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March 2024



-Karthik Gurumurthy

It feels like there is never enough time in the day to achieve everything we want to. Work, family, the daily rituals of life, getting through a to-do list sometimes seems impossible. We're living during a time when most people around the world glorify productivity. Being busy is almost considered a virtue, but it's worth asking ourselves why this is and how we can overcome it. There are a couple of problems with this excuse. The first is that we do make time for things that are important to us. Actually, it's a really interesting test of your personal values to see what you spend time on. Another problem is that we are often more engaged in meaningless actions instead of productive activity. Productivity and time management research demonstrates that we spend a significant amount of time answering emails that are reactive and less time in deep work or working without distraction on creating something, depending on your field of work, that could mean writing, connecting with clients etc.

Creating habits is more than just being motivated to do so, it requires discipline. I have a good friend who is an executive coach and business school professor who always reminds people that motivation is just one part of the equation. Discipline is key to building sustainable habits. Discipline really means a sustainable plan of action for you. Have you ever gone to a seminar or workshop and been so inspired to change your behavior at work only to have that wane once you get back because of the regular cadence of your job? That's because you needed a plan. A plan to build habits and I'm going to suggest four key things to help with this plan. Develop a regular practice for reflection and learning. Be prepared to fall off the wagon. Connect with others, and know your purpose. How can we build commitment in a way that is sustainable?

Number 1, have a regular practice for reflection and learning. Are you familiar with the scientific method? Scientists develop hypotheses, design experiments to test these hypotheses, evaluate the results, and then make adjustments to their hypotheses and complete the whole process over and over again. This is how scientists learn and actually it's how adults learn too. Models of adult learning suggest that the way we absorb and integrate new knowledge is that we take in new information, we test it out, we evaluate the results and we adjust. In this context, we can think of creating a meaningful plan as engaging in the scientific method, we need a regular, consistent and easy way to follow experimentation and learning. Learning is hard. What I find is helpful for reflection is to structure it. I typically think about reflection in four steps.

The first thing I'm trying to do as I reflect on something is to identify some if-then cause-effect relationship. When I look back at this meeting, or I look back at this project or I look back at this situation or events or whatever, I want to digest my feelings. I want to see if I miss something, all that. But then I want to, at the end of that, see if I can pull away some generalization, some lesson for myself. Then what I want to do is provide the argument for why I believe that lesson. If I think in this situation that instead of talking, I should've listened. Why? What's the outcome that would have produced? Listening more makes people trust me more. There's a potential generalization. Why do I believe that might be so? What's the argument for that? If I was going to try to convince my colleague to listen more in order to foster trust. What would I say to make them believe that to be true? What happened in this experience that led me to believe that? Is there anything else in my life that makes me think that's a good lesson? What's the lesson? Identify not just moods, feelings, etc. But what's the lesson and then what's the argument for that lesson?

Then the next step is what I think of as complexities. What are the boundary conditions, when might be hard to do this, when might it not work? There are always limitations. Nothing is always true. Things are usually true, often true, or sometimes true, true under some conditions. What are the conditions under which this lesson holds?

Then the last one is implementation. What am I going to do differently now that I appreciate this lesson? What is the behavior practice saying? What am I going to do differently so that I remember to use this lesson rather than forget about it? When I think about reflection, what's the lesson? What's the argument for the lesson? What are the limitations? What am I going to do to make use of this rather than leave this behind and forget about it? The second is to be prepared to fall off the wagon and have a plan. Part of the reason this is so interesting to me is because I have always been really good at setting a great big goal, getting excited about it, breaking it down into daily goals. Then I miss one's day, maybe I wasn't feeling well or I was preoccupied, or whatever. I think well, missed that day might as well give up. We actually need to have a practice for what happens when we aren't achieving our smaller goals. Is it because we didn't set the right goal to begin with? Maybe we need to course correct or did we simply have a bad day and we need to forgive ourselves and think about tomorrow as a fresh start?

Research on fresh starts show that they do matter. They matter for motivation and commitment to our goals. Decide whether your practice needs to change or if you just needed a break, either way, you can keep going. The third is to connect with others. You might have heard it said that if you share your goals with others, you're more likely to achieve them. This is true. Making a commitment to others holds us accountable. It's why gym buddies are such a good idea. It's easy to skip the gym if it's just you. It's harder to tell your friend who's already in the car and headed to the gym that you're going to leave her hanging. Growing as a leader is an individual journey, but it is not an isolated one. Other people are on leadership growth plans of their own and creating these connections can be so helpful. When I was completing my leadership coach training, I found that my commitment to my own practice of leadership growth felt like it took off because I had this group of like-minded people to talk to, share ideas with, and to go to for advice. The fourth is keep the big picture in mind. What is your purpose? Don't get scared by the word purpose. I don't mean you have to write a treatise on your reason for existence. I simply mean know why you're interested in developing as a leader. Why is this journey important to you? What are you hoping to accomplish throughout it? Why is a powerful concept and having that big picture goal in mind can be a powerful way to help us stay committed to our daily exercises. Growing as a leader requires commitment. That means we have to build sustainable habits that will help us stay on track while we grow, create a practice for experimentation and reflection, course correct and use a fresh start when you course correct. Connect with others who want to grow as leaders and know your why for choosing to focus on your own leadership growth.

Good news

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Yesterday I got updates  from three of my students. By God's grace and their deliberate and persistent hardwork,  One got into UPenn, another one to Columbia and the third got into Cornell.  I wasn't surprised by these updates as all of them worked really hard to make this happen. Cascais


Why Travel?


-Karthik Gurumurthy

To wanderlust's insistent call, a traveler takes heed,
Beyond the map, a world enthrall, a tapestry to read.

New lands unfurl, with sights unseen, where senses come alive,
From bustling streets, a vibrant scene, to mountains reaching high.

A tapestry of cultures weave, in languages unknown,
With open hearts, the travelers receive, a kindness they have sown.

The compass spins, a lesson taught, not just where we may roam,
But self-discovery, dearly sought, a journey found in home.

For wanderlust unlocks the mind, with every winding trail,
A broader view, a heart more kind, a spirit that won't fail.



-Karthik Gurumurthy

The birth place of Vasco Da Gama, one of the most famous explorers during the Age of Exploration. His discovery of the sea route to India around Africa in 1498 set up a new trade route between Asia to Europe and is considered the beginning of global imperialism and colonialism.

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The Monument to the Discoveries is an imposing tribute to the bravery and innovation of the explorers who took to the seas in search of new horizons. It was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of D. Henrique, the Navigator.



Student Updates

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Got some awesome updates from students.

  • Bay Area  student got into UC Berkeley
  • PA student  got into Ohio State
  • Ohio student  got into Harvey-Mudd
  • Florida student got into Georgia Tech
  • Two of my  TX students got into UT Austin.
  •  Virginia student  got into Bucknell and Virginia Tech