Significant Progress in Insignificant Moments

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Most of us living on earth today will not win a Nobel Prize, Magsaysay award or a Medal of Honor. Most people will not receive a lifetime achievement award, invent something groundbreaking, or change the landscape of the world. For most of us, things like getting married, making a lifelong friend, having a child, buying our first home, or retiring are large moments in our lives.

For all of us though, it is not the moment that we receive that final reward that makes up the significance. Progress is not achieved in large, momentous occasions. We are not defined by those big moments in life. We are shaped by the 100,000 moments we experience, not the 1. In every moment, you have an opportunity to make an impact, and it is significant. In order to move toward those large goals, you have to put together thousands of great moments.

Don't wait today for that significant thing to happen in your life to feel as if you've made progress. Make every moment count today. It is in those 100,000 moments that you will shape your progress in this life. Significant progress is made in what some would call "insignificant" moments. Make them count and make it happen.


Interesting perspective of life from a someone who is 100 years young

-Karthik Gurumurthy

  • Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  • When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
  • Pay off your credit cards every month.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  • Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
  • It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  • Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  • When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  • It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  • Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
  • Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
  • Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  • When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy clothes. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  • Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
  • Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple or blue or green.
  • The most important organ is the brain.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  • Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
  • Always choose life.
  • Forgive everyone everything.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  • However good or bad a situation is it will change.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Believe in miracles.
  • God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
  • Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  • Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
  • Your children get only one childhood.
  • All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  • Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  • If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • The best is yet to come...
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • Yield.
  • Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Put your glass down

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I cannot claim this as my own writing; the website attributed it to the world famous "Unknown". I did enjoy the moral of the story. I hope you do too.

A psychology professor walked around the stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class nodded their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral: It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries. No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you. If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.


Contentment: Art of being satisfied

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There is an age-old idea in the business world that one should never become completely content, or satisfied, as this will lead to complacency and lack of growth. We are taught to constantly seek something greater, bigger, and better. We start at a job, and immediately we begin seeking to acquire a greater position with greater authority. Once we have that new job, we seek the next level, and so on and so on. This cycle never stops. This transcends the business world and runs many of our lives. Before we buy the car we have always wanted, we say "if I only had that car, I would be happy." The new car smell and feel wears off in about a month, and we are looking to the next best thing. The world teaches us that we need the newest model of everything: phones, computers, watches, houses, clothes, jewelry. Funny thing is, most of us never find any long-term contentment in these things. The new job promotion gets old quickly, the new house is nice but we really want a bigger yard, a larger LED TV, an extra bedroom.....you get the picture.

What we need to learn is how to live today with contentment. This doesn't mean we don't set goals, strive for greatness, or do our jobs excellently. What it requires, however, is that we do not tie our identity to what we have, how much money we make, or what our job title is. We must learn to be content in whatever situation we are in. There are lessons to be learned in every stage of life. We learn tremendous lessons when we are broke, tired, and worn down. We also learn tremendous lessons when we are wealthy, energized, and have great position and authority. No matter where you are today, seek to be content in that place. Look for the lessons you can learn and take away from the stage of life you are in now. Strive to do things excellently, but don't get caught up in the quicksand that is awaiting you when you convince yourself that you will find contentment in the "next thing".

If you're not happy with what you have today, you won't be happy with twice as much.


Triggers

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just finished up Triggers.  This is what I got from the book

Triggers

Marshall Goldsmith explains in Triggers the kinds of things in our environment that derail us from becoming the kind of leader, co-worker, parent, or spouse that we want to be. He illuminates an aspect of self-awareness that is so vital to a leader’s success.

We can’t control our environment, but we can control our responses. We always have a choice.

When it comes to interpersonal behavior we can’t rely on habits to help us. “We must be adaptable, not habitual—because the stakes are so much higher.” We need something more to help us deal with the uncertainty of our day.

When it comes to triggers, it’s not the big triggers that usually do us in, it is the little moments in life that trigger our most outsized and unproductive responses. They trigger some of our basest impulses. Especially with the people we know and love the most. “We can say and do anything with these folks. They know us. They’ll forgive us. We don’t have to edit ourselves. We can be true to our impulses. That’s how our closes relationships often become trigger festivals with consequences that we rarely see in any other part of our lives—the fuming and shouting, the fights and slammed doors, the angry departures and refusals to talk to each other for months, years, decades.”

So where the problem is most vivid is in the small, minor moments of the day, when we are not thinking about our environment or our behavior. That’s when we need to be most vigilant.

