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December 2013

Thoughts for today- Emotional Intelligence

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Your emotional intelligence has a lot to do with how physically healthy you are. Emotional health results from optimizing your innermost feelings, from dealing with conflicts, and from viewing difficulties as opportunities, not disasters. The following six actions are excellent good habits to possess.

  1. Accept yourself. Deal with the world without constant inner battles. Not every battle is worth winning.Accept what you can't change. When you find something that can and should be changed, accept that responsibility.
  2.  Accept others. Dealing with others' faults is a test of one's maturity. Accepting others helps you deal with their faults and allows you to criticize without venom. Not getting along with people is a sign your emotional health needs work.
  3. Keep your sense of humor and use it as a plane to shave off the rough edges of life. Your humor reflects your attitude toward others; don't joke at the expense of others.
  4. Appreciate simple pleasures, no matter how often repeated. Stay excited over things even if they seem ordinary to others.
  5. Enjoy the present. Although you can provide for the future, you cannot control or foresee it. Venture fearlessly into new projects and new places.
  6. Learn to have fun rather than living in a state of constant resentment. Sometimes if I take sometime and play with my son, it feels great to play with him with all the innocence and wonder than watching a movie/TV.

Denis Waitley noted that scientists are discovering that disease is not necessarily caused by gems and viruses acting alone. All people have germs, but not everyone becomes ill. In addition to hereditary and environmental factors, there is strong evidence that the cause of many illnesses is closely linked with the way an individual reacts to life.

16 year old Melissa Anderson knows how to react to life and injuries. After being struck by a motorcycle, Anderson was rushed to UCI Medical Center in Orange, California. When doctors removed her ruptured spleen and repaired her damaged liver, they weren't finished. The accident punctured her lung, broke her collarbone and right leg, and caused her brain to swell. Doctors expected Anderson to be hospitalized for months.

When she regained consciousness, Anderson had other plans: She wanted to go home. Twelve days later she did."When I want to do something, I just go for it. I worked on getting out of there," she explained. Her doctor,Dr.Lekawa, said Anderson's "attitude and willingness to get up and move around despite pain speeded her recovery and prevented side effects such as pneumonia, embolisms, or kidney failure." He added, "The will to recover causes hormonal changes in the body that encourage healing. I absolutely believe that a strong attitude to do well and survive helps you out."

Researchers claim that your right attitude is a medicine and they can back up their claim. Physical and emotional health are interrelated; a person with good emotional health can work, love, and play without much internal stress.But things have a way of getting tough, and when they do your emotional intelligence determines your ability to cope. Emotional health is as important as physical health because it helps you visualize, imagine, and anticipate full recovery from illness. You also can reward yourself for recovering. Good emotional health should be a goal in your life. Activities such as hobbies, reading, enjoying nature, gardening,or listening to music can help your emotional health.


Saturday night live!- Quiet reflections about risks

-Karthik Gurumurthy

"There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

-John F. Kennedy.

What is short term and what is long term is a function of the rate of change. At a gradual pace, it may be reasonable to concentrate predictively on circumstances five or ten years out. But in rapidly accelarating environments, the best one might be able to do is to define actions six months or a year away. In both cases, leader is thinking as far ahead as reality dictates is reasonable. He/she is predicting the fallout of short term decisions, weighing, assessing and leveraging in favor of long-term benefit. Successful risk takers are always attempting to limit the risk. They are grounded in reality and do their homework. Contrast this with my four year old, who at one time last year dove off head first from table (in the Park). Thankfully I was able to reach the pavement beneath him just before he did. He too, was a risk taker,  but he had an incomplete grip on reality and had no idea of the consequences of his actions. Leaders make mistakes. Some are large, obvious and embarrassing.But they never make the mistake twice. And their capacity to learn, to evolve, and to catapult off of a poor showing helps establish their mystique. They are human enough to try new things and willing to demonstrate vulnerability.But they have the uncanny ability to move from naive student to master teacher in a single step. Their willingness to risk failure simply reflects their knowledge that success will surely follow.


Thoughts for today! Attitudes

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Earl Nightingale, said, "Attitude will always affect your success, and you'll know it affected your success when you take credit for your success that's the good side or you blame somebody that's the bad side."

Leadership Guru Dr. John C. Maxwell tells this story about taking responsibility for attitude. After seeing how-to-improve-your-attitude books in his father's briefcase during a vacation, Maxwell said, "Dad, you're 70 years old. You've always had a great attitude. Are you still reading that stuff?".
 

Melvin Maxwell looked his son in the eye and answered, "I have to keep working on my thoughts through out my life. I am responsible for having a great attitude and for maintaining it. My attitude does not run on auto pilot."

So, we not only choose our attitudes, but they are also a continuing choice. TV anchor Hugh Downs defined a happy person not as someone with a certain set of circumstances, but with a certain set of attitudes.


Merry Christmas!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish each of you a Merry Christmas! Thank you for your kind words of encouragement throughout the year.

I would also like to wish you and your family all the best in the coming year. My prayer for you is that you will be blessed with good health, be surrounded with loving family and friends, and that you will continue to grow and reach your full potential and destiny.


Today's thoughts: Dreams

Karthik Gurumurthy

Our dreams are our invitations to perform the dance we have been gifted with. Dreams are full of purpose. They mean to inspire us, acting as markers along the paths to our destination. If we had no dreams, we would quickly lose the will to live.

The twenty-four hours ahead will be filled with dreams as well as actions. The actions we take today are no doubt inspired by yesterday's or last week's dreams. Dreams help us to image that which our souls desire us to do. This imagery is powerful, helping us to be prepared for any situation that requests our involvement.

