Conquer the world with tiny victories

climbGreat achievements are the sum of small, tiny victories. It is important that we take  tiny steps towards our goals in life.  The Chinese adage, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is both real and true. We need to make a start. We need to act.

Think big, but start small. Great achievements of a Michael Jordan, Sachin Tendulkar or a Tiger Woods are the results of tiny successes and small victories along the way.  We may not get to the very top but still we have significant impact in what we do.

There are several kinds of people in this world.

There are the ‘general drifters”. These people have no goals and no visions. They generally drift about in life. Since they are not headed anywhere they reach nowhere.

Then there are the ‘self-doubters’. These people doubt their own abilities even before they get started. They hobble themselves with the chain of self-doubt that they make little or insignificant progress.

There are then the ‘oversized goal seekers’. These people want the moon and want it now. These people set themselves unrealistic goals in life. As a result they feel guilty for not achieving their targeted goals.

What is important is that we set ourselves realistic and achievable goals. When we succeed in these little goals that we set for ourselves then we add to our ‘fund of self-esteem’ as Stephen Covey states in his book ‘Seven habits of …”.  We need to take the first step, but we need to take it in the direction of a small and achievable target.

It is perfectly fine to fail. It is perfectly fine to make mistakes. Neil Gaiman says “Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.”.  You can read more at “Make good art”.

The small successes that we achieve tend to not only increase our confidence but also motivate us to do even better. In other words it forms a virtuous cycle where we are goaded to excel.

It is never too early to start working towards your goals. Rather than waiting for an auspicious time, get started right away.

More importantly it is never too late also too start. So whether you are in your teens or on the ‘other’ side of 40, it is not late to begin. You have still have a lifetime to achieve your goals.


In others words, you can still ‘conquer the world!’

For a degree in right attitude

We spend a third of our lives in academic pursuits, the initial years being taken away in basic education and the later years in the pursuit of degrees and certificates. Education in itself is important and necessary to get us through this increasingly knowledge intensive world. However the fervor with which we attempt in getting into top –rated colleges with top-rated degrees does not make a whole lot of sense. We run, or are made to run, by our family and society after law, medical, engineering, commerce degrees.

Granted, a good degree from a great college or a great degree from a good college will give you an excellent initial velocity and momentum to your career in the early years. But with time it is not the degree that will come your aid but your attitude towards life. Unfortunately there are no institutions that give a degree in right attitude. There are no institutions that teach us the importance of personal responsibility, of social obligations, the ability to solve life’s problems. Neither are we taught to maintain a constant drive to get things done, the need for patience and consistency and so on. These are essential skills that one needs in life in addition to the medical, engineering or the law degrees.

We are left to fend our lives on our own. A great many people, after the initial exuberance of a wonderful start to their career and lives dies down, tend to meander about completely lost in life. There are others who just potter or drift about in life.

“Life’s journey, not a destination” we have been told a million times. What has been left unsaid is that this journey can be to new territory, or simply in plain circles. It is what we make of it.

If we don’t have the right attitude to life we will not navigate our way in life properly. Some of us will tend to the same mechanical things ad-nauseum without getting nauseated. Others will tend to buffeted by the vagaries of fortune. Still others will be cowed down under their responsibilities and problems.

In my opinion “success in life lies is in the eyes of the beholder”. Life is a marathon and we need to have the right attitude in dealing with it. We should not shy away from problems. Rather we should face it head-on. We need to become expert problem solvers. We must sow seeds for our future. We must be grateful for life itself and what it has offered us. We must live every moment.

We must use the creativity of imagination, the strength of courage, the power of determination and the wisdom of patience to sculpt our lives as we live them.

Life is never a race though it is often mentioned as one. In life, you never need to get anywhere. Life is all about paving your own path in time.

You are the sculptor and you sculpt yourself!

A healthy and a right attitude can come handy at any stage in life. This does not just apply each one of us but also to our children.

We should spend more time educating our children about true values like courage, will-power, consistency and drive while they pursue their college degrees. This will take them farther in their lives.

Succeeding in life

Most of us want to be successful in life. We tend to focus on the word “success”. Success by itself denotes nothing more than an accomplishment at a particular point in time or a series of achievements in a narrow field. It is an event or a series of events in a specified field. When we think of successful people we may think of a Steve Jobs, a Michael Jackson, the Beatles or Mark Zuckerberg

All of the above have achieved success in life. Clearly they were veterans in their chosen field. But there is a difference between achieving “success in life” and “succeeding in life”.

If we want to achieve success in life then we have to put our whole heart and soul into the narrow domain we are interested and keep persevering in it. There is nothing wrong with this.

However if we do achieve success in it we may still feel unsatisfied. The issue is that while we are successful we have not succeeded in life.

In order to succeed in life we have to understand that we have to succeed in the journey of life. We have often heard the saying “Success is not a destination, it is journey”.

In this journey in life we have different spheres of activity namely our personal, our professional, our social and our spiritual. Achieving success in a narrow domain will not make us feel great except in a temporary sense.

To succeed we have to focus our attention in all aspects of life while trying to excel in any narrow domain of our choice – music, technology, creative writing or sports. How often we hear of famous people complaining that their lives feel empty. How many of the rich and famous join some cult or follow some spiritual guru.

