Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Career Chase

This is my second article for career guide magazine

Today, we have to and must to do for ourselves that which in the previous decades was determined by our family upbringing, culture, tradition & values. Gone are the days of taking up responsibility of father’s family business, job security and a settled defined and routine life. Gone are the days of one life equals one career. Today we have to do everything on our own; we have to come up with our own system to seek meaning and make sense of our lives. The sooner we do it, the better. In my experience, every one of us will pass through this stage once in their life. How we deal with it and come out of it will determine the road ahead in our life – more meaningful with plenty of success.

I suggest the following steps to be followed properly with care and diligence to avoid facing such a scenario midway in one’s life thus also empowering one to deal & handle it better:-

  1. There is no such thing as the good old days. Things are changing everyday. They are becoming more different and complex. There is no quick fix solution to a problem. New ways of understanding the roots of change have to be developed. We have to look for new forms of work and new approaches for self – help, and invent new services. We have to train ourselves and be ready for the future. The key to thriving in today’s world at any age is learning, unlearning and relearning. Learning “new tricks” is a continuous process for people who are open to new ideas and who welcome opportunities to grow and change. They engage in genuine self – renewal and growth; develop flexibility. One has to learn to be more independent and resourceful.

  1. In today’s age there is no conclusive evidence that people who make the most money are happier or feel better about themselves. There is no direct correlation between career success, happiness, and high self-esteem with status, money, and upward mobility. Finding one’s meaning and mission may be the most critical step to happiness, however we define it. Mission, not money, motivates: Only purpose fights our fear of nothingness.

  1. You are in charge of your career. No one is coming to rescue your career but you! If you are not in charge, no one is! If you don’t know what you want or need for your success, no one does. If you don’t have this wisdom, acquire it. This is what career planning is all about.

  1. To assure career satisfaction, select your career based on what fits your individual skills, interests, motivations, and values, and balance these with projected opportunities. Never base a career selection solely on the anticipated job market. If it isn’t a match for you, success will be difficult for you to achieve and maintain, and you may never be able to value your success or translate it into high self-esteem.

  1. Superior performance will be automatically recognized and rewarded. It holds true in the long run, but it also requires a lot of patience, persistence, determination, dedication, honesty and hard work. The final fruits of labor are sweet, but it takes time. Don’t seek instant gratification. Be willing to be disappointed once in a while. Don’t be disheartened if you feel that you did not get the praise or recognition you deserved. The best qualified people do not necessarily get the best jobs or the most money unless they have a keen awareness of how these things happen in their workplace.

  1. The road to success is checkered with failures, false starts, and frequently grave mistakes. Addiction to perfectionism and fear of failure are deadly dictums to career success and creativity. If you spend most of your psychic energy concentrating on your weaknesses, you will neglect your strengths. You need to know your strengths – what you do well naturally – and focus on taking these skills to their highest level. The myth that successful people make no mistakes is highly incorrect. You will never learn, if you do not make mistakes.

  1. Success in both personal and career life is a juggling act. To do this successfully we must identify, choose, and attend to our top priorities. Never sacrifice your private life for professional success for it may then not last long. There has to be an equal balance between both. That is the real challenge.

Conclusion: Understanding these above – mentioned points and reinforcing them time and again would enable the discerning reader to gain better control over one’s career.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Success in a new job

This is the second in my series of articles related to the Career field that I have written for "Career Guide" Magazine.

The following steps are keys to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence in your professional pursuits.

  1. Upgrade your own - professional self: If you are currently employed, seek ways to continuously grow yourself by enhancing your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Identify competency gaps and fill them by taking short-term certificate courses or professional training programmes. There are plenty of them available today here in India from global training institutes like Dale Carnegie, Franklin Covey, Middle Earth Consultants to name a few, and other educational institutions like NIIT, Hughes - DWGE. If you feel paucity for time, go for online learning mode that can be done from the comfort of your home or office with the aid of a Desktop PC & Internet Connection. The Internet is a very powerful medium for education. Identify mentors. Approach them. Do what they do, think the affirming thoughts they think, and feel what they feel.
  1. Manage your emotions: Strive to create and manage those emotions that you desire – from being energized to being joyful, resourceful, confident, open, dynamic, bold, creative, innovative, and even wise. For example, visualize an event or a time in your life which captures that emotion you want to recreate easily like feeling confident. Concentrate on a specific scene in which you were confident and zoom in on what you were doing, how you were moving and talking, gesturing, laughing, and smiling. As you recapture those empowered feelings, you can feel confident any time you choose. Learning how to manage your emotions daily can play a significant role in your professional career & personal satisfaction in life. It can also contribute to your growth as a superior manager as you move up the hierarchy in your organization.
  1. Change how you think about things: How you attach to things will significantly influence how you feel about them. If you view something that has happened to you as incredibly unfair, then you will feel victimized and unjust about it. But if you view it as a learning experience, you will see opportunity for significant gain. It is perfectly fine to make a mistake as long as there is a significantly learning derived out of it so as not to repeat it the next time around. The next time you are placed off better when faced with a similar scenario. Experiences can be powerful learning tools for growth in one’s own personal & professional life depending on how you welcome them and perceive them to be. Success is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is the result of experience. Experience is often the result of bad judgment. Hence, we must keep at it. If we keep striving to make things better and we learn from our “mistakes”, then we will succeed.

  1. Identify and focus on your desired outcome: Determine what you want and need in your life and your career in specific terms. Goals such as wanting a better job, more money, less hassles, reduced stress are too general. Specific goals enable you to focus on the outcome. Once finely focused, your goals mobilize into action. Pursue goals worthy of your efforts. Pursue goals that challenge you to be the best you can be and provide a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when you achieve them. Set goals and determine outcomes. Make a map of the roads you want to travel in your life. Figure out where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Be specific. The more detailed you are, the more empowered you are to create a result.
  1. Become committed to your success: The greater your commitment, the greater will be your resolve to let nothing stand in your way. The extent to which you are committed to your success is the extent to which you will achieve it. The key to success is to decide what’s most important to you and then take massive action each day to make it better, even when it doesn’t look as if it’s working. Be persistent in taking action: Every time you do something, you learn from it, and you find a way to do it better next time. No problem affects ones entire life, even though it may look like right now. Do not be shut down by fear of failure, follow the advice of the Nike Ad & Just do it.
  1. Identify those individuals whom your function impacts and meet them: Get to know their needs, interests, and motivations. Learn about their roles and responsibilities. It is critical to your own success that you know what works for your colleagues.
  1. Gain support and endorsement of others: Involve your superiors, peers and subordinates in your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and intentions by informing to them. If you ask for their input, most people are pleased to support you. Involvement fosters commitment.
  1. Take care of the company and the company will take care of you: Bring to the job a sense of urgency about the task at hand. Your future will basically rest with your performance reputation established within the first few months on the job. Don’t be apolitical. Refuse to discuss personalities or to take sides.
  1. Know the Business: Know more about your business and company than you need to know. Ask about new products or new projects or programs. Learn how the company operates and become known to as many people as you can.
  1. Regularly review your own performance: Measure performance. Review monthly what you have done. Measure your performance against your own goals. Be tough on yourself. Expect results, not perfection.
  1. Be alert and moving all the time: Keep things moving. Do not sit on yesterday’s successes. Everything that you do will have a direct positive or negative impact on the bottom line. Prudence dictates better performance.

