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April 2006

Take a leap

by Robin Sharma

Nothing happens until you move. It's so very easy to postpone personal greatness by spending more time hoping your life and career will get to world-class rather than taking some action-today-to move the dream forward. It's so easy to get seduced by all those little distractions clamoring for your attention and neglect to engage in those small steady movements that, over time, amount to giant gains and spectacular wins. And yet your days are your life in miniature. And as you live your days, so you create your life.

Big idea: a single decision, made today, can change your future. Alter your course-completely. Help you see a whole new world. The life you now see is not necessarily the life you will have in a year or two years or in a decade. And you truly can change it all with a decision. A decision to get fit. A decision to be more disciplined (it starts small). A decision to be a source of positive energy and inspiration to every one you meet. A decision to show leadership rather than play victim. A decision to beat your fears. A decision to shine. Getting to your best requires that you act and passionately make bold strides. No great human being reached their mountaintop just by hoping it would happen. Hope is important. Add focus, persistence and, above all else, action and special things happen. So take the leap. Today.


Setting Priorities

Efficiency is doing things right . Effectiveness is doing the right things. Your ability to plan and organize your work, in advance, so you are always working on your highest value tasks determines your success as much as any other factor. 

The ABCDE Method for Priorities 

The process of setting short-term priorities begins with a pad of paper and a pen. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by too many things to do and too little time in which to do them, sit down, take a deep breath, and list all those tasks you need to accomplish. Although there is never enough time to do everything, there is always enough time to do the most important things, and to stay with them until they are done right. 

Setting Better Priorities

The best method for setting priorities on your list, once you have determined your major goals or objectives, is the A-B-C-D-E method. You place one of those letters in the margin before each of the tasks on your list before you begin.

"A" stands for "very important;" something you must do. There can be serious negative consequences if you don't do it.

"B" stands for " important;" something you should do. This is not as important as your 'A' tasks. There are only minor negative consequences if it is not completed.

"C" stands for things that are " nice to do;" but which are not as important as 'A' or 'B,' tasks. There are no negative consequences for not completing it.

"D" stands for "delegate." You can assign this task to someone else who can do the job instead of you.

"E" stands for "eliminate, whenever possible." You should eliminate every single activity you possibly can, to free up your time.

When you use the A-B-C-D-E method, you can very easily sort out what is important and unimportant. This then will focus your time and attention on those items on your list that are most essential for you to do. 

Just Say No

Once you can clearly determine the one or two things that you should be doing, above all others, just say no to all diversions and distractions and focus single-mindedly on accomplishing those priorities. 

Much stress that you experience in your work life comes from working on low-priority tasks. The amazing discovery is that as soon as you start working on your highest-value activity, all your stress disappears. You feel a continuous stream of energy and enthusiasm. As you work toward the completion of something that is really important, you feel an increased sense of personal value and inner satisfaction. You experience a sensation of self-mastery and self-control. You feel calm, confident and capable. 


Action Exercises

Here are three ideas that you can use, every day, to help you set priorities and to keep you working at your best: 

First, take the time to be clear about your goals and objectives so that the priorities you set are moving you in the direction of something that is of real value to you. 

Second, remember that what counts is not the amount of time that you put in overall; rather, it's the amount of time that you spend working on high-priority tasks.

Third, understand that the most important factor in setting priorities is your ability to make wise choices. You are always free to choose to engage in one activity or another. 

Resolve today to set clear priorities in every area of your life, and always choose the activities that will assure you the greatest health, happiness and prosperity in the long term.


Importance of having a vision

by Zig Ziglar

In a major university, a professor of economics gave a test to his class. The test had several sections of questions, each of which contained three categories. He instructed the students to choose one question from each section.

The first category in each section was the hardest and was worth 50 points.

The second category was not quite as hard and worth 40 points.

The third category, the easiest, was worth only 30 points.

