yield sign on the on ramp, but we keep moving.

Every once in awhile motorists will make it all the way to the end of the ramp and just stop. Other drivers line up behind them, honking and gesturing, but the poor drivers are too intimidated by all the 18-wheelers and SUVs whizzing past to make their move. Instead of slowing down until they find the right spot to merge, they just gives up.

Have you ever been tempted to do that in other areas of life? Have you ever gotten so discouraged by the pressures, responsibilities, or lack of progress associated with a certain project or role that you just want to throw in the towel?

Wanting to surrender and actually giving up are two totally different things. Sometimes, when you're thinking about quitting, a fresh perspective on time can help renew your spirits and energize you for the long haul.

Here are five thoughts that might encourage you the next time you find yourself coming to a standstill in your work as a leader.

1. Wrong perception causes many people to quit.
The moment one person says, "I give up," someone else is looking at the very same situation and saying, "This is my great opportunity." One person's yelling "uncle" and getting out of the ring, and the other is saying, "This is the chance of a lifetime." What's the difference between the two? It's all a matter of perception.

2. If you start for the wrong reason, you'll stop for the wrong reason.
When people tell me they want to stop doing something, I always want to know why they started it in the first place. Instead of listening to a list of five reasons why they should quit their profession, for example, I take them back to the beginning. Why did they get into accounting (or construction or sales or whatever) at all? Did they love numbers, or did they just become CPA's because that's what their parents expected? If you have the right reason for starting something, you'll have the tenacity to give it a little more time.

3. Perseverance and patience are a result of seeing the big picture.
Let me explain it this way. A stonecutter, hammer and chisel in hand, pounds on a hunk of granite. For a long time, there's no obvious change in the stone, but he keeps tapping the chisel. And then, on the 101st tap, a hairline crack appears. Does the 101st blow make the fracture? Of course not. It's the constant hammering on the chisel that causes the rock to split. The stonecutter knows what will happen if he keeps pounding. He perseveres because he sees the big picture.

In work and life, many people give up when they don't get immediate results. They hit the chisel about three times, and then they quit because they don't think anything is happening; but they're wrong. When you're doing the right thing daily, something is happening even when you can't see it. Don't lose sight of the big picture.

4. Great accomplishments take great time.
The sculptor who carved Mount Rushmore was once asked if he did a perfect job of sculpting the faces of the four presidents. "No," he replied. "The nose of George Washington is about an inch too long, but it's okay. In a thousand years, erosion will make it just right." Talk about a good perspective on time. He understood that great achievements don't happen overnight. Sometimes, you have to wait a long time to see the results of your hard work.

5. Some things only work out if given enough time.
I once read an article in Golf magazine about the late Sam Snead. A person who had played golf with Snead recalled that when the legendary golfer made a triple bogey (three over par) on the first hole, it didn't seem to bother him. As he was walking off the green, Sneed looked at his partner and said, "That's why they have eighteen holes of golf." In other words, it will all work out in the end. Some things just take time.

It's easy to put too much stock in a single event. It's not one meeting, one lecture, or one presentation that makes us into great leaders; it's the process. It's the time we spend day in and day out--working diligently even when we're not seeing any results--that makes the difference.

So next time you're tempted to give up, remember this. Leaders develop daily, not in a day. Give it time.

"This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.MaximumImpact.com."


Anti Gossip Pact

-Karthik Gurumurthy

This is from "God's little devotional book" by John Wesley and Friends.

In 1752, a group of Methodist men, including, John Wesley, signed a covenant that each man agreed to hang on the wall of his study. The six articles of this solemn agreement were as follows:

  1. That we will not listen or willingly inquire after ill concerning one another;
  2. That, if we do hear any ill of each other, we will not be forward to believe it.
  3. That as soon as possible we will communicate what we hear by speaking or writing to the person concerned.
  4. That until we have done this, we will not write or speak a syllable of it to any other person.
  5. That neither will we mention it, after we have done this, to any other person.
  6. That we will not make any exception to any of these rules unless we think ourslves absolutely obliged in conference.