Believe in yourself and deem yourself to be worthy, if you are committed to your success and trust your skills, you will find the strength and courage to go on.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

My viewpoints on what makes an excellent workplace

The Cover Story was "GOOD PLACES TO WORK" in Business Manager Magazine. The following were my responses based on my experiences.

1. What are the ingredients for making excellent work place from employers as well as employess point of view?

My answer is that the employer must seek to attain & retain the best possible talent through various sources. There must regular upgradation of one's skills through Training & Developmental Activities. Employees look at the benefits that they are going to get in return for the amount of time they spend in Office. And mind you, it is not just Monetary Benefits. They look at the Workplace, its Culture, Atmosphere, Environment, Housekeeping, Reputation in the market, with the Customers, HR Policies, Career Growth Advancement, etc...

2. What is the role of HR in this process.

The HR must be highly competent, must have be able to make things happen, must be able to motivate people, must have rewards & recognition programmes in place, must encourage & appreciate people wherever due, salary benefits must match with the best in the market competition, employees must be regular appraised, there must be an internal HR Newsletter,

3. What are the impediments in making excellent work place?

The impediments could be people who are opposed to change, who are used to routine because change causes them stress to them, people who view investment on employees as an expense rather than a ROI.

My Viewpoints on Attrition in an Organization

These are some of my own viewpoints on the Issues of "Attrition in an organization" that was accepted & published in Business Manager Magazine

1) What do you identify as major reasons for attrition ?

Most of the times, it is the work culture & the environment. Money is also an important factor, but there are people who would like to be loyal to the company & are emotionally attached to their workplace. But if the work culture is not conducive or promotive, then the feeling of resentment creeps in, it is like within the family & thus people leave.

Another one of the reasons could be internal politics by senior members who do not want their juniors to grow. By creating stumbling blocks for the juniors, they make them want to leave & this way their objective of not letting the company grow is achieved. Seniors often do not want the juniors to grow. People also look at the benefits they are getting back from the company in lieu of the efforts put in by them. If that is found to be not satisfactory, then they leave. Unfriendly HR policies is also another reason like refusal of leave, salary - cutting for no logical reason delay in reimbursements, etc... I guess that that in today's scenario, the old adage of Boss - Worker concept is gone. People should no longer be treated as workers who are being paid for the work they do. Everyone wants to feel to be a part of the company, I am talking of ownership, Salary is something which one gets in return for the services rendered by the person to the organization. The labour concept is outdated today. Hence, if some company is still following that culture, then that could be another one of the reasons why people leave. People also leave for lack of career - growth opportunities.

Another reason could also be the the attitude of the top management towards not taking any action or showing some worry for the employee's leaving the organization. They only look at the top - line, they only look at how much money / business is coming in & hence till the time it is not affected, they feel that people may come & people may go, but i will go on forever. This is not valid in today's scenario. In such cases, also a person will leave where he feels that his contribution is not valued. People want to be felt as a part of the contributing team, one person alone must take all the credit.

2) What can be the possible strategies to combat attrition ?

I would highly recommend a strong HR Friendly Policies. Apart from that there should be regular increments of wages. It should be totally unbiased & based strongly on performance only. There must be rewards & recognition schemes to boost employee morale & productivity. Employees need to be kept motivated & engaged all the times. No work is impossible when the employee is motivated & highly enthusiastic. Internal HR Branding, that is of promoting the organization as an avenue for growth & reasons to stick around is another strategy that can be adopted.

3) Any HR practice you adopted in your organization which really helped you to reduce attrition rate?

The company has introduced Performance Linked Incentives Policies as a strategy to combat the high rate of attrition & to be able to retain employees from joining the competition. There is also a regular Performance Appraisal System in place with annual increments.

4) Any long term solution to increase stability of employee in the organization?

Employees must feel that they are a part of the company & the people must also grow alongwith the company, otherwise nobody will stick around.

How to put your career on the fast track

  1. Choose the job or career with great care, attention & detail – The choice of a job or occupation for which you are ideally suited for comes over and above anything else. Choose it with great care, attention & detail. Do plenty of research on it. Speak to your friends, professors, do research over the internet, and take professional career guidance where necessary. Planning is a must. Otherwise, if you to try work at something that you do not enjoy or believe in, but took it up as it came your way, then you will neither be happy nor satisfied with it, both personally and professionally, and hence will never be successful. Choose the work carefully after thorough research & planning and if you don’t love what you are doing currently, get out of it! Working at something that you don’t care about is the best way to waste your time in life.

  1. Become excellent at what you want to do – You have to pay any price, go any distance and spend as much amount of time necessary to be the best that you can be. Extraordinary results call for extraordinary performance and only those who are willing to strive towards that extra mile attain them. You must strive to increase your worth and value in order to earn more. Overall, you must be able to enjoy your work. Approach your work with zest and enthusiasm; observe what a difference it will make over a period of time.

  1. Work at the right place and with the right boss – A ‘people’ organization is characterized by 3 things – commitment, teamwork & human touch. The right company is the one that respects its people and pays for its performance. The right company is dynamic, open to new ideas, provides a competitive and challenging atmosphere in the right spirit and is full of opportunities for people who are ambitious and want to grow in life.

    Much of your happiness and satisfaction in job will depend upon your relationship with the immediate superiors. If you cannot get along, then make every effort to resolve it at the earliest, if it is a big organization, get transferred to another department and if you still can’t do anything about it, just walk away.

    Enjoy working with people. Our co-workers are very important to us. Develop pleasant, congenial & fun-loving relationships.

    Choosing the right work, the right place and the right people to do it with is laying the foundation for career success.

  1. Develop good work habits – Develop a reputation for quality work, speed and dependability and you will immediately stand out from the majority. These qualities are the benchmark in a person for promotion. This is also the fastest way to get noticed and bring yourself to the attention of the superior.

    Be straight with everyone. Don’t be dishonest or lie about something that was never meant to be. There are always many reasons or excuses to compromise. You may reason that people are not ready to hear the truth or bad news. It is these rationalizations that usually lead to unethical conduct and eventually backfire.

    Be dedicated to the end result, the output, not how you get to it or whose idea it is or whether it looks good or not. Respect the work of all those who respect their own work.

  1. Keep learning – Become devoted to lifelong learning. The most successful and fulfilled people are those who think the best thoughts. We can only act on what we know. And when we know better, we can choose better. Subscribe to book libraries, book summaries, build your own collection, become a committed audio-tape user, Listen to these materials on way to work, make the best use of traveling time, Learn and continually expand one’s own mind and its vast potential.

    To earn more, one must learn more and thus keep on growing continuously. The outer world of results will always correspond to the inner world of preparation.

  1. Cultivate good relationships with others – Holding constant for knowledge, skill, luck and intelligence, your success will be in direct proportion to the number of people known. The network of contacts and relationships developed with people over a period of time will work more for your own career than any other factor. Become a member of a professional organization. Get involved with community affairs. Network. Socialize. Build lifelong relationships & invaluable contacts.

