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The Amazing Bangladeshi Women series #2

Bangladesh Women’s cricket team captain Salma Khatun is the No. 1 T20 bowler and all rounder in the latest ICC rankings! Congratulations Salma Khatun for this fantastic achievement!

 

You can read more on her in wikipedia and here in ESPN cricket info 😉

The Amazing Bangladeshi Women series #1

#SabinaKhatun, ace forward in #Bangladesh National Women Football Team, scores 16 goals in a match in #Maldives Women’s Football Fiesta http://ow.ly/KGpe2

Sabina became the first ever Bangladeshi women football player to play for a foreign club as she went to play for Police Club, Maldives in the tournament which began on March 14 and will end on April 17, with 14 teams fighting for the title.

Read the full article here: http://www.thedailystar.net/top-news/bangladeshi-girl-scores-16-goals-match-73314

In a world where women are still fighting for equality, being a woman in a developing country is difficult. It’s difficult to get the same opportunities for education, for health care, for living standards, career choices and we are a long way off from being treated equally under the law.

Yet, as I see over and over again, there are an amazing number of my fellow country women who are creating history. They follow non-traditional paths and become trail blazers. They are my heroes. I love that they have the courage to follow their dreams and chose unconventional careers, cracking open that glass ceiling.

A series of my blog posts will now be dedicated to honouring these women, their courage, their leadership and above all the strength of their femininity.

The 7 pillars of Netflix Culture

Generally speaking I am not very good with sitting through long presentations, certainly not one that is 126 slides long. But this was riveting. Why?

Simply because it is so precise, therefore effective and efficient.

Yes it is 126 slides long but the lessons contained is such that you could probably read at least 10 Management books, go through a couple of extensive management trainings with special emphasis on strategic thinking and still fail to grasp or condense all the points that are so precisely formulated here.

Netflix has obviously spent quite a bit of time and effort in putting together this ‘bible’ for their organization. In fact this could very well be a road map that can be adapted and adopted for MOST organizations.

A snapshot of the Seven Aspects of Netflix Culture & their corresponding bullet points are:

1. Values are what they value – Judgement, communication, impact, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, honesty, selflessness.

2. High Performance

3. Freedom & Responsibility

4. Context, not Control

5. Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled

6. Pay Top of Market

7. Promotions & Development

Powerful monologue by Kalki Koechlin

Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin wrote a strong monologue for a solo performance at the 13th Indian Today Conclave on International Women’s Day on March 8. The monologue, which she dubbed as ‘Just Another Rant’, is a frustrated ode to women everywhere chained and bound by traditional patriarchy.

Here’s the full text of her monologue:

You remember in the beginning?

In the beginning God made man.

God made man in his own image.

And then that’s was it. ‘Man’kind, hu’man’ity, wo’man.

Man, man, man.

What chance in Hell did we ever have?

We were sidelined from the Big Bang.

You remember Draupadi?

Draupadi married off to all five Pandavas.

She garlanded only Arjun

But they told her you got to marry all of us.

Five husbands! That can’t be fun.

God know I have enough trouble with one.

Or what about Eve and the apple?

Blaming one woman for all mankind’s evil?

Soorya and Kunti,

The Virgin Mary

Do you know Gaia?

The Goddess Mother Earth

She’s the one we all trample on.

And remember Aphrodite

Goddess of love and beauty

Lest we forget, she was also

The patron of prostituting.

Persephone,

She was less known

Raped by Hades

She became Queen of the underworld,

Not even goddesses were left alone.

You might not know A’isha,

She was one of the wives of Prophet Mohammad

She challenged a Califh for power

It created quite a ruckus,

It led to war in fact,

All because of one woman’s fuss,

And so was born the tradition Islamic

That women should not engage in anything politic.

But of course they did,

Thank god they did.

Women have their ways,

As somebody once put it.

The Queen of Sheba, Empress Theodora, Rabia al’ Basra,

Cleopatra, The Victorian Era, The Mona Lisa

The Suffragettes, Marilyn Monroe, The sixties and burning bras,

The unpopular Thatcher and our own Indira

Et cetra et cetra and now here we are.

Here we are,

We’ve survived this far,

Thanks to seduction, perhaps some manipulation,

But mostly thanks to Mother Nature and ovulation.

Now look at all the queens and goddesses of history,

No prince came to the rescue,

No king ever went down on one knee,

No deity was even that trustworthy,

Yet all we’ve be told since we were three,

Are fairytales, adverts, and pretty stories,

Telling us to pray, hope,

And wait to be saved.

Here we are today.

Here we are,

On International Women’s Day,

With some minor disappointments,

And a few little things to say.