Sometimes the best strategy is to avoid the trigger altogether. Stop flirting with those things that tempt you. Goldsmith says that one of the most common behavioral issues among leaders is “succumbing to the temptation to exercise power when they would be better off showing restraint.” And that behavior is very hard to eliminate because those who engage in it because they no doubt enjoy doing it.

But we can’t always walk away.

What is the solution?

The solution then isn’t trying to fix the environment or the behavior of others, the solution is to change our behavior. When we are triggered we need to adjust.

Goldsmith has found that asking yourself some active questions works magic. Active questions get to personal responsibility—something you have control over. Goldsmith suggests six engaging questions anyone should be asking themselves each day to build engagement:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
Did I do my best to find meaning today?
Did I do my best to be happy today?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

In addition, Goldsmith has a number of other Daily Questions he asks himself to gauge whether he had taken responsibility for his own life. Our own questions would reflect those things that we want to work on—will success on these items help me become the person I want to be?

Did I do my best to have a healthy diet?
Did I do my best to be a good spouse?
Did I do my best to add value to ______?
Did I do my best to learn something new?
Did I do my best to get a good night’s sleep?
Did I do my best to not prove how right I am when it’s not really worth it?

You score yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 to track your progress or the lack of it. “One of the underappreciated benefits of the Daily Questions is that they force us to quantify an unfamiliar data point: Our level of trying. We rarely do that.”

Daily Questions remind us that success is the result of small efforts repeated consistently over time. Daily Questions can be a game changer because they reinforce our commitment, they ignite our motivation where we need it and not where we don’t, and they shrink our goals into manageable increments.

OUR NEED FOR STRUCTURE

The Daily Questions provide structure in our lives. Simply put, Goldsmith says: “We do not get better without structure.” Like rules, structure pushes us in the right direction when our first impulse is to go the other way.

Goldsmith has worked with Alan Mulally and finds that “no idea looms bigger in Alan’s mind than the importance of structure in turning around and organization and its people.” Goldsmith explains how Mulally integrated the Daily Questions process in his weekly Business Plan Review meetings with his sixteen top executives. And repetition was key. “In the same way that Daily Questions drive us to measure our effort every day and then face the reality of our own behavior, the executives would be announcing how they graded themselves every Thursday—without deviation.” And in the group setting the idea was: How can we help one another more?

Structure “limits our options so that we’re not thrown off course by externalities….Imposing structure on parts of our day is how we seize control of our otherwise unruly environment.”

Goldsmith points out that after a hard, decision-filled day we become depleted. Our discipline and decisiveness fade at the end of the day to the point where we want to do nothing or fill our time with mindless activities.

Deletion isn’t something that we are always aware of but we should anticipate it and create structure where we can. “If we provide ourselves with enough structure, we don’t need discipline. The structure provides it for us. We can’t structure everything obviously—no environment is thatcooperative.” But the more structure we have the less we have to worry about.

ANTICIPATE

When you know you are headed into a pointless meeting, imagine that you are going to be tested on your behavior:

Did I do my best to be happy?
Did I do my best to find meaning?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

Sometimes we think we have to show everyone how we feel but that’s ego talking. “Why waste that hour being disengaged and cynical?” asks Goldsmith.

It’s in the moment that we shape ourselves into a better person. Sometimes hourly questions might help. When we face an event were not up for or a person that usually throws us off our game, why not try setting our Smartphone to ask us a question like, “Am I doing my best to…?”

THE FAVORITE PART

What I like best about Triggers is that by creating an awareness of our environment and identifying our own triggers we can be a force for adding value in other people’s lives by triggering something good in others. It requires our imagination and clarity about what we want to become.

When we dive all the way into adult behavioral change—with 100 percent focus and energy—we become an irresistible force rather than the proverbial immovable object. We begin to change our environment rather than be hanged by it. The people around us sense this. We have become the trigger.

Responding to critics

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have heard a story about Winston Churchill and his extraordinary integrity in the face of opposition. During his last year in office, he attended an official ceremony. Several rows behind him two gentlemen began whispering. “That’s Winston Churchill. They say he is getting senile. They say he should step aside and leave the running of the nation to more dynamic and capable men.” When the ceremony was over, Churchill turned to the men and said, “Gentlemen, they also say he is deaf.”

