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Category: attitude

On paper

Here’s a trend I’ve been seeing. Having sat in on a few interviews for various roles, candidates of various types and thought processes have come through the door.

Many candidates are just amazing on paper. Tech skills, coding skills, math skills, legal skills, business skills – and plenty of certificate courses – you name it, and they’ve got it.

But interpersonal skills? Not a degree of an online course on “Negotiation 101”. But real-world interpersonal skills. Knowing when to speak and when to shut up. Harsh? Yes maybe, but extremely crucial too.

The higher one climbs in an organization, the more the work becomes about ‘getting the work done’ than ‘actually doing the work’. It’s physically impossible for just one senior employee to do all the work. And if it is, then it’s probably inefficient because it hasn’t scaled to potential.

And the higher one climbs up, the more one needs soft skills. Somewhat unintuitively, even to climb up the ladder, one needs soft skills.

Many interviews I’ve seen have ended with the interviewers talking amongst themselves thus, “Great skills… but, terrible attitude, and that’s a big enough ‘but’ to not move forward.

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Chicken or egg

There’s often a question in my mind. Which comes first. No, not chicken or egg. That nobody knows. But another question.

All of the uber-successful people in the world – and mind you this is a very tiny minority – do not care what the world thinks of them.

For everyone else, their lives are dictated almost entirely by what they think others think of them. What house to live in, what school to send the kids to, what education to pursue, what kind of person to marry, what kind of job to do, what kind of places to travel to, what hobbies to keep and on and on.

But the successful fellas? They couldn’t care less. They only care about what they themselves think, what they feel is right. This comes at a cost, i.e. hearing a lot of no’s, a lot of nays, a lot of opposition and a lot of critiques. They live largely by their own rules.

The way many people rationalize this is – “Hey, that guy is rich, really really rich, so of course he can live by his own rules, and do whatever the heck he wants.”

Which is true to an extent. But the chicken or egg question is – “Did he get rich and can hence live by his own rules? Or did he live by his own rules, and hence got rich?”

What do you think?

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Securing the crown – part 2

We all speak about happiness. Because we all want it. And we’re perennially looking for it – high and low.

And it’s relative too. What does that mean? Queen Elizabeth played by a brilliant Claire Foy in The Crown shares her take on… unhappiness, not happiness.

And what a lovely line it is.

That's the thing about unhappiness. All it takes is for something worse to come along and you realize what you were experiencing was actually happiness after all.

Much like man’s search for heaven up there in the skies. When he dies here on earth and goes up, God asks him, “So, how did you like your stay on heaven?”

We already have everything, if we choose to look within. If we stubbornly look outside only, constantly comparing and recognizing apparent gaps and holes, then we will be left with nothing. Years later, maybe we will realize that that state too was actually happiness – but it may be too late to realize it.

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Securing the crown

There is an amazing scene in the Netflix drama The Crown, which is based on Queen Elizabeth’s life. No spoilers ahead, I think 🙂

In season 2 episode 8, when John F Kennedy travels to the UK, they meet the Queen and her husband. It’s not just the Queen who’s the lead female though. More than JFK, it is Mrs. Kennedy that has got everyone’s heads turning. Smart, charming, beautiful, dazzling, intelligent, a brilliant conversationalist – on and on her admirers go. So much so that even the Queen’s husband is desperate to get a seat near Mrs. K at the lavish dinner table.

But the (dinner) tables do turn, and make for provoking thought. The Queen is extremely uncomfortable. Why? Because she feels threatened by her adversary. Although she’s not really even her adversary is she? One is the Queen of Great Britain, the other a First Lady of another country. And for crying out loud, she is the Queen! She has everything and more anyone could ever ask for. There ought not to be any comparison at all!

Therein lies the catch. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have – even if you are the proverbial (or literal) Queen of England. If there is something you do not have however, and if someone else has it, then that immediately takes the Crown (figuratively only :)). What Mrs. K had, the Queen lacked, or so she thought, and the power of insecurity rises to the fore in some wonderful acting. What the Queen doesn’t realize at the time, is that Mrs. K too has her own share of insecurities. Wow, the two most powerful women in the world back in the 1960s, had so many insecurities…

This is not to poke fun – no, not at all. But just a reminder, that deep down, we are all human, and suffer the same human biases. If we can control the mind, that is much better than having a head with a crown on it.

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Angrrr – part 6

Okay okay, last one on anger, I promise! Thought it would be good to round it up with what Thiruvalluvar says about this subject in his Kurals.

A few gems are below:

  1. From anger is born all evil.
  2. Everyone knows that it is bad for oneself to lose temper in dealing with superiors. But where anger is directed against persons in one’s power, it is the worst of all offences.
  3. Where anger may or may not hurt the other party, it simply causes pain to oneself.
  4. Can there be any greater enemy to mankind than anger – which kills laughter and joy (which indeed are the greatest blessings on earth?)

