MindYourBusyNess: 2009

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War or peace?



Army
is meant for war. It is designed for that purpose. It is a very costly affair because here you don’t want to compromise on any account. You want the best people working with best resources and maintain their best position in worst conditions and motivated to commit the highest sacrifice in the interest of their nation.

The big question before any Head of Nation and his team is ‘how much of the total available resources are to be allocated for this purpose?’ According to their circumstances and understanding, mostly people settle between 4 to 10 % of GDP as an answer to this question. This expenditure otherwise might have been utilized on development /progress of the nation.

We all are peace-loving souls (most of us claims so).Therefore we don’t want wars. (These are thrust upon us as the last painful choice).War is an extraordinary event for any nation and generally it doesn’t last very long in comparison to peaceful living tenure.

So what does army do in the rest of times-when there is no war? Well, the answer is, it prepares for war and the process is known as ‘training’. Training for war means -‘working in simulated conditions of war’. So the soldier always lives his/her life ‘as if there is war-it may be real or simulated. The event of war does not make a material difference to a soldier. In peacetime, some governments utilize their armies in policing or production role.

Regardless of absolute reality we all cherish a strong desire that ‘our army should be the best’. It is like desire by every mother that her son/daughter should be the best in all circumstances. Since it is not possible to compete with everyone else with limited resources in hand, we create an image of our army through propaganda and deception plans (the two big tools used by Adolf Hitler during World War II) and project it to be the best. This image is not real, but for others, sometimes more effective than real itself. It is like an image created by media and business associates of a celebrity, which is not the absolute reality for that person himself/herself. But works for all others, and generate business and money.
The other critical question a nation faces often in its lifetime is, ‘continue to live with problems with other nations or declare a war for one time permanent solution to the problems? Going to war is not an easy solution. It costs lives and money. The after effects are devastating. War means colossal loss to production and development.
Still wars are declared (and sometime undeclared or cold wars are fought with low intensity.)The worst is fear of invisible enemy like terrorism where the threat is common to all nations.

The similar analogy can be found in the life of a healthy person and peaceful citizen. We work in the direction of progress and development (of self in particular and society in general) and also build relationship. We also develop capability to fight others in ourselves and use a portion of energies for this purpose depending upon our mental makeup. Sometimes triggered by some event, provocation or compulsion we decide to fight with some (individual or group) of our friends/acquaintances/relatives.

The critical questions to be analyzed by any individual remain the same-

How much energy to be spent on developing capability to fight others?
When to fight? Are the grounds of fighting with others real and deserves merit?
How often we fight with others? Is it our normal life or the peaceful living prevails most of the time?
Who is the real enemy? What damage it can do to us?
Is any alternative to the fight left unused?
Have you used any deception plan to your advantage?
Is it worth to fight?

These questions are basic questions but sometimes we tend to forget these basics due to hurries and worries of life.

Well, nations can be left to politicians, but what about yourself? Do you handle these questions to lead to a logical conclusion or leave unanswered to be answered by others?

What is your present state? What is your natural state?
Are you a wartime soldier dying to live in peace or a peaceful individual preparing for war?

War and peace are two faces of same coin like life and death. We cannot just focus on one side and completely forget about the other. We live and die in our daily lives with these realities.

Keeping the institution of army alive is the compulsion of our society but we can always turn it to a healthy choice.

Pleasure Gait Farms

VALUABLE




Think of something you like very much. It may be anything –a mobile, laptop, car, house, job, hobby, person etc.

Whatever is the entity in focus, the balance sheet of your relationship with that will show something like this-

• The entity gives you better quality of service than others.
• The operating or maintenance costs of that entity are much lower than others.

This is how we value others.

We look for more value of service and less operating costs. If the value of operating costs is more than the value of service provided, the item is considered useless. (Who is interested in a loss making business?)

Same is true for ‘how others value us’.

Therefore, to become valuable, we have to focus on- improving our quality of work and reducing our own expenses.

In this ever growing and evolving world, this can not be a ‘one time affair’. It has to be a continuous (never ending) effort.

Every moment, we have to think and act to achieve this goal. That is how we evolve and stay in tune with nature- becoming a better worker and reducing the overheads attached to us – (every) next time.

The winning combination (part II)


In the tuning up process, we realize our true position which is between one of these extremes-
• The top position in our dream organization, it means that you just decide everything and do not do anything.
• Best worker in your dream organization. Ideally it is a robot, not human. Employer chooses human because they cannot afford costly robots or machines.

Do you feel the need of this ‘tune up’ process? A 4 step process is suggested here-

Step-1 Identify the problem areas- The first stage of the process is to check that everything is working satisfactorily or not. You identify the problem areas in this process. There are no universal standards. You are the best judge of your capability and situations. So list out the problem areas where mismatch of action and thoughts is noticed in your life.
Two common type of problems are-
Confusion - act or think? You think where action is required and/or act where thinking is required. You tend to forget our and selects a wrong role
Delay in changing role Doing/thinking things to somebody which was meant for someone else .A common example of this may be that ‘your boss has insulted you’. Since you can not reciprocate to your boss you pass on that insult to your subordinates (doing the same mistake for which you are criticizing you boss?).

Step 2 –Find out root cause-
After the problem(s) are identified, try to go to the root cause(s) behind each problem. Analyze all aspects of the problem cool mindedly. Answer to following questions may help you in this process-

Is this problem happening to me or many other people of my class/type?
Does this problem happen in some special set of circumstances only?
How real/critical is the problem?
Who is responsible for this problem?

Step 3 –Find your bottom-line – After you are aware of the problems and causes behind those, think of actions you can take if the similar problem happens again in future. Be very practical and realistic in your thinking. Find out what factors are in your control and what are outside your ‘area of influence’. Can you somehow increase your ‘area of influence’? (be prepared for additional responsibilities also). If you are unable to answer any question, take the help of experts’. Be aware at this point that mind works very fast. It generates about 60000 thoughts in a day. Unless you have very effective and efficient body and support system, it is very difficult to act on all of those thoughts. This situation is a common situation which most of us face. There are two ways to handle this situation-
(a) Prioritize your thoughts -according to importance in your life and focus on high priority and critical thoughts first.
(b) Calm down - You can calm down your mind through meditation.

Step4-Accept or reject totally- This is the final but most critical step. Most of the time, we are able to identify the problem, analyze it properly but fail to honor our analysis. Accepting reality is not very easy, especially if it not of our liking. So even after a healthy analysis, mostly we neither accept it nor able to dismiss it completely. This hanged state is very damaging. In this situation, we work like a government, who has got the recommendation of some ‘enquiry commission’ but it is neither willing to work on those recommendations not discard completely. The inaction prevails, report is not made public. It finds dust with other similar reports and next time another commission is set up to find facts. And the government thinks it had acted in best manner.

You have to carry each one of your decision to one of these final destination-
• Accept in totality and do best possible in that regard
• Reject in totality and forget about it.

Keeping tuned up- The job does not ends after tuning up. It is better to keep tuning up periodically (or when required).The real life situations are never as perfect as designed environment in our minds. After knowing our true positions we have to constantly improve from there.
Some tips in this regard are-

More focus on thoughts which lead to workable solution.
Act promptly on your own thoughts, else someone else may do the same.
Have more human angle in work rather working like machines.
Be cost effective.
Try doing more efficiently each ‘next time’


Image -->Pleasure Gait Farms

The winning combination (part-I)




At any workplace, there are two extreme types of working persons-

Action oriented - One who works on already decided jobs or policies. Work is mostly done on physical level. His/her decision making powers are very limited. He /she are generally referred as worker.