    Eventually, it is they who will assist you when you are seeking a change or moving up the career path. They will also stand by you in periods of difficulty, when undergoing a period of career transition or job rotation. Knowledge & experience sharing in such moments is invaluable to help transit through without any hindrances.

  1. Celebrate achievements – Celebrating small successes supplants the long – term drive towards reaching a major result. When one small step or goal is achieved, celebrate it. Train the mind to recognize success at each and every step achieved towards a major long – term goal.

Book Review on “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” Authored by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

The Best Managers reject conventional wisdom. This book describes their perspective and how they keep talented employees. If you're a manager, if you work in human resources, or if your company hires managers and you are seeking criteria to hire great managers, you'll want to give "First, Break All The Rules: What The World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman a read.

The Authors expose the fallacies of standard management thinking in First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. In seven chapters, the two consultants for the Gallup Organization debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as "treat people as you like to be treated"; "people are capable of almost anything"; and "a manager's role is diminishing in today's economy." "Great managers are revolutionaries," the authors write. "This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place."

The authors have culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. Quoting leaders such as basketball coach Phil Jackson, Buckingham and Coffman outline "four keys" to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent--not just knowledge and skills. First, Break All the Rules offers specific techniques for helping people perform better on the job. Good managers spend more time with their best performers than with their less productive counterparts. They fit people into the right roles and hire for talent rather than experience, they focus on strength rather than weakness, and that they clearly define the right results as opposed to the right steps. Buckingham and Coffman also illustrate ways to promote and compensate people for honing their valuable talents instead of seeking new tasks that will take them up the company ladder.

"The point is to focus people toward performance," they write. "The manager is, and should be, totally responsible for this." This book tells you exactly how to improve as a supervisor. Good managers recognize employees as they are – as individuals. They do not treat everyone the same. They also don’t try to “fix” people and their weaknesses. Companies that focus on cultivating employees’ strengths rather than simply improving their weaknesses stand to dramatically increase efficiency while allowing for maximum personal growth and success. The focus is on managers who excel at turning talent into performance. A manager has to remember that he is on stage everyday. His people are watching him. Everything he does or says affects their performance.

After extensive research, Buckingham and Coffman summarize the twelve key factors in retaining star employees. If the employees can answer the below questions affirmatively, you probably have a strong and productive workplace:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?

12. At work, have I had the opportunities to learn and grow

What about stock options, high pay, and other more obvious benefits? Don't employees want those also? Yes. However, Buckingham and Coffman point out that those benefits attract all people, including what they classify as ROAD warriors (Retired While On Active Leave or unproductive employees). The above twelve factors attract and keep productive employees.

So, can anyone become a great manager? According to the research of Buckingham and Coffman, probably not. They found that amongst the great managers, those who are effective catalysts for turning employee potential into production, the motto is "People don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough."

Buckingham and Coffman found that the greatest managers make a clear distinction between knowledge, skills, and talent, where talent is defined as natural recurring patterns of thought within a person. While knowledge and skills can be taught, the greatest managers know that talent cannot be taught. A key of management success is finding the right kind of person for any given job.

Each person has a unique set of talents and a natural tendency to behave in a particular way making them unique. This set of talents defines who the person is and, more importantly, the kinds of work the person will enjoy.

What about the various self-help and self-improvement programs used by companies today? Buckingham and Coffman say that most great managers dismiss them as ineffective. You can't just teach employees "the nine habits of an effective life" and expect them to excel. Buckingham and Coffman explain that each individual's brain is uniquely wired. Performance is in the synapses, or the connections between a person's brain cells. This develops in early childhood.

When a child grows, many brain cells exist. There are relatively few connections between the cells. Certain pathways between various groups of brain cells will be strengthened as the child grows. Other pathways will rarely be used. These seldom used pathways and cells will be pruned by the brain.

The result? Some people will be great at strategic thinking. Others will struggle with strategic thinking. Some people will have a talent for mathematics. Others won't. Some people will be naturally empathetic and verbally fluent. Not so for others. Trying to make someone function in an area his or her brain hasn't developed will lead to stress, low satisfaction, and, probably, on-the-job failure. But, putting someone in a role where he/she is naturally wired will probably lead to satisfaction and competency.

What about simple roles that "anyone should be able to do." Roles people are in only because they need a job and hope to leave as soon as possible? This is a flaw in manager thinking. Disparaging any role within an organization is wrong. Rather, great managers recognize greatness and excellence in any role, even if it is usually considered a common job. Some people will have the talent to do that job while others won't.

Buckingham and Coffman criticize the conventional career path of promoting people out of roles in which they excel and moving them into roles in which they struggle. The authors say it is foolish to reward excellence in a role by removing the person from the role. For example, not everyone has the talent or the desire to be a manager. The talent to be a great computer programmer will not be the same talent needed to be a systems analyst or project manager.

"First, Break All The Rules" gives solid advice about finding people suited to a given role and, then, managing them effectively. This applies to all roles, including management. Are you a potentially great manager? Do you have the talent and recurring patterns of thought to manage others effectively? Do you feel respect and trust must be earned by your employees?

Great managers and average managers answer this question differently. Don't feel bad if you get the answers "wrong" and answer differently from the greatest managers.


The most important advice: develop strengths, don't try to fix weaknesses. Some people will never improve in their weak areas, but can accomplish the world with their strengths. Learn to recognize and develop those strengths, and you will be managing a team that can do anything.

Book Summary on The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey

This priceless book is one of the best Management books that I have come across dealing with the subject of Organizational Staff’s Time Management. If you are someone who feels overwhelmed with the problems created by other people, reading this book and applying the lessons learned from it can change your life. It definitely did to mine. It preaches to the discerning reader an unforgettable lesson; how to save time to do what you want & need to do. Step by step the authors of this book using examples & story-telling show how the managers can free themselves from doing everyone else’s job and ensure that every problem is handled by the proper person. By using the 4 – rules of Monkey Management, managers of today will learn to become effective supervisors of time, energy and their own talent.

The book begins by telling a story about a harried monkey manager who worked for long, hard hours, yet never quite seemed to get caught up with all the work he had to do. He then learned about monkey management and how not to take initiative away from his people so they can care for and feed their own “monkeys.” In this process, he learned to be more effective in dealing with his own manager and the demands of his organization. The performance of his department drastically improved as did the prospects for his career.

In the good old days, when one became a manager things were a lot easier because one’s own performance depended strictly on one’s own efforts. In those days, the longer and harder one worked, the more work one got done. However, in today’s age, the formula works in reverse. Typically all that the managers these days do are to shuffle between papers without ever making progress on the real work that needs to be done. This is defined as triumph of technique over purpose; one is doing more but accomplishing less. How Paradox this is! There is just no time left to implement the ideas for improving operations, to do planning, coordinating, staffing, and other key managerial tasks that will keep the unit functioning well towards the future. And then attempts to address these key issues by working overtime, on weekends, attending seminars, hiring outside help address merely the symptoms of the problem, not the cause itself. It is like taking an aspirin to reduce the fever but ignoring the illness that caused the fever. As a result, the problem gets progressively worse.

