Celebrating father’s day

I sometimes wonder if it is worthwhile to celebrate all these days in a year by sending flowers or gifts to our near and dear ones. I believe these days are created by the marketeers to sell more products for their brands.

In my personal view, it is not worth killing flowers by sending bouquets or sending gifts to our mothers, fathers, siblings or friends. It is more symbolic and does not serve any purpose. We may end up sending gifts which they don’t need or already have them.

What could be a better way to celebrate these days. I reflected on it since I realised that the third Sunday of June is considered Father’s Day. I lost my father when I was 25. It took me more than a year to recover from this shock. However, assuming he was alive today, I may not have sent him flowers or gifts. On the other hand, I would prefer to commit to myself to imbibe one great quality of his in myself.

When I started my career in 1981, I was a very impatient guy. I lost my temper the drop of a hat and was least bothered about the impact it would have had on the people around me. I was given feedback by my family members, friends and colleagues, which I ignored it at my own peril.

But over the years I had seen my father as an epitome of patience. I have seen him lose his cool only twice in my lifetime. I decided one day that I could learn and imbibe this quality from him. I have since then tempered myself and can happily confess that today I have a lot of patience at work and at home. My family and colleagues will vouch for it. I may lose my cool once or twice a year.

So, my recommendation is to pick one great quality from your father and imbibe it. It may not be easy and may take many years to inculcate. But, this would be a better gift to our fathers than gifts of bouquets, which may not mean much to them. Our transformation into a better human being will be valued by them much more than any gift can do on earth.

This step could be for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or sisters day or brothers day. It does not matter whose day we are celebrating. After all we can learn goodness from all people around us – younger or older, relatives or friends.

It is time to challenge some of the rituals imposed by the marketeers of the world. It is time to be different and lead by example for our future generations. We should leave behind rituals for our future generations, which are inspirational and not those which are mechanical in spirit.

Time to start is today as it is Father’s Day.

S Ramesh Shankar

16th June 2019

Dependance versus Independance

When one organism lives on and depends on another living organism, we may call it a parasite. The other day I was going on a nature trek and noticed a small organism living on a leaf and it struck me about our life as parasites. Do we live as dependants more than necessary ? May be it is true and worth thinking about. We all are born in a family as kids and are fully dependant on our parents. We continue to stay with them till we complete our education through school and college. If given a chance, we like

to continue with them for the rest of our lives. We depend on them more than they depending on us.

As life progresses, we get married and sometimes are compelled to move away from our homes due to the employment of our spouse or otherwise. We start living on our own. Life becomes more independent and we miss the umbrella of protection of our parents. One of the interesting learning in life is that we vie with each other to learn the western society almost in every aspect of our life. We want to be modern in our outlook and physically comfortable in our material life. This is the positive part of our aping the western traditions. However, we conveniently do not copy things which does not suit us.

In the developed world, children move out of their homes when they are teenagers and start living on their own. They do errands and live life on backpacks. They fund their own education and do not depend on their parents for their livelihood. This is worth copying from the west. This phenomenon makes you independent in the true sense of the word. Further, it helps you realise the value of money earned at an early stage of your life. It helps you get grounded and find your way up the hard way in life.

In the Indian context, since we continue to stay with our parents, we are fully dependant on them. As we grow up and get married and move out of home in quest of our career we realise the value of independence and the hard work and toil one has to put into to earn it. Another interesting insight is that once we move out of our parents homes we believe our duties and responsibilities are over. We take care of our spouse and kids. We take care of our parents or in laws only as a courtesy and leave it to them to take care of themselves. Sometimes we also believe that supporting them financially is our way of taking care of them.

In my view, this is where we need to learn from our rich Indian heritage. We have to consider it our privilege to be able to take care of our parents and parents in law during their old age. No amount of financial support to them can repay our non financial debt to them. They have sacrificed their lives and comforts to make us what we are today and the least we can do is to take care of them financially and more importantly emotionally. It is at this juncture, we need to introspect and not ape the traditions from other cultures.

Dependance and independence is a vicious circle in our lives. We start with dependance and then become independent and end our lives as dependants again. What we do to others comes back to us. Let us serve our elders unconditionally without expecting anything in return. This will reflect our true spirit of independence. It is worth emulating from our rich Indian traditions and showcasing to the world as well.

Let us start today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Competencies for tomorrow ?

