Mobile & me

I am not sure if my mobile is dependent on me or me on my mobile. In all likelihood, the way I am behaving nowadays I seem to be more dependent on my mobile rather than my mobile on me.

Now the next question to ask is – whether it is good or bad. Most people may say that there is nothing good or bad in life but everything is relative. However, I sometimes wonder what will happen to me if I become too much dependant on any thing or person.

As a kid you may be dependent on your parents, then on your siblings, friends and colleagues in life. As you grow into an adult, you want to be independent in most aspects of your life.

Similarly, today technology gives you many gadgets to make your life easy and comfortable and thats a good development. However, as we tend to become addicted to some of them, then it may be time to reflect and ask a question to ourselves – am I getting addicted to it ?

Today I realised the same and asked myself – am I dependent on my mobile or is it the other way around. I realised that I have become dependant or I may even say addicted to my mobile. Addiction in any form may be more harmful than helpful.

I tend to spend a lot of time on my mobile from the time I get up till I sleep. While I have justifications for all the time I spend, may be it is time to challenge myself. I may feel that I am connected to the world. I get to know what is happening around the world in seconds thanks to the news app.

Similarly I am connected to family and friends all the time and can share my joy and sorrow through social networking apps. The email and communication apps keeps me connected to my world through emails and messages. However, the question I need to ask myself – is it worth all the time I spend on my mobile ?

I need to recall the quality of time I spend with my family and friends in real time. Do I have to time to pick up the phone and talk to people ? Do I remember birthdays or other important occasions of my near and dear ones. Do I surprise friends or family with a personal visit ?

How much time am I able to spend learning new things or living my passion ? Is the mobile phone and other gadgets invading my personal space and thereby reducing the quality of my life.

I have decided to challenge myself and ensure that I use my mobile and other gadgets only to enable me to be more productive. It may be worthwhile from time to time to ask myself – is it time to reset my buttons . There is no absolute in life. Everything is relative and we need to be our own judge. Let not others judge us and give us advice. Let us be our own bosses and steer our life the way we want to.

Is it a good wake up call ?

S Ramesh Shankar

5th April 2021

Double Standards…

I find it amusing when people have different yardsticks for themselves vis a vis others. This phenomenon is seen in families, organisations and society at large. As a parent, I can go anywhere without informing my spouse or other family members but nobody in the family dare do it.

In organisations, we commonly see bosses demanding punctuality, timely submission of reports and so on but feel offended if reminded of not doing the appraisals of their team members on time.

Life appears to be of double standards most of the time. One standard for me and one for others. I may get away with double standards at home as long as I am the oldest and respected but the day my kids turn adolescent they will see through me and I will lose all respect.

Even in the organisation, I may survive till I am able to wield power and authority. The day I get a boss who leads by example and demands the same from others, I am doomed. I wonder how managers and leaders imagine that they can live with double standards for long.

In my book on leadership, we can never have double standards and be inspirational. Whether it is family, organisation or society at large, the concept of double standards is never sustainable. One can fool oneself for sometime and think we can be that way but time will catch up and we will be caught unawares on this front.

Lets examine it in the family space. As a father and being the oldest in the family, I may escape till my spouse rebels some day or my children do. It could also be that my siblings or neighbours, who teach me a lesson and then I change.

In the organisation, people think they can slip through if they hold senior leadership roles. Yes, they survive till the day they get dis-respected or hurt by a feedback from a colleague, customer or supplier. That day will make them change and change for the better. If they dont change, they may lose their leadership position sooner than later.

It is important to realise that leaders are respected not only for results but their behaviour as well. In my book, behaviour is as important as results, if not more. Both in life and career, behaviour will be the ultimate differentiator between good and great people.

Many people go scot free in the short term with double standards. This makes others believe that it is ok to have them. However, it is important to realise that it will never work in the long term. The sooner we realise it, the better it is for us and others around us.

We can never have two standards for anything. All standards for life are absolute and it is the same for everyone irrespective of social level, position, race, colour or nationality. The day we realise this basic tenet of life, we may realise our full potential.

