Monthly Archives: February 2015

Why invest in self-development?

The answer seems obvious enough but in the day-to-day chaos in life, we often forget the importance. Here is a story that will hopefully serve as an inspiration and a reminder to invest in “ourselves”

Picture13An elderly couple retired to the countryside – to a small isolated cottage overlooking some rugged and rocky headland.

One early morning the woman saw from her window a young man dressed in working clothes walking on the heath, about a hundred yards away. He was carrying a spade and a small case, and he disappeared from view behind a copse of trees.

The woman thought no more about it but around the same time the next day she saw the man again, carrying his spade and a small case, and again he disappeared behind the copse.

The woman mentioned this to her husband, who said he was probably a farmer or gamekeeper setting traps, or performing some other country practice that would be perfectly normal, and so not to worry.

However after several more sightings of the young man with the spade over the next two weeks the woman persuaded her husband to take a stroll – early, before the man tended to arrive – to the copse of trees to investigate what he was doing.

There they found a surprisingly long and deep trench, rough and uneven at one end, becoming much neater and tidier towards the other end.

“How strange,” the old lady said, “Why dig a trench here – and in such difficult rocky ground?” and her husband agreed.

Just then the young man appeared – earlier than his usual time.

“You’re early,” said the old woman, making light of their obvious curiosity, “We wondered what you were doing – and we also wondered what was in the case.“

“I’m digging a trench,” said the man, who continued, realizing a bigger explanation was appropriate, “I’m actually learning how to dig a good trench, because the job I’m being interviewed for later today says that experience is essential – so I’m getting the experience. And the case – it’s got my lunch in it.“

He got the job.

Why invest in first understanding and then “helping”?

As managers we often feel help needs to be given in a particular manner due to lack of time spend understanding the situation, based on our perceptions and assumptions. Here’s a reminder on how help given with the best intentions can cause harm as opposed to helping a situation

Picture14A man found a cocoon for a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared stuck.

The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shrivelled wings. The man watched the butterfly expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed.

The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realise that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight.

Like the sapling which grows strong from being buffeted by the wind, in life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us strong.

When we coach and teach others it is helpful to recognize when people need to do things for themselves.

Why invest in Training Need Analysis?

Here is a humorous story on what can happen if the audience need is not carefully identified and training delivered in accordance.

Picture15An old hill farming crofter trudges several miles through freezing snow to his local and very remote chapel for Sunday service. No-one else is there, aside from the clergyman.

“I’m not sure it’s worth proceeding with the service – might we do better to go back to our warm homes and a hot drink?..” asks the clergyman, inviting a mutually helpful reaction from his audience of one.

“Well, I’m just a simple farmer,” says the old crofter, “But when I go to feed my herd, and if only one beast turns up, I sure don’t leave it hungry.“

So the clergyman, feeling somewhat ashamed, delivers his service – all the bells and whistles, hymns and readings, lasting a good couple of hours – finishing proudly with the fresh observation that no matter how small the need, our duty remains. And he thanks the old farmer for the lesson he has learned.

“Was that okay?” asks the clergyman, as the two set off home.

“Well I’m just a simple farmer,” says the old crofter, “But when I go to feed my herd, and if only one beast turns up, I sure don’t force it to eat what I brought for the whole herd…“

From which we see the extra lesson, that while our duty remains regardless of the level of need, we have the additional responsibility to ensure that we adapt our delivery (of whatever is our stock in trade) according to the requirements of our audience.

Why invest in training?

For those of us that ever doubted the return on investment on training or had a difficult time convincing others about it….here’s a great story that underlines the importance of training, coaching and mentoring our teams

Picture1A new hotel employee was asked to clean the elevators and report back to the supervisor when the task was completed.

When the employee failed to appear at the end of the day the supervisor assumed that like many others he had simply not liked the job and left.

