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A Story: The Wrong House

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Everyone loves a good story but I have a penchant for stories. I look out for them like an addict yearns for a shot in the arm. And, when I do get that shot, life for a while becomes livable, love-giving.

On a flight from Bangkok to Manila, I happened to land a seat next to an old friend, Louie, and we began to catch up on each other with stories. Some we’d heard but, nevertheless, they were still good ones and then he hit me with a whopper of a story.

More than a decade ago, at a workshop on Appreciative Inquiry,  Loiue was sitting next to a repatriate from Saudi Arabia called Elmer. Part of the workshop proceeding require that participants ask each other questions that’ll bring up good memories, memories of success and memories of having had a change of heart.

“Can you share me a story or two about having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia?” asks Louie of Elmer. Elmer In Prayer

“At first it was tough. I hated every aspect of the Saudi culture. I hated the authorities. I hated the fact that they had so much wealth and power over all those that came to seek a living in Saudi Arabia. Most of all, I hated the fact that there were no churches in the vicinity for a Catholic like me to drop by and pray. Nevertheless, I continued working and suffering, hoping that one day I’d save up enough money to go home and look after my adolescent daughter and wife in the Philippines. You see I loved them both to death, and believed that they both brought meaning and purpose to my life,” shared Elmer.

“And?” urged on Louie.

“Life wasn’t easy. The work was demanding and I really wasn’t saving up much, as a construction worker in Saudi Arabia. Three years went by and I began to grow homesick when one day my wife calls up and claimed our daughter, Precious, was seriously ill and had to be brought to the hospital. Panic-stricken and helpless, I stayed by the phone for the next few days. Three days into the hospital, I get a call claiming that Precious needed to undergo immediate surgery or we would lose her. My heart screamed out in pain and I had no idea what to do, where to go? I had, then, not enough money to send to my wife and I had no one to run to. I had no place to borrow from in Saudi Arabia,” cried Elmer.

“Where’d you go?” asked Louie.

“I was desperate. I called a few, Filipino co-workers but we were all in the same boat – helpless and money-less. It was before sunrise on a Friday in Saudi Arabia and I couldn’t even approach my bosses at work. My heart still screaming, I stepped out onto the streets of Riyadh hoping to beg, borrow or let a miracle happen. My Christian heart yearned for an altar to kneel before and send out my plea into the skies but then again, this was Saudi Arabia, and I couldn’t find a church. A few blocks away from my place of stay I reached a mosque from within which, I could hear prayers being recited. Sozzled with pain and anguish, I walked in and in a corner fell upon my knees and let my head drop in prayer. I wanted my daughter to live. I wanted her to be there when I went home.”

“Gosh,” muttered Louie and placed his arm across Elmer’s shoulders, “what happened?”

“I didn’t know but an Imam had walked up to me and was standing in front of me, demanding to know if I were a Muslim. No, I replied, I am not, “replied Elmer.

“Then, in that case, I am sorry, but you will have to step out and take your prayers and plea somewhere else,” announced the Imam.

His face wet with tears, Elmer stumbled up and with shoulders drooping, and he began to walk out with the Imam right on his tracks. He was angry at himself for having walked into a wrong house. When outside, the Imam stopped him and asked what exactly was his problem. Elmer’s heart burst and he poured out his pain, sobbingly, to the Imam. With hardly a shift in his attitude, the Imam had Elmer follow him to his bank’s automated teller and punched out the amount of money that Elmer thought would get his Precious out of danger. “Pay me back when and if you can. If not then consider it as a response to your plea,” smiled the Imam and walked away.

My friend Louie, too, wiped away the tears from his own face and asked, “So, did you ever get to see that Imam again.”

“No, I haven’t” claimed Elmer, “but there is not a single day in my life that I do not think of him. Every time I enter a church here in the Philippines, I see his stoic, bearded face in the crowds and my heart smiles. I must confess that I do not want to go back to Saudi Arabia at my age now but the amazing thing is that in me there is no dislike or contempt people of a different belief. This, this way, I feel happy and big inside of me.”

“I tell you, brother, no story has touched and changed me the way that Elmer’s story did,” said Louie to me, as our plane skidded on the runway in the Philippines. Louie’s miracle question to Elmer had changed him and continues transforming people who hear of it.

Me? I got my story shot-in-the-arm and still have my head in clouds since that day.

Raju Mandhyan

 

My upcoming public workshops:

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

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

 

My books also available 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

 

 

Stories as Drivers of Engagement and Innovation

Stories may be truths wrapped in roses, rainbows, and rhythm, but they also create the future–that which is possible and which can indeed be beautiful.

When organizations slow down or arrive at a difficult bend in their developmental journey, people within the organization need hope.  They need new dreams and fresh inspiration.  Success stories from the past empower us, but it is the stories into the future–stories yet to be lived–that catapult us into action and success.

These words are etched on the mental corridors of workers in this company that supplies milk and milk derivatives to nearly half the world.

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the HeART of Story : History of Storytelling

Eons ago, when man discovered fire, he also discovered the wonder of telling stories around that fire. After a hard day’s hunt, he would gather his tribe and begin to converse and tell great stories. He told stories about the source of life, about the sun, about the moon and the stars.  He also told stories about the time and place where the sun was born and how the moon romanced it.  He told stories about how the moon pursued the sun and died every month to be reborn to love the sun all over again. He told stories about how every individual had a star of his own up in the teal and midnight-blue skies.

