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Our Words Influence Our Worlds

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There are many titles and versions of this fable and the author also is unknown. Inspired by the paradigms of Appreciative Inquiry, a research and a process facilitation method, let’s call this version as, ’Our Words Influence Our Worlds.’

Decades ago, an aged father used to let his ten year old son do some chores around their farm on weekends to keep him away from mischief, and hopefully impart some values into the boy. Much like Mr. Miyagi, the father would have the boy go draw water from the well all day long on one weekend. On another weekend, he would have him go paint the whole fence around the house. And, then there weekends where he would have the boy milk a dozen cows at dawn. The boy, as you may have guessed, needed to be kept busy to prevent him from his mischief and also the fact that he was quick to anger.

One such weekend, the father handed him a bag of nails and hammer and asked the boy to go and hammer all the nails into a large oak tree at the outskirts of their farm. The boy, though a little pesky, was quite obedient.  A few hours later he rushes back to his father claiming the job was done. The father lets him dip into the cookie bar as a reward and allows him go play with his pals.

Come the following weekend, the little boy shows up again in front of the father asking for his assignment for this weekend. The father hands him the empty bag of nails and the same hammer from last week and has him go back to the oak tree and pull out all the nails he had hammered last week. The boy goes off, and in few hours rushes back with all the nails and hands them to his father. His father, this time, flips him a silver dollar as a reward and lets him go play with his pals again. Boy flies off to meet his pals, but halfway to them he stops, turns around to runs back to his father.

“I don’t get it, Father. Last week you had me hammer them’ nails in the tree and this week you had me pull them out. What’s the deal here?”

“Son, if you go back to the tree, you will notice that even though the nails are back in the bag and you have had your cookies and a dollar to boot, but the nail holes in that oak tree will be there forever,” replied the father gently and with love in his eyes. The son, though young, but quick of learning, stood there quietly basking in the warmth of his father’s gentle glance. “The same bunch of nails that can uselessly pierce holes into wood can also build a boat or a bridge. And, in exactly the same our words can draw blood or express kindness and build relationships and communities” added the father, lovingly.

Yes, just like nails, words can draw blood or bring together ideas such that new worlds get built. Words, once uttered out can never be drawn back just like a nails hammered in then pulled out will always leave marks.  Many a times, mindlessly, we pour out words that cut holes into the hearts and spirits. And, there are times that we do such things on purpose.

Whether we do such things consciously or unconsciously the real issue is that the damage we do has a, long-term, systemic effect not just on individuals but on communities, countries and beyond.

What makes a word or a bunch of words put together draw blood or heal wounds? What makes a word or a bunch of words seal the deals to a bigger, brighter future?

There are certain words which are in essence toxic and harmful. No matter where and how you place them, these words are in bad taste and harmful. For example the word ‘hate’ instead of ‘love.’ For example the word ‘problem’ compared to the word ‘challenge.’  When we say ‘problem’ it then it requires digging down, holding back things and worry about resolving. Instead, when we use the word ‘challenge’ then it sounds like something that can be overcome and it has a tinge of possibility and potential built in into it. At the onset it may seem there is barely any difference but think of scores of other such words used in conversations and used in abundance too.

Next, we may use essentially positive words but if they are morphed together in such a way that they influence doubt or mislead people then, too, we are using words not build but to destroy our world. Words and ideas that deliberately employed at the wrong, time and place to distort context are equally harmful.

Then there are words and thoughts that are perfect but the hue and the tone that they are expressed in can give an evil twist to them and deliver disastrous results.  Yes, the words ‘evil twist’ and ‘disastrous’ are words we should refrain from using as far as possible.

And, “Yes, you are right!” said with a sneer and curl of the mouth can still cut and draw blood like a rusted knife would. Even the ‘three little words’ expressed at the wrong time, in a wrong way and with a mean intention create more harm than good.

Think about this. Think about all the times we use all the kinds of word to write, speak or influence our worlds. Choose and study them the way a good mason picks, chooses his bricks and cements them on top of each other with alignment; with care and love. The more cautious and selective we are with every grain, every brick and every wall we build then the better and more beautiful our cathedrals will turn out to be.  Our words will influence our worlds.

Raju Mandhyan

www.mandhyan.com

Inner Sun

Trust in Spades: How to Give, Gain and Build

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Trust: How to give, gain and build it over time has been a challenge that scores of leaders struggle with at work and in life. In a world filled with strife, struggle for survival and fear of the unknown trust is a rare commodity and the only currency that can procure us progressive, productive workplaces and, probably, a more peaceful world.

The perennial queries have been:

How much can I trust her?

Why should I trust him?

Are they a trustworthy kind?

How do I make them believe in me?

How do we sustain this relationship over time and changing circumstances?

Now, usually, the answers to many of our work-life challenges lie in intricacies of our languages. So, it helps to look at what exactly is the meaning and maybe the etymology of the word trust is.

By the dictionary, trust is a noun which means “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something,” or trust is a verb which means “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” The key words stressed here are ability, reliability and strength. Likewise distant synonyms of the word trust are confidence, expectation and dependence.

Robert Kegan, in his book Immunity to Change, provides a workable formula to buy, build and grow trust in reflection and in response to the noun and the verb “trust.” Trust, he claims is the sum of an entity’s credibility, consistency and care for another entity and is inversely proportional to its’ own self-focus.

