342 posts categorized "Achievers"

Review of The Test: A New Era for Australia team: Season 1

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 About two years back, Australia’s Test cricket team became entangled in a ball-tampering scandal during the third Test of a series in South Africa. Captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were the key figures involved in an incident dubbed ‘sandpapergate’ and one which would cast a dark shadow over the sport. Steve Smith was stripped of captaincy and handed a ban along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.  The Australian cricket authorities were forced to make changes in personnel. Justin Langer, a retired top-class batsman, was brought in as head coach and Tim Paine was made team captain.

For all cricket lovers, who are in desperate need of some decent viewing during this time of isolation and lock-down, the newly released Amazon Prime"  "The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team" is worth the watch.  This  is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes, eight-episode examination of a cricket team in crisis. It chronicles 18 months in the travails of the Australian national team, from the squad’s all-time lowest point to its return to relevance in the 2019 World Cup.

Review:

Born in India I have been passionately following the game as much as I can from the late 1970's and 1980's and it continues to provide non-stop entertainment and excitement. Australia has been one of the most successful cricketing team and been a dominant force for decades winning multiple World Cups  and other ICC trophies. I always admired Aussie team for their fighting spirit but  never liked them as a team as most of the team members were arrogant, offensive and knew that these players would do anything to win and I strongly felt that what happened in Capetown was something they totally deserved.

 With regards to this documentary..Where do I start?

The series takes a deep look at coach Justin Langer’s ruthless yet humble characteristics and attributes, both as a former player and as a potential manager of a team that had hit rock bottom in 2018. Coach’s vision was also quite clear and obvious from the start – " that is to build a team that will earn the respect, not only of their own country, but of the cricketing world once again".

This documentary showed all the raw moments of the players and coaches and this showed you the person behind their own titles. It brings forward the real people, real emotions and real drama that unfolded after what happened. The series was thoroughly enjoyable, it's rare for outsiders to see inside the inner sanctum of a test dressing room and that was great.  Everybody in the Aussie dressing room was very passionate and charged up and not afraid to show their frustrations. The camaraderie was almost tangible and the way the team stuck together through thick and thin was amazing to watch. The behind-the-scenes footage shows all the drama and emotions of winning and losing matches all before Australia departed for last year’s World Cup and Ashes series in the country of their biggest rival, England. After watching two of the episodes,  cricket fans will have a completely different perception of the Australian cricket team. First time in my life I will use the word respect and Aussie cricket team in a sentence.  It was great to see what Aussies thought of Virat Kohli and the Indian Cricket team. However, I am surprised that they didn't include the part when Virat Kohli  pleaded to the fans to stop abusing Steve Smith when the crowd booed him constantly during the India-Australia World Cup  2019 game played at the Oval.If you're a true lover of the game, if you can put aside team loyalties and just applaud the 'Rising from the Ashes to win the Ashes', this series is for you. 


Code of conduct

-Karthik Gurumurthy

In light of COVID 19, the related crisis and challenges and the normal every day difficulties we all face, what should be our code of conduct?

I believe the question of our time is, “How can I help?”  The first and obvious answer is to take care of yourself and stay safe so that you are able to help others. 

But if you stop there, you’ll limit both your impact and your happiness. The best way to beat self-absorption is to answer the question, How can I help?

Here are  some possible good answers:

  • Share good ideas if it can add value. Just be careful you don’t spread disinformation. Focus on what you’ve learned and know from experience. (Unless you are an epidemiologist or a medical professional who understands and worked on virology, it is risky to speculate about specifics of the virus.) We can all grow through this experience if we share great ideas and learn from each other.
  • Offer encouragement. A phone call or an email with a kind word, a positive comment and whatever reassurance you can offer means more than ever now. You don’t need to offer solutions (unless you are confident you have really good ones). The goal is to lift the spirits of anyone who is down, lonely or discouraged.
  • Check in with others. Ask how people are doing. Let the person know you care for them and are thinking of them. Go deeper than the normal conversations you have with people that are often rushed.
  • Reconnect. Dust off old relationships you haven’t had time to re-establish in the past. For most of us, there is no pressing agenda or no time crunch that keeps us from doing so.
  • Donate Time. This one is tricky as nobody wants to risk exposure. That is a personal choice. But you might not necessarily have to leave your home to help if a charity needs skills you have that can be applied virtually. To find out your options, call and ask what you might do to help. It is equally important not to spread the virus knowingly or unknowingly by restricting trips outside your home (And my deepest gratitude and respect goes out to the first responders who are there on the front line for us at their own peril.)
  • Donate Money. This is the least risky thing to do, and how much you donate isn’t the point. Any and all donations are appreciated. Take care of your family’s financial needs first. But if you have something you can give where needed, consider donating. But please do your homework so you don’t become a victim of a scam.

There are no quick fixes to the problems we face. But enough people doing what they can to help will indeed make a big difference.

God bless you, and please be safe.


The New Normal

-Karthik Gurumurthy

And so we enter a new world of social distancing, people stocking tissue paper, and limitations on how we can gather. Borders are closing, airports are shutting down, and in some countries, police and armed forces are getting prepared for handling this new situation. How are we going to handle this new normal?

  • Nothing concentrates the mind more than an existential threat. At our core, we all want to survive. We will check we have the fundamentals in place and learn to live without the non-essentials we used to rely on.
  • Social distancing is vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but it also pushes against human beings’ fundamental need for connection with one another. Especially during difficult times, people feel an urge to commiserate, to comfort and be comforted by each other.
  • We will see the best of human behavior. We will see extreme acts of kindness as our streets connect up and we look after the elderly. Volunteer networks will spring up across the country and across the world. We will witness the selflessness of our health workers who will continue to turn up, day after day, exhausted and exposed. We will owe them our lives.
  • We will see the worst as well. Absolute greed as families hoard months supplies of tissue paper while others can’t find any. Price gouging. Thankfully, it will not stay that way for long.
  • There will be misinformation and rumors, because these things thrive in a time of crisis. Social media aggravates this and gives oxygen to sensationalism/ quick cures. If you can, counteract the nonsense that is already spreading, and call-out the worst to get it shut down.

We have known times of adversity before. And just as we have come through those difficult times in the past, we will come through this one. It’s who we are and it’s what we do. But before we complain too much about this new normal, how about taking time to count our blessings. Write down 3-5 things you are grateful for at the end of the day. They can be simple things like when someone smiled at you.