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I was recently in a business school attending a business conference. The theme was – “Metamorphisis – Reshape, recreate and transform. While I was speaking of the speed and rate of change in the environment around us, I did highlight the impact of Digitalization and its impact on human resources. This then led me to speak of three key competencies, which students need to evolve to be successful in the business of tomorrow.

The first competency is “Mindset”. Today organisations recruit for mindset and not for skills. The belief is that skills can be developed but mindset is very difficult to change in any adult. Hence, it is critical to have the right attitude and mindset for change. We need to believe that the world is full of possibilities and we are there to make things happen. If we are able to evolve this mindset in ourselves, we are likely to be a winner in any environment.

A positive attitude to work and life not only make you a winner, it enables you to inspire your team as well. I have been privileged to work with leaders and teams, who have always believed in possibilities. This is indeed infectious. This has led me to be an optimist in life always. I have never believed anything is impossible. It is only a factor of time and the efforts we put in to achieve our goal.

The second competency in my view is “Adaptability & flexibility”. A simple example could be our concept of job mobility. We should be willing to pack up our bags and work in any part of the world for any type of industry. Many of us are mobile but conditionally. We would say we are willing to be posted in metros in India or in the USA or Europe. When asked if we are open to be posted in the north east of India for example or for that matter in the African continent we may have excuses like ageing parents or kids in school etc. Unconditional mobility will take you places in your career and that would be flexibility and adaptability in our career.

Many of us disappointed when we do not get a posting in a place of our choice. We start complaining from day one. I would recommend that we consider it an opportunity to work in a new place rather than crib about not getting one’s preference. I was recently reading an article, where the author was saying that she renamed her daily “To-do list” to “Possibilities for the day”. This name change itself makes it flexible and possible. As otherwise, many of us would make to do lists every day and it will remain the same for days with us.

The third competency would be a “Learning” attitude. We need to be learning for life. There is no subject or field in the world which has a first and a last chapter. We can never imagine ourselves to be master of any field. Hence, it is critical for us to update ourselves everyday and keep in tune with the real world. For example if we take social media, the youth of today are not in Facebook anymore. They have moved to Twitter or Instagram. Class room training is not the only or the best way to learn anymore. We have hundreds of ways to keep learning every day.

I have met people who are constantly learning languages, new skills and concepts all the time. Age, vocation or location is never a constraint. It is our mindset and adaptability which would evolve us as a life long learner. We can learn from everyone around us. We can even learn from every object around us. Nature has its unique ways of teaching us every day. It is up to us to inculcate the learning attitude in life.

So for me it is clear – Mindset, Adaptability/flexibility & Learning attitude is the key to future leaders.

Why not reset and start today ?

S Ramesh Shankar

31st August 2017

When you feel something is good, everything is good…


I am a born optimist and have always considered life as full of possibilities and opportunities. Interestingly I have noticed that if you think positive, then everything around you looks positive for you. On the other hand, if you crib for everything in life, nothing seems to work for you. I do not know if this has any scientific basis or not but I believe that life evolves for us the way we believe in it.

I can share many incidents in my life where I have been caught up in difficult situations but have always found a way out because I believed there is a way out. Life revolves around what you believe in. If you think it is good, everything around you looks good. On the other hand, if you believe life is a curse, nothing seems positive around you. One may call this your attitude to life and I believe it is true and it works for me.

My daughter finished her graduation in journalism and wanted to pursue her post graduation in mass communication. I was hoping that she will get admission to the best school of mass communication for the same. She not only got admission but did pursue her studies in the same school and came out with flying colours and further got a dream job from her campus placements.

I moved to Bangalore from Delhi after I changed my job. My son had passed out his tenth class and was to admitted to a new school for his further education. I tried many schools but I believed he will make it and get admission near my house. He not only got admission on merit in one of the best schools near my house but also passed out from that school and further pursued his graduation in business management as he had dreamt.

There have been days in my life at work, where I have felt bored and almost wanted to quit. But I did believe that something good is likely to happen to me and I have been nominated for a new project, which has been a turning point in my career. Every change in the trajectory of my career has happened because I believed in myself and also pursued my dreams through hard work and determination.

My wife has always been around to help someone in need. She will be the first person to offer her services to anyone in need. I have seen her rushing to my daughter for help or to my parents or my in laws. This helping attitude of hers ensures that we are never in trouble. In my entire career and life, I have never faced a situation, where I have felt lonely or not cared for. I believe this is because of the positive service attitude of my wife.