The woman in red,

The girl in pink,

The widow in white,

The Burqa in black,

The colour of lipstick,

Viva Glam, Lady Danger, Fresh brew, Faux, Frenzy, Hot Gossip and Sweetie.

Ramblin, Siss, Crme cup, Paramount and Modesty

Fetish, Spice it up, Naked Paris, Honey love and Odyssey.

Apply, line, smack, seal, pout,

And you’re ready to go out.

Ugh!!!

Sometimes I just want an oversized T shirt, boxer shorts, unkempt hair and unibrows.

I want armpit hair long enough to plait,

I want a clean face without a trace of make up

I want to look the way I do when I wake up.

I want to scratch my head,

Dig my nose,

Lick my fingers,

Stretch my legs

And spread my toes.

I want to smile with my gums showing,

Bare my teeth and

Contort my pretty face into wrinkles.

I want my crow’s feet to look sexy,

Or my salt and pepper hair,

Or my sun burnt skin,

I want to be George Clooney basically,

But with breasts and a muffin.

Alas,

No…no…shhh…control, control!

Keep it down.

Stuff it up, bottle it in, switch it off,

Cross your legs, wear a bra,

Sit straight and smile sweetly for the camera.

I went to a party,

I went to a party where

I was looking for something real.

Glittering, flashing lights,

Sparkling clean glasses with something bubbly and expensive inside,

Stuck on smiles of painted lips and gorgeous, skinny, beautiful ladies all around,

I craved a touch, a caress,

But my senses were intimidated by cloned perfection.

I thought I could hear muffled wailing,

Nervous giggling,

Intoxicated complying.

I thought I could hear the buzz of millions, screaming out their instructions,

Sit down, stand up, stay,

This way, that way, go away

I can’t breathe, I’m choking.

This room is filled with smoke

From regrets and weak, nicely packaged cigarettes.

This room is filled with luxury and fame

And false dreams.

This room is full of fat sharks

With sharp teeth

Sliding through delicate skin

Like a hot knife through butter.

God I’m so hungry.

There’s nothing to eat.

No food except some frozen bits of fish

On a silver platter

I eat one. I’m still hungry.

I eat another and I’m stared at by the waiter.

No matter. I take the whole platter

Totter off to my little corner

Next to an old and and eat from my platter.

I’m stared at by the latter.

No matter. I continue to eat from my platter.

I wipe clean the crumbs from my platter.

I lick clean the whole platter.

What? What are you looking at?

Stop. Stop looking at me like that.

What? I was hungry.

Haven’t you ever seen somebody eat before.

Stop it. Seriously, stop staring at me.

Hey, I’m talking to you,

Are you deaf?

Stop staring at me!

Stop it. You’ll drive me crazy!

Oh god, I’m dizzy.

It’s that bubbly stuff they gave me

This is one hell of a party.

I have to leave.

I’m spinning and bumping into people and furniture,

I’m spinning and bumping into everything.

Bumping into shiny lies, through living ghosts,

Past sickness,

Ramming right into anger,

Into wastefulness, nothingness,

Bad times, endless sleepless nights,

Half dead daylights,

Violent bumps from losing loved ones,

Losing innocence,

Losing dignity,

Losing looks,

Losing, just losing.

I’m craving, I’m starving,

For something real,

Something breakable,

Something tangled,

Fragile, imperfect and free.

I am starving

To be me.

What am I complaining about?

What right do I have to complain?

I have money, friends and fame.

I’m not fifteen and married,

I’m not a little girl who’s been lied to that she’s a woman,

Who’s been told not to question

A stranger who shares her bed,

I’m not a little girl who’s been

Raped before she’s been kissed,

Who’s been made mother

Before she’s had time to play,

Does she even ask to be free?

Does she dream?

When her husband enters her

Is it Shah Rukh Khan she tries to see?

Does she feel sexy?

I don’t think so.

This is her job,

Twenty four hours,

Seven days a week,

Zero pay,

Just get through each day.

Do you think she cares freedom, rights, about politics or religion,

She’s fifteen.

She cares about food

And what her neighbors say.

Politics and religion are for the luckier,

The wealthier,

The stronger,

And in our country,

Politics and religion are enviable careers.

So your religion tells you to cover up,

Your religion tells you to shave your head,

Your religion tells you to be meek,

Keep your eyes lowered,

Keep having children,

Or keep your mouth closed.

What if your religion told you to hate the other,

What if your religion told you to burn alive on a funeralpyre,

What if your religion told you to do whatever you felt like,

Spit, scream, gossip, fight, lose control, make noise, pollute,

Marry a child, perform an honour killing,

Rape, torture, discriminate,

Keep breaking the law,

Keep locked up,

Keep uneducated,

Keep submissive,

Keep ignored,

Keep under control.