This is the opportunity to be more thankful for what we have ,  to show courage and kindness and act with common sense. Our example matters.

If we do that, we will sustain, survive individually and collectively. This is the time to slow down everything,  act with empathy, kindness and reflect. Not sure when we will get this again.


Value of Inquiry

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What is common between a student, Business Analyst, Project Manager, Program Manager, and your profession. Irrespective of your chosen profession, one thing common is the ability to ask questions. I recently read a book "Ask More" written by Frank Sesno. He was a former CNN Anchor and White House correspondent and spent his career asking questions. In this book, he talks about the "taxonomy of questions" and explores the value of inquiry. Each chapter covers a different type of question, including "diagnostic, bridging, confrontational, mission, interview, legacy," etc. and more.

What I got from the book:

  • Asking questions helps you open doors, solve problems and break down barriers.
  • To use inquiry effectively, master asking different type of questions, including:
    • "Diagnostic" questions help you get to the heart of the matter and zero in on the problem.
    • "Bridging" questions act as connectors between a reluctant subject and needed answers.
    • "Confrontational" questions demand accountability and uncover the truth.
    • "Mission" questions identify shared values and goals.
    • " Interview" questions can be helpful or can intimidate both employees and employers. When used correctly, interview questions produce meaningful revelations.
    • "Legacy" questions give you the opportunity to reflect back on your life.
  • Asking questions and reflecting on it encourages personal growth. 

"The simple act of asking, of listening without comment or judgment, and letting a silence linger or a free-form thought coalesce invites a person to reflect or think out loud."


Take_Aways from the book " the Stuff"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

A young woman wanted to be a doctor, but couldn't get into a US medical school. A Cuban medical school accepted her, but she couldn't read or speak Spanish. She graduated within five years and now a physician. Authors Sampson Davis and Sharlee Jeter attribute her success to her having "the stuff". They discuss the essential elements of this level of fortitude and share stories about people whose stuff enabled them to overcome life's challenges.

The nuggets from this book:

  • Life is tough. To stay on top of it, you need "the stuff"
  • Using your stuff requires a mission statement and steadfast hope. Having the stuff means defying your limitations. Use your stuff to embrace the hard work.
  • Remain alert to unexpected inspiration.
  • With this level of fortitude, you can ignore fear and turn negatives into positives.
  • The stuff is inside you. We need to activate it.

"If you can re-evaluate a situation after experiencing trauma, look past the pain and find the positive elements of the experience, you are better positioned to grow from it."


Nuggets from Lifescale

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Your time and attention have never been more valuable. Tech companies vie for your attention and trade it as a commodity. They lure you into increasing your time on their platforms, and exploit neuroscientific  discoveries to manipulate your online behavior. You succumb to the barrage of distractions, losing focus and  creativity. "Digital anthropologist" Brian Solis noticed the demise of his own creativity and developed the Lifescale method in response. He provides a framework for recapturing your focus, rekindling your creative spark, and igniting a deep sense of purpose and well being.

People suffering addiction to digital devices often drop out of real life to sleepwalk, zombie-like, through a virtual existence. They lose the ability to focus, meet goals and fulfill responsibilities. The detrimental effects of never disconnecting from the digital world include decreasing attention spans, loss of empathy, and less energy for creative activities or critical thinking. Productivity drops as workers spend an average of two hours a day on their smartphones. The time you spend on apps, networks, social media and texts does not make you happier. It erodes your sense of well-being, increases stress and anxiety, and engenders feelings of loneliness and self-doubt.

The author has clearly spent a lot of time thinking through the optimum way to deal with the stress that can overwhelm us through being constantly interrupted by alerts, emails, messages on a plethora of platforms from Slack and WhatsApp to Twitter and Facebook.

The author provides a framework to help you navigate your way through your work life and personal life while still being able to be connected and avoid the inevitable burn out we all suffer from leading a digital life. As he says we've all, somewhere along the way, have become distracted. Maybe we don't realize quite how much our personalities have changed due to the advancement in technology but they undeniably have.

Read this book, reclaim your attention, break the cycle of instant gratification to think creatively and critically once again. Learn to waste less time on distractions and spend more time with your loved ones! Happiness and success are possible if you live consciously.

This book helps you build good habits, live with a strong sense of purpose and make technology work for you, not the other way around.


Circle of Influence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There are few books that I like to go back once or twice a year to reflect on and how I can get better. One of those books is Stephen Covey's  "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".  One of the concepts in the book that I found very interesting was that of the circle of influence. For those of you who have not gotten a chance to read the book, I shall briefly explain the same, essentially the aspects to improve productivity.

The core of the concept is that broadly, everything that has an effect on you, impacts you and is of consequence to you can be divided into two broad circles. One is called the circle of influence, which comprises all those things that you have an influence on, and the other is the circle of concern, which comprises things that impact you directly or indirectly, but which you can't influence. These are two concentric circles- the inner circle, the smaller circle, which comprises things that you can influence, and the bigger circle that has things on which you don't have influence.

Circle_StephenCovey

This is in context to work.You dream of being very successful in your career, but to be successful, one must deliver high quality and high quantity of output at work. You must deliver results which are compelling so that people make note of them, and thus create a good reputation and long-term career for yourself. For you to deliver those results, there are set of things which are within your sphere of influence, in your circle of influence. Likewise, there are things that impact your ability to deliver results at work that are not in your influence and those are in the outer circle, the circle of concern. Whenever I set a target to work at, I measure consistently and review periodically and reflect on how I can get better. Whenever I spend any amount of time on my circle of concern, I realized it is a major productivity killer and an extraordinary waste of my precious time. Whenever I spent time in my circle of concern, I felt irritated, angry, frustrated, at times incapable of creating results and  feeling inadequate- a whole set of negative emotions.

I have observed from all the productive leaders I have had  the opportunity to witness, that they spend all their time on things to which they make a difference, where they have an influence. The benefits of this habit go beyond just productivity. The more you focus on your circle of influence, the more it grows, and slowly and steadily, it starts to cover more of the areas that earlier fell under your circle of concern. 

To increase productivity, let us focus relentlessly on whatever is in our circle of influence. Rest will take care by itself.

 


Twitter..Facebook..Whatsappening?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 Everything must be done yesterday. Ideas need to have been thought of last month and you’re expected to see 4 years into the future. 