In this book, A Monkey is defined as “the next move.” Typically a manager’s subordinate will have a problem. Whilst he is explaining it to him, the monkey is on his back. When they both are talking, the matter is under joint consideration i.e. the monkey had one leg on each of their backs. When the manager says that he needs time to think over a possible solution to the problem the monkey has moved his leg from the subordinate’s back onto the manager’s back and the subordinate walks away 10 kilos lighter. In this manner the manager assumes the worker role & vice-versa. For every monkey there are two parties involved: one to work for it and one to supervise it.

When the manager picks up the monkeys that his people could have handled, he gives the message that he wants the monkeys. So naturally, the more he picks up, the more he gets. And so on a normal workday, he has as many as he can handle apart from the regular requirements of the job like reporting to his Boss and others. This way the monkeys keep coming & multiplying to a point where he has to borrow time from his personal life: exercise, hobbies, and eventually the family. And then the manager starts to procrastinate whilst the staff waits. This is referred as a costly duplication of effort. By spending all his time working on other people’s monkeys means that the manager has no opportunity to work on his own. He is not managing. He is being managed. He is not proactive, but strictly reactive. He is merely coping.

The manager is recommended to attend to a seminar titled “Managing Management Time” which helps him to learn the golden principle “Things not worth doing are not worth doing well.” & “The more you get rid of your people’s monkeys, the more time you have for your people”. As a manager, to the extent that one can get people to care for and feed their own monkeys, they are really managing the work themselves.

This is illustrated in the book by the Oncken’s 4 Rules of Monkey Management. The dialogue between a boss and one of his or her people must not end until all monkeys have:

Rule 1. Appropriate “next moves” identified and specified.

Rule 2. Owners: The monkey is assigned to a person i.e. who is responsible for it, ownership. This must begin from the lowest organizational level consistent with their welfare.

Rule 3. Insurance Policies: The risk is covered. Every Monkey leaving the presence of the Manager on the back of one of his people must be “recommended & acted upon” or “acted & then advised upon.”

Rule 4. Monkey feeding and checkup appointments: The time and place for follow-up is specified. Proper follow-up means healthier monkeys. Every monkey should have a checkup appointment.

The author states an example of these 4 rules by way of a dialogue between a manager and a subordinate. The manager explains to his subordinate, “We do not have a problem, and we will never again have one. I am sure that there is a problem, but it is not ours, it is either yours or mine. The first item on the agenda is to neaten up the pronouns and find out whose problem this is. If it turns out to be my problem, I hope you will help me with it. If it turns out to be your problem, I will help you with it subject to the following condition: at no time while I am helping you with your problem will your problem become my problem, because the minute your problem becomes my problem, you will no longer have a problem and I can’t help a person who does not have a problem!”

The purpose of the rules of monkey management is to help ensure that the right things get done the right way at the right time by the right people. On a precautionary note, the author also states the rules of Monkey Management should be applied only to monkeys that deserve to live. Some do not. He urges to ask the question: “why are we doing this?” If there is no viable answer, shoot the monkey so that the next time one will not be doing more efficiently things that should not have been done in the first place. The monkey is not a project or a problem; the monkey is whatever the ‘next move’ is on a project or a problem.

In order to ensure that the problem does not occur repeatedly i.e. a permanent cure the author recommends:

· Delegation – whereby the people are achieving more and more with less and less involvement from the manager. Whilst assigning involves a single monkey; delegation involves a family of monkeys. And once delegation is reached, staying there is easy compared with the job of getting there.

· Practice Hands-Off Management as much as possible and Hands-On Management as much as necessary. People are fully responsible for their projects unless a problem is encountered that requires intervention. This practice leads to self-management, which is a lot better than the high degree of boss-management that one experience’s while assigning monkeys. The assignments should be boss-initiated only to the extent that the staff member cannot initiate them.

· It is better to strike a straight blow with a crooked stick rather than spend the whole life trying to straighten the darn thing out.

What are the learning’s that one derives at the end of reading this book? That one must be able to clearly measure success by what one is able to get the people to do, not by what one does by oneself. In order to do that, the mentality has to change from that of a do-er to that of a manager. Learn to replace the psychological rewards of doing with the rewards of managing, namely, deriving satisfaction from what the people do and being recognized, paid, and promoted accordingly.

In the past, one spent much of the time fighting fires; now most of them can be prevented by spending just a little time in advance. In the past, a great deal of one’s time is spent in reacting to other people; now it can be spent a great deal in proactive measures. These include doing some advance planning for a change so as to enable to do the right things the right way the first time instead of having to do them over so often.

Perhaps the greatest lesson learnt about monkey management, at work and at home, is that there are always more monkeys clamoring for attention than the time one has to manage them. Hence unless one is extremely careful about which to accept responsibility for, it is very easy to wind up caring for the wrong monkeys while the really important ones are starving for lack of attention. If we thoughtlessly try to handle all of them, our efforts will be diluted to the point where none of them are healthy.

Review of Chapter 4 from Stephen R Covey's book The 8th Habit : From Effectiveness to Greatness

The essence of The 8th Habit is to find your inner voice and inspire others to find theirs. So many people have not yet found their voice, lost their voice or yet not have had the conviction to sound their voice. And hence, the 8th Habit is all about finding your inner voice & express your inner feelings, your burning desires, what is it that you want to be, but cannot be & it tells to us as to how to go about achieving it. We are a product of neither nature nor nurture; we are a product of choice, because there is always a space between stimulus and response. As we wisely exercise our power to choose based on principles, that space will become larger. Little children and people who are mentally handicapped may not have the space, but the overwhelming majority of adults do. Determinism is deeply imbedded into present – day culture and is reinforced by the terrifying sense that if I do have a choice, then I am also responsible for my present situation. Until a person can honestly say “I am what I am” and “I am where I am because I so choose to be there”, that person cannot say with conviction, “I choose otherwise”. Examples of typical voices are “I am not appreciated or valued, I am bored, No matter how hard I work, I feel something is missing.”

The above are typical voices that people express openly or are in their heart. All of us possess more intelligence, more talent, more capability, more creativity, more resources than what our present jobs allow us to do and we are always under tremendous pressure to produce more for less in our jobs. These two things represent loss of voice. Also, add to the fact, that 50% of our time we spend doing things that are urgent but not really important. We do things that are pressing, popular, they are approximate, they are pleasant, but they are not really important. Most of the times people do not have a clear sense of what importance is because they are not really on the same page. And then finally, urgency will replace the important like reports, emails, meetings, etc…And this is typical in most organizations.

Half of the time is spent on things that are urgent but not important and voices are being lost. Offices are full of politics hissing up the hierarchy. Due to this, the capacity to produce is being straight jacketed out of people.The 8th Habit is based on a very simple paradigm – A Whole Person. The Whole Person consists of Body, Mind, Heart & Spirit. When there is unity, harmony & understanding between them, you have voice.

Examples of the application of the idea of Voice to One’s self: - Mind - What is it that you are good at, what are your talents, what are your competencies, what are your gifts? Heart - Passion, What is it that excites you, what do you love doing, what will get your engine up & running so that you will not have other people psyche you up or motivate you ? Body - Needs, Physical needs to survive in this world, goods & services to meet these needs, economic needs. Spirit - Conscience what do you think you should do, what is it that your conscience drives you to do?