As in the photo above, it is like my advising others to take a metro to reduce carbon footprint but I drive my own car every day of my life.

We need to remember there can never be double standards for anything in life.

S Ramesh Shankar

22nd February 2021

Management lessons from our cricket victory in Australia

I am a fan of cricket but do not claim much knowledge about the game . I have been in the corporate world for almost four decades and believe that we have lessons to learn from any sport for us. I was fortunate to witness on TV this historic victory in Brisbane, where India defeated Australia after more than three decades on this ground.

I have tried to summarise the lessons organisations and individuals can learn from this fabulous victory. This can enable ordinary individuals like us and organisations to turnaround from any crisis situation.

1. Failure can teach you more than success: After India lost to Australia in Adelaide and were bundled out for 36, many critics had written the team off. This happens to us in real life too. A big failure can lead many of our well wishers to lose faith in our abilities. It may also lead to demoralisation. This incident reinforces that failure can teach you more lessons than success. The lowest score by any Indian team in an innings was enough to wake them up and resolve to look forward and excel in the next three tests.

2. Leaders lead from the front: After our captain returned to India due to personal reasons, we were led by a young unassuming leader. He not only led from the front by hitting a century in the next test but also gave space and encouragement to his team members to give in their best to the team.

3. Every crisis can bring out the best in you: This humiliating defeat in Adelaide was a great wake up call for all the team members. They literally rose from the ashes and conquered. The resolve to win and give their best was seen in every movement of the players. Every individual was not only giving his best but also was enabling each other to excel.

4. Team work produces greater results then individual brilliance: While every team has individual players who are excellent, it is established through this win that team work provides better results than individual brilliance. A leader needs to work like a conductor in a symphony orchestra so that he is able to get the best out of every team member.

5. Focus and commitment enables you to get over adversaries: We had some players being abused racially. This is not only deplorable but unacceptable. However, these players not only gave their best but responded to the abuses by speaking through their ball and the bat rather than abusing back to the irresponsible spectators.

6. Nobody is indispensable in any organisation: There were only two or three players who played all the four test matches. This happened more by default due to injuries rather than by design. This however re-established the fact the nobody is indispensable in any organisation leave alone a cricket team.

7. Merit alone leads you to success: While many people still believe that success eludes those who do not have resources or necessary connections in life. At least four players in this team, who hail from humble backgrounds have proved that merit alone determines your success in life. Hard work can take you wherever you want to reach in life.

8. Resources are only means to an end and not an end in itself: The limited resources of the some of the players in the team before they played for the country did not deter them from excelling. This means that resources are only a means to an end and not an end in itself. We can succeed even with limited resources if we are determined to do so.

9. Critics can demoralise you but cannot prevent you from winning: While almost the whole cricketing world including the so called pundits had written the team off after the Adelaide loss, they proved that critics can only make you more determined to win. This is equally true in organisations if we take the criticism into our stride and learn from the mistakes of the past and move to on we can give our best in the future.

10. Humility gains more respect : A leader who leads from the front and is calm and humble gets you great results. This victory has proved that humility is still a great virtue for a leader to possess especially to tide over a crisis and lead the team to victory literally from the ashes.

I learnt a lot from this episode as an individual and I hope organisations, teams and individuals do the same as we reflect and rejoice on the Indian team’s historic victory down under.

As in the photo above, one can learn from every sport in the world even sitting outside the fence.

Failures can lead you to greater success if we convert a crisis into an opportunity.

S Ramesh Shankar

22nd Jan 2021

Life may not always be fair…

Is life always fair ? Many of us may feel differently. Some of us, who have not yet faced inequality or unfairness may vouch for life’s fairness, while others may feel otherwise. This is the beauty of life. It is not the same for everyone . Each of us live life through our own experiences.

If one loses a young colleague, friend or relative due to cancer, you are torn apart. Especially if that person has been a good human being, you feel life is not at all fair. Then you see you see a young and healthy colleague, who keeps fit, has no vices and dies of a heart attack – you are convinced on the unfairness of life.