This is the ridiculous notion that the next generation is told to think, act, and work towards. In this "new" normal, we post about our life on an hourly basis for our “friends" to validate our choices and actions. On social media, doing things in private is almost considered “weird”. We reach out with passive aggressive posts hoping for the sympathy and/or support we seek.

We compete online for the most ‘likes’ for our achievements and adventures  (which are sometimes exaggerated, posed or fabricated), and we post about our challenges as if they’re the worst imaginable experiences. We talk about our routine commute to work or school as if it’s something special or something that needs to be recognized by our so called  social media friends.

I AM HERE TO SAY STOP IT! There’s no rush to “get there”. Why are we in such a hurry to get to the finish line? Time is still time; still equally as valuable now as it was 40 or 50 years ago. 

So many people look to others and ask: What is the finish line? Who decides who is winning? What is winning? How can I show others I am succeeding? It really doesn’t matter what others think, you need to answer and define these yourself. In the future, the leaders that will succeed far beyond the rest are those that have patience, love, and live in this moment – Each moment!

What if  Mahatma Gandhi could have tweeted?  Let’s imagine what that would have looked like using an expert from his journal:
“Just got back from the Dandi March. I want World Sympathy in this battle of Right against Might."

Now, here’s an actual post I read on Twitter:
"I just had a cup of tea with  almond milk. It was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made in my life.”

I am sorry Mahatma. We are pretty entitled aren’t we?  Maybe I don’t appreciate my days fully. I need to remind myself that I have it good, Really good!

This blog isn’t to offend anyone. I am  guilty as charged.  I am saying we need to slow down. We need to appreciate the here and the now. We need to stop documenting our lives for the approval of someone else, someone we may not even really know. Be appreciative of what you have. Tell your problems, your challenges to a real human, a close friend, not the world. 

For those that travel, I get it – it’s exciting. It’s a privilege to travel, and something I get to do. Yet I have stopped posting about getting on planes or checking into nice hotels.  I am guilty of that too. But not any more. 

If you want admiration and accolades from others, do amazing things, create an astounding impact in the world. Let others tell your story for you, it will mean more.

If you are sharing stories of cool humans or new interesting experiences then I say, “Do it!” Get excited and share the love because it is good to show human connections and wonderful accomplishments.

Be proud of your accomplishments. If what you’re doing is of value to others, creates Joy or provides knowledge, SHARE! People will want to celebrate with you. But if it’s just to gain acknowledgement of what you do or how “great” your life is, maybe it’s time to opt out of this ‘post and brag’ behavior. 

Today is today. Live in it. You are blessed.

I often need to remind myself of that too. Will use this opportunity to take a break from social media as well to see if I can practice what I preach.

Seeing the Goodness in everything

-Karthik Gurumurthy

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

Train

What we focus on expands. It is a choice. Take every thought captive and redirect.

Who is in charge of your mind? If you don't lead your mind, you'll find yourself enslaved to the automation of your younger days. Our minds develop patterns. When we lead ourselves, we disrupt thought patterns that don't serve us well.


Keep moving forward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Few months back, I passed an exam called PMI-ACP. This is for  experienced Agile Project Managers who wanted to get certified by the prestigious Project Management Institute. Even though I had the experience of leading agile teams for several years, I had to undergo training for the same to take this  exam. 

I took an online course which was offered by Joseph Phillips.  He is an outstanding trainer and what I loved about his training was, his videos were short, succinct and to the point. On top of it, he is always encouraging, very positive and says "Keep moving forward".. Thanks Joe for your outstanding training and words of encouragement.

MLK


Building rapport

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Be interested, not interesting.

Checking your ego at the door and simply just listening is incredibly empowering, both for you and whoever you’re meeting with.

The less I talk, the more I feel in control. If I’m 20 minutes in to a monologue about something, barely taking a breath let alone a question from the audience, how can I possibly be sure I’m on the right track?

Humility, empathy and listening are key skills to develop as a Program/Project Manager along with the ability to use silence and pauses as tools to control dialogue and it’s outcome.

Indeed, as someone more introverted, being in control by listening comes much more naturally than trying to dominate and drive a conversation through words alone.

Maybe it’s just me.. but I find it works well for my style.

 


Fear of the Unknown

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Whenever we reach an uncharted territory, we need to remind ourselves of Joseph Campbell's words: "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

We need to own the fear, find the cave, and write a new ending for yourself, for the people you are meant to serve and support and for your team. We need to choose courage over comfort. We need choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid..at the same time.

 


Kobe Bryant

Devastated! I am devastated that Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed  in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, today morning.  My heart is with the loved ones of everyone who perished in that tragic incident. He was truly an inspiration  to many.

Remember shaking hands with this legend back in 2004-2005 at the Vons store Newport Coast between my tutoring sessions. He was easy to talk to and was very approachable. What is special about Kobe? He constantly worked on getting better.. Constantly worked on himself..Really fearless , Laker. Can't believe this news..I definitely wish this is not true.

IMG-20200126-WA0017

 

#WillmissyouMamba #ReturnIfPossible


Lessons learned: 2019

-Karthik Gurumurthy

IMG_20190327_200927__01

Thankful to lead an incredible team in Amex. It was a great opportunity to learn and serve an  amazing, passionate, sharp team of Engineers and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As a TPM (Technical Program Manager) while  we finish one project/program, we always reflect on the lessons learned from the sprints/iterations/ projects/ programs. Likewise end of the year is a good time to reflect on lessons learned and how to make 2020 year better.

  • What are we thankful for? It is not enough to just count our blessings but to rehearse, relive and revisit them constantly. One of the things my wife does very well is to write thank you letters and she does that with our son on  a regular basis. Lot of times, it is easy to get complacent and tend to take things for granted.
  • What did the past year teach us? What are the good things that we are going to carry forward to 2020? What are the things that didn't go too well which we will improve upon in 2020.
  • Over the years, I am realizing the value of simplifying life is  to focus on the right priorities and remove the things in the agenda that doesn't add value. We all need to realize and reduce the time we spend on less important things/trivial which doesn't add value from our day-to-day routine. Past will equal future if we do not change.
  • One of the things that I learned from my boss  ( Dr. SV) is  to always have  a learning agenda. Whenever he had free time, he consumed himself with learning new technologies, getting his hands dirty and implementing what he learned. What do we need to learn or want to learn in 2020 to move on to the next level?  Cultivating curiosity,  expanding intellectual bandwidth sets a great foundation to move forward in 2020.
  • 2018 was awesome with regards to exercise and diet. With traveling and staying away from home for extended period of time in 2019, diet and exercise got really messed up. Developing a proper routine in 2020 with diet and exercise will pave way to better health.
  • Every day, asking ourselves “How can I be of greater service?” Volunteering to help prevents self absorption and serves a higher purpose. Who and how can we serve in little and big ways in the coming year?

