Tag Archive: self help

Dec 13 2017

Everyday MUSINGS 2: ‘Follow your OWN path’

It was a cold winter morning when I decided to leave from Chandigarh to Delhi in my car since had to be in the city for an important business meeting. I usually start while its dark to avoid traffic on the highway and save time.

But that day, nature had a different plan for me. I had barely driven 10 miles out of the city when a thick fog welcomed me. It was so thick that I could not see anything beyond a few feet and had to decide if I wanted to continue driving in that condition.

Since the meeting was critical – I decided to continue, at a snails speed though. Whenever I got a little better patch of visibility – I use to pump it up and cover for the loss of time. It was a nerve-testing drive, and the music was not helping much too.


I had put on the blinkers and fog lamps of my car – for obvious reasons. The situation was so bad that not even a single vehicle passed by for almost 20 minutes of the drive on a usually busy highway.

Suddenly, I noticed a headlight flashing in my rear view mirror – it was some vehicle behind me asking for the way. In a matter of seconds, I saw an SUV passing me at a good speed – I wondered how was that guy able to see in such a poor visibility. Without wasting a second, I pumped the accelerator and started following the car as he was making way for me too clearing the fog. I was delighted to be able to drive five times the speed I was driving at for past hour.

Since I was hopeful of making it in time for the meeting – I started planning things in my head, going over the agenda and other things. Things looked right, and we drove like that for almost an hour and a half – me following the car at a reasonable speed.

After a while, I sensed the car in front of me was slowing down. I also slowed down telling myself that the fog might have got thicker for even the SUPERHUMAN in the car in front to drive fast. In a moment, the car came to a halt – I stopped too. I was keeping a good distance between the two vehicles for safety, and so I wasn’t even able to see what was happening in front of that car.

When he didn’t move even after a minute – I honked, politely. Nothing! I honked twice this time, a little louder. Again – Nothing.

Then I pumped the horn with all my strength for a while – not in a rude way though. I couldn’t gather the courage to step out of my warm car into the cold, so kept sitting there ducking in my warm seat.
Just about then, I saw a gentleman, must be in his late 40s, walking towards my car from the opposite side of the car in front. He looked little confused, which got confirmed when he gestured ‘WHAT’, twisting his hand!

Yes, just that way Rusell – you got that right! 🙂 

It was time for me to give up the coziness and step out, which I did immediately. I stepped out and greeted the gentleman with a warm hello (as warm as I could be in that cold).
He also very politely asked as to what the matter was. I enquired if everything was alright as he had stopped and wasn’t moving – with all the astonishment on my face!

His response just blew me, and I felt like a dumb ass standing in the middle of the road.

He said, “Sir, I have reached my home. This is where I live – why should I drive further?”

I cannot explain how I felt at that moment; really, I cannot. But then I had to manage the situation. So, I did the best thing I could do – told him the truth that I was following him all the way ASSUMING that he is going the same way and will lead me to my DESTINATION. And since he was driving like a pro, I blindly followed him as he seemed to be a better driver on a foggy road.

He laughed at it, and that somehow helped me to come out of the embarrassment. He was very kind to offer me in for a hot cup of tea and the guided me to the highway as I had come all the way inside a town, a few hundred meters off the road.

I had the tea, thanked him for his hospitality and left for my journey ahead. In about an hour from then, the weather cleared up, the sun started shining bright, and fog disappeared. I zoomed my way to my destination and had a very fruitful meeting with the client, but that was not the most significant achievement of the day for me.

 


Actually, it was the LEARNING that I had during the incidence in the morning. I learned that every individual is on his own journey in life. I might come across people who are heading in the same direction, but they might not share the same destination. Every journey is unique, every path different from someone else – so I may still choose to follow someone but not BLINDLY. Not without knowing where I want to go and whether the path is going to take me there.

Assuming that we can follow the way someone else maneuvered through the challenges in his/her life and make our lives SAME is vacuous. Every individual has a unique story, different characters, and different scenes – no two scripts can ever be the same.

This relates entirely to today’s social situation where a lot of people start idolizing a few successful individuals and try to emulate every aspect of their lives. It doesn’t work that way in life.
Dropping out of school or college might have worked out for a couple of super successful people, but that doesn’t mean every drop out is a success

Though I cannot contest that one need to get directions from successful people, however, one needs to know where one wants to go to seek directions to that destination. One cannot just say “I want to do something great” and then start emulating lives of people – it will only bring disappointment in the end.