Thought oriented- He/she is the one who takes decision about what is to be done. The work is mostly done on mental level. He /she is generally also labeled as manager /officer / director /commander / leader etc.

Mostly our role is a hybrid of above two extremes. At each point of time, we operate from a role or position which is mixture of these two extremes. Depending upon the ‘task in hand’ we decide what is to be done and what is to be thought (for actions by self or others).


Making a perfect blend of action and thought dynamically (a perfect blend for every situation we encounter in life) is an art. Nature has provided us powers to make perfect combination of action and thought for each unique situation. We can ‘tuning up’ ourselves for all situations in life. But many times our tuning gets disturbed in this regard. And the effect is that we get distorted results, as you get blurry/out of focus pictures from a TV set which is out of tune. Don’t loose heart. It is a common occurrence of human machines. It can be attended and corrected just like you correct your ‘out of tune gadget’ (TV/computer/mobile etc).
(..........rest in next post)
Image -->Pleasure Gait Farms

THE POWER OF SURPRISE




• Are your activities easily predictable?
• Do you always follow a pre defined route or timing?
• Are your preferences very rigid?
• Are you strongly biased or allergic to something?

If you are a well known person for your subordinates in terms of your behavior or preferences, then watch out! You can be an easy target of manipulation by others. You can be easily given a false impression of reality.

Can you remember a scene from any movie/TV show or your experience when the workplace turns to be a picnic ground once it is known that the boss had left and there is no possibility of his/her coming back?

I do not mean to say that all subordinates make game plans and try to project them differently. There are plenty of sincere workers and nice souls around.
But you as a boss limit your powers by behaving in a fixed manner.

Intelligent and occasional use of surprise will give you rich dividends, although it may cost you a bit of comfort. Once it is known to your subordinates that the boss is not easily predictable, their behavior is likely to change. The fear will act like hidden camera(s) placed in reality shows. The knowledge that they can be monitored from unknown angles will do the trick. Although for some determined souls this alone may not be enough.

So use the power of surprise, do some unexpected things and see the results.

GIVE YOUR BEST SERVICES FIRST….




Nature is a perfect balance. (There are no manipulations or hidden interests.) To go along smoothly with this perfect scheme, all we have to do is, ‘honor some basic laws’.

One such law is-

“Give your best services first….’.
We all work .Even millionaires and celebrities do work. Work is spending /using your energies available. When we spend our energies, the environment sends us something back to keep the balance- it may not be necessarily a salary check or money credited in your bank account. It may be some message, an opportunity or a surprise gift, if we care to realize this.

But our parents (or whosoever brought you up) have taught us the opposite way-

‘Ensure/calculate first what you get will in return of your services. Then offer your services commensurate to this ‘return amount’.

The idea is fine from the limited financial prospective of maximizing profit. But life is much more than mere finance. Moreover, this message was given to us as training in childhood by people who were worried and concerned about our protection.

When we grow up, we have to learn the bitter & better facts of life. But some of us refuse to grow. This is because some of the myths they carry from their childhood as realities .Some of such myths are analyzed here-


Myth 1-You should receive first to give something in exchange- The facts of life are just opposite. Businessman invests first and the profit comes much after as a consequence of services provided. A salaried person works first and the pay check comes much after as a consequence of work. So the rule of life is ‘give first and you will receive something back as a consequence of your services provided’.

Myth 2-My resources will dry up if I only believe in giving first- As far as your services are concerned, your resources are your capability of work. And this will only finish with your life. In fact this resource gets refined every time you do some work /provide service. You become more expert of that work.

Myth 3 – Work only when profit is guaranteed – The fact of life is that there is no universal formula which can calculate profit with 100% guarantee in all circumstances. There are uncertainties in life and you have to take some risk anyway. So an assessment of profit is only one part of decision making, it should not become the sole criterion to decide. Future is unknown and every thing can not be pre decided even after advancements of technology. So focus on ‘quality of work’ rather than ‘quantity of profit’.

Myth 4 -My value will reduce, if I provide service first without a payment tag attached to it- You can only offer some value tag for your products/services in a market. If the offer is accepted by the customer, then only the value becomes a reality. Your value is decided by others –your customers in a market situation. You have very limited control over deciding your value. It is based on the judgment of others. Give them more opportunity to judge by offering best of your services.

So why not give it a try-

‘Give your best service first every time …………….. And see the difference.’

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Image courtsey bigfoto

Aggressive marketing


Technology has given us tremendous power today. With that power, it seems, everyone is busy selling something or other. If you see someone in action, most of the time, either he/she is trying to sell/promoting something to others or tackling others who are promoting /selling something.

There is an old saying ‘everything is allowed in love and war’. Nowadays it appears that it should be modified to ‘everything is allowed in marketing’. (Marketing is the first love for many and a war to win over the competitors.)

We realize it or not, the aggressive marketing hurts us.
Do we swallow this abuse also as accepted norms of society? Do we have to live with it? (After all we are living happily with terrorism, wars, price fluctuations and what not.)

A lot can be done in this regard, if we adopt a healthier prospective towards marketing.
In place of being aggressive in our marketing approach and hurt others, we can take a cool disciplined approach to our marketing jobs. For initiating this change in mindset, some suggestions are given below-

1. Introduce yourself and your motive to the client and wait for his/her choice. If the client is not willing to communicate with you for any reason, honor the free will of client

2. Your job is to informing the client about your services /products. Don’t judge after that. It’s not your job. Act like a player and have ‘sportsman spirit’. Judgment is the job of referee. Honor the referee’s decision even if it appears wrong to you for the larger interest of the game.

3. Sale and promote the products and services for which you are convinced as being genuine. Switching ‘the products you sell’ is not very difficult nowadays. Your immediate commission should not become the sole criterion to choose products. You may turn out to be looser in long term.

4. Don’t exploit client’s ignorance or overload him/her with information. The tactics of confusing or forcing choices may work in some cases but it is not a profitable strategy for all situations.

5. Find the right client. There may be plenty.

………wish you a happy marketing experience in life.

Image courtsey Gifanimations

FALSE REPORTING




Report means offering facts as collected by you to someone else.

In our professional lives, each one of us reports to someone. This holds true even if you hold the top position in your organization or running your business all by yourself. In such a situation ‘someone else’ is replaced by you and one person plays two roles of collecting and receiving the information.

Since it is a routine activity for most of us, we take it lightly and due to many compulsions and provocations, the dilution in this ordinary job sets in, sometime unknowingly. The effects of these tiny causes may not be visible to the door immediately and if the tendency is not corrected, it turns into habit and you start following it to remain in your comfort zone.

It is like watering a plant. If your water is polluted, than the plant will start weakening and will slip into state of disease from a healthy one. You may not notice the results immediately.

Areas more liable to false reporting are those which are difficult to monitor or cross check and where your report is taken for granted.

Many of us do not realize the importance of small piece of information given by them which is later used for decision making of our institution for the benefit of all.

Decision making in institutions is not based on absolute facts, it is based on facts as brought by means of reports by its contributory members at all levels. Due to hierarchal system of reporting, small dilution at every level/point accumulates to a very large amount. This gives a distorted picture at highest level of hierarchy, which is normally the decision making body. The decision taken on such distorted facts have devastating effects. These lead to lead to framing of impractical rules and policies.

There is a saying, ‘You reap what you’. In this context I wish to say that, ‘you or someone else in the family will saw what you reap.’

What can we do to improve the situation?

Well, the answer is very simple. Be as honest as possible in your reporting. You may have to take some pains in the process.

Whether these pains are worth taking in the larger interests of the community?

The decision rests with you.

