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

Despite all odds …

I have met people in different walks of life, who have succeeded despite of all odds against them in their lives. All of us face ups and downs in life. Some of us are willing to take it into our stride, while others buckle under pressure. What are the key characteristics of people, who are winners despite all odds ?

I will first share stories of some people I have met in my life or read about them to understand them better. Then we will try to look at the key personality traits of these people so that we can learn from them.

The first story which comes to my mind is that of young daughter of a constable in Tamil Nadu. She grew up in a remote town named Dindigul and fought against all possible restrictions to educate her self. Being a constable’s daughter she could not think of prestigious schools or colleges. But she pursued her dream of making it to the Indian Police Service by her sheer determination and hard work. She was ably supported by her parents and today she is serving the country in another state as an Indian Police Service Officer. Her real name is N Ambika and she is DCP at Mumbai today.

My second story is that of a tribal woman from Jharkhand. She also found it very difficult even to go to school. In spite of excellent academic credentials she could pursue her studies only in vernacular medium as she was not admitted in good schools. She scored 100% in mathematics but was discouraged to pursue her graduation in the same although she was passionate about it. Yesterday, I read that she has been appointed the Vice Chancellor of a University in the same state. Her real name is Sonajharia Minz and she is the Vice Chancellor of Sido Kanha Murmu University ( SKMU) in Dumka, Jharkhand.

The third story is that of a colleague of mine in my first organisation SAIL. His name is Koilvaram. He passed out his school in Tirunveli district of Tamil Nadu and then proceeded to Bhilai in search of a job. Those days most of us learnt typing or shorthand since it was easier to get a job as a typist or a stenographer. He started his career as a stenographer. Then pursued his graduation and post graduation through evening classes on his own earnings and then completed cost accountancy course too. He did not stop there. He applied and became a management trainee along with us in 1981 through his own efforts. He then learnt IT and moved to the insurance sector and held senior positions. Today he is working with the state of California in San Fransico. He has migrated and settled with his family in USA for many years now ( as in the photo above).

What do these stories teach us ? Nothing can stop us from achieving anything in life if we are willing to work hard for it. We need to pursue our passion with perseverance and never give up. Some of the learnings from these stories about the key qualities of these people are :

A. They have a dream and they pursue it till they make it a reality

B. They are willing to face any challenges in the journey of their pursuit.

C. They work hard and make up for their limitations and not go about complaining to everyone what they don’t have.

D. Dogged determination may be the key to their success.

E. Our limitations are more in our mind than in reality.

I have learnt a lot from such people in life. It has helped to face all challenges with a smile. We have many such unsung heroines and heroes all around us. It is for us to get inspired from them and imbibe their learnings.

Life is like a highway and we can keep driving if we want to and reach our destination without complaining about bad roads or the weather or traffic if we make up our mind to do it.

Lets start our drive today.

S Ramesh Shankar

31st May 2020

Full of life…

I have a met people in different parts of the world, who are always full of life. Nothing can or will impact their happiness in life. They live life as if today is the last day in their lives. They are positive about everything around them. They never give up on anything and face any challenge in life with a smile.

They are infectious with their positivity. They rub it on people around them. If you are in their company, you will feel a special energy flowing through you. You will experience optimism flow through you. Everything will seem possible and doable for you.

The question before us is how do they develop this attitude in life. Is it inborn or can it be developed ? I do not know the answer. But, I do believe that it can be developed if we are willing to believe in ourselves and in the potential of others.

I believe that for everything in life there are only two possibilities. One is -“ I can” and the second is -“I can’t “. Once I decide “I can”, I will find all ways and means to achieve my goal. If I decide, “I can’t”, I will try to find out all the excuses for not being able to achieve my goal. This happens in life and also in organisations.

