Saturday, December 27, 2008


( Photo Credit : Internet )

YES, my takeback from the year just going to end is :

This world is great, if you do not expect anything and just do things with passion for the pure pleasure of doing them without harming any soul !!

A while back, I started sending sms to a whole lot of my friends my new year wishes for them , and truly, I felt splendid.

So, here I wish all my known n unknown online friends who drop by my blog :

May the New Year usher in a whole lot of newer opportunities and newer horizons to explore for fulfilling all your dreams in days to come !



Saturday, December 13, 2008

Empathy..... in action

EMPATHY .... in action !!

One of these days, as I was about to drink water from a bottle ( the white one in the picture) and lifted it up holding the bottle at the grip curved out ( observe the curved shaped bottle again ... you will understand what I am referring to ), a powerful thought came to me in a flash. Is it not an excellent example of “empathy” on part of the manufacturer of the bottle?

Yes, it was originally a soft drink bottle of a particular brand – having a capacity of 1.5 ltrs ... quite heavy when full, but still very covenient to use with the shape of the bottle specially curved at the right place to facilitate grip of the person holding the bottle. Not only that, there are also some dot-like things on the surface of the curve to make the surface coarse and thus build more friction while holding so as to prevent the bottle from slipping off your hand. Simply put, the bottle is pretty user-friendly.

Contrast this bottle with the older versions of the similar type of bottles minus the grip-curve. If you have ever tried to drink straight from a 1.5 ltr bottle full with soft drink or water and straight from the refrigerator ( i.e. with water vapours on the exterior of the bottle), then you would recall how slippery and inconvenient it used to be. Look at the blue bottle in the picture, without any curve and imagine it as big as the white one and you would be able to appreciate the contrast [ Sorry, could not find a bigger bottle for the pic].

In my opinion, it takes a lot of empathy to proactively build this kind of user-friendliness into products through small, small, apparently insignificant innovations in design, shape, size etc.. In a business context, even if these changes are done after evaluating customer suggestions/market feedback, that would still amount to being empathetic – as apart from having openness to feedback; you require an understanding of the perspectives of others from their suggestions and that is also empathy. What I would emphasise, though, in empathy is the proactiveness, the ability to anticipate the requirements of the end-users, the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes", or in some way experience the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself.

Reminds me of something my father used to do.

At our home in our native place, the civic bodies are not so efficient about garbage clearance. Result ? Most of the times, residents pile up the garbage on the roadside from where the municipal carriers are supposed to pick them up – but by the time they arrive in the morning, half the garbage ( the green garbage – skins and peels of vegetables and fruits, left-overs of food etc. ) somehow get “ cleaned” when stray cows/animals eat them up from the roadside. You like it or not – this is a daily affair. So, what my father used to ensure was to have separate dustbins for green garbage into which no one was allowed to dump anything plastic, metal , cotton, or toxic.. so to say, anything that can inadvertently choke or harm an animal while feasting on the garbage !! Early in the morning, he would personally empty those bins and I have observed often, immediately some cow or ox would come running to feast on that .

So, what was it that used to drive my father to take so much care even in handling garbage - apparently a silly affair for many ? Tell me honestly, how many of us do that, or ever have thought about doing that ? Just to protect the stray animals ?? I think, it was his empathy for others – be them animals !! Well, I may add, perhaps it was lot of empathy mixed with a lot of sympathy. He must have first thought from the standpoint of a stray animal, who would be tempted to eat from the garbage, but would have no ability to discern and segregate the uneatables from the eatables . Simultaneously, he must have visualised the sufferings of the animal if anything dangerous like plastic bag etc. gets stuck in its throat – and exclaimed: poor animal !! That is compassion, sympathy or empathetic concern ( as distinct from empathy, in which you need not have compassion or pity ).

It is possible to be empathetic and sympathetic at the same time, though in many situations in real life, it is empathy which is the required thing more than sympathy . As someone rightly said: Give a man a fish a day .. you will feed him daily ( sympathy): Teach him how to fish, he will feed himself a lifetime without looking upto your favour ( empathy). That is, it is not charity ( driven by sympathy) but equipping the underprivileged and creating growth opportunities for them, wherein lies the essence.

Like to share another anecdote, I had read somewhere long time back, and just remember the essence. It is an excellent example of what empathy in practice means … or rather lack of empathy means.

Long story cut short, it goes like this. A Chief of an Army division once felt for the soldiers out in the front, spending their best part of life in bunkers without proper food, drink and other basic amenities. He thought, he should do something to cheer them up .... does not matter even if for a short while. He decided to send them icecream .. to be served in bunkers !! Well, the orders were carried out and one fine day, the soldiers were excited to find a consignment said to contain icecream reaching them in the bunkers. Excited, as they started serving the icecream, they realised that something was wrong .... the entire lot had melted on the way, and there were no spoons or other aids to eat the icecream with !! What thoughts are crossing your mind right now after reading this story ? To me, it is a classic example of lack of empathy !! The chief only thought of his part of the act ... sending the icecream...perhaps more with an unconscious desire to prove his magnanimity before himself ( oh! pat, pat ... I am so concerned about the joy of my boys out there !!) withouit really thinking about the end-users; how the soldiers would eventually receive and enjoy it. Had he put himself in the shoes of the soldiers in the bunkers, he would have ensured that icecream was delivered as such ( not as some melted semi-liquid) and he would have ensured spoons to serve and eat the icecream with. What was the purpose after all ? Sending icecream or pleasure of the soldiers in bunkers emanating out of eating ice cream ?

Usually, many of the so-called initiatives taken in personal as well as professional life fall flat as those are taken without any empathy – any genuine effort to understand what the others need or want in a specific situation. If you are an empathetic person, you would not be tempted to persuade another person to do what you want; instead you would understand what the other person wants, what the other person needs and then try help him to achieve it. How often do we tend to diagnose and give advice even before listening in a communication ? When that happens, it is a sure shot case of lack of empathy .

Another happening coming to my mind. A few months back, we had been to Lord Jagannath Temple during the daytime when the sun was pretty high and the steps were very hot. As you have to walk bare-foot inside the precincts of the temple, it could have been really horrible, but for the fact that there was arrangement for water pipes continuously watering the steps !! What relief to the devotees visiting the temple in high sun !! I had never observed this practice earlier. Must have been introduced recently by some empathetic soul related to temple administration !!

Empathy is the ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions, and direct experience of others without them being directly communicated intentionally. Out of such empathy emerges small initiatives leading to great impacts !!

Empathy can also be better appreciated as distinct from sympathy, although these two terms are, more often than not, being similarly used. They are not the same.