However, after four days the supervisor bumped into the new employee. He was cleaning in one of the elevators.”You surely haven’t been cleaning these elevators for four days, have you?” asked the supervisor, accusingly.”Yes sir,” said the employee, “This is a big job and I’ve not finished yet – do you realise there are over forty of them, two on each floor, and sometimes they are not even there..”

Why invest in developing positive thinking?

Investments yield dividends. This holds true for every aspect of our lives. Our theme for the next month is “Invest”. Especially in those aspects of your life that will yield valuable dividends. The 1st aspect that we cover is “Investing in positive thinking”. Here is a real life person that invested and benefited….

Picture16A landscape gardener ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. The staff was happy, and customers loved to visit the store, or to have the staff work on their gardens or make deliveries – anything from bedding plants to ride-on mowers.

For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive happy people. Most folk assumed it was because they ran a successful business. In fact it was the other way around…

A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying ‘Business Is Great!’

The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like any other. What never changed however was the owner’s attitude, and the badge saying ’Business Is Great!’

Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, “What’s so great about business?” Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they personally were miserable or stressed.

Anyhow, the ‘Business Is Great!’ badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:

the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day

the reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences

the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment

the fascination in the work itself, and in the other people’s work and businesses

the great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities

the new things you learn every day – even without looking to do so

and the thought that everyone in business is blessed – because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive meaningful job, in a civilized well-fed country, where we have no real worries.

And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was, they’d usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.

It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, on which point, if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:

“The badge came first. The great business followed.”

The Power of ‘One’ can move a Mountain

Ask yourself…”Am I offering a solution or am I a part of the problem?” Here is the story of a man that worked with a solutions mindset, against all odds and found a solution.

the power of one can move a mountainIt was the year 1960. Landless laborers, the Musahars, lived amid rocky terrain in the remote Atri block of Gaya, Bihar, in northern India. A 300-foot tall mountain loomed between them and all the basic facilities that they had always longed for.

Like all the Musahar men, Dashrath Manjhi worked on the other side of the mountain. At noon, his wife Phaguni would bring his lunch. One day, she came to him empty handed, injured. As the harsh sun beat down, Phaguni tripped on loose rock, and was badly injured. She slid down several feet, injuring her leg. Hours past noon, she limped to her husband. He was angry at her for being late. But on seeing her tears, he made a decision. Years later, he would recount, “That mountain had shattered so many pots and claimed so many lives. I could not bear that it had hurt my wife. If it took all my life now, I would carve us a road through the mountain.”

Dashrath bought a hammer, chisel, and crowbar. He had to sell his goats, which meant a lower income for his family. He climbed to the top, and started chipping away at the mountain. He would start early in the morning, chip the mountain for a few hours, then work on the fields, and come back to work on the mountain again. He would hardly sleep.

It was not an easy task. He would often get hurt by the rocks falling from the unyielding mountain. He would rest and then start again. At times, he helped people carry their things over the mountain for a small fee, money to feed his children. After 10 years, as Manjhi chipped away, people saw a cleft in the mountain and some came to help.

Manjhi broke through that last thin wall of rock, and walked into the other side of the mountain. After 22 years, Dashrath Das Manjhi, the common man, the landless laborer, had broken the mountain: he had carved out a road 360 feet long, 30 feet wide. Wazirganj, with its doctors, jobs, and school, was now only 5 kilometers away. People from 60 villages in Atri could use his road. Children had to walk only 3 kilometers to reach school. Grateful, they began to call him ‘Baba’, the revered man.

Source: www.thebetterindia.com

The Power of ‘One’: What can I do to make a difference?

Most of us think about helping others once we settle down and become “old enough” to make a difference. But Sylvester Peter has been changing lives of slum children since he was 13. Even if circumstances don’t permit us to make a lifestyle change, the question to ask is “What can I do to make a difference?”

the power of one what can i do to make a differenceAs early as 3:30 am in the morning, when most of the country is asleep, Sylvester’s angels wake up, finish their daily chores and head out for their football practice, yoga sessions and daily lessons.