Connect, Engage and Influence your World Creatively!

Day after day, night upon night, from one season to another, man told stories –tales about love, courage, adventure, conquest, and wars. Around the fire, he told stories of ferocious Spartan warriors and heroes that battled one-eyed giants. He told stories about birds that could fly into the sun, burst into cinder, and then rise again from the ashes to fly right back into the sun.

Over the ages, stories of tradition, honor, and great courage ruled the air around the fires. There were stories told about great escapes, bold robberies, and giant shipwrecks. Discoveries were reported about new worlds, new wealth, and new people. Narrated with rhyme, repetition, and rhythm, all these stories were etched on the walls of the caves where our ancestors lived and into the hearts and minds of all mankind.  Shadows and echoes from the flickering fires left unforgettable legends visualized and represented on the walls of our current homes.  Today, many of these stories have become a large part of belief systems, of our culture and our tradition.

Storytelling Today

The ancient art of storytelling has turned into a science riding on the wave of television and technology as a laughing, talking, singing universe. This universe now surrounds us twenty-four hours a day and also reaches us through books, song, dance, stage-plays, movies, television, computers, and phones. It does not let go even when we are 10 kilometers up in the air and zooming across the skies at over 500 kilometers per hour.ccc

Stories grab us in news reports, magazine shows, commercials, documentaries, television serials, musicals, and films of epic proportions. Stories reach us through multiple media in formats like short episodes, interactive applications, gaming applications, etc.

The ancient, traditional face-to-face, oral storytelling has also morphed with the integration of poetry, improvisation, mime, and other forms. Seasoned, professional storytellers can keep us awe‑struck and engaged in their verbal and non-verbal gymnastics for hours on end.  Seasoned storytellers, thus, can influence and positively transform our worlds.

Leader as a Storyteller

 

 

 

 

 

Check out my book,the HeART of STORY, organizational and leadership storytelling…on Amazon

 

 

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.

Appreciative Inquiry, Way of Life

Though this has impacted me several times and through multiple avenues, I can’t seem to be impressed any lesser every time it happens again…the fact that assessing any situation through a proactive stance and doing something concrete about challenges and hopes most often than not generates happy and constructive outcomes.

Recently, I spent three months working with a bunch of senior executives of a global corporation. In the last quarter of last year their sales were down, they were developing lesser new products and people in several of their departments were low on energy and low on engagement. Upon probing deeper and conversing with people at multiple levels we sensed a drop in trust levels among the senior management. Though this was barely visible in their behavior and internal communications, it seems that production, sales and even marketing had read between the lines and gotten a whiff of the underlying tremors. The infliction had spread and was slowing down progress and even routine work.

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I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli! I hate the sight of it. I hate it’s name. “Brocolli?” What is that? It sounds like some tropical disease. Like, “He’s got brocolli between his toes. She’s got brocolli in her armpits.  But then again, we do know its good for us. Its green and healthy for our insides and for our cancer fighting cells. And, some claim, it adds and multiplies brain cells.

Similarly, in my work-life there are things that I know that there are things we must do which will be good for us. Like learning to and keeping proper accounts. Learning to and keeping proper records and files of projects and programs. And, for professionals and small business owners like me, learning to build an active website and sustaining, nurturing it over time.

I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli!

I knew this. I was told this, many a times, years ago by colleagues and friends in the industry and yet I kept thinking _assigning this to a professional or a professional team would be the smart thing to do. And, boy was I ever wrong! Nearly every other year, I’d look for to outsource this work and they’d come back and pick my brain, have me do the thinking, the brainstorming and making the website work for me and my business. ” At first I was doling out money in spades and getting aesthetically impressive returns. Then I tightened my fist and began to get function but no charm and no ease. All through, in the back of my head, I kept thinking…”I wish I was computer savvy. I wish I understood the internet as well as they do. I wish I were Generation X or Y or Z. I wish I weren’t a late-bloomimg baby boomer baby! Grrr!

Website building, maintenance and the world of internet marketing loomed over me like a huge clump of rotting brocolli.

Yet, a small voice kept telling me, “Go ahead, take a bite and start chewing. Go ahead, roll up and your sleeves, tie a nappy around your neck and dig in!

So, two week ago, I rolled up my sleeves, put a nappy around my neck, put on my reading glasses, plugged in the earphones and hauled my lap top closer to me and began clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, taking a power nap in between, and clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, listening until it began to make sense, until it began to take shape.

What you are browsing through right now is a still a rough draft, a skeleton of what is yet to come and grow. In essence, not only am I learning to eat my brocolli but I am also learning to plant, grow and make it flourish organically. That’s the way to go when it comes to learning and succeeding at something you consider hard and something that you figure you can set aside and a let divine intervention resolve it for you. No sirree! It doesn’t happen that way.

Can this same principle be applied for accounting, book-keeping and or maintaining records. Yes!
Nothing is more empowering and liberating than tackling any and all kinds of huge, ugly brocolli clouds that loom over you and slow you down. Hate that brocolli? Eat it first! It’s good for your soul;)

Inner Sun

An Unbalanced Life.

Most everyone is focused on living a balanced life. What exactly is a balanced life? Twenty fours divided equally between work, play, family, personal needs and service to the world? Or, is it stress at work, peace at home?