On the other hand, when you read about a young student from a slum topping the civil services exams or representing the country in Olympics, you realise, how equitable life is and vouch for goodness and fairness of life.

Life is like that. While it is fair for some, it may appear unfair for others. Each of us go through our own share of fairness and unfairness. We feel good when life is fair to us and feel cheated when life treats us unfairly. This is human.

Now, the question before us as what we could do to ensure that life is always fair and equitable to all. I am a born optimist. I always have believed that life would be better tomorrow than today. Even while going through some of my toughest moments in life like losing my parents or missing a promotion in my career, I have never given up.

It may be easier to write about being an optimist than actually being one when you are tested by the challenges of life. However, I believe the true test of a human being is when we go through the hurdles of life. It is easier to drive on a freeway but tough to wade through slushy hill side during the monsoon. Life is no different. It is at these times, we need to calm down, think of all the good things that have happened to us in the past and express gratitude.

Gratitude helps us to be grounded. It strengthens our resolve to face all the unfairness of life. It gives us the courage to stand up even when we are knocked down multiples times in the bout of life. It is like the sportsperson who loses a match but resolves to work harder for the next learning from the failures of why he lost the previous match

While we go through a challenge in life, it may be difficult to be grateful or reflect on our mistakes. But, as soon as we are able to pick up ourselves from the doom and get up and walk again, that is the time to sit down and reflect. It is the time to express our gratitude and put in our best foot forward.

I have always believed that hard work pays for itself. Sometimes, we may not be able to correlate our efforts and the concomitant rewards which we may be expecting. But as long as we are sure of our efforts, results can never be far behind.

As in the photo above, you may sometimes wonder “Why it happens to me only ?”

We need to learn to be fair to ourselves even when life is most unfair to us. We need to learn to get up every time we fall down. We need to learn form our mistakes. Last but not he least, we need to bow in gratitude.

Life is fair or unfair, the way we perceive it.

Time to change our perception.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th Nov 2020

Can work be fun ?

One of the questions I have often been asked in my career is -“How to enjoy your work ? The answer is simple. If you know what you enjoy and do that as your work, then its easy to enjoy your work. This is the most difficult in life. First to understand -“What you enjoy ? And second to get to work in that space, which you enjoy.

I was recently watching a video of two pilots who have been grounded by an international airline. They have taken up alternative employment as bus drivers. One of the drivers during the course of an interview actually said – “If you enjoy your work, you don’t actually work, do you ? This was an inspirational statement and made me think. That statement inspired me to write this blog.

In life, it is possibly easier to know what you don’t like rather than what you enjoy. It is important to realise that this is a challenge for all of us. Some of us get it earlier than others. I know of some people, who changed the course of their career almost in their mid careers and there is nothing wrong with that.

Quite a few years back I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review which was titled – “ Job Sculpting”, where the author beautifully explains this concept. The author explains that we need to keep sculpting our jobs till we feel we found our choice. It is possibly like the sculptor keeps chipping till she feels that she has made the best sculpture.

The authors go on to explain how people in different vocations around the world have found their calling at different stages of their career. I remember the standing out example in that article was that of a software programmer who spend more than two decades in programming and suddenly during a holiday on the coast realised that he enjoyed being a coach for skiing much more than anything else he did in his career till then. So, he quits his job as a programmer after two decades and undergoes a coaching course for skiing and then evolves as a coach.

We may not know or realise what we enjoy. If we put in some efforts we may but we should not be afraid if we do not. The day we realise and understand what we enjoy then it would be great if we can explore our career in that space. For eg. if I enjoy travelling and I am working as a HR manager in a factory, it may worthwhile to explore if I could become a travel guide or even a travel blogger. That way I would work in an area, which gives me maximum joy.

While some of us may find it easy to get to work in an area of our choice, some of us may be stuck to vocations we don’ like for reasons beyond our control. But, it may still be worthwhile to find the right time and place to take a break and do what you enjoy. This way work becomes joy and not work anymore.