I have seen my eldest sister stay in multiple cities. She has always been blessed with good neighbourhood and good servants at home to help her. Of course, she is a noble human being and hence may be blessed with such benefits because of her goodness. But I also believe that she always thinks good about others and hence all people around her appear to be good.

It is this belief, which makes all the difference in our lives. If we believe something good will happen, it will happen. If we think people around us are good, they turn out to be good. If we are courteous and generous with others, everyone is helpful to you and so on. Life always gives you what you deserve. It also gives you back the way you look at life.

If you are willing to admire nature, then you get immersed in the lap of nature as in the photo above.

If we think positive, life is positive. Let us believe everything which happens around us is good, and it will turn out to be good.

Let us try it.

S Ramesh Shankar

Accepting defeat with grace…

We witnessed elections in the world’s largest democracy over the last two months. It was characterised by political debates, accusations, allegations and counter allegations as one can expect from such an event.

I admire the Election Commission of India for meticulously planning and organising a fair and largely peaceful election in a seamless manner. We were possibly the first country in the world to adopt electronic voting machines. We can be proud of this accomplishment, which many developed nations have not been able to adopt so far.

However, what we see as an aftermath of such a massive exercise is blame game. Political parities find faults with the election commission. They also blame the electronic voting machines for their losses. Today a political leader even went to the extent of blaming foreign forces for their defeat.

I am amazed at such reactions. One life lesson is to accept a “win” with humility and a “loss” with grace. After all the public at large comprises of citizens like you and me. We are well educated and make our judgement based on ground realities. We elect parties or leaders for their credence and not for any other reason.

We need to educate our political class to adapt to the technological changes impacting them. Today is it is electronic voting machines. Tomorrow it could be artificial intelligence or the blockchain, which may play a role in elections. What surprises me is that the so called educated politicians, who are professionally qualified like lawyers, management graduates, engineers, doctors etc are the first to criticise this way when they lose or their party faces defeat in the hustings.

My learning in life is to accept defeat with “grace” as much as treat victory with “humility”. This is what we can learn from all the best sportspersons in the world. A sportsperson glowing with arrogance after a victory fades into history. On the other hand, the humble sportsperson, who bows out with grace even in defeat is always the winner in our minds.

Politicians need to learn this lesson in life. We should not end up blaming our constitutional bodies and institutions for narrow political gains. After all, the citizens in modern India want better roads, clean drinking water, good health facilities and world class infrastructure. We want jobs for all who need it and health and happiness for the common man. We envision India as the best and the happiest country in the world.

It is time for political parities and politicians to rise above narrow archaic beliefs and work for the larger good of the nation. Let parliament work for 100% of the days, pass all needed legislations. Let the honest citizens be rewarded and the crooks in society be booked.

It is time for us to make India the best democracy in the world apart from being the largest. The government and the opposition needs to work hand in hand like the twin lilies in the photo above.

Let us learn to accept defeat with grace and victory with humility.

S Ramesh Shankar

26th May 2019

Life is full of “Choices”

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We all face ups and downs in life. We are happy about our decisions when things go well but feel disappointed when they things don’t go our way. This is natural. However, on reflection I feel that we always have choices in life and it is up to us to make a choice. Sometimes we may end up making a wrong choice and it ok to accept it as a reality. It is not fair to believe that there were no alternatives before us.

Let us recall any incident in life. I am reminded of the first car I bought in my career. It was a second hand car. In 1987, the company gave me a loan and I could not afford to buy a new car with that money and hence opted to buy a second hand car. This car I had bought after due consideration and review amongst the choices I had in front of me. Fortunately it turned out to be a good choice. I used the car for five years and sold it at a profit after that. Assuming it had been a bad choice, can I blame my employer to give me a limited loan or blame the seller for selling his car to me. I always had the option of buying a car or not buying a car. I could have bought a second hand or a new car. I could have bought some other brand too.

So, my learning in life is that in everything we do, we have choices. We always make our decision based on the best available information in front of us. Sometimes our choice may work out and at other times it may not. This does not mean we do not choices in life. We end up blaming the environment or at least try to externalise or blame the environment for the wrong choices we make. I think this is not fair. We have to own up the choices we make and take full responsibility for the choices we make.