Image -->Pleasure Gait Farms

FEEL POSITIVE FOR BEST RESULTS


COMPLEMENTARY VALUES

Darkness & light are not two different things but two complementary values of same property. Existence of one ensures the absence of other. Absence of light is called darkness. When we say ‘there is light’, it automatically means ‘it is not dark’ and similarly when we say ‘it is dark’ it implies ‘light is absent’
The positive value (light) helps us to do what ever we are doing (moral/immoral, legal/illegal, right/wrong) with ease. Its negative value (darkness) makes simple thing difficult. So it becomes very difficult to do what we want to do.
It doesn’t matter as to what is the source (of light); it may be a tube light, lamp or sun. As long as the light is available, we are comfortable.
The absence of light (darkness) makes us handicapped. We become blind and behave like blind persons. Sometimes when light is not enough, we are able to perform our jobs but not very comfortably. So we require light in enough quantity. The meaning of enough may be different for different people/situations.
The importance of light (the positive side) is fine, but this does not mean that we discard the darkness (negative value) altogether. Darkness has also its value & place in life. We require darkness when we rest & sleep.

The above mentioned fact about light (& darkness) holds good for some other properties also which are in the category of our feelings. These are –

POSITIVE / NEGATIVE

Faith / Fear, incompleteness, complaint

Love / hate, anger

Acceptance
/ Lust, fixation illusion

Faith – As presence of light makes our life comfortable in doing whatever we are doing, in the same way presence of faith is also required. Mere presence of faith is needed to make our life a celebration. It does not matter on what object our faith is based. One may have faith on his/her ‘mother’, other on ‘law of land’ and some one on ‘God’, ‘The system’, ‘ability’ ….(the list can be very long).The object on which the faith is based may be abstract or non-real.
As long as you are in the state of ‘faith’, it ensures that its negative value (Fear, incompleteness, complaint and variants) are absent. Moreover you are relaxed, comfortable and protected so you give your best to whatever you are doing/trying to do.

Love- Same is true for love. If you love something (it may be your fiancé, mother, your country, your job, your locality or so on), it is ensured that you are not in the state of hate, anger or its variants. Our ‘capability to work’ enhances tremendously when we are in love. We are more focused, in harmony with our self and the environment and can accept bigger challenges.

Acceptance- Willing acceptance of reality makes you realize your present position, capability and limitations. Therefore action initiated after such a realization are more practical and generate goodwill.


NEED TO CHANGE ?

Those of us, who often find themselves in the grip of any of the negative feelings, should analyze their situation .If the intensity or impact of (negative) feeling is making their lives miserable/uncomfortable, they are in need of change.

HOW TO CHANGE ?


Feeling can be induced by the company or situations. It means that if you involve yourself with a person who is in the habit of becoming angry or you land up in a situation (and choose to stay there) which is uncomfortable, there are fair amount of chances that you also become angry.
So to make your life happy (irrespective of what you are doing or what you want to do), just find a situation, person or object which can inspire you to have faith, love and acceptance (of reality). Even if you are unable to locate such an object in your present situation just create it in your imagination and start loving it, have faith in it and accept it.
You can soon see the changes in your life.


Image -->Pleasure Gait Farms

DECISION BY DEFAULT





I have two operating systems loaded on my PC. At the time of booting, it flashes a message to choose between either of these. If I do not make any choice within a set time, it selects a predefined one. This is also known as choosing the default.

The process of default is not limited to computers. We also use many default choices in our day to day lives.

For example, if someone doesn’t answer your question, it is fair to decide on his/her behalf, one of these –

• He/she agrees to your proposal
• He/she has got nothing to say
• He/she is not interested in you /your views
• He/she is a deaf person

The concerned person may be still in the decision making mode evaluating various options or his/her mind may be focused on something different. But due to delay in the process, a decision is taken on his/her behalf by the other party. This decision may not be the decision which the concerned person wanted to take.
Therefore the indecision or taking no decision is also a decision but the control passes to the other party .Now the decisions are taken on the convenience or default programming of the other party. And all connected actions are based on these decisions.

Some people think that by delaying a decision, they can get some time to evaluate other options. If this is the case, it is better to communicate the concerned parties that the decision is likely to be delayed so that default decisions are not activated. But the delay should be for reasonable time. No one will wait very long unless you are the final authority on the subject. There may be other things linked to it and the life has to carry on anyway.

Apart from passive default decisions, there can be also active decisions. This is when we take decisions regardless of reality. Such universal decision taken for all situations are our default decisions. Because of these decisions, we take certain aspects for granted and do not apply our mind for analysis.

To give some example –
• A will never want to spend any money regardless of the needs.
• B will always help others regardless his own condition.
• C will always criticize & blame others even without knowing the circumstances/facts.

Our default decisions are deep routed in our sub conscious mind and others label us according to these. In fact, to some extent, your default decisions become your identity. Others often decide about ‘what type of person are you’ on the experience and knowledge of your default decisions.

If you feel that your image is not as you wish to project, there may need to reprogram some of your default decisions. It is not very difficult. All you need to do is ‘examine honestly all your recent decisions on the particular aspect and see if these were balanced decisions on the face of reality’.
If the decisions were one sided, then take a commitment that you will consider the facts before deciding on these aspects. Everything else will fall in place.

A CLASS BY ITSELF




When we talk of computer, normally we think of a PC or laptop.
There is another variant of computer which is called a server. (Heard of a mail server, FTP server or domain name server?).
The hardware of a server is not different from an ordinary PC.
But a server machine is much costlier than a PC of similar composition.
What is the difference in these two classes of computers?
The answer lies in two processes through which these machines are designed-
1. Quality control- Server machines go through strict quality control checks.
2. Redundancy-
There is some amount of redundancy incorporated so that backup mechanism is activated at the time a failure to minimize damage.

Because of these two processes servers are more reliable than PC and hence these command a higher price in the market. Of course, there role is different. While PC does the day to day jobs, server provides its services to other servers/PCs on the role it has been configured. Functionally they do the same type of job. Depending upon the requirements; these two machines can be interchanged for their roles.

In fact, the same analogy is applicable to human being also.
Like a PC, most of ordinary people are busy in mundane jobs.
But some extraordinary persons are a ‘class by themselves’. Their names may be Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa or some other name in your locality. The difference is that these people have configured themselves to serve in their chosen field to all other fellow human beings.
They do quality work and they keep on working in any circumstances by using their innovative backup schemes. But they do same type of work as an ordinary person will do- eating, walking, talking playing etc. Yet they have a status of celebrity.

Any one can achieve this position by 3 simple steps-

1. Configure (take an honest commitment) yourself for service of peoples in your area of influence. Choose an area which you like most.
2. Be quality conscious in your work whatever you do.
3. Plan of backup schemes for all type of contingencies and don’t stop your work.

We all crave to become an extra ordinary person, a V.I.P, a celebrity. But how many of us think of these steps?

COMPETETION WITH SELF




Think of competition and the mind goes to –

• Beating others
• Out performing others
• Scoring better than all others
• Getting results faster and better than others

The mere thought gives you the feeling of painful efforts and fighting with unknown enemies.

Competition is also a very common scapegoat for any failure. We blame ‘tough competition’ or ‘increasing competition’ to hide our incompetence. The fear of competition is so heavy that some of us do not even try things which are within reach and easily achievable.

The process of competition can be turned into pleasant one if we shift our focus from-

“I will beat all others to become number one in my field.”

To-

“I will perform this time better than I performed last time on my chosen field/area. I will work on goals and deadlines defined by myself.”

The key to changed outlook is realistic goal setting and honest judgment of performance.

