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Tools for succeeding in this world

Child is indeed the father of man…..

Being a part of a team that has been training students for over 8 years, I am now fully convinced that Wordsworth was indeed right when he wrote the above lines. By now, it has come further and we have to say that these puny little ones are now well equipped to be our grandfathers even.

At 9, my son knows more about the TV, PC, PSP, Internet and what not, than what I would ever know. All sorts of cables and wires snake across the walls of his room and it almost feels like the Data Centre of a behemoth MNC. The other day I caught him playing online games on his PSP with someone just across the corridor and another one half way across the world.

When he was just four, his grandfather found him sitting in the driver’s seat of his old Maruthi Baleno. After watching his maneuvers complimented with sound effects, the septuagenarian advised- “Please stick out your hand through the window and indicate when you want to turn left or right”. Amaan gave him a scathing look and retorted- “If you stick your hand outside a space craft, it will be torn off”. The proverbial gap between generations now span across solar systems and galaxies.

Have you by any chance seen the cartoons that they watch nowadays? Gone are the good old days when dumbo Tom used to chase naught Jerry, just two simple characters floating across the screen. Now you have hundreds of weirdoes flitting across the LED at lightning speed. Just watching it for a few seconds will make you dizzy. And all you need to do to feel terribly humbled is try playing one of their computer games. You will have more options on one single screen than what you would want in your whole life. Too many choices to make…..phew.

Remember the days when the only alluring enticements that kept us away from our books were Chitrahaar , Campus and a few good Sunday morning programs. Now with multiple channels, websites, OMD’s and Disks, no wonder the little ones cannot concentrate.

Have you watched these brats as they pray or wait for something (for the bus or for breakfast). They will be shifting their weight around, wiggling their fingers and nodding their heads all the time. Having got used to things that pop up even before the keys are depressed, they just cannot stand waiting. Talk to them and you will see how quick their eyes move. I can bet that you cannot keep them looking at your face for more than a few seconds.

Lot of parents complain to us that their wards don’t want to study. “The kids don’t respect us, They are so restless. Can’t get them to sit for a while” they say. The list is long. Though I don’t have a solution, I am sure about the root causes of these problems.

How can we expect them to respect us when it’s quite obvious to them that we are much slower than them. They think that we are worse than dilapidated Pentium 1 PC’s. We cannot operate the “In- things” of their world. We are just obsolete old pieces of hardware way beyond repair and upgrade.

How can we expect them to like their lessons, when what is being taught and how it’s being taught hasn’t changed much over the years? In this time of instant gratification, It is fully understandable why they find everything dismally slow and boring.

Since its impossible to log them off (and impractical as well), the only solution is Catching up. We will have to also change our paradigms about lessons and learning and have to adapt to the new ways of the world. My nephew recently finished his French holiday homework in minutes by typing the paragraph into the browser and pressing “Translate”.

Another one comes home after his Quran classes and asks his parents- “Do you know how Moses saved his followers ?”. “Why don’t you tell us dear ?, they sweetly replied”. Now here comes the son’s version.

“The Egyptians followed Moses and his team. Moses requested god to build a bridge over the sea. God had the bridge built in a jiffy. Moses and team crossed it. As the Egyptians were crossing it, God sent fighter planes who bombed it into smithereens”.

The shocked parents asked him- “Is this what your teacher taught you today ?”
He replied- “No. But if I tell you what he taught me, you will not believe it”
Child is indeed the grandfather of man.

And my dear parent mates !!!! Shape up or be shipped out.