Summarizing the examples, we are relating TALENT for the MIND, PASSION for the HEART, NEED for the BODY that you are trying to serve, CONSCIENCE for the SPIRIT. Voice is applying this simple map to one’s self.

If one were to apply the concept of Voice to an Organization; What is its Core Competency or What is the Collective Mind, What about the Collective Heart of the Organization, is the Passion there, what Need is being served, what Services or Products are being given to meet Human Needs: Spirit is the High – Trust Culture; do they live with Principles & Integrity so that it merits the commitment of the people in their life. Does it have a Sense of Meaning that turns People on that they are really adding value?

If one were to apply the concept of voice to Family; Even a family has its own economic needs, hopefully everyone is on the same page, they have one mind, one heart – they are excited about it and also they will try to live by Principle’s so that there is high trust and open authentic communication.

Because these 4 dimensions of life obviously overlap, you really can’t work exclusively on any one without touching directly or indirectly on the others. Developing and using these 4 capacities or intelligences will instill within one’s self quiet confidence, internal strength and security, the ability to be simultaneously courageous and considerate, and personal moral authority. One must develop and work on all these 4 capacities or intelligences in order to take any one of them to its mature & sustainable level. This is what integrity means. It means the whole of our life in integrated around principles. Our capacity for production and enjoyment is a function, in the last analysis, of our character, our integrity. This takes constant effort to develop the physical muscle fiber, the emotional / social muscle fiber by getting us out of our comfort zones and doing those exercises that cause the fiber to break (pain); then it is repaired and enlarged and strengthened after a proper period of rest and relaxation.

In many ways, one’s efforts to develop these intelligences will profoundly impact the ability to influence others and inspire them to find their inner voice.

Book Summary on How Full Is Your Bucket - Positive Strategies For Work & Life by Tom Rath & Donald O' Clifton

In this brief but significant book, the authors, a grandfather – grandson team, explore how even the briefest positive interactions affect our relationships, productivity, health & longetivity. Did that person – your spouse, best friend, coworker, or even a stranger – “fill your bucket” by making you feel more positive? Or did that person “dip from your bucket”, leaving you more negative than before. Organized around a simple metaphor of a dipper and a bucket, this book will show you how to greatly increase the positive moments in your work and your life - while reducing the negative. The book is a short, sharp, ‘how-to’ guide for improving self-esteem, better relationships, and health. This book is an invaluable guide for anyone trying to build a positive culture either in one’s own personal or professional life.

The authors while researching for the book discovered that our lives are shaped by our interactions with others. Whether we have a long conversation with a friend or simply place an order at a restaurant, every interaction makes a difference. The results of our encounters are rarely neutral; they are almost positive or negative. And although we take these interactions for granted, they accumulate and profoundly affect our lives. This book is based on the new emerging field of study ‘Positive Psychology’ which focuses on what is right’ with people.

The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket: Each one of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets – by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions – we also fill our own bucket. But when use that dipper to dip from others buckets – by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions – we diminish ourselves. Like the cup that runneth over, a full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in that bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic. But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy, and undermines our will. That’s why every time someone dips from our bucket, it hurts us. So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. It’s an important choice – one that profoundly influences our relationships, health, and happiness.

Chapter One - Negativity Kills: In this chapter, the authors illustrate the example of the kind of psychological torture that the American POWs suffered during the Korean War. 1000 American Prisoners of War had been detained in a North Korean Camp. Here each man was subject to being in a mental “solitary confinement cell…without any steel or concrete.” The captors used extreme mental tactics. Their objective was to “deny men the emotional support that comes from interpersonal relationships.” They used four primary tactics, i.e. informing, self-criticism, breaking loyalty to leadership and country, withholding all positive emotional support. The North Koreans had put the American Soldiers “into a kind of emotional and psychological isolation, the likes of which is never seen generally.” By subtly eroding the caring, trust, respect, and social acceptance among the American soldiers, the North Koreans created an environment in which buckets of goodwill were constantly and ruthlessly drained. Relentless negativity resulted in a 38% POW death rate – the highest in U.S. military history.

Chapter Two – Positivity, Negativity, and Productivity: Moved by this story of psychological torture and deprivation – and perhaps inspired by the hope that these soldiers had not suffered or died in vain – the authors decided to study the flip side of this horrific equation. They wondered: if people can be literally, destroyed by unrelenting negative reinforcement, can they be uplifted and inspired to a greater degree by similar levels of Positivity? In essence, they asked: Can Positivity have an even stronger impact than negativity? We all experience positive and negative interactions every day that influence how we feel and behave. Just because these interactions are commonplace and often undramatic doesn’t mean they do not matter. They do. While most of our negative experiences will not kill us, they can slowly but surely erode our well-being and productivity. Fortunately, positive experiences or “bucket filling” can be even more powerful. “Recognition” and “Praise” are two most critical components for creating positive emotions in organizations. Studies show that organizational leaders who share positive emotions have workgroups with a more positive mood, enhanced job satisfaction, greater engagement, and improved group performance. Individuals who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity, increase engagement among their colleagues, are more likely to stay with their organization, receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, have better safety records and fewer accidents on job. Although we need and want recognition and praise, the fact is, we don’t get enough – and organizations suffer because of it. Sincere and meaningful bucket filling increases the morale of any organization. Managers and employees who actively spread positive emotions, even in small doses, will see the difference immediately. And creating that difference can be inexpensive – or even free. All it takes is a little initiative.

Chapter Three – Every Moment Matters: Usually we don’t stop to consider the impact of brief interactions. But we experience literally hundreds of potential turning points in a given day. We experience approximately 20,000 individual moments every day. Most of us want more positive emotions in our lives. Ninety – nine out of every 100 people report that they want to be around more positive people. 9 out 10 people say they are more productive when they’re around positive people. The authors introduce a new field of study and research – The Positive Psychology movement – the study of what is right with people. Recent studies show that negative emotions can be harmful to your health and might even shorten your life span. In contrast, positive emotions are an essential daily requirement for survival. Not only, do they improve one’s physical and mental health, but they can also provide a buffer against depression and illness. A word of caution, the authors mention that while this book focuses primarily on ways to increase positive emotions, it’s important to note that negativity & weaknesses must not be ignored, Positivity must be grounded in reality. A “Pollyana” approach, in which the negative is completely ignored, can result in a false optimism that is counterproductive and sometimes downright annoying. There are times when it is absolutely necessary to correct our mistakes and figure out how to manage our weaknesses. The authors suggest the magic ratio: 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction. Positive emotions are not trivial luxuries, but instead may be critical necessities for optimal functioning. Positive emotions protect us from, and can undo the effects of, negative emotions. They fuel resilience and can transform people, broaden our thinking, encouraging us to discover new lines of thought or action, they break down racial barriers, build durable physical, intellectual, social, and psychological resources that can function as “reserves” during trying times, produce optimal functioning in organizations and individuals, improve the overall performance of a group when leaders express more positive emotions.