Consider the following advantages-

Working with known- In place of worrying about unknown competitors and estimating their capabilities, you work on yourself. And you know (at least) yourself better. So the process becomes easy and manageable and you enjoy doing it.

Control over goals & deadlines- You are the best judge of your capabilities, your environment and your limitations. So you can decide realistic goals and time frames to achieve these. These entities are not imposed on you from outside.

Constant improvement- It is a never ending process. Once you achieve a goal you ‘raise the bar’ a little more.

Win-Win situation – you are the only person involved in this process. You can not loose even if you don’t achieve your goal. In this case you will achieve less than expected results but still you are a gainer. Moreover, you will get a realization that either the goal was not realistic to achieve or the efforts were not enough. Here again you gain insight from your realization for better results next time.

No, it is not so easy to reprogram your mind, yet it is possible. The problems are-

1. Being honest with self - Having a candid self dialogue is the first hurdle. Our mind assume things with are less painful and thus we befool ourselves to avoid pain. Afterwards, we take our assumptions for granted. It requires lot of courage to be honest with self. you have to clearly define for yourself-
(a) What area you want to improve
(b) Where do you stand now in this area
(c) Where do you want to reach
(d) Time frame to achieve your goal
2. Assessment of performance- Since I am the most favorite person for me, I lower the standards while assessing the performance of mine. So beware of this and have impartial judgment system/yardsticks.
3. Leaving comfort zone- We remain happy in our created comfort zone. So common experience is that we make resolutions but do not act on these. The process goes on; we repent on not achieving and make fresh resolutions. So after setting your goal(s) ,you have to accept it as a commitment and a project (not given by your boss or client this time)

So, if the above mentioned approach appeals you, give it a try. Don’t worry about ‘where you will reach’ following it. You will reach where you want to reach rather than reach a place which is dictated by market forces.

TIME WASTERS



We all have same amount of time at our disposal (24 hours in a day, not a second less or more), still there are some people who are always short of time.

Are you one of them?

Do you repent the wasteful activity you have performed last minute /hour /day /week / month or year?

Time is a great resource available to all of us.
But some of us are not able to use it effectively.

Are there some time wasting activities which we can avoid to manage our time better?

The key for answer to this question lies in our outlook and attitude rather than ‘activity’ itself.
Any activity by itself is not wasteful. It is just a judgment to that act, a label given by us which makes it wasteful or useful.

Suggested below are some reasons/factors which forces us to label some of our actions as time wasters-

Lack of planning – A weak plan or ‘no plan at all’ is a major factor which results in lower satisfaction on realization that it could have been planned in a better way. If you are not paying enough attention to planning part of your schedule, focus on it now.

Lack of faith/confidence – Often we do things for which we are not convinced fully from our hearts. We do these activities just because we go with the crowd /accepted norms. More efforts in such a situation will not give better results. What is required is an analysis of reality and a bit of self-talk to find out what are your real interest /goal / purpose.

Pessimist outlook- You may consider some activity very difficult. But after you have done it, it seems very easy. It is at this point that people with pessimist frame of mind conclude that the time is wasted in that activity. It should be realized here that you became prey to overestimation – an error in judgment. The time in such situation again can be utilized better if you learn and improve the method of your making judgment.

Clarity of purpose - Often we find an activity wasteful (after doing it), when we find some better alternative to that. It normally happens when we have vaguely defined /undefined purpose or commitment. When the goal is clearly defined and it is in focus you do the best actions possible at any point of time. You do not repent later because you do your best at all points of time.

After writing all this, I feel I must take some other theme to write; otherwise this activity itself will become a time waster.

IS COMFORT ZONE A PLACE TO STAY?

Image -courtesy www.freedigitalphotos.net

There are two extreme of people in this world-

Easy going- They value security than anything else. They do things which will make them comfortable. There life is normally dull, boring, monotonous and predictable. They create and live in their own world and hence cut off from a large part of reality.

Entrepreneur- They are restless people ready to take on new ventures. They take risk and open another front if they loose on one. They are willing to explore and taste the life with its uncertainties. Their lives are adventures and unpredictable.

In fact a common person is a mixed of these two extreme. On some issues, we tend to play safe while on others we become entrepreneur. Depending upon mood and situation also we change our role.

However each one of us is naturally biased towards one of these extremes. We all have our comfort zones. We leave our comfort zones sometimes on compulsions and sometimes on pure entrepreneur instincts.

If given the choice, will you stay in your comfort zone?

The obvious answer to this question seems to be “Yes, why not”.

But my views on this are different.

I feel we must be aware of our comfort zone and also the risks involved in our profession /job /life /community /society /lifestyle etc.

For routine issues, staying in our comfort zone is recommended but we should also plan adventures attempts on issues which are of special interest to us. We should analyze the amount of risk we can take and accordingly select the entrepreneur venture.
Life is for living to its fullest. I have read a quote about ship which I feel is also applicable to ‘life’-
‘A ship is most safe in its harbor
…..But that’s not the place for which it is designed

Image -courtesy www.freedigitalphotos.net

BITE WHAT YOU CAN CHEW


Do you take (or you are loaded with) work which you can not handle under the given work conditions?

What you can do to handle such problem is ‘Learn to Say “NO” and know when you can afford to say so’

Saying ‘NO’ is not all that simple as it sounds.

It is natural that we succumb to the forces/ pressures like-

• Fear of loosing position, value, relationship or job etc.

• Fear of possibility that the other party will not accept the ‘NO’ in true spirit and will take it personally or personal insult.

• It is an easy way out to say comfortable ‘YES” in place of uncomfortable ‘NO’ and hope that you will learn new skills or build new relationship in the bargain.

• Fear that you may be branded as difficult person socially by saying ‘NO’ many times.

These feelings are very common but can be tackled easily by learning to analyze a given situation logically and cool-mindedly. There are no fixed solutions. You have to analyze each situation individually on merits by taking a holistic view. You have to realize the implication and difference of saying yes or No. Accepting a request or order is a commitment and it will (sometime drastically) restrict your further choices and you may have to reschedule some of your plans.

You should know your limits in a real world situation. It can be very different from your capability under ideal work conditions. If you start accepting everything which you are capable of doing, you may either reach to your breaking point or dilute the quality of work.

Don’t let others take you for granted. State loudly and clearly whether you have accepted the request/order or you decline to do so (give an explanation of your choice if required)

You should realize that whenever some request is made to do some job you have two choices –accept it and reject it .Of course, you owe an explanation of your rejection if the job is being given by your boss or client or some other authority. Normally if you don’t react, it is taken for granted that you have accepted it.

Your life will be simple if you learn to analyze the situation and exercise your choice and declare in a healthy way. When you accept it, you should display confidence and faith. If you reject the request, don’t feel uncomfortable or guilty about it. Otherwise the negative feelings conveyed through your tone, body language or choice of words will steals all the focus and suddenly you will be forced to go on defensive track due to that.

If the problem is not solved in the above mentioned way, you should consider improving your efficiency also. This can be done by-

Leverage action - Find some software or gadget that will be helpful in your work. Research the market, you may find some solution made for you.

Delegation
-If you are in a position to delegate the job (or portion of it) to others, try this.

Intelligent work -See how others are doing the job. Learn the tricks from the experts. You will have to invest some time and attention for this.

ONE CHANGE AT A TIME


Have you ever experienced coming to a position of power suddenly?

It is generally on getting a promotion or new assignment or contract.

You have a team waiting for your instructions and you also have bigger responsibilities to share.

The temptation in such a situation is normally that you want to change everything.

Yes, you have a right to do so. You should change everything to suit your taste, your style and your ‘plan of action’.

Take a pause.

If you make drastic changes or too many changes at one time, the system may not cope up with your way of work in spite of your noble intentions or excellent solutions to problems.

