Sunday, June 29, 2014

Internet & internationalization: A Window to the World

In the era of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter we actually have become global citizen. The virtual travel is very much possible. Different people, nationalities must have in your friend list. Do you like to learn from them? How you do your research on Google about different countries and culture?   

Is it important to know the world in which we live and learn about far-away lands? What is the impact of acquiring knowledge about other countries and cultures and becoming a "window to the world"? If we develop an attitude of learning about others and an open mind in our interactions with other cultures, we are taking another key step towards success.  

All of us — whether we are able to travel because of our jobs or through our own finances or we are unable to leave our homes, cities or countries but travel through internet-cyberspace — can be "windows to the world." 

A Means of Communication 

A window not only allows air and light to enter a house; it may also reveal the wonders outside to those inside. A window is a means of communication and every human being should become a "window" within his or her family, people, and culture. 
From our homes, we can become virtual travellers, using the Internet to expand our cultural horizons. We can learn more about other countries perhaps by placing a world map on the wall in our room or office and focusing on a new country for a period of time. We can familiarize ourselves with each country's geographic shape, politics, culture, cuisine, religions, important places, economy and flag. We can mark the map to show each country to which we have “travelled." 

Prepare before you travel 

Those of us who travel physically can prepare before our travels by reading a good book about the place or places we plan to visit. We can also take along an album of good photos of our family, a good book with photos of our country, and some small but valuable gifts that communicate something about our country and ourselves to the people we plan to meet in our travels. 

The right attitude 

But the most important element to become a "window to the world" is our attitude, our way of thinking, feeling and acting when we interact with people from lands and cultures different from our own. 
Here's an acrostic for the word RESPECT, listing the seven key areas we need to master to become a "window to the world." We can develop these skills if we want to raise our poly-cultural quotients and become more effective in international relations. 

  • Respect: Recognize the differences among countries and cultures, but avoid the tendency to criticize based on our own reality. Ask tactfully and politely about what looks different in order to learn. Never say something is “bad,” “wrong,” “dirty” or the like. 
  • Elasticity: Develop the ability to open yourself to something new, to be flexible, to sample a new food or try a new dance, to sing a country song, to visit an open market, and to dare to try new things. 
  • Synergy: Seek a flow in your relations with people from other cultures. Remember that when we unite our talents with those of others different from us, the result is greater than the sum of the parts. Synergy multiplies results and prevents unnecessary conflicts. 
  • Purpose: Establish a clear purpose when you travel or interact with someone from another culture to ensure the relationship flows harmoniously and everyone benefits from the interaction. 
  • Emotions: Foster nourishing emotions, such as serenity and joy, to ensure any trip or inter-cultural relationship is productive. 
  • Care: Plan and organize your meetings with people from other nationalities or cultures with care to ensure the effectiveness of those encounters. Take time to show you care. 
  • Time: Respect other people's time. In some cultures, time is considered an extremely valuable asset, and respecting other people's time shows respect for the people themselves. 

Being a "window to the world" helps us become better persons and better professionals, able to recognize diversity and to take advantage of it, not only for our own benefit, but for the collective benefit as well. Mastering the areas above will help us become more effective international visitors, guests, hosts, providers, partners or customers.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I know the Vithhal…

There was once a famous singer who was known everywhere for his excellent & passionate singing. He used to sing light music and mainly devotional songs. He would always end his performance with a dramatic song of widely worshipped  God in Maharashtra, Vithhal.  

Each night, without exception, as the singer began his signing - "माझे माहेर पंढरी, आहे भिवरेच्या तीरी बाप आणि आई, माझी विठठल रखुमाई माझे माहेर पंढरी ..."..the crowd would listen attentively. And then, at the conclusion of this devotional song, they would rise in thunderous applause in appreciation of the singer's incredible ability to bring the verse to life. 

But one night, just before the singer was to offer his song, a young man who was came from nearby village from the audience spoke up. "Guruji, do you mind if tonight I sing this song?" The singer was quite taken back by this unusual request, but he allowed the young man to come forward and stand front and center on the stage to sing the song, knowing that the ability of this unskilled youth would be no match for his own talent. With a soft voice, the young man began to sing the song. 

When he was finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation as on other nights. All that could be heard was the sound of weeping. The audience had been so moved by the young man's passionate singing that every eye was full of tears. 

Amazed by what he had heard, the singer said to the youth, "I don't understand. I have been singing this song for years. I have a lifetime of experience and training - but I have never been able to move an audience as you have tonight. Tell me, what is your secret?" 