This category of people always believe ‘ “They can”. They are always willing to take up any challenge and will give it their best. They never give up and are willing to lead or follow others as the situation demands. They will never crib and never complain about anything in life. They do not aspire for any power in life nor do they want credit for their contributions. They enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

One lesson we could learn from this category of people is that the key to happiness in life is to enjoy the journey of life. Most of us are so focussed on the results that we fail to enjoy the process. We live everyday as if it is a ritual. We are happy only when we achieve major milestones in life. On the other hand, these people celebrate life every day. The sun rising or the moon setting is a cause for celebration in their lives. For normal mortals like us, we tend to believe that the sun has to rise and set every day and so the moon. We fail to realise the joy of celebrating every moment of life.

Gratitude is another quality worth emulating from these folks. They tend to be ever grateful to life and everyone around them. They believe always life has been a gift for them. They are sure that people around them are there to always helps them. Their attitude to life and living is so positive that people around them find that they have no choice but to be good to them.

This seems to be the fundamental difference between them and most of us. We believe that we are the saviours of the world, atleast most of the time. We believe that our family, friends and colleagues cannot survive without us. On the contrary these people live life for others. They believe they succeed because of others. They are always thankful to family, friends and colleagues for their accomplishments in life.

So, the choice is simple. We need to just flip our beliefs and retune our attitude to life. Live for others rather than oneself. If we give more, we get more. If we spread happiness, we cannot but be happy in life. If we see joy every day in our lives, life is a wonderful gift.

As in the photo above, it is kids who can teach us this valuable lesson in life to be happy.

Life is the way we live it. Let us believe from today our life is full of possibilities. It is upto us to make it happen.

S Ramesh Shankar

30th May 2020

What happens when someone takes the credit for your work in an organisation ?

A young aspiring professional called me up early morning today.  He looked very much worked up.  When I asked him for the reasons for his anxiety, he explained how some of his seniors were taking away all the credit for the hard work he puts in at work every day.

This is not an uncommon situation especially for youngsters starting their career in an organisation.  Interestingly, you see and experience this phenomenon in all professions.  Today, it is easy for me to write about it and share my views.  When I went through the same experience, it was one of the biggest challenges at the beginning of my career.

When you experience it as a young professional, you feel betrayed.  You feel frustrated and sometimes feel like bashing up the senior who takes away all the credit for your hard work.  As you grow up in the organisation , you realise that you are not alone to face this type of challenge.  It is faced by many and almost in all professions.  A senior lawyer may win a case based on the arguments and efforts of his junior and take all the credit for the victory.  A senior doctor may do the same while treating a patient.

In organisations, we see senior leaders taking the credit for presentations made to other stakeholders, which were never prepared by them.  Sometimes, they take the credit for articles never written by them.  While it makes you feel bad, it is not uncommon to say the least.

The question is how do you deal with it in your career, when it happens to you.  At the first instance, it may be a good idea to vent out your feelings to someone  near and dear to you.  This may make you feel lighter and better after this bitten experience in your career.

Then you need to settle down and realise that you are not alone.  It is important not to get distracted by such phenomenon.  I remember an incident when a senior of mine tried to present my case in front of the Chief Executive in one of the organisations I worked.  He was trying to take the credit for my work in front of the CEO.  However, when the CEO asked a few clarifications on the case, he had to call me in and he was embarrassed when the CEO asked if I had prepared the case.

We always need to believe that “Excellence” is a journey and never a destination.  The leaders who try to take the credit for the work of their juniors have limitations and they do expose their limitations by such frivolous behaviour.  They get exposed sooner than later when they make this a habit to take credit for others ‘ work.

As  I said earlier, it is not easy to deal with a situation like this especially when you experience this yourself in the beginning of your career.  As you grow up in your career, you realise that people can take credit for your work but can never take away your value to the organisation.  Each individual brings a certain value and this can never be stolen by others.

This nature of some leaders to take credit for others’ work reflects their limitation rather than yours.  They get exposed sooner than later in front of other employees or other stakeholders.  One does not need to put in any extra efforts to expose them since they expose themselves because of the lack of depth in the subject they take credit for others’ work. Of course, the time taken for them to be exposed may vary and this could add to the frustration of employees.  But my experience teaches me that it happens sooner than you believe as long as you are willing to always give your best and let them expose themselves in the process.