It is possible to be empathetic and not sympathetic at the same time. For example: If poverty and extreme adverse circumstances drives a poor man to commit a murder and he gets caught, you may feel empathetic and try to analyze the reason for his so doing; but you will not be sympathetic towards him as murder is a henious act and nothing justifies it.

It is also possible to be both empathetic and sympathetic at the same time. For example, if I have just lost a dear one to a fatal disease, you may sympathise with me for the loss and at the same time, you may also empathise with how aggrieved and sad I must be feeling at the loss of a dear one.

Merriam Webster defines as under :

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

Sympathy: an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other b: mutual or parallel susceptibility or a condition brought about by it c: unity or harmony in action or effect.

As I understand, the difference between the two concepts is :

If you are depressed and as I talk to you, I also start having those feelings and feel depressed, I am having sympathy for you and this may place me in a depressed mood in which I may lose my ability to help you overcome the situation. But if on the other hand, as I talk to you, I don’t feel what you are feeling , but say, I can relate your feelings to something I had felt in a similar situation, I can say I can empathise with you. I can understand that you are depressed and I am still in a position to help you deal with the depressed state by additional feedback or just empathic listening.

Step back... and reflect on many of the daily routine interactions that you have in your professional life, you will be amazed to realise, what wonders can happen to our performance if only we put a bit of empathy into our dealings with our own colleagues and our customers... if only we first seek to understand and then try to be understood ( credit :Steven Covey) !!

I do not know if I have got it correct or not . Like to have your views, if you differ.

Saturday, December 6, 2008



( Always ensure first the basic facilitating conditions to ensure result)

Morning Walk …. Such a simple thing to do; so..o.. many people do it regularly ; such a known-to-be beneficial and often-recommended health tip !!

I am ashamed to confess, it has taken me so..o..o very long to give it a start.

Not because I did not know the benefits.

Not because I did not know I personally require it, if not for anything else, just to address my overweight !

Not because I did not actually have the time. ( Although, that was the excuse I had been giving myself all these years in the name of my more important morning chores I had to finish before I left for office everyday … and as I said, it was just an excuse.)

But I guess, because

I never was serious enough.

And I never had purchased myself a pair of walking shoes !!

Perhaps, I should even reverse the order and make “not having a pair of walking shoes”the first reason. Had I bought me the walking shoes earlier, I might have been interested to just try out, even when I was not very serious enough and finding its early signs of benefit, I might have become serious about it.

Lost opportunity … for me. At least, I have started it now. But I want to share it with the lazy-heads like me, who are yet to start morning walking, so that at least you do not lose the opportunity of reaping the benefits of this wonderful, yet simple habit, before it is too late ( well, remember, it is never too late to try anything good till we die !!)

It happened like this: for the recent Europe Tour, I had purchased this pair of walking shoes as per the instruction given in the travel manual … AND thank god, I complied with the instruction. It was absolutely required as most part of the touring & sight-seeing was by walking and I shudder to think of having to walk so much in high heels !!

And YES ! I loved walking in these shoes – felt so light-footed, without any strain and it most certainly made me feel very nice and energetic ( despite the fact that we were hardly eating much. Wait a sec… was it because we ate so little? Ha, ha - in India, we all are such foodies. Of course, climate does a bit of mischief here – one feels hungry. There in Europe, it was such lovely cool ( not bone-chilling) climate that you do not feel hungry for hours after having just one sandwich !! When we returned home, I was virtually amazed at what I discovered ! I had lost some weight ( never happened earlier despite my hectic schedule and a few attempts at yoga ).

So, I was resolute enough this time … I must make it a HABIT to have morning walk. This time, I had no excuses … no hurry to go anywhere, I have the walking shoes ( on earlier occasions when I had tried walking with my regular slippers on, I found it truly hurting and inconvenient .) , and this time, I am very very serious to shape up a bit (this is one of my “goals” on my personal mission statement prepared immediately after I left my job). It all helped … I am having morning walk now-a-days regularly and can feel the positive impact.

So.. the point is : even if I was serious about walking, I was actually not doing this earlier, as I had not ensured the basic facilitating tool for that – a pair of walking shoes. Appears such a small issue – but has such a fundamental implication .

Many a time, I used to wonder, if morning walk is all that simple (… all that you need to do is, open your door, step out, and start walking. …..), then why there are so many ( like I used to be ) who would just wish to do it but end up procastinating ???

No, it is not all that simple, as it involves getting up early and that requires a lot of motivation, you admit it or not – and especially when you have such a packed schedule everyday that you get to go to bed late at night. Most of us in today’s world have this kind of a daily schedule and given a chance, we would rather steal those few more minutes of sleep early in the morning, than wake up, put on the shoes and step out to walk. It becomes easy only when we have strong motivation to start, the facilitaing conditions, feel the benefits ourselves and let this become a habit.

Let me try helping you form this invaluable habit, if not formed already !

DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH MOTIVATION ?? JUST GO THROUGH THE FOLLOWING brief account of all the amazing benefits that accrue from brisk walking .. as the doctors say:

ü right-sizes your body ( the only tangible abode where your spirit resides ) ; particularly when you are overweight.

Just think, 1 pound of fat = 3500 calories and 1 kg fat = 2.2 pound fat = 7700 calories. To lose one KG weight, you need to burn extra 7700 calories energy with the present calorie intake and activity level !! When we walk, our body burns stored fat and supplies the required energy to our exercising muscles – perhaps the easiest way to burn extra fat !! Experts say, roughly 240 calories get expended if a 60KG weight person walks 5 KM a day so that per month roughly 7200 calories can be expended through walking.

ü builds Cardio Respiratory fitness

Walking helps in maintaining an optimum capacity of your circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen and other nutrients to the various muscles and body organs, which in turn provide protection against many heart ailments we are so familiar with and reduces risk of heart stroke.

ü reduces Blood Pressure

Regular brisk walking for just about 30 minutes a day amounts to aerobic physical activity that can reduce blood pressure by 4 to 9mm Hg.

ü prevents diabetes in normal persons and pre-diabetic individuals and controls diabetes in diabetes patients, as regular walking increases insulin sensitivity.

ü de-stresses by releasing the neuro transmitters endorphins which produce relaxation and remove pain.

ü promotes good sleep

ü Improves lipid profile – increases hdl ( good) cholesterol and decreases ldl ( bad) cholesterol as well as total cholesterol even in the absence of any significant weight reduction.

ü Assists in making bones stronger and helps in protecting against osteoporosis ( a disease of low bone mass leading to fragility & increased susceptibility to fractures.) Muscles and bones are living tissues that respond to exercise like walking.

ü Reduces risk of colon cancer, breast cancer and endometrium cancer

ü Delays aging – age related decrease in skeletal muscle mass ; helps look younger

ü Enhances brain power .

“ If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a

man when he goes for a walk.” So said Raymond Inmon.

