Friday, 13 April 2018

God's Creation - Nature is Beautiful

To appreciate the beauty of nature which is God’s creation, we sometimes need to take time off. Go off to a place, where there is no worry of going for work, paying bills, reaching targets, impressing your boss doesn’t come into your mind and thoughts. 
Sunset at ISKCON New Govardhana Farm,Murwillumbah NSW

Sunset at ISKCON New Govardhana Farm,Murwillumbah NSW

Sunset at ISKCON New Govardhana Farm,Murwillumbah NSW
Dusk at ISKCON New Govardhana Farm,Murwillumbah NSW

And, at that time when there stillness of unnatural sound of City traffic, cars moving, vacuum cleaner from next door neighbour or the blasting rap music, all that you can hear is the sound of Birds Chirping, occasional sound of Kookaburra which almost sounds like a human laugh or the sound of a Bird that’s like an electric Guitar or simply the rustling of leaves and swinging of branches with the wind – that is the time you become aware of the beauty of the landscape of nature, mountains, clouds and the orange sunlight. I am talking of a recent visit I did to the beautiful Hare Krishna farm community at Murwillumbah a border town at NSW, which is actually a 45 mins drive from Gold Coast, Queensland. There, I captured some of the scenes, beautiful landscape of the farm, while staying on one of the Farm Cottages.

Reminds me of an English Melody and translation called 'O God Beautiful’, written by Paramhansa Yogananda. The original chant called 'Hay Hari Sundara' written by the 15th century Sikh Guru Nanak.
O God beautiful! O God beautiful!
In the forest, Thou art green,
In the mountain, Thou art high,
In the river, Thou art restless,
In the ocean, Thou art grave!
To the serviceful, Thou art service,
To the lover, Thou art love,
To the sorrowful, Thou art sympathy,
To the yogi, Thou art bliss!
O God beautiful! O God beautiful!
At Thy feet, O I do bow!
Rainbow across the valley ISKCON New Govardhana Farm,Murwillumbah NSW

Monday, 9 April 2018

Fourteen Tips for Happiness in Daily Life

Recently I came across an article which details an account of a note Albert Einstein gave to a bell boy in a hotel as a tip. The note reads "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness." And, this note last year, as reported in the news was sold for $1.7 million at a Jerusalem auction.
Misty Mountains of Murwillumbah, NSW
It is Interesting to note that, Shrimad Bhagavad Gita talks about Happiness in various places. And, in the final Chapter 18 from Verses 36-39 describe about the three kinds of happiness the human beings experience in this world. It’s up to each of us to choose what type of Happiness we want to get and of course' be ready to accept the consequences also.
The first kind of Happiness is happiness in the mode of goodness which in the beginning may feel like, a poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization. The Second one is said to be the happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion. And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be of the nature of ignorance.
So, did you know that at Harvard, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the most popular and successful course teaches you how to learn to be happier?  The Positive Psychology class taught by Ben Shahar attracts 1400 students per semester and 20% of Harvard graduates take this elective course. According to Ben Shahar, the class - which focuses on happiness, self-esteem and motivation - gives students the tools to succeed and face life with more joy. Ben, considered by some to be "the happiness guru", highlights in his class 14 key tips for improving the quality of our personal status and contributing to a positive life:
Tip 1. * Thank God for everything you have: * Write down 10 things you have in your life that give you happiness. Focus on the good things!
Tip 2. * Practice physical activity * Experts say exercising helps improve mood. 30 minutes of exercise is the best antidote against sadness and stress.
Tip 3. * Breakfast: * Some people miss breakfast for lack of time or not to get fat. Studies show that breakfast gives you energy, helps you think and perform your activities successfully.
Tip 4. * Assertive *: Ask what you want and say what you think. Being assertive helps improve your self-esteem. Being left and remaining silent creates sadness and hopelessness.
Tip 5. * Spend your money on experiences. A study found that 75% of people felt happier when they invested their money in travel, courses and classes; While only the rest said they felt happier when buying things.
Tip 6. * Face your challenges *: Studies show that the more you postpone something, the more anxiety and tension you generate. Write short weekly lists of tasks and complete them.
Tip 7. * Put everywhere nice memories, phrases and photos of your loved ones *: Fill your fridge, your computer, your desk, your room, YOUR LIFE of beautiful memories.
Tip 8. * Always greet and be nice to other people *: More than 100 inquiries state that just smiling changes the mood.
Tip 9. * Wear comfortable shoes *: If your feet hurt you, you become moody, says Dr. Keinth Wapner, President of the American Orthopaedics Association.
Tip 10. * Take care of your posture *: Walk straight with your shoulders slightly backwards and the front view helps to maintain a good mood.
Tip 11. * Listen to music * (Praise God): It is proven that listening to music awakens you to sing, this will make your life happy.
Tip 12. * What you eat has an impact on your mood *: - Do not skip meals, eat lightly every 3 to 4 hours and keep glucose levels stable. - Avoid excess white flour and sugar. - Eat everything! Healthy- Vary your food.
Tip 13. * Take care of yourself and feel attractive *:70% of people say they feel happier when they think they look good.
Tip 14. * Fervently believe in God *: With him nothing is impossible!
Happiness is like a remote control, we lose it every time, we go crazy looking for it and many times without knowing it, we are sitting on top of it. Or, it reminds me a story of a Musk deer that went running everywhere, asking everyone the source of the amazing fragrance that's coming. Finally, she was so exhausted running everywhere and was about to leave her body when some of the animal came to her and told her, "Look, the fragrance that you are looking for is actually within you. It is coming from your own body and you are not aware of it". So, all through our life, we keep running around and looking for Happiness in the form of New electronic items, Rolex Watches, Ferrari cars and Five Star Hotels but, the Happiness is actually within us. When we turn our focus inward and try to realise that Spirit Soul and Super Soul within our temporary material body made up of earth, water, fire, ether etc, that is the time we get that real Happiness.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Becoming a Technical Leader

