Posted in Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Building the House

There was a foreman. All his life he built houses, but he became old and decided to retire. “I quit,” he told the employer. “I am retiring. I will be with my old woman with grandchildren to nurse. His boss was sorry to part with this man, and he asked him: ” Listen, let’s do it, build the last house and we will retire. With a good premium!” The foreman agreed. According to the new project, he had to build a house for a small family, and it began: coordination, search for materials, testing. The foreman was in a hurry because he had already seen himself in retirement. If he didn’t finish something, he simplified it, bought cheap materials, as they could be delivered faster. He felt that he was not doing his best work, but he justified himself by saying that this was the end of his career. Upon completion of construction, he called the owner who inspected the house and said, ” Now this is your house! Take the keys and move in. All documents are already completed. This is a gift from the company for many years of work.” What the foreman experienced was known only to him alone! He was standing red with shame, while everyone around them clapped their hands, congratulated him on his new home and thought that he was blushing with shyness, and he was blushing with shame for his own carelessness. He was aware that all the mistakes and shortcomings were now his problems, and everyone around him thought that he was embarrassed by an expensive gift. And now he had to live in the only house that he built poorly.
Today we are building a house in which we will move in tomorrow. And how your house will be depends only on you.

Like the foreman, we all are involved in our businesses, work, neighbourhood and various other activities that set off a chain reaction. When we don’t resolve to put our heart into our work, actions and words; considering that the outcome will not affect, we would have never been more wrong in our estimation and forecast.

Everything we do matters. Going about our lives as we see fit, if not right may dearly cost us. Whether with passion or disinterest; with desire to excel or with carelessness; with effort or a lazy attitude, in the end what goes around comes around.

We are all in the process of constructing something in life. When we are not happy with what we see or the consequences of what we have been building over the years, its’ time to change before it becomes too late. Time never waits but when it gives us an opportunity for corrective measures, grab it with both hands before that too is taken out of the picture.

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Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Stories Around the World, Work

When the Geese Fly

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” – Patrick Lencioni

In this season, as the year comes to an end; each one of us may be busy with our own projects, either related to home, or being on holiday mode as a group or family, neighbourhood or community gatherings especially those of Christmas and New Year as well as school celebrations, plays, parties and the like. Amidst all this, we are involved with a team of people with us being either at or near the apex or as a part of the body. In all these events we are being a part of the bigger crowd or leading one. To have a good time, not just in teamwork but enjoying our work as well, it would do us good to emulate the geese.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

The geese teach us their lesson of teamwork with both the members as well as the leader fulfilling their roles. When we acquire a bit of their sense, we will realize we can achieve much better and save more time, effort and energy. Above all, by using the sense of a goose, we will discover than any project or task can be fun and enjoyable.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

A sense of a goose

Next Autumn, when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying in a “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are heading the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What message do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of the formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies; and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their own group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Stories Around the World, Work

Scarred by Words

The pen is mightier than the sword or vice-versa as some believe. This ongoing tussle between the pen and sword has been going on for quite some time. Yet there is something that we fail to realize that has an ever bigger presence. Words and Actions, but more importantly words. Words have the potency to cause more harm as it inflects a change on both the listener as well as the speaker. It would be an understatement to mention that many times “we speak before we think, instead of think before we speak.”

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45

Many words that we say are a result of our erroneous tongue and less thinking. Some of us shrug it off and say it was in the heat of the moment or that one didn’t mean it so. While the rest of us may apologize or pretend to forget. Unfortunately, once the words have been said, they linger in the subconscious mind and strike the hardest when we least expect it. Eventually the same words can lead to regrettable actions and irreversible consequences. Although it is true that we should express ourselves honest, take heed to not to say anything in the heat of emotion of either anger, sorrow or excessive joy. For we never know the extent of harm these words can cause or when the same words may bite us back. Once damaged, the dent will stay no matter how minor it may seem.

“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.” -Rachel Wolchin

Nails on The Fence

Once there was one very quick-tempered and unrestrained young man. Then one day his father gave him a bag of nails and punished, whenever he did not contain his anger, to drive one nail into the fence post. On the first day there were several dozen nails in the pole. The other week, he learned to restrain his anger, and every day the number of nails driven into the pole began to decrease. The young man realized that it was easier to control his temperament than to drive nails. Finally, the day came when he never lost his temper. He told this to his father, and he said that this time every day, when his son can control himself, he can pull a nail out of the pole. As time went on, the day came when he could tell his father that not a single nail was left in the pole. Then the father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence: – You did quite well, but do you see how many holes are in the pole? He will never be the same. When you say something evil to a person, he has the same scar as these holes. No matter how many times you apologize after that, the scar will remain.

Posted in Christian, Life, Personal Musings, Work

Perception of Being Free

In the course of the history, one of the concepts which has been largely studied is the concept of freedom. Through time, there has been different dimensions and contexts to freedom. Essentially in philosophical terms, freedom is associated with free will balanced by moral responsibility, not constrained by any undue or unjust means. Yet the term “free will” can be advocated as freedom of thought innate to the human mind engaged at that particular point of time. Yet to the most reasonable person, freedom doesn’t essentially mean to do whatever one wants. Freedom also stands for securing to everyone an equal chance at life and pursuit of happiness.

In reality, there are two concepts to freedom. While negative freedom is about being free of any interference or constraints; positive freedom is being free to self-actualize or being free from internal constraints. It is important to comprehend the distinction between both as they often need to strike a very delicate balance. Through experience we realize that undue disruption and loss of positive momentum can be caused if freedom is misused.

Although the christian freedom is on similar lines, strongly bordering on the sense of moral and social responsibility; it also urges to do good on the widest scale possible with the intent to build up the church and the Word of God. In simple terms, if a man has his heart on the salvation, it make a big impact to regulate his conduct in context of the world. Although there may not be any specific laws or rules to follow in the code of his attire, his entertainments, his work or style of living; if the underlying manner of life is contrary to doing good to glorify The Word of God, then to him that particular manner or behavior is improper. Such a concept of freedom is a better guideline to direct life in this world than would be exact minute positive statutes to regulate everything.

If we go through the verses from 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, “23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

While the original context of the verse was with respect to the limits of Christian Freedom with the way of life, written in the letter to the Corinthians; the underlying message is that the Christian way is not to simply exercise one’s rights. Instead the freedom we attain through Christ should be used to help others and not hurt or bring down the morale of others. However, it doesn’t imply that man is not in any instance to disregard his own welfare, happiness, or salvation nor that man owes no regard or duty to himself or family. Neither does it allow man to neglect his responsibility both to family and himself to advance the welfare of others. It implies that when no direct law or guidelines are laid down, our actions should be governed by the Word of God to show the salvation to others and not to behave for one’s ease or comfort. For on taking care of our fellow beings, the actions we do should bring glory to God’s name. We’ll be able to enjoy the true sense of Christian freedom when we use it not only for our sake, but as an example for cues of conduct to others.

On the other hand, we may not be able to please everyone. Being a doormat is difficult, for by trying to please everyone, we please nobody. However that doesn’t mean to do something we have to impose our decisions or changes on others. It is a very delicate balance to strike between true freedom as well as getting the work done. The Golden Rule which holds true then and even now is,”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a simple rule which can be easily put into practice. It can aid as a balance-wheel in the various actions and plans of our lives. If everyone would adopt this rule, there would be less danger of going wrong and ensure that our lives on this earth would not be in vain.

 

Posted in Family and Society, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Plant the Worry Tree

In the present day, almost everyone holds a job. For instance, in a family of four, many a time both the husband and wife may be employed (or sometimes just the husband) or teenagers would be working part-time in order to contribute to their college fund. Even stay-at-home mothers have enough and more on their plate. Which or how ever may be the scenario or the reason, most of us hold jobs for certain hours everyday, after which we each return to our respective homes, either back to our families or shared quarters. The pressing question is how many of us bring our work with it’s own share of problems, back to our home ?

If we honestly answer, it would be an affirmative reply for many of us. Some of us may bring back our physical or actual work, others may bring back the problems and the mental as well as emotional difficulties faced that day, back with them while others may bring back both. Either way we lose out in our time at home with the family or our relaxation time for a whole load of stress again. The worst part  is that we get up the next day to start the whole cycle of “work-stress-work” again. For those of us who work in the areas that we like or have a keen interest in may disagree with the stress, by saying that work for them was never stressful. However, the fact is by bringing the work with or without the problems home; we are losing “family time” or “me-time” to recoup.

In my early days of college, there was a story told in one of my lectures, which I would like to share.

The carpenter who was hired to help a man restore an old farmhouse had just finished his first day on the job and everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. First of all, on his way to work he had a flat tire that cost him an hour’s worth of pay, then his electric saw broke, and after work his old pickup truck refused to start. His new boss volunteered to give him a lift home and the whole way to his house the carpenter sat in stone silence as he stared out his window. Yet on arriving, he invited his boss in for a few minutes to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When he opened the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was one big smile as he hugged his two small children and kissed his wife. 

