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

Share to Succeed

“People achieve more as a result of working with others than against them.” Dr. Allan Fromme

With clearing of the heavy rains, the town had needed a complete revamp of the municipal bock lawns, with tree limbs broken and scattered and muddy pools run all over the lawn. On the first look, clearing of the lawn seemed to be an impossible task. As the council meeting took place, every one of the attendees had pitched in, bringing more volunteers along the way. Slowly order was restored of what had looked like a seemingly impossible task.

“The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Above instances and many more similar ones, have always shown that the power of a team or set of people working in a synchronous mode can make the most drab, mundane or difficult task feasible. Each one has their own strengths and weakness. On pooling the efforts, the strengths add on, cancelling out the respective weakness amongst each other. Eventually together the task at hand is settles. While man is an social animal; each one has their own plate to handle. Learning when to combine the plates together for a splendid meal and when to have them independently at the right time, helps to balance the individual mind with the social order. Life needs both, individual as well as group effort. Too much of wither can result in proper gain of none or loss of all.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” Helen Keller

The Stone Soup Story
Many years ago three soldiers, hungry and weary of battle, came upon a small village. The villagers, suffering a meagre harvest and the many years of war, quickly hid what little they had to eat and met the three at the village square, wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of anything to eat. The soldiers spoke quietly among themselves and the first soldier then turned to the village elders. Your tired fields have left you nothing to share, so we will share what little we have – the secret of how to make soup from stones.’

Naturally the villagers were intrigued and soon a fire was put to the town’s greatest kettle as the soldiers dropped in three smooth stones. ‘Now this will be a fine soup’, said the second soldier; ‘but a pinch of salt and some parsley would make it wonderful!’
Up jumped a villager, crying ‘What luck! I’ve just remembered where some’s been left!’
Then off she ran, returning with an apron full of parsley and a turnip. As the kettle boiled on, the memory of the village improved: soon barley, carrots, beef and cream had found their way into the great pot, and a cask of wine was rolled into the square as all sat down to feast. They ate and danced and sang well into the night, refreshed by the feast and their new-found friends.

In the morning the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. At their feet lay a satchel of the village’s best breads and cheese. ‘You have given us the greatest of gifts – the secret of how to make soup from stones’, said an elder, ‘and we shall never forget.’ The third soldier turned to the crowd, and said: ‘There is no secret, but this is certain, it is only by sharing that we may make a feast’, then off the soldiers wandered, down the road.
Author Unknown

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” Charlotte Bronte

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Posted in Daily, poetry, Reflections, Work

Challenge of the Change

“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” Napoleon Hill

One of the most important requisites for living the comfortable modern life is “professional security (once known as job security)”. From the early years of childhood, stress is laid on completing academics, gaining a professional degree or mastering a course and ultimately being securely employed. The final objective was to earn a comfortable income to support, sustain and prosper for oneself. The price for this would range from foregoing doing something that one loves especially in the creative arts of writing, music or theatre ; to training and mastering oneself for a specific vocation or skill to bring the bread and butter to the table. The initial days of putting the new found skill at test may involve less returns with more efforts till an opportunity presents itself for a better outcome. Then the innate response to resist the change would lie in the disguised security and comfort zone of the present.

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” Oscar Wilde

One never realizes their true potential if one refuses to evaluate the options for a change as they surface. In such situations, one may miss out on taking the opportunity to strike out and move along a different plane for the fear of losing out on the perceived benefits of the present. Those times, what may work best is when few principles are followed. Primarily does the change help us grow for the better. Second is whether the new opportunity, in the long run, aids us in the professional capacity. Third and above all, if the change brings forth the pleasure to work and peace of mind in doing the task at hand. The world is huge and big enough to accommodate the varied range of skills and talents. Yet staying with apparent surety of the known, refusing to explore the new out of fear and insecurity may cause regrets to surface in the later years.

