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November 2007

Important Questions

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the fastest ways to find the solution to an issue or challenge you are facing is to ask the right questions. The right question inevitably leads you to the correct answer. Questions matter. In business, remarkable performers are brilliant at getting to the right question. The one that speeds them to the place they need to get to and offers them the missing piece they need to find. And in life, asking yourself a powerful question will allow you to step into a whole new set of possibilities that you may have missed while you were locked into an old way of seeing things. Like the lesson amidst a so-called "failure". Or the opportunity that inhabits a setback.

Here are 5 Questions which would help you unlock your potential. I suggest you write them down and then find some time today to answer them in your journal.

1. Where am I playing small at work and in life?
2. What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
3. What am I resisting?
4. What can I be grateful for?
5. How do I want to be remembered?

And as you make this day extraordinary, I'll leave you with a quote from Mark Twain: "If everyone was satisfied with themselves, there would be no heroes."

Adding value

Zig Ziglar says "You can get whatever you want so long as you help enough people get what they want". All of your most highly cherished dreams can become reality as long as you help enough of those around you get to their personal mountaintops. Shift from me to we and watch your career - and your life - become shockingly successful. Be a Value Creator - for every stakeholder in the world you inhabit.

Two weeks back I attended BBS by Rashmi Jyotiprakash at the Anaheim Convention center . It was phenomenal. He said: "The problem with society today is that people are too focused on themselves to care about the needs of others. Great change is brought about by ordinary people filling ordinary needs."

Today, look for ordinary ways to be extraordinary (that's a big formula for success). Do the little things with unimaginable passion and off-the-scales excellence. Give your best - and then go farther - to each of today's pursuits. Because the more value you can create for others, the more value they will return to you.

Know Thyself: Mirror Test

Today I got a chance to listen to successful self made entrepreneur who talked a lot about 'mirroring technique' which lot of people used it and implemented. Today I am going to talk about mirror test.

I believe it's strikingly important to remember that when you know better, you can do better. With higher levels of awareness, you can make smarter choices. And the more clarity you get as to who you want to become, the quicker you can start making the choices need to get you there.

A simple tool for you today. Called The Mirror Test. Look into the mirror and ask yourself the following question: "What one thing could I do today that if I did it, my professional and personal life would get to its next level of greatness?" Then think about that One Thing. Reflect on executing that step superbly. Act from courage. And go out and do it. Now.

Fail your way to Success

The very nature of dreaming big dreams and stretching yourself beyond the normal is dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that you leave safety, you leave routine, you leave the common world where unhappy people smile giant smiles when they are asked to pose for a picture. And as you leave your cocoon of comfort, you will certainly fail more than your neighbors and those who live a life called Ordinary.

But one must fail to win. One must be willing to risk greatly to reach your personal mountaintop and your authentic definition of success. And I'd rather reach high and be disappointed than not even try to reach. And when I fall, I get back up, dust myself off - and I start again. Wiser. Stronger. And more committed. Just like you.

Lessons from "Four Seasons"

- Karthik Gurumurthy

Isadore Sharpe started a little company called The Four Seasons, with a single little hotel, in 1961. Did deals based on a handshake. Spoke his truth and kept his word. Did great work and offered great value. Well, good things happen to people who do good things (key thought to remember).

The Four Seasons, now one of the planet's most successful hotel chains, recently received purchase offers from the likes of Bill Gates and other heavy-hitters. Friends and colleagues of Issy Sharpe said things like "he deserves all the great things happening to him". Stands to make hundreds of millions. His reputation continues to soar. Fitting way to tie up his Cinderella Story.

Lessons learnt from his story:

1. Stay true to your vision/dream. There's something to be said for just staying at what you are trying to achieve well past the point everyone else gives up. Life rewards the (unreasonably) devoted.

2. Stay true to your values. In a world of fast-buck artists and people playing the short-game, Issy took the long-view. Built high-trust relationships. Protected his brand. Underpromised and overdelivered. Didn't care if others were unethical - stayed true to himself.

3. The little things amount to big things. Issy's dream started small. But he tended to it daily. Small daily elevations compound into massive results over time. Remember that success comes via those daily wins.

So model Issy - no matter what work you're doing today. Because leadership is all about Leading Where You're Planted. And it's not about the size of your title - but the depth of your commitment.

Lessons from Jim Carrey: Power of written goals

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I used to watch lot of movies when I was in Grad school. Most of them would be movies of Jim Carrey.

I am not going to review his movies now as that is a totally different topic altogether.

Lot of us get excited and inspired after reading a book, or after listening to a talk given by a leadership guru. But most of the excitement wears out after couple of days as we let life happen to us. But there are a small percentage of people who are focussed on goals and who knows what they are shooting for. Success is all about realizing your purpose and going after it with full gusto. So figuring out what you want is really important and vital and having written goals are liking having roadmaps.

Talking about Jim Carrey earlier, he is one of the highest paid celebrities in the movie industry, but success did not come to him easily. He had to leave school in grade nine to help his parents make ends meet when his father lost his job. One of his first jobs was as a janitor.

Carrey struggled for many years to find his way, but he never lost his sense of humor or his determination to succeed, even when things got really tough for him. He was told many times he would never make it in show business, but he had set his heart on success. He moved from his hometown Toronto and moved to Los Angeles to 'make it' and to perfect his craft. During the next years of frequent rejection and loneliness, Carrey always believed in himself. To keep himself motivated and wrote himself a check for 10 million$ and posted it where he could see it everyday: that is what he wanted to earn per movie when he became a star. This was a bold vision for anybody, let alone an unknown comedian to make ends meet. It became almost an obsession with him. Today, Jim Carrey earns well over 20 M$ per movie in Hollywood exceeding even his own expectations!