Does God have a say in your religion?

Has God become a politician?

Dear men,

Dear powerful men,

I know you care about women.

I know you care about her.

I know you want her to feel like a princess,

I know you want to put her up on a pedestal,

Make her a goddess,

And give her a special day

International women’s day.

You want to carry her so she can’t walk,

Hold her, so she can’t be free,

Tell her, so she can’t know any differently.

But NO!

No. That’s not how works equality.

It’s hard work

To change a nation’s mentality

It’s hard work to go unnoticed,

Change the roots and the minds

Of a people who have been too long deprived

Of education and basic rights

Who are steering towards intolerance and misanthropy

Because of shameless inequality.

Dear men,

In all this will you give me the power?

Will you let me stand in your place?

Will you let me laugh in your face.

Will you stop staring, judging and accusing me

Or will you arrest me for blasphemy?

Label me as sexy, slutty, lose or crazy?

Call me Basanti, Pinky, Sweetie and whistle at me?

And wait a minute!

Wait a minute!

Not just dear men,

Dear auntie,

Will you stop gawking at me?

Dear Didi,

Will you stop telling me to shut up?

Dear women,

Will you, at least, stand up for me?

Enough of a woman who has become viscous from her environment.

Enough of a woman who has to become a man to compete.

Who has to weaken where she is strong and strengthen where she is weak.

Enough of a woman that has to make space for child and lover,

That has to occupy what space is left over,

Enough of uninformed teenage girls

Bleeding after losing their virginity and keeping silent after,

Enough of having to deal all alone with the morning after,

Enough of the disposed foetus,

Enough of the unwanted daughter.

Enough of girls in fairy dresses,

With bulimia and major complexes,

Enough of parents in denial, gender gaps and dividing sexes.

I’m tired.

You’re tired.

We are all tired.

We’re tired of waxing, manicuring, excercising,

Aborting, procreating, trimming, posing,

Smiling, threading,shopping, fucking, water-bursting,

The pill, make up, high heels, stainless steels, tampons, covering up,

Nurturing, caring and crying.

Ahhhh.

Sometimes I just want to breathe,

Sometimes it’s hard to even just breathe.

Like when a man is pounding incessantly on top of you in a daily routine,

It’s hard to breathe

When he turns away to sleep

Leaving you completely I satisfied sexually,

It’s hard to breathe

When your clothes are too tight,

The underwire of your bra is poking into your ribs,

It’s too hot to be wearing all this,

And it’s hard to breathe

When you want to stop being stared at but everyone always is.

The watchman, the rickshaw wallah, your neighbour’shusband,

They’re all watching your chest heave,

Everytime you breathe.

Sometimes, as a woman, you feel guilty to just breathe.

Of course we are going to be hysterical

Of course we are going to scream,

Of course we’re going to be unreasonable.

You think it’s reasonable to restrain somebody’s breathing?

Hello. Namaste. Salaam.

I am a Hindu a Muslim a Christian a Buddhist and an atheist.

I am twenty, thirty, forty and fifty.

I am single, married, divorced and half the country.

I am a mother, a daughter, a wife and a prostitute.

I am a stereotype, a trophy and a prisoner or patriarchy.

I am a woman in Indian society and I am not yet free.

But forget about all that for a moment and just look at me.

Look beyond my body, really look at me.

I am not a hardcore feminist to be very honest.

I am not a rebel as some would like to believe.

I am not even such an impressive celebrity,

I am not always made up and dressed up perfectly.

And my therapist assures me that I’m not crazy.

So look beyond all that. Look at me.

Look at what you’re seeing.

You’re seeing another human being.

You’re seeing another you in me,

And really there is no difference between you and me.

That’s all we need to grow up understanding,

To make ours a better society.

Compartmentalisation

Psychology defines compartmentalization as a defense mechanism, or a coping strategy, which doesn’t impart a very good connotation. Put simply, it’s how our minds deal with conflicting internal standpoints simultaneously.

Compartmentalizing is something that doesn’t usually come easily to people. You can see this in the way people will bring problems from home to work, let that affect their performance and vice versa. For some not so strange reason, I seem to have the opposite problem. My life is compartmentalized in so many segments that I find it difficult to allow them to mesh together. Maybe that’s also the reason I challenged myself last year to allow a disintegration in the boundaries, to mesh in all the different parts and build a new collage of the different parts.

Compartmentalizing is good, as long as you can handle it. To compartmentalize is to shove something in a box in your mind. It isolates the issue, allowing you breathing space, to get back to it with a cool head, a certain sense of detachment if you will, that allows you to approach it in a new way. In my own experience, this detachment has allowed me more flexibility and find more solutions, it’s probably the reason that I can come up with a Plan A, B, C and D to most any situation.