Bonus tips from my Guru on how to overcome anger:
1. Visualize that you are anger-free, say 2 years from now. Keep visualizing and living that image.
2. Pray, for the person you are angry with. Keep their photo on your altar. This is about changing yourself and your emotions and perception, not the other person.

Radical? 🙂

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Angrrr – part 5

Why so much anger? Part 1 2 3 4 and now 5! Maybe because it’s a question that gets asked and discussed so much. And the solutions all require hard work, effort and patience.

But once managed, it can be the most amazing experience.

And lessening of anger is probably one of those sure-fire ways to tell yourself that you are making progress on the spiritual path.

There are two very important points when it comes to anger that I always try to keep in mind.

  1. The trigger for anger might be outside, but the emotion is entirely within us, on the inside. For the same situation, different people elicit different responses, and that means a very angry person can also learn to become less angry and eventually never angry.
  2. The quickest fix for anger is gratitude, even though it might seem unrelated. If you get angry at your parent or child or sibling for something they did, turn that around, i.e. be grateful for the fact that you even have a parent, child or sibling. So many people would give an arm and a leg to be in that position!

Concluded tomorrow…

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Angrrr – part 4

The Gita has two shlokas in chapter 2, viz 2.62 and 2.63 which are known as anger management shlokas.

2.62 states “The wo/man dwelling on sense objects, develops attachment. From attachment springs desire, and from desire (unfulfilled), anger.”

How amazing is this? A step by step deconstruction of anger.

2.63 states “From anger arises delusion, from delusion comes confusion of memory, from that loss of reason, then complete ruin.”

Here’s how my Guru has summarized this in his Amazing Simple Gita purport. “With thoughts come desires. with unfulfilled desire anger ensures, eventually ruin.”

Let’s consider this outstanding perspective. If someone gets angry at us (like a superior at work, or a family member), we think the world has come to an end for us, and that we are scarred for life. But no – the Gita says here that the person who gets angry is the one that will face eventual ruin! So should we really be thinking about what somebody many years ago told us in a fit of rage? Why re-live those bygone words and days today and everyday over and over again? As long as we ourselves do not get angry, we are golden. That should be our goal.

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Angrrr – part 3

Why do we get angry? Because we do not get what we want, or what we think we want. Maybe we want appreciation, but the boss says something else.

People can and will offer us their words, opinions and points of view – and often unsolicited, and at the most inopportune moments. You’re just embarking on a family vacation after ages, and then you get that dreaded call from your CEO. Or you have done some really good work for your society, only to find that you are being badmouthed by certain elements. You want the best for your relatives, but they just choose to ignore your true intentions. Of course these can make you angry – anyone angry. But it can hurt us only if we let it first land in our hearts and minds.

When we were kids, and another kid snatched our favourite toy, we would get so upset. Today, when a kid snatches your son or grandson’s toy (even if the same favourite toy), it doesn’t upset us anymore. We’ve outgrown that stage. There is no attachment to the toy anymore.

Herein lies a solution. If we are over-focused on only one aspect of life, and have no other interests, hobbies, activities etc., then we would find it very hard to take our minds off of something not going right in that one-and-only aspect. But why not diversify? More tomorrow…

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Angrrr – part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post on anger management. Let’s look at the same example again.

We easily get angry at home, with our loved ones, and often burst out. But when speaking with a superior at work? No matter the insult, we are able to take it in our stride, even if it stings badly. Is our boss really more important than our family?

It is not about getting paid or not getting paid, or whether the other person is a loved one or you care for each other or not. It is simply about taking the other person for granted.

We know at home, that if we get angry and create a scene, the same family members will not throw us out. We have taken them for granted.

But in the office? Raise your voice, and you may never get a raise again or even lose your job. We know the consequences, and are hence able to shut up, despite some rage beginning to boil inside.

Is this justified? More tomorrow…

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Attitude platitude – part 4

My Guru’s brilliant notes on the ‘importance of right attitude’, continues and concludes below:

5. Start the day and end the day with positive input into your mind. Inspirational messages cause the brain to flood with dopamine and norepinephrine, the energizing neurotransmitters; with endorphins - the endurance neurotransmitters; and with serotonin, the feel-good-about-yourself neurotransmitter.

6. Begin and end the day by reading or doing something positive.

7. Remember, success is a process, not an event.

8. Invest your time in your attitude, and it will pay off in your skills as well as your career. Think about it...

What a brilliant note written by the Guru isn’t it? We are all hankering after skills. But hankering after the ‘right attitude’ instead will in turn bring skills, luck, success, fame, fortune and whatever else one desires!

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Attitude platitude – part 2

Continuing from yesterday, my Guru’s typewritten message on the importance of the right attitude.

