Category Archives: diversity

ONE STEP AT A TIME โ€“ HOW TO BE HAPPY PART 2

Letting go has never been easy. But often letting go is the only option to survive.

Normally when we do let go, we feel an acute sense of guilt – For no reason. However believe me it is only temporary and time will heal it.

Why would you want to let go ?

Every day you will come across people and issues that will give you only stress and nothing more. If you stop to think about them you will realise that there is no “solving” them. There is no recourse that will lead to happiness in these people or issues. These are the ones to let go.

There will be useless “problems” , illogical issues, fake and selfish friends, backstabbing colleagues / classmates etc where we find ourselves involved due to the simple sincerity of thought and honorable purpose. But really ? Is it worth it?

Be happy my friends and let go of your individual poison that is leaching onto you and draining your positive energy.

Let’s be clear on this. Life is not easy and it’s not a fairytale. One rarely gets a choice in the issues we get to tackle. So, in the challenges you do get, reconsider the importance of that challenge in your life or the life of your loved ones… then maybe its worth it. The issues or people may be a mix of fortune and misfortune and you can decide which one is more important based on logical arguments.

Then, there are others which we choose to keep in order to torture our own selves ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I would say it’s our choice when we do this.

So there are 2 options:

  1. Let go and carry on with the positive life
  2. Try to handle it while keeping your own sanity and happiness intact.

My next post will be on how we can accomplish number 2 ๐Ÿ™‚

Till then – Be Happy !

How it all begins

Like all things in life , learning too starts at a very very early age. If I were to give a number I would say as early as the mothers womb. A lot of material is available on the internet about different kinds of learning and how events effect our personality etc. I will not not go it to all that.

I will like to share a story very dear to me personally with you all.

Going back to 1958 a young boy of around 8 year is strolling and jumping near his home in a government officers housing scheme in Mid-town Lahore.

This boy, lets call him him Shani , to his surprising delight notices some money on the street. He is more over joyed by the prospects of what that money can get him than the surprise of actually spotting it.

Shani approached the money and picked up the whole lot and counted…Aath Ana, Rupaya….. SIX RUPEES!! Wooo….Half Anna

In 1958 for a boy of 8 this was very well a small fortune! Shani’s mind ran across what he wanted to do MOST in this world.

Shani thought and thought and quickly he came to a singular conclusion. His most loving desire was to suck on Sugar cane cubes ( AKA Gandarees) .

He rushes to the nearby street trolley vendor. He orders Gandarees worth Half a Rupee. He gets a TRUCK load of Gandarees ( figuratively of course – consider it my poetic licence)sugarcaneijpg

Just imagine yourself at 8 years getting a bag full of M&M’s or Mars … now you can relate to Shani.

Shani is on top of the sixth heaven. He keeps sucking the Gandarees and he gets so lost thatย he doesnt realize he is late getting back home.

Back home everyone was getting worried. Now Shani’s Mom passed away when he was very little and he had a number of older brothers and sisters. Being the youngest and perhaps somewhat pampered – his absence caused an uproar and confusion.

Almost everyone went out looking for him. A dozen or so long minutes later Shani was located in the park…lost in his world of Gandarees.

Long story short – he was brought back to his home and everyone wanted to know where he got so many Gandarees from??

Words were thrown around and a general sense of anger and disgust was growing.

Visiting that day was Shani’s maternal Aunt. Her husband has just got a new Fiat and wanted to drive the kids around ๐Ÿ™‚

FIAT-500-1957-EDITION-SIDE-AT-LA-MOTOR-SHOW.jpg

In the midst of all the anger and resentment at a lost soul who was now destined to be the next dacoit of Pakistan ๐Ÿ˜‰ Shani’s Aunt calls him and sits him on her lap.

She asks him where he got the Gandarees from. He in all innocence replies that he found 6 Rupees on the road and continues to tell the rest of his tale.

His Aunt asks him to produce the remaining 5 and Half Rupees and show that he is telling the truth. He promptly does so from the pocket of his shorts.

His Aunt takes the Half rupee coin and gives him a one rupee coin and tells him to go back and put the whole 6 Rupees back exactly where he found them.

She send him alone , unattended. Shani goes and puts the money exactly where he found it and returns in a short while and shares the completion of the task with his Aunt.

His Aunt then explains to him that he should never take what is not his. This is not how we were brought up. Then she tells his father not to scold him as he has learnt his lesson.