“I just finished reading this book - Becoming a Technical Leader by Gerald Weinberg, one of my favourite author”, I said to my friend. “Tell me about it, what does the book say about a Technical Leadership”, asked my friend who looked excited and interested. I was taken back. It’s an amazing book but, where to start and where to fend? How much do I remember of what I read? (Tip: If you sincerely try to answer the questions at the end of every chapter, you have a good chance of remembering what you read).

This book was written by the author, after running leadership workshops for over 20 years. Can you learn leadership from a book? Who is a leader anyway? Do you want to become a Leader? And, why do you want to become one? O.K, you decide to become a Leader but, unfortunately what if you don’t have the Charisma, the Magic charm or other traditional traits of a Leader, should you give up on, the hope of becoming a Leader? This book explains all these and much more.

So, I would like to write briefly about what's in the book and my thoughts on it. The book talks about MOI - Motivation, Organisation and Ideas or Innovation Model of Leadership, against a Threat/Reward Model of Leadership. Talks about an Organic style of Leadership against Linear Leadership. Traditional or conventional ways of identifying a leader are based on opinions of the team members or observers. But, understanding leadership in technical environment is a different ball game and the traditional psychologists fail to take note of this important point. Most of the discussion in the book focuses on the organic models characterized by systems thinking and contrasting them to linear or threat Reward Models. There is also a discussion of Leadership in the Seed sense or Seed Model which is the process of creating an environment, in which people become empowered.

Starting with MOI model, Gerald gives a very simple but profound real-life example of Pinball where he talks about, what makes people excel in the game. For example, I quote from the book “Ormond had no motivation, no push, to learn to play better. I loved this one “Ideas: - My eyes are dim, my legs get tired, and my hands are a lot slower than they used to be. Without ideas, I wouldn’t stand a chance of winning”. And, the actual problem- “Organisation: They didn’t lack push, for they did want to play better. Their lives just weren’t sufficiently organized to learn anything that required a nontrivial effort”. Understanding the problem, managing the flow of ideas, maintaining quality and Faith in a better way. Unlike the threat/reward model, where the number of ideas in the world is limited, there is always a better way.

How Leaders develop? “Leaders are leaders of change–change in other people, change in working groups, and change in organizations. Above all, leaders are leaders of change in themselves. To become a leader, you have to understand how change happens; yet it’s difficult to see change in yourself”. Another interesting concept is the Plateaus and ravines pattern. How does one Improve? Someone said, I can’t do it because, I am not a manager. The story of the village idiot whose antique watch stopped running. He pried it open and found a dead cockroach inside. “No wonder it doesn’t work,” he said, “the manager is dead.”

The book talks about various aspects of Leadership like, myth of the appointed leader, making small changes, the three obstacles, self-blindness (an interesting anecdote of Shirley’s supper (where she thinks, she had only a coffee but, ended up eating more than anyone else).

I also loved these, no problem syndrome. One person describes a terribly vexing problem, but the other merely responds with a callous, “No problem.” And, then the Single solution belief (belief in the central dogma of academic psychology, blinding you to alternative solutions).

Tool for self-awareness: - Importance of a Personal Journal. Developing the idea power: -Creative error, stolen ideas, copulation. The Vision: Career line. It’s not the event that matters, but your reaction to the event. Some real-life examples, like Iris, where success led to pride, which then led to defensiveness. And, Walston’s success that let him be seduced into staying too long with an obsolete system.

People who become innovators do indeed possess a secret key. What is it? every successful technical leader has such a personal vision. Perhaps only children can believe that what they do makes a difference in the world. Satir's Interaction Model: to see what’s going on inside of me, Helping and self-esteem. “Trying to be helpful: It begins with a sincere desire to help, progresses through some muddled communications, degenerates into emotional name calling, and finishes by making things worse”. “If everyone is trying intensely to do good, why do people fail miserably? You may have to succeed one hundred percent of the time to be perfect, but you don’t have to succeed one hundred percent of the time to be powerful”.

Then, there is more about Leadership, where power comes from? Influencing people and the missing ingredient. Power from relationship, technology, Expertise and Keeping power. Problem Solving teams and some team dynamics, decision making, how leaders are appointed etc. Obstacles to effective organizing. Playing the Big Game, treating people as machines, the job of a Leader – is it merely solving problems? Organic Organizing, learning to be an Organizer, looking for crossed wires and the point of maximum suffering was humorous but on a serious note, it gave an important lesson and made sense.

Then, some more stuff like Grading as a Leader, passing your own Leadership tests, learning how to keep everyone cool, Change and a Personal Plan. Small achievements and Importance of Finding the support for the change – a support system which is personal, growth, criticism, recovery. The paradox of problem-solving leadership is that you have to change in order to remain the same.

Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. It is quite insightful, practical, relevant. The real-life examples Gerald gives are not only humorous but, makes the point clear. And the questions/exercises at the end of the chapter are quite valuable to deepen and solidify our learning's.