Several years back I led a book discussion at work. It was an uneventful meeting except for one remarkable thing I witnessed that stayed in my memory long after it occurred. During the discussion I made an observation that was not well received by one of the participants. In response someone else spoke up. Now what he said was very unremarkable. But the way he said it struck such a chord that the person miffed with me remarked at how well he spoke. I just witnessed someone performing verbal ju jitsu on me. I didn’t even have a fight in me.
February 16th, 2011 — Self Help Books
February 10th, 2011 — Discovering Yourself
In his book “Awakening The Buddha” by Lama Surya Das is told the story of Milarepa, a famous Tibetan yogi who lived in the 11th century, and one of his prize students, Gampopa, a physician and monk. After many years of studying with Milarepa, it was time for Gampopa to part from his teacher and he asked for one final teaching, one instruction he could carry away with him. At first, Milarepa seemed reluctant, saying that what was required after all these years was more effort, not more instructions.
Then, as Gampopa started on his way, crossing the narrow stream that parted him from his master, Milarepa shouted out, “Hey Doctor-Monk, I have one profound secret instruction. It is too precious to give away to just anyone.” As Gampopa joyfully looked back to receive this last teaching from his beloved guru, Milarepa turned around and bent over, pulling up his flimsy cotton robe. Milarepa’s buttocks were as callused and pockmarked as a horse’s hoof, toughened from all those hours and years spent in seated meditation on hard rock. Milarepa shouted, “That is my final teaching, my heart-son. Just do it!”
I am not pretty handy around the house. I tried putting down a wood floor and messed it up so badly that the mere act of walking on it loosened up the boards. Just in case you thought it was too ambitious a project I am a dunce even when it comes to installing curtain rods. The same sad story prevails with my attempts to green my lawn or plant shrubs.
But give me a problem to solve at work any problem and I will have it solved and ready for you. This sounds like a brag but I am so good with systems analysis and problem solving that I once solved a problem estimated to take 6 weeks to resolve by a simple 2 minute workaround. I am a pretty decent writer as my friends would have it.
So where is all this leading up to.
February 1st, 2011 — Self Help Books
Just say no
One of the most important things you can do to achieve sustained success is to ensure your ‘Yes’ list is much shorter than your ‘No’ list.
In his book ‘The One Thing You Need To Know’ Marcus Buckingham offers this up as the single most important distinction to enable individual peak performance. Impressive. It brings to my mind the reaction I had when I first heard a Jim Rohn recording. In it he exhorts us to be loyal, have integrity, work hard and a dozen more such homilies. All fine but was he referring to the Buddha! Who on earth would possess all these qualities in one person. It was a very underwhelming presentation.
But to get back to basics Marcus defines sustained success as ‘Creating the greatest possible impact for the longest possible time’. I find that this automatically eliminates fads. Also it permits wider interpretation and appeals to people like me that are still interested in old fashioned material and career success. We don’t need to reach our inner authentic self, or expect less and be happy, etc.
I like history so I was struck by how this principle relates to an event from World War II.During one of the battles the Germans were trounced by the Soviets. The reason, the German Panzer tanks were no match to the superior T-34 Soviet tanks. So the Germans reverse engineered the T-34 into one of the greatest military tanks ever produced, the Panthers.
Eager to press them into service the Germans planned to use them in the Battles of Kursk, the greatest tank battle in World War II. Only problem was that the Panther was still not production ready. The German engineers being well German engineers kept tinkering with it. Hitler however could not get himself to say no to the PR value and the morale boosting impact of the Panther.
The Germans were massacred in the battle of Kursk. They lost the battle due more to engine issues with the Panther than due to enemy action!
Marcus makes his argument pretty credible by demolishing other factors such as personality traits, talents, interest, correcting your weaknesses, focusing on tactics or cultivating strengths.
I will cover these in an another post.
But the key takeaway, anti climactic as it might be, from the leading research reviewed by Marcus for personal performance is this:
Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.
January 22nd, 2011 — Success Strategies
Ever felt overwhelmed at managing people either as a project manager, a supervisor, heck even as a parent.
Humans are the most complex creatures in the universes. Just like no 2 faces are alike no 2 humans are alike, no matter how tempting it is for managers to treat humans like machines.
There are several classics such as Dale Carnegie’s ’How To Win Friends & Influence People’ or Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence The Psychology of Persuasion’ that I would recommend.
There is no getting around that people management is a crucial skill for anyone wishing to achieve substantial success.
This is a complex subject but there is still one thing that you can do that will be a game changer. If you would like to know more about the concept of distlilling success to a few critical things read further.