Perhaps if more people knew how simple it is to develop and maintain a positive attitude, they would invest more time doing so.

So here we go. Five steps to staying positive in a negative world:

1. Understand that failure is an event, it is not a person. Yesterday ended last night; today is a brand new day, and it's yours. You were born to win. But to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and then you can expect to win.

2. Become a lifetime student. Learn just one new word ever day, and in five years you will be able to talk with just about anybody on anything. When your vocabulary improves, your IQ goes up 100% of the time, according to Georgetown Medical School.

Continued tomorrow…

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Attitude platitude

Here are a series of posts which will simply cover what my Guru had written in a single typewritten note a few decades ago. It is so fine in its choice of words and intent, that any modifications I make to it will only worsen it. So here it is, with no further ado:

Harvard and Stanford Universities have reported that 85% the reason a person gets a job and gets ahead in that job is due to attitude; and only 15% is because of technical or specific skills. Interesting, isn't it?

You spent how much money on your education? And you spent how much money on building your positive attitude? Ouch! That hurts.

Now here's an interesting thought. With the 'right' attitude, you can and will develop the necessary skills. So where is your emphasis? On skill building? Or on attitude building?

Unfortunately, 'neither' is the real answer for many people.

Continued tomorrow…

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Bubble territory

The financial markets have gone crazy, is the view that many people share today. Excesses of all kinds have made their way to the fore. Bubbles and manias are in the pink-paper headlines often.

The base is always strong. It’s what piles up, that can be…way off. Say a company worth $100, has a 100 shares each worth 1$, and 99 of these do not trade. But that 1 remaining share that does trade, has now found a new buyer. That buyer is willing to pay 50$, for just that one share. You know the new value of the company now? Even though only that 1 new share was traded at $50, all the 100 shares are now implied to be worth $50 as well. This makes the value of the entire company = $50 x 100 shares = $5,000! All because of one trade. The same is true on the downside too. If just the one share was exchanged at $0.5, the company would be valued at $0.5 x 100 shares = $50. This is how extremes get created in the market. A few crazy trades, and suddenly the tide of sentiment has seen a tectonic shift.

It’s not too different with human beings. We too have a solid base. But we let the most recent events – like someone shouting at us, or not believing us, or our inability to clear an exam or such – to define our whole lives. These stray incidents should be seen exactly as that – one-offs. But we extrapolate this to our entire existence, and go into insane levels of depression and anxiety. The opposite is true as well, as we may extrapolate some recent success and take it to the moon, with no ego in check.

We are a sum total of all our life experiences, not just the ones we came across today or yesterday. This is good to keep in mind, so that our moods are always cheerful, and balanced.

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Bed on it

There are some that don’t get sleep until their bodies hit the plush pillows and comfy quilts of a 5-star hotel.

But some have to make do with 3-star hotel arrangements.

Some sleep under the moonlight, on bamboo cots, maybe with mosquito nets.

Many sleep on the floor in their homes, on just a thin bedsheet.

Those in poverty, sleep under flyovers, with no one to care for them.

Some share beds with two others, oxygen cylinders supplementing their breathing efforts.

Some don’t get ICU beds, despite the criticality.

If we just have a bed at home to sleep peacefully – how unbelievable lucky are we?

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Lockdown

“Isolation” and “Quarantine” and “Lockdown”. Three words that have suddenly become commonplace, all thanks to the Covid situation. Most people everywhere seem to be cribbing big time. “I’m so sick of staying at home. Just can’t wait for things to open up. I hate this lockdown business. Can’t even go anywhere. I really miss my vacations and international trips.”

But a change in mindset is necessary. An entitled person may think sitting at home unable to travel for pleasure is bad. But how about those people who are isolated in hospital wards, separated from their loved ones, stuck on a hospital bed amongst hundreds of others, breathing into tubes attached to cylinders, with no indication of when their ordeal would end. Isn’t that infinitely worse? And then there are those that desperately need hospitals / ICUs / beds but these are all full. What of them?

As an Indian army jawan noted on his Linkedin post – “Don’t be scared of isolation. My longest spell was on Siachen glacier, lasting 138 days, with 98 days of intense firing. All 19 of us survived 100s of kilos of TNT. I lost 19 kilos of weight, and took bath after 138 days. The minimum temperature was -50-degrees Celcius.”

What are the rest of us cribbing about? We must be deeply cognizant that anyone stepping out for any reason could be the cause for someone else falling sick or losing a loved one. It is our duty to stay indoors and safe, until all this bad news passes.

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Train for this

There’s a CCTV video recording that you must watch. It’s hardly 30 seconds long.

It shows one of Mumbai’s railway stations. A blind woman and her young son are walking on the platform next to the train tracks. The boy unfortunately falls onto the tracks, and the blind mother is seen to be screaming for help. A train can be seen approaching from the other side.