Success is never an accident. Improving requires intent and we need to work on it on a day-t0-day basis.  Let us make the 2020 the best year of our lives. Happy New Year 2020!

 

 


Inside Bill's Brain

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I just finished watching the Netflix series “Inside Bill’s Brain" and I love how it ended with a quote from Mary Gates and it is worth sharing the same:

“Each one of us has to start out with developing his or her own definition of success. And when we have these specific expectations of ourselves, it’s more likely we will live up to them. And ultimately, it’s not what you get or even what you give; it’s what you become.”


Fight like James Holzhauer

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have been watching the show "Jeopardy" for the last 20+ years. Why am I talking about the show now?

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 2.48.21 PM

Let me give a blurb about this gentleman James Holzhauer. He has been unstoppable for the last 32 shows  and his total winnings were  $2,464,216 until he lost to a librarian from Chicago- Emma Boettcher yesterday. Eleven times during his winning streak, he went a whole game without buzzing in incorrectly. The way James took control of the game for the last 32 days left most of us in awe. I am sharing today what I learned by watching and observing James which all of us can benefit from.

  • Don't just follow the pack. Most  players begin at the top of the board, where the more straightforward questions are located and work their way down. They do this to get some wins under their belt. That is not the case with James. He starts at the bottom of the board, so he can accumulate the wealth needed to make significant bets when he hits a daily double. He also does this to unsettle his opponents. What's the lesson here? Just because everybody does it doesn't make it right. We need to be fearless. We need to stop  looking for easy tasks and it pays well to go the extra mile to get challenging work.
  • Be relentless. Every now and then James answers a question incorrectly but when it happens, he doesn't dwell on it and lick his wounds for a long period of time. Instead he keeps charging ahead to the next question.
  • Playing to win. There is a huge difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. James does have to play defense, as his offense is so fine-tuned, others can't keep up. We have to create a strategy that will put us in a position of dominance.
  • Creating a buzz. Everyone who watches this show talks about James. Is anyone talking about you/your work in that way? We have got to change this and we have got to do that now.
  • Go all in.  I love it when James hits a daily double, and when asked how much he’d like to bet, he cups his hands and pushes them forward while saying, “all in.” This guy knows that to win big, he has to bet big. He’s confident that he’ll come up with the right answer, which he did! Let us think about your work..Are you all in or partly in or sorta in? That makes all the difference. Isn't it?
  • Continuously upgrading the knowledge base. Few weeks back, the program host Alex Trebek asked James how he prepared himself for ‘Jeopardy!’. He said he spent time in the children’s section of the library reading children’s books. Proper Prior Preparation is the key. He had prepared himself to succeed. How are we preparing ourselves? Are we still talking about what we did 10 years back or are we constantly upgrading ourselves?

James kept winning and dominated for 32 days mainly because of the above factors. For us to be in the cutting edge in our chosen profession, we need to do the same and let us challenge ourselves to get better everyday. Let us do it!


Giving 100% effort

-Karthik Gurumurthy

In high school at one point of time, I struggled with Math. Try as I may I just never seemed to get the grades I desired. I was attending all the classes, doing my homework on time, studying for my tests and yet falling short. I got increasingly discouraged. One session my Math teacher  NR said “What matters is that you put in your 100%, the result you get may or may not be the best, but that does not matter.Hard work will always reap rewards." It is the best piece of advice I have ever received but it is also the most difficult to follow. We live in a time where results matter most. We are being judged by our test scores, GPA, class standing, school ranking. We are result oriented. When we put in efforts we expect results in accordance. But sometimes it is good to take a step back and enjoy the journey. It is good to appreciate ourselves even when things do not go our way. Efforts matter more than results.


Lessons learned 2018

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What a fun-filled year it was!!

  • I was able to take control of health. Lost about 22 pounds and through self-discipline, moderation, it was good to change sizes for better in a period of 7-9 months.
  • Learned a lot with regards to Tableau/Collibra at work.  Loved working with the data analytics team @ UCLA. 
  • Got some places off the bucket list and thankful to all the travel done in 2018
  • Awesome to take time off to  catch up with Susi and his family and reconnect.
  • Thankful for the new opportunity at Amex, Phoenix.
  • Would like to learn more and update my knowledgebase in 2019.
  • Get SAfe/ Harvard- American Express Leadership Excellence/ PMI- ACP certification successfully done  in 2019.

 


Good change agents

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I am excited to work with the new team for last couple of months here in Amex. Learning a lot from the team members as well as getting an opportunity to execute lot of good stuff and be  a positive change agent. This is what I have observed from Great leaders that I have worked in the past and I strive my best to follow them.

  • Adaptive/Flexible: They simply want progress towards the overall vision. These change agents are never stubborn on matters that seem to have no vision-altering value. They navigate towards a solution, letting others have “their” way. Everyone walks away feeling as though they have won.
  • Open to criticism: They know how to filter through what is valid criticism and when it is simply a venting of personal interest. They unwaveringly push through the junk and cruise with good takeaways in the process. They value the opinions of other people and work hard to gain trust. 
  • Prioritize actions: They have a keen sense of discernment when it comes to knowing when to pull the trigger, when to wait, and when to pull the plug completely.
  • Follow-up/Follow-through: They always follows through on commitments made and sees the change to fruition. They don’t give up until the post evaluation is complete and the lessons of change have been learned.

Daddykins

-Karthik Gurumurthy

My copy of #Daddykins arrived on time and I couldn't put the book down.

Kalpana Mohan writes magically about her father, his life, all the way from his days in pre-independent India, to the 21st century. I was transported to his village in Palakkad, to the Madras of old that him and his family made Home in. Mostly though, the words paint a breathtaking picture of a man through his daughter’s eyes, through his Man Friday’s eyes, through the lives of those he touched.