Abraham Lincoln: Character Profile by John C. Maxwell

Abraham Lincoln has almost become a mythical figure in our  nation's history.  But Lincoln was much more than the sum of his myths.  He was an outstanding leader--quite possibly the greatest  President in the history of this nation.

What is it about Lincoln that made him such a great President?  The time of his presidency was marked by much conflict and criticism.  Yet, despite the turmoil, he maintained many admirable qualities which should be modeled in every leader's life:

1.  CHARACTER.

Lincoln's leadership was founded on character.  A man of solid values, he actually lived up to the "Honest Abe" moniker given to him as a young shopkeeper.  For example, when Lincoln was 24-years-old, he was the postmaster of New Salem, an appointment that lasted briefly since the post office closed.

Because the bureaucracy was so slow in those days, years passed before a government agent came to settle accounts with him.  When he was told that he owed the government $17, Lincoln produced the exact amount of money which had remained untouched despite his poverty.  The agent was shocked.  But Lincoln explained, "I never use any man's money but my own."

Lincoln always desired to do the right thing.  His motto was, "Stand with anybody that stands right.  Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong."

2. COMMUNICATION.

Lincoln has an uncanny ability for communication.  His Gettysburg Address is still considered to be one of the finest speeches written in the English language.

Lincoln knew how to connect with an audience.  He once said, "They say I tell a great many stories.  I reckon I do; but I have learned from long experience that plain people, take them as they run, are more easily influenced through the medium of a broad and humorous illustration than in any other way."

He also excelled at one-on-one communication.  It's said that he could convince anyone of just about anything.  A letter from journalist Thurlow Weed illustrates: "I do not, when I am with you, say half I intend... partly because you talk me out of my convictions and apprehensions."

Lincoln put his communication skills to good use.  He spent much time out among the people, particularly with the troops. He also employed an "open door policy," rarely declining to see anyone.

3. COURAGE.

Perhaps the greatest demonstration of Lincoln's leadership was his courage in the face of adversity and his ability to beat the odds.  Entering the office of President, he inherited the mess left behind by his predecessor, James Buchanan:  seven states had seceded to form the Confederate States of America, and the Union Army, unprepared for war, was facing budget cuts in Congress.

Ernest Hemingway once defined courage as "grace under pressure," three words that appropriately describe Lincoln's tenure as President.  He displayed amazing courage when the country needed it most, and did so while facing vicious criticism.  He wrote to General John McClernand, "It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.  He who has the right needs not to fear."

Abraham Lincoln's attitude and actions characterize what it takes to be an effective leader in any organization.  His character stood the test of time; his ability to communicate effectively continually broadened his influence; and his courage inspired a nation.  Abraham Lincoln's leadership clearly went the distance.

"This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.INJOY.com."


Leadership by John C. Maxwell

If you could improve one quality in yourself to increase your leadership ability, what would you choose?  If you're like the majority of people, you would probably like to increase your charisma.  After all, that's what initially attracts followers, right?

Author Anthony Trollope once said, "Marvelous is the power which can be exercised, almost unconsciously, over a company or an individual or even upon a crowd by one person gifted with good temper, good digestion, good intellect, and good looks."  What he's describing are the effects of charisma.  It's very valuable to leadership, but unfortunately the effects of charisma are only temporary.  Strong charisma will get you in the door with people, but it can never sustain your influence by itself.

When it comes to lasting influence, nothing is more important than character.  As Robert A. Cook noted, "There is no substitute for character.  You can buy brains, but you cannot buy character."  It's the inner fiber of a person.  And it's essential to ensuring that your leadership goes the distance.  Here's why:

1.  CHARACTER SETS YOU APART. 

There was a time when the people who lacked integrity stood out from the crowd.  Unfortunately, now the opposite is true.  So when you consistently exhibit character over a period of time, people take notice.  Billy Graham is a good example of this. Every President since Harry Truman has sought his leadership and wise counsel--a result of his lifetime of unwavering integrity.