As in the photo above, while a captain can take away the credit for his team’s victory, everybody in the team and even the spectators know who deserves the credit for that win.

I would continue to focus on excellence and let these impostors expose themselves rather than waste my energy and time trying to figure out why they do so. I would want to focus on my strengths rather than their weaknesses.

Let us always remember that “Mediocrity will never recognise Excellence”.

S Ramesh Shankar

27th May 2020


“Face is the index of the mind” is an an old saying. It is more than true. There is a lot of research to confirm that more than 70% of human communication happens through non verbal means. This means our expressions speak more than our words.

The best opportunity to learn from expressions is from the kids. They can express the entire spectrum of emotions of the human kind in more ways than one. None of us need to learn to speak to a child to understand their emotions. However, as we grow up we tend to forget to express ourselves

Alternatively, we are conditioned by the environment around us and our own belief systems that expressing oneself is immature or childish. In my view, this may be the beginning of the end of joy in our lives. A child emotes without any reason. Children express in every way they can. Emoting oneself appropriately not only may secrete good hormones in the body but keeps you happy always.

If we look back, our childhood was the best period of our lives, when we unconditionally expressed ourselves. As we grow into an adolescent , we tend to restrain ourselves, which then results in rebellious behaviour. Growing into an adult we stop emoting altogether. We think it is not mature enough to share our emotions with others.

The “adult” in us over rules the child. Every time we feel like laughing, crying or screaming, we regulate our behaviour to try to do the opposite. This may sometimes end up in awkward reactions in different situations. For eg. we may laugh when we are supposed to cry or the other way around. This is because the world around us conditions us on what is right and what is wrong.

The right and wrong emotions are not determined by our heart as it should normally be but how people react around us. If people may laugh at our crying, then we do not. If someone objects to our laughing we tend it to keep it ourselves.

We need to challenge ourselves. We need to live our emotions the way we want to. People who emote unconditionally are the people who have no blood pressure. If we forget to share our emotions, we may forget to cry, laugh or get angry.

If we condition ourselves too much, we may to tend to contradict ourselves. Our emotions will not reflect our true feeling inside. This may be easily be misunderstood and we may end up in conflicts with others around us.

It is time to rekindle the child in us. It is time to express ourselves the way we want to. Let us not be be guided by the reactions of others. Let us be guided by our own gut feelings. We need to learn to be true to ourselves. This may be the best way to live life fully.

Let us interact with children around us and learn from them. It is never too late to learn. Every child can teach us to live life the way we need to live. So what if we have forgotten the basics of life. It is time to look back to move forward sometimes.

Let us learn to express ourselves.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th Oct 2020

Blame the world

One of my seniors taught me early in my career that I should speak in “first person singular” and encourage others to do so. When he first told me so, I was perplexed as to why he was saying this. It took me sometime to digest this simple message and then internalise it.

His advise was that I should take responsibility for what I am saying and doing and hence I should speak in first person singular and never in third person. We generally tend to speak in third person and blame the world for all the wrongs we have done or are experiencing in life.

If we look a bit within, we realise that we need to take responsibility for our lives and cannot blame the world for our state of affairs. While it may be difficult to understand and assimilate this simple axiom in life, it is worth learning it as we go along in our life and career.

Today I strongly believe that my state of affairs are all because of my actions or in-actions as the case may be. If I am successful in life, I can take the credit for my hard work apart from a bit of luck favouring me. If I fail, I equally have to take the blame and not pass it on to anyone else around me.

In organisations, it is quite common to see many leaders taking the credit for their team’s success and blaming their team members for their failure. A true leader will always do the other way around. She or he will take the blame for the team’s failure and credit the success to the team.

Another interesting dimension in the organisational context is to enable employees to speak for themselves. I also learnt this simple truth from one of my seniors. He had told me that we need to encourage employees to speak for themselves. Let them come to us and ask a hundred times -“ Why I cannot be promoted ? “ or “Why my increment is low ?” . This is fine and should be encouraged. However, the moment they ask “Why I cannot be promoted when X has been promoted ?”, they should be reprimanded. We need to tell them that they have every right to speak for themselves and not for others. When they speak for others, it is gossip and that needs to be discouraged. This is the culture building in organisations. It was an invaluable lesson in my career.