I chose a junior in college and opted to marry her. After due consideration and with her unconditional consent, we decided to marry. Today it is 35 years since we are happily married. Today I can say it was the right choice since it has worked for me. Assuming it had not worked out for either of us, can we blame each other. Nobody forced us to marry. Neither our parents coerced us nor anyone else. We had a choice to marry or not to marry. How can we blame anyone for our decision to marry ?

I feel life is no different. We always have multiple choices in front of us. It is up to us to take our own time, evaluate all the options and then make the best choice in our best judgement at that point of time. We have take full responsibility for our choice and be willing face the consequences if it does not work for us. When it works, we are happy to own our decision and when it does not we want to blame someone else or the environment around us.

I recently met a college teacher who very nicely explained the concept of internal locus of control. He said in life we have to believe that everything is under our control and we are responsible for all our actions. In every situation, we have a choice to say yes or no. We also have a choice to say may be. We could decide then and there or take our time to decide. In every situation, we have to believe that our decision is ours. Everything is under our control and we can make things happen around us. This way life becomes a journey of possibilities. Otherwise, life appears as a road full of obstacles.

I also recently read a very nice suggestion. We all make a “To Do” list every day for our daily chores. Most of us end up either not beginning those tasks or finishing only half of them. It was suggested that instead of calling it the “To Do” list, if we call it “Possibilities” it changes the way we look at it. It infuses a positive energy and makes everything look possible. The chances of our accomplishing the majority of them looks brighter.

Even a diabetic has a choice to eat a tempting sapota/chiku or not. If he eats, he only needs to exercise a little more that day. Nothing more than that.

Let us believe that life is full of choices and we are in full control of it.

Let us begin today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Learning management from kids

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I have always been a great fan of kids. I have felt energised in their company and learn from them in every interaction. Of course, they do test our patience at times but so do we. I was wondering if it is a good idea to translate today’s management concepts to what we could learn from the behaviour of kids. We may not have realised it during the incident but if we look back, it is interesting and provides great insights.

Mission : I remember an incident from my childhood when I ran for miles behind a gas balloon which had flown away from my hand. While looking back and logically it may look foolish. But the kids have high levels of perseverance and never give up to achieve their mission in life.

Strategy : I am reminded of many incidents where my son has strategised and accomplished what he wanted to get in his life. Once my son wanted to go with his classmates in college for an educational tour. He had made up his mind and had evolved a foolproof strategy to achieve his goal. He first tried with me and then with his mother. He then pursued the same with his teacher and made his teacher convince us of how useful it would be to send him. Thus, although initially we had not approved his tour, he did make it finally.

Conflict resolution : While kids may end up fighting at the drop of a hat, I have seen them resolving conflicts much easier than adults. What I have noticed in them is that they are ready to move on in life. They are willing to forgive and forget. As adults, we tend to carry the grudge for our lifetime. Our egos prevent us from forgiving others and we are worried as to who has to first ring the bell for peace.

Listening : Do we remember how our kids listened to stories at night ? Even today when I see my grandson who is 7 years old listen to my wife I am stunned at his level of concentration. When he is listening to a story, he is in rapt attention. He does not fiddle around a mobile phone or watch TV and also listen. This is what most of us do. Hence, kids can take a class for us on attentive listening, which is critical for success as a leader.

Communication : While behavioural scientists have established that more than seventy percent of behaviour is non verbal, we do not use it effectively in our day to day communication. We need to learn from kids. A child may communicate effectively even without uttering a word. The expressions on their face , the laughter, the cry and et all can speak more than a thousand words.

Interpersonal skills : I have seen kids mingle even with strangers without any bias. Why do adults find it difficult to work in a team even with people known to them ? One of the factors I have noticed in kids is that they do not have any conscious or unconscious bias towards others. They are willing to let go. They take the initiative to interact and are willing to accommodate others in the group. As adults, we seem to have erased these qualities as we grow up.

Perseverance : I have seen kids go up and down the slide multiple times till they succeed. I have never seen them give up in life on anything. Why do we as adults tend to give up even before we give things a try ? Kids have the patience and the perseverance, which we need to learn. As we grow up our patience fades and so does our perseverance. We end up making simple things complicated and thus give up even without a try.

It may be worthwhile to observe the kids around us and learn management from them. The lessons are practical and real life. We can refresh our knowledge, skills and attitude to life. What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar