In 100 Words: Invisible Chains

Once there was a circus Lion who was so tamed/trained that he never knew about his real strengths. He was then left in the jungle where real Lions lived. Upon seeing other Lions, the tamed Lion started running fiercely driven by fear until he saw his own reflection in a pond. He realized that he was also a Lion as powerful as others.

Metal chains are easier to notice but mental chains of our past experiences, fixed beliefs and perceived limitations are invisible. Mental chains are best broken with curiosity, openness to new experiences/ideas and an attitude of lifelong learning.

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Also Read: Other Insights and Parables in 100 Words

Insights and Lessons on Critical Thinking, HR and Leadership Development


In American Management Association’s critical skills survey 2012, respondents emphasized on 4 C’s (Critical thinking and problem solving, Effective Communication, Collaboration and team building and Creativity and innovation) as their key priorities for employee development, talent development and succession planning.

I have been exploring the topic of critical thinking with respect to HR, Talent Acquisition, Leadership Development, Communication and Training via series of posts at Pearson’s TalentLens Blog (@ThinKritical on Twitter). The premise is simple – if we improve how we think, we will improve how we develop people, innovate, solve problems and grow as individuals and organizations.

Here is a round up of all posts (with excerpts) written on this important topic so far.

Why Hiring Critical Thinkers is Absolutely Critical for HR

With people being at the core of an organization’s greatness, it is extremely important for HR professionals to pay attention to two things – that existing people are trained to think critically and people are hired based on their ability to think critically.

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Problem Solving in Organizations: A Diamond or a Coin?

Leaders are expected to take right decisions after considering various facets of a given problem – just like an expert jeweler looks at a diamond. Logic looks at problems as a coin with just two sides where as critical thinking is all about looking at the same problem as a diamond with multiple facets.

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10 Most Important Traits of a Leader Who Thinks Critically

Ability to think rationally and critically is one of the most important leadership skills and for the leader, thinking objectively is not just a skill, but also an obligation to the people they lead.

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Training and Development: 4 Ideas to Build a Culture of Critical Thinking

The reality is that training middle managers on critical thinking skills is much like teaching an adult to ride a bicycle. It takes patience, training and practice to be able to master the art of critical thinking which, in turn, leads to good decision making.

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3 Ways Critical Thinking Improves Emotional Quotient of Your Leaders

The fact is that a leader needs a fine balance of emotion and rationality to succeed. They need to connect with their people using emotion and decide what is best for them using rational thought. Critical Thinking is the connecting link between emotions and intelligence.

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Critical Thinking – Leaders, Know Thy Biases

Critical thinking is an antidote to cognitive biases. When we think critically, we recognize our own assumptions, evaluate arguments and draw conclusions.

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How Critical Thinking Helps in Effective Conflict Resolution

The truth is that conflicts, if managed well, are an opportunity to understand better, get to the root causes, introspect, improve and learn. A well-managed conflict often leads to improved clarity, better relationships and win-win situations.

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Creativity and Critical Thinking: Friends, Not Foes!

There is a difference between creative thinking and creativity. Creative thinking is the process of ideation (thinking). Creativity is about bringing that idea to life (execution).

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Critical Thinking: The Soul of Effective Communication

If communication is defined as a meaningful exchange of information, thoughts and feelings between two living creatures, critical thinking is the engine that provides this meaning.

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BONUS: Don’t miss the guest post “Environment is Everything” written by Mr. Gurprriet Siingh, Director and Head, YSC India, an executive coach, blogger and a social media influencer. His Twitter handle is @JoyandLife.

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Sports, Life and Leadership: A Game and a Few Lessons

Table Tennis

When it comes to playing table tennis (ping pong), I like hitting hard smacks. But in this particular game, the opponents were playing defensively. The first few times I tried smacking the ball, I lost the points.

Just then, my doubles partner whispered something in my ears, “Reciprocate your game. Don’t just play your style, but adapt to how they are playing.”  When I did adapt, my game stabilized and that added some pressure on the opponents. I learned that adaptability and contextual alignment is so important – be it family, work or a game of ping pong!

I acted on my partners advice and focused on just one simple thing: pass the ball consistently to the other side of net. No heroic shots when simple shots can do. The opponents lost a few points just trying hard to disrupt my rhythm. I realized that doing simple things consistently over long haul and improvising every single time  can sometimes be more powerful than doing something drastic or heroic in a spurt.

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – John Wooden


In a yet another singles game, my opponent was anxious. A technically sound player, he took his game too seriously. He practiced through the day and would clinch his fists to curse himself every time he played a wrong shot. The driving force behind his hard practice was an imaginary fear of failure; that kept him from really enjoying his game. By the time game started, he was already exhausted! When your practice matures, it should help you gain more composure, not more anxiety!

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Don’t miss first part of this post (written in 2010) – A Few Parallels Between Sports, Life and Leadership

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Photo Courtesy: Theunis Viljoen’s Flickr Photostream

7 Favorite Quotes From Blogosphere

I remember collecting and writing quotes in my diary as a student. A good quote has power to inspire us, to stir us and sometimes, make us uncomfortable. Quotes provide a spark to our thinking.

Here are a few recent quotes from my friends (via their posts) in blogosphere, that inspired me lately. You will like them too:

From: “Seeing Others” by Mary Jo Asmus

Most people crave acknowledgement; in a word, they want to be seen. Seeing others takes attention and quiet thought on your part. It requires you to notice, to listen, and to (sometimes) be surprised at what you see. Acknowledging others takes effort, but the rewards to you and your organization will be great.

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Via: 7 Breaths

To succeed, you must focus on the person you want to BE, not the things you want to have. Exercising is not a verb, but a way of life. The same thing goes for healthy eating. To succeed in anything you must BE the person who is consistent, intense, and intelligent. Work on seeing yourself as this person.