 

So, should we NOT seek inspiration from our idols?
We should, absolutely – but we should ensure that we FOLLOW our OWN PATH.

 



Let me know if you could relate to the story or if you too had a similar experience. Does it resonate with you?

I would love to hear views and feedback.

 

Dec 04 2017

Everyday MUSINGS 1: ‘EMPATHY’ – A missing People Skill

 

‘EMPATHY – a missing People Skill these days’

 

It was a usual weekend outing with family to a newly built shopping mall (extension of one of the best hotels in the city). It wasn’t a mad rush but still, there were a good amount of people around.

 

manavlalotra.com

 

The mall management has done a good job in creating a lounge area with comfy chairs, ottomans and big couches – made for people to just hang around and chill.

 

The place was packed with people and I somehow could get my hands on a chair in one corner – while the family was busy shopping.

 

I was killing time on my phone when I saw a group of people walking in with cameras & other gears. They stood in a corner, scanning the entire area and looking a little worried In about a couple of minutes, some people from mall concierge joined them, then some folks from mall’s security team joined and the group just swelled.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that they were there to do some video shoot kind of thing and were worried about the people occupying their shooting location (I was one of them).

 

Next, I saw one of the security guys walking up to a group sitting in the lounge and started talking to them. I couldn’t hear him but could figure that he was asking them to vacate the place for the shoot to take place.

 

Well, quite expectedly – he got rebutted badly by the group and rightfully so as they were really having a good time. ‘How can you ask someone to just leave?’ – am assuming that’s what they might have said! The poor guy went back to his group, dejected and the group got even more tensed and worried. All this went on for some time while I sat in the corner watching everything.

 

In that moment, it hit me that these guys are missing a very vital aspect of People Skills i.e. EMPATHY. They certainly had to do what they had come for and for that they had to move those people from the area – but certainly not the way they were trying to do it.

 

So, being a Samaritan – I walked up to the leader of the group (you can always tell who it is) and shared a piece of advice. I suggested that they should personally go and talk to each group in the area – explaining the reason. I also suggested that they should first get the tables in the coffee shop on the lower floor arranged for these guys to make them comfortable.

 

Amazingly, the leader took my advice positively and spoke to his team about that. They quickly divided themselves into 3-4 smaller groups and started talking to the guests one-by-one. I was very happy & satisfied to see the results – in less than 3 minutes the entire area was vacated and people were relocated to the lower floor coffee shop.

The whole team was delighted and they came one and all to thank me – it felt really nice. I spoke to them for a couple of minutes on the magic that EMPATHY can do and then they went on to do their thing, happily.

 

Lesson learned: 

People are usually WILLING to HELP, you need to ASK appropriately!

 

EMPATHY can do what AUTHORITY cannot, EVERY-TIME.

 

manavlalotra.com

 

Do you think there could have been a better way to handle the situation? How do you feel about EMPATHY as a People Skill? Would you want to share any personal experience? Share in comments.

 

Facebook Page: Manav’s Space

 

Oct 14 2012

SMART and EFFECTIVE – At the same time!

 

It was just yesterday that I decided to put down my thoughts on a very common phenomenon  –  “SMARTER PEOPLE being INEFFECTIVE”. I personally have been a victim of this issue. Efficiency, as discussed here is not about BEING RIGHT but is about BEING ABLE TO GET THINGS DONE!

I will start with a short narration of an incidence.

 It is about a SMART guy who was pursuing his PG in Management. It was a great time for him since he was learning new things, was shaping himself for future and was looking for all the opportunities that he could get to improve himself. During the first few weeks at college he could make his place in the good books of professors as a SMART student. Many of his fellow batch-mates also had the same view about him. It was a good time and he was in high spirits! He was counted as one of the SMARTER people in the lot. But, the truth was way above his understanding and perception of it. Very soon, it hit him straight in the face. Read on to know how!

 The college (just like any other) had a practice of having one student as representative of the class for all internal matters – interaction with staff, management, getting things done etc. Since it was a bunch of SMART people, they wanted to have a fair process of selection of the Class Rep. The professor (a very SMART and EFFICIENT lady) came out with a plan of VOTING to select the CR from a bunch of nominees. Well, the idea got accepted by all and a consensus was built to go ahead for voting.

 Our guy, on the contrary had his own reservations on the process of selection since he felt that it would not be an unanimous selection. He suggested an alternative way of doing the voting which could be more effective. His idea was accepted by all and the professor also looked happy.

