Monthly Archives: July 2010

Only Givers Get

When I was least expecting it, I got a long distance call from India, late at Night. An impatient handset in the late hours is one of the worst nightmares for any expat. But this turned out to be soul mate from the good old days (Or rather, the Bad young days). From his voice I would understand that he was very drunk. He also sounded miserable. He asked me, “Imbayi, I have been feeling very depressed lately. Give me an instant cure”. I was surprised. He was one of the most adventurous of our friends. Hailing from a very rich family, he knew all along that he had very few challenges lurking on his way. All he had to do was ease himself into the already successful family business, at the apt time of his choice. So he breezed through life in a very swashbuckling style. And now this cowboy was feeling depressed.

“Go find someone who needs help and help him out”, I said. “Imbrayi, how will this cure me?” he enquired. Though I wasn’t in the mood to dole out a psychology class (My wife was making faces, as our kids were stirring), I just gave him the basics. “You feel depressed when your self esteem is very low. When your Self image takes a beating, you develop a sense of worthlessness, and you increasingly feel sad and bad”. “How can helping someone make me feel better”, he persisted. “Well, some people go buy costly things for themselves, or show off their treasures, when they feel low. It’s called the bling bling factor. Louder the Jewelry, lower usually is the self esteem. But this rarely works. The only true way to pamper your Self image is to help someone who is badly in need of something. Could be a motorist stuck on the road, a patient who needs financial support, a person looking for a job. When you really take pains to help them, Volia !!!! Your self esteem inflates itself automatically, irrespective of whether you succeed in your mission or not. So Its WIN WIN both ways.” He didn’t sound very convinced and he hung up soon after.

Helping other go way beyond merely making you feel good. Only If you are comfortable with yourself and only if you love and respect yourself, will you be able to give comfort, love and respect to others. It’s obvious that you can give only things that you have. And only if you give, will you receive. So this evolves either into a vicious or virtuous cycle, building on itself like a snowball, till you either become liked and feeling wonderful, or end up feeling bad and despised. As the saying goes- Only Givers Get.

He indeed called up a few days later, earlier in the evening. He sounded sober. “Imbrayi, I spoke to some of my close friends and 6 of us went and donated blood at the local blood bank. Though I was worried that the guy who gets my blood would get a high, I did it anyway. He chuckled. His tone gave way the glow and happiness he was feeling inside”. “So, are you still feeling depressed, I asked”? “Depressed? Me? Never! That’s for the weak hearted”.
That is so typical of him.

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It’s a number game, after all.

Steven covey gave us the four quadrants of Time Management. It’s an amazing tool that reminds us that we need to work on “Result building Capabilities” more than on meeting deadlines and fighting crises. The more time we spent in quadrant 2, our life will be more effective.

I have something similar to you today. It’s a number game. All we need to do is count from 1 to 4 and use these numbers to categorize the most common types of associates whom we come across at work nowadays.

Number 1 represents people who are willing to work and are also able to work… They are very visible to everyone, involved in all major projects, always showing initiative, Learning, Sharing, Volunteering. They are the obvious Champions.

Number 2 represents people who are willing to do but are unable to, due to lack of experience, knowledge or skills. They are always willing to volunteer, observe, learn, accept feedback and improve. They are the future Champions of the Organization.

Number 3 represents people who are able to do, but are not willing to. They could be disgruntled staff that has overstayed. People with a lot of sad and demotivating tales to say. They could also be in a state of inertia, having worked under an authoritarian boss, or having been pushed into doing uninteresting mundane jobs.

Number 4 represents people who are neither able or willing. They are not ready to learn or do. It beats me why they come to work in the first place.

So how does one deal with them.

Number 1: Empower, Reward, Delegate, Use them as mentors
Number 2: Train them, Delegate selectively, keep a close watch, motivate.
Number 3: Give them feedback, find root causes of non performance, find ways to use them, move them around, be directive.
Number 4: Give them the message: Shape up or Ship Out

Let’s also ask ourselves…. Which category do we belong to?