After the test was taken and the answer papers returned, the students learnt that those who had chosen the hardest questions, or the 50-point questions, were given A s. The students who had chosen the 40-point questions were given Bs, and those who chose the 30-point questions, or the easiest questions, were given Cs. Whether or not their answers were correct was not considered. Understandably, the students were confused and asked the professor the logic behind such gradation. The professor leaned back and with a smile explained, "I wasn't testing your knowledge, I was testing your aim."

As the noted English poet Robert Browning said, "Your reach should exceed your grasp, or what's a Heaven for?"

Langston Hughes wrote, "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die then life is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly." Yes, we need those dreams or, if you prefer, a vision.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said, "My people perish for lack of vision."

Helen Keller was asked, "What would be worse than being blind?" She responded that it would be infinitely worse to have 20/20 eyesight and no vision than to be blind but have that vision.

In the declining years of his life, Albert Schweitzer was asked, "How goes it with you, Dr. Schweitzer?" The aging medical missionary responded, "My eyesight grows dim, but my vision is clearer than ever."

Think about it. Develop your own dream, your own vision, and I'll SEE YOU AT THE TOP.


Defining Success

Welcome Address by Subroto Bagchi , Chief Operating Officer, MindTree Consulting on July 2, 2004 to the Class of 2004 at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore on "Defining success ".

"I was the last child of a small-time government servant, in a family of five brothers. My earliest memory of my father is as that of a District Employment Officer in Koraput, Orissa. It was and remains as back of beyond as you can imagine. There was no electricity; no primary school nearby and water did not flow out of a tap. As a result, I did not go to school until the age of eight; I was home-schooled.

My father used to get transferred every year. The family belongings fit into the back of a jeep - so the family moved from place to place and, without any trouble, my Mother would set up an establishment and get us going. Raised by a widow who had come as a refugee from the then East Bengal, she was a matriculate when she married my father.

My parents set the foundation of my life and the value system which makes me what I am today and largely defines what success means to me today.

As District Employment Officer, my father was given a jeep by the government. There was no garage in the Office, so the jeep was parked in our house. My father refused to use it to commute to the office. He told us that the jeep is an expensive resource given by the government – he reiterated to us that it was not 'his jeep' but the government's jeep. Insisting that he would use it only to tour the interiors, he would walk to his office on normal days. He also made sure that we never sat in the government jeep - we could sit in it only when it was stationary. That was our early childhood lessons in governance - a lesson that corporate managers learn the hard way, some never do.

The driver of the jeep was treated with respect due to any other member of my father's office. As small children, we were taught not to call him by his name. We had to use the suffix ' dada' whenever we were to refer to him in public or private. When I grew up to own a car and a driver by the name of Raju was appointed - I repeated the lesson to my two small daughters. They have, as a result, grown up to call Raju, 'Raju Uncle' - very different from many of their friends who refer to their family drivers as 'my driver'. When I hear that term from a school - or college-going person - I cringe. To me, the lesson was significant – you treat small people with more respect than how you treat big people. It is more important to respect your subordinates than your superiors.

Our day used to start with the family huddling around my Mother's chulha - an earthen fire place she would build at each place of posting where she would cook for the family. There was no gas, nor electrical stoves. The morning routine started with tea. As the brew was served, Father would ask us to read aloud the editorial page of The Statesman's 'muffosil' edition - delivered one day late. We did not understand much of what we were reading. But the ritual was meant for us to know that the world was larger than Koraput district and the English I speak today, despite having studied in an Oriya medium school, has to do with that routine. After reading the newspaper aloud, we were told to fold it neatly. Father taught us a simple lesson. He used to say, " You should leave your newspaper and your toilet, the way you expect to find it". That lesson was about showing consideration to others. Business begins and ends with that simple precept.