While success in life indicates a personal victory, succeeding at life is much broader. To succeed in life we may face occasional setbacks, but in life as a whole we will be able to achieve what we intend to.

So to succeed in life we need to ensure that our personal and family life is in order. We have to make sure that we excel in our professional life. We need to constantly increase our circle of friends and finally we need to make spiritual progress on a continuous basis.

In this journey we have to keep at succeeding in life rather in just trying to attain temporary success.

Eternity now!!!

It is our common experience that “time and tide wait for no man”. To most of us time just keeps on moving inexorably and we have no control over it. To a large extent this is true. Most of us just drift about in life and the rivers of time drags  us swiftly forward continuously.

In our finite lives we are governed by time in all the things that we do. We are hard pressed for time whether it is job deadline, an impending exam or an event that we are organizing. We are so overwhelmed by the thought of the event that anxiety and worry take over us while we watch helplessly as the juggernaut of time just rolls by.

Is there a way out of this? Well yes. What is needed is complete focus and attention. When we focus fully on the task at hand then time will almost certainly slow down. When there is absolute attention we will realize that we have a lot more time to get things completed. An interesting analogy is that of a computer’s CPU. A faster CPU has more processing power for example K GHz or K gigacycles per second. What a faster CPU does is that it is able to accomplish more operations per second and hence can perform a lot more. Similarly when there is absolute attention on the tasks we have our minds starts working at faster rate and we can achieve many times more than when we have no focus. When there complete concentration it is almost as though we are zooming into time which will seem to expand almost infinitely. This is also one of the reasons why  many people perform much, much better under situations of extreme stress and pressure.

So we should never get anxious or start worrying that we are running out of time. If we can focus our complete attention span we will almost expand the time at our disposal to infinity.

Also we should never feel that we are too old to do certain things. A common grouse that a lot of people have is that they are already too old and have no time to do many things that they desire. Actually nothing can be farther than the truth. Not only is it never late to start but whenever we start we almost have infinite time in the future as long as we concentrate our efforts on what we want to achieve.

Hence by focusing fully without anxiety we will almost certainly have an eternity now!

Key strategies to power your career

Success in professional life is rarely accidental. It is the result of a well thought out plan carried out to perfection as one moves from rung to rung in the organizational hierarchy.  Here are some key strategies, which if pursued, will give a better control over your career and will make your rise in the organization fairly smooth

Learning to learn: This is by far the most important quality we need when we enter the professional world. We need to learn how to learn. We need to be able to absorb the essence of our task, assignment or project. Any work that we perform we need to know both what to learn and how to learn. We need to able to look above the immediate project requirements and appreciate its function in a holistic way. We need to fully understand the product, the technologies involved, what problem it solves and how it ultimately benefits the end user.

Depth over breadth and vice versa:  If you are in the technical ladder make sure that your swim deep and long. Spend time learning the implications, intricacies and nuances of the technologies involved. Learn to appreciate the various tradeoffs that have to be taken in the work being done. On the contrary, if you are a project or a program manager focus on breadth rather on depth. Understand the benefits and shortcomings of the involved technology and various allied technologies. Understand industry trends and how the project fits in the organizational business plan.

Make the right moves: At every stage one has to be aware of where one is with respect to the goal. We need to monitor and make mid course corrections. It is quite likely that as you move along in your professional life you may want to switch technology domains or shift to management. These are conscious decisions that you will have to weigh and take as you go along. As you grow you have understand where you want to go and how you want to get there. This is the mark of a true leader. We will hit several crossroads during our career. Our decisions should be directed towards our long term goal. Make sure the choices you make contribute to your professional, monetary and emotional accounts.

Look from the other side of the fence:  If you are technically inclined learn the basics of project & program management. Understand and appreciate the challenges of people management. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a technical-only slot. If on the other hand you are a project manager you must spend time becoming tech savvy. Try to get an all round view of all related technology. Technical people prefer managers who are tech savvy.

Plan for Success:  This is critical for career growth. Make sure you plan for success. In the words of Yogi Berra “If you don’t know where you are going you might wind up someplace else”.  Bring focus to both short and long term goals and work towards achieving them.

Understand and appreciate “Management Speak”:  This is something that is very critical to your career growth. Make sure you understand the jargon that senior management tends to use “for e.g. 10,000 ft view”, “project risks”, ”quality improvement”.   Do not shy away from this type of management jargon. In the early years most of tend to take management jargon lightly. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes and understand and appreciate the challenges he faces. It is good idea to understand the direction your organization is heading with respect to other peer organizations

Network: Networking is a critical to your success in the long run. Get to know your peers, subordinates, your boss and his peers. The more you network, the better are the chances of your success. It is imperative that you not only grow your professional network but also keep it well-oiled. You will learn a lot of people skills by networking.  Networking will keep you abreast of all the latest trends in the industry, besides many organizations prefer referrals while recruiting.

Visibility speaks: Success in the professional world depends a lot on your visibility to the top management. Make sure that you help or lead any effort that is organization or at least department wide. It is very important that you grab opportunities to lead. This will not only increase your visibility but will also improve your organizational skills and make you understand the challenges of making things happen.

You will spend close to a quarter of a century in your professional avatar.  Having a proper plan and working towards your career goal is important to both your financial and emotional well being. So ensure that you make all the right moves in your career.