Afterwards, the man walked his boss to his car to say thank you. Now on their way out of the house, the boss’ curiosity got the best of him so he had to ask the man about the tree on the front porch. He said, I noticed when you came up on the porch before going into your house you stopped and touched the tree, why? “Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t stop from having troubles out on the job, but one thing’s for sure – my troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.” “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ‘em up, they aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

We all have encountered  our own share of troubles and struggles, some of us deal with it by bringing them with wherever we go, some might ignore it hoping it would go away somehow while others try to deal with their problems while their heads are still above water. The idea of hanging the problems on a “worry tree” or a ‘‘trouble tree” outside the door isn’t a bad one, in fact we can find our own modifications on dealing with the stresses. I have been successful in dealing with my own share of problems and worries by laying them down at the feet of the Lord. “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)”

Posted in Christian, Quotes, Reflections, Work

Head-to-head or Not ?!

One of the hardest parts of social conversations especially in a public venue like the market with the vendors, at workplaces, in schools, social functions and even long-held traffic queues is the art of avoiding a confrontation or the brouhahas or the run-ins, however one wants to call it. Worse is to escape one even especially when it is inevitable.

It is very tricky to avoid pointing a finger and saying “Thy fault is thine own” especially when the hard fact is that the trouble didn’t start with us but has affected us in some manner or the other. Eventually we feel angry, irritated, upset and sometimes even feel like giving back either as strong words or by actions. And the more upsetting part is when we realize that whatever happened was the sole responsibility of the other person.

Human nature has few upsetting facets, one of them being that we tend to throw stones at others, especially when we ourselves stays in a glasshouse.

There are few easy ways to avoid these confrontations that I usually try using. First and the most trickiest one is to try and run away before eyes lock, heads turn and voices get heated up. If that doesn’t work and there is no nearest exit, then the other option is to try to change the subject or the topic of conversation.  One of the other strategies that often works for me is to try and let the other person rant and rave, let off some steam and move off graciously and inconspicuously. Fourth is to avoid voicing an opinion unless asked pointedly or if we have absolutely and strongly no choice but to say. This is when silences is really golden. Yet the most important of all is to stay away from such people. This is the most hardest of all, especially when we have to interact with such people either at work or in the community. But this is the most safest.

Our Scriptures also has multiple references about conflicts and confrontations. As per Mathew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Though many a time, it may not be possible especially in public places to quietly correct any offense against us. In those moments, the words from 2 Timothy grant solace,”Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels (2 Timothy 2:23).”

All said, the most important thing is to not let our nature or peace of mind be affected. “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. (Leviticus 19:17)”

Just like blind cannot lead the blind, neither can we overcome evil by doing or being evil. But we can overcome evil with good. For let not others spoil what we can achieve today or any day in our journey through life.

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Work

Delegation vs. Micro-managing

All of us have heard about the seven wonders of the world. It includes the ancient, medieval and the modern architectural great works as separate lists. The works range from the Great Pyramids of Giza to the Great Wall of China, the Roman Colosseum, the Taj Mahal Of India, the Stonehenge and the Ely Cathedral of England to name a few. Coming to the modern world, the 20th century saw the Channel Tunnel, the Panama Canal, the Golden Gate Bridge among many others. All these works were not built in a day but required an immense amount of time, team work and skills, not by one lone person but by groups of people.

All said, the balance between “many hands make lighter work” and “too many cooks spoil the broth” has to be struck in time. The following anecdotal story is often used in various management training sessions.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Delegation of work is a fine art, which results in the final masterpiece. It is not humanly feasible to complete a big project or a responsibility by micro-managing every small item or by being the lone wolf. To achieve completion, would require the person who is in charge to delegate selected tasks to people. Yet the beauty of the completed project lies in the decisions to delegate what to whom and when. It also requires the in-charge to match the amount of work with the right degree of authority and responsibility. The entire accountability can’t be delegated but only some of the huge task.

Delegation doesn’t include just handing over. It encompasses communication of the rationale and benefits of the work, context for the project, setting down defined or expected standards, clarification of required results, granting of required authority, getting the necessary commitment, regular followups and above all to provide support for crossing over the hurdles.

Even the Scriptures is filled with detailed descriptions of delegation of work. For instance, Moses was laboring from dawn till late night attempting to resolve the conflicts among the Israelites (who were led out of Eygpt after 400 years of slavery) in the Sinai desert. Jethro, his father-in-law who was a priest of Midian saw the immense workload for Moses was not sustainable and he would head for trouble. He pulled Moses aside and celebrated what God had done through him, then gave him some wise invaluable counsel regarding the concept of delegation (Exodus 18:1-23). In I Kings, we read that Solomon had mastered the fine art of managing through men and the Kingdom was enlarged. Even our Lord Saviour was willing to delegate; as seen in Luke 10:1-23 for after the Lord had given detailed instruction, He sent seventy itinerant preachers who though were inexperienced and far less capable than their Teacher, they were blessed by God.

Delegation is an ongoing process and has the ability to reap far many dividends. As rightly said by H.E.Luccock, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”