On clean fire trucks:

Bob, the CEO of a large multinational, used to pass by the local firestation on the way to work. He was always amazed as to how clean the firetrucks were. One Friday morning, he stopped and asked the head fireman as to why this was the case. ‘They clean between fires.’ -the head replied. ‘As this is typically a long period of time, the firetrucks are always clean!’

At that moment, Bob thought of his own organization and, in a flash, he realized why growth in his mammoth organization had stagnated. He realized that, while they were successful because they were extremely organized, they were not pushing the boundaries of what they could do. In essence, employees in his company were using their potential to keep things ‘clean’ while waiting for a crisis to act..

For this week, here’s a question for us to think about – Are we going through work, life etc as excellent firefighters? i.e. are we staying ‘clean‘, ‘neat‘ but never pushing the boundaries, and hence just falling into a ‘clean’ comfort zone?

Food for thought.. :)

Source: Small is the new big by Seth Godin

The Whale – a story..

‘If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you.

And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude. I pass this on to you, my friends, in the same spirit.’

Lovely! Thanks Miriam & Ankur! :)

How I (almost) never gave myself a chance – A struggle within..

I’ve been here on project in Oman for 2 weeks now. Every morning, our team gets together in our team room and starts the day with an energizer. I knew of this before I came and had a fair number of energizers in mind as well but I decided to give myself time to bed in.

5 days passed and a colleague mentioned that I should probably take lead and share a few energizers. And I found myself smiling in reply..

Again, another couple of days and she reminded me again. This time, I said ‘Sure – will do it!’

Here’s the background – I’ve lead more group energizers than I can count at seminars, for diverse groups etc but somehow, the thought of doing it in this new setting unnerved me. Maybe it was because the people involved here are way more senior, but I found myself having serious doubts.

Anyway, once I’d given my word, there was no taking it back. So, I had the energizer all ready and on the way to work, I found myself go through an incredible exchange. I could feel one part of me saying –
‘Hey, don’t bother. Let it be.. why would you want to take charge? What if they don’t like it? What if they laugh at your chance?’

‘What do you mean‘ – said a feebler voice ‘This is easy – and what’s the worst that can happen anyway? It’ll fail.. Pfft! Since, when have you been afraid of that?’

And gradually I could feel my ‘Don’t do it’ voice grow louder.

But right at that point, I remembered a line from ‘Small is the new big’ (by Seth Godin – a book I was reading then) where Seth asks us if we are allowing ourselves to be remarkable or are we letting ourselves off loose and just going with the flow!

And bam! The feebler voice grew strong all of a sudden and said ‘Let’s try to be remarkable. Even if we failed, so what! Atleast we would have tried’

And I walked in to the room, lead the energizer and all went smooth.
Was it perfect? No! Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Was it appreciated? Maybe..
But hey, I have dozens of new ideas of what could work with this group and I’ll make sure I try (till they stop me atleast.. haha).

Atleast I don’t feel like I denied myself a chance.I felt myself mentally saluting the ever insightful Nelson Mandela –
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

How true..

A 16 point list: It takes a bigger person to..

1) Accept somebody as they are..

2) Give advice only when asked.. (we have this need to be autobiographical..)

3) Let people we love go and be themselves..

4) Make sure feedback is always constructive..

5) To not let their 5 second judgments cloud reality..

6) To speak their mind but do so with tact..

7) To not embarrass somebody and make their ears go red in conversation or feedback..

8) To not cheat in a relationship..

9) To decide to settle a matter with open feedback rather than whisper behind backs..

10) To maintain grace, calm and positivity under pressure..

11) To be themselves even when granted considerable power..

12) To like themselves and not be on a constant mission to prove themselves..

13) To laugh at themselves, and not at others..

14) To accept and be comfortable with their past and not look at it as an aberration..

15) To not complain..

16) To live by their values, rather than talk about fighting for them..

I made this list as I’m going through this process of acceptance with myself. I am one of those incredibly boring people when it comes to not having a life. And I love the fact that I –

-> Like to laze in one place on weekends..
-> Don’t find hitting a night club/bar for a drink so much fun (And am very happy for those that do.. just that I love those who let me be even more)
-> Like reading books on leadership, entrepreneurship, life, wherever I go (Yes, the geek glasses are on..)
-> Love working on little initiatives like my blogs (and I’m immensely proud of them)..
-> Spend lot of time on strengthening relationships with family and friends, and keeping in touch with those who I don’t spend time with any more..
-> Sleep, eat and play a lot (and hope I will always keep the kid within alive..)
-> Typically end up working pretty hard and simple LOVE intellectual stimulation..
-> And of course, I love philosophizing about life, values and the like.

I am weird, yes, but who isn’t..

But I guess it’s accepting the first part of the above sentence that requires me to be the ‘bigger person‘. And hence the list is a reminder to myself that it’d be nice to be the bigger person once a while.. haha.

In Fergie we trust..

Football alert!

The Man United fan in me couldn’t help but dedicate this post to the latest saga involving Wayne Rooney (I guess you’ve heard of him.. :)).

Legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson revealed today that Wayne Rooney has been refusing to sign a new contract and wants to leave. This is shocking primarily because of the number of times Rooney has pledged his future to the club and also because he was our star last season. After having lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid and Carlos Tevez to Man City, Rooney was the next club talisman..

Except he’s seemingly decided otherwise. Never say never, would be my point of view. I guess we will know by the end of the season if his decision stands. (If he continues in his current vein of form, I’m sure he will leave.. but again..)

Anyway, the point of the post is that Ferguson ended his press message with a plea to all to ‘Trust’. I sure do.. In the last 7 years I’ve followed the club, there were 2 horrific years when it seemed like it was heading to decline but then went on a run of 3 years of trophy collection that is stuff of legend and this is possibly just another blip. That’s hope though – with financial troubles plaguing the club, you could argue that the club is on a slow decline and if I look at it logically, that does seem to be the case..

But not all things in the world follow logic, and as long as Sir Alex Ferguson is still at the helm, I will trust..

Trophies are handed out only in May after all..