                                 ___CREDIBILITY + CONSISTENCY + CARE___

TRUST       =            ______________________________________

                                                                 SELF-FOCUS         

Credibility lies in your past performance but is depended upon today. It takes time to build and is built (Video) step by step. Everything you have done and are dong gets imprinted upon some memory and is tapped into again and again.

Consistency, across changing circumstances and times, is a matter of strategy, will and beliefs. As any manager or even a family head, you need to make efforts to become the person to go to. A certain amount of rock steadiness is needed of you to buy and build trust.

Care is the outcome of cognitive and affective empathy and compassion for others. We all have needs, weaknesses and thankfully, a consciousness too. As we all need care and compassion, a leader needs to make conscious, cognitive efforts to understand, feel and offer support to others.

The downside and the scary side of this denominator is that if all three elements are active and are performed with an objective to win brownie points or to serve an agenda other than the agenda of the person across you or an agenda that is not mutually beneficial than the trust equation collapses-drastically.

A few years ago while hosting an event I had the good fortune of spending a private moment with Tony Meloto, the founder and lead behind Gawad Kalinga of the Philippines. Gawad Kalinga, a very successful community building organization, is our version of Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines.

“Tony” I asked, “Gawad Kalinga is receiving so much funding and hundreds of volunteers are pouring in to help, do you not have security and trust issues with all these newcomers and walk in supporters?”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Don’t you have pilferage, conflict, personality conflicts and trust issues?”

“Ah, I know what you are implying! I have a straightforward philosophy and an approach to it. When volunteers come in, we take them for their word and trust their intentions to be good. We load them with responsibilities right away___without doubt, without malice. And, all these years this approach has worked and I feel that is one of the secrets behind our success.”

“Hmmm, wow!”

“Yes, wow is right, we hand out trust in spades, right away, and usually get it back in wheelbarrows,” he smiled.

I was and still am ashamed to have been coming from a sense of lack but I am glad I asked that question that day.

The first step of the formula to gain trust, today for me, is to give trust to the credibility, the competencies and the compassion levels in all my partners and colleagues. It is to set aside all my doubts and biases and take people’s word for what they can do and what they state their goals to be. It is to approach people with a judgement of charity and graciousness. Yes, surely, people can let you down but if I start with assumption that they can let me down then I haven’t really started anything have I?

The second step to build and accumulate trust in myself, across time, from my partners and teams is really do well what I am responsible and for what I am qualified and appointed for. My job description could be general or specific but I must focus on becoming the person to go for those needs by my partners. I must follow this habit of making effort of being he best I can be with a long-term consistency. I cannot build a reputation or a resume by being efficient and productive sporadically, I must be consistent across changing circumstances and times.

The third habit, not just a step, is to approach people with compassion and kindness regardless of what our work-life scenarios and our backgrounds call. In the Philippines, we uphold a value called “kapwa tao.” This means to regard all people as human beings and kindred spirits and to do unto them as you would have them do unto you.

The fourth habit is to deliberately and diligently reflect upon why you think, say and do what you think, say and do. Reflect upon your agendas and your true purposes. Run your intentions through the test of fire. If your thoughts, words and actions benefit you more than they benefit others than the previous three steps will never gain you anything, ever. People study and measure your words and actions to assess your true intentions all the time and the only way to clean up your true intentions is to really and truly clean them up.

That is how to Give, Gain and Build Mountains of Trust for yourself and within your communities.

Video on Trust

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Change the Way you Look at Things, The Things you Look at will Change

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by Carlos Castaneda

Zig Ziglar shared this story a few decades ago,

“Growing up on a farm, I’d have to be up way before dawn and one of assignments was to milk the cows. The cows did not know that it was their job to let me get milk from them. My assignment was always tougher in the winters of the great state of Texas. The milk inside the cow, in my mind, was usually frozen. I hated the job and hated the cows.

Over time I realized the more frustrated I was at the job and the cows, the harder my job became. And, I am sure the cows also went out of their ways to make my life miserable too. Then I decided to change the way I looked at my job. I decided milk was good. It brought health and nutrition and income for the family. I began to look at the cows with kinder eyes. I even went out of my way to have a chat with the cows before I even touched them.

“Sally,” I’d say to the eldest of the cows, “you look good today! It seems like you had a good night’s rest.”

“And Martha,” I’d say to the youngest, “that smile on your face is gonna’ take you places, y’know!”

“You cows have no idea how much we enjoy and appreciate all that you do for us. If not for you guys, our breakfast tables would be dull and boring. Thank you. Really, thank you!”

He had no measure for it but Zig Ziglar was sure that on the days he appreciated the cows and thanked them for being who they were, he usually picked up a few extra quarts of milk.

People at work and, in life, aren’t any different. All of us need appreciation and grace from each other. All of us need to learn regard each with respect and kindness. When we look at each other, when we behold each other our eyes need to zero in on the potential and grace that lays hidden in each of us. Yes, it does!

The moment we seek, zero in and stay positive about that hidden potential our attitude and our outlook becomes the water and sunshine that unleashes that potential. When we change the way we look at people, the people we look at will change and grow into and fill the frame we perceive them through. This is powerful medicine. It is the truth and it costs nothing. Nothing at all! In fact, it is like oxygen to your own wellbeing and happiness.

