203 posts categorized "Gratitude"

Lessons from my Mom

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What I learned from my Mom is that it doesn't matter who you are, but how you act.  What counts is your kindness and gentleness, and your ability to forgive.  Those are the qualities that really define each of us, and separate out the true heroes. There are many folks who have ill treated her but she never had any grudges and still try to meet those people. I would have avoided those folks but she never takes it in person and carry it forward. One day, I would like to be that way.

 

 

 


Good news

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

 


Life lessons

-Karthik Gurumurthy

From a young age, I've harbored a deep desire to become a valuable member of society. I believe that each of us has a unique purpose and the potential to make a positive impact on the world around us. As I look ahead to this new chapter, I encourage all of you to consider how you too can become valuable members of society. It's not about fame or fortune, but rather about the lasting impact we leave on the lives of others.

As I step into my 50s, I am filled with gratitude for the journey thus far and excitement for the adventures that lie ahead. My wish is that each of you embarks on your own journey of becoming a valuable member of society, leaving a legacy that shines brightly for generations to come.

Thank you for being a part of my journey, and let's continue to inspire and uplift one another.

For my birthday, I have shared a list of lessons to document on the lessons I have learned over the years.

  • Stop talking and start doing. NOW!
  • Get over yourself. Anything worth doing is worth sucking at it…at first.
  • Be your own boss—no matter who you work for.
  • Please make sure your wife is well taken care of. Marriage is a garden that requires consistent attention to flourish.
  • Give your kids the gift of working through their own struggles.
  • Assume any text, email, or anything in writing will become public.
  • Embrace change before it’s forced on you.
  • Stop arguing and start listening. You don’t win people over with logic. You win them over by listening.
  • Be generous with your time, ideas, attention, smiles, compliments, and money.
  • Remember the Caterpillar and the Butterfly. In your struggle to break out of your darkest moments, you transform into something new and build the strength in your wings to soar.
  • Persist until you succeed, but also know when it’s wise to quit.
  • Earn respect by respecting yourself first.
  • Demand more of yourself than anyone else could ever imagine expecting of you.
  • Pursue excellence in the 5 F’s of your life—Faith, Family, Finances, Fitness, and Friendships. Weakness in any area puts your entire life out of balance.
  • Stretch your comfort zone daily. Life’s best opportunities lie on the other side of fear.
  • Embrace failure, but don’t repeat it.
  • Celebrate success, but don’t rest on it.
  • Live each day with urgency—and patience.
  • Don’t worry about the failure that could be. Worry about the regret that’s guaranteed if you don’t try.
  • Stay grounded by deepening your faith.
  • Accomplish big goals with small steps.
  • Thank those who doubted you.
  • Inspire others to break through their barriers to success by breaking through your own.
  • Reject rejection. People don’t reject you as a person. They reject your words, ideas, offer, or product. Don’t take it personally.
  • Always Be Serving
  • Solve people’s problems, and you’ll never be unemployed.
  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect—especially your enemies and critics.
  • Dress to show respect.
  • Surround yourself with people who raise your game.
  • Find joy in the journey-especially your struggles.
  • Fear mediocrity, not failure.
  • Learn how- and when-to say no.

Making it count

-Karthik Gurumurthy

18262 days in this planet. and starting 18263rd day here. Thankful to amazing parents, wife, brother, teachers, friends and family for being there throughout this journey. My journey would have ended in 3176 days if not for all the Blessings and prayers from parents. 

There’s something about milestone birthdays that make us reflect. And as great as it is to look back and be grateful for all the experiences that have shaped who I am today, I’m even more excited to look forward at what’s yet to come. You see, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that every day is a gift. We only get one life, and it’s up to us to decide how to spend our time. Working on making each day count for making a positive impact to make sure dash counted for something good. Don’t let people scare you. 50 is amazing!

I have more life experience than ever before.
I know myself better than ever before.
I have more meaningful relationships, and a purpose that drives me to get up and be excited about my work.
I have no idea what aging gracefully means, but aging happily is pretty sweet.

My wife Shobana was so thoughtful and kind to reach out to my long list of students and created an amazing video which made my day. I can't imagine the amount of work that went for creating that. It was lovely to see students from different timelines joining hands. Awesome to see everyone. Thank you, Shobana. It was the best Birthday gift, ever.