Chapter Four – An Overflowing Bucket: Positivity and Negativity are primarily rooted in nature; others argue for nurture. The most common theory right now is that both nature and nurture make a significant, and possibly equal, contribution. Our level of positive emotions can certainly rise or fall a great deal based on what happens to us over a period of time. And it would hurt most of us to go on a diet consisting of more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions. Regardless of an individual’s innate starting point, regular bucket filling can increase his or her positive emotions. To illustrate the long-term impact, Tom Rath, one of the co-author shares his own personal story. As the first child of his generation in a large, extended family, he benefited from a unique method of childhood rearing. From the day that he was born, each member of his family was determined to help him focus on what he did best. They provided constant support and encouragement. By the time, he turned four, his mother and grandmother had spotted his keen interest in reading. So they would sit with him for hours on end, helping him learn to read. This teaching, nurturing, and attention made a real difference. It was easy to see that they were looking for early cues to his natural yearnings and talents. They encouraged him to learn as much as possible on his favorite reading topic. They were never shy with their praise and always quick to compliment even the smallest accomplishments. All of the caring, attention, and genuine bucket filling was making a major difference in his life. His bucket was overflowing, and this allowed him to concentrate on filling the buckets of everyone around him. The focus was on positive encouragement, more on the areas that gave him personal satisfaction.

At the age of 16, Tom was diagnosed with an extremely rare disorder: von Hippal – Lindau disease. Tumors were discovered in his eye and several major surgeries performed. He lost sight in his left eye permanently. There were possibilities that tumors were likely to show up in his pancreas, kidneys, eardrums, adrenal glands, brain, and spine, with no advance warning. Upon hearing this news for the first time, Tom was shocked and nervous. But, on some level, the news did not dampen his spirits. From that day forward, instead of dwelling on the negative or uncontrollable aspects of his disease, his family helped him focus on what could be done. He never got depressed. The kind of genuine caring and Positivity that he received had a remarkable influence. The key was not viewing his prognosis as any type of curse or death sentence. He instead saw it as an opportunity to be proactive and stay on top of his physical health. His approach was to confront these challenges head-on. He researched as many articles as he could find on each of his condition, wanting to fully understand his surgical options and the associated risks. He maintained a vigil and awareness of his disease. All of his energy was focused on what could be done. His energy was not focused on what had already occurred or aspects beyond his control. The author mentions that to this day, he never stopped in his tracks and asked, “Why did all of this happen to me?” He never rallied against fate. He saw no good reason to sit around and dwell on the negative or feel sorry for himself on those situations. It would get him nowhere. Besides, such wallowing could have worsened his emotional and physical health, the author feels. He says that he sees no alternative other than to focus on what can be done next to stay ahead of his disease. Honestly, it’s easy to maintain this attitude on a daily basis. It’s simple. After almost three decades of life, he cannot recall a single day when his bucket wasn’t filled over and over again by family members and friends. Given his ongoing physical challenges, this high-dose bucket filling has literally been a lifesaver for him.

We are all certain to face major challenges as we progress through life. Often, we feel as if we have been “dealt a bad hand” and that life is unfair. But we must not allow ourselves to be defined by our hardships. Our responses to difficult events and our emotional states are much more important. Positive reinforcement about our strengths can buffer us against getting overwhelmed with the negative. And understanding what we do best allows us not only to survive, but grow in the face of adversity.

Chapter Five – Making it Personal: There are countless examples of people whose lives were made better and more productive by frequent bucket filling. The key to great bucket filling: Recognition is most appreciated and effective when it is individualized, specific, and deserved. Some may prefer a quiet pat on the back or perhaps more boisterous praise in a meeting. The point is there are unique and specific ways to fill each person’s bucket – and most certainly inappropriate ways as well. Generic, one size fits all awards don’t work. Neither does recognition that seems forced or false. People look for a more meaningful and personal kind of recognition. The authors mention that if you want people to understand that you value their contributions and that they are important, the recognition and praise that is provided must have meaning that is specific to each individual. Not only is individualized bucket filling more effective in boosting productivity in the workplace, it builds sustainable relationships and changes people’s lives forever.

Chapter Six – Five Strategies for increasing Positive Emotions: To increase positive emotions in our lives and other’ lives, one has to make the habit of filling buckets. Like any goal in life, one must have specific, actionable plans to transform good intentions into reality. The five strategies are:

1) Prevent Bucket Dipping: Get into the simple habit of asking yourself if you were adding to or taking from the other person’s bucket in each interaction. By catching yourself before uttering a negative comment – and in some cases making a more positive one instead – you will make yourself and the people around you, feel better. Once you have successfully curtailed your own bucket dipping, encourage similar changes among those around you. Convince others that unwarranted negativity only makes matters worse. Once you’ve consciously started to eliminate bucket-dipping, keep track of your progress by scoring your interactions. That’s right: Reflect on your last few exchanges with another person. Decide if, overall, each interaction was more positive or negative.

2) Shine a Light on What is Right: Each interaction gives us the chance to shine a light on what’s right – and fill a bucket. Discover the power of focusing on what is right. Never underestimate the long-term influence of filling others’ buckets. Positive emotions create “chains of interpersonal events,” the far – reaching results of which one may or may not get to see in person. But they are there and happening. Every time you fill a bucket, you’re setting something in motion. So continue the chain: When someone fills your bucket, accept it – never just brush it off and diminish what that person is doing. Fill their bucket in return by saying “thank you,” letting them know that you appreciate the compliment or recognition. In turn, you are more likely to share your renewed positive energy with others.

3) Make Best Friends: Most of us join and stay with groups, teams, and organizations because of our best friends. We say “best friend” because studies of great workplaces found that having “friends,” “good friends,” or “close friends” on the job was not as important as having “a best friend at work.” People with best friends at work have better safety records, receive higher customer satisfaction scores, and increase workplace productivity. Great relationships lead to a significant increase in life satisfaction. Consider some of your best relationships. They were probably formed through and early series of positive interactions. You’re not likely to become good friends with someone if the majority of the initial interactions are negative. The authors tell to us that begin with the most important people in your life. Tell them how important they are to you and why. Don’t assume they already know – even if they do, they’d probably love to hear it anyway. Continue to learn more about what builds them up; be a catalyst for an even more trusting, lasting, and positive relationship. Learn something new about each person you work or interact with. Create positive interactions with acquaintances – even strangers.

4) Give unexpectedly: The vast majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected. It’s about the element of surprise. And the gift doesn’t have to be anything big or tangible to be successful. It can be a gift of trust or responsibility. Sharing something personal or entrusting a friend with a secret can fill his or her bucket. Even a smile can be an unexpected and cherished gift. Consider unexpected sharing as well. What books, articles, or stories could you send someone that would positively influence his or her day?

5) Reverse the Golden Rule: When it comes to robust and meaningful bucket filling, individualization is the key. So when you’re bucket filling, go ahead and reverse – or atleast redefine – the Golden Rule. While certain people want to receive kind words in front of a crowd, others prefer a quieter, one-to-one commendation or compliment from someone they love, admire, or respect. Another important aspect of individualization is this: What we recognize in others helps them shape their identity and their future accomplishments. This is why bucket filling must be specific to the individual. In addition to being individualized, it will mean more to the recipient if the praise is specific. Putting praise into writing or email is a great way to do this. Written recognition is also especially rewarding because it serves as a lasting acknowledgement – something the recipient can reflect on over and over again.