Through our dreams we feel the pull of the inner self - that center we have that knows our needs, talents, our proper course and destination. My lifeline to tomorrow is through today's dream. I will respect its call and take the action necessary to make it come true.


Thoughts for today! Acting first..

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Things are always created twice, first mentally and then physically. Act like the person you want to be and that is what you become. Once you start doing something, such as standing stall, maintaining eye contact when you talk to people, and speaking distinctly with energy in your voice, motivation kicks in and helps you keep doing it. Acting as if may seem difficult the first time you do it, but like anything else, the more you act as if, the better you become. Acting as if gets the chemistry moving in the right direction. Don't wait for motivation to tap you on the shoulder. Instead act first and motivation naturally follows to keep you going in your chosen direction.


Thoughts for today: Integrity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Socrates said that persons with integrity were in reality what they expressed to be. This makes complete sense because before we can achieve the kind of lives we want, we must think, act, talk, walk and conduct all of our affairs as if we were the persons we wish to be. Integrity is both who we are and what we do.

Galileo Galilei was a man of integrity whose actions supported his beliefs. While teaching Mathematics in Pisa around 1589, Galileo would drop rocks off the Leaning Tower in his spare time. He discovered that a 2-pound rock and a 10-pound rck reached the ground at the same time. When he demonstrated this to the scientists of his day, they said that would not happen because everyone knew that weight affected speed. So Galileo offered to repeat the experiment.

Less than two decades later, Galileo announced that the earth was not the center of the universe; but again, everyone knew differently. Galileo's statement of fact caused him to be condemned in life in prison. In addition, Italian printers were forbidden to print anything he wrote. Although his sentence was commuted, Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest. His struggle exemplified scientists' need for freedom of inquiry. Today,  most people think of Galileo as a pioneer of modern physics and telescopic astronomy, but he is a perfect example of man of integrity.


Thoughts for today: Risk

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The story is told of a man living near the Holy Ganges river in India. A farmer like his father and Grandfather, Ram staunchly believed that God would always take care of him. Life was good; Ram's crops flourished and his animals were healthy. 

When the Ganges began rising, Ram thought to himself, God will take care of me. As water covered the first floor of his farmhouse, Ram picked up his farm animals ans moved up to the second floor. Watching things he barely recognized swirling past his house. Ram marveled at the river's power. The next day when neighbors rowed up to his bedroom window to take Ram to higher ground, he refused to leave because he believed God would provide. Water rose over the second floor and Ram reluctantly moved into the top floor, Volunteers yelled through second floor window, pleading with him to get into their boat, yet Ram steadfastly refused. The following morning, water began seeping into the second floor and Ram wearily moved onto the roof; certain that God would provide, he refused to climb into neighbor's boat. As water covered the roof, Ram exhausted by his ordeal, feel asleep and was swept away by the rising water.

While a helicopter crew was recovering his body, Ram was asking to God in heaven with a disappointed note, "Why didn't you take care of me?". God answered, "Well, I sent three boats and a helicopter- What were you waiting for?"

Like Ram, we often hope for divine intervention rather than take the leap of faith and the risk to move on.We doubt our own judgment, we love our safe comfort zones and hate uncertainty. It is also the fear factor. Fear can be Finding Every Acceptable Reason not to do something or False Evidence Appearing Real. Successful have the tendency to believe latter and make the first move which makes all the difference.


Thoughts for today- Fear of Failure

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the biggest things that keeps people from achieving what matters most to them is this kind of fear.

I have had these thoughts come in my mind several times.

Suppose I really identify what matters most to me. Then I will have to come face to face with what I am not doing about what matters most to me, and I may see that as failure and I don't want to fail.I don't want to go through the ugly feelings that failure can sometimes bring.Therefore I won't take take the time to sit down and go through any of this stuff because knowing what matters most to me is going to open up the possibility of failing.

Fear like that can extinguish the human spirit.Don't let it immobilize you in your quest to do something about the things that matter most to you. Failure is part of growth and is how we learn. Another thing which is associated is the fear of change.

In the wonderfully motivating book "Release your Brakes", James Newman talks about comfort zones, those places and conditions we gravitage to by the paths of least resistance, usually by default.Leaving our comfort zones can be difficult unless, as Newman counsels, we realize that doing so can be an adventure, a rejuvenating and exhilarating experience. If we can consider leaving comfort zones as adventures, then we won't be afraid to fail and can understand that we might fail many times before we eventually succeed.

There is a wonderful story about a very successful entrepreneur who was asked why he was so successful. His response was "Good decisions." The second question was"Well, how do you make good decisions?" The response: "Experience." And then the final question: "How do you get experience?" And the response: " Bad decisions."

We learn by our experience. We learn by mistakes. We learn by failing. We learn by attempting something. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but we find the better way. It is important to do whatever it takes to get the fear of failure out of your system.


Thought process: Laughter- The best medicine

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Scientist Lee Berk brought laughers into his laboratory at Loma Linda University in California. Half of the subjects watched a video of a stand-up comedian while the other half, or control group sat quietly in another room. Blood samples were drawn every 10 minutes from both groups. The control group showed no physiological change. The subjects who watched the video showed decreased levels of cortisol, a hormone that suppresses the immune system, and "significant increases in various measures  of the immune function." This means laughing activates:

  • T cells that battle infection.
  • B cells that produce disease-fighting protein.
  • Natural killer cells that attack tumors and microbes.
  • Immunoglobulin- antibodies that patrol the respiratory tract.
  • Gamma-interferon that is key immune system messenger.