Being small children, we were always enamored with advertisements in the newspaper for transistor radios - we did not have one. We saw other people having radios in their homes and each time there was an advertisement of Philips, Murphy or Bush radios, we would ask Father when we could get one. Each time, my Father would reply that we did not need one because he already had five radios - alluding to his five sons. We also did not have a house of our own and would occasionally ask Father as to when, like others, we would live in our own house. He would give a similar reply, "We do not need a house of our own. I already own five houses". His replies did not gladden our hearts in that instant. Nonetheless, we learnt that it is important not to measure personal success and sense of well being through material possessions.

Government houses seldom came with fences. Mother and I collected twigs and built a small fence. After lunch, my Mother would never sleep. She would take her kitchen utensils and with those she and I would dig the rocky, white ant infested surrounding. We planted flowering bushes. The white ants destroyed them. My mother brought ash from her chulha and mixed it in the earth and we planted the seedlings all over again. This time, they bloomed. At that time, my father's transfer order came.

A few neighbors told my mother why she was taking so much pain to beautify a government house, why she was planting seeds that would only benefit the next occupant. My mother replied that it did not matter to her that she would not see the flowers in full bloom. She said, "I have to create a bloom in a desert and whenever I am given a new place, I must leave it more beautiful than what I had inherited". That was my first lesson in success. It is not about what you create for yourself, it is what you leave behind that defines success.

My mother began developing a cataract in her eyes when I was very small. At that time, the eldest among my brothers got a teaching job at the University in Bhubaneswar and had to prepare for the civil services examination. So, it was decided that my Mother would move to cook for him and, as her appendage, I had to move too. For the first time in my life, I saw electricity in homes and water coming out of a tap. It was around 1965 and the country was going to war with Pakistan. My mother was having problems reading and in any case, being Bengali, she did not know the Oriya script. So, in addition to my daily chores, my job was to read her the local newspaper - end to end. That created in me a sense of connectedness with a larger world. I began taking interest in many different things. While reading out news about the war, I felt that I was fighting the war myself. She and I discussed the daily news and built a bond with the larger universe. In it, we became part of a larger reality. Till date, I measure my success in terms of that sense of larger connectedness.

Meanwhile, the war raged and India was fighting on both fronts. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minster, coined the term "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan" and galvanized the nation in to patriotic fervor. Other than reading out the newspaper to my mother, I had no clue about how I could be part of the action. So, after reading her the newspaper, every day I would land up near the University's water tank, which served the community. I would spend hours under it, imagining that there could be spies who would come to poison the water and I had to watch for them. I would daydream about catching one and how the next day, I would be featured in the newspaper. Unfortunately for me, the spies at war ignored the sleepy town of Bhubaneswar and I never got a chance to catch one in action. Yet, that act unlocked my imagination. Imagination is everything. If we can imagine a future, we can create it, if we can create that future, others will live in it. That is the essence of success.

Over the next few years, my mother's eyesight dimmed but in me she created a larger vision, a vision with which I continue to see the world and, I sense, through my eyes, she was seeing too. As the next few years unfolded, her vision deteriorated and she was operated for cataract. I remember when she returned after her operation and she saw my face clearly for the first time, she was astonished. She said, "Oh my God, I did not know you were so fair". I remain mighty pleased with that adulation even till date. Within weeks of getting her sight back, she developed a corneal ulcer and, overnight, became blind in both eyes. That was 1969. She died in 2002. In all those 32 years of living with blindness, she never complained about her fate even once. Curious to know what she saw with blind eyes, I asked her once if she sees darkness. She replied, "No, I do not see darkness. I only see light even with my eyes closed". Until she was eighty years of age, she did her morning yoga everyday, swept her own room and washed her own clothes. To me, success is about the sense of independence; it is about not seeing the world but seeing the light.

Over the many intervening years, I grew up, studied, joined the industry and began to carve my life's own journey. I began my life as a clerk in a government office, went on to become a Management Trainee with the DCM group and eventually found my life's calling with the IT industry when fourth generation computers came to India in 1981. Life took me places - I worked with outstanding people, challenging assignments and traveled all over the world. In 1992, while I was posted in the US, I learnt that my father, living a retired life with my eldest brother, had suffered a third degree burn injury and was admitted in the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. I flew back to attend to him - he remained for a few days in critical stage, bandaged from neck to toe.