Conclusion: One can expect the following changes to occur if engaged in daily bucket filling. The workplace will be a lot more productive and fun. You’ll have more friends. Your colleagues and customers will be more satisfied and engaged. Your marriage will be stronger. You’ll enjoy closer relationships with your family and friends. You’ll be healthier, happier, and well on your way to a longer life. Take every opportunity to increase the positive emotions of those around you. It will make a big difference. It may even change the world. Don’t waste another moment. A bucket, somewhere, is waiting for you to fill it.

Book Summary "Notes from a Friend" by Anthony Robbins

Notes from a friend, is based on the concepts and stories in Anthony Robbins’ bestsellers Awaken The Giant Within & Unlimited Power. It is designed to assist those who are going through “tough times,” it simplifies the material from these larger books and offers readers understanding and support in the form of a few simple steps for immediately improving the quality of their lives. This book is meant to be read at any time of the year by anyone who just needs or wants a bit of inspiration. It aims to offer encouragement to those who need a reminder of life’s basic truths and the stimulation of a few good ideas about how to deal with whatever challenges face them. Readers gain a new perspective as they review the material in its easy-to-read, accessible style. This book also aims to be a fun introduction to those readers who are new to the authors work.

The book is divided into 11 different lessons that act as tools to truly assist the reader in making change happen.

LESSON ONE FEELING OVERWHELMED…HOW TO TURN IT AROUND – in this lesson the author urges us to understand that our past does not equal our future. When we try a new approach, we try our best, yet we still fail to reach our goal, often we fear trying again because we want to avoid the pain that is associated with it. And nobody wants to fail again. Nobody wants to give his or her all, only to be disappointed. But according to the author, what matters is not yesterday but what is done right now. So many people are trying to drive into the future using a rearview mirror to guide themselves! They will crash. Instead one must focus on what can be done today to make things better.

The key to success is to decide what’s most important to you and then take massive action each day to make it better, even when it doesn’t look as if it’s working. The author calls it Personal Power. It means being persistent in taking action: Every time you do something, you learn from it, and you find a way to do it better next time. We must constantly remind ourselves to focus on what we want, to focus on solutions instead of problems. We must focus immediately on the actions we can take today, even if they are small ones. No problem affects ones entire life, even though it may look like right now. Do not be shut down by fear of failure, follow the advice of the Nike Ad & Just do it.

LESSON TWO THERE ARE NO FAILURES - This lesson is all about believing that even though things may look impossible now, they can be turned around. All of us have problems, disappointments, and frustrations, but it’s how we deal with our setbacks that will shape our lives more than anything else we do. No person, no disappointment is worth committing suicide over. Life is always worth living. There’s always something to be grateful for. We must learn to remember that GOD’S DELAYS ARE NOT GOD’S DENIALS, that there are no failures, that if you try something and it doesn’t work, but you learn something from it that can help you be more effective in the future, then you’ve truly succeeded. SUCCESS IS THE RESULT OF GOOD JUDGEMENT. GOOD JUDGEMENT IS THE RESULT OF EXPERIENCE. EXPERIENCE IS OFTEN THE RESULT OF BAD JUDGEMENT. Hence, we must keep at it. If we keep striving to make things better and we learn from our “mistakes”, then we will succeed.

LESSON THREE THE UNSTOPPABLE YOU: DECISION MAKER – “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Anthony Robbins, Author. We all have the power to choose. Ultimately, it’s our decisions & not the conditions of our lives that determine our destiny. If we sincerely want to change our lives, then we’ve got to make some new decisions about what we stand for and what we’re going to do…and what we’re committed to. A real decision is made when you cut off any other possibility except what you’ve committed to do to make it a reality, when you will not look back, when you will not even consider the alternative of giving up. When you make a real decision, you draw a line. You know exactly what you want. This kind of clarity gives you the power to do even more to get the results you’ve decided to go for. Over here, example of Soichiro Honda: founder of the Honda Corporation, the maker of Honda cars and motorcycles is cited. Mr. Honda never allowed tragedy, problems, challenges, or the twists and turns of circumstances to get in his way. In fact, he often decided to see some of the biggest obstacles in his way as mere hurdles in the race to reach his goals. He decided that there is always a way to succeed if you’re really committed!

Mr. Honda had the following key formula to success:

· He decided what he wanted.

· He took action.

· He noticed whether it was working or not, and when things weren’t working out,

· He kept changing his approach. He was flexible in the way he went about things.

Was Mr. Honda Lucky? Maybe, because LUCK meant to him as Labor Under Correct Knowledge. It is not where you start out but the decisions you make about where you’re determined to end up that matter.
LESSON FOUR BUILD YOUR BELIEFS AND…BLAST OFF! - There is a force that controls all your decisions. It influences how you think and feel every moment you’re alive. It determines what you will do and what you will not do. It determines how you feel about anything that occurs in your life. That force is your beliefs. As soon as we have a belief, it begins to control what we can see and what we can feel. Beliefs can affect your life and the lives of those around you. Beliefs are very powerful, so you’ve got to be careful about what you choose to believe, especially about yourself.

Most people treat a belief as if it’s a real thing, when it is actually nothing but a feeling of certainty about what something means. If you say you believe that you’re intelligent, all you’re really saying is, “I feel certain that I am intelligent. That sense of certainty allows you to tap resources that help you act intelligently to produce the results you want. We all have the answers for virtually anything – or at least we have access to the answers we need through others. But often our lack of belief – our lack of certainty – causes us to be unable to use the capacity that resides within us.

It is important to note that we can develop beliefs about anything if we just find enough legs to support them. You can choose what to believe about yourself, and these beliefs will determine the actions you take. The important thing is to choose beliefs that support you and give you hope and energy.

LESSON FIVE WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET – the fastest way to change how you feel about anything is to change what you’re focusing on. It is very easy for anybody to slip into lousy feelings. And that is where it is crucial to control your focus. Even if things are tough, you’ve got to focus on what you can do, on what you can control. Or you could focus so intensely on the future you’re dreaming of that you get excited about it in advance! That will give you the energy to start making things happen.

There are unlimited things people can notice, but too many of us focus on what’s terrible, on the things we can’t control. And as soon as people lose control, they zero in on exactly what they want to avoid – and they connect with it. Instead we must steer our focus in the right direction. You must focus on where you want to go. The reality is that whatever you focus on you move toward. You and I must make sure that when problems come up we focus on solutions, that we focus on where we want to go instead of on what frightens us. Whatever you think about most you’ll experience

LESSON SIX QUESTIONS ARE THE ANSWER – The best way to control your focus is through the power of questions. Do you know that asking the right question can actually save your life? Clearly there are several factors to it, but one different question is all that it takes. And ask for it over and over, with expectation, certain that you would receive an answer. Ask questions that could give to you wonderful answers.

The author suggests some questions to solve problems. According to him, these questions prepare him to look up for and find solutions whenever a problem comes up.