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

I have personally felt this very very strongly, ever since I have started taking walk early in the morning on my terrace, deeply enjoying the fresh air, the chirping birds, the holy bells ringing at temples, the morning sun rising with all its crimson grandeur, the tall,green trees, … and the free flow of ideas, some of them coming in flashes from nowhere!! This article is also the result of that .

There is a scientific reason to this, as I learnt now. Walking releases endorphins, sometimes called as natural happy chemicals, which reduces pain, improves mood and relieves depression. It also stimulates the brain to increase the production of neurotransmitter, serotonin, which promotes feeling of well-being. Walking increases blood flow to brain and increases thinking ability.

[Credit for the above medically tested information : Dr S .Velumani & Dr V.Jeyalakshmi. In fact, since you have read so far, I would reward you by sharing that these two doctors have jointly authored a book titled “Walking” which is an amazing book dealing with this topic very comprehensively with lots of practical tips on how to go about it. A must-read by all non-medicos !! ]

Experts say, the human foot is an anatomical complex engineering project, involving 26 bones united together with 107 ligaments nd 32 muscles with 37 intervening joints. And no other foot among the millions of species in this planet has ever been designed with such precision as the human foot. The simple act of walking involves half of all the body’s 650 muscles and tendons; upright walking requires hundreds of adaptations throughout the body from bottom to top. No wonder, walking is considered to be a near-perfect exercise !

So.o..o?? Have I succeeded in waking you up, my lazy friends ?

Let me assure you – it does not take more than 7 days to form this habit and once it becomes a habit, the rest just keeps on happening… so not that difficult either . Just make up your mind .

Yeah, besides the walking shoes, you may be required to ensure a couple of other facilitating factors : like what to wear and where to go . Keep these two things convenient for you so that you do not find excuses in them to discontinue walking. For example, I have chosen my terrace ( it has enough stretch that allows me to build up the required speed/pace ) instead of a near-by stadium because I save a lot of time and I don’t have to care how I dress up. For dress, I just slip into salwar-kameez , does not matter even if crumpled, I don’t have to do my hair or bother about meeting people.

REMEMBER… but for the human feet, we would be swinging from one tree to another. Let us use them for the purpose they are designed … get going … start walking, if you have not yet !!!

Friday, November 28, 2008



I have been tagged by Daphne,, and am supposed to reveal 6 things about me which the readers might not be aware of ; PLUS tag 6 other bloggers !! That’s fun ( and awkward, too .)

Oh, Daphne, that’s so..o.. sweet of you . Thanks and thanks a ton for including mine amongst your favourite blogs. Only thing that upsets me right now is that I am currently highly destabilised due to a score of things to be taken care of on the family front and that’s why, I am just stealing some time to read, rather than write for blogposts. Wish, could maintain some regularity in postings on my blog like you and other bloggers ! Anyway, I won’t beat myself up for this, as I had promised to myself after taking voluntary retirement that now on I will pursue my passions on my terms, as per my convenience.

Now, coming to 6 things about me... ! My earnest appeal to readers to please, please forget and forgive me for this insane act of BORING OTHERS . This is just to respect the wishes of someone I have started liking so much ... Daphne.

1. I love singing and know that I have a voice quality comparable to that of any of the top, highly successful, professional singers . ( AUDACITY ? ) . I sing ( in my kitchen & bathroom , alas !) thousands of songs from very old to contemporary movies, from bhajans ( invocations to God) to cabaret numbers – virtually, anything that appeals to my ears or soul. But I have not learnt classical or any other form of music till now . ( I have NOT yet struck off from my list of TO DOs “learn classical music ” before I say bye to this world !! Can someone help me get a music teacher ?)
As a child, I had this irrational fear that I can not excel in more than one thing and so, virtually resisted formal training in vocal music, lest I end up doing badly in my academics ( Yeah.. I was one of those so called bright students, you know – in my days, Ha, Ha. – and did not want to bargain that tag for anything else – what a mess-up I did !)

2. Till almost the end of my school days, I wanted to become a Lawyer ( and fight injustice like a – my father was originally a lawyer, shifted to state administrative service after a few years of practice as, with his values, he could not earn enough, it seems ). In fact, most of my notebooks and books carried my name tag as “ Snigdha Mohanty, Bar-at-Law, London ” . But when the actual moment for decision came after the HSC exam – I was swift enough to understand that law was not my cup of tea ( perhaps, it was just a fad and I was not really desiring it intensely !!) . I had a new fad .. Economics ...that too aiming at PG from the best college in my country (Delhi School of Eco) and I joined Arts. Yes, I did manage to do my PG from DSE .

[ Guess what.... my daughter is now doing Law from the best institute in my country – NLS Bangalore . There must have been some intensity in my childhood desire, I guess.]

3. As a child, I was extremely shy and used to keep my face covered with both my palms ( leaving a little gap in between my fingers so that I could see the others , but they could not see my face ) while appearing before guests at home. You know, I used to dread whenever some relative or guest visited our home – my mother would definitely ask me to sing for them and the moment I would be asked to sing .. something would make me feel gagged ... my voice would just not come out !!
I really really used to hate my mom for that at those moments . Now, after I became a mom myself, I realise, how elevated a mom feels when others praise her children’s talent. Sorry, Mother . [ I myself have committed that crime a few times when my daughters were very small. But, of course, taking cue from my own experience, I have later tried to desist from asking my daughters to sing or dance before guests visiting our home.]

4. Even in college, I was too shy and hardly spoke to people, barring a very few close friends. Fast forward 25 years , and my ex-colleagues from Bank would exclaim with disbelief ... to hear that ! I changed dramatically within two years of joining the bank as I started interacting with lots and lots of people in course of usual business and did not realise when I really started enjoying relating to people !! I talk so much now that since last 2 years, I have developed Voice Box problem, sad. Just imagine, among my life-goals to be pursued now , two most important things are : 1st,becoming a guest lecturer in various colleges/institutes to share whatever insights I have gathered on self & leadership development over the years and 2nd,using my singing talent for raising funds for charitable causes . And this voice box problem !! Anyway, I will deal with it .

5. I am very short in height and was very thin ONCE UPON A TIME ( 25 yrs back !!!). Then I grew fat and almost had a complex about my physical presence whenever I used to see tall, smart, elegant looking women executives in commanding positions.... till I actually got important and challenging assignments and I knew ... what people see is not what you look like, but what mettle you have inside. So..o reassuring !!

6. I ridiculously fail at “ being brief” !!! Need any more proof ? And that makes me a dumbo as I lack brevity-the “soul of wit” . Thanks for wasting so much time in reading what a dumbo like me has to say about myself.

Now, coming to tagging 6 other bloggers – as per the rule of this fun game , please pardon me this time for breaking the rule !! I will take some more time for that .

