Goals!

Though we are all familiar with the concept of goal setting, many of us falter in using them to create an impact in our lives. As a result, goals merely remain a bunch of fancy words. Let’s look at some broad guidelines to help set real, achievable goals:

• Articulate the goal with a powerful, inspiring statement – We are emotional beings. Weak, wishy-washy expressions or cold emotionless statements prevent goals from becoming the impassioned force that human beings can relate to. Powerfully articulated goals will not only keep your own energy high but also build and strengthen team spirit.

• Carve out a clear, well-outlined picture – The game of Chinese whispers is a good example of how information or data can undergo a sea of change as it filters through different streams of interpretation. Hence, it’s best to be specific about your goals and the expected outcome. Define and write down each aspect, including timelines, dates, and roles of each member to move in a well-coordinated and unified manner towards your goal.

• Set a priority for each goal – Every organization will have a multiple set of goals at any one time. This can lead to confusion when there is a lack of clarity about the purpose and relevance of each goal in the overall vision. Prioritizing each goal will help you to integrate your team’s energy and enhance efficiency.

• Set a mix of inspiring and operational goals – Hitch your wagon to a star, but if you hitch all your wagons to stars, then any non-achievement will diffuse your spirit. While individuals need inspiring goals to become larger than they perceive themselves to be, a small category of achievable operational goals goes a long way in building confidence and optimism in a team.

• Take the overall situation into account – Sometimes your team might exhibit exemplary performance, but the goal might still not be achieved due to a sudden policy change or change in the economic scenario. Failing to acknowledge such factors can not only affect team enthusiasm but also reduce the trust they place in your integrity and vision. So make room to evaluate such factors before judging achievement.

• Set ownership – A team is a diverse mix of people who not only have different skills but also different manners of expression. While some may be extremely vocal about their actions, some might prefer for their work to speak for themselves. While some are highly motivated to do their part, some might prefer to slack off whenever possible. In such situations, it’s often difficult to keep track of the team’s progress. Hence whenever there is more than one person involved in a particular goal it is important to actively involve all the concerned parties and to assign ownership and accountability. Each person then feels responsible for his or her actions, as well as a sense of pride about their contribution.

Juggling Act!

Finding harmony in various aspects of your life including work, lifelong learning, finance, family, health and spirituality is a constant challenge.

Here are eight steps that will help towards this difficult challenge:

➢ Define your priorities – When faced with the difficult choice between work and family, select the one that needs you more in that situation. For example, if you have to make a choice between attending your child’s first piano recital, probably his first performance in a public setting, and going in for a meeting, rescheduling the meeting might be a better option.

➢ Plan ahead – Pick a day of the week to plan your next 7 days. I usually pick Sunday night. Take 20 minutes to set up your agenda for the week ahead. This will not only help you take a weekly view on organizing your activities but will also ensure that you work smarter and quicker.

➢ Create a good support network – Remember you can’t do it all alone. Create a network of family and friends that you can rely on for support and guidance during times of need. Having a good partner or buddy to share responsibilities with can help tremendously. Similarly, at work, develop a network of people who you can rely on during a crisis. Initiate and reciprocate. Also, spend time and effort to acknowledge and nurture these special relationships.

➢ Lay down your limits and boundaries – Determine for yourself what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and use that as a reference point for decisions. This will also give you the added impetus to say “no” when you see others making unreasonable demands on your time.

➢ Create your own family rituals and activities – Set up special occasions and activities that help enhance the intimacy of your family life. For example, a Scrabble night with your family every Saturday or 20 minutes with your child before every bedtime can strengthen relationships and offer a stable, secure environment for your family.

➢ Be flexible – Though it’s good to set your priorities and agendas ahead of time, make the best of the uncertainty of life. For example, the cancellation of a meeting can give you a great opportunity to spend quality time with your child.

➢ Let go of guilt – Guilt is essentially an internal dissonance or clash between what you think is right and what you actually did, or didn’t do. But instead of learning from the experience and trying to best resolve the situation, we use our guilt to punish ourselves and sabotage our future happiness. Hence let go of guilt once you have learned your lesson. Don’t allow it to run your life.

➢ Create time for yourself – Responsibility towards your family or work starts with assuming responsibility for yourself. If you are constantly stressed out, you’ll never accomplish much in spite of the hours you put in. Hence, take some time out for yourself every day. Spend it in quiet meditation, indulge in a hobby – but spend some quality “me” time. This will not only help you rejuvenate but also give you space to see things from a larger perspective.

Engagement with Self!

In this day and age of the Internet and telecommunications, our waking hours are consumed by engagements with clients, colleagues, and friends. We consider them essential, and rightly so, as they help us to relate to the world around us. However, in this endless rush, we often forgo the most primal basic engagement; the engagement with self.