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” Buddha

Reflecting on Life

Take time to stop today
Take time to stop a while
Reflect on how life changes
Then take the time to smile

Know that as the days go by
These things that challenge you
Will one day just be memories
Of times you have gone through

Look back now on yesterday
And all you have achieved
Recognise the strengths you’ve gained
The blessings you’ve received

One day in the future
You will think about today
You’ll see just how these challenges
Have helped you on your way

Written by Michelle Tetley
©2007

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World, Work

To “Sharpen” Thyself

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” Jimmy Johnson

Working on any difficult task, project or activity, one of the first things said is to make it different or “think outside the box”. While many of us do set the grey cells things and speculate and calculate the various possibilities and outcome; very few engage in the activity of going back and revising or re-training their skills. Consequently very often we fail to improve and work with the regular or even less output.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward

The work environment in today’s world revolves around not just the “output” but also being different and innovative. Yet through all this what runs silently through is the “basics”. Unless one takes the effort to sit down and review, revisit and relearn the new and the old; progress would be limited. For it’s the little things that matter the most. What may appear as a “waste of time” may be more time saving of all the options.

“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.” Henry Ford

Whether one is an entrepreneur, baker, artist, structural engineer, theologian, health administrator, stock traders or a poet as the list goes on; unless one learns to sharpen their skill by being willing to learn or re-learn, change for the better mayn’t be the very best shot that one can give. Doing the work with full persistence and effort isn’t just enough; doing it smart with effectiveness and renewing their skills is better, for not only improving the output but also for one’s own self-satisfaction.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

The two lumberjacks

It was the annual lumberjack competition and the final was between an older, experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. The rule of the competition was quite simply who could fell the most trees in a day was the winner.
The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the wood and set to work straight away. He worked all through the day and all through the night. As he worked, he could hear the older lumberjack working in another part of the forest and he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win. At regular intervals throughout the day, the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop. The younger lumberjack took heart from this, knowing that this meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to keep going. At the end of the competition, the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won. He looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort.
At the medal ceremony, he stood on the podium confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack. Next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than he felt.
When the results were read out, he was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. He turned to the older lumber jack and said: “How can this be? I heard you take a rest every hour and I worked continuously through the night. What’s more, I am stronger and fitter than you old man”.
The older lumberjack turned to him and said: “Every hour, I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw”.

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” Confucius

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

Address the Irritation

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?” Rumi

We all have our own set of vices. One of the most frequent one that we indulge in is “irritation.” In the everyday life, ranging from the pigeons that spoil our car and the windowsill with their droppings to children who badger us with their queries (besides needing us to repeat things a hundred times), colleagues at work with snide comments to elderly who are hard of hearing or household chores piling up to less personal time for oneself; we are annoyed by someone or something at a given time.

“Feeling irritated, restless, afraid, and hopeless is a reminder to listen more carefully.” Pema Chodron

It would be futile to address every irritation, for at times it may not be possible to do so. Instead reflect on the factors, sequence of events and reasons behind them for it would help us deal with “the irritation” better. To quote Carl Jung, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

The real art of countering them lies in knowing when to keep quiet or feign ignorance and when to react, to kill the irritation. Yet continuously addressing “the irritation” can wear one down. Instead practicing self- restraint can go a long way in making our day more pleasant and circumstances less trying.

“At times a person’s actions irritate us but not his words. At times a person’s words irritate us but not his actions. At times both words and actions are irritating. See the suffering behind these, ignore the irritation and practice kindness.” Anonymous

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Reflections

Gentleness through Time

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” – Francis de Sales

From time to time we meet gentle people. One of the attributes that is lost in today’s world is gentleness laced with tenderness. This virtue is rather difficult to meet in a society that admires rudeness and strength. We are encouraged to achieve goals and as quickly as possible, even if we disregard the honest approach and use shortcuts, suffering in the process. Consequently for the value of success, achievement and performance; the price we pay is too high. For to excel in such an environment, there is no room for tenderness. The gentle one echoes the words of Mathew 12:20 which says “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”

“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.” Francis de Sales

A gentle person is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of other people, enjoys being together which is as important as accomplishing anything. A gentle person walks with ease, looks with affection, touches with reverence and knows that true growth requires care with quiet inner strength. In our rough and sometimes inflexible world, tenderness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God.

