255 posts categorized "Character"

Greatest of all time: Roger Federer!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Few people in this world set such a high example for character, class, sportsmanship and pure love for the game of tennis. It was a pleasure watching you compete all these years and you are true definition of an amazing human being on and off the court. Even RF's Retirement Speech will become one of the Greatest Retirement Speeches of All Time! You will be missed, Roger!!

RogerFederer

"I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”- 20 time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer who announced his retirement from tennis"- Roger Federer

 


Subramanian Ramamurthy Uncle- Om Shanthi

-Karthik Gurumurthy

SubramanianRamamurthyMama

An absolute blessing to have had the privilege of meeting this amazing Uncle in Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana many many years ago,. Getting to know him and getting connected with  mostly through Facebook. In this world of social media, one of the biggest boons for many of us was to have connected with  Dr. Ramamurthy mama (Uncle)

What is special about this Uncle? 

He is the beacon of light who uplifted our spirits everyday with Facebook posting, always with positive messages that made everyone feel that he is family and that he is genuinely and truly caring for us, cheering for us, comforting us, complimenting us.He made every single person in his presence feel that they were the most important person to him. He treated everyone around him with unmatched kindness, affection and love. He was very proud of Kallidaikuruchi, where he hailed from. He was a connoisseur of all genres of music, South Indian cooking and English literature (a Great PG Wodehouse fan!!)

It is amazing to see the spectrum of his friends in facebook, ranging all the way from the most eminent of artists to a little girl who did her first classical dance in stage who looked forward to meet dear Ramamurthy Mama.
 
Each and everyone of his friends waited with anticipation for a happy post from mama to uplift their spirit everyday. He certainly made a positive influence everyday. His love for people was unconditional and the kindness that used to ooze out of him was immense. No wonder God loves to have such people closer to him at the earliest and he is no more with us.. Praying for the departed soul and condolences to the near and dear ones..
 
Only few are blessed to live a life like mama, where everyone who know him feel so empty and lost today. Mama lit up every up gatherings, can talk to people of any age group on any topic - always helping, smiling - I can go on and on. None can match mama's charisma and personality. I am in disbelief and devastated. He got married the same day (and the year) my parents got married (July 12). Was always the first one to comment about my blogs and wish me on my B'day.  How are we supposed to go on without you dearest Mama 🥲.. the excruciating pain of losing you feels very much akin to having lost my own dad for you always extended that unconditional love to each and every one of us just like a dad would. With a very very laden heart we all bid our adieu to you .Will take a break from Facebook  for sometime ...
 
What I have learnt from Uncle is how to unconditionally  love everyone without expecting anything in return.  Om Shanthi Uncle..This will take sometime for me to digest...

 


What's your worth?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

A father, before he died, said to his son:

“This is the watch your grandfather gave me and this is more than 200 years old.

Before I give it to you go to the watch shop on the first street, and tell him I want to sell it, and ask how much they offer”.

The son went and after several minutes, he came back to his father and said, "The watchmaker offers to pay $5 because it's old and has a lot of scratches.” He then asked him to go to the coffee shop.

The son went and after an hour or so, he came back and said: “The coffee shop owner offers $5, father.”

“Go to the antique museum estimator and show that watch”. He went ahead and then came back happily. “They offered me a million dollars for this piece.”

The father said: “I wanted to let you know that the right place values your value in a way right, don't put yourself in the wrong place and get angry if you get treated like crap. Those who know your value are the ones who appreciate you, don't ever stay in a place that doesn't suit you."

Make sure you know your worth and don't sell yourself short.


Collaboration

-Karthik Gurumurthy

If someone reaches out to you for guidance, it doesn't mean they don't know and you know. It is more of thought partnering. Set the tone right. Don't allow scenarios to boost your ego. Collaboration and progress is the key to happy life.


Happy Birthday Coach Wooden!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

CoachW

Today is the Birthday of legendary Coach Wooden. I am reflecting what he shared.

  • Being authentic and vulnerable is foundational to leadership. The only gift I have to offer the world is me and what I have within.
  • It took me a while to recognize that I’m more than enough for what I want to accomplish. Once I stopped being ashamed of myself I could start being my best version every day than trying to copy some and end up being a bad duplicate.
  • Each of us is a walking billboard, advertising ourself. Our words and actions are our real time commercial. How we represent ourselves is very important.

John Wooden’s dedication and commitment to excellence resulted in a an incredible framework to develop leaders.


Growth mindset

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Your growth mindset, or lack thereof, is critically important to achieving or not achieving goals. There is nothing wrong with realistic optimism. And don't let someone tell you otherwise.