It's true that charisma can make a person stand out for a moment, but character sets a person apart for a lifetime.

2.  CHARACTER CREATES TRUST. 

Charisma can draw people to you, but it gives them no reason to trust you.  With character, you build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor
over personal gain.

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Craig Weatherup explains, "You don't  build trust by talking about it. You build it by achieving results, always with integrity and in a manner that shows real  personal regard for the people with whom you work."  Character makes trust possible.  And trust is the foundation of leadership. 

3.  CHARACTER COMMUNICATES CONSISTENCY.

NBA great, Jerry West commented, "You can't get too much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good."  Leaders with inner strength can be counted on day after day because their ability to lead remains constant.  If your people know what they can expect from you they will continue to look to you for leadership.

4.  CHARACTER PROMOTES POTENTIAL.

John Morely said, "No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character."  When a leader's character is strong, people trust him, and they trust his ability to release their potential because he has taken steps to reach his own.  That not only gives followers hope for the future,but it also promotes a strong belief in themselves and their organization.

If you're currently leading people, you probably have some measure of both charisma and character.  The question is, which one are you relying on to lead?  The answer can be found in your response to this question: As time goes by, is it easier or harder to sustain your influence within your organization?  With charisma alone, influence becomes increasingly more difficult to sustain.  With character, as time passes, influence builds and requires less work to sustain.

Take some time to evaluate your character.  Ask yourself the hard questions, then if necessary commit to making changes to ensure you are building a stronger foundation of trust among your people.

"This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.INJOY.com."


Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed:

°
Be true to yourself.
° Help others.
° Make each day your masterpiece.
° Drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible.
° Make friendship a fine art.
° Build shelter against a rainy day (faith in God).
° Pray for guidance and counsel and give thanks for your blessings each day

George Washington's Rules of Civility

  1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.
  2. Show nothing to your friend that may frighten him.
  3. In the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.
  4. Sleep not when others speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when your should hold your peace, walk not on when others stop.
  5. Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave.
  6. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another through he were your enemy.
  7. Use no reproachful language against anyone, neither curse nor revile.
  8. Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be along than in bad company.
  9. Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor earnest at none although they give occasion.
  10. Think before you speak, pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your words too hastily but orderly and distinctly.
  11. Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.
  12. Speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust.
  13. When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence.
  14. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

Banish the "but"

Frances Hesselbein has interacted with many great leadership experts throughout the years, including Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis and Jim Collins.  But Hesselbein, editor-in-chief of Leader to Leader magazine, says her grandmother, "Mama Wicks," was the person who had the greatest impact on her life and her work.

Mama Wicks was a powerful leadership model because she taught her grandchildren the importance of listening--an art that Hesselbein calls "the essential element of effective leadership."

"When people are speaking, it requires that they have our undivided attention," she writes in Leader to Leader's Summer 2003 issue.  "We focus on them; we listen very carefully.  We listen to the spoken words and the unspoken messages.  This means looking directly at the person, eyes connected--we forget we have a watch, just focusing for that moment on that person.  It's called respect, it's called appreciation, it's called anticipation--and it's called leadership."

Hesselbein recently was asked to pinpoint her number one piece of listening advice.  Her answer? "Banish the but."

"How many times," she writes, "has someone told us how well we have performed--and we were feeling good about the feedback, listening carefully--then we have heard 'but," and the positive, energizing part of the feedback was lost in the 'but' and what followed it. 'But' is nobody's friend--listener or speaker.'And' provides the graceful transition, the nonthreatening bridge to mutual appreciation, the communication that builds effective relationships.  Replacing 'but' with 'and' is the best advice I could give to the leader who listens and wants others to listen with an open mind."

Reference:
http://leadertoleader.org/leaderbooks/L2L/summer2003/fh.html


Developing Discipline

DEVELOPING DISCIPLINE
By Dr. John C. Maxwell

H.P. Liddon said, "What we do on some great occasions will probably depend upon what we already are, and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline."  I believe that with all of my heart.