Compartmentalization however doesn’t work if you are trying to run away from issue, to avoid dealing with them. You do not get to shove things in a box in your mind and pretend like you have forgotten them. The issues don’t leave, resolve and in the back of your mind, you know that they exist. In extreme cases, this denial can lead to disassociate disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The reason I do it is automatic but it’s a skill like every other that we acquire. Being able to compartmentalise can help you to achieve more, be more effective and efficient. It allows me to do a 40 hour week, my two volunteer work, one full time evening masters. There is no end to how much more you can handle. Anyone can train themselves to be anything, us humans have unlimited potential, if we focus on expanding our potential.

And that applies to humans too 😉

This is not a new phenomena infact a vast majority of us do practice it daily. For example, you might go home, see your kid smile at you and completely forget the stress you carried over from work.It’s what people talk about when they say that they want more work-life balance. It’s what allows multi-taskers to be effective. Leaders to stay on top of all the varied things that go on under them in an organization, team or league. It is our unconcious mind protecting us automatically from being overwhelmed. 

If you would like to use the process of compartmentalization in a concscious and effective way, then I suggest the following steps:

1. To effectively compartmentalize, isolate the issue. Don’t confuse one thing with another. Be very clear on what you are isolating.

2. Once the issue/problem/riddle is isolated, focus on it. Really focus on it. Place that issue on the table in front of you like a rubics cube and look at it from all angles. BUT do this only for short periods of time.

3. Once you have analysed a problem, you can then start working on a solution. A little bit at a time.

4. Once the problems been handled, close the compartment. The problem existed, you handled it. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t file it away somewhere in the back of your mind in order to return to it over and over again. You have already given it your full attention. You have already solved the issue at hand to your best possible ability. Now close it and be done with it.

5. Learn to say “no”. Get comfortable saying “no”. Prioritize your time and your attention. While there are unlimited supplies of problems, both at home and at work, you as a human however only have a limited supply of energy and time to devote to them. So learn to get comfortable saying “no” to things that have no business in your life. And once you have said no, move on. These do not have to be filed or compartmentalized in order to be handled at a later time. It’s like cleaning your PC when it gets virus infected. You purge and reboot 🙂

Of convictions and contentment

I met Frankie today. A very interesting Austrian woman who happens to be here for a little more than a week on jury duty for an International Film Festival that is taking place here in Dhaka. We went for a long walk around Old Dhaka today and had some rather interesting discussion. Frankie and I have been born world apart, in the same year, in completely different societies. Our upbringing and lives have been in that sense rather different too. Yet we connected on so many different levels and had such animated conversations that none of us wanted it to end. At one point during our conversation though, she said something that made me stop and ask her to repeat herself again, just so that I really understood what she was saying.

Here’s what she said: “You are full of convictions and yet at the same time you are also brimming with contentment”. 

I kid you not, I did a double take when she said it. I was sure that I heard it wrong, which is why I asked her to repeat herself again.

My convictions that she was referring to was about my views on religion, life, goals, my child and what I want and don’t want for him & me etc. My contentment apparently stems from the fact that I can very easily declare that I love my life. That its easy to see that the work I do is something that I love very deeply.

This is not a gloating post.

Tomorrow will mark the 2nd year anniversary of the day I almost ended my life. I was in a deep dark tunnel that had no end, stuck in a life I felt powerless to change. Simply put – I hated my life and could not find the answer to the question, “why should I take another breath? or live for another day”. I didn’t have an answer. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I planned for posterity (that would be the type-A personality in me). I planned my will, bequeathed what I own to the people I care for as carefully as I planned out exactly how I was going to end it.

I will tell you what saved me that day – these quotes from the Bible and the Quran and my best friend.

Frankie asked me this today and I had to think for a moment before I answered – am I religious? I think not, I think I am spiritual. I believe in something greather than us, a grand designer, creator of the cosmos if you will. I do believe in humanity.

I have been incredibly fortunate or lucky to see quite a few miracles in my life. At the same time I have also seen the worst face of human beings. It’s like the highs are real Himalaya kind of high, while the lows have been the pits of hell. That in itself would be enough to either rattle someone to their very core, or get them diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Turns out I don’t have that. Trust me, I did analyze myself and get a second opinion. (yes I am talking about mental health issues here, if you are not comfortable, this is not the blog for you).  What I do have is incurable, inexplicable – optimism and faith.

When I had forsaken the religion that was being shoved down my throat, I decided to find out for myself what religion meant. I went everywhere I could think of – churches, temples, gurudwara, synagogue. I read up on philosophy, debated religion with people who were open minded enough and knowledgeable enough to have an intelligent discussion. Let me tell you this – the ten commandments hold true no matter what religion you follow, or which God you worship. The name may change but the devotion felt is the same and at very core of it lies humanity. This gave birth to my conviction on religion – to each his own, his own action, karma, life and choices.