Mayur Shelkhe, a pointsman at the railway station, comes running at a pace that would make Usain Bolt proud. He reaches the boy, picks him up, shoves him back onto the platform, and then climbs back to safety, with just milliseconds to spare. A moment late, and this would be end-of-story not just for the child, but for him also. I don’t know which quality was more pronounced – his presence of mind, or his selflessness?

Watching the video is like watching a thriller movie – except that this was real life. What I found more thrilling though, was this. Mayur was awarded INR 50,000 (~670 US$) for his bravery. While it is a very small amount to start with, he still proceeded to donate a substantial portion of this amount to the blind lady and her son, in order that she use it for the child’s education.

How awesome is that? So much for me to learn from. A true hero he is, if there was ever one. Here’s the Video link.

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Visual creatures – part 2

We touched upon the importance of visualization yesterday. Here’s a nice example that I saw on the famous TV series called Shark Tank. This is how Wikipedia describes the show – “Shark Tank is an American business reality television series that premiered on August 9, 2009 on ABC. It shows entrepreneurs making business presentations to a panel of five investors or “sharks,” who decide whether or not to invest in their companies.”

As you can imagine, this is a make or break moment for most entrepreneurs, given they could rope in a billionaire ‘shark’ to help grow their business by hundreds of millions of dollars. Sometimes even just appearing on the show, without winning a shark’s investment itself can be free marketing. Also obvious, is that the path is not easy. Just getting featured on shark tank, amongst countless thousands of other businesses, is excruciatingly hard, what with a gruelling selection / elimination process.

One lady who was featured in the 12th season was presenting her product. Once she finished her demo, she also played a video clip from 4-5 years ago. This was back when she had just begun her business, and all she had was a few prototypes of her product. Back then itself, she looks into her phone camera, and records herself speaking to the investors, “Sharks – I’m coming to see you on Shark Tank in a few years, and as you can see, these are my prototypes, and I’m coming to you with my finished product in a few years, with an awesome sales track record too!”

What an incredible way to visualize, record it for posterity, and then work one’s backside off until said goal is achieved!

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Possible?

My Guru keeps giving the example of Roger Bannister (RB). In 1954, RB ran one mile in under 4 minutes.

He was the very first person to do so. His doctors had advised him before the run, that he should not go so fast, otherwise his organs would go all over the place, his body cannot take it and that he would die.

Of course, none of the warnings came to pass, and RB did indeed run the mile in under 4 minutes. What an achievement!

But funnily enough, RB was not the last. After his feat, almost every decade thereafter, someone or the other has been besting his record.

The current title is held by a Moroccan, Hicham El Guerrouj, who completed the mile in 3 mins and 43 seconds!

The actual time taken itself doesn’t matter. But it’s amazing how the human psyche works. Until someone else does it, it is considered impossible. But once it has been done, then there’s a line of people who follow it up, and even better it!

My simple learning from this, is that we don’t need to wait for anyone else. As the saying goes, even Impossible says I’m possible. And we’re each uniquely positioned to do things that no one else can (please see Mosaic Man).

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Masculinity

There’s an excellent interview on Youtube of ex-US President Mr. Barack Obama. It’s a very short clip – hardly two minutes long. He is quizzed on what masculinity is, what it means to be macho. Mr. Obama’s response, as expected of him, is simple yet profound.

He says that “a man doesn’t need eight women around you twerking to show their masculinity”. When we see most music videos / ads / movies / magazines / item numbers in songs etc. – they all seem to capture this exact theme – machoism and womanizing.

Instead, Mr. Obama clarifies that what makes a good man, is “first and foremost being a good human being and that means being responsible, being reliable, working hard, being kind, being respectful, being compassionate. The notion that being a man is to put somebody down rather than lift them up is an old view.”

Such a lovely thought, isn’t it? In the spirit of equality, no doubt this applies to women as well – because at the core of this life of ours, we are all human beings first.

We become great when we make others around us great, and this starts by treating them as though they are already great.

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Hair scare

One of the satsangis in a recent youth session narrated a nice short incident.

A Jain monk had shaved his head completely. Nothing out of the ordinary. Someone still asked him why he did it. The monk replied that he too previously had tried everything – oils, shampoos, conditioners, balms – you name it.

The he realized something profound, and said “Shareeri se a-shareeri hone tak sab kuch chutega”, which means – by the time we go from birth to death, everything will have been forgone. That is just the way of life. Youthfulness, energy, black hair, white hair, any hair – everyone will have to leave all these things behind at the end.

If one is on the spiritual path, one would do well to make peace with the end – well before the end. If despite having all the knowledge in the world, one is still worried about the hair on the head, then of what use is spirituality? We need to leave these things well before they leave us.

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