Inspiring Article III

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Finally I caught another one.!!!!! . Usually I look for something unique and different in an inspiring article i want to share on the blog . This article in the newspaper, although a big one managed to caught my eye . The way editing of the article has been done is almost flawless and the sharp wisdom of Robert Steven Kaplan left me ponder a while. So my pondering I have always shared with the bloggers!!!!!! Hope you guys too enjoy it!!!!!….Again I don’t fail to mention. Its mere sharing and the views are not written by me . 

What Success Really Feels Like 

People have to take responsibility for managing their careers says Harvards Robert Steven Kaplan you cant be a bystander in your own life . 
As a vice-chairman-of-the-Goldman-Sachs- Group turned-Harvard-Business-School-professor,Robert Steven Kaplan often has graduating students dropping into his office for career advice.A typical case might go like this: the student applied for a high paying job in the financial services sector,but now that the offer has actually come though,hes not sure its what he wants.He feels guilty about his ambivalence since its a job everyone else covets and rejecting it seems selfish and self-indulgent.Maybe he should put his misgivings aside and do what his family and friends expect 
Many of us motor through our young adult years trying to rack up one achievement after another being successful, says Kaplan,who has recently authored a book titled What Youre Really Meant to Do: a road map for reaching your unique potential.I advise students to beware of conventional wisdom and focus on the difficult task of understanding who they are and where their interests lie.You cant be a bystander in your own life.Managing your career is 100% your responsibility. 
The problem is not limited to b-school campuses.Kaplan narrates numerous cases of accomplished individuals who find they no longer enjoy what they are doing.They dont feel successful,though everyone around them thinks they are, says Kaplan.In mid-career executives it manifests itself in a feeling of confusion about where to turn and a concern that they have painted themselves into a corner.In older executives and professionals,its sometimes reflected in feelings of bitterness and regret. 
Whatever stage in their careers they may be at,Kaplan advises his readers to go through a process of heightening their self-awareness.The first step here is to assess ones strengths and weakness,not in terms of vague character traits,but in terms of skills.These might include skills in written communication,presentation,quanitative analysis,negoatiation,interpersonal skills and ability to confront others constructively.The importance of these skills varies according to the job and the level of responsibility,so this analysis is an ongoing process.
A skills mismatch is one of the common reasons people find themselves unhappy in a job to which they have been promoted.In some cases,it is the reason they are not promoted.Kaplan advises everyone to make a habit out of introspecting on their skills so they may pro-actively manage their capabilities.This doesnt mean trying to develop a skill you are inherently weak at.On the contrary,it might be best managed by delegating that part of the job to someone who is truly good at it.
Kaplan presents an example from the financial sector,where a junior executive had excellent market knowledge and client skills,but lacked the quanitative skills required for financial modeling,an important part of stock picking.She was set to quit her job when her seniors suggested she might be able to offset her weakness by teaming up with others on her client teams.She stayed on and moved up to more senior positions where her job required less modeling and ultimately emerged as one of the top professionals in her firm.This is a lesson I learned in my own career: the capabilities of my assembled team needed to fit with my own skills and deficiencies, says Kaplan.
Another step to self awareness is to identify your passions.What Youre Really Meant To Do suggests exercises like thinking back to a time when you were at your best or asking yourself questions like If I had enough money to do whatever I wanted,what career would I pursue.Some people may not want to get into this territory,fearing it might lead them to do something drastic,but Kaplan says getting in touch with your passions is critical to reaching your potential : You dont need to immediately decide what action to take or assess whether your dream is realistic.But when youre aware of what youre looking for,it becomes easier to recognise opportunities. 
Before you start looking for opportunities to reach your potential,Kaplan recommends you pause and go through one more step: understanding why you behave as you do.The best way to begin is to write down your life story,starting chronologically with where you were born,describing your family,your growing years,key events.Most people carry two different narratives of their lives with them a success narrative they tell others,where they are the heroes overcoming the odds and a failure narrative which they never share,which is full of angst and self-doubt.The exercise of writing down both narratives will take time but it will help you recognize patterns in your behaviour.The effort is hard work but it can pay big dividends, says Kaplan.Sometimes we know what we should do but cant bring ourselves to do it.We need to understand the internal impediments that are keeping us from taking certain actions.