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From: “In Praise of Doing” by Dan Rockwell

Do something; stand on it and do something again. What you do makes a difference not what you want to do.

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From: The Danger of Walks By Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering

Employees need to be challenged.  They need to keep their chops sharp.  Without the stimulation of new challenges and, yes, problems to solve, sloppiness settles in.  What is the saying?  If you want something done well, give it to a busy person.

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From: Nicholas Bate

Brilliant isn’t making it on the stock exchange if you never see your kids. Brilliant isn’t winning the company Porsche two quarters in a row if the third quarter you were in hospital with chest pains.

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Via: “Indira Gandhi on Doing Work Versus Taking Credit For It” by Bob Sutton

My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.

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From: “Why Sport is Actually a Spiritual Pursuit” by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Being a sport means you are willing to play. Willing to play means you are involved or alive to the situation in which you exist, and that is the essence of life. If there is anything that is truly close to a spiritual process, in the normal course of life, that is sports. Swami Vivekananda went to the extent of saying, "In kicking a ball or playing a game, you are much closer to the Divine than you will ever be in prayer." You can pray without involvement, but you cannot play sports without involvement, and involvement is the essence of life.

Great Quotes: Super Seven From The Collection of Michael Wade

Michael Wade is a GREAT blogger I have been following since 2006. He provides very interesting commentary, shares some fantastic resources and thoughts on his blog Execupundit. He was the first blogger to have linked back to this blog way back in 2006.

Whenever I need some inspiration, I refer to “Quote of the day” series on Michael’s blog. You know what? They never fail to inspire me. Today, I am presenting Seven best business quotes I have read off late on Execupundit

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom. (Link)
– Francis Bacon

Why do questions matter more than answers? If you don’t ask the right question, it doesn’t matter what your answer is. And if you do ask the right question, no matter what your answer, you will learn something of value. (Link)

– Alan M. Weber

Power of right questions in business environment cannot be undermined. You can read my views on this in my posts “Right Questions > Right Answers > Right Results” and “Ask Right Questions”.

Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality. (Link)
– George Santayana

I wrote two posts (here and here) which presents my views on quality and quantity – and why achieving quality is the first step towards excellence.

The usual way of doing things often gets in the way of doing things. (Link)
– Russell L. Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin, Beating the System

In some cases, a system can be beaten by rigorously following its rules and regulations. (Link)
– Russell L. Ackoff

In my view, processes are “tools” that help us become more effective. That, in no way, means that processes are a silver bullet that will solve all your problems.

People don’t work for an organization; they are the organization. (Link)
– Richard W. Buchanan

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. (Link)
– George Santayana

I collected great quotes ever since I was in school, because they allow us to peek into the minds of great thinkers. Profound learning in a few words.

Thank you Michael for sharing such brilliant wisdom.

P.S: Michael Wade also wrote an advance praise and a review of my book #QUALITYtweet – 140 bite-sized ideas to delivery quality in every project.

Monday Thoughts (Thanks to Paul Schwend)

Paul Schwend is a wonderful friend who lives in Florida and is referred to as an ‘Insurance Man’. Paul made my weekend by sending me a wonderful book titled “Soul Happy” – a brilliant compilation (by Kobi Yamada) of soulful thoughts on some of the core facets of life. My family read the book and totally enjoyed the compilation. It is a perfect reading material for the month of December – a month of reflection, rumination and peeping within ourselves. There is something special about December, and more so if you are born in this month!

Here are a few thoughts from the book as we are about to start a fresh week with a Monday.

On Abundance:

For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it. – Ivan Panin

On Gratitude

…it is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful. – Brother David Steindl-rast.

On Essence

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with the present time. – Leonardo Da Vinci

You need to read the book for more profound insights.

Last week, I received the paperback version of my book #QUALITYtweet – what a feeling to have your first book in your hands for the first time ever. Some excellent reviews of book are coming in and hence I have put up a Book Review” page, where I will share excerpts of review comments. Last week, #QUALITYtweet was reviewed by cool friend Utpal Vaishnav (read the review here) and the GREAT Michael Wade (read the review here). Encouraging!

If you would like to receive a review copy and post a review on your blog, contact me to drop a note and I will be happy to send you a copy of the book.

It is said that the best gift you can give someone is a gift of ideas. Paul Schwend has just done that, and I cannot thank him more for this generous gesture.

Here’s wishing Paul Schwend and all the readers of this blog, a FANTASTIC week ahead!

Quotes to Energize Your Monday!

Once in a month, I spend some good time reading books at Crossword. It is not only an opportunity to read/buy some great books, but also to spend some quality time with myself thinking about what I read there. The ambience at Crossword is so good for reading, I have to push myself out. I got some great books on Quality, Management, Self-Help and Motivation.

As we start the week, I thought of sharing some inspiration from the book “The Treasure – Essence from World’s Greatest Motivational And Self-Help Gurus”. This book is a brilliant compilation of great thoughts from all time great authors and coaches. Here are 7 gems to wish you a great start into the week –

  • “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is caring, sharing person inside” – Denis Waitley (Success Coach)
  • “Excellence always sells” –Earl Nightingale (Success Coach)
  • “For true success, ask yourselves these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?” – James Allen (Success Coach)
  • “It is important to remember that we are energy. Einstein told us that. And energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes form” – Rhonda Byrne (Discoverer of Secret)
  • “The best strategy for building a competitive organization is to help individuals become more of who they are” – Marcus Buckingham (Motivational Expert)
  • “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer
  • “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Drucker

You might also like reading Collection of thoughts to have a GREAT start into the week! and (How to) Have a Great Monday!

Have a super-productive week ahead! Stay tuned for more posts this week.