The better approach would be to do one small change at a time, wait the system to stabilize to adopt the change as routine and then move on. If possible bigger changes should be broken into a series of small changes

It makes sense if you consider the viewpoint of other party (who is getting affected by the changes made by you). It is a normal reaction that any change raises the level of discomfort and viewed with suspension. Till the benefits are clearly visible to all, the changes are not accepted globally.

So go all out for changes, but step by step.
Image -courtesy www.freedigitalphotos.net

INSPECTION


Have you ever observed how meticulously a series of tests/checks is performed by-

A pilot before take off of an aircraft.
A cashier before starting his/her duties.
An investigating official on assignment.

Well something very important like life or money may be at stake, so the job is to be done faithfully. Thos process is known as inspection.

Inspection is a powerful technique. Its use is not limited to higher positions or specialized jobs only. It can be applied at any level on any type of work. Specialist or gadgets are not always required.
Anyone can adopt this technique in his/her day to day work irrespective of the nature of work.

Given below are 3 steps to perform the process-

Step 1- Identify the scope – The first step is to identify the area of work where you intend applying the process of inspection. Find a critical area of work from your responsibilities. Keep in mind that it is not a mere fault finding exercise or total recheck of what is already done.
Clearly define-
What is the purpose of inspection? What is at stake /risk if the inspection is not done?
Who will do the inspection? Any qualifications required?
It will be performed under what conditions? Any tools/material required for inspection?
How the results and findings will be recorded?

Step2-Make a checklist – The checklist is the key to inspection and a very vital tool for the process. It should be comprehensive and include all contingencies of working conditions. The checklist should be prepared by expert of the subject having enough practical experience (if it is not you).
The tests are normally designed to select or reject some conditions or gauge overall health of the system at work.
For each test to be performed in the checklist define what parameters will be judged, under what condition and how the outcome will be tested.
The success of this process is not really depended on time spent but on the number tests done and the relevance and criticality of those tests.
Keep refining checklist itself. It is a never ending process of improvement. Whenever you find suitable redefine the checklist.

Step 3- perform the inspection- you have to just work on that checklist which is already made and observe/record the results.

Do you find it too theoretical?
Well, I have applied this technique on following events-

Whenever I receive any currency note.
Whenever I sign a document( including filling the on line forms).

I have my checklists ready (stored in the brain) and it takes only a few seconds on the jobs which I perform several times a day. It is a part of my habit and pays good dividends to me. You can also give it a try.
Image -courtesy www.freedigitalphotos.net

THERE ARE NO FREE LUNCHES

Enjoyed something/facility free of cost?

Think again
.

Pay back may not always be in terms of money. There are other intangible entities.

In fact by accepting the freebie you have already given-

-Your attention
-Your time
-Your energy

And your reputation may be at stake.

Moreover, by making a choice to avail that (free?) facility, you have restricted your further choices.

The complex mathematics of tricky investments and risks by larger forces at play is not so easy to understand.

If something is and not fitting into your need analysis but you are trying to pick it just because it is free, pause and reconsider.
There is no harm in availing a free facility if it is done consciously.
But if this becomes a compulsive habit it will not be economical.

EYE FOR CHANGE


“Change is the only constant in this world”

I have read this quote somewhere.

I don’t know whether this statement itself will ever change or not but the reality is that we witness changes everywhere around us (If we care to see).

But when it comes to participate in the change (to change ourselves or accept the changed reality), most of us are very conservative and slow to do so. Perhaps it is because our training/programming by society that we prefer to maintain status quo or adopt safe approach.

Today’s technology driven work environment does not permit us to be very rigid or do pre decided jobs. (Machines are best suited for)

You need to be very attentive to assess the changed requirements and understand/accept the changed reality on minute to minute basis. In fact on some specialized jobs like radar operator it is second to second basis.

Change does not always means a drastic change .Little actions taken timely can change the outcome of the projects.

You need to look for changes. In our day to day life we tend to overlook small changes. In fact most of the objects we encounter on routine basis (your boss, co worker, regular client, your workplace, routine information etc) we do not really look each time ‘as they are’- instead we refer to a stored image in our mind ‘as we thought they were at some point of time’. (And thus we take them for granted)

Giving a fresh look each time to routine objects will make you more informed and in a better position to handle these.

So why don’t develop an eye for change.

PURPOSE REVISITED

On 17th Jun 2009 I started writing this blog as an assignment of ‘On line content writing course’. The first posting ‘About us’ stated the mission statement of the blog.

Today after 3 months, at the eve of 25th posting when hit counter have crossed 2K mark, I feel this is the time to consider and discuss once again about the very purpose of this blog. (I intend doing it periodically)

Some of the aspects are highlighted below-

Target audience - Anyone who works. It may be professional work, business related work or even unpaid work like a housewife. People who are not working currently but it was a part of their life or it is included in their future plan (retired persons, students, unemployed etc.) may also be interested in this blog.(Who is left then?)

Focus on techniques – The theme is not specific or affiliated to any particular type of work or industry. It is applicable to any type of work. The focus is to evolve globally applicable techniques for better productivity and work environment.

Commercial angle – The main purpose is to share and exchange views and ideas rather than earning money or selling some products indirectly. However, as the traffic will grow some commercial activities will also be taken selectively.

My Role - I consider myself as initiator only for this platform. Postings by other writers will also be included so that readers can have versatile contents and views. Guest writers are welcomed to e-mail me their contents.

EFFICIENT WORK

In our interaction with others at workplace, there is lot of give and take action.
What you receive is instructions from seniors and feedback from subordinates.
What you give out is instructions to subordinates and feedback to seniors.
You have no control on what you receive. It is on the judgment of others.
You can improve upon what you give to others.
Improving the quality of your instructions and feedback will make you efficient and more productive.
Isn’t it?

HOW TO ASK FOR A RAISE

Are you underpaid?
Does your designation is lower than your capabilities?

If you strongly feel ‘YES’ as an answer to any of above questions, it’s time to talk to your management and asking for a raise.

Before that you will have to do some home work. Since it is an important project of your career, the preparation has to be of high quality. Investing appropriate amount of time will pay you better results. Following points will help you to prepare well-

Find reasons – There will be reason on the basis of which you have concluded that your present salary/designation is not enough. List all those reasons.

Analysis- Analyze all the reasons one by one. Think of other aspects which can come in the discussions with each reason. Can you convince other person on the issues? Drop the reasons which are confusing. Arrange them in order (Most convincing on the top).

Evidence- Do you have some evidence for your beliefs/reasons? If the evidence is in the form of a document, keep its copy ready to show it during your discussion. If the evidence is any person, go and talk to him/her. Initiate a discussion on the relevant topic and gauge that the person will support your cause if his/her opinion is taken.

Rating – Rate yourself honestly among your co-workers. List your achievements (preferably recent). Think of your skill sets and qualities. Also list your weaknesses and a plan to overcome each.

Rehearsal
- Rehearsal is an important part of any event. You have to practice enough times to speak up your desire against possible hostile conditions. Take help of your best fiend, colleague or close relative. If none of these is available, use mirror for practice.


Once you find yourself competent enough to take on the project, look for an appropriate opportunity for dialogue with the relevant person in your organization (In most cases it will be your boss). Take appointment if required. At the meeting time, remain calm but firmly focused to your mission. The result should be encouraging.

WHAT IS YOUR CONTRIBUTION

You work for your employer.

You get paid for your work which is done as per your responsibilities defined by your employer (sometimes not very clearly).

Does that balance out the equation?