So back to two years ago, I was stuck in a dead end life that was not what I wanted or needed but couldn’t figure out how to get out of. See the trick there? I couldn’t see the how, the silver lining, the end of the tunnel. That’s were faith, optimism and my best friend kicked my ass in. I had to let go of the need to control the how and shift my attention to the why.

Ok, so I was not happy – why? what do I need to change about my life to be happy? What can I no longer tolerate in my life? What do I actively want to manifest in my life? What would change my life to the point where I do not feel the need to question the why of my life.

The more I have let go of the ‘how’ and concentrated on the ‘why’, the more I have achieved and the happier I have been.

It’s really been as simple and as difficult as that.

When my motivation to undertake something is not at the core of my being, my passion, my time is wasted. When it is, my time is invested. A simple example – people have told me for years that I should do my Masters. I couldn’t see the reason as to ‘why’ I should do it. The reasons that people usually gave to the ‘why’ was not for me. I don’t need that certificate or the salary bump that may come from it. Both of these reasons are arbitrary and while they may be true for most people, I already made more money than most people my age and I have worked my ass off to get where I am, so that didn’t really apply to me. However, last year, when I got bitten by the bug to know more, when development aid ignited my passion, I finally conceded that I do now want to do a Masters on Development Studies.

The problem with my life, as with most women and men’s, was that I was living a life that is prescribed by someone else – our family, society, expectations. The invisible iron chains that bind us down into making choices that has nothing to do with our individuality. It doesn’t stop to take note of the machines that we become, the dreams that we kill, or the aspirations that we suffocate to death. It takes no note of the zombies we become, like actors on a stage, in a play that they do not desire to be part of but cannot leave either.

This journey of becoming an individual is not an easy one. Neither is it for the faint hearted. If you crave love, attentions, affection and confirmations, then this is not the road for you to take. You will not get accolades for your efforts. Neither will you be cheered on your journey. The road to transformation is a long and lonely road – because no one else will see the destination that you are trying to reach. When you reach your destination, you might be the only one at the mountain top. Others might congratulate you for scaling another peak, for another success. But it will be your own blood and sweat that you will shed on this lonely journey.

Then again, in your travels, you might find a kindered spirit in someone else. Recognize yourself in someone else. You might even stop in your path to lend a helping hand. If you are suffering from depression, if you can’t see the end of the tunnel – the psalm 23.4, really helps. It will remind you that you are not alone. And when you get tired of fighting for what you believe in, your dreams, your goals – the Surah Al-Kafiroon, really helps. It will shore your belief that just because others can’t see things from the same perspective as you, it does not invalidate your dreams. You have every right to be YOU, while they have a right to be themselves.

Contentment? Yes please, I will take a double helping of that 🙂

Attitude and Entitlement

I try to help people network, to find opportunities, for business, for jobs. I actually enjoy doing it but at times when I politely decline, or advice a job seeker to rethink their approach to the search, some simply respond back with a renewed appeal to help them make more money, to save them from the misery of their current jobs/bosses/companies. In short, to use my network to land them a better-paying job anywhere. The tone of the appeals remind me of the fairy tale myth of a knight in shining armour riding in to rescue the damsel in distress.

When I advice these people to get more experience or trainings or education, it’s not taken well. They don’t want advice, suggestion or help. You land them a job that pays better, has lax/better working conditions and they will be happy. Everything else, simply falls on deaf ears.

Now, riddle me this – “What do these people tell themselves that they are entitled to?”

Take this one particular guy for example. He has been working in the same company for the past 16 years, doing the exact same thing. He’s a graduate, who latched on to his first job and remained there. He fed himself the lies and fears that everyone (yes that includes me) feels. He’s poor, not very well-connected, not smart enough, good-looking enough, intellectual enough, the wrong gender (and you can add many more…) so he can’t get a better job. Forget the fact that for 16 freaking years, he did not even attempt to do something more in his own work! No growth, vertical or horizontal. No network or support within the company either because he doesn’t get along with any of his colleagues or he feels isolated, threatened and lashes back at real or imaginary slights. Not once does he stop to question that if he has a problem with EVERY single person around him, then the root of the problem might be himself.

What makes people with attitude like this think that the company is going to owe him a living for the rest of his life? that he has any right to complain about how much he gets paid? Or that even after his job becomes defunct, the company will continue to employ him in a function no longer needed? How?

The mental record that this guy (and I am sure million others) is playing to himself/herself over and over again is that of being a victim of circumstances. To these people destiny is determined by events and instances totally out of their control. 