“Let us seek the grace of a cheerful heart, an even temper, sweetness, gentleness, and brightness of mind, as walking in His light, and by His grace. Let us pray to Him to give us the spirit of ever-abundant, ever springing love, which overpowers and sweeps away the vexations of life by its own richness and strength, and which, above all things, unites us to Him who is the fountain and the centre of all mercy, loving-kindness, and joy.” – John Henry Newman

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Reflections

Converse to Communicate

Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory. Emily Post

In our day-to-day life, we come across many people of different personality types, various behaviours or views, and going through their individual set of emotions at the various phases in their lives. Yet a common thread running through all the people we meet either at work, neighbourhood or market is conversation. The latter can range from being a casual nod to a simple greeting of “Hello, How do you do ?” or talk of the weather, politics (regional to global), work and the daily happenings.

A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet. Truman Capote

Unfortunately not all of us can strike a conversation at the right time or a fruitful one which doesn’t end up in a war of words or ideas. This art has come to a point where social messaging and screen talk leaves one more comfortable than being engaged in a face-to-face conversations. The sad fact is real communication doesn’t grow from written words but meaningful exchange of words, ideas, thoughts, expressions and emotions.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw

Yet when conversing makes us uneasy, tactless, upset or bored to the point of losing people, breaking relationships and friendships; it is time to introspect and sift through the mind to find out what went wrong. There are a few tips that I often find helpful when discoursing with others.

1. When you know something, but not asked; it helps to keep quiet and listen.
2. When you are at the receiving end of a talk, learn to be silent to listen. Two can’t talk at once for no one would be able to hear then.
3. Do not interfere in other people’s conversations especially when standing in a sub groups of group.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Plato

4. Answer the questions, but do not elaborate to the point where others’ get a faraway look, start yawning or contemplating other activities’ in their mind.
5. When you want to tell something before you start doing, hold the tongue. For don’t tell others before time, until you have done it. Instead switch over the talk to interest, advice or opinion.
6. Do not tell people of their shortcomings, unless asked.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. Rollo May

7. When feelings are hurt or reproached, keeping quiet with a smile and walking away really helps.
8. When the talk seems unfair or unjustified to you; say the same with reasoning, quietly and calmly.
9. Speaking abruptly, out of context or with excitement doesn’t help in the exchange of ideas or flow of words. Instead simmer the glee, watch their eyes and body language and then explore the ideas running in the mind with context to the situation at hand.

Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood. William Shakespeare

Ideas, talk and words are like milk. Once spilt, can’t be completely retrieved. As Shannon L. Adler had said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a life long quest of the wise.”

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Random Thoughts

Through the Toil

“Don’t worry. It will all be alright.”

Very often, we come across these words but though these words are precious their impact varies from person to person, from time to time and situation to situation.

For those of us who hear them, the degree of belief oscillates from disregarding these words to acknowledging them in our heart or simply pass through the words realizing that this is what everyone will say. For those of us who often speak these words, they are said when we may be at a loss of what to say or can truly mean what we have gone through. When it comes from the latter, it genuinely strikes a chord to the person who hears it.

Whichever way or what ever context these words come into play, the fact remains that these words will not change the present situation but can offer a semblance of hope that time will pass through these troubles and we too shall pass this phase. As Charlie Chaplin had once said, “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.”

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20)

We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. Barbara De Angelis

The world when it is turned upside down, is like a niggling wound. We can’t turn away from trouble and nothing will change when we run away, besides getting a temporary respite. Trouble can only be passed through and one has to cross the waters either at that point of time or later.

To quote Angelina Jolie , “I do believe in the old saying, ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’ Our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are. By overcoming difficulties, we gain strength and maturity.”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36)

Instead, what we can do is glean hope from others and the Word of God as we travel through the storms and tempest. While we wish courage to all who have trouble, I wish compassion for all those who had trouble and passed. She was with you so that you would not forget about her and feel sorry for those who are today in what you once were and wept.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)