Berk concluded that "laughter creates its own unique physiological state with changes in the immune system opposite to those caused by stress." He summed up the benefits of laughter this way: "Blessed are those who laugh, for they shall last." Dr. Stanley Tan and Dr. Berk have shown that laughing lowers blood pressure, increases muscle flexion, and triggers a flood of beta endorphins- natural morphine -like compounds.

Dr. Derks and his colleagues mapped the brain activity of subjects while they listened to jokes.Having discovered that the entire outer layer of the brain is involved when people laugh, they believe it could boost the immune system.

The bottom line to all this research is that laughter increases disease-fighting cells and proteins in the blood and increases our immunity to infections. Even common sense tells us that no one can be anxious and tense while laughing. It is important that we develop the ability to find humor in life.


Thought process: Vision

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Epictetus, A Greek Philosopher, wrote: " What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are." Centuries later, Johnny Carson proved Old Epictetus right when he joked on his late night television show about a shortage of toilet paper in the US. Fiendishly, Carson went into exaggerated detail about the dire consequences of the Tissue Paper shortage. To his amazement and distributors dismay, people took Carson seriously and bough up all the toilet paper in sight. People who heard Carson's retraction later remain unconvinced; they knew there was a shortage. after all the shelves were empty. This was a vision gone awry.

This is a funny story but having a vision of your future enables you to make it come true through your actions.


Silence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 Silence is a source of great strength. – Lao Tzu

One of the hardest lessons for a young leader to learn is that of silence. One of the hardest lessons for seasoned leaders is to remember it. Silence is a great tool for leaders. You can observe a while lot within your organization by paying attention and listening. What you can learn and the wisdom you gain will serve you well. The lesson here is simple. Don’t be afraid to listen when you are tempted to speak. Take time to process your thoughts. It could very well save you some grief by speaking too soon. Watch and listen. You will be the wiser for it.


Thoughts for today: Happy Face

-Karthik Gurumurthy

In the Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale tells about meeting a couple in a railroad dining car. The woman was dressed in expensive furs, diamonds and jewelry. Wrinkling her nose as though she smelled a dead fist, she proclaimed regally that the car was not only dingy, but also drafty, the service was abominable, and the food tasteless. Her easy-going husband cringed at his wife's critical attitude.

To change the subject, the man asked Peale's occupation, mentioning that he was a lawyer. Then he said that his wife was in manufacturing, which surprised Peale, who asked what she manufactured. Her husband replied, "Unhappiness, she manufactures here own happiness."

The story is told that an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln suggested a certain candidate for Lincoln's cabinet. Lincoln immediately refused, saying, "I don't like the man's face."

"But sir," the adviser said, "he can't be responsible for his face."

Lincoln looked him in the eye and answered:  "Every man over 40 is responsible for his face." The point is, our face reflects our internal activities. If we're happy, it shows.


Thoughts for today: Everyday learning

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Remember when you came home from school and your parents asked, "So, what do you learn today?". The question is still relevant because learning is important to the health of your brain. Learning does not keep you from getting Alzheimer's disease, but it does keep your brain alive and helps you stave off senility. New knowledge causes your body to make new connections between your brain cells. The process of arborization occurs when neurons actually grow microscopic filaments to connect to each other. When you learn something new, neurons create growth hormones that stimulate their own growth and that of their neighbors. Thoughts happen when the branches of brain cells connect: that's why you need to keep feeding your brain knowledge. We need to make learning a lifetime habit by becoming an habitual thinker.

According to Late Dr. Lazarus (Dr. L), you learn best when you spend a short time learning everyday or every other day. Pulling an all-nighter as you did in college is counterproductive. Dr. L suggested when you are learning something difficult, switch off and do something that comes naturally to you; then return to the difficult subject. 


Thought for today: Listening

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today at work, there was a major issue which created a rift between two groups. On closer discussion with the groups, it is just a gap in communication because of not listening. 

Effective leaders are skilled listeners who take an active interest in the other person. Leaders suspend judgement until all the facts are know and "use a third ear" to discover what the other person wants to-but doesn't or can't-say.

I think it is a good idea for all of us to take the page out of statesman Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. Franklin wrote that we attain true knowledge by using our ears rather than our tongues.He gave others  time to talk, consciously allowing a silent pause afterward to be sure  they had finished speaking. By listening so carefully, Franklin learned what was important to others. Refusing to speak when he was angry, Franklin waited he could think more clearly, because he realized that softly spoken words often are heard more clearly than harsh loud epithets.


Question enough to get the answer..

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Status Quo HCPSS 7-2013.001

I learned about the amazing story of Stanislavsky Lech who saved his own life by constantly questioning until he found the answer.

Stanislavsky and his family were arrested by the Nazis during World War II and sent to a death camp in Krakow. His entire family was shot in front of him and he was forced into hard labor.

Starving to death he somehow continued, but he knew if he didn't escape he would surely die. He questioned how to succeed every minute of every day. His friends told him it was useless. He refused to accept this and continued to question..continued to search for a solution.

Finally, the solution presented itself. The Germans would  pile bodies next to the gas chambers and each day load them into trucks to be dumped into mass graves.

As his work day ended, Lech slipped out of line, ducked behind a truck loaded with bodies, removed his clothing, and while no one was looking,  jumped into the back of the truck with the dead. More bodies were dumped on top of him and he lay quiet, pretending to be dead.

Finally the truck moved outside the camp grave site and dumped its aweful grave. Lech stayed silent for hours until dark and escaped from the site.