This simple truth can be extended to family and life in general. We need to encourage our children to come to us and complain about issues they face themselves and not about others. The moment we are able to establish and internalise this simple truth, our life will be happier and it will be easy to deal with issues both within the family and in society in general.

We can extend this simple principle to states and even nations at large. Every state can ask the centre as to why they have got less allocation of funds or why they have not got more central projects etc ? The moment a state compares itself with another state and then demands more grants etc, it needs to be pulled up.

Life is all about taking responsibility. We need to take full ownership for our lives and be accountable for the efforts and the results will follow. If we blame the world for our failures, nobody is going to listen to us and we will continue to be a failure in life.

As in the photo above, I need to take responsibility for not only how I look but for all my actions.

Let me resolve today that I take responsibility for my life and cannot blame the world or anyone else for my success and failure.

S Ramesh Shankar

29th April 2020

If I do it, it’s right, if others do it, it’s not

I find life interesting in many of its dimensions. One of the most fascinating things for me is to observe and study human behaviour. If I do behave in a particular way, it is fine, if others do the same things it is not acceptable. Let me illustrate with some examples. If I get up late from bed, it is ok since I came back home late from a flight and I can justify it. However, if my kids get up late, I will scold them without even asking the reasons for it. Rather, I will term it as indiscipline.

This behaviour is manifest in the family, community, organisations and even in society. If I disrespect someone in the family through use of inappropriate words, it is ok as I am the head of the family. However, the same behaviour by my spouse or my siblings or kids is not acceptable and I blame them for lack of family values.

We can see a group of village elders pulling up the youth for smoking in the village square but when the elders smoke, they are disrespectful of the community norms. I can get away by having long hair or by growing a beard and justify it by some family ritual. When the same is practised by my kids, it is considered indecent.

Organisations are no different. The boss can get away using foul language with his team members. However, when one of the team members uses the same language, it is admonished. Similarly, the manager can come late to office and she has valid reasons for the same. However, when one of her team members is late, she loses her cool and reminds the team member of office etiquette and discipline.

Today, it is reflected in the behaviour of nations across the world. We see one super power bullying everyone if those countries do not toe their line. This super power can invade any country and kill anyone in the name of protecting humanity. However, when the same actions are initiated by another country in some part of the world, then this super power considers it violation of human rights, freedom and liberty.

If I go in knee deep water near a waterfall it is fine but if my kids want to do the same, I may say it may not be safe as in the photo above.

Although, I find this behaviour by individuals, communities, organisations and nations amusing, I have not been able to get to the root cause. I cannot understand as to why I tend to justify my ill behaviour by reasons beyond my imagination and find the same behaviour reprehensible when displayed by others. It is like an obese doctor advising his patient to control his diet and maintain his body mass index. It is visible but not comprehensible.

Life is a mystery and we need to discover it every day of our lives.


S Ramesh Shankar


29th January 2020

Be happy with nothing…

I have sometimes wondered as to “What is the definition of happiness ? ” in life. It could mean different things for different people. Some may be happy with wealth while others may be happy with good health. Some may be joyful with friends and family while others may enjoy loneliness.

Each of us can evolve our own definition of happiness. This could change from country to country, region to region and individual to individual and nothing wrong with that. After all every human being is different and has the ability to define happiness for herself or himself.

One of my favourite theories is that “Health & Happiness money cannot    buy “. We have to find ways and means to be healthy and happy at all times. Let us explore how we could be happy today. Happiness is a state of mind and attitude to life. It is not a commodity which money can buy.

I have seen people with all the wealth in the world and still unhappy. On the other hand, I have seen people who find it difficult to have two square meals a day but still are very happy. This may be possible because these people learn to be happy with nothing in life.

The art of being happy is contentment. If we learn to be happy with what we have, we may be happy with what we get in life. If we keep complaining with what we have, we will never attain happiness in life. So, the secret to happiness is to be happy with nothing more than what we have already.