I love travelling and writing. So if I have to start my career all over again I possibly would love to be a travel writer.

This may be easier to write about than actually try out. But most things in life are not easy to accomplish unless we are willing to take it as a challenge and do it. Our work and career is also one such thing. If we enjoy what we do then work is sheer fun. If we don’t, then every day looks longer than the previous day at work and even our health gets impacted in this process.

It is time to challenge ourselves and discover what we enjoy. If work is fun and we enjoy it, it is no longer work for us.

Do you agree ?

S RameshShankar

9th November 2020


Celebrate what’s right in the world…

I have met many people in my life who are born to crib. They start their complaining process from sunrise and don’t stop till they sleep. Everything appears wrong in the world for them. Interestingly they do not realise that although birth or death is not in our hands but “choice of the way we live” is in ours.

Imagine a world full of possibilities. A world full of hope and aspirations. If one can enjoy the sunrise, the song of birds, the greenery around us, the smile of family and friends, life would be joyful. Why do many of us look at life the other way around. I honestly do not know why but some of us choose to be unhappy even when there are reasons to be happy.

I have always believed life is full of opportunities and it upto us to open them up for ourselves. Of course, there would be challenges along the way but if we are afraid of them, then life would not be wholesome. It is like a trekker to Mount Everest has to go through a lot of hardship – physical and mental but is always looking forward to scale the peak and launch her or his national flag on top of the world.

On the other hand, the world of cribbers is full of doom and gloom. They see no light at the end of the tunnel as they believe the sun would set before they reach there. They forget that the same sun will rise red and bright the very next day if they are willing to spend the night over at the tunnel enjoying the darkness.

I have met fascinating people around the world in all walks of life. They make every day enjoyable for them. They may not be the wealthiest or the happiest in the true sense of the word but they know how make life fun for them. Even when you are on a highway with a flat tyre, we have a choice. We can curse everyone saying “why me ?” Or celebrate the change of stepnee with a hot cup of coffee and a well deserved break on a long haul.

God has given us enough reasons to celebrate life. It is we who have not tapped all the resources around us or enjoyed every moment the way we could. If we recall our childhood, we did celebrate every day as if it was our last day on earth. They why can’t we rekindle the child in us to enjoy every moment every day.

Why do we need to find fault and increase our blood pressure rather than laugh it out and be healthy ? We always have a choice in every phase of life. It is upto us to live the way we want to. Why do we need to blame the rains for missing a game ? Why cannot we enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and enjoy the rains and take a well deserved break from our game.

As in the photo above, I have celebrated life during the lockout by playing badminton, watching record movies, serials, learning photography and doing what I enjoy most nowadays – writing endless blogs or watching the sun rise and enjoying its splendour in the hills.

The positive attitude to life and living is upto us. We can create infectious hope in people or pour water over high aspirations of others. Our positivity not only makes us healthy but also ensures that everyone is looking forward to our company.

Let us resolve to celebrate every minute of our life from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

17th August 2020


Life is all about attitude & gratitude

I have always been wondering as to how I could define life in simple terms. The other day a friend of mine summarised my article and stated that “Life is all about attitude & gratitude”. I felt it was a great insight and so this blog is an attempt to understand life from this beautiful perspective.

If we reflect and rewind our life, we may realise that life is indeed all about attitude and gratitude. The difference between the best and the rest is always attitude. We can look at any walk of life from academics to sports, art to culture and music and we find that the best of talents master that area because of their attitude to learn and share with others. The day they feel that have reached their peak, their decline begins. But the best never rest and hence always conquer newer heights of excellence every day in their lives.

The second quality of masters of all crafts is that they are always grateful to the people who have made them what they become in life. They will never forget their gurus, parents or friends who were with them in the arduous journey of life before they become icons in their respective fields.