Here,Kaplan narrates the case of a restaurant operator who he met at the owner-president course at Harvard.The man had started with a mid-priced Italian restaurant and had later expanded these to multiple locations.Now he was sick of the business and was considering selling.A longish conversation revealed that he came from a family of successful corporate executives and his dominant father had never approved of him becoming a chef.His passion was creating new dishes and serving customers but he had built a chain with a large number of employees because this measured up to his fathers idea of success.Now he was spending most of his time scouting locations and tying up finance for new projects,which he hated.As a result of this discussion,he realised he needed to drop the baggage he had been carrying to please others.He got back to what he enjoyed, says Kaplan.
Understanding what you really want is important,but in order to get it,you need to engage with the world outside.For one thing,it is essential to communicate your dreams to those who might help get you there,which,in an organisational set-up,is your boss.
Some people hesitate to communicate upward thinking it to be too political,but this mind-set can be self-defeating,says Kaplan: You may believe your boss or other senior people know you well enough to understand how your skills fit with your passions,but the truth is,they usually dont.They expect you to take responsibility for communicating to them what you want. 
For those whose dream job happens to be a leadership position,Kaplans advice is: be willing to act like a leader.This means speaking up for your convictions,judging your actions through the prism of whether it is good for the organisation,helping others without regard to whats in it for you,giving credit to others and doing the job with the next-job-up in mind.All of these are risky and many would find it hard to sustain this type of attitude over a career,but Kaplan believes those who demonstrate courage by questioning authority and speaking up stand a greater chance of advancing to greater roles in their organisations: You have to play the game with some degree of abandon.When the stakes get high,people become unduly hesitant or fearful.As a leader,you have to be relaxed and authentic and able to assert yourself. 
Lastly,and most importantly,you need to cultivate relationships try as you may,you cant do it alone.In the Facebook era,relationships may seem easy to develop,but being connected is not the same as having people you can draw on in times of need.In my experience,one of the biggest impediments to reaching your full potential is isolation.Its not lack of skills or bad luck that sets you back it is that you become isolated and loose perspective.You stop seeing yourself objectively and make poor decisions, says Kaplan.
Kaplan is the person a lot of people go to for help in a time of crisis and he,ironically,ends up advising them to communicate with individuals who are closer to their situation people they should have spoken to much before.Why didnt they reach out sooner There are lots of reasons they give, says Kaplan.They dont want to bother anyone.They didnt have a person they trusted or respected enough to confide in.They feared the person would no longer respect them.But the truth is,when you approach someone for help,most of them would try their best to be helpful. 
 
Robert Steven Kaplan 

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LEAN IN – SHERYL SANDBERG

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I am an avid newspaper reader. Long time back a very nice motivational article had come in the Economic Times with headlines-“Build Your Skills…Not Your Resume” , quoted by Sheryl Sandberg . In a niche it summed up the some leadership quotes and stuff. Till date whenever I feel low I go through that article .(I feel everyone should have something like this , it can be anything a book, a movie etc which will keep us optimistic). Anyway coming back to the point . After reading the book I realized that some of the points were from her book LEAN IN-SHERYL SANDBERG .

I was going through a low life (infact I am now a bit) and this book has turned out to be a savior . It has been a long time when I had read any book at one stretch . (Nowadays that’s more possible with sitcoms seasons) . It took me two nights with some interruptions to read the ebook. And the second I finished I ran to grab a copy from the crossword .(I got to have its hard copy )…something technology can never give (cuddle and doze off with).

I have never been a lover of non-fiction . I love to read management articles but books not much. Back then I have tried with Jack Welch ,Malcolm Gladwell etc but just couldn’t complete it …(Sorry no offence) The only book I remember finishing was The monk who sold his Ferrari. …Anyway again coming back to the point. I thought reading again would help me in writing the review in better way. But in each read ended up highlighting different quotes . …(So got more confused). I have never written a book review and this book left me pondering from where should I start if I want to . Because its difficult to leave anything . …(You ought to read the book). Still Here I start.

                          It’s a sort of women centric book with women issues . At times quite humorous. It highlights why women progress gets stalled in the corporate world and why men still run the world . Its not exactly her autobiography but a blend of her past work personal experiences, self-analysis of the public speeches given by her and other short accounts. Many statistical data’s are presented. They are more with concerned to US country . But India stats were frequently mentioned. (Hello There INDIANS did you know….

In India 11% seats in parliament are held by women.

A Meager 4% of the fortune 500 CEO’s are women .

Indian women hold 5% of director ships among the 100 companies listed on the BSE. 11% of the top 240 Indian companies had female CEO’s

In India about 13% of children live with one parent , usually a mother

In India , women do more work than ten times as much child care and nearly thirty times as much housework as men.

Each title of the book is a very apt and reasons out beautifully. She has tried to explain how work-life balance can be achieved without making any career sacrifices(especially women) and how equal parenting can lead to successful life. The book each man and woman should read it …(Highly recommended by me). The wisdom attained is insurmountable. Many critics have retorted and tagged it feminist , gender-issue based book ….I am like common dude have you read the book properly?? – when revealed the definition of feminism as

A feminism is someone who believes in social ,political and economic equality of the sexes” the stats increased from 24% to 65% .

Don’t we all are then? . There are many other quotes which gives you a wise laugh

LIKE – “Legendary investor Warren Buffet has stated generously that one of the reasons for his great success was that he was competing with only half of the population” OR another one

Where everyone of us are fraud and Fake it till you feel it strategy helps at times.

OR

The one where a women revealed something like this – “I shouldn’t confess it publicly but she puts her children to sleep in their school clothes to save 15 minutes of precious minutes in the morning.”

OR

Its heartbreaking to think one woman holding another back. There is special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.

The best one – Heidi/Howard case study of HBS …(People who don’t know this please read it on the net).

The (OR’s) continue with many other wise and inspirational quotes. …May be it will turn out as one of my new blog post. …(So read the book people) . Like I said before I have never written a book review and probably at the end I suck at it.   My intention behind it was to make this book known to as many people as I can . But I realized something – my tvhookedfigures have turned out to be in major number woman . ….I can’t help it .

I am waiting for Benedict alias Sherlock to return.