Discipline is doing what you really do not want to do, so you can do what you really want to do.  That makes it hard is that in our own human nature, we do not want to do certain things, and so therefore, what happens is we have a tendency to be undisciplined in the areas that we do not care to do.

Three areas to develop discipline:

1. Disciplined Thinking.

George Bernard Shaw said, "Few people think more than two or three times a year.  I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week."

I am in the process of writing a new book.  The whole book is based on the idea that people who understand how to get to the top and stay there are people who think their way to the top.

One of the major differences in this discipline of thinking is that people that think their way to the top have the ability to do what I call "sustained thinking."  They have the ability to think on an issue for a long period of time, until that issue becomes clear on the decision that should be made.

People who do not think their way to the top have the unwillingness of discipline to master sustained thinking.  They will think about something for a while, and then they will get off it and go on to something else.

They have never learned how to discipline their thoughts by writing them down.  I always keep a pad with me of things that I am thinking.  I write thoughts down so that I can stay concentrated and disciplined in that area.

2. Disciplined Emotions.

We have choices when it comes to our emotions:

1. We can master them, or
2. They can master us.

I was playing golf the other day at East Lake Country Club, a great golf course here in Atlanta.  It is known for being the links where Bobby Jones played.  As you may or may not know, he is a legendary golfer who won a major tournament at twenty-one. By age twenty-eight, he had already won the grand slam and retired.

Jones had an uncle who said that by the time he was fourteen, Bobby was probably already the best golfer in the world.  He certainly was popular.  However, Jones was also known for his temper because he would throw his clubs when he got irritated. Jones's uncle sat down with him and said, "Bobby, your problem is you've mastered the game of golf, but you haven't mastered your emotions; and until you master your emotions, you'll never be a champion in golf."

3. Disciplined Actions.

I call the two actions of initiating and closing the "bookends of success" because I really think they are.

I know some that can initiate but they can never close; I know some people that can close but they can never get it cranked up. You have to kick start them every time.  When you can do both, initiate and close, you have the bookends to success.

Allow me to leave you with this closing thought about developing discipline:  you cannot give what you do not have, and self-improvement precedes team improvement.

The only way that I can keep leading is to keep growing.  The day I stop growing, somebody else takes the leadership baton.  That is the way it always is.

"This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.INJOY.com."


How to make each day count?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

  • Start the day with being thankful for all the stuff you have. Like my dad says, develop  an attitude of gratitude. He always starts the day thanking God for all the blessings.
  • Encourage others. When someone has a goal, most point point out the obstacles. You be the one to point out the possibilities.
  • Give sincere compliments. We all like to be remembered for our best moments.
  • Keep Growing: Walk a different path. Read something inspiring and act.
  • Give the Gift of Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a blessing for the one who forgives as well as for the one who is forgiven.
  • Take care of yourself: Exercise, eat a healthy diet,sing and dance a little bit everyday.
  • Do random acts of kindness: The most fun is when the other person doesn't know who did it.
  • Treasure relationships: Eat meals together, talk walks, listen. Share laughter and tears. Make memories.
  • Share your faith: You can wish someone joy and peace and happy things, but when you share your faith- you have wished them everything.

Facing your Fears

FACING YOUR FEARS
By Dr. John C. Maxwell


Remember when you were a kid and just knew there was a monster lurking at the foot of your bed?  How did you get over that fear? Most likely someone turned on the lights and pointed out that your monster was nothing more than a sweater hanging on a chair. Once the lights came on, the monster was no longer frightening.

The same principle applies to overcoming our fear of failure. When we look at our fear in the light of day, we discover that what we are afraid of isn't so frightening after all.

The following acrostic gives us a handy tool for remembering the steps to take in order to shed light on that which we fear most.

*F*IND A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.

We often admit defeat simply because we failed to achieve the results we had anticipated.  Those results may not be failures at all.  Spencer Silver, a chemist at the 3M research laboratories,was trying to invent a stronger adhesive in 1970.  The results were exactly the opposite of what he had intended.  The adhesive stuck to objects, but could easily be pulled away.  It was super-weak instead of super-strong.