On those cold, wintry mornings the cows, I hear, also returned the favor to Zig Ziglar  with a “Thank you for a warm hand on a chilly morning.”

Strive or Surrender in 2017?

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On my mind always has been the question “how much should we strive and how much should we surrender?” The world is filled with free-flowing advice on how to “never, never, never give up!” or how to “let the storm rage on and let it go, let it go!”

Yet the wisdom and ability to choose and then draw a line between the two extremes has never been an easy one. Faith, beliefs, values, culture, habits and personal desires always get in the way. In fact, the biggest struggle is not what to never give up or what to let go but the struggle to find that wisdom, courage and ability to make and act out our choice.

Strive or Surrender?

The simple rule of thumb that I follow is that I give my choice-making efforts maximum intellectual, emotional and social impact thought and then I act upon that choice. You might say, “Hey that really is no different from what everyone does, how is your strategy any different?”  My strategy is different because I put in the measure immediately after the first few action steps I take.  If the action steps stir up any toxicity, negativity, fear, doubt or guilt right after then I withdraw and take up plan B. I carry no shame in saying I was wrong. I carry no shame in giving credence to the opinion of others when it is better and will bring better, holistic results. I listen in and tune in to my emotions acutely and “let go of ego and authorship of the initial idea.” What I never, never, never give up on is the wisdom and ability of making another choice, as soon as possible, after the lack of success of any and all previous ones.

I believe in living out the moment to the best of my ability and that of staying in motion for the immediate future.

At the end of this 2016, I intend to exercise this personal competency of mine less for material, measurable goals and more for the not so easily measurable ones like kindness, compassion and big-picture achievements for and towards others.  My belief is that my world changes as I do. When I warm up, it warms up. When I soften towards it, it softens back at me and when I treat it with love then it pours back love onto me. The struggle between striving and surrendering ceases to take any credence.

 

Raju Mandhyan

Speaker, Coach & Learning Facilitator

www.mandhyan.com              A World of Clear, Creative & Conscientious Leaders! 

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“You Never Really Forget What You See!”

IAF Philippines

January 28th from  3:30PM to 7:00PM

Inspire Learning Hub, Alveoland Building,

28th Street corner Lane O, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig

 

Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/you-never-really-forget-what-you-see-iaf-learning-session-no8-tickets-18817224826

 

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Kinesthetic Charisma

Scores of times in my workshop InSpire Like a CEO, I have been asked the question, “At work and in life, how do you make an impact and sustain it?”

I have always answered that there are many ways, and many of them are being and doing things in a way that your presence and power is felt rather than forced upon others.

Then there is that usual question about “what about body language?”

Be, Do, Have.

Be, Do, Have.

I must confess that for both these questions the answer is not a simple one and it just can’t be a list of bullet points to follow. A few years ago I wrote an article Authentic  Impact, that will help but, well, here’s an expanded list of bullet points to back it up.

Yet before you scroll down, I want you to ponder and munch upon a thought that claims, “You are almost always communicating,” or differently stated “You are never not communicating.” What this implies is that your posture, your motions, your expressions, your eyes and the way you breathe all, always are making some kind of a statement.

The other thing that I need you to ponder and munch upon is the fact, that the first impressions you make can be lasting impressions and first impression are made in less than seven seconds. Well, that used to be the truth until the digital and the mobile world hit us. Nowadays, I hear first impressions, at least the online ones, are made in less than three seconds.

Well, in any case back onto real world impact here are my eleven secrets to building and possessing a powerful Kinesthetic Charisma.

 

  1. Trust Yourself

This is tantamount to ‘know thyself’ and ‘like thyself’ the way you are, whatever that way be. You see if you don’t like yourself then your discontentment with yourself oozes out of you like foul body odor. Yes, it does!

Thus, spend time with yourself. Talk to yourself. Accept things about yourself. Change things you can and learn to live with things you cannot change. The easiest thing to change about yourself is how you dress and the toughest thing to change about yourself, no not your height, is your worldview. In all cases accept and trust yourself as you are.

  1. When you Walk into a Room, Walk Right in

If you have chosen to be somewhere, with some people then be there a 100%. Don’t dilly-dally at the door or by the window. Walk right in and physically announce yourself. Your hesitations, your inhibitions will be construed as lack of confidence, lack of trust in yourself.

  1. Stand Tall before you Sit

Spend a little time spending standing tall and letting people size in and absorb your newly ironed suit and the length, or lack, of your physicality. Stand as if you are wearing a light, crisply ironed suit and you are unworried about the suit picking up creases. Stand tall, relax your shoulders, hang your arms by your side or hold a glass of wine, breathe normally and keep your chin slightly tilted up. Think Clint Eastwood even though you might be Danny de Vito.

  1. When you Shake hands, Shake Them Well

Oh no, that doesn’t mean squeeze, crush or pump. It means when shaking hands with a person of the same sex place your hand all in, wrap the thumb around and give it a reassuring squeeze. In your mind say to them that you like them and they will read your mind through the process of conduction. When shaking hands with a female, that is if you are male, offer an open hand and let them shove their hand all in. You just wrap around gently and close. Tell them with your eyes that you like meeting with them. Mentally announce, “Mucho gusto!”

  1. Sit Upright and Cool before You Talk

When you sit, find a good spot from where you can see everyone and everyone can see you too. Don’t hunch, don’t slouch, and don’t sink into the sofa. Push your butt deep into the chair, straighten your lower back, drop your shoulders and let your chest breathe normally. Yes, keep the chin tilted slightly. Look around as if to survey, to measure. Smile as you do it.

  1. Mind your Micro Expressions

If you haven’t yet, then please read up Dr. Mehrebian’s  55+38+7 rule and remember that it is only valid in certain laboratory conditions. But, yes, it does help to get the point through for many aspects of people interactions. Yes, of course, remember that you are almost always communicating. So if you see something or someone that you do not like then do not grimace or pout.  Hear yourself say it to yourself in your head that you don’t like something or someone in the room but don’t let your mind tell it to your face. Stick a smiley on your face and let it stay there.

  1. Talk only When you Know they want to Hear you

Talk when there is pause in the noise the world of business meetings usually puts. Talk when the cacophony levels drop. Talk when people are getting edgy because you haven’t added to the noise yet. Speak out your words softly, but let them carry a big stick. Speak up, enunciate and, for heaven’s sake, think it out before you spew it out. Read my book, the HeART of Public Speaking, to learn how to think on your feet.

  1. Speak from the Gut, Throw your Voice

Power up your voice and pitch it far and strong by backing it up with the air from your diaphragm. Don’t speak through nose, don’t mumble. Stand up, sit up, chin up and then speak up nice and slow. Raise up the decibels high enough for your words to be heard by the person most distant from you in the room. Speak as if you are speaking to that last person in the room. Speak…do not shout.

  1. Pause Between Thoughts, Examples

If you have done your thinking before speaking;  If you are composing, editing and structuring your thoughts well and if you are sitting up and speaking from the gut then your pauses and your pausing will be a but natural outcome of your powerful performance. Your pauses will allow you to think through the next bunch of thoughts, ideas and examples. Your pausing will allow time for your audience to digest and appreciate your proposals.

  1. Let your Eyes listen

You know I am teasing you with that one, don’t you? What I mean is watch people understanding, absorbing and accepting your ideas and examples. They will be nodding, smiling and turning towards you when you talk. That is listening to them while you are doing the talking. If you see less of nodding, smiling and people turning towards then it is time to change pace, change style, change content off your conversations.

  1. Stay Open

Just because you now know how to trust yourself, walk into a room well, shake hands properly, hold your chin up and enunciate well does not make you an Einstein, a Drucker or the Dalai Lama!

The whole process of “doing” things to become charismatic kinesthetically has an underlying promise by you to stay open, stay flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and what is being co-created in good conversations.

There you go! Eleven bullet points to acquiring Kinesthetic Charisma as a leader, as a CEO who would like to Inspire and influence his world.

Anchored In Love

Of the hundreds of times that I have discussed values in a class, a workshop or a smaller interaction every single of those discussions, and declarations of values boil down to one single value-love; love in its most generic and agape form.  For example honestly boiled down to the love for truth, independence to freedom, honor to self-identity and pride.

There was this one moment in my class when sitting across a couple I heard the husband espouse “commitment” to work as his core value while the wife, testily, declared family as her chief value. When I drilled the husband through his choice he went from claiming fulfilling his commitments would gain him credit, gaining credit at the workplace would earn him promotions and growth thereby he’d be able to improve the quality of his own life and that of his family. When the wife heard him end with family as his last word her jaw dropped and tears of love and forgiveness filled her eyes. What, thus, kept both going and driven in their lives was still love.

Called by different names with slightly different application like empathy, sympathy, passion, compassion, “malasakit,” kindness and respect it all really boils to the fact that at the bottom of it, at the core of everything that drives us and makes us strive for growth is love. Success in business is usually a powerful driven by the love of creating value. Taking up the helm of leadership lays the love for others, for a community or a country.

Courage isn’t just a lack of fear; it is the love for what lies beyond that fear.

When we settle down, accept and acknowledge this fact of humanity, on being humane then most everything we think, say or do will become a process we have to follow or journey we need to traverse. Thus, whenever faced with a daunting challenge at work, a tough and a demanding relationship or a mean mountain blocking your path know, appreciate and anchor yourself into the personal value that calls upon you to face that challenge, work that relationship or move that mountain. Anchoring into that value will uncover the love for the outcome and you shall become invincible and unstoppable. Like courage will not just be a lack of fear; but will be love for what lies beyond that fear.

 

P.S. Didn’t realize until I began to post that there is an upcoming event called Anchored In Love featuring Bethany Hamilton on whose life the movie, Soul Surfer, was made.   Here’s the link to the event if you are interested   http://www.loveanchored.com/

I hope they don’t mind me sticking their image here into my blog:

My upcoming public workshops:http://www.informa-mea.com/hrsummit

Advanced Selling Skills in Vietnam: http://www.hospitalmanagementasia.com/cacnhadienthuyet?page=5

Appreciative Leadership in Vietnam: http://www.vmi.edu.vn/news/pid/49/search/page/1/id/4544

InSpire Like a CEO: http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/Raju/inspire.html

Appreciative Leadership: http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/Raju/AL.html

Corporate Storytelling in Dubai:

 

Posts on Facebook: https://goo.gl/MXQEqU

Talks on You Tube: https://goo.gl/dVclfm

Choice Clips from the TV Show, ExPat InSights :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjf3sHaZBSo

 

 

 

Humata, Hukata, and Hvrashta!