 One guy wrote me a message, in really bad english (that’s my pet peeve), about how he needs to find a better paying job because he needs to support his family. Really? Like seriously? Show me one person who doesn’t have obligations. Show me one person who doesn’t have a present or future family to support. Show me one person who doesn’t have problems in this world, whether that’s money or family or physical or mental or something else. Do they really sit around thinking that they are going to get a job, keep a job and get paid more every year … just because they need it? Who doesn’t want or need more than what they have right now?

Sadly though this quote by Thomas Jefferson is the most apt in this situation. You can spend  months and years trying to help someone but until they are willing to help themselves …… nothing changes.

In Bangladesh, a country of close to 160 million people, if you can read and write you are part of the 53% of the population who can do so and half the competition is already eliminated there.  If you have access to internet, you are part of the 3.7 to 6 % of the population who do so, putting you literally at the top percentile of the population. If you have a job, you should be grateful that you are not part of the 5% of the population who cannot find employment.

So let’s look at it in another way: In a country of 160 million people, you are in the top 53% because you are literate, top 6% because you have access to internet. To top it of, in these times of global recession, despite all the political turmoil, you are employed in an economy that experienced 6% GDP growth and 3% employment growth. Do you need more?

Do these people realize that a growing economy creates jobs that has never existed before? That our education prepared us for jobs that were probably defunct in the 4-6 years that it took us to graduate? Theories and concepts go through constant evolution, unless we keep up, we become dinosaur in the job market?  To grow horizontally or vertically in our function or job is our own responsibility?

NO ONE owes anyone anything. If our parents afforded us an education, they have already done more than enough. They do not owe it to us, to use their relatives, networks, connections, savings to plead or pay for us to secure a job. That is our responsibility.

If a company employs us, they do not owe it to us to see to our professional growth. We have to do it ourself and if we can’t grow within the company then it is our responsibility to grow outside of it.

Change your sense of entitlement. Change that mental record that says, I am owed this or that. Change the mental record that you are victim of circumstances, birth, limitations etc. We determine our own attitude.

 

No one grows alone. Everyone needs help. We all need bosses we can learn from; mentors to guide us in our journeys; books to expand our mind; ideas and debates that rock the believes we hold and helps us shape new ones. The more your sense of entitlement is pointed inward to yourself, the more you expect of yourself, the more time you invest in yourself, the better the result.

Until you know where you want to go, how can others show you how to get there?

Soul food

Ever more people today have the means to live,
but no meaning to live for.
~Viktor E. Frankl~

A few years ago, on the eve of my 30th birthday, I realized that this was a milestone that I had not expected to reach. I honestly did not in my wildest dreams even think that I was going to live to be 30. Am I ill? nope. Do I have a life threatening condition? nope. What I had was a life that I didn’t particularly like living. What came after that was a realization that my life is not going to change unless I change.

The life I had was two separate entities, one that I lived inside my head and the other that I lived externally. I controlled the external one because the internal entity was running amok in me. I was so focused on all the problems of everyone else and firefighting simply because I was afraid to stop and solve the real fire that was going on inside.

The hardest and the best thing in life has been to be brutally honest with myself. Takes time, practice (A LOT of it) and an infinite amount of patience. Once I got to that point, where I can look at myself, at the thoughts running in my head, the actions manifesting in my life and no longer felt the need to hide from any of it … that’s when I truly came into being. My anger at my own perceived helplessness diminished and instead I found my true voice, me.

I started making conscious choices, I questioned myself constantly and I questioned the long-held believes of everyone else around me. Who was I? and what do people expect from me? Why? Do they have my own best interest in their heart? or are they manifesting their fears? trying to control things in ways that are not good for me. These were some of the questions that I asked myself (I highly recommend others to do the same).

All these questioning, some of which was VERY interesting, led me to make choices that make ME interesting. I don’t have all the answers, sometimes all I get are very intriguing questions but life is not about answers or control, it’s about living free. I lived and I grew as a person, just not the kind that everyone expected.

I gave myself a gift when I turned 30. I sponsored a child’s education with Jaago (http://jaago.com.bd/), I discovered the joy in giving unselfishly without any hope of return and I was hooked. My pledged to myself this year to sponsor more children with another organization – Streetwise (http://www.streetwise.com.bd/). I am hooked on the joy of giving, of changing lives, one person at a time.

This year the interns at my office asked me what I would like as a birthday gift, I requested that they sponsor a child with Jaago. So instead of a material gift (valued temporarily), a gift that will change a life (value infinite) and the girls did just that. Judith and Anne surprised me with a decked up office when I got there in the morning but they had me crying when I unwrapped my gift. I was so happy that I couldn’t stop bawling my eyes out 🙂

This is what I walked into on my birthday morning 🙂

The mastermind behind all these 🙂

My girl .. our intern … a beautiful person inside and out 🙂

The gift that had me bawling my eyes out and will keep on giving 🙂

  

I posted this on my FB page for the blog on a status update, but I think it holds relevance here too.