How you respond to critics is very important part of building yourself. It’s all too easy to get defensive when critics rub us the wrong way or misunderstand us. There is also a possibility of us  being wrong as well. Ask yourself why the criticism was made. Is the person trying to help, to make things better, to help you avoid making mistakes, to suggest positive improvements? Is the person just in a cranky rude mood, having a bad day? Is the person just mean, or jealous? Is there good reason for the criticism?My dad gave me an outstanding piece of advice when I first left to US. He said, “If you take the blame when you deserve it, you will take responsibility and will improve and become a better person." I have found that to be very true. Difficult, but true. In my experience, until someone in a group (or in a family) accepts blame, everyone stays very anxious and focused on fingering the person at fault. Once I take responsibility and be accountable, then everyone else can relax. And then we can all focus on what needs to be done.

Thank the person offering the criticism. Sometimes they’re coming from a place of wanting to help you. That takes courage, and is a very generous thing. Be grateful for that. Even when they’re not trying to be helpful, they’ve taken the time to respond to you — and trust me, getting a response is better than absolute silence. Provoking a reaction means you’ve done something interesting — and for that, you should be thankful. Either way, thanking the critic will help lead to a positive exchange.

It is also important not immediately respond but delay the response.  Delaying the response gives time to think it over and not be reactive. Calm yourself down before responding. Always. Responding to a critic in anger is never, ever, ever a good idea.Respond rationally and calmly. Instead of being defensive, be honest. Share your reasons, acknowledge the other person’s points if there’s any validity, and come to a rational conclusion rather than jealously guarding your way of doing things.

Or stay silent. If you can’t respond with grace, then just don’t respond. Silence is a much better response than anger or defensiveness or quitting.


Miss you NR Sir

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I received sad news that one of my favorite teachers in high school had passed away. As children, we spend almost as much time with our teachers as we do with our parents. The teachers who have had tremendous influence on us are far and few and N. Rajendran Sir   (whom we used to fondly refer him as NR Sir) was one of them.  He created such a ripple effect with students that  there is not a day that goes by without thinking about him. I tutor Math almost on a regular  basis and I owe everything I learned in Math to NR Sir. I have lost close ones before, but have never felt such sadness and grief as I feel today. I really adored you Sir, and I will always. The infectious zeal with which NR Sir have taught so many of us continues to energize us even today. 

I was failing miserably in my IX grade in Math and was promoted to X with warning meaning I barely passed my Math in IX. In our school, Our X grade students were segregated based on our performance in our IX grade and luckily for us, NR sir was the assigned teacher.  We weren't sure what to expect of him as we never had classes with him or had an opportunity to interact with him. He sported a big moustache  which made him look scary. After I had classes with him , I soon  got over the moustache part and realized that he was a wonderful teacher who was able to connect us  really with the Math concepts. He used to make us do so many problems over and over that our hands used to hurt by the time we were done. I was sitting in the first row right in front of him, and for some reason he used to pick on me as well and asked me to go to the board and solve a problem.  I had low self esteem up until that point of time . His teaching boosted my self esteem big time.He always used to have chalk piece with him which he used to throw at someone who is not paying attention. He wanted to do everything under his control to help out students and  am thankful he took me under his wings to help me understand appreciate and enjoy Math to the fullest. I moved from barely passing in IX to being top of the class in his tests. I never had  the passion to  be the first or anything but getting a pat in the back meant a lot to me . I remember few tests which I didn't do too well,  He was very angry  at me and I was mad at myself for not giving my best and made sure I didn't  slack off after that. He was eminently fair, honest to the point of bluntness, ever helpful, but would brook no nonsense that would disrupt his classroom routine.  NR sir always exhibited extra bit of life in whatever he did and had the rare capacity to instill some of that in others he met.

I fall short of words to express my grief on the sad demise of our beloved NR Sir. I am what I am today only because of him.  The right way to pay tribute to him is to face this news boldly and go ahead and do a great job as his student and carry forward his legacy.

I hope his family can take solace in the fact that such a great man is surely looking down on them from the highest pinnacle of heaven.

Rest in peace NR Sir, you're probably lecturing God right now or having a breakfast with your Math teachers. 

Sukumar_NRSir

I am thankful to one of our seniors Sukumar Rajagopal for sharing  his picture. Few years back he also honored this wonderful teacher..and am attaching herewith the video of the same (with his permission).

 


What matters

-Karthik Gurumurthy

This is not the first time I am quoting this but worth reading this once in few months.

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got,  but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.


How true this is. And Michael Josephson gives us reasons to think.