Spending time with my mom, son and wife. What more can I ask for? I do miss my dad, though. But I know he is there with me all the time guiding us every step on a day-to-day basis.

My advice is don’t get so busy with life that you forget to live. Spend your time wisely and invest in the things and people worth your time and energy.

  • It's an opportunity to reflect and share some life lessons.
  • The world is not black and white. Life is full of complexities and nuances, shades of gray that make every situation unique. Embrace the ambiguity and learn to navigate through it.
  • Getting along is more important than being right. You don't always have to win every argument. Sometimes, maintaining relationships and harmony is far more essential.
  • Nothing is more important than family. They are your rock in times of storm, your source of joy and balance. Cherish them.
  • Elevation requires separation. Go work on yourself.
  • There is a difference between giving your kids the you never had vs. giving them the things you never needed.
  • Carpe diem: Seize the day, seize the moment, seize the opportunity. Make the most out of every day.
  • Let go of what you can't control. Worrying about things beyond your control only drains your energy. Focus on what you can influence and let the rest unfold as it will.

As I step into the second half-century of my life, I carry these lessons close to my heart. Hoping they resonate with you too.

Thankful and  feeling Blessed for everything. I have been blessed abundantly in every facet of life. I couldn't have asked for more.

When I was born 50 years ago today, my parents certainly rejoiced in the gift of my life. Today, I know that what I most desire—for my life to have significance, to add value, to be coherent—is not an achievement but a gift.


The Blessings

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Dec_2023

Thankful to spend last few days with the coolest people...Thank you Susi family, Baji family for taking time out of your schedule to spend time with us. We are thankful and Blessed! 


Gratitude

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Do not spend time on people who aren't grateful. Those are the ones who take blessings for granted and live a life that lacks empathy. Your time once spent won't be gained back even by spending millions. So make sure you spend it wisely on those who respect your efforts and are grateful for the support they gained. As well, build this quality in your own life. Be grateful. Every interaction matters. Do not waste your energy and time on people who don't deserve it.

Dec_2023_2

 


Why Travel?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Travel opens up the mind and helps us question our reality, understand new cultures, and make lasting memories for a lifetime. Although some people refuse to travel because they see it as time-wasting, it opens your mind and heart to take a new perspective of life. 

In fact, travel is more than just taking a selfie. It's about understanding the world we live in, broadening our horizons as human beings, developing empathy for others, and giving us new insights into the culture. In short, it gives us a new appreciation for what makes life worth living.

Phuket_Nov7


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

 


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.


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.


Why is being Grateful important?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Gratitude can make you feel calmer, content and relaxed. Each time we reflect on what we have and what we are grateful for, our brains release Serotonin.Serotonin is the key hormone to stabilise our mood and happiness – it promotes our wellbeing. It also helps with sleeping and digestion.

Practice daily gratitude at the start of your day and notice how you feel happier, calmer and relaxed. I spend 5 minutes as part of my morning routine to be thankful for all I have.

I ask myself - what am I most grateful for today?

Each day my response includes:

· For my amazing family, colleagues, students

· I get to serve the world each day working with favorite people.

· My deep network of incredible souls (family and friends)

· I get to choose how I react and respond to each and every situation I find myself

· I get to choose how I nurture my mind, body and health

When we SERVE ourselves and show gratitude - we in turn SERVE all those we touch, see and interact with.

👉🏽 What are you most grateful for today and how will you embed the practice of daily gratitude into your routine?

Wishing you all a fabulous start to the week.


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.


Captain Cool, We will miss you!

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Oh, Dhoni, the captain cool,
You led India to glory.
You are the best finisher,
And you are the best keeper.

You are a true legend,
And you will be missed.
But your legacy will live on,
And you will always be remembered.

You are a true inspiration,
And you have shown us what is possible.
You have shown us that we can achieve anything,
If we set our minds to it.

Thank you for everything, Dhoni.
We will never forget you.

Your fans will always love you,
And they will always cheer for you.
You are a true champion,
And you will always be a part of our hearts.


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.


Embrace the uncertainty

-Karthik Gurumurthy

If I look back, I always chose a path different from the people around me. Right after high school, everybody around me went for medicine or engineering. I was interested in learning and pursuing a career involving Chemistry.  Most of the times, I try to choose a path which is mostly uncertain. Most of my friends and family always put their kids in the best public or private school. My wife and I chose to experiment our kid with homeschool. 