How did Lech survive? Because he refused to give up. He continuously questioned to find the solution.

In life or in business, if something isn't right, we have two solutions: accept it or question it to find a solution.Sometimes you have got to ask many questions to find the right answer.  The key is to never stop questioning until you are satisfied with the answer.


Giving

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Great thought process about giving. My niece Neha Iyer shared this in Facebook and loved to share this with all.

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"Practice giving things away, not just things you don't care about, but things you do like. Remember, it is not the size of a gift, it is its quality and the amount of mental attachment you overcome that count. So don't bankrupt yourself on a momentary positive impulse, only to regret it later. Give thought to giving. Give small things, carefully, and observe the mental processes going along with the act of releasing the little thing you liked."

Thanks Neha.


What if this is it?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I am not trying to be a pessimistic. I don’t want to be controversial. I certainly do not want to offend you or anyone. But, here goes.. What if this is it?

What if, after we pass there is nothing more and your life is simply a collage of the choices, actions and interactions that you have had while you were on this planet. What if you have only one shot. Your life here on the Planet Earth. It’s not a fun thought I know. But I believe it should be a motivating one. We all need to embrace two things; one, YOU are responsible for you. Two, we are judged by our actions here and now. With every single person we meet each day. I mean every single person. Not just the ones that you deem important, likeable or helpful. The annoying child running in the store, the slow check out person at the grocery store, the tedious bank teller, the monotone school teacher, the co-worker that frustrates us, the boss that sometimes seems unreasonable. Everyone. What if you took those opportunities to make the world a better place by treating everyone and everything with love, kindness and respect? Wouldn’t that make the world a better place? I have only a few BIG goals in life. At camp we call them FLAG’s; Fearless Life Altering Goals. 1. Leave the planet a better place for my children and their children. 2. Be ridiculously kind 3. Create a ripple 4. Celebrate the beauty around me. If I do this I think that I will have lived a good life. I will confidently know that when someone mentions my name there is a smile that radiates from those that hear “Do you know GKa?”. If I do this then if there is some Universal greater power, God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Shiva or whomever you believe in, he/she/it will judge me by my work, my actions and interactions. Not by the symbol on a chain around my neck or the idle wishes and demands that I have made upon a higher power. In the end you are a mirror image of your choices. Today, pretend that you can change the world. Not for a backstage pass to the ever-after. Because you know that it’s the right here and now that matters. You can be a positive impact on that.


Thoughts for today: Counting my blessings!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today is my birthday.I won't say how old I am. I can say I am celebrating my 11th anniversary of 29th birthday. Wow really..! Yes..Time has gone by so fast..

But that is fine...Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.It’s up to you whether or not you get old.

Few years back, I had in my mind my target weight goal in lbs and some financial goals.  But this morning? I decided to ignore the number and celebrate the day. I didn't get on the scale. I didn't check my bank balance. I decided to count my blessings instead.

I remember what birthdays were like as a kid. All of the anticipation of what you might get for a present, what kind of cake you wanted and most importantly what treat you were going to take to school. Yes, I grew up in the days of taking candy for your birthday. That practice that is now frowned upon in some schools and classrooms because of the health implications and the policy in those places is strictly enforced here.

My mom and dad made it special with their personal touch. My mom would make special Payasam (Indian Dessert) along with other special dishes and would shower her love and affection and my dad would pour his affection and I always felt like million bucks that day. Dad always got finer quality new dresses and expensive cakes. I don't know how he was able to afford them but felt like being in Cloud 9 the whole time. For dinner, Dad would take us all to a fine restaurant. Since going to restaurant was reserved for special occasions, we were looking forward to it the whole time. Since dad and mom were in good mood the whole day, I used this time to get their signature on the subjects which I didn't do too well.( I am not sure if they follow the procedure anymore. Back in those days, school students are supposed to show their grades to the parents and parents have to sign them (as a proof) showing they acknowledge the grades!)

I left the whole birthday present thing until last. Honestly, I can’t remember a single thing that I got for my birthday. Don’t worry, me and my brother always got a fantastic gift and it was usually something fun that we had asked for, but I really don’t recall exactly what any of the presents were.  I do know that we only got one present from Mom and Dad and we appreciated it.It is a great feeling to get the blessings from parents and other elders which made it more special.

Fast forward to the present day, my birthday is still a really good day. My lovely wife got up early to cook special lunch with so many of my favorite dishes and a special dessert for me. She also got the cake which I will be having with my dear in-laws. It was nice of them to grace us and we definitely appreciate their presence on this birthday. Made it lot more special.

Maybe it is sad that our birthday goes from being one of the two or three best days of the year to just another day. Sure, every ten years is that “special” birthday when everyone pokes fun at your age and make sure the whole world knows how old you are. I guess in retrospect while birthdays may not be such a big deal when you get to be an adult, they are still important. After all it is a day to reflect on all the good memories and blessings in our lives that came in the past year. It is also a day to look forward and wonder what the next 364 days might hold.

As I celebrate a milestone birthday this year, I want to pause, reflect, and say: Thank You. Over the past several years you have been part of the moments, the days, the months, and the years that have built on each other to create my life story. You have helped shape my journey and it would have been a different adventure had you not been part of the cast.