 Nomination process began – 3 of the fellow students (out of a batch of 60) expressed their interest to contest for the position and gave their nominations. Suddenly, people started shouting a name in chorus! Who was that? What? They all wanted him also to be nominated for the voting!! He could hear10-12 people proposing his to run for the post.

 “Ok” he said! ‘I give my name for the voting.”

 He felt good of the fact that people find him suitable to take up the responsibility. He was under an impression that people out there think of him as a SMART guy who can run the show well and can be really effective in the role.

 The voting started and ended as well in a jiffy. There were the results at the end of it!

 Well, not dramatizing it much – HE got just 2 votes out of 60! And guess what – 1 was his own (obviously he had to vote for himself – right!!).

That was a revelation for him. He was SMART but not EFFECTIVE.

He could not be effective – in making people sure about him being a good choice as their leader, in giving them confidence that if they choose him it will be in their good.  The same bunch who pushed him for nomination didn’t vote for him. Maybe they didn’t find him that good – or should I say that EFFECTIVE!

He still was the same SMART guy – but the batch had rejected him as a leader. He might know what was right but he always ended up explaining it to others as to why he was right. All of that was very infuriating for him.

Today, when I look back many years in my own life, I realize that no one can do everything alone. We all need help of other people at some point in time. We have to ensure that we can make it work when the time comes.

I could have been 100% RIGHT at times – but what about being EFFECTIVE? I had seen people getting annoyed when I was just stating facts. Maybe I was not able to take them ALONG or they were actually not following what I was trying to point out!

It precisely means that I was not able to INFLUENCE them! Yes, that’s the key word – INFLUENCE. If I can’t influence my audience (in any conversation); I will always face issues and will not succeed in making people work as per my plan, in turn making me ineffective.

Here are a few thoughts which came from self learning and from other’s experience that can help in working on this issue:

Mind (or Mend) the attitude:

Attitude plays a vital role in being effective. If you always assume that you know all the answers, you are very likely going to feel frustrated. Instead, you should let others share their views. You never know you might hear some great idea that would surprise you. Develop a learning attitude and respect inputs of others. Remember one thing, everyone likes to be consulted and asked.

Being the LISTENER (also) :

During conversations or meetings try to listen to others instead of arguing or cutting them in between. Do not try to impose your views about any issue but try to listen what others have to say about your ideas. Encourage others to share their ideas and pay complete attention to what they are saying. This might sound a strenuous activity but will win you support of the people.

No meaning in being ‘MEAN’ :

You might be surrounded by people who do not understand things in the first go and you might just try to be straightforward in telling them the right thing and help them. But it’s important to ensure that you are not being rude in an attempt to be practical. People might take you to be MEAN when you are just trying to correct them. They would see you as someone who is ignoring their thoughts and is looking to have an argument to justify himself. Instead, handle the conversations more amiably, respect other’s thoughts, have short arguments and build a consensus on the solution. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ work wonder in this process.

Learn to stay quiet when it needs to:

When you are in a situation where you are up against many such people whom you think are not as smart as you but are trying to speak and put their thoughts; it’s always better to keep quiet and just observe. If you actually are the SMARTER one, they will anyhow turn towards you for solution. Speak then and make the difference. You don’t always have to TALK to show that you are SMART.

I have another short story to share here. Same bunch of management grads (in the last story ) were once sitting together, deciding on having a party. The preps were being discussed and lot of arguments were put regarding the place, food menu, music to be played, list of invitees etc etc. Our guy was also a part of the discussion and since he had been involved in many such plans earlier he was talking the most. Suddenly, one of the fellow members lost it over him and shouted, “What the hell you think of yourself? Why always it has to be you to decide everything? Don’t forget, we all are equally smart. We all are also good managers”

Her reference of being EQUALLY SMART was on the premise of being of the same batch. Our guy felt odd and decided in his own good to be quiet. The discussion went on and on for couple of hours but no decision was being made. Then the interesting thing happened. The same lady who had slammed our guy some time back reverted to him. She wanted him to help them reach to some decision. He obliged her and shared his views with the group. Everyone liked his idea and after iterations, it was finalized.

If you try to accomplish everything alone when you have to work with people, you will always face hindrances and difficulties. Instead, try to bring everyone along and focus on the effectiveness. You will be amazed with the results in getting the job done with better efficiency and to everyone’s satisfaction. By employing these methods you will get much more done from the same set of people without getting frustrated or opposed to.

Good luck!

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