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June 2008

What makes your dazzle?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Last month, Shobana and I watched the movie "21." In case you haven't seen it, the premise centers on an MIT whiz kid who desperately needs money - as in $300K - to finance his Harvard Med School education. To do so, he transforms from dumpy, robot-building geek to slick, card counting ace. And so the money flows and the story unfolds.

But that's not the part that catches my attention. Early in the film, our protagonist interviews for the most lucrative scholarship at Harvard Med. He does the standard song and dance - handing over his résumé, selling his wares, stating his need. The Dean's impressed. But when it's Harvard Med you're talking about, well, everyone who applies to Harvard Med School is impressive. So he leaves our hero with this question to ponder: "What makes you dazzle?"

That is a great question to ask ourselves. Isn't it?

What activities do you perform on a day-to-day basis that makes you dazzle.

What you concentrate on, you cannot help but get great at. The more you focus, the better you get.

Focus on being outstanding at what you do and, over time, you will be known as remarkable. Focus on your health and, of course, in time - it will get to splendid. And focus on your inner world and people will eventually call you wise.

Focus on your burning priorities. Say no to everything else. Life's short. You only get one shot at great. Will you accept the Call? Or let the opportunity slide by you. Like too many amongst us.


Simplicity and Success

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Love what Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google said: "Success will come from simplicity." I invite you to really go deep into his words. They are enormously powerful. Most people in business and within their personal lives move towards complexity. More To Dos. More projects. More products. More meetings. More possessions. More goals. The best - I suggest to you -move in the opposite direction. They try and make their business models leaner and more focused. They do fewer but smarter things. They get wildly focused and wonderfully lean. And they most definitely run from trying to be all things to all people. Because real genius lives in simplicity.


Failing forward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Life can be understood backward, but it must be lived forward. If past history were all that mattered, librarians would be the only successful people in the world. The past should only be viewed with gratitude for the good things. So, look backward with gratitude and forward with confidence. Your past is the start of your fresh start.

I used to watch Seinfeld big time when I was in grad school. The first time Jerry Seinfeld walked on stage as a professional comic, he looked out at the audience, froze and totally forgot how to talk. He stumbled through a minute and a half of material and was booed off the stage.

Steven Spielberg dropped in and out of Saratoga High School in Saratoga, CA, finally graduating in 1965 from what he called the "worst experience" of his life. He applied to attend film school at UCLA and USC 3 separate times but was unsuccessful due to his C average.

So what I want to let you know is the major difference between achieving people and average people is their perception of and response to failure. Failing forward is about getting up and moving on.


Happy New Day

“Dare to begin.
No endeavor is worse than that which is not attempted.
You don’t know what you can do until you have tried.
People, like trees, must grow or wither.
There’s no standing still.
Do what you can.”

It is always your next move.
-Napoleon Hill

Have a fantastic start to a brand new day! :)


Grades and Success

-Karthik Gurumurthy

We all remember our first performance evaluation. Report cards. We carried home and presented them to our parents, yearning for their approval.

From a very early age we were taught the significance of outcomes. Whether it was getting a dollar for every A, being given a smile or kind word, (or in US, they say) avoiding being grounded, we discovered the report card mattered and we needed to be good at what we did.

We still carry this formative lesson of contingent approval with us. We still seek success to win approval, some of us from parents or spouses, others from colleagues and supervisors.

But just as having to get the good grades to please your parents did not instill a love of reading, having to succeed to attain the approval of someone else will not make your enjoy the process.

To succeed, not just in the outcome but in the process, you need to invest the effort for yourself, not to win approval from others.


Facing conflicts head-on

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Shobana and I had few interesting discussion(s) yesterday:) Just to clear the confusion, the discussion was not about big bang theory or theory of relativity :)

No matter how hard we try, there are always conflicts that happen in our lives. There is nothing wrong with that as each individual has different way of looking at things and that is what life makes more interesting. It is easier to pretend these conflicts do not exist or to dodge the matter whenever possible. But ignoring conflict doesn't make it go away; it just feeds the conflict and makes it worse.

I feel that the surest path to resentment, strain and relationship disaster is the complete absence of disagreements. Having no disagreements means you aren't saying what you think and feel and that emotions will simmer within you until they reach a boil. I read somewhere that there are atleast ten irreconciable differences between personalities no matter how close they are. The problem for most people is that they don't recognize the differences are inevitable and should be discussed.

Healthy relationships are successful, not because people have fewer disagreements, but they apply problem solving skills to discussions. Being open for discussion and facing it head on is the only way you can make situations better.


Focussing on what is happening right

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Turn on the evening news and you'll see another day's catalog of terror and trauma. Read the headlines and you'll see the hike in gas prices to $4.50/gallon. Read the business page, and you'll see which local company is downsizing. Our big picture perspective can be shaped, misshaped, by attention grabbing events.

The news doesn't cover people who had a particularly good day and return home to their happy families. The news doesn't cover the continued success of a healthy company.

Don't let the negative picture of the world/media cloud your perspective.


Willingness to Change

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I was able to reconnect back with my good friend Lakshmi from school. She gave a honest feedback about putting my life experience in this weblog as much as possible. I appreciate her feedback and will do the same from here on as much as possible. Life is all about making the changes and moving on forward.

Commercials on TV tell you all the time that you can change yourself. In thirty seconds, the commercial actors can get smarter, thinner, prettier, richer. But this fantasy world only sets us for fall.

We hear about the possibilities for wonderful changes people can change in their lives and we want to duplicate those results. When we try and are not quickly rewarded, we actually wind up feeling worse than we did before we started.

The problem is, of course, that change is possible, but it does not come immediately. Nobody wants to sell us on a program for change that will take years because of course no one would buy it. But it does take years to accomplish the most important changes.

When you entered the first grade, you didn't expect to learn algebra, quantum mechanics, organic chemistry all in the first week. You begin an education that took more than a decade and provided you with incredible positive change.

Get rid of the microwave mentality and let the law of the process sink in you and let it do the transformation on a day-to-day basis.



Slight Edge

Imagine Shane Warne stopping his stunningly disciplined daily practice regimen and still hoping to win the IPL? Just think about Tiger relaxing his extraordinary commitment to never-ending refinement and improvement of his golf game? Ridiculous you say. And yet how many of us-on the playing field of business and life - are devoted to daily practice? Few.

Seems so obvious yet so few get it: how can you get better if you don't practice? To get to world-class, you need to work at it. Daily. Relentlessly. Passionately. Success doesn't just occur - it's created.

All about The 1% Win. A few little improvements each day - created through your daily practice - amount to staggering results over time. But just hoping you'll get to great as a leader (and human being) is nothing more than magical thinking - a waste of time. Like hoping you'll be a better skier or golfer or pianist without working at getting better. Read the book Slight Edge to see the repercussion of what we do on a day-to-day basis.

Athletes get better through practicing their sport. Leaders get better by cultivating their craft. By elevating their skills. By deepening their impact. By consciously Stepping Toward Extraordinary. Until they get there.