And so, in celebrating this milestone, I am in turn celebrating all of the cast, all of you, our times together, the moments we've shared, the laughter and the tears. Thank you for being part of it, for reminding me of my strengths when times were tough, and for keeping me in check when my ego took hold. For appreciating my idiosyncrasies, loving me as I am, and helping me be true to myself. But also for telling me when I wasn't being the best I could be, while at the same time reminding me that I am human and allowed to make mistakes. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me in my creative pursuits, for intriguing my curiosity, for all the conversations, and for listening to my endless meandering thoughts, helping me learn and grow. Thank you for showing up and being present. For never ceasing to impress me, inviting me to celebrate your successes with you and for trusting me to be your pillar when you've needed help.

I am in awe that we are traveling this realm at the same time in the history of the world, and grateful that our short duration on this earth have not only overlapped, but that our paths have intersected. When I think about the odds for this to have happened, I really come to appreciate how special this is. That we are now here together, at this time in the history of the world, and that we met and were given the chance to create something together. And I sure hope that together we can continue creating a more loving history, a more generous world, a more peaceful one, one that we're proud to leave behind for the next generations.

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If I was to try and summarize some of the big life lessons gathered over the past 29 years the list might look something like this at first draft..You can say  :

  1. Try not to be in too much of a hurry to “grow up”, always look at the world through a child’s eye as if it is something new to explore. Looking at the world through the eyes of our children we are reminded of the pure goodness and can take ourselves back into this magical place.
  2. My parents had more influence on me than everyone I've ever known. My wife is perfect example of  giving 200% in everything wholeheartedly. I have learned from her, anything worth doing is worth doing well.  If you want to learn about the word loyalty, my brother's name would be there. I learned from him what it means to be fiercely loyal. 
  3. Success is having appreciation for what God’s blessed you with. We need to be thankful all the time. Everytime your name is not in the Obituary section, you need to be thankful. Anyone in the obituary section in your today's newspaper would love to trade places with you whatever your situation maybe.Write down what you are grateful for every day – it changes your outlook on life – I promise.
  4. It’s okay to NOT know what you want to be “when you grow up”. Growing and learning is one of the most fun, important things you can give yourself. You can change careers, jobs, and directions as many times as you want. These are all patchworks and important parts of who you will become. Enjoy the journey.
  5. If you are expecting to see a pattern or purpose to the order of these, good luck.
  6. We only truly live if we put ourselves out there, and I mean right out there, in amongst the scary and the uncertain. Playing it safe is OK if you are happy existing, if you want to LIVE then you need to face your fears, fall, fall again and pick yourself up.
  7. Find a way to really connect and follow your intuition, even if everyone else is saying not to. Only you truly know. (although your parents are usually always right!)
  8. It is OK to ask for help, repeat after me. Oh! how this one could have changed things for me, it is never too late though and it has been one of my greatest learnings. It is NOT a sign of weakness, it is a sign of respect for ourselves and others. Giving someone special the gift of our asking, and allowing them to help is one of the most beautiful acts.
  9. Always say what you feel, always tell your people that you love them. If I could have one wish granted, it would be to have the chance to tell my dad one more time that I love him, for him to hear those words in his resting place.
  10. Spend time to listen to your parents and grandparents stories.
  11. Try your very best not to judge anyone. We are all a work in progress and many experiences dictate how people go about their day to day lives. Try to understand and accept that it’s the way things are. You can support and love, but you cannot change someone who doesn’t want to be changed. Respect people for who they are, not what you want them to be.
  12. Spend time to think about what you want your life to be like. Create visionboards and affirmations every few months. This is so much fun to do and will help you stay focused on what you what to attract into your life. They are also really lovely to look at everyday.
  13. Smile and acknowledge EVERYONE you meet and have eye contact with. Everyone is important.  Everyone matters.
  14. Don't waste your time arguing with hard-headed /hard-hearted people.  Pray for them, love them, leave them to God.
  15. Friendships do not need to be forever, there is an old saying about friendships coming into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Embrace this, learn to let go, speak your mind and surround yourself with those who share your dreams, lift you up and accept you for every little bit of you.
  16. You cannot change people but you can change how you react to certain situations. Always see the opportunity every relationship or experience presents to you. They are here to teach you something!
  17. Step up for people, and for what you believe in. Sitting on the sidelines is OK for those who are happy to exist, if you want to feel alive then you need to step up. Be a little extra-ordinary, go above and beyond.
  18. To inherit the future one must be constantly learning. Those who have finished learning will find themselves equipped to live well in the past.
  19. Being kind to others will lift you up. Possibly one of the most significant lessons and also one of my favourite personal wellbeing strategies, if you are stuck in your crap, simply spread some kindness to others and it will change things for you,  I promise!
  20. Learn to spend time by yourself. Without any other distraction from outside of yourself. It can be scary, but you will learn so much about yourself and feel confident that you are strong enough to stand on your own two feet.
  21. The next time you complain about your problems..remember if they weren't so difficult someone with less ability would probably have your job.
  22. You cannot get up early if you don't go to bed early.
  23. It costs way too much to go the the doctor, fill up your gas tank, and send your kids to college.  Start saving now.
  24. Consuming is easy but gives diminishing returns. Creating is hard work but has increasing returns.
  25. You are more productive in a clean, organized, uncluttered environment.Declutter your home on a regular basis. 
  26. There is nothing more destructive than a liar, except maybe a gossip.
  27. Challenge yourself often. Challenging your assumptions opens a new world of possibilities. Just because you have been thinking a certain way, that doesn't make it right. 
  28. I am not sure how much time is left for each of us.Whatever time is left, let us make the best use of it. My gift to my future self is a life of no regrets.
  29. I believe the best is yet to come.

Love and regards,

Karthik


Thought for today: Important lessons you learn from pencil

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today morning, I was reviewing my notes from some time back. This was shared by entrepreneur Visu Ar about the important lessons we learn from humble pencil.