What goals do you have for yourself? It doesn't have to have 10 million$ price tag on it. It can be anything you want, big or small. Write down something symbolic or especially meaningful about that goal. Put it somewhere so you can see it everyday. Focus on it, but don't lose sight of your true self in the journey.

Work on your daily habits

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What separates the best from the rest comes down to habits. A few good ones (that's really all it takes - two or three really good ones) will make a massive difference in the way your career and your life looks downstream. So choose them well.

I feel a good habit is like a strong oak tree. Starts off as a little seed, planted in a single moment. Fail to nurture it daily and it dies a fast death. But tend to it - just a bit each day - and the thing grows. Until one day it's so strong it is next to impossible to break it.

Your habits will define how close to your personal mountaintop you get. Ones I suggest to you include getting up early, underpromising and overdelivering (always give people far more than they expect and you'll win), being a passionate learner (by reading daily and listening to audio programs by big thinkers), spending the first 30 minutes of each day planning (or thinking), leaving every person you meet better than you found them, working out regularly. Just a few to pick from. To get you going. To plant your seeds.

Focus on what you want

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Every second you spend thinking about what you don't want in your life is a second denying focus and energy from getting what you do want. Every minute you worry about what's not working is a minute drawn away from creating what will work. And every hour spent reflecting on the disappointments of the past is an hour stolen from seeing the possibilities that your future holds.

What I've discovered in my own life is that I see more of what I look for. Clarity precedes mastery (big idea there) and the more clearly I look for what I want, the more powerfully I generate that result in my life. By setting clear goals in the important areas, I see more of what I'm searching for. By looking for the best in others, I generally find it. And by looking for the good things in my life and expressing gratitude for my blessings (rather than thinking about any problems), I see more of what's good.

Your thinking will create your reality. Your thoughts form your world? Why? Because you will never act against your thinking. Every action is the offspring of a thought. And your actions create the professional and personal life you find yourself in today.

Embrace change

by Karthik Gurumurthy

I have identified 4 main reasons why people resist change and often don't take the steps to elevate their careers and their lives, even when they have the opportunity to do so:

Fear. People fear leaving their safe harbor of the known and venturing off into the unknown. Human beings crave certainty – even when it keeps them small. Just remember FEAR stands for "FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL." Engrave that in your mind. The key here is to manage your fear by doing the very thing that frightens you. The fears you don't own will own you. And behind every fear wall lives a precious treasure.

Failure. No one wants to fail. So many of us don't even try. We don't even take that first step to improve our health or to deepen our working relationships or to realize a dream. In my mind, the only failure in life is the failure to try. And I deeply believe that the greatest risk you can ever take is not taking risks.

Forgetting. Sure we leave the seminar room after an inspirational workshop ready to change the world. But then we get to the office the next day and reality sets in. Difficult teammates to deal with. Unhappy customers to satisfy. Demanding bosses to appease. Uncooperative suppliers. No time to act on the commitments we made for personal and professional leadership. So we forget them.

Here's a key to success: keep your commitments top of mind. Keep your self-promises front and center. Don't forget them. Put them on a 3 x 5 card that you post on your bathroom mirror and read every morning. Talk about them (you become what you talk about). Write about them each morning in your journal. Just remember: awareness precedes choice which precedes change. With better awareness you will make better choices. Those better choices lead to better results. Or to put it another way: as you know better you can do better. And as you do better, you will see better.

Faith. Too many people have no faith. They are cynical. “This leadership training and personal development stuff doesn't work.” Or “I'm too old to change.” Cynicism stems from disappointment. Cynical and faithless people were not always like that. But they tried and perhaps failed. Rather than staying on the game, recognizing that failure is the highway to success, they shut down and grew cynical. Their way to avoid getting hurt again.

So there you go, the “4 Fs” of why we resist transformation and playing our best game. Understand them and you can then manage and overcome them. Because awareness really does precede greatness.

Work on your People Skills Everyday

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I got a chance to attend the training by Rao and Vanitha Pokuru. The presentation was phenomenal and more than that, I got a lot of nuggets from the training. Vanitha talked about importance of growing ourselves internally on a consistent basis and having a united home team. Rao talked about having the innocence and excitement of a rookie and keeping the innocence all the time with the expectation to win every single time. He also insisted about the importance of people skills books for people who are moving on fast track. He had emphasized that the rate of growth of the business is directly proportional to the consistent action habits and how much one works on their people skills.

The things which they talked about are the most important but the mostly forgotten ones. I strive to read people skills books on a consistent basis. Few of the things which I got after reading today were as follows:

* Use people's names

* Look at them in the eye and show them you care

* Say please and thank you

* Listen a thousand times more than you speak (only a slight exaggeration)

* Be on-time

* Keep your promises

* Be more concerned about helping than selling (people can sniff sincerity a mile away)

* Be passionate about your products and services so that passion gets transferred.

* Be better than anyone else in your field at what you do (so read up on the product, learn daily, develop yourself/skills and always be improving)

* Treat your customers like they are visiting royalty.

Simple strategies. But remember: what separates the best from the rest is their consistent adherence to a few simple best practices that over time evolve into spectacular results. And also remember, everyone is selling something.