One thing I noticed over the years is every breakthrough is preceded by great uncertainty.  The only way to avoid uncertainty, to come close to guaranteed success in an endeavor,  is if you have done it before, or someone else has. At that point, why bother? You are no longer creating, you are replicating, checking off yet another largely inevitable outcome. It may be easier. It may carry less angst. But it will also matter far les to you and to those you seek to serve.

Life's greatest moments live in the space between desire and attainment. It's not the getting that makes life good, it is the seeking, even when that seeking demands not just action but surrender. The moment your object of desire becomes a foregone conclusion, the quest loses its potential to change you. Your life becomes a series of reruns and that gets old fast. 

Yes, I agree that Uncertainty may bring unease, but it also brings  a vital energy, the exhilaration of creation. Without uncertainty, there is no possibility. 

There is no perfect moment. No time when you will know enough to guarantee you wull get what you want. Still, at some point, imperfectly informed, with butterflies in your belly, you'll still need to act. Experience and emotion dance in that space. It is where possibility finds it wings. The greatest creations, the most legendary relationships, the most treasured and heralded experiences, innovations, and lives have all come from people who were willing to live and act in the face of uncertainty long enough for greatness to emerge. 


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. Unfortunately, no fancy mobile those days to capture that moment. Perhaps that's why that moment is still fresh in memory. In these days of selfies, we don't remember who we meet and such moments are buried in some folder that needs to be searched.

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 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!

 

 


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.

 


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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Image may contain: one or more people and text

-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.


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. 


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?”


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.


Rest in Peace Ramesh Mahadevan

-Karthik Gurumurthy

When I landed in US few years back for Graduate school it was a totally different kind of world.  Laptops were uncommon and expensive. We used to stop by at the University library to check email and internet and speed was lot slower than the current scenario. But at that point of time, we did not know it was slow.  We were plain excited and  just access to free  internet by itself was fascinating.

Calling home was also an expensive proposition and there were no vonage/whatsapp/fb./Blogs. Those days there was only text based emails and there were internet news groups. There was soc.culture.india and some other groups like that. The Indians in US and some other parts of the world were connected through these news groups. It was mostly graduate students who had come from India who were active on these groups - the University email accounts helped. This was the practice ground where many of us started writing - especially armed with our new experience in the new place we had just entered. The news groups were very popular and we would eagerly wait for any update on these newsgroups just like we would wait for the morning paper in India the day after an exciting win for the Indian cricket team.

Of all the people who wrote on those news groups, Ramesh Mahadevan was my favorite. For all of you who are not aware of Ramesh Mahadevan,  Ramesh  obtained his PhD in Applied Physics from Ohio State University and was working in Maxtor in Denver, Colorado. Ramesh used to pen lot of articles relating to Grad school life which most students can relate to and he had diverse interests from Carnatic Music-Wall street. I  thoroughly enjoyed his articles and used to write to him regularly and he was prompt in responding back and we were in regular touch for quite sometime until he decided to move back to India. It was such a solace to read his articles when I was feeling home sick as a new arrival in the US. He was very knowledgeable and his observations of life of Indians in the US - - especially student life in US were spot on. His write ups on music, movies, food, TV programs were pure pleasure to read. He could write recipes which resulted not only in a tasty dish but would tickle you with the humor in it. I vividly remember his recipe for a dish made with Cauliflower which he called the king of vegetables. His series titled "A gentle introduction to Karnatic music" is both educative and humorous.   

On top of consulting, he was teaching at SSN College of Engineering and started a weblog which had a good following. However, I noticed that he didn't update after 2011. I always used to wonder how he was doing. Last time I was in Landmark book store, I picked up a book written by him about etiquette people skills at work. It was a well written book which I used to frequently refer back in 2012.  Today I found out he passed away last week which was shocking. I am hoping it is a rumor. I am sure lot of his fans who read his articles would feel the same sadness which I am feeling now.  I just have no words to express the sadness. Whoever knew his mind/views/ideas personally, will definitely miss him.

Whom the Gods love die young.

Rest in Peace, Ramesh.


Nuggets from the book "Presence"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just finished reading the book "Presence" by Amy Cuddy.  Practically written upon the base of sound academic research and knowledge, Cuddy manages to clearly and succinctly lead the reader into the world of "Presence"; so much so that it is becoming an entity in its own right.