We thus can easily summarise that life is after all about attitude and gratitude. If we recall our own lives, we realise that the best people we have met so far have always had a positive and infectious attitude. They spread positivity through their thoughts and their actions. Secondly, they never forget the people on their way to success in life. They remember the people, who supported them through the thick and thin of their life journey.

It may be worthwhile to understand these two key terms – “attitude” and “gratitude” in life. “Attitude” is our way of looking at life in every way. We all have a choice at every stage of our life and almost every single day. We can choose to be happy, sad or mad. It is upto us to convert every crisis as a learning opportunity. It is upto us to be grateful for all that we have rather than keep cribbing about some things we don’t have.

If we start believing in ourselves and think life is a journey of multiple possibilities, then we have varied options to choose from. On the other hand, if we we think that life is an endless journey of despair moving from one crisis to another, then our life seems that way. After all we need to realise that everyone goes through ups and downs in life. There is always a sun rise after every sunset. It may be worthwhile to learn from our failures as much as we may bask in our successes.

The second term to understand is “gratitude”. I would say “gratitude”is our ability to bow in reverence to every single person who has contributed to our journey of life. If we remember all the people who have supported us directly or indirectly in our lives especially after we have reached our peak of success, it will help us understand the meaning of gratitude in life. While many of us are willing to share our success as our gift of hard work, we may forget the silent contributors, who stood by us when the world looked the other way.

If we have a positive attitude in life and are grateful for all that we are blessed with, God will keep us smiling always as in the photo above.

The essence of life is our ability to look at life as full of choices we can make and our eagerness to be indebted to the people who made us what we are today. The day we realise these two basic tenets of life, we may have arrived. There can be no peak we cannot surmount and no goal we cannot achieve in our lives.

Life is all about attitude and gratitude.

Let us realise it today.

S Ramesh Shankar

5th August 2022

When will I be happy ?

I have always wondered as to why do I remain unhappy most of the time. I regret my past, crib about the present and dream about the future. I do not realize that neither can I change the past, nor redefine the present. If I only dream about the future, it is likely to become the present sooner than I realize it.

Life is a journey. We need to learn to live each day as if today is the last day of our lives. Why waste time in regretting the past, which is far behind us. Why wonder and dream about a future which is still uncertain ? Is it not a good idea to live the present to the full. Enjoy each day as if it was made to be that way.

While it may be easy to state the obvious, I wonder why many of us live life this way. We spend most of the time regretting about our past or wondering about the future. In this process, we forget to live the present. Is it worth spending time on things we cannot change. Is it not better to enjoy today and create a future of our choice.

The day I realise that my past may not help me create my future, I may be one step towards enjoying the present. Living life every day my way will make me happier. I need to realise that I am wasting my life worrying about my past or wondering about my future.

I also have to realise that life is not joyful if I live in relative terms. I need to learn to live life in absolute terms. I have to be happy and grateful for what I have rather than what I don’t have. I spend most of the time wondering why some others have more than me. In this process I sometimes forget what all I have which many others don’t have in life.

I need to live life on my own terms. I have a right to dream and work hard to make that dream a reality. Just dreaming is not good enough. The harder I work, the chances of my dreams becoming a reality is more. Most of the time I dream of the future and wonder why I cannot be like someone else. My life is wasted in envying others and feeling negative about life without living it and enjoying it myself.

We can achieve what we want in life, the day we are willing to forget the past, be grateful for the present and be willing to toil for the future. We could be happy and content in life.

I also need to realise that my life is in my hands. If I spend time blaming my family, friends or fate for my destiny, it is my problem. I cannot blame anyone for my life and the way I live it. This is my biggest lesson to live life happily every day.

As in the photo above, a child can teach you to enjoy life every moment without regretting the past or wondering about the future.

Today I realise that I need to live life one day at a time. I need to learn to forget the past, enjoy the present and create my future through my dreams followed by working hard towards my goals.

Time to start enjoying life is today. What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar

31st January 2021

Born to Crib…

We meet some people in our lives who crib for everything . They seem to look at life as an opportunity to blame others all the time. They may even cry as to why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and not the other way around.