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The amazing Johari window

The Johari window concept says that every person is like a window with four panes. Pane 1 consists of all the things that he knows about himself and his companions know about him. (Let me shift to her… just in case). Pane 2 consists of things that she doesn’t know about herself, but the world knows. Now this may be either real or imagined/misunderstood things…. never mind. Simple examples are bad breath, stinking socks, mannerisms, body odor (yuck). More complex ones would be outrageous allegations. (If you depute someone to ask 20 people about yourself, you will be astounded on hearing at least some things that they would say and all these surprisingly new things would be in pane 2. Pane 3 consists of things that you will never hear from them. These are your secrets (fetishes, fears, clandestine plans, etc.). Pane 4 consists of things no one knows….unknown to you and the world (you could be a good skier or sky diver…. no one, including you know, since you have never tried).
Now, to have good relations with the rest of this wonderful world, your pane 1 must be bigger than the rest of them. You can make Pane 1 the numero uno by doing two simple things.
1. Explaining why you did what you did to one and all as detailed and often as possible: Never assume that people will understand the rationale behind your actions. They will readily convince themselves that you had the worst and ugliest of intentions. So please save yourself from this trouble.
2. Always seek feedback from all the ones that matter. Keep asking them about how they feel about you, your actions and reactions. Be prepared for negative feedback. If its undeserved explain and convince people politely and patiently. If its deserved, accept it and decide to mend your ways…

There is a wonderful tool for you to so this feedback seeking and clarification. However, I don’t want to give it to you on a platter. If you want it either send me an email on sangeethibrahim@yahoo.com or call me at 050 3423552. This tool will make your relationships refreshingly better and endearing. It worked for me and will surely work for you as well… Insha allah

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Are you Prejudiced? Shame on You !!!!!

All of us carry around with us Mental-maps about ourselves and the rest of the world. We think, feel, act and react towards people based on these mental maps. The most disastrous application of this little map tucked deep with us is Motive guessing. You waved at an acquaintance standing on the other side of the street. He didn’t reciprocate…. And here comes the list of possible explanations (motive guessing) that you can have.

He didn’t see me.
He was busy thinking about something.
Ever since he got promoted, he has been arrogant.
Have I done something wrong to anger him?

Which of these is true.. god alone will know, unless we confront him and ask him and get his sincere answer. Since we don’t bother to do that, our mental map will treat this as an MCQ and find an answer for you. And how did we get this mental map? Well, most of the stuff got uploaded when we were under the age of 5. Small and helpless, taking in everything that our elders spelled out…. As they were big, so able, amazing and convincing.

As adults, we could take out these maps and question the lines and shapes any time. However, as we rarely do this, it’s akin to trying to get around a place using a decade old map. No wonder we don’t reach anywhere when it comes to interpersonal skills. So you see the world not as it is, but as you are… and, even if we put on the sweetest of faces and gestures, the world can see through us and read our prejudices. “what you are is shouting at me, I can’t hear what you are saying”- amazing truth. So we go around with friends, half friends and full foes, just because our age old outdated mental maps keep us chained to our prejudices.

Are you prejudiced? Well, there is a way to know. Click on the below link and get an exact report on your prejudices against women, different religions, etc. The results will surprise you, and you will agree with me for shouting “Shame on You”
https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/selectatest.html

Happy awareness building !!!. Hope you will de toxify yourself afterwards. Because the world out there is beautiful, if you would just take off your prejudice blinkers.

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My Secret Formula for Success

Finally, I have created (invented, conceptualized…whatever) the ultimate formula for success. Here it goes…

Altitude = Aptitude + Attitude + Actions

Profound indeed !, as you will soon come to realize and concur. Looks good as well..doesn’t it ? The altitude at which you will cruise in life (you could either live life as a chicken or as an eagle, the choice is yours and can be made at any time…) depends on the three things on the R.H.S of the equation. For those who were pathetic at math, R.H.S stands for Right hand side. Since I intend to continue blogging, I don’t want you to imbibe this secret formula all at once. So today, I will start by enlightening you about Aptitude.
The word literally stands for the innate ability to do a task. There are a million jobs that one can find and do in this world. However, it goes without saying that one cannot do all these jobs equally well. You are cut out to do some exceedingly well, some moderately well and so on, it takes the form of a decreasing continuum.
If I can compose music exceedingly well, or sell amazingly well, you can say that I have the aptitude for that task. If I don’t, I may still be able to do them, but with a lot of painful efforts and very little breakthrough WOW results.
So the first step in moving on to a higher corridor in life is finding out the jobs in which you have an aptitude in. Once you glance through that list, you will get that “My god, these are interesting things…..” feeling. If the job that you are currently doing is in this list, you are one of the lucky ones. Alternatively,you will have to decide.. change the job or burn double the amount of fuel to cruise at the level you desire.
Now how can you decipher your aptitude ?. I personally endorse the MBTI personality profile. It is freely available at http://www.humanmetrics.com. Look for the “Jung typology” test link and start answering the questions. Once you are through, you will get a four letter code (ENFJ, ISTJ, etc.). Once you have this code go to Google university and search for MBTI + apt careers and voila….. you will have a million sites telling you the first ingredient in my secret recipe.
Am I too old to change? Well, I was trained as an engineer and a Business Manager. Frankly speaking I don’t have an impressive aptitude for either. With a lot of hard work, I could make a mark in these domains. However, I could see others do it with half the time and effort. As an ENFJ, “Teaching” is a job in which I have a good aptitude in and as a Corporate Trainer, I am outshining others effortlessly… Alhamdulillah. I spent seven years of my life loitering in the wilderness before I found the track of my calling. Work is NOW very meaningful and I enjoy every bit of it.
If you need any more details on this, send me an email at sangeethibrahim@yahoo.com. If you are in the UAE, I am giving a presentation on the same subject on Wednesday (25th) night in Sharjah. Call me on 050 3423552 and I will guide you….It’s a promise.
For the rest of the R.H.S… watch this space.

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The Best Self Help Book


I had requested Proffessional Networking group members to recommend the Best Self Help book they have ever read. The response was overwhelming. I have consolidated them together and want to share it with you all. I want to now embark upon a self development plan- to read each and every book in the list before the end of 2012. Please find the list below.

Please feel free to add to this….

Most Recommended

1. The Secret- 4 votes
2. Greatness Guide- 3 votes
3. The Bible- 3 votes
4. The Shack- 2 votes
5. The Power of Now- 2 votes
6. 7 habits of highly effective people- 2 votes
7. Man’s Search for Meaning- 2 votes
8. The alchemist- 2 votes
9. How to Win Friends and Influence People- 2 votes
10. Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway- 2 votes
11. Blink- 2 votes
12. The fountainhead- 2 votes
13. Monk who sold his Ferrari- 2 votes
14. Think and Grow Rich- 2 votes
15. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull- 2 votes
16. Muhammed by Haykal- 2votes

All Recommendations (Alphabetic Order)

1. 100 ways to motivate
2. A Time to Think
3. Atlas shrugged
4. Autobiography of a yogi
5. Awaken the giant within
6. Awareness
7. Brain Rules
8. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High
9. Developing The Leader Within You
10. Discover your Destiny
11. Do One Thing Different: Ten Simple Ways to Change
12. Dont Sweat On Small Things
13. First things First
14. If How To’s Were Enough, We’d All Be Skinny, Rich, and Happy
15. In the Meantime
16. Leadership And Self-Deception
17. Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life
18. Living, loving & Learning
19. Maverick
20. Mindset
21. Mitch Albom’s books..
22. On Becoming a Person
23. Peaceful Warrior
24. Peoplemaking
25. Playing Ball on Running Water
26. Power within excellent
27. Rich Dad Poor Dad
28. Self Hypnotism
29. Self-Reliance
30. Spirit Wellness
31. Stirred not Shaken
32. Success Principles
33. Synchrodestiny
34. Tao of Pooh
35. The 80/20 Principle
36. The Autobiography of Malcom X
37. The Dark Side of the Light-Chasers
38. The Four Agreements
39. The Last Lecture
40. The Little Prince
41. The magic of thinking BIG
42. The Purpose Driven Life
43. The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness
44. The Road Less Traveled
45. The Road To Success
46. Think like a winner
47. Tie: The Four Hour workweek
48. Tughlak
49. Use your Head
50. What to say when you talk to yourself
51. You Can Win
52. Zen and the Art of Archery

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Mind your R.A.S

As a self proclaimed “cleanser of souls” , I often have heated debates with my agnostic pals. I must admit that I have always been slightly unfair to this breed of beings, since I was convinced that agnosticism stems from sheer ignorance as against a “detachment based on a wise sense of disenchantment”. Since the old adage, “What you are is shouting at me, I can’t hear what you are saying” is true, the antagonists can see through me and this contributes to the fire and the smoke in these debates….. (Trust me, I wouldn’t be the one to fire the first salvo, though most of the subsequent ones would have my name etched on them).
You can’t blame me completely . As caliph Ali (RA) said “You can convince a hundred scholars, but not one idiot”. And things are worse since most agnostics exude the arrogance of ignorance. They simply refuse to see things that are so bleeding obvious- or so I thought, till I read about R.A.S- The Reticular Activation System.