Over my career, I've witnessed those with growth mindsets are realistically optimistic and achieve their professional and personal goals consistently.

They have ability to work through adversity. They realize by working smart, hard, together, with focus and doing so with consistency, they will achieve their goals.

They don't get too high or too low. They are team players and give recognition to others. They are coachable and often seek out coaching. They realize they themselves don't have all the answers. They most often are self and situationally aware; and bring positive energy to situations, even challenging situations. They might fail, but they learn, and consequently grow and achieve goals.

Conversely, I've also observed those who lack a growth mindset. They might take convenient accountability in positive situations; but lack accountability/responsibility in challenging situations.

They often bring negative energy to situations. They themselves don't admit fault or failure....In their mind "someone else fails them and causes them to not achieve their goals". They often are inconsistent in achieving goals.


Rewind or Fast forward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Lot of times I encounter people who wished that they can go back in time and alter the course. I don’t believe in living with regret but there are some things that I would definitely have done differently in my life. Obviously I can only know that now with hindsight so it would be impossible to know how some things would play out at the time. I’m a big believer that we do what is right at the time, using the information we have.

What is helpful now though is having the benefit of that knowledge to know that that thing, person or job isn’t for you.

It helps us to make future decisions and navigate our way through any new options that present themselves.

One of my friends asked me the question  the other day if f it was possible, would I go back in time and change anything? Probably not. All those decisions (good and bad) led me to where I am today, and all the people I now know and love. Better to focus on now and appreciate all the positives rather than dwelling on a past you can't change. Easier said than done sometimes.


Struggle to Sensation(al): Lessons from Rahul Tewatia

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I follow IPL (India Premier League) Cricket tournament which happens every year during March-May where Cricketers all over the World participate for different franchises and  is exciting and entertaining to watch. Because of Covid-19 pandemic, this year it moved March-May to Sep-Nov time period and was scheduled to happen in Dubai..

One of the games I watched today was between Rajasthan and Punjab teams. Punjab played first and posted a  big total of 223 funs and Rajasthan was given an opportunity to chase this mammoth total. Even though Rajasthan had the potential to cross the line, one of the players Rahul Tewatia  was struggling in the middle and was taking lot of time to score runs. His batting partner (Sanju Samson) was however fluent and was scoring runs with ease. At one point the way Rahul was paying everybody was feeling sorry for the Rajasthan team and felt that Rahul needs to exit as  he was taking time and if someone else comes,  at least they can take a chance of winning the game. That was the impression every body had (including myself).
Then, without the slightest warning, he broke free. Rahul who is in the team more for his leg-spin bowling started hitting sixes all over the ground. It was not a flicker of hope, but an all-consuming fire. He scored 53 runs of 31 balls and helped Rajasthan team win the game against Punjab almost from an impossible position.

RahulT

 

Lesson#1 We all make mistakes, but the way we approach mistakes defines our relationship with them. For some of us, we are intrinsically terrified of mistakes and failure, and we refuse to even try or freeze  in the fear of doing something worse. However, Rahul Tewatia diid not let his mistakes define him. He quickly learned it and moved on. 

Lesson#2: Following was the tweet from Rahul back in 2017.  What is there to learn from this tweet? He has pre-played his success. Everything is created twice: First in mind, then in reality.

 

RahulTewatia

 

Great work Rahul! Such a great inspiration!

 


Happy Independence Day, India

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Happy Independence day, India. The  poem "Where the mind is without fear" was written by one of the greatest poets of India, Rabindranath Tagore. This was written during the period when India was struggling for freedom from the British rule. It was a part of ‘Gitanjali’, a compilation of all his poems which was published in English in 1912.

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of the truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

-From Gitanjali (aka Song Offering) by Rabindranath Tagore


In this poem, Rabindranath Tagore expresses his love for his country and prays to the Almighty for its well being. In his prayer, the poet says that his countrymen should not live in fear anymore and must do away with the evils of society. They must live with respect, dignity, honesty and perfection.  The poet envisions India as a country where the people live without any kind of fear or oppression and hold their head high with pride, dignity and self reliance. He also says that knowledge should be attained without any restriction. There should be no discrimination based on caste, creed, race or religion. India must reach towards its goal of attaining freedom and being an ideal nation. The countrymen must possess noble thoughts and do away with all the superstitious beliefs that defy logic and reason.The poet prays to God, seeking his support and guidance for his countrymen to have noble thoughts and actions. He asks God to awaken them into this heaven like place of an independent nation.