Saturday, November 15, 2008



Each of us will exit this world one day .........! This is known to each of us. Still, how many of us really get prepared for this and plan the way she/he would like to exit ? How many of us give it a deep thinking and decide upon the exact way we would like our last rites to be done and remains/memory to be preserved and exclaim, “ Yeah ! that’s the way to go to my afterlife .”

Well, the manner, place or time of exit is definitely not known to us in advance – but we do know the general pattern of “ last rites”, that our society has prescribed to be performed by our loved ones, ostensibly for the twin purpose of ensuring that our departed soul rests in peace and on the other hand, it helps the grief-stricken bear the loss in the company of so many others. I was just reflecting.. Do I really want it that way ? If I believe that my life, when I am alive, is/should be of my choice, then how come, so calmly, I surrender myself to the priests and brahmins and the social customs, when it comes to the way I go out? Is it just a simple logic that since I have no say over the way I come to this world, I can not have any say over what happens to me after I go out of this world . No, I do not buy this , Sorry !

Of course, one pertinent dimension of the issue could be that the last rites are actually meant not for the departed – but for the bereaved - for helping the near and dear ones come out of the grief of bereavement and facilitating restoration of normalcy by getting them busy with the thousand and one things to be done as per the religious/social customs. May be, at one stage of evolution of our society, this was relevant and required. But why should we follow that now when the frame and context have changed so widely without ever giving it a serious thinking ?

Let me clarify a bit more please. I have no intention of waging any battle against customs or rebelling. Fine, if you want your exit to be observed as per the age-old social customs – it is your choice and must be respected by your surviving family members. My only submission is : what prevents us from going a little out of box and thinking about creative, yet less burden-some, alternatives to traditional funerals for ourselves? Thinking something new about turning these tragedies into more intimate and fonder remembrances, without turning these into burdens on the very people we loved so much and did everything during our lifetime to give them joy and happiness ? Thinking a bit about ourselves too in the sense that we too would love to be remembered/memorialised in a particular preferred way ?

Only a few days back ( mourning is still on ), I have lost my brother to cancer at an early age. He was staying abroad and had such a brave and out-of-the-world positive spirit that he lived ( by every sense of the term) till his last. He never actually made us realise how much pain he must be going through !! Always caring for others and concerned about others – taking all the pains to make your visit memorable if you happened to have visited him, always smiling and going about life as if nothing is serious except that he has to be on medication and a different diet on a continuous basis . Early this year, I had lost my father. About a month back, I lost my mother-in-law. Both had lived their lives well and long enough. But this sudden ( we knew it would come anytime, but never expected so soon ) & premature passing away of my brother brought me so close to “death” [- or, is it simply a passage to another innings in the lifecycle ?] that I could not but pause... and reflect deeply on this moment called “death”, which eventually comes in everyone’s life ... a guest expected most certainly but never awaited with advance planning for welcome !!!

So...... I started seriously thinking about it ... and also have gone through whatever I could lay my hand( and eyes) upon for a bit of research. And I am amazed at my findings from different sources about the plethora of creative alternatives to traditional funerals, that some people( ahead of their time !) across the globe have already chosen for their exit fanfare and the numerous ways the family members have kept the memories of their departed loved ones. I would highly recommend that you read a book “ Exit Strategy- Thinking Out of Box” by Michelle Cromer. I had stumbled upon this amazingly different kind of book recently while sifting through heaps of second-hand books at Fountain area in Mumbai and had picked it up – attracted by its title. Now I know from this book that there are so many others who are serious about exercising own option in matters of last rites like me and not only that, have already tried out so many newer ways – turning this milestone in life to nothing less than a celebration as one enters one’s afterlife !! Undoubtedly, there are two unmatched milestones in each one’s life – one, when you are born and another when you die and both deserve special celebration .

How would you like to stay with your loved ones after death ?

Let me share some of the a-traditional ways in which your CREMAINS ( ashes/ remains after cremation of the body) can be preserved for intimate remembrance by your loved ones :

i. Get your ashes planted under beautiful rose-bushes in the family garden ( any flower plant that you love ) – and spread the heavenly fragrance in the air that your loved ones breathe .

ii. Get sifted into the roots of a tree – like a banyan tree, oak tree or maple tree and live for hundreds of years as a memorial tree, to which your loved ones can visit once in a while.

iii. Get your ashes mixed with Potter’s clay and turn into any decorative piece of pottery or clay animal/bird/object of your choice – which your loved ones can preserve as memento.

iv. Get yourself spread over any natural place you love – like sea, mountain, forest, river etc. – by having your ashes scattered aerially over the place.

v. Get your ashes blown into glass for handblown glasswork and turn into a marvellous commemorative piece of artwork in glass.

vi. Have your ashes packed into jewlry,musical instruments, fishing rods, golf clubs, artwork - for that matter, anything, any shape that can have some space to hold human ashes and can be sealed.

vii. Become a part of man-made memorial reefs in approved environmentally challenged sites in deep sea and help preservation of the environment.

viii. Have your ashes spread across the sky in a display of fireworks.

ix. Have your ashes packed into helium-filled ballons in bright colours with little notes ( like , Bye Dad , We love you etc. ) written on the surface of the balloon and and get it released from a very high-altitude( 26000 feet or so), scattering the ashes in the upper atmosphere.

x. Have a space odyssey by having your cremains shot into outer space with the help of a space craft.

xi. Have your ashes turn into a man-made DIAMOND, so that your loved ones can literally wear you on !

Well, memorial service organisations are there which even do cryonic suspension of your body or only the brain in hopes that eventually medical technology will be developed to revive /reanimate the person !!! Some others also go for mummyfication!!

Truly, the options for how we preserve our remains /memories are limited only by our imagination .

How would you like to have your exit fanfare

Now, coming to the manner of observing the last rites, I believe it is very important to give a serious thought to this right now, decide what exactly you want for yourself and do two things :
a. Clearly write out your wishes, sign and give copies to your family members ; or keep at a place where they are sure to find it after your death.

[ NOTE: Things like whether you would like to be cremated in a traditional manner or would like electric cremation ; whether you would like to have all the rites as per the socio-religious customs for 12 days or you would like it to be curtailed to say 2/3 days with simple puja karmas; whether you would like your daughters/female loved ones to perform the rites ; whether you would like to have elaborate functions for relatives and knowns and/or memorial services in the form of some charity work etc. should be clearly expressed in writing , so that your loved ones do not have to face embarrassment, if any, for deviating from established customs as per your last wishes .]

b. Get registered appropriately your wishes for donating useful parts of your body immediately after your death , if you so wish . Let your family members have copies of the papers necessary to execute this .