Daddykins
A read that was both sad and funny, a story of a love that is both universal and unique. Nothing can ever extinguish the aching sadness of the loss of one's parents; all we are left with are stories and memories. Kalpana Mohan has captured these so beautifully. It is the story of her family, the life and times of her beloved Daddykins and a host of others who were part of his milieu. I can totally relate to her narration as I lost my dad to cancer in 2012 as soon as I heard about his illness, I dropped everything to take care of him. Kalpana has used unswerving probity coupled with a defining and underlying compassion – making us laugh and cry with the family. ! I am teary eyed right now, having literally lived the last moments of Daddykins in the past hour!!  It is a rare book that can appeal to everyone – Daddykins is one such – for we can, each and every one of us, relate to someone or something in the book.  Five stars, that is my vote. Wonderfully written!!


Guru Purnima

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-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today is Guru Purnima. Guru Purnima is an Indian festival that is celebrated as per the Hindu Moon Sign calendar to express reverence towards your Guru, your teacher or mentors. Etymologically, the word Guru has been derived from two parts – Gu that means darkness and Ru that is the antidote to the darkness.The word 'Guru' is defined as a person who leads people on the path to enlightenment. Guru removes avidya, or ignorance, which is a case of mistaken identity.

I wanted to take some time now to thank all my Gurus starting from my parents, my teachers in School, College, specifically my Math teacher from Sankara (Shri NR), Dr. KS Viswanathan -IGCAR(currently at IISER), Dr. A.K Mishra -IIT Madras, Dr. King Jordan, Dr. L. Aravind -NIH, Chris Wintrode, Leslie Jones, Michael Wang, Randy Canfield, Sheila M and my friends, seniors, relatives (too many to name!) and my students who continuously have helped me evolve to get better, transforming me one day at a time. I cannot thank all the teachers enough to take time out of their schedule to dispel darkness from my mind. I seek blessings of my Guru(s) on this auspicious day.

 
 
 

 


Self Awareness

-Karthik Gurumurthy

All of us have blind spots and it is very important that we take time to be aware of them.  If we want to develop your own ability to be more conscious of your strengths, weaknesses and how they are perceived by others, here are some steps one can possibly do:

1. Please try to get feedback from someone you trust other than the family. It should be someone in your life you trust 100%, who has your back and will tell you the truth. While you may want to ask a family member, there’s too many feelings and emotions tied with family and sometimes with family they may judge you and they might give you a sermon than honest feedback. Please make sure you prepare your friend in advance about what you are seeking and don’t be afraid of what they’ll say.

If the feedback you receive seems to be out of left field, let the other person know you are surprised and then ask for examples. Ask for an example of the last time you exhibited the behavior: For example, “Was there a specific time you felt I wasn’t listening carefully enough?” That may help take the sting off any unexpected criticism because it narrows it to some specific events as opposed to feeling like an overall character flaw.

2. Take a few days, a week or even a month or so before you determine what or how you want to react. Generally, there are three possibilities you can address the information:

Make a big change: If the feedback can improve your life across the board, move forward with making changes.

Make a small change: The information may not impact every aspect of your life, but will allow you to make improvements in small ways.

Do nothing: In some cases, the phrase “I am who I am” applies as long as you are aware of the consequences of not changing.

3. Forgive yourself and move forward
You probably won’t like everything you hear. But feeling bad about criticism is only human. Acknowledge how you feel, whether it’s angry, sad or ashamed, and then work on self-acceptance.

We are so focused on building self-esteem when what we should be doing is looking at self-acceptance. Once you can give yourself permission to not be perfect, you can identify what you can control and do something to change that behavior.

Being at peace with yourself is key to building self-acceptance. People who are most introspective make self-awareness a priority and commit to working on it every single day.


Choices make the Man/Woman

-Karthik Gurumurthy

As young adults prepare to go off to college, most on them on their own for the first time, having to make important choices and do their own laundry, I like to pass along these simple rules:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. If you have to ask, "Is it legal?", it probably isn't.
  3. If you cannot tell your mother (or father) don't do it.
  4. We are our choices…choose wisely. and of course, make sure you know how to do your own laundry.

Get out of comfort zone

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What I say is not adding value. I have some experience but not enough…. I will be found out. And made fun of. I don’t want to sound or be branded a phony;

Look into the mirror. You’ve been through it. Or experience this every  time you’re asked to take something up: Speak at an event, lead a team, solve a problem...

The first thought that comes through is “hey, I’m not ready. Perhaps next year. I will direct you to an expert, I’m sure he will do a better job!”.

You’ve had successes in the past, have exhibited brilliance and leadership but internally, you write it off as luck, the team and some heavenly intervention! This is called Impostor Syndrome

The only way to counter the impostor syndrome is to  get out of the comfort zone take it head on.

Do not let your own fear that you are not good enough stop you.

Say what you have to say.

Do what you have to do

What you have to say or do, do it; there is someone who needs to hear it. It will resonate and those who listen will get back to you. Feedback. It will substantiate what your doing.

Keep doing it and you will become better at it.

Two other methods that work:

  1. Talk to someone who is experienced in that field or a mentor who can help you get out of this syndrome and set you on the right track- your track!
  2. Write your accomplishments and showcase your successes.

Priorities

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have shared this quote from Michael Josephson before and from time-to-time we all need to think about the same.

"Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got.. but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.
How true this is. And Michael Josephson gives us reasons to think.


Happy 75th Birthday Appa!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Dearest Appa,

We miss your physical presence. Happy 75th Birthday! You always taught us through your example and there is not a day that goes by without thinking about what you have done for us. One of the greatest things which you showed us by example is the attitude of Gratitude.  You talked about how grateful you were every single day and always thanked God, family, friends. This is probably the best time I feel to express how thankful I am to have such a wonderful dad who set an amazing example. I am thankful for having the most caring Mom I could ever ask. I am thankful for all my Grandparents (both paternal and maternal) who worked hard  and made it happen for the  families. I am thankful to have wonderful brother Aravind who is always there for me for everything. I consider myself superblessed to get an awesome beautiful wife who is the most transparent person I know with amazing qualities being enthusiastic and great sense of innocence and love for people. I am blessed with my wonderful friends and each of them have helped me in multiple ways. The closest being Sudarsanam Raman (Susi), Vijay, PG, Balaji, Ranga who knows everything about me and still had chosen to be friends with me. There are lot of Gurus/bosses/ teachers/ coworker whom I am extremely thankful to know them, These are the CHANGE AGENTS. These people come in your lives and they transform your life for the best.   My high school Math Teacher whom we used to refer as NR;  Prof. AK Mishra  and my favorite of all Dr. KS Viswanathan; Dr. V. Ramamurthy , Dr. Don Creighton , Computational Biology department at Johns Hopkins University L. Aravind, Subbu Viswanathan, Leslie Jones, Shekar Panchapekesan, Priya Sreedharan,  Michael Wang,  Sheila Minton, Yvon Descieux, Robert Marston, Randy Canfield, Pramukh Subramanian,  Juli Kahanamoku. This is not in any specific order. I am hoping I didn't leave any of  my change agents out.  All these people have added tremendous value in my life on a day-to-day basis. 