The kids talk fluently in English, perform great in football and have immense compassion in their heart. Sandeep has been with Sylvester for over 18 years now. When he first joined, he was a rag picker, was addicted to drugs and had a very negative attitude towards life. But today, he is a successful banker who is living a respectable life.

Sylvester, through football and various other sessions, gives theoretical, moral and practical lessons to slum children. He single-handedly runs the academy and imparts lessons on personal hygiene, environmental protection, sex education, gender equality, education, life skills, dancing, painting, etc.

“I am making leaders, not followers so that even if I pass away, the tradition continues,” Sylvester says. For around 30 years of his work, Sylvester has been spending his own personal income to support his academy and kids.

The students who belong to abusive families with various troubles, are now positive personalities with lots of love in their hearts. From drug addicts, rag pickers, thieves, filthy, frightened and negatively influenced children, these kids have transformed into lovely human beings who have aspirations just like regular mainstream kids. They are disciplined and have high hopes for their future.

The ‘angels’ have also had many successes on the football field. Two students have been selected to fly to France for training at FC Metz club through “My Chance” tournament. They are the ‘West Zone Delhi football champion’ and won the ‘Manchester United Sponsored Young Star challenge tournament’. Three of his diligent, highly skilled players have been selected for the prestigious Barcelona football camp.

Today Sylvester has a lovely bunch of slum kids who worship him and a beautiful wife who supports him in his amazing work.

Source: www.thebetterindia.com

To clean-up, it takes only ‘One’

In the current environment of “Cleaning up India”, a lot of people ask “what can I do alone that will make a difference”? This story details what can be done at the physical level. Moving beyond physical “cleaning” , we can look at “cleaning up” the environment around us: at office, at home, socially etc. And “ONE” can make all the difference.

to clean up it takes only oneThere’s a stretch between two Chicago avenues that’s always surprisingly clean. That’s because of an ageing man called Don.

His neighbours know almost nothing about him, other than that he’s polite, sturdily built and very quiet. And they know that virtually every day of the week he brings out brooms, shovels and a barrel on wheels. Then he starts sweeping the streets, shoveling the litter into his barrel.

He’s been at it for several years, from early in the morning until his barrel is full. The weather means nothing to him. Just about all the merchants in the area know him. Some have offered him money or a cool drink on a hot day. But he won’t accept gifts, and he doesn’t like to talk much.

“I managed to speak to him once,” recalls a local car salesman. “He says he’s lived here all his life, and he’s proud of Chicago and thinks everyone should join in keeping the place nice.”

Another businessman said, “He doesn’t want any recognition at all. He says other people volunteer to work at hospitals, and this is what he does.”

In this tell-all age, it’s nice to find someone who likes things neat and makes streets clean. Simple enough. But it’s more than most people do for their town.

By Mike Royko in Chicago Tribune

The Mission of ‘One’

To achieve “success” beyond the conventional definitions, there has to be a deep inner calling to make a difference. The rest falls into place because you attract like minded people who will join you & help you achieve “success”. It’s just a matter of wanting to make a difference. This is the story of a dentist who wanted to achieve “success” beyond what is conventionally defined as success.

the mission of oneOn sizzling-hot summer days in Hong Kong, most people seek air conditioned shelters. But Matthew Yung, 50, squats beside the road and chats to a pavement-dweller, undaunted by the scorching sun or the curious glances of passers-by.

Yung, a dentist, has helped many unfortunate people over the years. During his employment at a government clinic from 1969 to 1971, he spent his leisure time providing dental care for lepers. By mid-1971 he’d saved enough to set up his own clinic in Yau Ma Tei, an impoverished part of Hong Kong. Yung also started providing free care for those in desperate need.

On the way to his clinic every day, Yung saw many people sleeping on pavements or under high-way flyovers. “Hong Kong’s Pavement dwellers are the poorest of the poor,” he says. Determined to help, Yung would ask the Social Welfare Department to take care of those he had met on the streets.