Your employer is also an organization and an institution.
Employees are transients only and their association with organizations is for limited period only.
As long as you work there (at least) you sincerely want that the organization should evolve and grow. Don’t you?

What is the contribution from your side in this regard?

Doesn’t it deserve an extra bit from your side?

An action
A thought
A suggestion


For the betterment of your organization, irrespective of your role.

You contribute for your country, your society, your religion (if you believe in one) or any other institute you value.

Why not for your employer??

ENJOY YOUR RHYTHM


Are you branded by colleagues too fast or too slow in some activity?
What do you do about it?

Is it really a matter of concern?

We all have our natural pace of working comfortably. This may be different for different activities. You may be below or above the average pace in many activities.

As long as it does not affect your work directly, there is no reason to get perturbed about it.

Why waste energies to change your pace to (believed) average pace? It is like shaping your body to fit into available ‘ready made garments’. You always have an option of wearing tailor made clothes. You can also think about designer made clothes, if your resources permit this.

So enjoy your rhythm.

JOBLESS OR HOPELESS

Are you without a job nowadays?

• Fallout of recession,
• Trying to enter job market first time,
• Had to close your business and looking for a job
Or whatever may be reason.

No doubts, the situation would be difficult. If you don’t have big property or alternate source of income, the situation will be even worse. Management of your liabilities would be a tough exercise daily. Each payment of bill will be leaving a scar. Confused in mind and low in self esteem?

Honestly, what are you doing to come out of this situation? More importantly how aggressively are you trying to reverse the cycle of circumstances. Some suggestions are given below. (Beware; mere reading a suggestion will not improve your situation. Action on suggested method or a triggered solution in your mind due to this reading will do the change.)

Optimum Use of technology – We are living in a technology driven world today. Mobile phone and internet has made your reach global. But it is available to almost everyone. The catch is its intelligent use. It is not enough to post your CV on one or two job search portals and forget about it. Do some research and try to see the expectations of your possible employers on their websites/ networking forums. Do you fit in this or lacking some skills? Is it possible for you to acquire the required skills? Also make maximum use of search agents provided on job portals. Using appropriate key words and filter will yield better search results than generic ones.

Focus on goal- Job search is a tedious work and associated often with unpleasant experiences. It is very common to loose interest unknowingly. The actions are then performed as rituals and attention is diverted to other less important activities. Don’t let your main goal slip out of focus under any circumstance.

Widen your network – Social networking was never as easy as it is today. Try to establish contact on social networking sites with people who are in the same boat (job hunters in similar areas).You may gain from their experiences. Also make some friends who are working on the jobs which you want to achieve. You may get very fine tips from these friends. Think about each of your friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors etc. Use data of your contacts from email or mobile phone connection. Now shortlist the names that can help you in your job search. Talk to each of these to get the possible help.

Persistence- ‘consistent efforts and keeping patience’ is the mantra for success in job search. Don’t let your emotional impulses block your calculated and sincere efforts. Don’t loose hope. Hope is the guiding factor for efforts and only efforts will bring the results.

EARNING THE RESPECT OF SUBORDINATES

As we grow at our workplace, the number of subordinates working under us also increases. We may not be personally interacting with all of these. But these poor souls wait for our instructions and speculate on our moves/intentions. Directly or indirectly the plans, life and career of our subordinates is shaped (or ruined) by our instructions.

To harness the synergies of our subordinates as a disciplined workforce, we need to be respected as bosses. Subordinates should see us as a role model and get motivated.
What can we do to earn the respect of our subordinates? Given below are some suggestions in this regard -

Be polite –Often we are rude with our subordinates without realizing that. In fact it is treated as accepted behavior generally. Sometimes it is done to confirm or show our authority over them. Some of us develop this rudeness pattern as style and some use it to keep a distance from the subordinates. Whatever is the reason, if you behave rudely with your subordinates, consider being polite- you don’t loose anything but gains are enormous.

Explain to minutest details – Generally we tend to utter our instructions or requirements in short burst. Lot of details is left. Unless your subordinates know mind reading, they will curse you on such encounters. It is a good habit to have patience and explain to the minutest details about our instructions. If you miss out some details, chances are that your subordinates will work on their assumptions not yours.

Insult in private – There are circumstances when we want to hurt the subordinates, to give him/her a jolt to awaken the consciousness. We may have to say or do something insulting. That’s O.k. occasionally, in spite of the above mentioned point about politeness. But remember, if you have to do this, make sure this is done in privacy, not in public/ in presence of others.

Be professional – Deal with them professionally and try avoiding favor-ism. Don’t ever use them.

Human approach to problem –Keep the human angle in mind before making critical decisions. Honor their point of view, howsoever silly it may appear.

Face saving option– If a mistake of subordinate has been detected and he/she realizes it, forgive and forget by giving a face saving option to the concerned person.

HELPING OTHERS


A teacher was telling his students, ‘It is our duty to help others.’
One of the student got up and asked, ‘Sir, if we help others (to do their work) then what will they (others) do?’

On the face of it, it looks like a logical question. But life is much more than mere logic.

If we view from very narrow and limited prospective and view all others as competitors then helping others looks like a wasteful activity. However, when we think on a broader plane we will realize that helping others is a very fulfilling and refreshing activity.

An example of this can be seen in our family, specially where small children are there.
Do we not enjoy helping a child in what ever he/she is doing, be it walking, writing, drawing or learning? It is a pleasure and a treat to help the child in any activity.
One may say, ‘That’s O.K. with children who need support for living but why this should be applicable to grown ups who are supposed to do their work?
But, don’t we help our brother, sister, parent, neighbor, friend or colleague (or anyone else whom we care) when we find them not able to do what they are doing? Sometime they (the other party) are not even aware about our help. We don’t claim credit for that. Our reward is the little smile which we are able to bring to their faces.

On the other hand, if we analyze the amount of help one has been getting from others in the life; it will turn out to be a colossal. Can’t you remember the helps you got by others when you lost your way or forgot to bring something or committed a mistake?

The secret of fast progress of mankind is because we help each otters in the process of development. Whatever one decides or chooses to do, the society (for which family is the basic unit) is the platform where he keeps on getting opportunities and experiences which becomes ‘means to his/her end’. Due to this social bonding and caring for each other we are able to perform complex tasks in our daily lives easily. For achieving the desired results of our intentions in the life, we are obliged to (so many) others in a society-whether we know them personally or not.

The spirit to help others is the driving force behind any invention. All the amenities and privileges of modern time which we are enjoying have been created by those who thought of helping others. We take these things for granted, but imagine if there is no electricity, no vehicle, no computers, and no phones (and so on…), how miserable our life will become.

So helping others is a good habit on whatever standard we evaluate it. Isn’t it?

RULES ARE GUIDELINES


In every organization / society, there is large number of written/unwritten rules. Generally we are aware of the overview of rules only and not its complete details (unless you are involved directly with these rules in your work).

It is when we (or someone close to us) face problem(s) and go into details, many times we find that rules applicable are outdated, illogical inadequate etc.

Have you also gone through similar situation? Did you blame the system /organization/ authority for this? Were you compelled to resort to cheating to bye pass the rule?

Generally rules are formed to benefit the large cross-section of society. Therefore when these are applied to particular individual in a particular circumstance, it may appear sometime that true justice is being denied to some individual(s).

Whenever a breach of rule comes to notice, the rule applicable at that point of time is referred. It can not be changed for any one, whatsoever compelling circumstances one may have. It may initiate a call for revision of rule but the benefit of revised rule may not go to that individual who initiated that revision. It’s a paradox.

If the society is orthodox, the rule revision will be rare. In an advanced or modern society, it may be frequent.