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My school, the Sardar Dastur Hoshang Boys High School left major impressions in me about kindness, respect for others and personal presence.  The immortal words “Humata, Hukata” were encrypted on our school badges. It is in a language unknown to me but was kindly translated by the teachers. It means “Good Thoughts, Good Words.”

I was in my pre-teens and like most of the boys in school, I assumed it meant we must do away with foul language and vulgarity in our daily conversations and interactions. Not until I reached my 20s did I go back and ponder upon the depths, the simplicity and the precision of the philosophy embedded in those two words – Humata, Hukata.  Upon further research today, I learned that there is a third and more powerful word to complete that immortal affirmation phrase. That word is Hvrashta and the full motto is

.  Translated, it means, “Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.”

Humata, Hukata,Hvrashta!

Humata, Hukata,Hvrashta!

Come to think of it, how many times in our lives do we brim with and demonstrate good intentions? No I don’t just mean the random thoughts of kindness flashing through our minds but also the love, the compassion and the desire to create filling our conscious and unconscious thoughts.  It is in our human nature to be made up of these feelings of kindness, compassion and the desire to grow and create the value.

These thoughts and feelings exist in all individuals. But how frequently does the world around us come to know about what individuals think and feel? How many times does the world read our mind and understand our hearts?  The good thoughts in our minds and hearts, or Humata, stay hidden. They lie undiscovered until they take some form of expression.

We can convert emotions and ideas into words, into pitches and presentations for the good we want to contribute to the world, for the value creation we want to bring to our markets, thus raising creativity and innovation to the next level.  Hukata -good words or empowering expressions can be seen, heard and felt. They are at a higher level more tangible than good thoughts, ideas and emotions. And yet, words and empowering expressions that claim competence, offer solutions and promise growth and innovation are rendered cheap and useless unless they can be converted into action, into something tangible which can be measured and accounted for.  Words can inspire hope and draw applause but it is real positive action, Hvrashta, that fills the stomachs of armies and builds the bridges that take us where we want to go and grow.  The pillars that measure success, growth and self-fulfilment are rooted in action.

Action and the execution of plans and goals are paramount both to improving business profitability and to achieving real results in personal development.  Action is where the rubber meets the road and where customer traction is acquired and gained.

Action is of two kinds. The first kind is action taken within the mind such as holding back our impatience, holding back our impulses and managing our anger. These internal “actions” are sometimes referred to as emotional intelligence. The other kind of action is where you roll up your sleeves, pick up the phone and call a hundred potential customers in a day. The power lies in the doing.  It is in taking this action repeatedly, day after day, that the proverbial Mountain begins to roll towards Mohammad.

Sales and the discipline of selling is a numbers game. It is about persistence and perspiration. It is about taking one rejection after another.

The ability to hold back anxiety, the fortitude to face repeated failure is laudable internal action that is sensed and felt, but it is un-measurable and not visible. Getting up and getting out of your comfort zone day after day is action that is physical, external, and visible. It is seen and felt by others. Both types of actions must be performed often and with undiminishing energy so as to grow, obtain results, and achieve massive success. This is what moves mountains and creates change.  When the mountains move, you, the salesperson, can then take a measuring tape and record your success, counting the times you walk into your bank with the fruits of success.

Taken from: the HeART of the CLOSE / Available on Amazon: http://goo.gl/OZSMj8

 

 

My upcoming public workshops:http://www.informa-mea.com/hrsummit

Advanced Selling Skills in Vietnam: http://www.hospitalmanagementasia.com/cacnhadienthuyet?page=5

Appreciative Leadership in Vietnam: http://www.vmi.edu.vn/news/pid/49/search/page/1/id/4544

InSpire Like a CEO: http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/Raju/inspire.html

Appreciative Leadership: http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/Raju/AL.html

Corporate Storytelling in Dubai:

 

Posts on Facebook: https://goo.gl/MXQEqU

Talks on You Tube: https://goo.gl/dVclfm

Choice Clips from the TV Show, ExPat InSights :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjf3sHaZBSo

 

 

 

The Future, Here and Now

In the summer of ’97, while I was enrolled in an advanced strategy and business economics program (SBEP) at the wonderful University of Asia Pacific, we were busy forecasting the impact of the upcoming presidential elections in the Philippines.

Several groups of executives from different industries huddled up, crunched numbers, argued and came up with two outcomes at the end of a harrowing afternoon. First, the Philippines’ Peso which was at Pesos 37 would cross Pesos 40 to 1 U.S. Dollar before Christmas that year. Second, Senator Joseph Ejercito Estrada would make a dandy President for the country. Well, one of the two predictions did come true.

Scores of times since then I have seen businesses and business heads come together every year and figure out what the future holds for their business and how, precisely can they forecast, see ahead of the curve and drive their businesses strategically and fruitfully. It’s a great exercise and, well again, usually one out of their two predictions comes true. And, that is a good thing.

