Saturday, September 26, 2009

No to Yes or Yes to No...

The subject may look very strange. Sure it is, as this depicts personalities and the way we approach issues. There are basically two major types of personalities when confronted with issues-those who start from a " No it will not work" and elaborating why it will not work and the other end "Yes it will work". You can say this is the same as optimistic and pessimistic characteristics. But this is a little more than this. Those who start with a No are not necessarily pessimistic and those who say Yes are not necessarily optimistic. You may ask how can that be. The people who say No and argue for status quo are also those who are optimistic/realistic otherwise but think that saying yes will add too much work to avoidance can make them say No. This can be tuned to their past experiences of having said Yes and get assigned with a lot of unrelated work which neither is enjoyable nor is making any sense on hindsight.
Therefore there is a conscious change on the part of the individual who slowly builds a Tortoise like Shell to challenge every change proposal, every new idea as it is not may result in something which is not normally part of the role of the person. Are they people bad..not really. They might have been yesterday's super performers with high energy but the invisible shell they carry makes them behave they actually do. Very soon the Shell kills them as it ensures they are seen as resistant camp leaders (as they still retain leadership qualities to convince No sayers). It is important that the bosses of those Shelled individuals identify this early and give feedback to remove it from their behavior. It is a responsibility of the bosses and not HR to do this.
Coming to Yes sayers..are they genuine optimists. Not really. In a lot of cases they are survivors. They know saying Yes is what Management wants to hear and say Yes but studious ones push the consequences of the yes to someone else. This group is more dangerous than No sayers as they look like fully devoted but are not really. This differentiates them from Optimists who are also doers to ensure success of a decision. These Yes saying Chameleons can be distinguished by characteristics like not owning failures, blaming everyone else, everything outside after a failure and sometimes finger pointing own team members.
It is important to note that some genuine optimists can fail due to lack of experience or circumstances that were not foreseen before. They usually own up failures and try to become better. It is important for leaders not to punish them for their entrepreneurship as risks needs to be taken for better tomorrow but success is not 100%.
Next time if you are in a meeting look out for the Tortoises or Chameleons. Just ensure you are not one of them. Forget the inactive, cat on the walls. As they are there today and will be there tomorrow. Looks to me like a zoo in corporations but that is the way it is.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


If there is one character that should always be consciously or as part of DNA be built it is Humility. The speed of today's life has dramatically changed compared to last 50 years...but this has been the case the previous 50 years too. Younger generation is smarter than older ones in a lot of ways and continuously gives a challenge to middle aged ones who feel the sense of obsolescence much sooner than previous generations. Success is short lived as there is someone somewhere in the world creating something that can challenge what is new at this moment. However when I study the stress of people who live in insecurity of future and giving up present happiness due to this insecurity I am more and more convinced that this speed is too much for humans to handle unless there is a concerted global effort to build Emotional competences. Out of all Emotional competences the sense of "I" should be well defined with a sense of humility. With little success there has been significant changes in behavior observed in the last two generations. Sudden increase of income, accelerated improvement of social/official status for sure builds an extra sense of security but also has downsides. The most important of it is the building of overconfidence. There is less sensitivity towards family, friends as is reflected by a self centered reply " If I have time.." rather than " I have to find time...". There is also a possibility of bloated Ego's which tries to Tell rather than ask people in family who have seen us grow and support during times when we have been less confident or struggling with something. I also know some young managers who try to emulate the more feared executives of previous generations-they walk without recognizing people who want to smile at them for fear of someone coming to them with a request for help. There are situations when people receive distress calls in the form of emails from friends asking to support them or their near ones (maybe a job request or financial support)...most don't respond. Once a friend of mine asked me why I bother to forward such emails to him as he deletes them as he receives it. He grew up the ranks from a lower middle class family like mine and was supported by his uncle through his education (including financing his US trip for higher studies). He is quite active in the social networking sites and is able to place appropriate comments on friends pages,etc and is perceived positively by all. If perception is what social networking is about then he has mastered the art. But when it comes to how many near and dear ones would have benefited by his growth (except himself as he measures his success with the wealth he has..for example his ambition is to own a Ferrari in the next 5 years) then there will be far too few. I met his parents recently who continue to live in their modest home refusing to have even a car. His father welcomed me home and remembered the fond memories of his son. There was no mention of his current wealth during this recall. I brought this up and with a smile on his face (showing his gums as he has lost all his tooth) he replied " What is there is there, not there is not there...we are happy for him as our son than for his wealth or position". He learnt computers to send emails to his son as his son preferred this to talking on phone. He gets chocolates and flowers on his birthdays, anniversaries etc as his son which pleased him the first time he got it-only later to realize that they were through automated reminders and auto-payment set up at an online shopping site. He said he now takes the flowers and chocolates to a nearby orphan center and distributes it. Seeing the smiles of the children gives back the good feelings of life-he celebrates this day as his son wanted(he never complained about his son setting automated gifts). He walked with me till the end of his street and he shared a smile/warm greeting with most of the people he met. Some did not even reciprocate but this did not bother him.
I am quite convinced that he is happy and will be happy as he has the humility to cling to. If humility is a DNA trait then his son should have it but maybe this character is tested at some point of time in everyone's life. If one passes the test they find a way to be happy irrespective of what happens to them as they stay connected to life rather than comforts/positions/possessions. But if one fails the test they start to develop overconfidence and stress themselves with artificial happiness which takes the joy of living very soon.

About Me

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Gothenburg, Sweden
Still finding introspecting to find who am I? Waiting for a Guru!