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 #ThankfulandBlessed #ThanksDad #ThanksAll


Getting prepared to go to college

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Junior year, in my opinion, is the most important year for college-bound students. This is when students start researching and narrowing down which colleges they are actually going to apply to.

Junior year is the hardest academically for most students. This is also the last year that grades will be listed on your transcripts that are sent to colleges along with your applications. Therefore, it is important to stay on track with your grades, make sure you are meeting any special requirements, and remain motivated to finish strong.

Junior year students can start to finalize their college list that will consist of at least 2 reach schools, 2-3 target schools, and 1-2 safety schools based on the research they have been doing unofficially since Freshmen year.

Usually I recommend students to take their SAT/ACT beginning of Junior year which means the preparation for the same should start beginning of Sophomore year which gives them enough time for taking practice tests and work on the areas that needs more practice.  It is important to create a testing plan that ensures you know not only the dates ACT/SAT test are administered but the deadlines for registration for the dates students plan to take the test and continue preparing to do your very best on these test while you are in the sophomore year.

And last but certainly not least start to think about and draft your personal statement. The Common Application also referred to as Common App, usually provides the personal statement prompt questions for the next years application cycle sometime in February but no later than April.

What is the Common App you ask? The Common Application is used for undergraduate admissions by nearly 700 colleges and universities. The Common Application is an electronic college application system that collects a wide range of information: personal data, educational data, standardized test scores, family information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a personal essay, and criminal history.

Because of the popularity of the Common App many high schools use the common app prompts as a starting point to help our students draft their personal statements. Students often think writing a personal statement will be simple but it is probably one of the hardest essays your young scholar will write.

Getting started early allows time to create multiple drafts, to have teachers, parents, and older siblings to review and make suggestions to improve your essay and finally getting an early start will allow more time to address supplemental essay questions most colleges ask in addition to the personal statement essay, which you typically won't have access to until you are ready to apply.


Nuggets from Option B

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 

I just finished the reading the book "Option B" by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and Adam Grant (Prof. in Wharton Business School). 

After the sudden death of her husband, Facebook COO (and author of Lean In) Sandberg finds herself a widow and single mother.  It is a brave attempt to unveil the vulnerability with such rawness and honesty.Her book isn't exactly a checklist--which I think is a good thing--but it is a way to take charge of one's own response to tragedy or difficulty.

Sandberg researches what these things are, and does her best to follow them. Turns out these types of mindsets or mental exercises are good for all of us who have gone through something as tragic or even mildly difficult. And they are good for those of us who have stood by friends who have lost loved ones or are battling enormous life adjustments. Or smaller challenges, too. Or maybe we're parents of children whose lives will inevitably involve some hardship, and we'd like to teach them to be resilient from a young age.

Some of the things I picked up from the book and will carry with me as tools to face or overcome the loss or failure, both in my own life and others:

- The "3 Ps" can stunt recovery: 1) Personalization, or the belief that we are at fault; 2) Pervasiveness, or the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; 3) Permanence, or the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever. Challenging those responses and letting rational thinking return to the forefront helps.

- It's no big secret that learning from mistakes is helpful in school and at jobs. I liked the story of Kim Malone Scott at Google who brought a stuffed monkey named Whoops to team meetings. The person who had the biggest screw up got to have Whoops sit at their desk for the week. 

- I loved the idea of opening yourself in a humble way to feedback. Sue Ashford's studies "show that although fishing for compliments hurts your reputation, asking for criticism signals you care about improving."

- "Believing it will all work out helps it all work out."

- Loved the last chapter of adding humor back into life after a tragic event or loss. "Humor lowers our heart rate and relaxes our muscles. Humor is a signal that a situation is safe. Laughter breaks tension by making stressful situations less threatening."

For people going through a tragedy or loss, Sheryl offers some useful phrases: “you are not alone” is better than “I cannot imagine”; “I will bring dinner” is better than “how can I help?” which puts the burden on the grieving one to come up with something to do. And as for “how are you?”: It can be a punch in the gut to someone already in pain, since the answer is probably somewhere along the spectrum of awful to unbearable. A better alternative: “how are you today?”

I strongly recommend this book. I am in complete admiration of Sheryl Sandberg and her determination to move forward in a positive way for the sake of her children, family, friends and colleagues and  am thankful that she generously decided to share her nightmare with those of us who can always use a little advice of what to do when someone we love meets tragedy. 


Powerful words

-Karthik Gurumurthy 

A conversation with a friend, coworker and family member will turn into positive action when you ask these two words:

What’s next?

That question focuses on the next action to be taken, the new thing to be done, or where effort should be exerted. It moves you from dwelling on the moment to moving ahead.

“What’s next?” is all about what action–however small or large–you can take to create forward forward momentum towards results. “What’s next?” combats complacency. It gets you off your current plateau and breaks complacency. “What’s next?” goes beyond “thinking about” to “identifying and doing” what is necessary to make progress.

It gets an uncommitted prospect to make a decision. 

“What’s next?” uncovers what part of your big goal is achievable now. Over time enough questions like “What’s next?” results in an achieved goal. “What’s next?” identifies what it will take to make your relationship better, for you and the other person. “What’s next?” creates movement and progress with whomever you’re talking to.

Stumped? In a rut? Stymied about how to move forward? Just ask, “What’s next?”


Significant Progress in Insignificant Moments

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Most of us living on earth today will not win a Nobel Prize, Magsaysay award or a Medal of Honor. Most people will not receive a lifetime achievement award, invent something groundbreaking, or change the landscape of the world. For most of us, things like getting married, making a lifelong friend, having a child, buying our first home, or retiring are large moments in our lives.