Four years later, another 3M scientist named Arthur Fry put some of Silver's adhesive on slips of paper to mark pages in his hymnal as he sang in his church choir.  From Silver's failure, Post-it notes were developed in 1980 and have become one of the most popular office products on the market.

Take another look at your failures.  You may find that, from a different perspective, they open the door to a whole new market for you.

*E*NGAGE YOUR PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, reportedly told of a time when he climbed into a taxicab in Paris.  Before he could utter a word, the driver turned to him and asked, "Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?"

Doyle was flabbergasted.  He asked the driver if he had ever seen him before.

"No, sir," the driver responded, "But this morning's paper had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles.  This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always come. Your skin color tells me you have been on vacation.  The ink-spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, not French.  Adding up all those pieces of  information, I deduced that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."

"This is amazing!" the writer exclaimed.  "You are a real-life counter-part to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes."

"There was one other clue," the driver said.

"What was that?"

"Your name is on the front of your suitcase."

If only all clues were that obvious!  I've found that those who cannot overcome their fear of failure are often those who walk away from a failed attempt without making any effort to discover why they failed and how they can avoid the mistake next time around.

*A*SK FOR HELP.

Somewhere in your network is someone who has information you need to solve a given problem.  Someone in your network can offer you encouragement when you struggle.  Someone in your network has been where you are now and can suggest ways to get to where you want to go.  What's keeping you from calling them right now?

*R*ESIST THE TEMPTATION TO GIVE UP.

Persistence is really the only difference between those who finally reach their goal and those who just talk about it.  Who can forget the image of Rocky Balboa, the boxer who overcame a more skilled adversary simply because he refused to stay on the canvas after being knocked down?

Fear not the temporary setback.  It will fade as soon as you attempt success again.  Fear instead a life spent thinking, what if...?

Face your fear of failure, my friend.  You'll discover it is no more frightening than that imaginary monster of your childhood.

"This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.INJOY.com."


Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Putting an End to "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda"
By Dr. John C. Maxwell
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you were guaranteed success, would your thoughts and actions be different from what they are today?  Would you be more daring? Would you take more risks?  Would you spend more time taking action and less time talking about how things could be?

H. Jackson Brown once said, "The biggest gap in the world is between 'I should' and 'I did.'" When you compare today's activities with what you dream of accomplishing, there should be a clear connection between the two.  On the other hand, if your daily actions aren't paving the way to your dreams, one thing is probably true:  You're putting off doing what you should.

If you struggle with procrastination, you're not alone.  But as Henry Ford once said, "You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."  To be successful you must learn to close the gap between what you should be doing and what you are actually doing.

Start by following these four steps:

1.  DISRUPT YOUR REGULAR ROUTINE.

James J. Ling said, "Do not tell me how hard you work.  Tell me how much you get done."  It doesn't matter how hard or long you work if you're not accomplishing what needs to be done. Sometimes changing how or where you work can increase your productivity significantly.  Start by shuffling the order of your daily tasks.  If it makes sense, begin your day with a task you normally reserve for the end of the day, or vice-versa.

Also, try changing your work setting.  Go to a park.  Work by the pool.  Break out of old familiar patterns.

And another way to get more done is to steal an hour each day. Get up an hour earlier.  Begin work on a project during your "off" time.  The idea is to take the pressure off yourself by starting a job or doing a task when you're not supposed to be working anyway -- that way whatever you accomplish is gravy.

2.  GET YOUR FIRST FAILURE OUT OF THE WAY.

Henry C. Link said, "While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior."   Plan and execute your first failure so that you no longer have to fear it.  If you need to make sales calls, dial up your first potential client and expect rejection.  Keep calling until you get that first "no."  If you're brainstorming to solve a problem or complete a project, start by weeding through the bad ideas, then move on to better ones.  Once you've expected--and overcome--one failure, other ones don't look so intimidating.

3.  BREAK YOUR BIG TASKS DOWN.

Connie Gersick of the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA says that the average person doesn't get seriously down to work on a big project until midway between the start of the project and the deadline, whether an hour or a year away.