The Safdarjung Hospital is a cockroach infested, dirty, inhuman place. The overworked, under-resourced sisters in the burn ward are both victims and perpetrators of dehumanized life at its worst. One morning, while attending to my father, I realized that the blood bottle was empty and fearing that air would go into his vein, I asked the attending nurse to change it. She bluntly told me to do it myself. In that horrible theater of death, I was in pain and frustration and anger. Finally when she relented and came, my father opened his eyes and murmured to her, "Why have you not gone home yet?" Here was a man on his deathbed but more concerned about the overworked nurse than his own state. I was stunned at his stoic self. There I learnt that there is no limit to how concerned you can be for another human being and what the limit of inclusion is you can create. My father died the next day.

He was a man whose success was defined by his principles, his frugality, his universalism and his sense of inclusion. Above all, he taught me that success is your ability to rise above your discomfort, whatever may be your current state. You can, if you want, raise your consciousness above your immediate surroundings. Success is not about building material comforts - the transistor that he never could buy or the house that he never owned. His success was about the legacy he left, the mimetic continuity of his ideals that grew beyond the smallness of an ill-paid, unrecognized government servant's world.

My father was a fervent believer in the British Raj. He sincerely doubted the capability of the post-independence Indian political parties to govern the country. To him, the lowering of the Union Jack was a sad event. My mother was the exact opposite. When Subhash Chandra Bose quit the Indian National Congress and came to Dacca, my mother, then a schoolgirl, garlanded him. She learnt to spin khadi and joined an underground movement that trained her in using daggers and swords.

Consequently, our household saw diversity in the political outlook of the two. On major issues concerning the world, the Old Man and the Old Lady had differing opinions. In them, we learnt the power of disagreements, of dialogue and the essence of living with diversity in thinking. Success is not about the ability to create a definitive dogmatic end state; it is about the unfolding of thought processes, of dialogue and continuum.

Two years back, at the age of eighty-two, Mother had a paralytic stroke and was lying in a government hospital in Bhubaneswar. I flew down from the US where I was serving my second stint, to see her. I spent two weeks with her in the hospital as she remained in a paralytic state. She was neither getting better nor moving on. Eventually I had to return to work. While leaving her behind, I kissed her face. In that paralytic state and a garbled voice, she said, "Why are you kissing me, go kiss the world." Her river was nearing its journey, at the confluence of life and death, this woman who came to India as a refugee, raised by a widowed mother, no more educated than high school, married to an anonymous government servant whose last salary was Rs 300, robbed of her eyesight by fate and crowned by adversity - was telling me to go and kiss the world!

Success to me is about Vision. It is the ability to rise above the immediacy of pain. It is about imagination. It is about sensitivity to small people. It is about building inclusion. It is about connectedness to a larger world existence. It is about personal tenacity. It is about giving back more to life than you take out of it. It is about creating extraordinary success with ordinary lives.

Thank you very much; I wish you good luck and Godspeed. Go, kiss the world.


Age is not a factor to succeed

Colonel Harland Sanders, born September 9, 1890, actively began franchising his chicken business at the age of 65. Now, the KFC® business he started has grown to be one of the largest quick service food service systems in the world. And Colonel Sanders, a quick service restaurant pioneer, has become a symbol of entrepreneurial spirit.

More than a billion of the Colonel's "finger lickin' good" chicken dinners are served annually. And not just in North America. The Colonel's cooking is available in more than 80 countries and territories around the world.

When the Colonel was six, his father died. His mother was forced to go to work, and young Harland had to take care of his three-year-old brother and baby sister. This meant doing much of the family cooking. By the age of seven, he was a master of several regional dishes.

