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Category: attitude

Inflation

There’s inflation everywhere now.

The whole world is talking about it, and the whole world is reeling from it as well.

Many shelves are empty, especially electronics with semi-conductor chips in them.

In developed countries, wage inflation is so rampant, that 5 star hotels have stopped room service, and many restaurants and bars have been clubbed together.

Inflation is pinching everyone.

But there’s one type of inflation that pinches the most.

And this is called the inflated ego. No explanation necessary šŸ˜„

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Stone throw

We know this story, but it is worth recollecting again.

There was a wise woman traveling in the mountains. She found a precious stone. The following day she met another traveller who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveller saw the precious stone at that time, and asked the lady for it.

She handed the precious stone over with zero hesitation. The traveller left, happy like never before. He thought he was now set for life.

But he came back shortly thereafter, to return the stone to the wise lady.

Why? Because he told her he wanted something even more precious than the precious stone. What could that be?

Only the ability and attitude to be able to give away something so precious in the first place.

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Desert rose

“Oh desert rose eh ley hi ey ley…” crooned the legendary singer Sting many years ago.

I have never figured out the words after ‘rose’, but that’s digressing from the point.

No one likes deserts no? Not desserts, which are universally loved (except by the 22 year old trying desperately to get his abs to show!), but the dry arid landscapes that parch your throat just by thinking about them.

A dry barren dune-filled land is always considered infertile and useless. “What will anyone do with such a place?” is the first thing that comes to mind.

But even weaknesses can be turned into strengths. That’s my learning. We know this, but still get dejected in the face of adversity. Here’s a nice line I saw about the Indian state of Rajasthan, as part of a tourism advertisement.

“A pioneer in the green revolution (to generate solar energy) in India with 300-330 sunny days a year, which is comparable to the deserts of California and Nevada!”

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Classy

As I board a 16 hour flight for a business trip, I see people seated in different parts of the airplane.

The majority are in Economy.

The minority are divided between First and Business.

Everyone reaches the same destination, no partiality there.

But the journey? Vastly different, whether quality of service, legroom or food and beverage options etc.

No different than life outside an aircraft.

The end game is fixed. But the journey is what matters – what we do, what we make of it, and how we impact those around us.

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Smile and a wave

My building’s watchman today gave me a smile and a wave. So did his wife.

I was traveling, and hence hadn’t seen them in a few weeks.

It doesn’t mean much, someone smiling. Big deal. Even though many people choose to keep morose faces throughout the day.

But this ageing couple smiling and waving is special.

Just a couple of days ago, the watchman’s wife went into cancer remission. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the watchman suddenly got heart problems and needed to be operated upon immediately.

Do these guys have enough money saved up for taking care of their healthcare needs? Certainly not. What do they do? Take a loan of course. And you can be sure that their interest rates aren’t pretty.

They have it tough right now. Really really tough.

And yet they are able to smile and wave. What a mindset!

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Trigger

Someone I know was faced with a really tough situation recently.

He struggled at first – just like anyone else in that situation would have.

And then he did something amazing.

He declared that this tough situation is nothing but a trigger.

A trigger for him to correct his earlier mistakes. To fast track some changes that were on the backburner. And to ensure that the situation is viewed as nothing more than an opportunity to improve.

And what a change that made to his life.

Just phenomenal how a change in attitude can change your life.

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10,000 by 3

Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour practice rule? You practice anything for 10,000 hours and you’ll become world class (like a concert violinist or pianist or a professional soccer or cricket player).

The breakup was that if you can practice something for 3 hours a day for 10 years, you’ll easily achieve an unparalleled level of expertise.

For many of us, even taking out 1 hour a day to do something we’d loosely classify as a “hobby” would be extremely difficult.

And if we did get the 1 hour out of an already maddening schedule, then it’d just be better to unwind with Netflix or Prime no?

One way I like to look at this, is to put in the 10,000 hours at our work. Our office job. The day job. Whatever it may be. And guess what, we work 9 hours a day anyway. So that’s 3 times more than the 3 hours per day needed for mastery in 10 years. Which means we could be masters at our work if we spend just 3.3 years!

Instead of spending time by the water cooler, gossiping and talking politics and what not, why not just use every single opportunity to learn, spend the 9 hours in the most efficient manner possible, and become the best-of-the-best in your line of work, whatever it might be? šŸ˜„

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Movjars & shakers

If you have a jar with red ants and black ants in it, nothing notable happens.

The ants just mind their own business and go their own ways.

But give the jar a shake, and apparently the ants take on each other. The black ones feel the red were the cause of the jar-quake, and vice versa. And they literally fight each other to the kill.

Deadly.