For all of us though, it is not the moment that we receive that final reward that makes up the significance. Progress is not achieved in large, momentous occasions. We are not defined by those big moments in life. We are shaped by the 100,000 moments we experience, not the 1. In every moment, you have an opportunity to make an impact, and it is significant. In order to move toward those large goals, you have to put together thousands of great moments.

Don't wait today for that significant thing to happen in your life to feel as if you've made progress. Make every moment count today. It is in those 100,000 moments that you will shape your progress in this life. Significant progress is made in what some would call "insignificant" moments. Make them count and make it happen.


Interesting perspective of life from a someone who is 100 years young

-Karthik Gurumurthy

  • Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  • When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
  • Pay off your credit cards every month.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  • Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
  • It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  • Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  • When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  • It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  • Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
  • Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
  • Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  • When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy clothes. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  • Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
  • Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple or blue or green.
  • The most important organ is the brain.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  • Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
  • Always choose life.
  • Forgive everyone everything.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  • However good or bad a situation is it will change.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Believe in miracles.
  • God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
  • Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  • Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
  • Your children get only one childhood.
  • All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  • Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  • If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • The best is yet to come...
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • Yield.
  • Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Put your glass down

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I cannot claim this as my own writing; the website attributed it to the world famous "Unknown". I did enjoy the moral of the story. I hope you do too.

A psychology professor walked around the stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class nodded their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral: It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries. No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you. If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.


Contentment: Art of being satisfied

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There is an age-old idea in the business world that one should never become completely content, or satisfied, as this will lead to complacency and lack of growth. We are taught to constantly seek something greater, bigger, and better. We start at a job, and immediately we begin seeking to acquire a greater position with greater authority. Once we have that new job, we seek the next level, and so on and so on. This cycle never stops. This transcends the business world and runs many of our lives. Before we buy the car we have always wanted, we say "if I only had that car, I would be happy." The new car smell and feel wears off in about a month, and we are looking to the next best thing. The world teaches us that we need the newest model of everything: phones, computers, watches, houses, clothes, jewelry. Funny thing is, most of us never find any long-term contentment in these things. The new job promotion gets old quickly, the new house is nice but we really want a bigger yard, a larger LED TV, an extra bedroom.....you get the picture.

What we need to learn is how to live today with contentment. This doesn't mean we don't set goals, strive for greatness, or do our jobs excellently. What it requires, however, is that we do not tie our identity to what we have, how much money we make, or what our job title is. We must learn to be content in whatever situation we are in. There are lessons to be learned in every stage of life. We learn tremendous lessons when we are broke, tired, and worn down. We also learn tremendous lessons when we are wealthy, energized, and have great position and authority. No matter where you are today, seek to be content in that place. Look for the lessons you can learn and take away from the stage of life you are in now. Strive to do things excellently, but don't get caught up in the quicksand that is awaiting you when you convince yourself that you will find contentment in the "next thing".

If you're not happy with what you have today, you won't be happy with twice as much.


Triggers

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just finished up Triggers.  This is what I got from the book

Triggers

Marshall Goldsmith explains in Triggers the kinds of things in our environment that derail us from becoming the kind of leader, co-worker, parent, or spouse that we want to be. He illuminates an aspect of self-awareness that is so vital to a leader’s success.

We can’t control our environment, but we can control our responses. We always have a choice.

When it comes to interpersonal behavior we can’t rely on habits to help us. “We must be adaptable, not habitual—because the stakes are so much higher.” We need something more to help us deal with the uncertainty of our day.

When it comes to triggers, it’s not the big triggers that usually do us in, it is the little moments in life that trigger our most outsized and unproductive responses. They trigger some of our basest impulses. Especially with the people we know and love the most. “We can say and do anything with these folks. They know us. They’ll forgive us. We don’t have to edit ourselves. We can be true to our impulses. That’s how our closes relationships often become trigger festivals with consequences that we rarely see in any other part of our lives—the fuming and shouting, the fights and slammed doors, the angry departures and refusals to talk to each other for months, years, decades.”

So where the problem is most vivid is in the small, minor moments of the day, when we are not thinking about our environment or our behavior. That’s when we need to be most vigilant.

Sometimes the best strategy is to avoid the trigger altogether. Stop flirting with those things that tempt you. Goldsmith says that one of the most common behavioral issues among leaders is “succumbing to the temptation to exercise power when they would be better off showing restraint.” And that behavior is very hard to eliminate because those who engage in it because they no doubt enjoy doing it.

But we can’t always walk away.

What is the solution?

The solution then isn’t trying to fix the environment or the behavior of others, the solution is to change our behavior. When we are triggered we need to adjust.

Goldsmith has found that asking yourself some active questions works magic. Active questions get to personal responsibility—something you have control over. Goldsmith suggests six engaging questions anyone should be asking themselves each day to build engagement:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
Did I do my best to find meaning today?
Did I do my best to be happy today?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

In addition, Goldsmith has a number of other Daily Questions he asks himself to gauge whether he had taken responsibility for his own life. Our own questions would reflect those things that we want to work on—will success on these items help me become the person I want to be?

Did I do my best to have a healthy diet?
Did I do my best to be a good spouse?
Did I do my best to add value to ______?
Did I do my best to learn something new?
Did I do my best to get a good night’s sleep?
Did I do my best to not prove how right I am when it’s not really worth it?

You score yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 to track your progress or the lack of it. “One of the underappreciated benefits of the Daily Questions is that they force us to quantify an unfamiliar data point: Our level of trying. We rarely do that.”

Daily Questions remind us that success is the result of small efforts repeated consistently over time. Daily Questions can be a game changer because they reinforce our commitment, they ignite our motivation where we need it and not where we don’t, and they shrink our goals into manageable increments.

OUR NEED FOR STRUCTURE

The Daily Questions provide structure in our lives. Simply put, Goldsmith says: “We do not get better without structure.” Like rules, structure pushes us in the right direction when our first impulse is to go the other way.

Goldsmith has worked with Alan Mulally and finds that “no idea looms bigger in Alan’s mind than the importance of structure in turning around and organization and its people.” Goldsmith explains how Mulally integrated the Daily Questions process in his weekly Business Plan Review meetings with his sixteen top executives. And repetition was key. “In the same way that Daily Questions drive us to measure our effort every day and then face the reality of our own behavior, the executives would be announcing how they graded themselves every Thursday—without deviation.” And in the group setting the idea was: How can we help one another more?

Structure “limits our options so that we’re not thrown off course by externalities….Imposing structure on parts of our day is how we seize control of our otherwise unruly environment.”