My fear for most of you is that you will never be rich enough to realize that wealth doesn’t hold what you are seeking.
~Matt Chandler, The Village Church, Flower Mound, TX~

More people than ever before spend their lives earning money in order to do the things they want to, sometime in the future. Only to realize that time has passed, they haven’t done anything much other than accrue bank loans and mortgages on things that don’t really bring them any pleasure. In an all connected world, more people feel lonely and disengaged from those around them. If we stop and ask ourselves why… maybe … just maybe, we’ll change our lives and put more value on the things that really mean something to us before it is too late, before we have lost them, before our time has passed and we no longer have the energy to enjoy them.

As human beings, I believe that we have infinite potential for good and greatness in us. But we have to try, we have to constantly strive and we have to be aware of the fact that it is each moment’s conscious and unconscious choices that make up our entire lives. None of us exist alone, we affect others with our thoughts, our actions, our energies. And if we each make the effort to add, to give, just that little bit extra, whether it’s at home or at work or with our friends, together we can make a big difference.

Failure

Read this quote today:

Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
~George Washington Carver~

I am not familiar with Mr. Carver or his work, so I did what the Web 2.0 generation does – I ran a google search on his name. Turns out Mr. Carver was an American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown; he is believed to have been born into slavery in Missouri in January 1864.

The first thought that ran through my head was, if I was born in that century, under those circumstances, would I have gone on to achieve even a quarter of all that he had achieved? Chances are that I would have given a lot of “valid” excuses for the quality of my life and eventually maybe even convinced myself that I did have a good life despite everything.

Every great person has risen against the back drop of great adversity. Their trials gave them the impetus, the drive to succeed, to prove wrong all the naysayers around them. I am thinking of personalities like Abraham Lincoln,  Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Helen Keller, Robert Kiwosaki, Thomas Edison etc. They stood at the pinnacle of their respective areas but they hadn’t just jumped there, they built their success, little by little, over decades. All of them also share something in common – even when everyone else around them said otherwise – they did not falter in their belief in themselves or their dreams.

That is of course not to say that they have never had a moment of doubt, I am sure they have had them. But they did not let that doubt stop them from going after what they want with everything they have got. Had they stopped to make excuses would they be where they are now?

Which leads me to the next questions – do you know what you want? do you believe in your own dreams? are you giving your dream, your life, everything that you have got to give? or are you making excuses?

Get off the train of self-doubt and letting others deplete your sense of self-worth or confidence. Answer these questions to yourself and then Go for it! and go for it BIG! 

 

National Boss Day

I have had some amazing bosses in my life and this one goes right to them. Thank you! Thank you for mentoring me and helping me to grow both in my personal and professional life. Thank you for pushing me to get better, do better, learn more. Thank you for setting higher standards each time and having faith that I will live up to that.

Here are my specific heroes for this occasion:

Gilbert Lee – taught me to appreciate Korean cuisine and see past cultural differences in the way people treat & affect each other.

Karl Munshi – always everything had to be delivered yesterday. You have taught me to stay on my toes and think on my feet. You also taught me to put my emotions aside and think logically. Forever a friend and a well-wisher, it is amazing how well our bond has lasted through the last decade and more.

Shamim ul Huq – taught me how to be a better person and the how-to of “team leadership”. Always respected, your lessons in integrity and thoughtfulness are timeless.

Tim Parkin – you have taught me to bite off more than I can chew and then learn fast how to fill in big shoes. Thank you for teaching me that “the ball stops here”, in invaluable lesson on taking responsibility.

Stefan Priefelt – how to cut through the crap and get to the heart of the matter as fast as possible.

 

If you want to read more on how your boss influences your life… read on below:

————————————————-
MountainWings A MountainWings Moment
#1253 Wings Over The Mountains of Life
————————————————-

Today is National Boss Day – Whoopie!!!

The Boss
=========

We were discussing life-changing statements.

You know, the type of statement that hits home so hard that it
changes your thinking, forever steering you on a different path.

Some movies have that quality, some sermons, some people, some
moments, and even some MountainWings. They literally drill
their way into your spirit. You enter one person and exit
another, forever influenced and changed by the encounter.

My mother and I were having dinner with a lawyer.
It was not business but a friendly dinner with the lawyer, his
wife, and two of their children.

He told a personal story about a life-changing statement and its
effect that I feel will change the life course of at least one
person that reads MountainWings.