But they don’t realize that it’s not them that caused the problem, but the jar shaker.

Don’t we behave similarly as well?

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Aww-scarred

In an awards ceremony, the host made a joke about a man’s wife.

The man got up from the audience, walked to the stage, and slapped the host on his face.

The host was stunned, but carried on, as though nothing much had happened.

The man went back to his seat, and loudly reprimanded the host for talking about his wife.

Is it okay for people to make lewd jokes in public?

Is it okay for people to take matters into their own hands literally, with physical violence?

Is this a reflection of the times we live in?

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With much aplumb

The drain in the washroom where we were temporarily residing recently had got clogged. Pretty common occurrence, especially if some hair or other small item goes and gets stuck. It could also be because of dirt (aka muck) getting accumulated over time.

The easy part is to just call the plumber.

What a tough job. The guy came in a few minutes. And where’s we’d otherwise squeam or cringe before even going near the drain, this chap was cool as a cucumber.

He wasn’t even wearing any gloves. He just unscrewed the perforated drain cover and stuck his hand inside, to check what the problem was. Of course his hand got dirty, and it wasn’t even dirt that he caused! But a quick check, and he smiled, “I found the cause of the problem, it’s some blockage outside.”

And bounced off to the other side of the building, ladder in tow, in order to ‘reach’ the area of the problem. 10 minutes later, all was fine and dandy. Never seen a guy stick his hand into a drain and still maintain a smile. I couldn’t do it, surely. My work is infinitely better, yet I find ways to be unhappy šŸ¤·

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Showerma – part 2 of 2

A good friend narrated this incident to me.

He had travelled for an educational workshop to some remote villages in the northern most tip of the country.

Suffice it to say, that it got very very cold there.

Most folks didn’t take bath there for days, he told me.

But he came across one child, enjoying his bath, out in the open, wearing just a small half-pant, and singing bhajans of the Lord.

My friend asked him how he could be so happy when the climate and the water are so cold.

The child’s reply? “Arre sir, kam se kam, yahaan paani toh hai na!” (at the very least, water is available here!)

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Job interfeud

In a recent interview, a candidate was just perfect, on paper.

We could not have hoped for better experience or credentials.

But when we gave her a follow-on request via HR to provide some written answers to a few technical answers, she replied that she had already discussed some of these answers in the interview itself and hence didn’t want to repeat herself šŸ¤·

A couple of times during the interview too, she said some things that made it seem like attitude was an issue.

We discussed this later, and every person who interacted with her over the course of a few days felt the same way – that her attitude was a challenge.

The decision was unanimous. We can take someone who is not as good technically, but can surely be trained. But it would be disastrous to take someone who does not have EQ or DQ (remember?), because this mostly cannot be taught, and not at this age anyway.

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Cake eater

Just traipsed into a cafe for breakfast. Wasn’t in the mood to eat anything.

But I was hungry nevertheless. With a bunch of thoughts about my ever growing to-do list, I sat at the corner after ordering a sandwich.

“The grill isn’t warmed up yet sir, it will take 15 to 20 minutes, hope you aren’t in a hurry”, said the man at the counter, wearing a friendly smile.

“No hurry at all”, and I went back to my thoughts. My eyes fell on a bunch of lovely looking cakes. Cream filled, multi layered, cheesecakey-dripping – just too yummy each one seemed.

And then, something else caught my eye. At the far corner of the room, an elderly man, probably in his seventies, white long beard and all, sat tending to some cakes. Nay, he was making them!

Never have I seen someone enjoy their craft so much. He was totally at ease. And totally unimpacted by all the noise around him. So many people moving past him, placing their orders, waiters at the tables, children screaming or crying. But no, completely at peace. And in harmony, with nothing more in focus than his cake. The love for his cake creation, was immediately manifesting in the beauty of the final product, and the demand for the pastries.

Truly karma yoga in action.

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Affirmative

There’s a new-age fintech company called Affirm. This company uses technology to enable people to buy things now and pay for them later (in instalments).

It’s become a big deal and all, as more people who couldn’t afford larger ticket lumpsum-payment purchases, have now come into the customer fold.

In essence, it is allowing people to live (i.e. enjoy) life today, without worrying today itself about how to pony up the cash required.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but it did spark another chain of thoughts. We are always told how we should focus on the present and not on the past or the future. Even if we decide to forget the past, how can we not be concerned by the future? We need to plan for it right, which means thinking about it today. How do we resolve this?

Perhaps a hint lies in the name of the firm above. My Guru places an excessive emphasis on positive visualizations and affirmations. If we practise these effectively, we are staying very much in the present, giving our minds a lot of support and positive energy, while indirectly shaping our futures. What do you think?