Personally, I am going to write out the way in which I would like my own farewel to be organised and keep it at a place where my husband and daughters can find it . That does not mean that I wish saying goodbye anytime soon – no way – not before I try out a few more things I am passionate about ! , Ha, ha !! ). But who knows ??

What about you ?

No Pain No gain Pictures

Thanks Veera, for helping again in giving a link to visitors to my site to see the pictorial story on No Pain no gain, which I have referred to in my last post titled" There always is a purpose " .

To see the pictures,please click here and I would request a re-visit to my original post .

IMP : Pictures are not in correct sequence as per the story, but are correctly numbered( image 1, image 2 etc. ) . Please view the pictures in order of the Image No , to follow correct sequence and correct story.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Been on too long a break, I swear !! Of course, every bit of it was part of a needed schedule of activities and vacation ( grand Europe tour – I will get back on that very soon), which could not have included blogging - so, no regrets. But the fact remains that both I ( only my “writer” self ) and my car have gathered a bit of dust . So, today the first thing I did was to clean my car nicely- flushing all dust & dirt accumulated over close to two months. Next, I thought, I must cleanse myself of lethargy ( yeah-you like it or not, although leisure does rejuvenate, it also brings with it lethargy – inertia, you know !! )

S.o.o. – to pick up the threads again – I thought I would first share a pictorial story -something wonderfully reassuring and superbly thought-provoking- that a very dear friend of mine ( Thanks, Veera ! ) had e mailed to me during my vacation.

Here it goes! NO PAIN.... NO GAIN

Photo ( 15 nos - having technical difficulty with uploading ; so trying to upload contents and photos separately) This is a test upload .

Apparently, this captures a very simple answer to all our troublesome “WHYs” – especially when we feel unjustly wronged for which we do not have immediate convincing explanations. Take the brunt of life as it comes – somewhere at a distance, it will benefit you and in retrospect, you will understand, there was a definite purpose. So, do not shierk or deliberately take short-cuts.

Think of this - every moment and every event is just perfect in nature. Everything happens for a special purpose in this universe. It just so happens that we do not realise it immediately. Trust this and try accepting every experience with gratitude, as something happening as per Divine Will with an ultimate design for your good and soon you would start seeing the opportunity for growth and betterment in each event, in each experience, no matter how bitter, painful, challenging it may appear at the moment. Put in perspective, nothing wrong ever happens, neither anyone commits any mistake in the first place – it is all a part of a continuous learning process . Yes, repeat the mistake – the entire perspective changes – you have failed to introspect and learn. Each experience holds key to many benefits that accrue after a lag, which we fail to foresee and become wary of the present . “Accepting” gives us the fortitude to bear the present and reap the future benefits – if only, we truly believe in the age-old saying that everything happens for good and seize the opportunity for growing as a human being !!

So, be grateful for each moment passed, each experience lived – no matter what ; learn from what you have gone through, grow and move on .... with unflinching faith in divine dispensation and indomitable will to be all that you can be .

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Friday, September 26, 2008

26th September, 2008

Hi Friends, I will be off for about a month - so, till then my BLOG HOLIDAY !!
I will miss the pleasure of making posts, getting yr value adds, and learning from others.

Should be back by early Nov.
Wish all a happy time

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Scrap Book - Enthusiasm


A few days back, I was reflecting on Mumbai spirit, how they celebrate life even in the midst of all odds and as I have already shared… to my understanding, the key to the magic is that great surge of positive feelings inside, which we ordinarily refer to as enthusiasm – that infatiguable will to do and explore and enjoy ….. that moving spirit behind everything great and simple !!

That just reminds me of something said by one of the greatest achievers of this world, Henry Ford.

“You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. It is the yeast that makes your hope rise to the sky. It is the sparkle in your eye, the wing in your gait, the grip in your hand, the irresistible surge of your will, and the energy to execute ideas .

Enthusiasm is the bottom of all progress. With it, there is accomplishment; without it, there are only alibis.”
- Henry Ford

Read this with something interesting told by one of the most creative persons (perhaps the man with the largest number of scientific inventions ), Thomas Edison.

Each of his inventions were preceded by numerous failed attempts by him to create/invent what he wished to invent. Perfectly natural ! Someone sarcastically observed, “Mr Edison, you have failed 99 times to succeed once”. Thomas Edison responded, “Yes, I have first learnt 99 ways in which it does not work to find out the way it works .”

[ Sorry, I have put the above words within quote-unquote just to write in 1st person in a conversational mode for the humour and sarcasm in it. I don’t know the original dialogues. I had read about this somewhere and this has got hammered into my mind and heart as the essence of a winning attitude - with it, you learn from failures and keep trying with added wisdom and enthusiasm till you succeed.]

Personally, these have been a source of great inspiration for me. If ever, by any chance, I start getting upset about something that’s not working my way, I simply remind myself about what these two great souls had said. Believe me … it works – I spring back within no time. ( In fact, it has to work .. ‘cause, any thought that goes deep inside your subconscious is sure to get manifested some way or other. After all, it’s all in the mind !)

And Enthusiasm is contagious !! If you exude enthusiasm, not only you yourself get propelled, others around you also start catching that ( or should I say, get inspired ). In fact, when you are enthusiastic about something, you feel a drive from inside, a passion to get going, to try harder, to explore the unknown – that one P ( passion or enthusiasm) opens up the pathways to all P’s that we want in ourselves and in this world : Pleasure, Proficiency, Productivity, Performance, Profitability, Perseverance, Perspective, Philosophy, Philanthropy, Profundity, Planning, ….. Parivartan…… Perfection …. Providence ….!!

If you are an enthusiastic, a passionate person, then you will put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. And this is sure to rub off on the people around you, who will work their heart and soul for you, not out of fear or compulsion, but out of love and admiration. This is especially true of the professional world ( as there is always a pressure to achieve goals through team playing), where success through positional authority is more a myth than reality. I have experienced that so many times in my professional life!

When you have enthusiasm, you will radiate happiness, joy every moment. I am sure you will agree with me that, of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. Ever looked into the sparkling eyes of an enthusiast ?

– a child who is just dismantling something to create something different out of the same toy parts

- a banker (of manual days) who just got an idea in flash about where to locate that one paisa difference in his cash book which has been bothering him for last two days

- a businessman who just found a new market for selling his products or just a new idea to acquire new customers

- a social activist who just found a new source to tap to make people’s lives better

- an artist getting ready to perform

- a painter who just made a stroke of a shade on his canvass exactly as he had painted in his mind’s eye

- a child who has just discovered a sprout in the seed planted by him

- when you water your own plants

- when you start on your LFC tour

- when you have just got a promotion and taken up a new assignment in your elevated capacity

- when you cross the first milestone in a project implementation, that somebody else had said was not possible

- when you see a beautiful wild flower on the roadside while travelling and your heart says “Wow”


Well, if you have ever looked them in their eyes, you will understand what I am referring to, when I say enthusiasm. That never-drying fountain of energy, that vitality, that simple but strong zest for life, that ever-readiness to make things happen !! We may call the same feeling as joy, happiness – because, enthusiasm, passion, joy, excitement, happiness – all these are facets of the same coin and go hand in hand.