The young man quietly replied, "Guruji, you know the singing... I know the Vithaal."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Learning agility

Imagine the situation, where you are asked to handle the situation. The situation is totally new for you.  What will you do? You will explore totally new options to handle the situation or you will look back and explore options which you learned from other situations which were difficult for you that time. Not necessary that the same option will be useful in new situation, but you may find some path to deal with the situation.   
Failure is the best teacher in life. Experience during certain events in life is also the best teacher for others. 

We also have lot of challenges, struggles and difficulties in our life. We try to find solutions and perform in odd situations. However   we miss the apply such experiences in new situations in life. 
Ability and willingness to learn from experience, and then apply that learning to perform successfully under new situations is called the learning agility. It also means creating meaning out of events.    

Successful people create meaning out of events and relationships that devastate failed people… they look at the same events that unstring those less capable…and see something useful …The signature skill of leaders is the ability to process new experiences… and to  them into their life.
If you have the learning agility, you will do following things. …
  1. You are critical thinkers who examine problems carefully and make fresh connections,
  2. You know solutions yourself and are able to handle tough situations,
  3. You like to experiment and can deal with the discomfort of change,
  4. You deliver results in first‐time situations through team building and personal drive,

If you want to grow in the career, specially at leadership position, your learning agility counts.  The researchers said that  people who are learning agile, seek out experiences to learn from. They enjoy complex problems and challenges associated with new experiences. They have an interest in making sense of them; perform better because they incorporate new skills. A person who is learning agile has more lessons, more tools, and more solutions to draw on when faced with new business challenges. 

It is after all, taking turns while climbing the career ladder.  These turns are sharp where you need to learn new capabilities and competencies very fast. This also can be gained by learning from experiences.     

Don’t  you think so?

Friday, June 06, 2014

Baking on a stove top

 Article by Guest Author:- Shaheen Maniar

Some years ago a couple moved into our neighborhood.  They were a friendly and happy couple.   Soon they became the favourite “uncle” and “aunty” to all the children.  The “uncle” is the quintessential food lover.  Luckily for him, his young wife is a fantastic cook.  Exotic aromas always drift out of their kitchen window.  All the kids in the locality know that “aunty” is a great baker because, fortunately for them, she also loves to feed hungry school children – loading them with generous helpings of cakes and bread!!

Sometimes “uncle” potters around the kitchen when his wife is baking and also helps her with her cooking.  Since they spend so much time in the kitchen, it is a big and comfortable place with modern gadgets to help speed the process.  They regularly invest in the latest in frying pans, steamers, poachers apart from mixers, and of course, they have a lovely microwave oven – the pride of their kitchen; as it helps not just re-heat but bake and grill and also cook complicated Indian recipes.

But one thing always intrigued everyone. Though “aunty” had an oven, she always baked her cakes on a slow-fire stove.  When asked about it, she smiled mysteriously and said “that’s how my mom baked”.  One day, aunty’s mother came to visit and was asked why she baked her cakes on the stove.  Aunty’s mom too replied “that’s how my mom baked”.
This, I think, made the husband very curious.  The next week-end, when they called up the grandma; eager to know what the secret was; he cautiously asked her why she baked on a stove.  She answered “My husband worked very hard to provide for his family.  We were comfortable, but we could not afford an oven.  So I baked on the stove we had”.
Since then, he has been teasing his wife about this revelation of the ‘secret’ of the lovely cakes.

But let’s be honest with ourselves.  How many of us do things in a certain way because our parents (read seniors, bosses and predecessors in office situations) did it that way?  They may have had reasons just like grandma above did.  But was that the best way to do it?  How many will experiment with set “systems”?

The adventure is not in the destination – it is in the journey.  But sadly, most of us have made the journey a routine and boring chore.  Unfortunately, we have killed our curiosity and creativity by giving in to the comfort of mediocre familiarity.  Somewhere, in our daily routines of work and home, we have lost our sense of adventure.  And adventure need not be in seeking the unknown in a remote jungle . . . why not just take a new route to office tomorrow morning, and discover a part of the city you never visited? Or walk down an unfamiliar road this weekend – just out of curiosity? Let the journey and not the destination be the happiness.

(Shaheen Maniar is a qualified, Pune based, behavioral skills trainer. She has been training for Corporates and Institutes since 2002. She is a proficient and passionate facilitator; the English language, Business Communication and Presentations being her forte. Apart from training and development. Her hobbies include reading and she is part of various story-telling and social groups.)

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