Then , she takes out the Half rupee coin she had kept earlier and gave it to Shani and said ” Enjoy your Gandarees again another day whenever you want. This is your reward for being honest”

What Shani did with that other Half Rupee is a mystery to me.

However what I can tell you is that Shani grew up to be a very ethical and morally upright person with numerous successes in life.

So, my little note to this is that we must try to inculcate these and more basic moral values in our kids at an early age so that they are not confused about them as they grow up and leave home to learn and venture on their own. It is these basic guidelines that will help them build more complex principles in life and give them success.

Till next time ๐Ÿ™‚

A Dog in Sheesh Mahal

Don’t be too amused at the title just yet. Its a local idiom showing how a dog in a palace would behave. Out of place, bewildered, confused even bedazzled. Most of us started out careers at the entry level. We all have come from different backgrounds. Some have been exposed to corporate setups due to our parents or family and some of us have not. Some come from elite institutes while other from very humble beginnings. What all of us have in common is that we started somewhere and today we have achieved a certain status in our professional lives. Going back in the journey and recalling our first day at work …. Do that…please go back in time and remember. The nervous insides, tingling unexplained sensations, the fear of the unknown … Are you there yet? Good, or not too good ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, do you remember the first senior who took you on and explained some of the basics to you. The first senior who corrected your mistake and told you ” Its ok. We all make mistakes…learn from this and you will be ok!” I feel certain that we can all name at least one senior in our professional lives who carved the path to our achievements , to our success. Being senior professional in our respective fields today … we owe it to those mentors, friends, guides to Pay it forward ! Acknowledge the fact that our knowledge and skill cannot be taken away from us, cannot be stolen. The purpose of our experience is to “share”, to give away to our new generation ( batch ) of budding professionals who stagger in to the hall ways of professional greatness .. unsure and unaware of the magnitude of potential they are carrying hidden away inside them. It is up to us to act as guides and in many cases as catalysts to build confidence and transform these freshers. I am a result of many great minds who have in their own unique ways contributed to my professional path. And today I would like to say “Thank you ” to all of them. I would request a moment from everyone reading this post to take a minute, remember those mentors and send them a thank you note, sms or email today…now . It may not seem much, but appreciation goes a long way. I am in the process of emailing mine ๐Ÿ™‚

Office Show Down

Now that I am working for the 7th company in my professional experience spread over a dozen years and multiple countries and a few continents I feel that I have finally (rather obvious) concluded that office politics is not a local or regional phenomenon. It is a universal reality. 

The sooner we acknowledge its existence, the better prepared we will be to handle and cope with it. Mostly I feel itโ€™s about how WE react to such situation and less about accepting it. 
But as the saying goes, acceptance is half the battle won.
First, always remember that amongst all the variables that you cannot control … there is one very important factor that you can control. That factor is YOUR RESPONSE to any situation. How you choose to react decides the tangent the situation will take. Always evaluate and respond in a manner that is above petty personal differences and ultimately good for the business.
Second, Always remember that if your reaction supports the bottom line then sooner or later your boss and management will see it. This is a good thing J
Third, instead of being upset about the things you cannot change its better to be happy about the things you can change. Very often we are too busy feeling victimized by some policy that we cannot change to notice the positive influence we can bring within our own area of influence.
Fourth, Its always better not to take sides. Being opinionated is one thing however taking sides is another. Learn better and effective conflict resolution techniques in order to resolves positively the disagreements.
Fifth, Always remember to understand before your seek to be understood. This helps in creating a deeper understanding of the others point of view and also creates a better possibility of a Win-Win situation.
Last, Never โ€ฆNever get personal. It is an office and you will come across many people from different places and different insight and opinions and objectives. You must remain focused on the company objectives and stay aloof from making it personal.
Have a nice weekend!

NGO with a vision

My wife volunteered here a little while back. Amazing place.

The kids were happy and it really seemed to have contributed very positively to their lives.

Kids of “kam walis” and Gypsies are given admission free of charge. They are tutored in the following:
1. Academic courses
2. Personal grooming
3. Religion
4. Livelihood Skills
The first three are self explanatory. Thus I shall not go in to details for them. The fourth one is rather interesting as it gives them the skills to earn a living after they leave the secure confines of the school.
The kids are taught how to make embroidery and stitch ornaments on fabric. These templates so to speak are then sold in to the US and Canada markets and the profit from them are used to primarily finance all the activities in the school.
These templates are made on โ€œkhadisโ€. I got a chance to see them when I visited the school at its old location in PAF, Cantt this year just before they moved the school to the new location in DHA.
We should all in the very least contribute by volunteering in such organizations to see firsthand the impact they are making the lives of our future leaders.