Eyes on the Road ahead, and Ear to the Ground.

Eyes on the Road ahead, and Ear to the Ground.

A better thing might be if leaders and organizations focus a lot more on exploiting the future that is happening right now in the here and now. Many a times, no, most of the time leaders of organization get so taken in by their intelligences and plan that they, in a way, put on blinders towards all else that may be happening right now and within their reach and scope. Innovation need not, always, happen in idea-generating rooms or forums. Innovative leaders need to keep a sharp eye out for what is happening in the marketplace in terms of change in demographics, weather, competition, technological advances and in the political arena. Our plans of action and our goals need to be placed in right front of us. Our hearts and hands need to be occupied with what is being created and, yes, our ears need to be kept on the ground because many a times the future that we plan to exploit is occurring right here and right now.

Raju Mandhyan

My upcoming open to public events:

11/17/15 Communicating and Leading across Cultures in Dubai: http://goo.gl/ajjp2l

12/14/15 Inspire Like a CEO in Mumbai http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/inspire.html

12/21/15 Appreciative Leadership in Bangalore  http://www.genesistrainingevents.com/Workshops/ai-mail.html

Books on Amazon: http://goo.gl/OZSMj8

Posts on Facebook: https://goo.gl/MXQEqU

Talks on You Tube: https://goo.gl/dVclfm

Choice Clips from ExPat InSights:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjf3sHaZBSo

Ego and the Appreciative Self

Among the many theories and recommended global best practices in leadership, none stands out more than the universal consensus builder and conversation starter that goes:  “self-knowledge and self-management is foremost before anything else.” Of the numerous descriptions of leadership, let’s talk about that which describes leadership as being a catalyst for creating positive and progressive change.

Tales and Techniques to a Creatively Funnier you at Work and at Home.

Let’s then narrow down our focus to what a leader needs to do in order to be able to create, catalyze and champion change.  It would go without saying that to create change a leader must know (1) where he stands and (2) where he wants to go, bringing others along others with him.

How does a leader know where she stands?  She needs to have clear knowledge, deep understanding, and calm acceptance of exactly who she is, what she wants, and what she intends to accomplish in her sphere of influence in the world.

The tricky thing about intentions though is the fact that they are intricately tied to self-perception and ideas of who we are. This narrow, intertwined niche is where the probability exists for our assumptions to go wrong. Here, in this sliver of creative space, is where who we really are clashes with our overblown assumptions of who we think we are. Let’s consider this anomaly of true self versus overblown perception of self from the Eastern philosophical perspectives. Side stepping a bit from Sigmund Freud’s theory of the ID and the Superego, let’s simply refer to it as Ego or our own distorted view of ourselves.

In the course of leading, driving change, and living up to our fullest potential, this misrepresentation or Ego does get in the way not only of what we intend to create in the long-term but also in our interactions in day-to-day living. It can stonewall us just as Walt Kelly’s hero, Pogo, once claimed, “I have found the enemy and they are us!” It can side-track us just as a wise old man once said, “If not for me, there I go!”

Thus, hurdles to progress and innovation constantly appear and surface within the change initiatives of an organization or an individual. They arise mostly from a false, distorted perception of the self.

In the early-to-mid-1980s I had traveled around the world to sell and promote Philippine-made apparels and textiles.  On my first few sales trips to the Americas and the Middle East, I failed to bring back any sales not just once but three times. Each trip had taken months of preparation, weeks of travel, and thousands of dollars.  After every trip during that period, I’d come back empty handed and unsuccessful. The effect on my self-esteem was devastating. The organization I worked for knew the reason and I too, gradually learned the reason. It had very little to do with the products, the business knowledge, or the market conditions then. It had all to do with me.

Several months of humbling reflection and pondering made me realize that what seemed like external challenges were really my own internal shenanigans.  I was playing with my own mind and myself. It was all about how I perceived and positioned myself in the world and to the world. My self-image was inflated and unreal. It needed work; lots of work!

Months after that deadly year of professional failures, disappointments, and humiliation, I remember a moment sitting by my mother’s feet and sharing my most recent, eventually successful trip across the world. Her hand rested on my head as she gently asked, “What was different this time, son?” I recall taking a very long pause while fighting back my tears, I responded, “It was me, Mom. It was my own over-inflated perception of myself that got in the way of my dealings with others and my attempts at creating value. It was my ego, Mom. ” She patted my head gently and tears that I was fighting with began to roll down from hers.

Our egos, or misrepresentations to ourselves and to the world, create majority, if not all, of our work-life challenges. No sure-fire way exists of eliminating or curing this chronic ailment that occurs and recurs in every one of us persistently and maliciously. But since that emotional realization of my malady in the presence of my mother, I had set out on a quest to find a remedy– a solution–to benignly manage or tone down the excessiveness of my own ego-driven, exaggerated perceptions of self. That was over two decades ago.

Nearly a decade ago I have found a balm in a new way of life inspired by the philosophy and practice of Appreciative Inquiry, originated by Dr. David Cooperrider of Case Western University, USA.

Three of the many guiding principles of this way of life are most relevant to us in evoking a true perception of self and in nurturing the possibilities and potential brought forth by such a benign and beautiful awareness.

Principle 1: Trusting that every Human System and every Human ( a system too) has innate and untapped potential.