At age 10, he got his first job working on a nearby farm for $2 a month. When he was 12, his mother remarried and he left his home near Henryville, Ind., for a job on a farm in Greenwood, Ind. He held a series of jobs over the next few years, first as a 15-year-old streetcar conductor in New Albany, Ind., and then as a 16-year-old private, soldiering for six months in Cuba.

After that he was a railroad fireman, studied law by correspondence, practiced in justice of the peace courts, sold insurance, operated an Ohio River steamboat ferry, sold tires, and operated service stations. When he was 40, the Colonel began cooking for hungry travelers who stopped at his service station in Corbin, Ky. He didn't have a restaurant then, but served folks on his own dining table in the living quarters of his service station.

As more people started coming just for food, he moved across the street to a motel and restaurant that seated 142 people. Over the next nine years, he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the basic cooking technique that is still used today.

Sander's fame grew. Governor Ruby Laffoon made him a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 in recognition of his contributions to the state's cuisine. And in 1939, his establishment was first listed in Duncan Hines' "Adventures in Good Eating."

In the early 1950s a new interstate highway was planned to bypass the town of Corbin. Seeing an end to his business, the Colonel auctioned off his operations. After paying his bills, he was reduced to living on his $105 Social Security checks.

Confident of the quality of his fried chicken, the Colonel devoted himself to the chicken franchising business that he started in 1952. He traveled across the country by car from restaurant to restaurant, cooking batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees. If the reaction was favorable, he entered into a handshake agreement on a deal that stipulated a payment to him of a nickel for each chicken the restaurant sold. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had more than 600 franchised outlets for his chicken in the United States and Canada. That year, he sold his interest in the U.S. company for $2 million to a group of investors including John Y. Brown Jr., who later was governor of Kentucky from 1980 to 1984. The Colonel remained a public spokesman for the company. In 1976, an independent survey ranked the Colonel as the world's second most recognizable celebrity.

Under the new owners, Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation grew rapidly. It went public on March 17, 1966, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange on January 16, 1969. More than 3,500 franchised and company-owned restaurants were in worldwide operation when Heublein Inc. acquired KFC Corporation on July 8, 1971, for $285 million.

Kentucky Fried Chicken became a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds Industries, Inc. (now RJR Nabisco, Inc.), when Heublein Inc. was acquired by Reynolds in 1982. KFC was acquired in October 1986 from RJR Nabisco, Inc. by PepsiCo, Inc., for approximately $840 million.

In January 1997, PepsiCo, Inc. announced the spin-off of its quick service restaurants - KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut - into an independent restaurant company, Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. In May 2002, the company announced it received shareholders' approval to change its corporation name to Yum! Brands, Inc. The company, which owns A&W All-American Food Restaurants, KFC, Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants, is the world's largest restaurant company in terms of system units with nearly 32,500 in more than 100 countries and territories.

Until he was fatally stricken with leukemia in 1980 at the age of 90, the Colonel traveled 2 ,50,000 miles a year visiting the KFC restaurants around the world.

And it all began with a 65-year-old gentleman who used his $105 Social Security check to start a business.


Qualities to look for in a person

Positiveness: The ability to work with and see in a positive way.

Servanthood: The willingness to submit, play the teamball, and follow the leader.

Growth potential: A hunger for personal growth and development; ability to keep growing as the job expands.

Follow-through: The determination to get done completely and with consistency.

Loyalty: The willingness to always put the leader and the organization above personal desires.

Resiliency: The ability to bounce back when problems arise.

Integrity: Trustworthiness and solid character; consistent words and walk.

"Big Picture" mind-set: The ability to see the whole organization and all of its needs.

Discipline: The willingness to do what is required regardless of personal mood.

Gratitude: An attitude of thankfulness that becomes a way of life.


Lessons from Michael J.Fox

by Robin Sharma

I saw television star Michael J. Fox being interviewed on NBC the other day. You probably know he has Parkinson's Disease. For most amongst us, the condition would knock us down. Not for MJF. He actually felt Parkinson's brought many blessings into his life and shared how it pushed out all the superficial things, making way for much richer ones like wisdom, understanding and love.