The Problem-Solving Questions are:

  1. What is great about this problem?
  2. What is not perfect yet?
  3. What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
  4. What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?
  5. How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?

The author suggests that if you have trouble answering any one of these questions, use the word could. E.g. what could I be most happy about in life right now?

The author also suggests that you ask yourself a specific set of questions in the morning when you get up and another set of questions at night before going to sleep. According to him, this will setup for feeling great all day and also end the days on a high note.

The Morning Power Questions are:

1. What am I happy about in my life right now? What about that makes me happy? How does that make me feel?

2. What am I excited about in my life right now? What about that makes me excited? How does that make me feel?

3. What am I proud of in my life right now? What about that makes me proud? How does that make me feel?

4. What am I grateful for in my life right now? What about that makes me grateful? How does that make me feel?

5. What am I enjoying most in my life right now? What about that do I enjoy? How does that make me feel?

6. What am I committed to in my life right now? What about that makes me committed? How does that make me feel?

7. Who do I love? Who loves me? What about that makes me loving? How does that make me feel?

The Evening Power Questions are:

  1. What have I given today? In what ways have I been a giver today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. How has today added to the quality of my life? How can I use today as an investment into my future?

According to the author, these questions have been lifesavers for him. They will help you to change your focus – and thus help you to change your life. Once you know how to ask empowering questions, you can help not only yourself but others as well.

WELCOME TO THE GREAT STATE OF YOU! – Most of us realize that the way we feel emotionally affects the way we feel physically. But few of us realize how powerfully the reverse is true: when we are moved physically, we are moved emotionally too. The two cannot be separated. We must realize that emotion is created by motion.The way we move changes the way we think, feel, and behave. Movement affects our body’s chemistry, including everything from more physical activities (such as running, clapping, or jumping) to the smallest movements in the muscles of the face.

The author states that moving in the same way that someone else does, you’ll start to have very much the same feelings. Suppose you are a star quarterback and you’ve just made the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl. How would you walk? Would your head be down and your shoulders slumped over? No way! You’d be strutting! Your whole body would say, “I’m the greatest!” Would that change how you feel and what you do? No doubt about it.

How can you feel this way every day? Find those who are successful and model the physiology of their confidence: their gestures, their breathing, their walk. Better yet, model the physical movements that you use yourself when you’re in a peak state of mind or emotion. You’ll find that this is not just a game but a way of tapping into the amazing intelligence that is built into every cell in your brain and body. You sow the same seeds of movement and breath, and you will reap similar rewards.

And as long as you’re meeting role models of confidence, success, and happiness, don’t just notice their physiology but also begin to listen to them, listen to the structure of their language.

LESSON EIGHT THE VOCABULARY OF SUCCESS: The specific words we use – controls the way we think. And the way we think controls how we feel and what we do. Words do have the power to change how we feel. That is why we’re so moved when we hear, even decades later, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. talking about his dream, or John F. Kennedy talking about what one person can do for an entire country. Words change the way we feel, and most of us have no conscious awareness of the ones we’re using as we communicate with others and ourselves. Feel “ecstatic” instead of just “okay”. Be “enthralled” instead of just “interested”. Feel “superb” instead of “all right.” Instead of feeling “fine,” feel “phenomenal!” You’re not just “determined,” you’re “unstoppable”!

LESSON NINE ARE YOU “UP AGAINST A WALL?” BREAK THROUGH WITH A NEW METAPHOR: Whenever you describe something as being like something else, you’re creating a metaphor. Metaphors are like symbols: a quick way to say a lot. People use metaphors all the time to describe how they feel about all kinds of things. E.g. “Life is a battle” & “Life is a beach” are two metaphors and two very different ways of looking at the world. What goes along thinking life is a battle? If you described life that way, you’d probably believe that people are always fighting one another. But if you said life was a beach, you might believe people could have fun together. When you choose a metaphor to describe your life or your situation, you choose the beliefs it supports too. This is why you want to be careful about the way you describe your world – to yourself or anyone else.

LESSON TEN READY…SET…GOAL! HOW SETTING GOALS CAN BUILD YOUR FUTURE – When people achieve extraordinary, seemingly impossible goals, they’re often assumed to have been “fortunate,” “in the right place at the right time,” or “born under a lucky star.” But research has shown that all of these greatest achievers and their incredible accomplishments began with the same first step: the setting of a goal. One must realize that achieving the goal isn’t half as important as setting it, then taking massive action towards its attainment. The reason we set goals is to give our lives focus and to move us in the direction we would like to go. The harder you prepare, the luckier you seem to get. All people who succeed dedicate themselves to continuous improvement. They’re never satisfied with just doing well; they constantly want to do better. These people break a goal into bit-size pieces, achievable “sub-goals” that lead toward the ultimate success they desire.They take immediate action to support their goals. And they also celebrate the achievement of each small step. This helps you to build momentum and develop habits that will gradually turn your dreams into reality.

Choose a truly inspiring goal, when you do that, you free the power within yourself to achieve far more than others imagine is possible. You give yourself an incredible opportunity to stretch and grow. Learn to set goals and determine outcomes. Learn to make a map of the roads you want to travel in your life. Figure out where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Be specific. The more detailed you are, the more empowered you are to create a result.

Finally “train your brain” so it knows that this goal is a happening thing:

  • Twice a day, sit quietly for a few minutes and think about your goal
  • Imagine that you have already achieved your goal. Feel the pleasure, pride & excitement of this fulfillment. See and hear all the wonderful details.

LESSON ELEVEN THE TEN-DAY MENTAL CHALLENGE – This exercise is to enable control of our mind by not allowing to hold one negative thought consistently. The rules are:

1. During the next ten days, refuse to hang on to any crummy thoughts, feelings, questions, words, or metaphors.

2. When you catch yourself focusing on the negative – and you will – immediately ask yourself questions to get you to a better place. Start with the Problem – Solving Questions.

3. When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself the Morning Power Questions. Just before you fall asleep at night, ask yourself the Evening Power Questions. This will do wonders to keep you feeling good.

4. For the next ten consecutive days, focus completely on solutions and not on problems.

5. If you have a lousy thought question, or feeling, don’t beat yourself up. Just change it immediately. If you dwell on any of these for more than five minutes, however, you must wait until the following morning and start the ten days over.

This truly amazing Mental Challenge promises to give four things:

1. It will make you see all the mental habits that hold you back.

2. It will make your brain search for powerful, helpful alternatives.

3. It will give you a tremendous jolt of confidence as you see you can turn your life around.

4. It will create new habits, new standards, and new expectations that will help you grow and enjoy life more and more, every day!

CONCLUSION: The author urges us to forget about our problems for a day or two, look for someone else who is having a rougher time than you are right now, and assist that person in making it “just a little” better. Give someone a “little bit” of help, a “little bit” of support. All of this is to remind you what your life is really about and who you really are. It’ll fulfill the most noble and fundamental needs of human nature, to connect and contribute. It’ll transform you. So take the time…and give yourself the gift that comes only to those who give unselfishly. The better you are, the more you’ll be able to give to others. Better yet, go beyond just taking care of yourself. Create an extraordinary life – an ordinary life to which you’ve added just that extra little bit of dedication, commitment, and love.