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Uncommon drive

Pretty much every car driver I have come across would agree that driving at night is a bad idea.

Oncoming traffic lights are blinding, there are often no streetlights, and just the thought of getting waylaid or stranded in the middle of the night is enough to keep most night drivers at bay.

Not one fellow I met recently, who has been driving for decades now though.

I’m sure he didn’t have a choice, and driving at night was an occupational hazard for him. But he didn’t let that deter him.

With a wide smile, he explained how he loves driving at night. “The air is pure and clean, and there is less traffic. It is also safer, because I don’t need to depend on my horn, because my powerful headlights take care of visibility.”

Despite not being put in a good situation (“having to regularly drive at night”), he had totally accepted it, and was even selling the proposition to others! Quite the mindset to deal with adversity.

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Shouting for directions

Here’s a nice perspective I came across.

We’ve all used Google Maps. The turn by turn navigation has literally changed our lives. So much so, that we wonder how we ever managed to find our way around before it existed. It was launched in 2005, not that long ago, but those were probably very early builds. A really robust one on our phones was probably available 7-8 years later only, which is quite amazing, given it feels like we’ve been with it forever.

What’s awesome to learn from Google Maps is the guiding lady’s peace of mind.

If you ever missed a turn or a u-turn or took the wrong left or right, what does she do? Does she scream? Does she abuse you for not even understanding basic directions?

Quite the contrary isn’t it. She simply finds the best alternative route, re-routes you, and then proceeds to guide us on the new path.

Is there some learning for us from her mannerisms?

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Blue collar

World over, blue collar workers are looked at with disdain and condescension.

They are usually uneducated, at least formally. When I used to take flights to the Middle East in the past, there would be at least a few who would not be able to fill in the immigration forms. You fill a form for one, and soon there will be a queue, each one waiting for you to fill theirs. But that is the least we can do right?

We might think that we are educated and know better. But most ‘educated elite’ who live abroad, usually just live there as outsiders, sometimes for decades. The so-called blue-collars there on the other hand tend to quickly pick up the local language, enough to have decent conversations even. I’ve seen at least a dozen cases of these blue collars stepping in to diffuse a tense situation between a local and an outsider, simply on account of them knowing (nay, having purposefully learned) the language.

What differentiates the blue-collars more than anything else? Their grit and determination. That no matter what, whether they like it or not, they will always GUDUSUNGU. It’s really their power that makes our blue planet go around.

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12 and a half

A very interesting book I’m reading by Gary Vaynerchuk is called Twelve and a half. The author has identified twelve very critical emotional ingredients which he believes are absolutely essential for success. And then he identifies a 13th one as well, but since he believes he has much work to do on that last one, he only accords one-half the weight in the book’s title.

You would have heard of all these 12/13 items – like empathy, accountability, kindness, gratitude etc etc. But what I found very interesting is how the author emphasizes the need to combine these.

We often hear and feel “Good people finish last.” We’ve seen this happen as well – where the nice ones get taken for a ride. But that’s why Gary argues it is important to combine the ingredients, depending on the situation. Here’s a nice example from his book:

Let's say you are the head of a law firm, and you've hired a kid who grew up on "the other side of the tracks". He or she doesn't know the protocols for a fancy dinner with a client, and you end up losing the deal as a result. This is where you have to pull 'gratitude' and 'accountability' from the "spice rack". You need to be thankful for even having the opportunity to own a business and land this new account. You show accountability by realizing that you're the one who hired but failed to properly train that person. All of a sudden, [there is no blame game], and everything becomes secondary.
Note: [my addition]
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DQ

Meet DQ. The new kid in the Q.

You know IQ – Intelligence Quotient. I know IQ, but have little first-hand experience!

EQ is the topic of much recent study – Emotional Quotient. You know this.

DQ is a new term that I came across in a recent Harvard Business Review post.

Decency Quotient. Plenty useful in the workplace.

It goes a step further than EQ, implying that a person not only has empathy for employees and colleagues but also the genuine desire to care for them.

“DQ means wanting something positive for everyone in the workplace and ensuring everyone feels respected and valued. DQ is evident in daily interactions with others. DQ implies a focus on doing right by others.”

DQ is perhaps the most needed of the three today – agree?

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Down and out

Just saw this crazy #tweet.

A guy was working alone on his farm and met with an accident.

It was a horrific one, where both his arms were chopped off.

What did he do? Not just fall down as though the world had collapsed (like many might do when they don’t get enough likes on their latest instagram or facebook photos).

He called the ambulance emergency services number with a pencil that he dialed with his mouth.

How crazy and inspiring is that? Both his arms are reattached surgically now and he is fine.

Good to remember things like this when we are apparently down and out.

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