Powerful idea: life's most painful experiences are the very circumstances that introduce us to our best. During times of ease, it's easy to get caught up in shallow pursuits and pleasures. Hard times cause us to go deep. The unmeaningful stuff falls aside and we awake to what's most important. Things like family, friends, relationships, presenting our best to the world, enjoying each day's gifts, leaving the world better than we found it.

Big idea: every life is terminal. We are all headed for the same end - no matter how long we get to live. When you remember that before we know it, we'll all be dust, all the things that currently keep you small (like fear, pride and past disappointments) just fall away. And you discover that the time to shine - and be great - is now. (And if not now, then when?)

So thank you Michael J. Fox. For being an inspiration. For showing courage and leadership. For speaking the truth. For being a light in a world with too much darkness.


Persistence

"Keep trying" is the rule that must be followed if you want to be successful at anything.

Your success will always be connected with your actions. Just keep moving towards your goal.
You'll make mistakes along the way but don't ever quit. You may even have to hang on after others have let go.

Persistence means taking pains to overcome every obstacle, to do all that's necessary to reach your goal.

In the end, the only people who fail are those that do not try. All great achievements takes time.


Welcome change

The only thing that is constant is change; our efforts and endeavors must be to ensure that the changes are for the better; if they are not better, in terms of our perception, they may appear to be bitter. But is that really so?

Look at this tale of metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. I would enthusiastically and gleefully acknowledge the author of this wonderful piece but am unable to trace the name of the author.

Here is the tale:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a wonderful old man who loved everything. Animals, spiders, insects…

One day, while walking through the woods, the nice old man found a cocoon. Feeling lonely he decided to take the cocoon home to watch its beautiful transformation from a funny little cocoon to a beautiful butterfly. He gently placed the cocoon on his kitchen table, and watched over it for days.

Suddenly, on the seventh day, the cocoon started to move. It moved frantically. The old man felt sorry for the little butterfly inside the cocoon. He watched it struggle and struggle and struggle. Finally, he felt he should do something to relieve the insect of the torture. With a surgical scalpel he gently slit the cocoon so the butterfly could emerge.

Just one slice was all that was needed and the butterfly broke free from its cocoon only to lie in a motionless state. The old man was shocked. He never realized that the insect would be harmed. "Had I killed the butterfly?" was his worried response. Then he saw it moving a little. There was hope. He gently put it back in the cocoon.

The next day, he noticed that the cocoon was moving again. "Wow," said the old man, so happy to see the insect moving and moving and yet struggling and struggling. Finally, the butterfly broke from its cocoon and stretched its wings out far and wide. Its beautiful wings were filled with wonderful colours. It looked hither, thither and took off. What a sight. It was flying, making any number of rounds, settling on flowers only to take off and land.

That wonderful butterfly flew and flew and soon was out of sight of the old man. "What joy," the old man exclaimed. "I was only helping the butterfly in the cocoon. Why did it almost collapse? What wrong did I do?" He went to the town. He went straight to a library and read every book he could on butterflies. The answer emerged.

The butterfly has to struggle and struggle in the cocoon. That’s how it gets it strength. That’s how they are designed to overcome in order to be strong and beautiful.

We are all beautiful butterflies; we have our apparent struggles in life. The more struggles we have, the stronger we emerge.

So, trials and tribulations, difficulties and disasters, we welcome you, as you build us strong.


Decision making

You're in control of your life to the degree that you make decisions. It's your life. You decide what you're going to do with it. If you don't run your own life, someone else will.

To control the outcome of anything, you control the action at the point of decision making. If you let others make decisions for you, you give up control. When you control the decisions, you control the actions.

Take charge of your life, so there is no longer a need to ask permission of others.
When you ask permission, you are giving someone veto power over your life.

Only you are responsible for your life. Make your own decisions.