  • It tells you that everything you do will always leave a mark.
  • You can always correct the mistake you make.
  • The important thing in life is what you are from inside and not from outside.
  • In life you will undergo painful sharpening which will make you better in whatever you do.
  • Finally, to be the best you can be, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you.

Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today Nelson Mandela went to be with God and World has lost a tremendous leader today. He was 95. In his life of 95 years, he spent 27 years in prison. But in his 95 years he has packed more substance than so many of us together.

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I read his book "Long Walk to Freedom" and would love to share about what I got from that book. The best thing is to read the book. This is just the essence of the book.

"I never thought that a life sentence truly meant life and that I would die behind bars. Perhaps I was denying this prospect because it was too unpleasant to contemplate. But I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man."

Nelson Mandela grew up in a traditional village in the Transkei region of South Africa, hundreds of miles from either Johannesburg or Cape Town. A member of theThembu tribe that forms part of the Xhosa nation, his father was both a tribal chieftain and the chief adviser to the Thembu king, and Mandela was groomed to follow in his father's footsteps. The name given to him at birth was, prophetically, Rolihlahla. In his native Xhosa, the colloquial meaning of the name is "troublemaker."

The first member of his family to go to school, Mandela was given the English name Nelson. He recalls an idyllic Transkei childhood of animal herding, stick fighting,and storytelling, but after his father died he was moved to the Thembu capital to live under the wing of the tribal chief.

In his early years, Mandela says, he saw the white man more as a benefactor than an oppressor, and was enamored of British culture and its political system. But he came to realize that the Xhosa was a conquered people, with most of the men having to slave away in the gold mines for minuscule pay or work on whiteowned farms. Mandela observed: "No matter how high a black man advanced, he was still considered inferior to the lowest white man."

Early lessons, lifelong contacts

As a student, Mandela was introverted and not brilliant, but worked hard. He was placed in an English-style secondary college for blacks, met young people from other tribal backgrounds, and began to get a sense of being "African" as opposed to simply Thembu or Xhosa.

At Fort Hare University College, run by missionaries and with black professors, he studied English, anthropology, politics,native administration, and Roman Dutch law. At this time his ambition was to be a low-level civil servant, a clerk or interpreter in the Native Affairs Department.

For a black South African, Mandela's education was privileged, and he believed that a BA would be his ticket to prosperity. Only later did he realize that there were many people without degrees who were smarter than him, and that character was the greater ingredient in Competing in cross-country running in college taught him that he could make up for a lack in natural ability by hard training. In his studies, he observed: "I saw many young men who had great natural ability, but who did not have the self-discipline and patience to build on their endowment."

Back home from college for a break, Mandela found an arranged marriage waiting for him on which he was not keen, and fled to Johannesburg. After trying to get work in the offices of a gold mine, he eventually found an articled clerkship in a liberal Jewish law firm. He was paid a pittance and often had to walk miles into thecenter of Johannesburg from his township. Slowly he began to get involved in politics and the African National Congress (ANC), but for a number of years was more observer than activist. It was at this time that he met ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu, a real estate agent when blacks were still allowed to own some property.

A black lawyer was a great novelty, and when Mandela enrolled in the University of Witwatersrand for a Bachelor of Law degree in 1943 he was the only African student in the faculty. His discomfort was lessened by a circle of supportive whites and Indians, who would later prove to be important in the struggle for black freedom.

Beginning the fight

On a platform of "the nigger in his place," in 1948 the Nationalist party came to power in South Africa. Though the idea of apartheid ("apartness") had been around for centuries, the Afrikaner Nationalists entrenched it in hundreds of oppressive laws designed to create a brutal hierarchy: whites at the top, blacks at the bottom, and Indians and coloreds in the middle. Afrikaans, the language of the original Dutch farmersettlers,took over from English as an official language. With race as the basis for South African society, elaborate tests were required that often broke up families. "Where one was allowed to live and work could rest on such absurd distinctions as the curl of one's hair or the size of one's lips," Mandela notes.

The defiance campaigns that the ANC organized, involving stay-at-homes and gatherings to protest against new laws, only made the new government more iron-willed in keeping black people downtrodden. School education was scaled down, whole towns were razed to make way for white housing, and the pass system made it extremely difficult for non-white people to move freely. The 1950 Suppression of Communism Act was only partly related to curbing communism; its real purpose was to allow the government to imprison anyone on a trumped-up charge.

Despite this harsher climate, in 1952 Mandela and Oliver Tambo established the first black law office in South Africa. It was inundated with cases from the first day and was highly successful. In those days, Mandela admits he was a "hotheaded revolutionary" without a great deal of discipline, and that he enjoyed wearing smart suitsand driving around Johannesburg in a large American car. He even bought land in the Transkei with a view to moving back home.

Fate had other ideas. At 35 Mandela was banned from any involvement with the ANC, which meant that any work he did for the organization would have to be secret and risk long-term imprisonment. His roles as freedom fighter and family man were never compatible, and from this point on he would live with the constant anguish of having made the people he loved secondary to the larger struggle for freedom.

Criminal and outlaw

In the famous 1958-61 Treason Trial, the Nationalist government charged Mandela and others with trying to overthrow the state. Though the prosecution lacked real evidence, the trial dragged on for years. By this time Mandela's marriage had collapsed, and the time required to be away from the law practice saw that, too, fall apart.

