In 100 Words: What Are You Building?

Photo Courtesy: Tanmay Vora's Flickr photostream

Day-to-day work can sometimes feel boring, but we need to adjust the lens we use to see our work and focus on ‘purpose of the work.’

Two workers were toiling outside of a huge new structure. The first one was exhausted, disengaged and uninspired. “What are you working on?” asked a passerby. “Cutting some stones!” was the terse reply.

The other worker was then asked the same question. “Sorry, can’t speak too long,” was the passionate response, “I’m in the process of building a cathedral.”

So, next time you find your work boring, just ask yourself, “What am I building?”

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In 100 Words: Accepting the Differences

Mark had joined this new company only a few months back, but he felt frustrated. He looked at problems from a very different point-of-view than his boss resulting in strong debates over solutions.

One fine morning, Mark put up his resignation.

“Why?” asked the boss. “Because my thought process is very different than yours”, replied Mark.

Boss gently smiled and said, “That’s precisely the reason you were hired at first place!

Boss explained, “If two people always agree, one of them isn’t needed. I debate with you to clarify our thinking. If you take differences personally, you will never grow.

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In 100 Words: Brian Dyson On Life Priorities

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.” Brian Dyson, CEO, Coca-Cola

A good life is all about balancing these balls!

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Image Courtesy: Joe Juggler: The Art of Juggling

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In 100 Words: At the Right Place?

 

A baby camel once asked the mother, “Why do we have a hump?” Mother camel replied, “We are desert animals and we need hump to store water.”

Curious, the baby asked further, “Why do we have long rounded legs and long eyelashes?” The mother proudly replied, “Long legs help us walk in desert and eyelashes protect us from desert sand and wind.”

The baby said, “Oh! We have everything we need to survive in a desert. Then what the hell are we doing in a zoo?”

Skills, knowledge and abilities are only useful if you are at the right place.

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In 100 Words: Every End is a New Beginning

Tanmay Vora's Flickr Photostream

In one of the podcasts I have, the host tells an interesting story.

While sitting on an airplane next to a gardener, she asked him for one gardening tip. The gardener replied, “My #1 gardening tip is: all plants/flower are only meant to live a certain amount of time. Try to make them live any longer and it makes you a bad gardener!

All good things must come to an end, yet it is human nature to cling on to what works and stretch it till it breaks.

It’s okay if it ends because every end marks a new beginning.

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In 100 Words: There is No Bad Weather

A retired weatherman was once questioned by a friend, “What kind of weather is it going to be tomorrow?”

“The kind of weather I am going to love,” was the instant response with a gentle smile on his wrinkled face. “How do you know that it will be the weather you will love?” the friend was curious.

The weatherman went on to explain, “35 years in weather department has taught me just one thing: there is no bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. To make the most of everything that doesn’t go as planned is an attitude thing!”

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In 100 Words: Catch That Ostrich

Photo Courtesy: National Geographic

It is easy for us to get into denial mode when faced with a change, challenge or impending danger. People call this “ostrich effect” because there is a common (and false) legend about ostriches burying their heads in the sand to avoid danger.

We often see humans behaving like ostriches in families, teams and in leadership positions. They lack courage to address apparent problems or do important work. When they are driven by fear, they expose their weaker side even more.

Here’s the catch: You blind yourself as much to the opportunity as to the fear of confronting the problem.

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Interesting Stuff: There is a new magazine on personal branding titled “Me Inc.” and I am glad to have contributed to the first edition in form of my article “The Passion Equation” (read web version or read full article in magazine, page 24).

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Photo Courtesy: National Geographic

In 100 Words: Perils of Blind Conformance

In one of the TED talks, James Surowiecki shares:

“If army ants are wandering around and they get lost, they start to follow a simple rule: Just do what the ant in front of you does. The ants eventually end up in a circle. There’s this famous example of one that was 1,200 feet long and lasted for two days; the ants just kept marching around and around in a circle until they died.”

Blind conformance to rules and beliefs without internalizing them can be as dangerous. It hinders your growth.

If you walk in another’s tracks, you leave no footprints.

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Interesting Stuff: There is a new magazine on personal branding titled “Me Inc.” and I am glad to have contributed to the first edition in form of my article “The Passion Equation” (read web version or read full article in magazine, page 24).

In 100 Words: Don’t Let the Horse Decide

There is an old Zen story about a man riding a horse, galloping frantically down a path. His friend, who is sitting by the side of the road, calls out "Where are you going?" The man replies: "I don’t know. Ask the horse!"

We either lead our lives through the center of our existence or by simply responding to all external expectations; proactively or reactively; as a flame with its own light or as a mirror that only reflects.

Our goals when derived purely based on external expectations can become our horses. Don’t let them decide where you will go!

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In 100 Words: Improvement and Tending a Garden

Improvement is never a destination, but a journey that is organic, constant and never-ending. Consider this story from Subroto Bagchi’s book “The High Performance Entrepreneur

A monk was tending to a Japanese garden and meticulously, for hours on end, he was removing dry twigs from the immaculately maintained flowering bushes.

A passer-by, who was fascinated by the complete concentration and care of the monk at work, could no longer hold himself. He asked the monk, “O holy one, when will your work be done?”

Without looking up, the monk replied, “When the last dry twig is removed from the garden.”

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Don’t Miss: Nicholas Bate’s Life Tips 101

In 100 Words: The Art of Seeing Possibilities

Benjamin Zander’s book “The Art of Possibility” starts with this story:

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.

One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS. STOP. NO ONE WEARS SHOES.

The other writes back triumphantly, GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. STOP. THEY HAVE NO SHOES.

How often does fear win over our hopes and dreams? We constantly keep thinking about our frustrations but not about the potential that we still have in us. Don’t let your failures so far interfere with what is still possible for you to do.

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Bonus: See Benjamin Zander in action in this Pop!Tech 2008 Video where he shows what it means to live in a world of possibilities.

In 100 Words: Nurturing the Roots for Growth

Chinese Bamboo tree when planted watered and nurtured for an entire year doesn’t grow an inch. In second growing season, farmer takes extra care but the tree still hasn’t sprouted. So it goes as sun rises and sets for four solid years. The farmer and his wife have nothing tangible to show for all their labor so far.

Then, along comes year five when tree seed finally sprouts. Bamboo grows up to eighty feet in just one season – or so it seems…

Did the tree lay dormant for years? Or was it developing strong root system to support outward growth?

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Photo Credit: Hear and Their’s Flickr Photo

In 100 Words: Climbing Molehills Without Sweating

In one of the episodes of American television sitcom “I Love Lucy” Ricky comes home and finds his wife crawling on hands and knees in a determined search for lost earrings.

Ricky asks, “You lost your earrings in the living room?”

“No,” Lucy replies. “I lost them in the bedroom but the light is much better out here.”

We fall in a similar trap; taking easier (and safer) routes to find answers rather than having courage and patience to do ‘the right thing’. This tendency plagues our careers as much as organizations.

Mediocrity is climbing molehills without sweating.” – Icelandic Proverb

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Story Reference: Compliance Isn’t Good Enough: Building Buy-In Through Trust at The Build Network

In 100 Words: Riding a Bike

Yesterday, I taught my daughter how to ride a bike. It was as good as teaching her how to lead her own life. In the process, I learned:

That you need to keep pedaling to move forward; that we build confidence as we go; that learning may not always be smooth, failing and getting up again are a part of the game; that you have to acknowledge the fear but not be immobilized by it; that you cannot move forward by looking back; that our balance depends on how we adjust; that each experience of freedom and adventure shapes us.

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Photo Courtesy: Dr. Setu Vora

In 100 words: Finding a Way Out of Forest

A blind man, wandering lost in a jungle, tripped and fell over a cripple. The blind man said, “I have been wandering since long in this jungle and cannot find my way out!”

The cripple replied, “I have been lying here since long and cannot get up to walk.”

Suddenly, the cripple cried out, “I’ve got it. You hoist me up onto your shoulders. I will tell you where to walk. Together, we’ll find a way.”

The blind man symbolizes rationality and cripple symbolizes intuition. We will not find our way out until we learn how to integrate the two.

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Story Reference: The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge

In 100 Words: To Be Creative

Here’s a story from Sir Ken Robinson.

A little girl was sitting at the back of the classroom and drawing something. When teacher asked, “What are you drawing?” the girl replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” The teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And the girl promptly replied, “They will in a minute.”

Kids don’t fear taking chances. They fail, fall but never stop exploring. They don’t worry about what others think of them – if they did, how dare they try giving shape to something they had never seen before?

How would they be so creative?

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In 100 Words: A New Day!

The dawn breaks, alarm buzzes, eyes open and a bright new day is waiting to be seized; to be lived. The air is fresh and mind, clear. Life seems to be catching its pace again.

Yes, there are challenges to be met, agendas to be drawn, priorities to be completed, and lessons to be learned. It may seem hard and sometimes, unnerving too. But, it is from conquering these tall challenges that work becomes fun; that difference is made and joy is derived.

Yes, it is a Monday, the momentum day. What’s your plan to make the most of it?

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Also Read: Other 100 Word Posts | (How to) Have a Great Monday! |

Quotes to Energize Your Monday!

In 100 Words: Learning (and Teaching) to Fly

Here’s how eagles learn to fly. When the baby eagle (eaglet) has fully developed wings, the mother hovers above the nest with a piece of food in her claws. She nurtures the curiosity and shows the eaglet that wings are for flying. Piece of food inspires the eaglet to try.

If this doesn’t work, eagle just throws the eaglets out of her nest. When the eaglet is falling, the eagle swoops under the baby and picks the baby on wings before throwing again till the eaglet starts flapping the wings and fly. Mother supports while the eaglet learns by doing.

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In 100 Words: The More You Tell

I used to get angry and preachy when my kid threw tantrums till I heard this wonderful statement from a leadership expert, “The more you tell, the less you sell.”

Leadership starts with listening. In face of a conflict, reacting is our natural instinct. We want to tell/justify immediately without an attempt to completely understand the problem.

The better alternative is to step back and ask open ended questions. Then sit back and listen before you respond. Listening enough is caring enough.

This works with kids and works even better in teams. There is a difference between responding and reacting.

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Wish you a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2013!

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In 100 Words: What Do You See When You See People?

I once read a story of a boy who found a bag full of dried clay balls when he was playing in the field. Not sure about what to do with them, he started throwing them in the pond to enjoy the ripples. Just then, he dropped one of the balls and saw a glittering diamond inside the ball. When he opened remaining balls, he found more diamonds. He regretted for the ones he threw.

Like clay balls, people around us are precious too. How often do we discount them just because we don’t see the hidden treasure within them?

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