Help people achieve their goals

January 30, 2018

Four years ago, I had written a post “Lessons from living legends.” It was incredible how some of the living legends had shared lessons from their hugely successful life.

“Our achievements are due to the support of people around us,” was a great reminder by the noble laureate Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan. Who would not agree with this? Indeed, there are people around us who help us throughout. We need to remember them and be thankful to them.

However just being thankful is not enough. The bigger question is: how can we pay them back? In most cases we can’t pay them back. The only way is to help others achieve their goals and let this cycle of goodness continue.

How can we help others achieve their goals? Here are five ideas:

Look beyond your own goal: This is the first requirement. While it is good to be focussed on our own goal, we must look beyond. There are people around us who have a dream as well. Only by being perceptive of that, shall we start thinking of what can we do to help them.
Be approachable: Most people will not seek help or even ask for an advice, if they don’t find us approachable. They may open up only if they find us responsive and trustworthy. We need to demonstrate our approachability by responding to phone calls, emails and messages no matter who they are coming from. At times we pay less attention to the calls coming from people who actually need us.
Inspire people: Most people need just an inspiration. A reassurance that there is nothing wrong with them if it is taking time to achieve what they are striving for. A few words of advice and motivation from us can rejuvenate them to strive harder. Reminding people of their strengths and a “do-not-give up” advice will go a long way.
Share what you can: All of us have something to offer – skills, experience and ideas – which can mean a lot to others. It could be teaching a neighbourhood kid who may drop out of school if his grades do not improve. It could be reviewing someone’s project work and giving some advice or helping someone prepare for a job interview etc. In most cases, this does not take much from us.
Look around and identify a few who might need your help: Finally, it is a matter of actually being proactive and identifying those whom we can help rather than waiting for them to approach us. It could be a child, a co- worker, a friend/family member or just a migrant or a refugee who is struggling to settle down in a new environment.

These are just a few ideas to reflect upon in the first post of the year. Wishing all a very successful and peaceful 2018!

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Ideas that help in achieving a goal:

April 29, 2017

I have a friend who runs for 5 kilometres a day, seven days a week. Weather does not affect his schedule. It may be too cold, too hot, raining or snowing, he finds a way to go out and run. And, he has been doing it for 23 years.

People like him who strictly follow a schedule to achieve their goal are few. We see a much larger number who start something and then give up. Drop out rates in gym and fitness centres, hobby courses, sport and training courses are always high.

Why is it that some people follow a plan of action and achieve their goals but most don’t?

I asked my friend what keeps him going. His answer was simple, “I enjoy it and actually look forward to running every day.” This sounds too simplistic but if you think it is a profound idea. If we are pursuing something that we look forward to doing, we are more likely to do it. For example, in a weight loss programme, there are several options. A person who likes to socialize will not enjoy running alone on a treadmill. He might be better off playing a sport of his choice, walking with a friend, and doing other group activities.

Most of the physical activity programmes fail because their goals are too ambitious. They are often results-oriented rather that task-oriented. When expected results are not achieved, people get frustrated and give up. In my view, ‘walking 10,000 steps in a day’ is far better than setting a goal of ‘losing 3 kilograms in a month.’

A key point that we often miss is that every success comes after a long process of continued failures in our chosen path. Short and task-specific goal like walking 10,000 steps a day is better in this context as well. It reduces the chances of failures. Even if you do less on a few days, it does not matter. You don’t feel the same sense of failure as you would if you had set yourself a goal of losing 3 kilos in a month.

The final point: we should not allow ourselves exceptions and excuses like not finding time, having too much of work etc. I worked with a consultant recently. We had an important meeting to prepare for and worked till 11 in the night. When we finished and I was looking forward to go to sleep, he told me was going to the gym because he did not want to miss his workout. That should be the spirit.


Break the ropes that hold you captive

July 30, 2016

When faced with a problem, you have two options: do something to solve it or do nothing. Everyone will agree that we can’t let it go and do nothing. We need to do something to get out of it but not everyone does it.  Why?

Let me share a known story:

A man once saw elephants that were held by a small rope tied to their front leg. He wondered how such huge creatures can be held only by a small rope. They could break the rope any time but, for some reason, they did not do that.

He asked their trainer, who said, “When they are very young and much smaller we used the same size rope to tie them. At that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away, so they never try to break free.”

Most of the time, we don’t even make an effort to do something because we are conditioned to believe that this is the way our life is destined to be. We need to change this fatalistic attitude. We need to break the rope that holds us captive.

The real challenge is that the ropes that hold us captive in our life are not visible. In most cases, they get developed as a result of life’s experiences, circumstances, setbacks, broken relationships etc. As time passes by, we get “conditioned” to accepting the life as it is; and stop making efforts to improve it.

We need to find and break the ropes that keep us captive, without even thinking about failures. Failure is part of learning. We should never give up the struggle in life. Theodore Rosevelt sums it up well, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”


Realizing your dreams…

November 30, 2012

I wrote my previous post based on my visit to Unity College in Lucknow. It is always a pleasure to visit it. I saw it when it was set up and run out of a small rented place. And now, it has a magnificent building of its own, set up close to the sprawling monuments built by the nawabs of Avadh.

 It is rare to find three institutions with such need-based and complementary missions located in the same premises. Unity College provides education at an affordable cost; Unity Mission School provides totally free education and other necessary support to children who cannot afford to go to any school; and Unity Industrial Training Center provides vocational training to adolescents.

 This has been made possible by the vision of Dr. Kalbe Sadiq. He had a dream years ago: Every child has a right to education. He knew achieving it would be difficult, particularly in an area where children were seen (and still are) as an additional working hand to contribute to the family’s income. His  model is exceptionally good. It ensures enrolment of children in school, reduces school drop outs, brings drop outs back to the school, and offers vocational skills to those who cannot go for higher education. Dr. Sadiq believes that no one should be deprived of education for want of resources. His institution supports with scholarships as well and several of his students have pursued higher academic and professional education. If someone can’t go for higher education, he or she can get vocational training in a trade of his interest and aptitude and make a dignified living.  He has worked towards it consistently, against all odds. Over 2000 students in Unity College, over 1500 children in Mission school and ever increasing enrolment of young men and women in vocational training courses demonstrate the success of his untiring efforts.

Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad, the former President of India, was invited to interact with the students of Unity in one of the recent annual felicitation functions. Dr. Kalam inspired young children as he always does. The success of Dr. Sadiq’s mission is truly depicted in the statement of Dr. Kalam,“ the dream is not what you see in sleep. The dream is what does not let you sleep.”

I feel honoured to mention the two great men of our times in this post and hope it will inspire us not to give up in persuasion of our dreams.