The secret is, when you are enthusiastic or passionate about something, basically you have a unshaken faith that whatever you are trying to do will click, if not this way, then that way; if not that way, then some other way – but click it must. So, you are constantly looking forward to some kind of a joy of finding, and that feeling itself makes you happy and joyous. So when you are enthusiastic, you feel happy; and when you are happy, you feel joyous and enthusiastic !!

Prof. William James, a renowned Psychologist, once said :

“ Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling .”

I fully agree with him out of my own experience. I am intrinsically an enthusiastic person and laugh enough. On laughing enough, there could be those who would say, one who laughs enough is not necessarily a happy person – that is their paradigm they see through. There are also those, who have a different paradigm that says “ You do not smile only when you are happy, but invariably you feel happy when you smile .” I belong to the 2nd category. And it works naturally for me.

If you want to be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic.

That is, if normally, you do not feel that exuberance of spirit currently, then it is possible to work towards it. Acting enthusiastic does not mean that you are faking it. At times when you are feeling low, it may require a bit of conscious effort to act this way; but ultimately, with passage of time and continuous behaviour, it becomes first a part of your habits, then a part of your character. Develop consciously a habit of expressing only positive, hopeful, enthusiastic ideas. Deliberately look at the best sides of everything (that silver lining even in the darkest cloud ) and it will become natural to expect the good. You will automatically find within yourself that excitement that you desire.

“ Express enthusiasm freely and upon all occasions, and your life will strongly tend to become joyful and enthusiastic.”

- Norman Vincent Peale

I recall an anecdote being shared by a guest speaker with the participants of one HR programme in one of the renowned management institutes, that I attended a few years back.

Two HR professionals, strangers till then, were sitting side by side in one seminar. One of them, Mr X, just started a friendly conversation by introducing himself, as he was eager to meet people, talk to them. By the by, Mr X asked the other person, say Mr Y, “How about your family ? ”

Mr Y : “ Oh, my wife is a lecturer in a college …,

Mr X : “ Oh, Wow !”

Mr Y continued : “I have two daughters – they are in school ….”

Mr X : “ Wow, Great, a proud father of two lovely daughters ! And dear, I must say, hats off to your wife. She is managing both a career and a home so well !”

Mr Y was actually getting surprised at this person’s lavish compliments, because to him, it is a very common situation to have a wife, to have children, a married women having a career ….. so many others do it … so many others have it… what’s so great about this to be praised this way ? Of course, he could not say that openly. Just out of courtesy, he also asked Mr X about his wife and family .

Mr X : “ Oh, my wife is raising our family. ” [ Mr Y almost jumped off his seat – raising our family ? Means a mere housewife !]

Mr X continues “ … we have one 3 year old son. Sandra, my wife, is expecting our second edition, ha, ha !! I am really feeling bad that I had to come here now leaving her at this time … but she insisted , as this was something I was looking forward to since quite sometime … ”

Do I really need to analyse and interpret in detail to clarify what I am trying to explain through this anecdote ?? Is it not an easy guess, who is likely to be more successful at human relations and most likely, in profession too ?

When you are enthusiastic, you also tend to find out n number of small small things about others as well as your own self to appreciate.

And being appreciative is another strong attribute of mind which reinforces and liberates all things positive.

[ Try this small trick on housewives – call them homemakers, and see the difference .. sorry , that was in lighter vein. But yes, if you really mean that, I can swear, that will re-define your relationship with your wife in a whole new way.]

The enthusiastic persons somhow get an enormous thrill out of the most ordinary events in life ( remember my Mumbaikars ?). For them, this world itself, the creation of God, is a pure wonder with all its beauty, excitement and thrill. One who thinks this way deep inside will automatically love everything about this world and its people and will be blessed with abundance of love and enthusiasm to live a life of bliss.

Enthusiasm is also the greatest business asset. With a fat paycheque, you can buy an employee’s time, her physical presence or at the most some minimal intellectual output. But you can not buy her enthusiasm, her initiative, her loyalty or her mind and soul. You have to earn these things !! And for that, you as the employer-leader have to first bristle with enthusiasm as a person.

Let me share three great thoughts on enthusiasm that I truly treasure :

“ The secret of the genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which, of course, means never to lose your enthusisam.”
- Thomas Huxley

“ If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm .”

Bruce Barton

“ The worst bankrupt is the person who has lost enthusiasm. Let one lose everything but enthusiasm and that person will again come through to success .”

- H.W.Arnold

So, be enthuisiastic !!

And the key to remaining enthusiastic about whatever you do ??

Well, the tried and trusted key has two sides :

- Always keep the child in you alive !

- And always have trust in His Providence after doing your best.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A leaf from My Diary

This is what I had written a month back . Just thought I will share .


What a day today ? It is a Sunday – and I needed to go to the market for the weekly veggie & non-veg. But the morning was really striking. What all happened were really irritating outwardly – but strangely enough, I did not feel irritated or upset at all – rather, mentally, I was observing like a by-stander and making inferences regarding learning points that I would be writing about in the context of what happened to me this morning.

First, it was my non-stick tea pan. I find it very handy for heating plain water or making tea. I do not use this for any other purpose . Nevertheless, my great lady ( my domestic help ) had managed to ruin even this pan with her carelessness by using hard scrubbing stuff while cleaning, although I must have asked her n times to use only spongy stuff for cleaning non-stick utensils. The pan had about two circles on the inner side – roughly about the usual water level taken daily for making tea - where the non-stick coat had come off. My mother was after my life – throw this, throw this – any non-stick utensil with even a small patch of scratches must be thrown away as per her. But, somehow, I was still using that and could not throw this, till now.

Today morning, I just put the pan with milk-water mix for tea – certain ideas came in flashes to my mind, which I sat down to type out on to my computer and lo..o.. I totally oblivious to the fact that my tea pan was on stove. It was only when the entire kitchen was full of burnt gas & my niece smelt something burning and switched off the gas, that I came to realise what had happened. The pan was totally burnt - thank god - I immediately threw it to the dustbin.

Strange, I was really feeling good :

Firstly, finally I consigned it to the dustbin. Non-stick wares are actually unhealthy to use when their coat comes off. Although I knew that, perhaps I was using that pan for so long just as a matter of habit. Also may be because it still appeared to be useful. Getting burnt made it convincingly useless - hence easier to discard despite my past attachment to it.