Planning your day

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the things my dad advised when I left to US for grad school (about two and half decades back) was making a schedule or routine and sticking to a routine on a day-to-day basis.

One of the many challenges of Covid was the disruption of routine. As creatures of habit, we all had routines around going to work and the activities of our personal lives. These routines were dramatically changed and constrained. Suddenly most of us were working from home and establishing new routines by necessity. Some put their routines on hold hoping that things would soon return to a semblance of normal.

I quickly realized that I needed to adapt to the new constraints and develop a daily agenda that would best serve me and the results I wanted to achieve. I saw the challenge then (and now) to make the most of every day regardless of circumstance.

So I revisited and nenewed my current schedule.

A good schedule creates good results and vice versa. Knowing high payoff activities and doing them consistently is key to effectiveness. Rather than leave their day to chance leaders are strategic. And with an increase in remote work, a schedule is even more important.

Here are the ingredients of my schedule:

Rest. A majority of us don’t get enough sleep. Given the increased time we have at home, there’s no reason not to catch up and start getting the sleep we need. Sleep deprivation can lead to decision making that is impaired to the equivalent of moderate intoxication. A quick review of research shows how sleep is central to attitude, mental and physical help, obesity etc.
Starting Early. Getting your day off to a good start is important. For me that includes walk, study, prayer and reflection. I like to rise early so I can do those things without rush (right now I’m editing this article at 5:15 a.m.). The point isn’t how early you start your day but to begin purposefully and peacefully. This will equip you to hand the challenges that you will inevitably face later.
Problems. Some will come to you but others are already on your agenda. Prioritize the most important problems to address. Trying to solve every problem at once usually makes you ineffectual. A good challenge is to ask yourself, “How can I change this problem into an opportunity?” The difference between a problem and an opportunity are often perspective and ingenuity.
Projects. These are the important things you choose to do to move you closer to your goals. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. You can get lots of little things done and still not be doing important work. Projects are the building blocks of your business’s and your life’s success.
Relationships. Which need renewed, repaired or raised to the next level? Think in terms of the important people in your business and life like you think in terms of important projects. Before Covid-19, many relationships were addressed in the time we had left over rather than intentionally. When the pace of life slowed, we had time to invest in deepening and strengthening relationships.
Hobbies. All work and no play doesn’t make Jack dull, it makes Jack fatigued and unhealthy. What things that you enjoy and refresh you that you can do for some period of time each day to provide you a much needed respite? I hear leaders say they don’t have interests outside of their work. If you find yourself in that category, consider the benefits of curiosity and wonder, of learning new skills and widening your interests. Not only will it be rewarding, it will almost certainly benefit your work life.
Rejuvenation. What do you do the end each day as well as you began it? One classic technique from positive psychology is to identify three good things that happened during the day. Another is to simply ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I accomplished today?” I keep a note pad next to my bed to record insights that come to me in the time before I sleep. Ultimately, gratefulness and reflection are a positive ending to the day.
The next day? Simply repeat your routine.

You might notice I left out interruptions (which will inevitably occur). You don’t have to design them into your day. They will happen naturally and regularly so you might want to include some margin to deal with the important ones as they occur.

These are my ingredients. You may add or subtract for your renewed routine. But now is a good time to re-examine and renew your routine to make the most out of every day you are given. You can’t put more time into your life, but you can put more life into your time.


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.


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."


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.

 


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


Walking in somebody's shoes

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Before you criticize someone walk a mile in their shoes.

Many years back I was working as a Project Manager on a project which was suffering from scope creep. This was not due to the project team or lack of planning but due to management making promises to the customer over coffee.

As a result the entire team was under duress but one SME was particularly negative during our team calls and meetings. He said bluntly in a meeting "You have a technical background why don't you do it yourself".

My first response was reactionary but then I paused and calmly offered "Why don't you shadow me for a day and if you want I can work with your line manager to position you for a PM role." We did this for a day. I shared all the stuff I was busy with including change requests, risks, escalations, management calls after work and sought his input.

Before the day was finished I could see a change in his demeanor. Anger and contempt replaced with understanding and empathy. At the end of the day he politely said that he was happy being an SME.

People are like icebergs. You don't see most of what they are going through. So if someone is negatively critical no need to react, it is important to respond politely sharing your life and struggles.


Lessons learned: 2019

-Karthik Gurumurthy

IMG_20190327_200927__01

Thankful to lead an incredible team in Amex. It has been a great opportunity to learn, serve an  amazing, passionate, sharp team of Engineers and thoroughly enjoying this 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!


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


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. 


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."

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.