This lawyer is the kind of man about whom I would say,
“I want my son to turn out like him.”

He is the kind of man that if I were forced to choose another
father I would say, “I would like a father like this man.”

I have a great respect for this lawyer. He is the reason that I
have never used a lawyer joke on MountainWings though lawyer
jokes seem to be the most common kind on the net. His character
is one of the best that I have seen among men, and each time I
read a lawyer joke, I could never imagine him as that lawyer.

As I heard Attorney Bill Merritt speak, I knew that at least one
MountainWings reader would be affected by what he said,
possibly for life.

Maybe it’s you.

Attorney Merritt began to tell the tale:

I had a professor in business school that, like a marine drill
sergeant, constantly drilled one thing into us. I didn’t think
it was that significant at the time but the drilling was so
constant that when I graduated I automatically followed his
advice (or drilling, whichever you want to call it).
It’s amazing what repetition will do.

We were all eager students, ready to conquer the world,
ambitious, motivated, smart, loaded with dreams, and impatient
to make our mark in the world.

The instructor’s constant repetition was, “When you leave this
school and look for a job, don’t choose your job based on the
salary. Don’t choose your job based on the city. Don’t choose
your job based on the benefits or the prestige of the company.

Choose your first job on one criterion and one criterion only.

Choose it based on the character of your boss.”

I thought that was a strange thing.
Not only strange but also difficult to determine.
I trusted my instructor and his voice wouldn’t leave my head,
so his advice ultimately guided my job search.

I ended up out in the middle of nowhere working for a diesel
engine manufacturing company in the Midwest, Cummins Engine.

My boss was the CEO, Henry Schacht.

I didn’t realize it until years after I started my own law firm
that how I handled my business was exactly the way Schacht
handled things.

I related to my secretary, to the other partners, to the
paralegals, even to the clean-up crew, in the exact way that
Henry Schacht did. We called his quotes and ways, Shockisms.

I remember most vividly a meeting held by Schacht.
The CEO’s of some major Fortune 500 companies were there.
Most had flown in on private jets.

You’ve read about those types of jets. Multi-million dollar
chariots with private bathrooms, couches, bars, large screen
TV’s, stereos, bedrooms, telephones, gourmet meals, you name it
and they have it.

Most have never seen the inside of such luxury jets much less
flown in them. These were the air cars these men flew in on.

There were eight or nine of some of the most powerful men in
America around that table. Henry Schacht sat at the head.

I was awed and somewhat humbled being in the presence of such
power, success, and wealth. These companies were blue chip all
the way and here I was in the midst of them.

In the middle of the meeting, Schacht suddenly looked at his
watch and said, “it’s 4 o’clock, it’s time for my son’s soccer
game,” and he got up, excused himself, and left.

I saw the jaws drop of every CEO at that table.

I could hear them thinking-
“The nerve of this man to leave such an important meeting
because his son has a soccer game. Doesn’t he realize how many
thousands of dollars per hour it costs just for my plane to fly
me here? Doesn’t he know how much my time is worth? All for a
soccer game?”

Henry Schacht never missed a game that his son played.

Henry Schacht had his priorities in order.

I now understand the wisdom of my instructor. What seemed so
silly at the time, as I look back at it, makes so much sense.

My first boss influenced me to a degree that I would have never
thought possible. I act so much like him, that I now see why
the instructor insisted that we choose our first full-time job
based on the character of the boss.

That was Attorney Bill Merritt’s story.

We were at his house because he wanted his children to meet my
mother. My mother wanted his children to meet me. The point is
we were there because Attorney Merritt wanted his children to
meet someone that he felt would add positive influence in their
lives.

His children are doing great. Of the two present at the dinner,
one had just graduated from Princeton and the other is a
sophomore at Princeton, majoring in aerospace engineering.

Both had a peace and maturity of spirit that far exceeded youth
of their age and most older adults.

Do you know what it felt like?

It felt like the children of a father that hadn’t missed any
soccer games, no matter what the cost.

The first boss’s influence went beyond the boardroom.

For the student or person that has yet to enter their first
career full-time job, this MountainWings may be for you.
It’s not something that you are generally taught, especially
with the tight job market.

Maybe you don’t need to think of leaving school and getting the
first job that you can.

Maybe you need to think of school as making you really ready to
learn and be shaped, like soft putty.

Maybe your first boss is the main sculpturer.

Be careful whom you allow to shape you.

Henry Schacht is now Chairman of Lucent Technologies.

I am willing to bet that he still has his priorities in order.

I am willing to bet that he still knows the true cost of a
missed game and that it is too high of a price to pay.

~A MountainWings Original~

Thank you for inviting MountainWings in your mailbox.
See you tomorrow.

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