- Secondly, I have a new pan. Although it has been there for long as a buffer stock, I never had the opportunity to use that. Now I can take it out and use !! Wow !

Many bigger things happen in life in a similar vein. Until and unless you burn your ship, and are left with no alternative but to explore ahead – you usually show a strong tendency to hang on to the current and known, or try to replicate the past and known, and rarely dare switch course for something new. Basically, it is the fear of the uncertainties, that holds one back to where one is, whether or not that status quo is worth maintaining. When such tendency to hold on is very strong, nothing less than a “burning of the shelter” is required to get you going on a look out for a newer avenue, for a newer destination.

Soon after this incident, I again found myself in an unsolicited problem that day. The sewerage work is still going on in our apartment premises. So every now and then , u will find cuts on the pathways and open pits in our compound. But, till now, at least they were taking care to see that each car has at least some way to move in and out of the campus.

When I went down to go to the market, I found that it was really difficult to take out my car from my parking slot due to cuts and pits. But somehow, I mentally measured up from all sides, and thought I can manage to take my car out through back drive. Unluckily, my calculations went a little awry and I could know at a point that the right front wheel would go down a pit, if I continue. So, just before the danger point, I stopped my car; but despite keeping it on handbreak and gear, I found that the car was actually sliding back - if I left the brake free. Hence, I decided to stay on and kept pressing the brake.

I really needed someone to put a brick or something behind my rear wheel – so that at least I can move ahead & get down to see for myself how much space is available on all sides for the movement without a disaster. But no one was around. Then, I thought of one of our neighbours – happens to be a colleague also. Gave him an SOS call – thank god, he was available at home. He & his son came down and helped me with taking the car out of the garage. As u know, in congested space, negotiating turns really require someone outside to tell you where exactly to cut or stop. Thank god, at the right time, instead of panicking, I drew upon my aquaintance, got help and finally, got over the problem .

So, learning points for me are :

- Do not panic. This is perhaps the most basic and most fundamental ground rule to face problems and challenges, which is mostly observed by its breach ! And personally, while I have usually maintained my cool in professional front (virtually, I laugh through all problems and find them getting solved very soon ), I have been rather impatient when it comes to personal problems where somehow I know my limitations - like driving a car, finding out a new place all by myself, carrying a huge weight etc. But today, I swear, I did not panic , because I knew I have to solve it by myself, my hubby is not around to help me out.

- In a difficult situation, always know the specific problem, instead of getting confused out of panic. ( When I started on back gear, I knew that my real problem was the pit, although space constraint was there on all sides and I knew I have to carefully negotiate. So, my focus was on the pit and I could sense exactly the moment my wheel was about to slip into the pit. ) So, know where exactly the problem is and focus on avoiding or solving that, as the case may be.

- Check out for alternative solutions and decide on the best suited for you. ( In my case, I did have a few alternatives :

a) get out and give the steering to my neighbour, who is a more seasoned driver . I did not do that, as that would have amounted to straightaway giving in without even trying. And then, I would have lost out on learning & my own confidence-building .

b) after getting the car up to a safe point, park it, take an auto and go for marketing. I did not do that – same reason as in the first case. Avoiding a problem in most cases leads to a bigger problem. Next time, I would have imagined problems and stopped driving gradually.

c) I had some alternative ways of moving my car out of the parking space, with directional help from my neighbour and his son outside. I chose the best one, which we thought would give me more space to negotiate the curves. And it clicked.

- Always have a good network. Have touch with people who can be depended upon at times of need . ( Reciprocally , u should also be of help to people at their times of need.) ( I always keep as many phone numbers as possible on my mobile – this has always helped me.)

- Do not hesitate to seek help. (Ordinarily, one would feel embarrassed to admit that one needs help. But that is exactly what is required for solving a problem beyond your control. Many a time, it also leads to a better result for problems within your control. In fact, in professional life especially, you must seek from others and other sources and learn – that will lead to synergisation of the pool of knowledge and talent already available for a better result, instead of wasting time to re-invent the wheel. )

- Express gratitude for the help offered to u . ( Sounds like stating the obvious and ornamental. NO ! Expressing gratitude from the bottom of your heart does not come naturally to many and in the process, these people without their knowledge start losing friends .)

This was just a very small problem. But even bigger problems in life can be addressed effectively, when we understand these basics on how to approach a solution, when faced with a problem. There could be many more dimensions to problems and the art of problem-solving, when it comes to bigger problems. Especially, some problems will be such, that those can not be solved within the given context and you have to necessarily go out-of-box.

The point is, the moment we realise that problems are not something to run away from, rather these are opportunities in disguise – opportunities to learn more, opportunities to have better things, better life, better state of being – that we face and deal with them more effectively.

What are Problems ?

P redictors - They help mould our future.

R eminders - We are not self-sufficient.

We need God and others to help.

O pportunities - They pull us out of our rot.

And prompt us to think creatively.

B lessings - They open up doors we usually don’t go through.

L essons - Each new challenge will be our teacher.

E-verywhere - No place or person is excluded from them.

M-essages - They warn us about potential disaster.

S-olvable - No problem is without a solution.”


So..o.. Do not live with problems, neither run away from them. Face them, fix them or find the pathway through them to move on to a next level where these problems no longer remain relevant.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Scrap Book - Feedback


Long time back, a hilarious advertisement used to come on TV. In a crowded townbus in a metro, one passenger pushes the man next to him … you know… those elbow pushes!!

Angry, the other man yells.. “ Hey, why did you push me ?”

The first one says with a naughty giggle, “ Okay, I admit.. …, I gave you a push, but why did you take it ?? ”

Joke apart, this captures some very insightful ways of looking at others in your life !! Ordinarily, all of us tend to attach a lot of importance to what others say about us, what others think about us, how others feel about us etc. etc. Well, it is but natural. But to what extent and in what context others’ opinion should matter should always be upto us, not others.

It entirely depends on you, whether others affect you (adversely) or impact you (positively). If you thought the other fellow in the moving bus pushed you ( a verb - where the control lever rests with the other in the environment ), then you are allowing the other to decide how you feel. But if you thought the other fellow gave you a push ( a noun – where you can still retain the verb – i.e. control lever ), then against each give by others, you have a take - about which you get to decide, whether you take it at all, and if you decide to take it, how you would take it !!

Taking Feedback :

Think of the man who got the push !! He was standing in a moving bus, when the fellow passenger pushed him. Now just think about it – if he had his grip tightly on the hold-ons, what, at the worst, could have happened to him? Maximum a jerk, I guess – a slight momentary dislocation of position !! But yes, if he was standing without holding on to anything – but by just supporting himself against others in the crowd (yeah- that also happens in crowded townbuses), then there could be a big problem ! Such a passenger standing in a crowded moving bus and getting pushed by someone else can literally fallhurting himself and others in the vicinity too !!