When the members of the group were acquitted, the authorities' embarrassment was so great that it made them even more determined to quell insurrection. In 1960, 70 black demonstrators were killed at Sharpeville, a township south of Johannesburg, when they peacefully surrounded a police station. Many were shot in the back trying to flee the gunfire. South Africa came under a State of Emergency in which the rights of blacks were further curtailed.

Mandela knew that he would soon be rearrested for something, so he decided to go underground, moving from place to place with the help of disguises. He grew his hair and wore the blue overalls of the worker and, because he had a car, pretended to be driving it for his baas (white master). During this outlaw existence, when there was a warrant for his arrest, the newspapers began calling Mandela "The Black Pimpernel." For several months he actually left South Africa to visit various African states including Sudan, Haile Selassie's Ethiopia, and Egypt to seek support for the ANC's cause, solicit donations, and learn about guerrilla warfare. The trip was the first time Mandela had experienced freedom and had seen blacks either running their own states or being treated as equals, and it only inspired him further. However, back in South Africa he let his guard down, and in 1962 he was captured on a road leading into Cape Town.

Captive revolutionary

At his trial, Mandela tried to put the onus of guilt on to the government, and wore traditional clothing to symbolize that he did not recognize the white legal system and the charges it was making against him. He received a five-year sentence without parole. However, much worse was to come. As the ANC's philosophy of non-violence was clearly not working, Mandela had founded a covert military affiliate that began a sabotage campaign on government property. In 1964 he was charged with sabotage and conspiracy, along with a number of other ANC members.

The death sentence was expected, and in his address to the court Mandela said that he was prepared to die for the cause of justice. Perhaps because of international pressure, however, the men "only" received life sentences. This seemed like a great victory.

Mandela would spend the next 18 years in the notorious Robben Island prison. The first decade involved hard manual labor, terrible food, and a climate of fear and abuse. However, the political prisoners were kept together and so could continue their discussions. Denied virtually all outside contact, the acquisition of a newspaper was prized almost above food. The men's political struggle was reduced to within the prison walls, and they had to fight for any kind of improvement in their daily life. For the slightest infraction they could be thrown into a solitary confinement cell for days on a diet of rice water. Mandela writes: "It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones—and South Africa treated its imprisoned African citizens like animals."

The years on Robben Island made Mandela a virtual stranger to his family, and he often wondered whether the struggle was worth it. His mother died while he was there and he was not allowed to attend the funeral. On the rare occasion that he was allowed family visitors, he was given only half an hour with them. Because of the restrictions on her movements, he did not see his second wife Winnie Mandela for two whole years, and his children were not allowed to visit before the age of 15. The nadir of Mandela's time on the island came when he received news that his 25-year old son had been killed in a car accident.

In the latter years of his imprisonment, as his legend grew, Mandela was moved to mainland prisons and received special treatment, ending up with his own house and cook, and was able to receive visitors.

He had been seeking dialog with the government for some time, and after 75 years of bitter antipathy white politicians began to listen to his ideas for a fully democratic South Africa. They knew that history was not on their side, and the country was becoming explosive.

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Amid great euphoria, Mandela was released in 1990, having spent 27½ years in jail. Four years later, after the country's first nonracial elections, he was elected President of South Africa. In the meantime there had been much bloodshed, but the worst years were behind the country.

Final comments

Long Walk to Freedom is simply but skillfully written, and even at 750 pages you feel that it only skims the surface of one of the twentieth century's great lives. This commentary, in turn, only highlights a few points; reading the book cannot be more highly recommended.

Today we think of Mandela as a grayhaired statesman, a legendary figure, but his memoirs allow us to get behind the image. We see that he was a normal man who was willing to react positively to extraordinarily bad circumstances. He got through his ordeal because he was an optimist, and could therefore inspire himself as much as others. The key to his success as a leader was the sense of inevitability he created—the power of his belief. The message he gave out that things would change wasso great that even prison warders came around to his way of thinking. The end result was a new nation based on fairness and dignity in the place of a rotten police state.

Though he received a privileged education and was groomed for leadership, neither of these things was a cause of his future success as a leader. As the state gave himless and less to work with, he parlayed even these meager opportunities into positive action.

In a tight situation or a long struggle for recognition or success, we would do well to remember Mandela, and to have even an ounce of his mental discipline and bravery.

We will miss you Madiba!

Mandela


Thought for today: Modesty

-Karthik Gurumurthy

At a luncheon with photographer Yousuf and his wife, Neil Armstrong, the  late astronaut who became the first human to set foot on the moon, politely asked the couple about the many places they had visited. Photographer Yousuf responded : "Mr. Armstrong, you have walked on the moon. We would much rather hear about your travels." "But that's the only place I have ever been," remarked Armstrong, apologetically.

Most of us get too excited and go out of the world with little accomplishment but Armstrong actually went out of the  world (I mean earth:) but was still grounded. So much to learn from the late astronaut about modesty.

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Thought for today: Learning from everyone

-Karthik Gurumurthy

"I have learned silence from the talkative; tolerance from the intolerant and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to those teachers."-Kahlil Gibran

Every situation we experience, every individual we encounter offers us valuable insights about living life more fully. We learn about what we appreciate in life by confronting what disturbs us.

It is too easy to label "of no value" experiences that, on the surface, looks uninteresting. We also discount persons whose life experiences are different than our own. It takes a decision followed by concentrated effort to recognize the value of every moment. Each one is serving us a lesson that deserves our full attention and it's frequently true that the lessons most helpful ones are the ones least appreciated or understood in the present. I can be certain  that whatever situations disturb me today  are also guaranteed  to offer me unexpected growth.