But the more he got to know those people and understand their problems, the more he realized he wanted to help them himself. So in June 1987 Yung joined an action committee to aid pavement dwellers. Since then he has taken an active role in several charitable projects. While helping to distribute food and some daily necessities to the poor around Yau Ma Tei, he noted that many suffered from untreated illness. So, in July 1987, with the help of five other doctors, he inaugurated a free medical programme for residents of charity hostels. Later that year he held free one-day health check-ups for the homeless. Yung is now planning to carry out a program in the hostels to help alcoholic pavement dwellers kick their habit.

What drives Dr Yung to devote his time to helping the poor instead of pursuing a lucrative dental practice? “I believe everyone has a mission,” he says. “I don’t know what will happen to me tomorrow or the day after, so I must grasp every day to serve Hong Kong, the place where I live.”

By Serena Chan, Reader’s Digest 1998

The Will of ‘One’

All of aspire to reach the pinnacle of success but are we willing to pay the price to reach such heights. Most success stories have tremendous struggle and often heart break behind them. Often it feels like we may not even get the success we have worked so hard for. However at the end of the day, we should be able to look into the mirror and say “ I did the very best I could”…the will is the most important element of success

the will of oneHunting was a way of life in the verdant forests and foothills of the Western Ghats in Karnataka’s Coorg area. It was an integral part of tradition, folklore, manhood, sport, food and commerce. From poor, forest-dwelling tribesmen to the flamboyant royalty and courtiers in bustling Mysore, everyone loved hunting. But one man stood tall to end this way of life. His name is K.M.Chinnappa.

In 1967, he joined the Nagarhole National Park as a forester. The park was in ruins. Hunting had taken its toll. Poachers hunted tigers for their skin; elephants for their tusks. Timber logging was a thriving mafia business. Sandalwood smugglers roamed with abandon. Wild life protection laws were weak and the Forest Department concentrated on logging, misguidedly uprooting the diversity of natural vegetation to replace them with the monocultures of teak. Rued Chinnappa: “If this devastation continued, I was dead certain that there would be no wildlife left in Nagarhole in 30 years.”

He became a one-man army to reverse this process. And he succeeded. In less than a quarter of a century, Nagarhole revived, expanding from a 250 sq km part to 640 sq kms. The poachers have retreated, the encroachers have gone and the hunters are virtually extinct, restoring Nagarhole to its rightful inhabitants – tigers, panthers, leopards, sloth bears, jackals, wild boars, porcupines, hares, langur and varieties of deer. In the bad old days, tigers had to roam 200 sq kms before they could find prey. Now they can find it within 12 sq kms.

Chinnappa used his immense knowledge of forest trails, tracking spoor, jungle craft, fabled night vision and stealth maneuvers to ambush the poachers and hunters. Chinnappa paid a high personal price to fulfil his mission to safeguard Nagarhole. He was arrested, jailed, transferred. His home was burned down. But he has no regrets.

In 1993 he retired prematurely from the Forest Department and started his NGO, the Nagarhole Wildlife Conservation Education Project to educate the local people and especially the children on the need to protect the environment. Chinnappa’s accomplishments are all the more laudable because they were won against the stiffest odds. He endured setbacks, difficulties, threats, attacks, vilification, arrests and court cases. But, remarkably, he has emerged unscathed, his innocence, courage, dedication, honour and optimism intact. Through all his trials and tribulations, one thing remained undiminished: his sheer will to save the forests. With deep conviction he says: “If you have the will, you can do wonders.”

Today, Chinnappa derives enormous satisfaction from the guns – the yesteryear symbol of manhood – that lie rusting in many a Coorgi home. Cheering the end of that bygone era are the sights and sounds of a promising new life, symbolized by the swaying foliage and barking deer.

Source: www.thealternative.in,  Jan 28, 2013