A potter’s wheel is able to create something beautiful and meaningful only when its outer circumference and inner center are in balance. Similarly, without the balance of the outward with the inward, life can quickly turn into a flurry of empty activity.

Only awareness of self can provide context and meaning to our experiences. Yet spending time with the self seems like a luxury for most, given the demands of work and family life.

Even when the opportunity presents itself, we rush to fill up space with television, gaming, Internet surfing…or simply snoozing. This is because most of us are seized with a kind of internal panic when faced with the prospect of spending time with ourselves.

Why this gnawing need to escape ourselves? For many, the prospect of being alone spells acute boredom. For some, it brings them face to face with unresolved issues or painful memories.  For others, it’s simply the fear of being alone.

The fact remains that unless we are able to engage with ourselves, we can never truly engage with others. You might strike up long conversations, build friendships, fall in love, network, but unless you find it easy to engage with the self, engagement with anybody else can only be on a superficial level.

So while we are all on the journey to engage with the world, learning to engage with yourself, with your inner space, is vital.

In fact, engaging with the self can be one of the most beautiful, relaxing and uplifting experiences. The journey inwards, besides being a voyage of self-discovery, is also a powerful tool to center your energy and bring your focus back to what’s really important in life.

Right vs. happy

Have you found that some people are the most difficult to deal with? Not because they necessarily want to be difficult, but because their outlook on life is different from yours.

Such individuals can easily make you frustrated or angry because they appear unreasonable, and as such you will feel justified to react. This is when you need to remind yourself of Viktor E. Frankl’s message: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

If you react with frustration or anger, things are bound to get worse. But, if you choose your response by showing that you understand where the person is coming from, you will find peace and a much better outcome.

A frustrated or angry reaction may make you feel you are right. However, a thoughtful response will make you feel happy. In the end, it is you who decides whether you want to be right or be happy.

If you ask me – I’d choose to be happy over being right, hands down!

Today!

We have four seasons to live – but three may already be gone. By starting each day as if it were our last, we remind ourselves of the fragility of life, helping us to become more compassionate. We remain human. We realize that if we die tomorrow, our material possessions do not go with us.

In the end, we only take with us what we give away – joy, happiness. And if we give misery, this too is what we’ll take with us. Don’t wait until tomorrow to appreciate, to forgive, to laugh, to be happy. Tomorrow may not come.

Think of death – think of it often – think of it each and every day. Socrates said, “Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.” Imagine how intense and alive you would be if you live your life taking each day as if that it is the only day you have! There would be no time for past regrets or future worries. The Sufi poet Rumi says “die before you die” embodying the wisdom that live each moment in totality, in its full measure. Then, when the moment ends, there is no pain, because living in the moment has been complete and absolute!

Clarity

It’s not enough to establish clear corporate goals. Involvement, sharing and communicating these objectives clearly is critical.

The Oxford dictionary defines clarity as:

• the quality of being coherent and intelligible;
• the quality of being easy to see or hear;
• the sharpness of image or sound;
• the quality of being certain or definite;
• the quality of transparency or purity.

The starting point begins with clarity – clarity of the vision, mission, values, and aligned yearly/quarterly/monthly goals.

Having monthly goals and regular accountability enhances the focus. The feedback mechanism also allows the team to know what they are doing right and where they need to improve.

Invite collaboration – engage and empower the team and stakeholders to participate in the success of the organization and lay out clear expectations of what is required and how these expectations fit into the overall objective – because if they don’t, why do it at all?

Small doubt too big!

Have you and your team identified the key ingredients for success in your business?

Elon Musk, Co-founder of PayPal says, “If you’re trying to create a [successful] company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.”

What is that special effervescent mixing agent which brings it all together, without which success cannot be reached? It is the
power of Belief!

When we believe in something, our belief becomes a springboard and catapulting us towards actions, which will make that belief a reality.

We’ve all come across the salesperson that is “on the fence” so to speak. He likes the company and its offerings, but he’s not into it 100%. Less than total belief yields less than optimal success.

You can have the greatest idea/product, the best branding and market positioning, but if you or your team members do not believe in it, then your business can never attain its full potential.

Just as important as whether your team believes in your product or service and in you is do you believe in your team? What you believe about your individual team members will impact their performance.

The right belief can spell the difference between success and failure. But how do we engender the right belief?

The process begins when you identify your purpose. Once you are clear about what you want and why the right beliefs become a consequence of that knowing. For example, if you think your purpose is to be a great doctor and heal people, then your life vision spurs you on to seek the right qualifications and experiences, which then lay down the foundation for your self-belief.

So be mindful of the beliefs you create and watch them help your inner radiance shine through. A small doubt is too big!