Research has proven that at any point of time, about 3 million bits of information hit us from all sides- eyes, nose, ears, skin and mouth. Unfortunately our brain can only process about 164 bits of information per second. So there is a gate in our brain that reads the incoming information before filtering most of it out. So what decides what goes in and out?. Well, here come our friend, RAS. This system is the gate that takes in only 164 bits and throws out the rest by either deleting, distorting or generalizing it. Now how does the RAS know, what has to be taken in or thrown out ?. Our belief system does this trick. If you believe something is important for you, RAS will let in information regarding that and will block out everything else. When you decide to buy a Camry, you will start seeing Camry cars everywhere. If you are worried that you has gastritis, you will find references of gastritis all around. Rest assured, this information was always there, but your RAS was bouncing it out till your belief system told it that it was important. This is why people staying near airports can sleep through the ordeal and yet wake up when their baby starts stirring.

Now what does this got to do with belief ? The answer is simple. If you don’t believe that there is god and accountability and heaven and hell, all the evidence that supports this (There is overwhelming evidence in the world around us that proves the omnipotence and omnipresence of god) will bypass us and no matter what the world tries to do, we will never be convinced.
It is said that if you believe what you can’t see, you will be gifted with the sight of what you believe. This can now be scientifically explained using the RAS concept. Unless the in- keeper of our conscience- our belief, opens the RAS door, enlightenment will never shine through. We will remain as ignoramuses all our lives even while wading in evidence.

This also highlights the importance of introducing the concept of religion to children when they are still young. If we are able to plant the seed of belief in their minds, at a stage when they accept our ideas readily, RAS will automatically bring in enough evidence over the years to make them ardent and passionate believers later on. The converse is also true. So it either becomes a vicious or virtuous cycle.
So make sure that you mind your RAS, its after all a question of eternal victory or damnation.

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Being Aware and Responsible

The wonderful John Whitmore Tool….

A successful person always asks himself- Am I doing justice to the roles that I am playing in life?, How can I be perfect in each of these roles if I am not already ?. He would consider all the roles that he plays – Executive, Father, Husband, Son, etc.….. as success for him should mean success as a whole and not in bits and pieces.

Sir John Whitmore has given us a wonderful tool to help us work this out. He calls this the “Responsibility and Awareness tool”. All you need is a few sheets of paper and a pencil. Suppose you are evaluating the status of your role as a husband. Call your wife aside and ask her to list the seven qualities of an ideal husband. While she is doing that, you prepare a separate list for yourself on the same topic. Once that is done, you compare your lists. Your challenge is now to have one list with seven items on it. Make sure that this doesn’t lead to a fist fight. Discuss each point, explain its relevance from different perspectives and build a consensus. To makea long story short, have a list of 7 that you both agree on without much blood and gore.

Once that is done, both of you will rate you (The husband) on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 stands for poor and 10 stands for perfection. Resist the urge to tread the middle path and give 5 for each point. Once this is done share the scores with each other. If you believe that you deserve a higher score, explain the rationale. If she disagrees, she should give examples to justify her stand. ( I advise you to do this at a restaurant or a park, where you may not be quite ready to be loud and physical). Arrive at a consensus score. What you now have is your hubby performance score. Finally discuss attitudes and behaviors that you can display to take the score to a perfect 10. Agree and commit.

You can do this with all the roles you play. Seven qualities ofthe ideal manager, seven qualities ofthe ideal roommate or so on….

Tip: Don’t try to work out a7 qualitiesof the ideal wife with your soul mate. I don’t think any person has succeeded in completing this exercise yet.

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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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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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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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