Like two extreme type of societies, there are two extreme of individuals. These are law abiding citizens and law breaking offenders.

When law does not benefit some individual in some circumstances, the respect to it starts eroding in his/her mind. If such occurrence is repeated many times the mind position begins to shift from ‘law abiding’ to ‘law breaking’. If the experiences of ‘law breaking’ are encouraging, it becomes a habit. The habit, if not checked, can lead us to become branded criminals.

What can we do to remain the law abiding citizens?

The answer lies in our reactions to an experience of finding the weakness in the law. Given below are tips for handling such experience-

Imperfection is O.K. We should accept it as a natural phenomenon. The myth that ‘law is perfect’ is to be reconsidered. ‘Law’, like anything else, is evolving and dynamic.
We should learn to respect it as it is.

Emotional reactions There is no need to collect negative feeling like guilt or anger in such experiences. Nor is any need to blame the authority or society. These are just mediums. They are neither ‘against’ nor ‘for’ any individual.

Rules are mere guidelines Consider rules as guidelines guiding us the correct way rather than some fixed barriers to be crossed or not crossed.

Spirit Do not get entrapped in the frame work of rules. Try to follow the spirit behind these rather than get disturbed by the details.

Make or break Analyze your emotions and reactions. Are these going to help ‘law makers’ or ‘law breakers’? Review if needed.

OTHER WEBSITES ON SIMILAR THEME

If you are interested in the theme of this blog ,you may be looking for the similar contents on the net. To help you on your search, given below are details of 10 such places -


http://www.theworkplaceblog.com target="blank As stated there ‘The Workplace offers engaging expert perspectives on trends, research, products, and other news about intranets, extranets, portals, information and knowledge management, enterprise 2.0, and emerging workplace solutions’ . There is lot of articles available here.

http://www.a-to-z-of-manners-and-etiquette.com This website has got good details covering etiquettes on various aspects. The relevant themes in the context are etiquettes at office, telephone, toilet, employee and employer.

http://www.thesite.org/workandstudy/working/workinglife It is a collection of good articles on various aspects like work place bullying, work life balance, work dress code ,first day hell etc.

http://www.allthingsworkplace.com A blog by Steve Roesler . As states by him it is for ‘Teaching smart people practical ways to become extraordinary’. It is a collection of nice articles on all aspects of workplace.

http://www.pandemicflu.gov/faq/workplace_questions Answer of common questions regarding workplace is given here. The site is specific to policies and rules in US.

http://www.abetterworkplace.com/ The site offers courses for individual and companies for making the workplace better.

http://www.workplacebullying.org/ contains lot of material on bullying at workplace.

http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/management/leadership-training/need-work-life-balance-7-tips.aspx#Needworklifebalancetips target="blank" this is collection of nice and informative articles on Microsoft site on ‘work life balance’.

http://resources.bnet.com/topic/boss+and+manager.html target="blank" A collection of nice articles on boss, manager and general management topics.

https://www.blogcatalog.com/blogs/workplace-diversity.html target="blank" It is a blog by diversityGirl. Many interesting articles are posted here.

FIND A REASON TO CONNECT


Are you able to enjoy your meetings with new clients, officials or contractors?

If this activity is dull and boring, then you need to learn the tricks to make it interesting.

Interest can be created in any conversation in spite of a boring agenda or theme. To do that you have to do some work even before you utter a word. There are simple yet effective techniques which can be applied for making a lively connection with anyone. It doesn’t take much of you time –only few seconds are required.

Given below are some such suggestions of pre dialogue warm starter techniques-

Look for similarities –Look towards the other person and find some platform where you can identify with him on the same level. It could be a simple thing like using the same type of gadget, garment, hairstyle etc. Better would be to find some similarity on one of the following grounds/level-

• Cultural
• Ethnic
• Interests
• Habits

Once you are able to find appropriate similarity, announce it in your opening dialogue. Don’t wait for other person to start the conversation. You take the lead to open the dialogue and establish contact on the basis of similarity found. You may be amazed to see how easily people open up and feel comfortable to talk to someone who is of the same type. However if the purpose of the meeting is to ask some favor from other party this technique may not work out. In that situation it is better to declare your real purpose first and then on the ground of similarity try to get help or soft corner of other person’s heart.

Look for uniqueness- The other approach is to look for uniqueness in other person. It may be a very simple thing like hair style, phone or vehicle number, spelling of name etc. Everyone feels a psychological boost when it is declared that he/she is unique. So find uniqueness and declare it to establish a contact with other person.

Starter line Can you co relate the meeting situation or any other item on meeting place with any phrase, quote, line of song/poetry etc. This can become a good starter.

VIP Treatment Each one of us craves for a V.I.P. (Very Important Person) treatment in all the situations. So when you use the stereo type words like ‘you look great /smart /beautiful /gorgeous’ etc., these do have their effect on other person. If you sincerely give importance to the other person, he/she will at least listen to your point of view in a more open way. So treat him/her like a V.I.P.

EXCELLENT JOB


Krishna’s reporting time for duty is 6 AM. She has to clean the office premises and cook breakfast for her 3 bosses of their choice and serve hot breakfast to each one of them. She remains so busy in her work that she never gets an opportunity to eat her breakfast properly. She just manages to munch few bites along with her work.
She has to attend all visitors to the office throughout the day.
Since the work schedule of her 3 bosses is different, most of the time one or other boss is available in the office. She is the common secretary for all three of them. She has to prepare lunch and dinner as per the demands of the bosses.
Sometimes she has to organize several meeting and events in a day on the instruction of her bosses. All phone calls to the office are mostly attended by her.
She works normally up to 11 pm but her reporting time remains same even if she works late night.
She has got no weekly off and has not availed any type of leave since she joined the office.
She is expected to work in following capacity simultaneously-

• Secretary
• Chef
• Event manager
• Manager –admin/housekeeping/ security
• PRO
• Storekeeper
• Peon
• Accountant
• Governance
• Receptionist

She is a housewife and happens to be my life partner. I along with our two children boss around in the house. I salute her sincerity and dedication to work.

All four of us works for the beautiful organization called ‘OUR FAMILY’ and assumes roles from peon/sweeper to CEO as per the requirement. I am proud to be a part of it.

THE DIVIDING LINE

 

Do you use your official phone or internet connection for your personal use too often?

Do you believe it is an accepted practice and you can always take it for granted?

While taking these small privileges from our employer we don’t realize that we fall prey of these addictions which make us less productive at our work place. Try calculating the accumulated time spent on such personal activities in a month or year and realize the damage to your employer due to this.
The loss of work should be calculated on two accounts-
Firstly, by the value of that facility for the period of use.
Secondly, the loss to your employer for not doing your work during that period .

Organizations do have their stated or unstated policies regarding such usage. It is also the responsibility of employees to stay in the frame work of those policies.

There may be situations where it may not be practical to use your personal phone or internet connection at your work place. Your personal usage during work time may be too small to think for a separate connection/device or you may not be able to afford it.

The core question in this issue is ‘how much is too much?’

There can not be a universal answer to this question. The dividing line has to be drawn depending upon each individual situation.

Who will do that?
Your boss?
Your department?

The best judge is not an outsider, but you yourself.
Its O.K. so far the use is rare not routine.
The problem comes when this is done repeatedly which ultimately turns to become a habit. Once the habit is fully developed, we do it even without acknowledging ourselves. That is a dangerous situation. We stop regulating ourselves and usage can grow very fast. By the time we are reminded by someone else, it is too late to change the habit pattern.

The logic to solve this problem is very simple. Just keep the personal use to bare minimum, preferably only during emergencies.

WHY NOT AUDIT YOUR WORK?