Of paramount importance is the fact that this belief is innate and exists in all of us. It can also be very easily be unleashed with care and compassion. The quality, quantity, and comparative value of this hidden potential is priceless.

This perspective allows me to look at the external world as a world of abundance and opportunities. It allows me to leap onto unchartered waters, take risks and to be open to all that this dynamic life has to offer.  With this belief, I can live with confidence, courage, and optimism. It allows me to declare to myself that regardless of my size, shape, or skin color I am part of an unfolding universe and I need not protect myself any sort of pretensions and machinations.

Principle 2: Acknowledging and adapting to Diverse and Constantly Changing Perspectives.

By recognizing that people and organizations are different; by accepting that these individuals and organizations are in a state of flux and change allows one to hold back from being judgmental. With this principle, self-awareness takes on a systemic swing and allows one to view and regard people and institutions that are different, in a compassionate and holistic way. It helps us mingle with all others with a sense of wonder and enthusiasm.

For me, this approach sparks off an attitude of adaptability and strengthens the muscles for seeking synergistic possibilities. From “I know,” I can move to “I am interested in knowing, learning and adapting.” In this way the sense of my true and authentic self takes the lead and gently dissolves my ego.

Principle 3: Asking Questions instead of Telling and Opinionating.

This principle and practice of learning, leading, and guiding resets a dramatic pathway into uncovering and unleashing untapped potential in oneself and in others.

A few years ago, I had conceptualized and hosted a TV Talk Show called ExPat InSights. My core intention for the program was to highlight similarities between cultures and therefore, enhance the bond between the Philippines and the scores of foreigners living and working in the country. Diplomats of different nations, business leaders, NGO heads, members of academe, and any individual who represented anything different were invited to share their passions about their business or advocacies.

Two seasons into the program, and after close to 300 interviews, I had covered Cambodia, Afghanistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Canada, among other countries. One day, my program assistant (whom I had given carte blanche to invite guests based on the above criteria) announced that the Ambassador of Pakistan had accepted the invitation to be on ExPat InSights. I nodded acknowledgement and smilingly showed my approval.

A couple of weeks before the set program date, I sat down to plan for the interview and my questions. And that’s when it hit me!  Pakistan? Wait! Isn’t that the country that borders India? Isn’t that the country that once used to be India? I realized that I’d lived too long away from my birth country and had forgotten that Indians and Pakistanis live across a blood-drenched border drawn 65 years ago.

Neither the Pakistanis nor the Indians have forgotten the pain, the trauma, and the bloody events from that past. They have had several wars and have continued until present day to deploy men armed and ready to kill anyone who crosses the barb-wired border.  These two groups go to war even when they play cricket or compete at the Olympics!

How in heaven’s name was I going to appreciate a representative of that country? How was I going to find and highlight the good? I realized that I was in an extremely difficult situation. My trust and adopted belief in the appreciative way of life had locked horns with a terrible past and with my own, unconscious fears.  Even if I did manage to be proper and professional as a host, I’d be ostracized and hated by a billion Indian people. I was faced with a fierce conflict of values within myself.

During the next few days I began to check for any loopholes in the invitation that had been sent  to the Ambassador.  Maybe the date was wrong? Maybe it was another show? Maybe the weather would announce a holiday for one of those infamous Philippine typhoons. Anything that would let me chicken out of my dilemma!

Meanwhile, the Ambassador had gone ahead and sent me his picture, his profile, current updates, and news about Pakistan-Philippine relations. I was getting deeper into the muck.  I began to have nightmares.  In those dreams, all Indian people from across the world were throwing sticks and stones at me and calling me unmentionable names. The eggs and tomatoes flew right at me through the TV screens. The Indian government had gone declared me a traitor.

A night before the interview date, I called up my mentor, Dean Rose Fuentes, who embodied the appreciative way of life.

“I don’t know what to do. This is a real mess, I’ve gotten myself into!” I screamed through the phone.

“Yes, I agree, this is a mess and I appreciate you calling me. Now, how is it that you want me to help you?” I realized that she’d appreciated my action and asked me a question right back. This late at night, she was setting a good example of walking the talk of appreciative inquiry.

“Do you, Dean, have any suggestion on how to sit across a person whose fore fathers might have killed some of my forefathers and be nice to him?”

“Wait,” she said, “Let me switch off my favorite episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants and let me think.”

I waited.

After what seemed an eternity of moving chairs, clicking switches and grunting noises, she came back on the phone and said, “There’s this wonderful little book called Dynamic Relationships by Jacqueline Stavros, and I think you ought to read it before you on live.”

I was a day away from dying in front of the cameras and she was asking me to go buy a book. I gently bid her good night and let her go back to Sponge Bob Square Pants.

I then called up another friend of mine; a wise old soul of Indian origin but Burmese by birth. He was in his 70s and I was sure he’d be able to give some practical advice. Not only was mature and smart but he also was a diplomat’s son. He knew tact and diplomacy.

“Tell the Ambassador that you are sick,” he suggested.

“But, I don’t want to lie, and especially not about illness,” I replied.

“Then tell him that the TV station does not approve of your program content,” he offered.

“I can’t do that! I created the show and I own full autonomy over programming. The station has nothing to say about the content and I’d still be lying,” I wailed.