Point is: you must have grip on some hold-on or other in a moving bus !! Making sense ? Those hold-ons are our own beliefs and convictions about our values, our own abilities, our self-worth, our own goals …, our own reference points internally…. in short ! Once we have this, our position will not get totally destabilised by others’ perception about us. Only when we are shaky about our own convictions and self-worth that we start attaching unwarranted and undue importance to others’ negative feedback on us, without weighing those. Similarly, when we lack a true appreciation of our own abilities and self-worth, we overestimate ourselves based on exaggerated positive feedback on us from others, which is an equally adverse situation.

[ Clarification: Although feedback is a very limited version of other’s perception about you when it gets expressed, or the vice versa, I am taking this liberty to use feedback as something said by others about you or something said by you about others , i.e. views on a particular person ( not something inanimate ). Perception is a very wide concept, needing comprehensive analysis and I am not planning to deliberate on that right now. ]

When I say that you must decide on whether or not to take other’s feedback, I am not at all suggesting that to play it safe, you should totally ignore other’s feedback. In fact one should face it… if one is genuinely interested in growing !!

Taking other’s feedback does not at all mean that we are allowing our reference point to be external. When you shut yourself up against all feedback…. it is like closing your eye to the reality around – the reality of perception of others about you or your actions (may not be the absolute reality) is going to stay there whether you see them or not. Rather, the chances are more that if you do not see them with open eyes, you are likely to imagine ( which could be more unreal and many a time more devastating .. ) ; 2nd ly, if you are not seeing them, you may be losing an opportunity either to clarify your position to those who really matter to you and/or you may be missing out on an opportunity to learn further from other’s wisdom/perspectives and finally grow as a person.

Well, to me, most of the problems we face are rather created by ourselves when we do not know how to take feedback from others. Only when we go overboard by letting other’s feedback control our feelings and action without reflecting on it that we would be allowing ourselves to be governed by others – and that position is neither desirable, nor correct .

Always learn to take feedback - some could be objective and deserving ( in line with the reality – so it could be either positive or negative feedback); some could be exaggerated on a positive side and some could be negative. In any of the three cases, you stand to gain, provided the position from which you are evaluating them is in harmony with your true self and even in case of negative feedback, ultimately this will help you grow out of undeserving negative feedback and let you move on .. .

Know this story of the three racers - all of whom won ( no tie !! )?

A big event of running competition was organised. Among those who ran the race, there was one person who had joined the competition for the first time. He had joined the competition to win over his fear of failure first. There was another person who had joined the race to better his own previous performance. And there was another who had been consistently striving to come first.

The last person actually won the title. He was an obvious winner.

The 2nd person did not make it to even top 5; but his performance was better than his previous record.

There was nothing spectacular about the performance of the 1st person either – apart from the fact that he also ran.

The beauty is all three of them won, because each of them achieved their own goals!! The 1st runner could win over his fear of failure just by participating in the competition. The 2nd person could better his own performance, which was the reason why he had participated in the race. The 3rd one won the title, which was his objective of joining the competition.

Now tell me, if clear about their own goals, how should the 1st & 2nd competitors take feedback of others who saw them as failures just because they did not win the title ? Is there any necessity for them to get upset or unnerved by negative comments of people who do not know or understand their objectives behind participating in the race in the first place ?

As regards the 3rd person, the winner of the title - yes, he must also welcome all the cheers ( positive feedback) and feel legitimately happy and humble - encouraged to try it out for a bigger win next time, instead of allowing pride to creep into him because of others’s high opinion about him.

So taking feedback actually is a very serious job .. needs a lot of maturity. Do take others’ feedback – but evaluate against your honest appreciation of yourself ( grip over the hold-ons in the moving bus for the standing passengers) and decide what to take and what to reject. Don’t react… respond! Do not give the right to anyone else to command how you feel about yourself.

Giving Feedback :

Giving feedback is a still more serious job and requires not only a lot more maturity, but also competence, clear vision and courage – as it requires appraising skills with objectivity and transparency !!

Life in general, and professional life in particular, is an Obstacle Race and where you are now is actually decided partially by the number, nature and timings of the obstacles you have got over till you reached your current position. It is never a level playing field for any two people. Hence, to give feedback on others, you are required not only to have competence to judge the other person’s inherent abilities, but also must possess necessary clear-sightedness to see the obstacles en-route that the other person has braved to get to the current position.

The closer you are to the person you are giving feedback on, chances are more that your feedback will be closer to the reality ( provided you are not biased yourself). Problems get manifold when it comes to giving feedback on persons or phenomena from a distance.

Even if competence is presumed, feedback may still be far from the reality if you are at a distance and can not see the entire pathway travelled by the assessee. In such cases, you must have the willingness to make a conscious effort to see better by using additional tools ( just as you use, say, a pair of binoculars to see distant objects outside your range of normal sight !)

I give the following simple example to drive home my point ( no offense meant to my male friends) :

Compare two persons currently at similar positions – one a male executive and another a female executive - both with children and family – the only difference being the man took a slightly lesser length of service to achieve this as compared to his female counterpart!

It is like both have run obstacle races – only difference is while the track of the man was full of obstacles visible from a distance, a major portion of the woman’s track was full of the visible obstacles similar to the man’s plus a whole lot of small, small pieces of glasses and stone chips spread over her track all through, arresting her speed, but not visible from a distance. In all probability, she still was running with equal or greater ability!!

Basically she was running the race with bruised feet, while he was running with normal bare feet (or with a pair of shoes on!! ).

If you are in a position to see both of them from close quarters, you are likely to rate both of them at least equal, as there is a scope for you to appreciate the small small pieces of glasses and stone chips on her way, over and above the similar obstacles faced by both.

When you are giving feedback on a person who you can see closely, most likely it will turn out to be a realistic reflection on the person being judged. But when you are giving feedback on someone from a distance – it reflects more on your ability to assess and give feedback, rather than a feedback on the other person, unless you make a conscious and conscientious effort to see things clearly overcoming the distance factor, by using additional tools.

We must also introspect how we tend to jump at judging others impulsively when we get a somewhat unacceptable feedback from them on us – without realising that we, too, are getting caught in the same snares !! Lack of objectivity!!

Let us always remember, there is something that is much more scarce, something rarer than ability- it is the ability to recognize ability .

Next time, you get to hear something complimentary or something nasty, about yourself from someone else, pause and decide for yourself, if that is worth taking or not. And if you decide to take, make sure you take it only to benefit yourself –either as an encouragement or as a constructive criticism, from which you can take tips to grow wiser and happier. I am sure, if only you learn to take feedback in its correct perspective, the whole world of experience can change for you in a dramatic way and you can actually achieve much more … in a positive way.