I find this attitude of people very amusing. In my view, they not only make their own life miserable but makes life horrible for all the people around them. One meets such people in all walks of life. If you are unlucky, you may have one of them in your family itself. They do exist in organisations and even as neighbours in communities.

If you look at their typical day, they look for opportunities to crib. They may blame the toothbrush or paste for tooth decay. They may find fault in their spouse for making a bad cup of coffee. They find no nutrition in their breakfast. As they leave home for work, they find everyone around them violating traffic rules while they themselves may not stop at traffic signals.

At the work place, if the security guard wishes them “ Good Morning”, they may ask what is good about the morning ? Then as they settle in their seat, if their customer calls them complaining about an issue, they may shout back without realising that their action could make the organisation lose a customer.

In their world view, they are perfect in everything they do but find everyone around them as useless or not doing their duties. They are critical of everyone in the family itself. Most family members generally tend to ignore them as they cannot avoid them if they live in the same premises.

In organisations, sometimes they may be excellent individual contributors but nobody wants them in their team. They dissipate the energy of the team with their attitude and behaviour. They always looks at work and life as glass half empty. They always believe that they are filling the glasses while others around are busy emptying them.

I have met them in my family circles, friends and as colleagues at work. I have tried to influence them many a time to change their attitude to life. While it takes a lot of your own positive energy to change their attitude, you should be aware that they are capable of converting you into a negative person in return.

Organisations, communities and individuals have a responsibility to influence these individuals and convert them into positive personalities. It is not not only good for them but all the people around them. Their negativity can kill their own health apart from impacting others the wrong way.

I should clarify that all of us tend to crib at something or the other. The problem is when you crib at everything and not at something in life. When cribbing because a part your day to day habits and integral part of your life, that is when we need to work on it.

We need to learn from the snail as in the photo above and move on in life and never consider it has a full stop. The snail although slow and steady but never stops.

Even if each of us take responsibility of influencing one negative and cribbing individual in our lives, it will make a positive difference to everybody’s life. It will transform them, communities and societies at large.

Let each one influence one.

S Ramesh Shankar

7th October 2020


I am responsible

We are in the midst of a worldwide crisis. It is a pandemic impacting every nook and corner of the world. It started about a year and a half ago and does not seem to be ending soon. We in India fought the first wave quite well but our ability to anticipate the more treacherous second wave was not good enough.

Today, we see people suffering in every nook and corner of the country. It looks like almost every other family is impacted by this deadly virus. While statistics may look different to different people, the real impact is on the family which is facing the brunt even if it is the only family in that town, city or community.

We have had a lot of criticism of the way it has been handled by everyone. We are blaming the central government, the state government and even the experts from the healthcare industry for this state of affairs. Whichever end of the political spectrum we belong to we are willing to blame the party in power without knowing how much everyone knew or could anticipate this second wave.

While it may be easy to write about it or criticise it, (having been an administrator for almost four decades I can say with confidence ) it may be more difficult to anticipate or manage it as an administrator. So, the next question is , what do we do about it. I would recommend the following steps to deal with this situation :

A. Let the governments at the centre and state do whatever best they can in the current circumstances. Let us support their efforts without being critical of every action since I am not sure if we could have done better even if we were in their seats of power.

B. Let us take responsibility for our actions – wearing masks, keeping distance and washing hands everywhere we go

C. Let us take charge of our family and friends whom we can directly influence.

D. If we are large hearted, let us take responsibility for the community we live in to ensure compliance to all the guidelines prescribed by the government.

E. Let us be more responsible in not posting anything negative or creating false panic by forwarding messages on social media etc.

I believe if we are willing to do the above, the crisis will be under control sooner than later.

As in the photo above, this child is taking responsibility for his behaviour even standing on a beach. If a child can do it, why not we.

The most important step is that I take responsibility for the conduct and compliance of myself, my family and my community. If each of us are willing to do this, then we make the task for the governments easier.

Let us start now.

S Ramesh Shankar

26th April 2021