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July 2008

Improvise your approach to Improvement

Dr. John C. Maxwell

Our well-being and happiness are tied to the notion that our lives can improve. We hope for a better future for our company, our kids, and ourselves. We dream of a tomorrow that's better and brighter than today.

Here are a few improvements many of us desire to see:

* We hope to lose weight and improve our fitness
* We hope to earn more money and improve our financial standing
* We hope to argue less with our spouse and improve our marriage

Over the next year, if we knew our health would deteriorate, our economic situation would worsen, and our closest relationships would unravel, then we'd be depressed. In fact, even if we knew our lives would stay the same, most of us would feel unsatisfied. We're always looking to improve the quality of our lives - it's human nature.

Unfortunately, many of us never go beyond hoping for improvements to actually making them. In this lesson, I'd like to share some insights to help you improvise your approach to improvement.

Develop Habits

The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. Leaders who make successful improvements share a common denominator: they form habits of daily action that those who fail to improve never develop. As my friend Andy Stanley says, "Your direction determines your destination." The steps you make each day, for good or ill, eventually chart the path of your life.

Consider the analogy of saving for retirement. Financial advisers counsel us to invest for retirement early in our careers and consistently throughout life. If we do, we can quit working at 65 with a sizeable nest egg. However, if we neglect funding our 401(k) each month, then we end up with nothing. We may still "hope" to win the lottery and secure our financial future, but we've lost the ability to control our fate.

Befriend Discipline

We live in the ultimate quick-fix culture. Everyone wants to be thin, but few people eat healthy and exercise. Everyone wants financial stability, but many refuse to be bothered by a budget. Rather than trouble ourselves with discipline, we opt for diet fads or speculate in the stock market. When we don't see long-term improvements, we discard one fad in favor of another.

In life, there are two kinds of pain: the pain of self-discipline and the pain of regret. The pain of self-discipline involves sacrifice, sweat, and delayed gratification. Thankfully, the reward of improvement softens the pain of self-discipline and makes it worthwhile. The pain of regret begins as a missed opportunity and ends up as squandered talent and an unfulfilled life. Once the pain of regret sets in, there's nothing you can do other than wonder, "What if?"

Admit Mistakes

When trying to improve, we not only risk failure, we guarantee it. The good news is that mistakes generally teach us far more than success. There's no sense pretending we're perfect. Even the best of the best have moments of weakness. That's why it's important to be honest when we fall short, learn from the mistake, and move forward with the knowledge gained.

Measure Progress

You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Identify the areas in which improvement is essential to your success and find a way to track your progress. Keeping score holds you accountable and gives you a clear indicator of whether or not you're actually improving.

Change Continually

Continual change is essential for improvement. One of the great paradoxes of success is that the skills and qualities that get you to the top are seldom the ones that keep you there. The quest to improve forces us to abandon assumptions, embrace innovation, and seek new relationships. If we're complacent for too long, we'll fall behind the learning curve. Once this happens, it's a steep, uphill climb to get back to the top.

The desire for improvement has a degree of discontent in it. Personal growth requires apparently contradictory mindsets: humility to realize you have room to grow but also confidence that improvement is possible.

SUMMARY


Tips for Attaining Improvement

1. Develop Habits
2. Befriend Discipline
3. Admit Mistakes
4. Measure Progress
5. Change Continually.

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


You can make your dreams come true

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Put it out there! Say it to the universe! Say it to a friend who believes in you, or say it to the mirror! We have such an ease in saying what we are bad at, what's not working in our lives, who doesn't like us or what we lost. It seems that it's easier to be negative then positive. Here's the thing, when we start to talk about the good stuff, our success, our triumphs and even what we think we can do in the future we will start to feel better. You will actually begin to attract new people to your life.

The exciting part is you can do anything! There are hundreds of stories of people that have done amazing things and come from such simple backgrounds. Here is a HUGE idea... there are no extra people on the planet. Richard Branson,Mark Zuckerberg, Sachin Tendulkar, all have the same number of hours as you. No one gets 28 or 30 hours. One thing I learned from coach is, Successful people pack 48 hours of activity in the quota of 24 hours.How do you spend your minutes, your hours, your days? Who do you surround yourself with?

Be great. Believe in yourself. You can do anything you aspire for! Coach mentioned a lot about the dominant thought process. Successful people are obsessed with their goals and dreams with the dominant thought process. A person who is acting on his/her dreams 24/7 and is doing the work in sync with the goals is the one who makes things happen.

Here is today's question... read it, write it, answer it and you are more than welcome to share it in the blog.

What do you want to do? What is your hearts desire? Your biggest dream? What can you do today to start living that great life you are aspiring for? Are you thinking about it or are you doing something in your daily activity which brings you closer to the goal?

Just remember this, all of us are created for greatness, engineered for excellence and are meant to achieve whatever we are striving for. It is all the question of whether we are wishing for things to happen or making it happen. Just do it.


Seeing the Bigger Picture in Decision Making

by Karthik Gurumurthy

There are many times when we go through life only looking at what is in front of our faces instead of the bigger picture. Unfortunately this is a one dimensional way to live and operate. If only you see there is a bigger picture to your life, you will then start operating in a way that will ensure the bigger picture is involved in those decisions you make on a day-to-day basis.

To concentrate on the bigger picture for your life requires deliberate and concise focus and action. Allowing yourself to be swayed by the opinion and direction of others will not keep you on track. It will only make your feel like a flag flying in the breeze- tossed in every direction. How many times have we all take the opinion of others, only to be pulled further away from what we want to achieve.

Now if you do not feel there is a bigger picture for your life, I am here to say that you are wrong. We all have greater things to achieve in our lifetime, but if we only worry about the immediate result we will never see the opportunities that will take us closer to what could be in store for us in the future.

We all have to make decisions in the course of our life. Whether @ work or @ home, we make decisions every day that affect our future. It could be a small decision that determines what food we put into our mouth, or it could be a decision that will affect where we work and how much money we may make that week. Making decisions is the one thing we all have in common.

So how do you decide on which decisions you should make? I believe there are three questions you need to ask yourself before you settle on the answer to any decision:

1. What is the worst case scenario if I make the decision, and can I live with it if it turns out that way?
2. Am I only looking @ a short-term solution or have I taken into account the long-term ramifications and the bigger picture?
3. Who will be affected by this decision?

If you don't ask yourself these questions, you are really leaving yourself open to whatever comes your way.

Make sure you understand that your future is bigger than the situation that you face today, and that with every decision comes an outcome. Good or bad.


Accountability: Honoring your commitments

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Successful people not only live up to the expectations they set for themselves, they also honor the commitments they make. For them word is their bond.

I know unforeseen circumstances can crop up, and sometimes we have to cancel out on things, but unless you have a genuinely valid reason for canceling, always do what you say you are going to do. That could mean keeping a dinner engagement with a associate, going to a movie with your spouse, meeting a friend for a coffee or a drink. It could be something of major significance in your life or just a social occasion, but unless there is emergency or something seriously unavoidable that comes up, keep up your promises!

It is quite a revelation to discover the number of people who are genuinely surprised and honored when others make a commitment to them and actually stick to it. Being treated with such integrity always makes people feel special and important.


Willingness to apply and change

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Attended a great seminar and training by Raju and Nisha. The plan was simple and smooth, training was great and nite owl was fantastic. The training mainly focussed on change. All of us get soaked up in the knowledge but the only ones who move on to the next level are the ones who apply those knowledge accumulated over a period of time. We have learned so many times that applied knowledge is power. One of the things we have to make a decision to determine what is holding us back? What are all the things that stops us from moving forward. Once we take some time to identify these barriers it is easy to overcome those and move on further. There are two key parameters to doing this: Making a decision to take some time to identify these factors (by being honest to ourselves) and acting on those changes.

Whatever situation we are in, we are in it because we have lessons to learn from it. That is why we are there!
Asking God to change our situation makes absolutely no sense. Until we changed we still need the situation!

When we say: " God, please change my circumstances and save me the trouble of changing myself", we demonstrate a lack of understanding. The request needs to be: "Change me, change my thoughts about this." As our thoughts about circumstances alter, the circumstances alter.


What firres you up?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

How do you start your day? Do you jump out of bed? Do you get up and go running? Do you grab a giant hot coffee? Do you live for the moment? Do you have a reason to get out of bed?

That's the key... having a reason to get up each day. Do you have a goal in mind to make your day amazing? I try and get up every day early as much as possible. Some people think I am crazy... here is the thing, I have more energy than 90% of the people around me! Some of these people get 7-10 hours of slumber per night.

We spend so much time sleeping, waiting in line, watching TV, reading trash in the line at the store. We lose out on living. If you simply get up just a couple of hours earlier every day you add (honestly) years to your life!! Get up and live, the key to being successful is to find out that reason to get up. Is it to create a life of true magnificence? Do you want to create a better life for you and your family?

Words of Mr. Nike Shoemaker...Just Do It:)

Oh by the way it's 5:20 am and I got 1 hour of reading and checking my email... My day has already been on the go for over an hour, love it!!!



Straw that broke the camel's back

Most organizations do not fall apart as a result of one big blow. Most relationships do not end because of one grand argument. Most lives do not fall to pieces due to one sad event. Sustained failure happens as the consequence of small, daily acts of neglect that stack up over time to lead to a blow up - and break down.

Remember the idiom "Straw that broke the camel's back". Pieces of straw kept on getting piled onto the camel's back. Each piece – alone - was light and caused little harm. But every hour, piece after piece got put on the camel's back until it was ready to break. And then, one day, a single piece broke it.

It is all about how little neglect inevitably leads to businesses and lives of major disorder. Like what my dad always says "It is the little things that get you". Watch out for those and make sure you fix them before it leads to major issue.


Man in the mirror

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What do you see when you stare the person in the mirror? Do you see a champion or a winner or someone who likes to get approval from everyone to take a step forward? How do you see yourself?

It doesn't matter what other people think of you. All that matters is what you think of you.

We lose so much energy worrying about the opinions of others, wanting to be liked. Leadership and personal mastery is about rising above social approval - to self approval.

Like you. Respect you. So long as you are living by your values, obeying Man's laws , God's laws, being authentic, running your own race and going after your dreams, who cares what anyone else thinks/feels/says about you? My coach always says that "Leadership isn't a popularity contest." It's about doing what's right.


Reflections

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Sitting here on a very early Sunday morning, most of the world still asleep. I love getting up early it allows me time to read, write and reflect.

Reflection is the key today, we don't do that enough. Some of us spend way too much time reflecting on negative memories, incidents and experiences that have happened in our lives. Yesterday was my parents wedding anniversary. I called them up and chatted with them for a while and got their blessings. I am grateful to my parents for providing me a fantastic life, sacrificing their comforts, doing whatever needed to be done so that their sons can reach new heights which they didn't see themselves in their careers. Some of my friends/relatives have had bad experiences in the past with parents. It is true that each one of us has different experiences which keeps them still bitter, angry and sad. Not allowing oneself to enjoy life and to experience the incredible joy that each day has to offer.

By being angry or upset with friends,or parents we actually cheat ourselves. We don't take control of our life, we lose control to others. I agree that life doesn't offer the smooth rides and pleasant situations all the time. The truth is I am the person I am today because of that experience. I am a better stronger and happier person. I am not bitter, not at all.

GREAT idea... if you take the word BITTER and change only one letter you get BETTER. So... all of us can make a decision about the past. This is the time to draw a line, turn over a new leaf, to write a new chapter... heck, why not a whole new book. You get more from life by moving forward, not backwards or even staying parked in that same place.

Get out your weblogs/journals and write down the following...

What are twenty five things that you are grateful for in your life? What people, experiences, places or possessions make you smile?

Please write down you top five here. If you don't have a weblog/journal then grab a scrap of paper and start writing. I notice that there are visitors all over the place who stumbles into my blog every single day. Why don't you introduce yourself and please write down your top five here in the blog and share..


Four reasons why people resist change

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Last weekend, I had a phenomenal time attending the summer conference in Ontario. Got lots of nuggets from the conference but the main speakers whose speeches made a huge impact on me was Raj, Kulin Desai, Deepak Chowdhury, Allan Figueredo and Ajit Dodani. As rightly mentioned by Kulin, "Motivation is an inside job". I have always been motivated about what I am going to accomplish. I get up every single day with lots of excitement that today is the day I am going to give my best in anything and everything I do. The conference reflected a lot on how Pravin left a legacy for his family no matter whatever physical challenges he was going through. It also gave a sense of urgency to everyone that we do not have all the time we think we have. Kulin Desai mentioned in the "Day Owl" session.., "What would you do if your Doctor told you that if you have just six more months to live?" Very important point I think.. Something that we need to remind ourselves constantly so that we don't fritter away our time.

I also understood why people resist change. Lot of people attend conferences and seminars under the impression that somebody needs to motivate them. Most training doesn't last. No stickiness. We attend a seminar and vow to transform our lives. We say we'll be better leaders and human beings. Two days later, it is back to business as usual – seeing the negative, playing the victim and being cranky. The learning didn't work. Because we didn't change internally.

Having worked with different kinds of people, I have identified four 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:

1. 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. 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.

2. 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.

3. Forgetting the big picture(emotional dream). 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. 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. The three steps to success is 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.

4. Faith. Too many people have no faith. Kulin mentioned that 75% of the people do not believe in themselves. 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 four reasons 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.

Finally, What do you want to be remembered for?

I hope YOU will take some time to reflect on what is it that you want to be remembered for. A few weeks ago, we were saddened by the news of Pravin Chheda's departure. He had the biggest health challenges, but that did not stop him from finishing the race. It was touching and it made me realize how blessed we all are having perfect health, youth and team to support us.

Let us not be too busy going after the materialistic things in life, climbing the corporate ladder to realize what is it that is important to you in life. It is still not too late. Let us work harder and make each day count towards our future.