If the size of a task causes you to procrastinate or completely shy away, break it into smaller, more manageable tasks.  Then, give yourself an immediate deadline for accomplishing each task. Ray Kroc said, "Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs."

4.  STEP BACK AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE.

Don Shula, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins once said, "If you stacked [the mediocre] teams up against one of the perennial contenders, the talent gap might not be as great as you'd expect. It's the philosophy gap that separates them.  The losers lack something vital:  a sense of purpose."  Often people fail to start or complete a task because they don't see any connection between what they're doing and what they really want to accomplish in life.  If you sense that what you're doing is not blazing a trail toward a desired result, it's probably time to rethink your pursuits.  On the other hand, if you know that your work will move you closer to your goals, you will be more inclined to see the task through.

Arthur Brisbane said, "Regret for time wasted can become a power for good in the time that remains.  And the time that remains is time enough, if we will only stop the waste and idle, useless regretting."  Even if you have procrastinated in the past, you can begin working today with a new outlook on getting things done and use some fresh methods for avoiding procrastination in the future.  Make yourself a promise today to put an end to the phrases "woulda, coulda, shoulda" in your life.

"This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.MaximumImpact.com."


Character

"Good character is more to be praised that outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece--by thought, choice, courage, and determination."
- John Luther


Life is fun.

Life can be a process of growing or aging. Growing involves adding life to one’s years and aging involves adding years to one’s life. Life is fulfilling only if it is a process of growing. Reflect on this story. A mother persuaded her son to go to school. She said, “Darling, are you not ready for school?” The son said, “Mommy nobody in school likes me.” “But you must go to school.” “But the teachers don’t like me at school,” he said.

“But sweetheart, you are 45 years old, and you are the principal of the school. So you have to go to school.” A 45-year-old man, but psychologically, he’s still a kid. A few people grow up, the others just grow old.

Growing up involves adding maturity and joy to every moment in life. Without contributing to the poetry of life, nobody can be happy. Many search for happiness, but they fail to be creative, so they can’t be happy. To be creative is a basic need. Allow this force to emerge. At least start by being creative, by cracking jokes. When you crack a joke, more than the joke, the laughter that remains in your being is nourishing. Laughter creates a deep silence and in that silence, problems and worries dissolve. Jokes work in an interesting manner.... you are saying something and there is an unexpected twist in your presentation. And that creates a surprise, a new joyous feel. The art of cracking a joke is a creative art.

Reminds me of another story. A 7-ft tall man was about to get married. His married friends gave him a piece of advice. “Right from the first day of marriage be strict with your wife or else she will be your master.” Following the advice of his friends, on the very first night he told his wife, “Do you know who I am? I am a wrestler, my father was a wrestler. Tomorrow, I want hot water for my bath at 3 am or else...”

The woman was scared. She got up at 2.30 am and heated the water for her husband. This went on every day for ten years. Before retiring to bed he repeated, “Hot water for bath… at 3 a.m. or else.....” The wife got fed up and one night when he repeated the same thing she said, “Okay. Or else what will you do?” “Or else… I will take a cold water bath,” he said.

When one develops a humorous attitude to life, one’s childlike nature emerges. There is a child in us which wants to be free. As we grow older the child in us is suppressed and our playfulness also gets suppressed. The joy of life disappears when we lose ourselves in seriousness. One of the greatest secrets of life is that we are all born rich but become beggars. We don’t search within ourselves for the treasures we hold within. We don’t know ourselves. Socrates said “Know thyself”.The Vedas say, “Know thyself”.We take ourselves for granted. We think we know ourselves and this is most foolish. Knowing ourselves is just not seeing ourselves as physical embodiments.  This can be discovered through understanding, reflection and meditation.


Struggle and Victory

"Even the most daring and accomplished people have undergone tremendous difficulty. In fact, the more successful they became, the more they attributed their success to the lessons learned during their most difficult times."

Barbara Rose
Speaker and Author