“Hey look, you asked me for advice and given the fact that I need to be jumping into bed, here’s a last idea.”

“Ughh, okay, tell me please,” I begged.

“Say no, the Asian way,” he chuckled.

“And, what is the Asian way?” I asked.

“Tell him, that the show needs to be postponed and that you will call him … and then don’tever call him again,” he ended.

It struck me at that time that no matter what I do, it will be out of fear, out of a warped sense of reality. It would also amount to being a total cheat. I did not want to do that. The war of values inside me had ended. I trusted living the authentic and appreciative way.

The next day, there I was happily chatting with the Ambassador of Pakistan in front of three cameras. Our interview would soon be broadcast nationwide and across the world through the internet. I had swept my mind and heart clean of all biases; of all negative assumptions. I framed my questions such that each question appeared to lighten up the face of the Ambassador and he opened up his heart to me. He shared stories of struggle, success, and synergistic wisdom.

I even managed to ask him about why and how Osama Bin Laden had made Pakistan his hideout in his last days.  He answered every question politely and warmly. He expressed optimism and shared his insights about possibilities and hopes for a peaceful world. Not for a moment during the interview did I feel any enmity or friction. The interview, which is still up for anyone to view over the internet, is proof of the power and beauty of Appreciative Inquiry.

Yes, the process of gentle inquiry, of warmly exploring memories and stories of strength, success, and synergistic action works massively towards empowering others and driving change. The amazing thing about the process of inquiry is that it also works exceedingly well with conversations with our selves.

No, let’s not label it self-talk. Rather, let’s claim the use of appreciation and inquisitiveness as the backdrop for healthy, life-giving debate between our true selves and our inflated perceptions of self, our ego.

You have to understand though that the ego can never be totally eliminated. It can, though, be tamed with conscious efforts at aligning with an appreciative and an inquisitive way of life.  You also have to know that eliminating the ego totally is NOT necessary.   All we need is to keep it in check and maintain a healthy sense of self.

This belief and approach has become a way of living for me. This way of life is the air that fuels the fires of engagement, innovation and excellent execution towards growth and success at work. It is the belief system that strengthens my ties with family, friends, and the community at large. In every other aspect of existence, I depend on this life-giving oxygen to learn and innovate; to consult and facilitate; to coach and train.  Appreciative Inquiry constantly equips me to build bridges from where I am to where I want to go. It makes me humble and strong enough to have an impact on my own destiny.

Culture Change

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For nearly four years now I have been working with senior executives from across the world travelling in and out of the Philippines. I have worked with groups from Boeing, UPS, Coke, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, USAID, Proctor & Gamble, Fonterra and Pepsico to name a few. In all our conversations the one statement that keeps popping up is a Peter Drucker quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Though often, I must confess, we warp this quote a bit by saying, “Culture trumps strategy all the time.”

What does this mean? And, if the meaning is looking us in the face then what can we do to move, to change, to lead and win at the marketplace and win in changing economies? Our strategies for innovation, marketing or for impacting the business bottom-line will just not work. Our plans look good on paper and stay looking good on paper. Our business agility and tactics leave us with constantly aching lower backs.

Well, here’s the inside story. All the tangible moves we make; the promotions we launch, the people we pirate and the systems we reshape are moves only on the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Doing all these things in a dynamic marketplace and a constantly changing economy is like trying to turn a ship around in a raging storm by grappling with the tips of its mast.  That, as we have all known and experienced in Reagan-speak, “Just doesn’t cut it. No way, José!”

The way to handle and drive change is to go get to the bottom of things. The way to drive change and rewrite a new culture is to dive under the ship and get a handle on its hull, work the rudders and open up the sails in the direction of the organizational desire-dream.

One of the world’s top 100 change agents, Dr. Roland Sullivan calls this holistic process “Whole Systems Transformation.” I think of his process as change from deep within, from the core and hull of a large, dynamic system called an organization.  Dr. Sullivan recommends a four-step process;

  1. Transform leadership

Work with the decision makers, the core and the powers that be. Let them, first, sink their mental and emotional fangs into meat of the dream. Let them lock their jaws on crystallizing and clarifying the direction in which their organizational ship needs to go.

  1. Transform system critical mass

Choose a substantial number of dedicated individuals whose values not just resonate but ring church bells in sync with the values and the purpose of the organization. Let them also bite into the same dream as the leaders.

  1. Transfer competency to local change agent

Power and tool up local and internal change agents to work on the daily grind of weaving and hammering in the necessary knots and nails to turn the hull around. Let them learn to stew, to steam and serve the bits with a sizzle.

Culture change

Culture change

  1. Sustain transformation

Hold your breath, let the sails bellow, paddle consistently and evenly until we, the whole system, surfs over the storm and strengthens up for the next wave of change.

Dr. Roland Sullivan, in 2009, in conversation with the newly elected Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi put together this quote with him, “Dreams are not seen when you sleep. Dreams are those that do not let you sleep.” http://rolandsullivan.wordpress.com/2009/07/

Over the last few years, Indians across the nation heard these words and made them their battle-cry for change. Today, the hull and the rudder of the ship called India is now in new hands and they look forward to riding out into seas, using Whole Systems Transformation, to drive change, to change culture.