Presence is about harnessing confidence and poise. How do you carry yourself? How does that make you feel? How do you think others see you? The first few chapters are all about harnessing this presence and believing your own story.

This is one of many profound insights Cuddy presents about how we can use our physiology (our bodies) to increase our power and presence.

There seems to be what researchers refer to as a “bidirectional” relationship between feeling and behavior: when you feel powerful, you expand your body, and when you expand your body, you feel powerful.

Bottom line: Expanding your body language, or carrying yourself in a more expansive way can actually make you feel more powerful. 

"…the smaller the device, the more we must contract our bodies to use it, and the more time we spend in these shrunken, inward postures, the more powerless we feel. Our findings uncover a cruel irony: while many of us spend hours everyday working on small mobile devices, often with the goal of increasing our productivity and efficiency, interacting with these tiny objects, even for short periods of time, might reduce assertiveness, potentially undermining our productivity and efficiency. If you must spend long stretches in front of a screen, which many of us do, be sure to choose a device carefully and configure your space to allow for the most upright and expansive posture.”

Go to your local coffee shop on a busy day, and you’ll probably find 80% of people hunched over their tiny little smart phone screen.

Regardless of whether they do it while they’re sitting or standing, this hunching-over-screen habit is NOT contributing to their sense of presence.

In fact, it’s impairing their ability to expand, thus contributing to powerlessness.

It’s actually quite obvious when we think about it: hunching down at a smart phone screen produces an inward stance; when what we’re really looking for is an expansive stance.

If you’re looking to cultivate more presence, power, and a sense of genuinely connected with other people, then stop hunching over and tapping away at your smart phone all day long. And start being more present by putting away the smart phone, straightening out your posture, and expanding your stance a little more often.

The tips, studies and facts around positive poses and presence really resonated with me. If you really liked what you read so far, you should get the book.

 


Thinking about you dad

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Appa

It has been four years since Dad left us. There is still not a day that goes by without thinking about him. I miss his physical presence and cannot thank him enough for what he has provided for us and the family. There are lot of values that he imbibed which still makes me the person I am. 

Self-Esteem

Dad was my biggest cheerleader.My dad always told me I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be. He said that my gifts and abilities were unique. Now that I am a dad myself, I try to do the same for my son and hope that he believes me and subsequently believe in himself. 

Adventure

Every summer, my dad would make it a point to take us to a new place which was a big deal. It was very special for my brother and myself and we always looked forward to that. Both my parents worked hard the whole year and took that break which was very refreshing. They instilled a desire in me to see the world. There was always another adventure waiting around the corner that kept us on our toes and made life exciting and sweet.The lesson he taught us was to smell the roses along the way.

Living within your means

On my eleventh birthday, my father began to teach me how to live within my means. When I was about 11 years old, He sat me down and taught me about an allowance. He was going to provide me with a monthly pocket-money that I would later come to realize was my means. I was going to have a set amount of money that I could spend on anything I’d like. The only catch was that once I spent it all, I couldn’t buy anything else until the following month when I received my next allowance. At the age of 11, I began to learn how to budget, how to save, and how to spend wisely.It is a powerful lesson which I realized and learned only later, but I learned really well what he really meant.

Choose your friends wisely

Successful people surrounds himself with successful people. He valued his friends so much and he had friends from all walks of life.  He was so right. When I think of the friends I have been blessed with in my life: I am often reminded of the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: " I didn't find my friends, the Good Lord gave them to me."

 

Thank you Dad for everything you did and all your blessings you are showering on me and the family. I consider myself superlucky to be born your son. We miss you. 


Maturity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Got this as a forward.

What's maturity?

1. Maturity is when you stop trying to change others, but instead focus on changing yourself.
2. Maturity is when you accept people who they are.
3. Maturity is when you understand everyone is right in their own perspective.
4. Maturity is when you learn to "let go".
5. Maturity is when you are able to drop "expectations" from a relationship and give for the sake of giving.
6. Maturity is when you understand whatever you do, you do for your own peace.
7. Maturity is when you stop proving to the world, how intelligent you are.
8. Maturity is when you do not seek approval from others.
9. Maturity is when you stop comparing with others.
10. Maturity is when you are at peace with yourself.
11. Maturity is when you are able to differentiate between "need" and "want" and are able to let go of your wants.
12. Maturity is when you stop attaching "happiness" to material things.