Goldsmith points out that after a hard, decision-filled day we become depleted. Our discipline and decisiveness fade at the end of the day to the point where we want to do nothing or fill our time with mindless activities.

Deletion isn’t something that we are always aware of but we should anticipate it and create structure where we can. “If we provide ourselves with enough structure, we don’t need discipline. The structure provides it for us. We can’t structure everything obviously—no environment is thatcooperative.” But the more structure we have the less we have to worry about.

ANTICIPATE

When you know you are headed into a pointless meeting, imagine that you are going to be tested on your behavior:

Did I do my best to be happy?
Did I do my best to find meaning?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

Sometimes we think we have to show everyone how we feel but that’s ego talking. “Why waste that hour being disengaged and cynical?” asks Goldsmith.

It’s in the moment that we shape ourselves into a better person. Sometimes hourly questions might help. When we face an event were not up for or a person that usually throws us off our game, why not try setting our Smartphone to ask us a question like, “Am I doing my best to…?”

THE FAVORITE PART

What I like best about Triggers is that by creating an awareness of our environment and identifying our own triggers we can be a force for adding value in other people’s lives by triggering something good in others. It requires our imagination and clarity about what we want to become.

When we dive all the way into adult behavioral change—with 100 percent focus and energy—we become an irresistible force rather than the proverbial immovable object. We begin to change our environment rather than be hanged by it. The people around us sense this. We have become the trigger.

Responding to critics

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have heard a story about Winston Churchill and his extraordinary integrity in the face of opposition. During his last year in office, he attended an official ceremony. Several rows behind him two gentlemen began whispering. “That’s Winston Churchill. They say he is getting senile. They say he should step aside and leave the running of the nation to more dynamic and capable men.” When the ceremony was over, Churchill turned to the men and said, “Gentlemen, they also say he is deaf.”

How you respond to critics is very important part of building yourself. It’s all too easy to get defensive when critics rub us the wrong way or misunderstand us. There is also a possibility of us  being wrong as well. Ask yourself why the criticism was made. Is the person trying to help, to make things better, to help you avoid making mistakes, to suggest positive improvements? Is the person just in a cranky rude mood, having a bad day? Is the person just mean, or jealous? Is there good reason for the criticism?My dad gave me an outstanding piece of advice when I first left to US. He said, “If you take the blame when you deserve it, you will take responsibility and will improve and become a better person." I have found that to be very true. Difficult, but true. In my experience, until someone in a group (or in a family) accepts blame, everyone stays very anxious and focused on fingering the person at fault. Once I take responsibility and be accountable, then everyone else can relax. And then we can all focus on what needs to be done.

Thank the person offering the criticism. Sometimes they’re coming from a place of wanting to help you. That takes courage, and is a very generous thing. Be grateful for that. Even when they’re not trying to be helpful, they’ve taken the time to respond to you — and trust me, getting a response is better than absolute silence. Provoking a reaction means you’ve done something interesting — and for that, you should be thankful. Either way, thanking the critic will help lead to a positive exchange.

It is also important not immediately respond but delay the response.  Delaying the response gives time to think it over and not be reactive. Calm yourself down before responding. Always. Responding to a critic in anger is never, ever, ever a good idea.Respond rationally and calmly. Instead of being defensive, be honest. Share your reasons, acknowledge the other person’s points if there’s any validity, and come to a rational conclusion rather than jealously guarding your way of doing things.

Or stay silent. If you can’t respond with grace, then just don’t respond. Silence is a much better response than anger or defensiveness or quitting.


Miss you NR Sir

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I received sad news that one of my favorite teachers in high school had passed away. As children, we spend almost as much time with our teachers as we do with our parents. The teachers who have had tremendous influence on us are far and few and N. Rajendran Sir   (whom we used to fondly refer him as NR Sir) was one of them.  He created such a ripple effect with students that  there is not a day that goes by without thinking about him. I tutor Math almost on a regular  basis and I owe everything I learned in Math to NR Sir. I have lost close ones before, but have never felt such sadness and grief as I feel today. I really adored you Sir, and I will always. The infectious zeal with which NR Sir have taught so many of us continues to energize us even today. 

I was failing miserably in my IX grade in Math and was promoted to X with warning meaning I barely passed my Math in IX. In our school, Our X grade students were segregated based on our performance in our IX grade and luckily for us, NR sir was the assigned teacher.  We weren't sure what to expect of him as we never had classes with him or had an opportunity to interact with him. He sported a big moustache  which made him look scary. After I had classes with him , I soon  got over the moustache part and realized that he was a wonderful teacher who was able to connect us  really with the Math concepts. He used to make us do so many problems over and over that our hands used to hurt by the time we were done. I was sitting in the first row right in front of him, and for some reason he used to pick on me as well and asked me to go to the board and solve a problem.  I had low self esteem up until that point of time . His teaching boosted my self esteem big time.He always used to have chalk piece with him which he used to throw at someone who is not paying attention. He wanted to do everything under his control to help out students and  am thankful he took me under his wings to help me understand appreciate and enjoy Math to the fullest. I moved from barely passing in IX to being top of the class in his tests. I never had  the passion to  be the first or anything but getting a pat in the back meant a lot to me . I remember few tests which I didn't do too well,  He was very angry  at me and I was mad at myself for not giving my best and made sure I didn't  slack off after that. He was eminently fair, honest to the point of bluntness, ever helpful, but would brook no nonsense that would disrupt his classroom routine.  NR sir always exhibited extra bit of life in whatever he did and had the rare capacity to instill some of that in others he met.

I fall short of words to express my grief on the sad demise of our beloved NR Sir. I am what I am today only because of him.  The right way to pay tribute to him is to face this news boldly and go ahead and do a great job as his student and carry forward his legacy.

I hope his family can take solace in the fact that such a great man is surely looking down on them from the highest pinnacle of heaven.

Rest in peace NR Sir, you're probably lecturing God right now or having a breakfast with your Math teachers. 

Sukumar_NRSir

I am thankful to one of our seniors Sukumar Rajagopal for sharing  his picture. Few years back he also honored this wonderful teacher..and am attaching herewith the video of the same (with his permission).

 


What matters

-Karthik Gurumurthy

This is not the first time I am quoting this but worth reading this once in few months.

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got,  but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.


How true this is. And Michael Josephson gives us reasons to think.