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I was recently talking to my good friend Jacqui when these statements just popped out of me during our insightful conversation: “We shouldn’t leave this planet like we leave a casino – made some money, lost some, met some interesting people, had a good time for sure, bye bye”. This blog is a further reflection of those statements.

It is well-known and proven time and again that individuals who make an Impact get recognized as heroes. CEOs who constantly innovate and take their companies to new heights (e.g. Steve Jobs – RIP), social entrepreneurs who come up with new models for empowering millions of people (e.g. Mohammed Yunus), leaders who work tirelessly to bring freedom and social justice (e.g. Gandhi, Mandela), Teachers who inspire students to learn and Doctors/Scientists who develop new cures to alleviate human suffering (e.g. millions of such individuals around the world). In all these cases, the individual’s actions have left permanent footprints on the people and environment around them.

What kind of footprints do we want to leave behind? Those left on a sandy beach can get eroded easily by wind or waves washing ashore. Those left on ‘settling concrete’ are likely to stay much longer.

In my opinion, every aspiration, ambition, goal in a person’s mind is analogous to ‘settling concrete.’ They must be noticed, attended to and nurtured at the right time. We all have the power to do so by being passionate and caring Mentors. I believe and have experienced it time and again personally, that we know more what we think we do (of course, there are some people who think they know more than they actually do and that is a topic for discussion at a later time, not here!!!).

Many a times, lessons you have learned from your life/career experiences, stories you have heard, challenges you have faced and creative solutions you came up with – all of this go into an archive someplace, so you always don’t know they are there. They tend to pop out and flow like a river when someone (Mentee) approaches you with a question or come to seek your insights. When that happens and the Mentee recognizes exactly what to do and actually accomplishes something, believe me, you have made an Impact – a lasting one at that.

So, make a pact today (Thanks Randy for pointing out the word Pact in Impact, you must thank your English Teacher) with yourself and time (that is ticking away non-stop) that you will make an Impact on as many people as you can by sharing your expertise as a Mentor. The Impact you will see yourself making will be very satisfying and rewarding. Be a Mentor and Connect with a Mentee, today, and begin the process of Impacting. The clock is ticking….and hundreds of millions of aspiring individuals are out there wanting to settle nicely.

One word to remove out of your vocabulary if you want to be a successful professional or an entrepreneur is ‘waiting‘. There are only a few occasions when you have no choice but to wait – board a train or plane, birthday, arrival of a friend or relative, being in a ‘waiting room’ at a hospital and so on. When it comes to growing professionally or building a successful enterprise, you move ahead only by “taking action.” When you take action, you are ‘leading’ and in the process creating a path to where you really want to go.

I have recently come across a great article by John Hagel & John Seely Brown about Serendipity, where the authors quote the famous Israeli Entrepreneur Yossi Vardi. “But serendipity doesn’t just happen in a serendipitous way,” says Yossi Vardi. “You have to work for it.” Hagel and Brown add: “Serendipity can be methodically, systematically shaped by our choices, behaviors, and dispositions.”

Choices, Behaviors and Dispositions involve ‘Taking Action’ not Waiting.

When you wait  –> you are watching time.

When you take action –> time is watching you.

Don’t be a squirrel…

April 15, 2012

I was taking my daughter to school recently when I spotted a squirrel running across the street from my right to the left. It was right in the middle of the road when I came real close to it. I began to slow down slightly to make sure I don’t run over it. The squirrel stopped in the middle of the road, spotted the oncoming car, thought for a second and decided to abandon its journey – it took a U-turn and went back.

The whole episode lasted only a couple of seconds but it triggered a very profound lesson in my mind. That we must not abandon our journey and revert back to a safety net when we encounter obstacles. The squirrel had many choices:

  • it could have just stayed steady (these last 2 words are anagrams:-) and hoped that I would stop and let it go, OR
  • it could have run faster to avoid getting run over, OR
  • it could have gone 90 degrees to the left and allowed me room on the right to pass.

It did none of these.

But in the face of such obstacles while building our career and brand, we must do something and not take a U-turn. We must explore creative ways to overcome those obstacles and find ways to go around them (remember the Life Lessons from Mountains and Rivers, from last week), and move forward. We may not end up at the same place we wanted to go in the first place, but we will end up somewhere close to it – a place that is newer and where we can feel a sense of accomplishment. Such a place I think, is always a better place to be, than where we started.

Luckily, obstacles in real life rarely come as fast as an oncoming car:-) If you have your ‘social antennas‘ up and have good mentors/coaches to share and bounce off what you are sensing, you can see them coming well in advance and develop a good plan.

I love nature and am passionate about preserving it. There is a wonderful native american quote that says: “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” So, we all share a responsibility to safely deliver our beautiful planet to our future generations.

Coming back to the topic of Mountains and Rivers, I did my undergraduate at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India where the ‘Mountains Move‘ and ‘Rivers Stay Still.’ Basically, our campus buses were named after famous mountains in India, and our dorms were named after famous rivers:-) This is more a nostalgic fact that came to my mind and not what I want to leave you with today.

Lessons from the Mountains: 

  • They stand tall and strong. As professionals, we must stand tall by having high ideals and values, and demonstrating strength of character as we build our professional brand and progress in our career journey.
  • Mountains are the first to receive water when it rains, but they do not keep the water for themselves. They retain enough to sustain the local vegetation, and allow all the remaining water to flow down the mountain. Similarly, we must also inculcate the habit of holding on to whatever minimum we need, money or things, and share the rest freely with others. Just like how we enjoy watching a beautiful waterfall, others will recognize when you share what you have, passionately and sincerely.

Lessons from the Rivers:

  • Rivers flow hundreds and thousands of miles, and nourish the land along the way. The land becomes richer because of the river flowing by it. We can do the same by making a positive impact on the people we come across everyday.
  • Rivers never flow in a straight line – they crisscross the landscape and find the best path to reach their destination. Similarly, as professionals and entrepreneurs, we also need to be prepared to navigate through life’s challenges and stay the coarse until we reach our goals.

Final words to take home –

  • Rise and Share like a Mountain.
  • Enrich and Persevere like a River.

Old proverb: Birds of the same feather flock together.

My version: Birds with the same destination fly together.

To reach your destination, it is very important to identify other people like yourself who share your destination or those who have already reached there. For example: if you want to be an entrepreneur, find other aspiring and serial entrepreneurs and hang out with them. Make them your peers and mentors. Share with them what you know, and learn from them what you don’t. Help others, be helped.

Think of life journey like getting on a bus. As long as the right people are in the bus with you who also wish to reach the same destination as you, the bus will reach its destination and with it you will reach yours too. Knowing which bus to catch comes from clarity of your vision and courage to take on the journey.

Coming back to birds, here is a nice video I came across….