Thought for today: Self deception

-Karthik Gurumurthy

We need to know where we are currently to move on to the next level. I feel lot of people miss out on this.

As long as we are lying to ourselves, it is impossible to get to where you want to be. Here's why. You will never get to where you want to be if you don't know where you are to begin with. When we deceive ourselves, we blind ourselves to our current location. Maps are useless if you don't know where you are. This reminds me of my student who got lost driving by himself at night for the first time. When he realized he didn't know where he was, he grabbed his cell phone and called his dad. His dad started questioning him about what he saw around him so as to get some idea of where he might be. But that turned out to be a mistake. My student started looking for landmarks instead of paying attention to the road. To avoid an accident he drove off onto the shoulder of the road and into shallow ditch. He wasn't hurt thankfully  but he was stuck. When his dad realized he was okay, he said, "Don't worry, son, I'll come get  you out. Just tell me where you are." Long pause. "Dad, that's the point..I don't have any idea where I am."

Geographically speaking, you can't get to where you want to be unless you know where you are to begin with. You need a reference point. Similarly, you can't get to where you want to be in life until you are willing to admit where you are to begin with. Self-deception makes that next to impossible. Think about it for a moment. Don't all the lies we tell ourselves have  a similar theme?

  • Everything is fine.
  • Everything is going to work out.
  • I'll get through this.
  • I can handle this.
  • It is all going to be all right.

This kind of positive affirmation doesn't help when you are lost in the highway. and it doesn't help when you are lost in life. All that does is empower you to keep moving in the wrong direction. These messages are the very messages that keep a person from stopping and getting help.

To find the path that will take you where you want to go, you must break the cycle of self-deception. As long as you hide behind reasons that aren't the real reasons for your behavior, you will never have the clarity or strength you need to turn around and move in a new direction.When you are willing to come clean with yourself about the uncomfortable truth behind your choices, you're on the verge of freedom. We can never be free as long as we're in the habit of lying to ourselves about the reasons behind the choices we make and the paths we take. Tell yourself the truth will free you to move from where you are to where you want and need to be.


Errata

-Karthik Gurumurthy

An errata is a correction of a book or article. An erratum is most commonly issued shortly after its original text is published.

When was the last time you read the errata section in a  book or newspaper or magazine?

Most people don't pay much attention. And what appears is made in the interest of accuracy and probably to avoid legal problems.

Wouldn't be great if we had an area of our lives for corrections and clarifications?

In a way we do, if we remember to use it.

Have you ever contacted someone to clear up a miscommunication? Reestablish a relationship? Apologize for something you did?

When you communicate poorly do you take the time to clarify what you meant? Do you own up to mistakes?

Errata, Corrections are important for print publications, but even more important for personal integrity and success.


How much stuff do we actually need?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just like many of you, I came to this country several years back with 2 boxes...Somehow over a period of time all this stuff seems to creep into and expand in our homes through invisible cracks in windows and doors, filling every nook and cranny, cupboard, closet and drawer.When we move to a new home, we are forced to come face to face with our stuff. Shocked to see how much we have, we wonder where it all came from.

When I approach this topic, I notice that it is often associated with disapproval, guilt or sense of justification. "What is so wrong with materialism?" "If I work hard and can afford luxuries, why not indulge in them?" Actually, nothing wrong with materialism per se.  I think we need to determine how much is enough. At a minimum, we should have what we need to meet our basic physical needs- clean water, food, shelter and clothing. Ideally, we would also have those material things we genuinely cherish, which of course will vary considerably from person to person. Figuring out what we need or cherish can be challenging. Sometimes we unconsciously seek material goods to compensate for unmet non material needs. For example, some people shop to relieve stress, as a treat to counter the dissatisfaction in their lives. Others amass possessions to enhance their sense of self-worth, believing that what they own reflects their status in society.

It is true that buying something new can be exciting and relieve stress or boredom, but often that excitement is short-lived. Once the thrill wears off, we seek another fix, another shopping high, and the cycle continues. We seem to be genetically programmed to always want more. Most of us need to work hard to pay for our spending. Working excessively generates stress and dissatisfaction, for which we seek relief, often in the form of spending more money. Welcome to the work-and-spend treadmill.

How much is enough? That's the question we need to grapple with, and it will be with us for the rest of our lives. As our interests and lifestyles change over time, so will the answer to this question.

We can learn so much about ourselves by looking and our possessions- how and why we acquired them, what they mean to us, why we still have them. Sometimes we keep things long after they have served purpose. For example, I have carted my college textbook from house to house for years before I was able to let go of them. It is helpful to ask ourselves what our possessions says about us. Do we keep unused, unvalued books because they it makes us look smart to have full bookshelves in every room? Do we bring home all sorts of momentos from our travels because they bring back fond memories, or because we can impress our guests with how well travelled we are?

I really enjoy and love books. I cherish them and it has become an addiction to get more books, devour them. But do I have the time to use all the books which I have accrued over these years? The answer is no. I made a conscious choice to give it to my friends and family who can use them and enjoy them.  From last year onwards, I have slowed down.

Simple

When you slow down, you become more conscious of everything in your life, including your possessions. This awareness engenders a deeper understanding of what our lives are about. Often we develop gratitude and a greater sensitivity to the material waste in our culture. We simply don't want things we don't value in our space. "Get it out of here!" we scream. With fewer possessions, it is much easier to develop love and appreciation for the things you keep in your life. The goal is to take what you need to cherish and to honor the life energy and natural resources that went into producing your possessions by taking good care of them. We let go of everything else.