 

‘Audit’ is a word which sounds familiar to most of working professionals. You may not be aware of the process (unless you are directly involved in it), but you may feel its importance.

You need not wait for formal audit to be conducted in your organization. The basic concepts are simple and can be effectively employed by anyone for his area of work. You can conduct audit of your own work as an individual or work of your department / work unit if you are the in-charge.

Given below are the simple steps to conduct this exercise -

1. Choose auditor –The best auditor for your work is none other than you. If you are not comfortable with the idea, you can request one of your friends, relatives or co workers to act as auditor.
2. Time for audit- Choose a time when you are free from your routine duties and worries. It is better to opt for a holiday.
3. Choose audit period- select a period of activities for which you will perform audit. It may be one week, one month, one year or more as per your convenience.
4. Documents for audit –List all the documents which are prepared or controlled by you. Also list the documents where your duties are defined or instructions are given to you for your job. Take out and display in order all these documents of audit period.
5. Audit- If audit is being done by someone who is not conversant with the work or documents make him understand first. Now the auditor has to check all entries in the documents with a critical eye to see -
The conformity with the instructions/rules available
• Mathematical mistakes
• Incomplete or not properly linked entries

6. Audit report
- Prepare the findings of auditor category wise. The discrepancies should be highlighted. An analysis of probable cause of discrepancies should be done and remedial actions should be suggested so that these mistakes can be avoided in future.
7. Using the audit report- Audit is not a mere fault finding exercise. It is a periodic check to assess the working and plug the loopholes if available in the system to keep it healthy. The finding of audit should be honored and appropriate steps should be taken.

Does that sound too theoretical?
Well, this technique is used at many places and known as internal audit or pre audit check.

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ARE YOU LISTENING?


 

Communication with others is an important part of our jobs. It may be with co workers, subordinates, boss, clients or customers. Most of our energy and time is used in this process at our work places. Effective communication is an art which is to be learnt and refined constantly.

Given below are some tips which may help you in this learning -

1. Two way communication –

You may

• Be the best authority on the subject
• Prepare the best speech or presentation
• Shout and blow your lungs
• Disclose the entire collection of abuses learnt in your life

All may go waste till the other party will allow to keep the material in his/her head which you are trying (or dying) to give.

So it is in your interest and part of your job to ensure that the other party is in best receiving state/mood. If not, than it is better to postpone the communication and focus on making the other person receptive rather than pushing around your points.

2. Confirmation Don’t safely assume that other party has understood you fully, since you spoke clearly. It is better to have a sample check in the end. Make it a habit to ask question(s) in the last part of any communication so that the other party is forced to state the facts as he/she understood which may be different than what you intended to say. Do it for critical issues at least.

3. Body language In direct face to face communications, it is not only the words that matters. Your tone and body language are read and accordingly importance is assigned to your statements. So be careful. Your body may leak out secrets for intelligent people to conclude meaning of your words. Use your body .Give out matching postures and gestures to your statements and control your tone. The best strategy in this regard is that you speak with full conviction and the appropriate body signals will be generated automatically. However it is not that simple as it looks. Many times we say things in which we don’t believe ourselves.

4. Your image – Unless the other party considers you reliable and trustworthy, they will not reveal their inner feelings and secrets to you. Image building is a complex and time consuming process. Try to project your image of a person who is open to discuss new ideas. You can even announce this in the beginning of the conversation. It will result in better communication.


5. To the point –
Many times we are not able to say our point directly. We prepare background and try to gauge the acceptance level of other party for the actual point. But in the meantime the other party deviates from /issue and sometime we are drifted from the main issue. In most of the situations it is better to communicate directly.

How to handle Business Meetings

 

Are meetings a part of your work?
Do you handle these with ease?

Business meetings may be of various type and flavor. It may last for few seconds or entire day. It may be with a client or employee you regularly meet at your workplace or with a group of strangers at a distant location. It may be in a big hall or at a restaurant or on your office desk. It may be as casual as chatting with a friend or it may be as formal as attending president’s speech.

Sometimes the difference between business and personal meeting blurs. Remember a social gathering where personal contacts turned prospects or client? Or a client on meeting turned out to be an old friend?

What ever be the case, the following insight will help the process of meeting to be conducted conveniently-


Preparation

Barring unexpected and unplanned meetings where it is not possible to prepare, it is worth investing sometime in preparation. It pays dividends. Prepare yourself for all types of possible situations and questions. Make some mental calculations or prepare notes if required. In fact you should have your ready- reckoner type stuff available all the time to deal with unexpected encounters.
Agenda is an important aspect of meeting whether it is declared explicitly or not. Stop for a second and think about the real agenda of the meeting. Who controls it? What is your scope?
Preparation also means to tune up your dress, appearance and mood to the occasion.
If there are some instructions for the type of meeting you are going to attend, update your memory by throwing a glance at least.

Dos
1. Find out (do not hesitate to ask) the name and title of the person(s) you are going to meet. Ask them how they will like to be addressed.
2. Start with welcome note and always end with thank giving notes even if the meeting results means zero to you.
3. Keep your mobile at vibrator and take other party’s permission to attend a call if it is important for you to attend.
4. Ask for drink/meals if the meeting is long and timings warrant it.
5. Be polite.
6. Do take notes of the transactions of the meeting (points for action and decision taken) and get it confirmed formally in writing from other party at the next available opportunity.
7. Allow two way communications to take place.
8. Follow up the meeting by an email or phone call. It’s a good habit and doesn’t take much time.


Don’t

1. Don’t take business matters as personal.
2. Don’t be rude or abusive.
3. Don’t conduct or let someone conduct the meeting one sided.

Calculations


The other day I had gone to station to catch a train with one of my friends. As usual, I landed up on the station about half an hour before the scheduled departure time of the train. For doing so I had to literally push my friend. (I made him to leave the bed early, finish the breakfast and dress up quickly)
My friend asked me, ‘What is the point in hurrying up so much?’ I always reach station just in time. It is not a place to spend time.
I replied, ‘One needs to keep a cushion (of time) for any problem which may come up on the way to station.’
My friend asked, ‘How many times you faced problem in your lifetime while going to station?’
I tried to remember and said, ‘may be 4 to 5 times.’
He asked further, ‘And how many times you must have gone to station in your life?
I made some rough calculations (assuming 50 trips every year for last 30 years) and told, ‘about 1500 times.’
On that my friend said, ‘you have wasted 750 hours (=31.25 days which is more than one month) by unnecessarily coming half an hour early each time for station, for the problems which you faced just 4/5 times. Is it worth it?
I couldn’t answer immediately but afterwards I gave it a serious thought.
Is it pure mathematics? I found much more in it.
Firstly taking cushion is a good practice (habit). In most of the engineering problems and planning calculations cushion is kept.
But the main question is, ‘how much cushion is enough’?
To my mind it depends on the consequences of the event. (In present context, the consequences of missing the train)
And since each event is different, the amount of cushion to be taken will vary. (You would take more cushions while catching a train for appearing in an exam rather than going for casual meeting with someone.)
But relating the usage of cushion mathematically (like my friend ) with its utility will not be fair .All this statistics is only available after the event(s) have passed and you have no knowledge in the beginning (while you kept the cushion) that the problem will come this time or not. Moreover if the consequences or the stakes are high, it will be worth investing some of the time (or any other resource) as cushion.
Does that mean my friend is wrong? No, I don’t thick so.
It is because in his perception the consequences of the event (missing the train) are so trivial that he works on almost zero cushion calculations. (I know that he is very rich and can take a flight or taxi even if he misses the train. But this is not the case with me as I may not be able to afford the expanses of flight or taxi.)
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