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The Strength that accompanies Faith

In the last few months, I have come across people who were shaken from their stable and comfortable lives by the unforgiving economic crisis. Some of them have gone back to their native countries. Some are holding on and searching for other opportunities to keep their aspirations afloat. I have had the opportunity to talk to them and understand their hopes and fears. I have seen well educated and experienced professionals panicking and behaving as if their chances are very bleak. On the other hand I have seen others getting on with their hunt exuding confidence as symbols of peace and tranquility. I was convinced that it was something within them that made them so different. Inquisitive as I am, I asked one of them the reason for his relaxedness. He told me a story that I want to share with you today.
When he was young, a sparrow built a nest on the sun shade of the store room of his house. Along with his siblings, he used to visit the store room everyday watching with avid interest the progress of the nest. One day they were gifted with the sound of loud chirping and by standing on their toes they could see a few restless beaks calling out impatiently to their mother. She would return soon and would lovingly feed the hungry mouths. Watching this became a regular routine, till the day tragedy struck. The mother sparrow accidently flew into the store room, struck itself against the fan and got thrown on the ground, a mass of mangled blood and feathers. The kids were heartbroken. As their maid scooped up the dead bird and gave it a decent burial, they couldn’t stand the loud chirping of the little ones. This chirping lasted all evening and the kids went to sleep with a heavy heart, assured that the babies would be dead by day break. On the next day, immediately after getting up, they ran into the store room and were gifted with a very amazing sight. The babies were chirping as usual and another sparrow was feeding them. A stray bird upon hearing the frantic and weak cries had decided to adopt the babies. The old routine ensued and as days went by, each baby grew stronger and bigger and finally flew off the nest ……
The same god who spent a foster sparrow to take care of the helpless babies will take care of us… all we need to do is to keep chirping without giving up….. And you don’t give up when you have faith.

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ASK ASK ASK…till you get

Most of us simply refrain from asking for what we want from life. We expect the world to read our minds and offer us the things we seek on a platter. What stops us from asking ? The Must read book-Aladdin factor extols the advantages enjoyed by those who muster up the courage to ask. Is it the fear of rejection that stops us in our tracks? But why should we fear rejection? You ask, you get. Good for you. You ask, you don’t get…you are not worse off since you didn’t have it in the first place. Right?. You might be slightly embarrassed for being refused. But we need to learn to deal with that. On the night of Miraj, god ordained 50 rakats of prayer each day for the muslims. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) went back repeatedly to the almighty and got it reduced to 5……
So we are taught that we can persistently stick to asking for what we want…Till we get it.

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Always remember the blessings of god

I have been down with a gastric problem for almost 2 months. Met a couple of reputed doctors. Got poked with scores of needles. Did and repeated tests.. The final verdict… Over eating and no exercise. In none of my Trainings, do I talk of good health as an important goal to aim for…. (Video and Audio has to match). I will loose buy in from the trainees immediately. But this issue got me thinking. For 35 long years, I have been relishing great meals, without any problem. A small flaw in the system and almost everything breaks down. Routine, Mood, performance….Once you get some respite, you thank the doctors… But I have never been really thanking god for all those days that I enjoyed…
Thank god..gastritis has made me wiser and more thankful.

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Learn more to earn more

When you purchased your new LCD TV, you dumped the old loyal one without a moment’s hesitation. Didn’t you? The TV can take consolation from the fact that your mobile phone, laptop and GPS system had met with the same fate. All these “Once valued and wonderful” equipment were shown the garbage chute not because they stopped working. They got overthrown simply because something sleeker and better suddenly appeared on the horizon. Before you feel that I am beginning to sound like a techno geek, let me throw the million dollar question at you. When will you be replaced by a better informed, better skilled new kid on the block?
I learned that companies in US are now trying rehiring. Resumes are solicited for well filled positions and candidates are interviewed. The so called 10 year experienced person (10 years experience or 1 years experience multiplied 10 times; god only knows) would be watching his prospective replacers strutting in and out of the recruiters office. Once terms and conditions are fixed, the experienced associate is asked either to upscale his skills or downscale his package to match the services extended by the newer and better substitute waiting in the wings, pen in hand to sign the contract. Most of the time, the humbled, humiliated and much wiser older associate complies, and gets rehired….
If you don’t want this to happen to you, start acting now. Open your eyes and look around. When was the last time that you read a book, attended a seminar or Training or got a certification? Brainstorm and come out with a KASH up gradation policy that will improve your CASH reserves. The former being (Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Habits); and the latter… well you know.
It is said that knowledge doubles every 2 years. So you are getting obsolete at a rate of 50% per year, if you are not upgrading yourself. So get this straight…. When you stop learning, you stop growing and the only way to learn more is to earn more