One of the ways to attain contentment could be to compare ourselves with the have nots. There may be millions of people around the world and in our own country who do not have half as much as we do. But, we still remain unhappy because we tend to compare ourselves with people who have more than us.

There is nothing wrong to be ambitious in life. We all aspire to work hard, make more money and get more wealth. As long as we do that in the ethical way, it is fine. But, the day we realise that wealth may not be the source of all happiness, we may have arrived.

This realisation may come later than we think. It is easier to follow the rat race. All of us have done it or are doing it. It is difficult to be content. Contentment is a state of mind. It is our ability to be satisfied with ourselves and our belongings in absolute terms. Any relative comparison leads us to discontentment resulting in unhappiness.

Ambition can lead us to compete with ourselves. It can stretch our imagination of excellence as a journey and not as a destination. However, accumulation of wealth may not lead to happiness. It could lead to material satisfaction but not necessarily mental well being. So the secret of happiness may lie in striking the balance between wants and needs.

As in the photo above, this bird seems to be happy with nothing.

Happiness may be the art of ensuring that we work on fulfilling our needs and not our greed. As long as our want and needs are fulfilled, we may be inclined to be happy. The moment greed surpasses needs in us, it may lead to unhappiness.

Let us learn to be happy with nothing.

S Ramesh Shankar

20th December 2018

How to love and enjoy your work ?

One of the oft repeated questions to me by employees is – “ How do you still enjoy your work after working for so many years ? . Most employees are complaining about work, their bosses, the organisation or the environment around and wonder how can one enjoy work in such a scenario.

Some times employees change roles and have new bosses and new environments. At other times, they even change their organisation and move to another location but still the crib continues. So, I was wondering if it is worth reflecting on this subject – “How to love and enjoy your work ?

The first realisation in this journey of work is that we are the only one who can change our attitude to work. If we decide that we have the best job on earth, nobody else can stake that claim. On the other hand, if we are to find reasons why we are not loving what we do or enjoying our work, we need nobody else to give us the reasons. The day we realise and internalise this basic truth, it may be easier to answer this question to oneself.

The next step is to ask – “ What is preventing us from loving our job or enjoying our work ? Let us look at the possible answers and try to dive deep inside us to find the answers for ourselves. First challenge could be a demotivating boss. Now, the question to ask is whether we have the option or authority to change our boss. If the answer is no, which is the case in almost every situation, we need to find how do we enjoy work irrespective of our boss.

If we look within and ask ourselves – “What do we enjoy doing at work ? , we may be able to find the answer. Then, the next question to ask is “What is preventing us to do that ?. We may suddenly realise that our boss is nowhere in the picture. It is either our own lack of initiative or efforts, which may be coming in the way.

Another reason which people say is they do not have great colleagues at work to learn and grow. The day we realise that we are also colleagues for someone else and they may be thinking the same about us, this feeling will disappear. We need to lead by example and influence others to change in a positive way to make the environment vibrant around us.

Yet another reason which people say is that – “We do not have enough freedom at work ? The day one realises that empowerment is not given but taken, this may also change. Nobody on earth can prevent us from innovating, trying out new things and if we succeed taking credit for it and if we fail owning up responsibility to learn and move on.

Another common reason is the organisation culture. Culture is not building, computers or physical infrastructure. It is the people, values and the way we treat each other. If we feel the culture is not conducive , we also have a responsibility to influence and change the culture. History teaches us that a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King single handedly could influence a nation – then why cannot we influence the culture within our own organisation if we want to. To make it simple, we can start with our own team.

If you do what you love, then you will love what you do as in the photo above.

The lessons I learnt in my long corporate career is that if I want to love and enjoy my work, nobody can prevent me to do so, except myself. I need to take charge, empower myself, try out new things and create a fun work place, where everyone enjoys along with me and thrives to experiment and learn every day. Have we all not seen one team member who is always having fun in any team with any boss and in any organisation. It is time to become that team member today.

Let us start today.

S Ramesh Shankar

10th June 2021