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The Leadership Lessons of Salat

Have a schedule and procedure for all the activities

Follow the schedule religiously

Leaders are chosen for each activity democratically… usually the most senior or the wisest one gets the post

People shirk away from taking the responsibility… It takes quite a lot of prodding and pushing to take up the post

Once the Leader accepts the post, he calls the congregation to order

Each rows leads the row behind.. Unless one can see the row ahead, his prayer is not valid

Though rigid controls are in place, leaders can innovate. he can choose the Surah and the length of the recitation

If the leader makes a mistake, followers can bring it to his notice.

The leader then does corrective action followed by the congregation

If anyone joins the group half way through the proceedings, he has to follow the leader and then continue the process as defined in the procedure, once the leader completes the activity.

Once the leader and his congregation completes the activity, another leader can be chosen to goes on to lead the new comers

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12 steps to success

1: Discover the purpose of your life
2: See that outrageous dream
3: Convert your dream into SMART Goals
4: Visualise your success as many times as possible
5: Share your dream with everybody
6: Act out your moment of success with dialogue and actions
7: Improve your strengths and address your AFI’s
8: Schedule tasks and do them every day
9: Build up a good network of friends
10: ASK, ASK, ASK for all the support you need
11: Dont give up till you fail 1000 times
12: Help others succeed

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Religious or Communal?

As horrifying news about a communal riot was droning away on TV, a bewildered 9 year old asked his dad, “What is the difference between a religious man and a communal man ?”. The wise professor was always ready for questions, and his answers provided answers to many other questions that his son never had at that point of time.
“You are religious if you believe in god, pray, observe rites and do good”, said dad. Now that’s nice, the son thought. Such people wouldn’t go around killing others with Trishuls and Bombs. “So who are the communal ones “, the son persisted. “If you do three things in a particular way, then you are communal”, said dad. He went on to explain – “One- If you choose your friends solely on the basis of religion. Two- If you make financial decisions solely on the basis of religion. Three- If you make political decisions solely on the basis of religion”. The son didn’t understand the last two. Judging from his arched eyebrows, the professor continued. “When we want to buy gold for your mom, do we insist on going only to ******** gold or do we go to *** Alu**** or Bhi***?”, dad enquired. “We have gone to all three”, the son confirmed. Now that’s it, said dad. So we are not communal, are we?. “During the last elections, did we decide to vote for that young fiery politician, because his surname sounded like yours or was it because his promises indeed sounded promising?”, asked dad. “The Latter”, the son agreed.
Thus he learned the difference. His close friend was Ganesh, He purchased groceries from Rakettan’s shop and his dad voted for that weird looking man in the last election. Thank god, we aren’t communal… the son mused and proceeded to complete his afternoon prayer. And he prayed for all the little ones orphaned by the rioters… regardless of what their names were.


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My Brothers

This is a poem written by Sangeeth Ibrahim, based on a short story written and published by Prof. Ibrahimkutty which is in turn based on a true incident. Amaan Iqbal Ibrahim (son of the former and grandson of the latter) had won a prize by reciting this at the school recitation competition in 2008.

My Brothers

On my last birthday
Filled with cakes and balloons adrift;
My parents took me to a school
With food packets and gifts.

A hundred kids ran around
Sweating in the summer heat;
Ruffled hair, no uniforms
And most of them bare feet.

In single line, as a gong struck loud
They filed in with their mates;
Settled upon the bare ground
With their empty metal plates.

In shock I saw their closet rooms
As the warden took us around;
Dark alleys and silent glooms
With tattered beds abound.

“Why don’t their parents take them home?
Have they erred to be punished”?
To mama I asked in a shocking tone
Chocking and anguished.

“None shall come to fetch them dear
Ever through this open door;
To quell their fears and wipe their tears
Their parents are no more”.

With trembling lips, I asked my dad
“When do they have Birthdays?”
“When someone somewhere care to share”
He softly conveys.

Every night since that fateful day
For the orphans I do pray;
And safely save every dirham away
For our next birthday.


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