Gender Stereotyping A Key Barrier

November 19 2009 – A study published in the December 2009 issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly shows that management stereotypes are likely to evolve as more women assume leadership roles in the workforce.

Despite improvements in female participation at management levels, women still fill less than 2% of CEO leadership positions in the Fortune 500. It is not surprising to find, therefore, that leaders continue to be thought of as men with the management levels in most industries considered to be ‘male-typed’. But in a few industries women have moved into management positions. These industries have become more ‘gender-neutral’ and there are indications that stereotypes of leaders as men may be changing.

The study, The Evolving Manager Stereotype: The Effects of Industry Gender Typing on Performance Expectations for Leaders and Their Teams by Susan F. Cabrera, Stephen J. Sauer and Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt of the Universities of Cornell, Clarkson and Virginia respectively, investigates how male and female leaders and their teams are evaluated differently according to the gender-typing of the industry in which they work.

The researchers’ findings were that people have higher expectations for the performance of teams when the leader’s gender is consistent with the gender typing of the industry in which the team works. However, expectations for performance of leaders’ own performance were not impacted by their consistency with industry gender typing. According to Susan F. Cabrera:

“This research demonstrates the power of stereotypes concerning what kinds of people should lead organizations in what kinds of industries. In addition, it suggests that, as more women move into certain sectors of our economy, stereotypes may be evolving in ways that create a more level playing field for women who aspire to leadership positions.”

Gender Stereotyping
A survey published in 2007 found that gender stereotyping was a key barrier to the advancement of women in corporate leadership, leaving women leaders with limited and conflicting options.

The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t was the third in a series of reports examining the effects of gender stereotyping in the workplace by Catalyst, a non-profit organization working to advance opportunities for women and business. The study surveyed men and women business leaders in the US and Europe. Of 1231 participants, 296 were US senior managers and corporate leaders (168 women and 128 men) and 935 were European managers and senior managers (282 women and 653 men). The second part of the study provided qualitative analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 13 women leaders in a large US corporation.

The report argued that gender stereotyping results in organizations routinely underestimating and underutilizing women’s leadership talent. The 2006 Catalyst Census shows that while women make up over 50 per cent of management, professional and related occupations, only 15.6 per cent of Fortune 500 corporate officers and 14.6 per cent of Fortune 500 board directors were women.

Ilene H. Lang, Catalyst president said:

“When companies fail to acknowledge and address the impact of gender stereotypic bias, they lose out on top female talent. Ultimately, it’s not women’s leadership styles that need to change. Only when organizations take action to address the impact of gender stereotyping will they be able to capitalize on the `full deck’ of talent.”

The report highlighted numerous previous studies demonstrating similar leadership styles in men and women. However, earlier research by Catalyst found that women business leaders faced persistent gender stereotyping frequently confronting them with double-bind “no-win” dilemmas not experienced by men. The current study found that men are still perceived as “default leaders” while women are considered “atypical leaders” and as violating accepted norms, irrespective of their leadership style.

The survey identified three common dilemmas currently experienced by women business leaders, supported by comments from participants:

Extreme perceptions. Women business leaders are perceived as “never just right”. Those who act in a manner consistent with gender stereotypes are considered too soft, those who go against them are considered too tough.
“My observations show senior women to be at either end of the spectrum, drivers that do it themselves (even though they might have given it to someone). This type tends to give little recognition and is a perfectionist. The others are very effective delegators, giving lots of recognition and building loyal teams, but can be perceived as ‘not tough enough'” (US man, age 35-44, level not specified).

High competence threshold/lower rewards. Women leaders face higher standards than their male counterparts and receive less reward. Often they must work doubly hard to achieve the same level of recognition for the same level of work and “prove” they can lead.
“Men and women are seen differently, and the difference in my experience and observation is that we (women) need to show it more times before they believe it. With a woman, they will want to see the behaviour repeated more frequently before they will say that this is really part of the women (sic) and her capabilities” (European woman, high-potential manager).

Competent but disliked. Women exhibiting traditional leadership skills such as assertiveness tend to be seen as competent but not personable or well-liked. Those who adopt a more stereotypically feminine style are liked but not seen as having valued leadership skills.
“…it may just be that people are more sensitive to how women behave in that regard. There does seem to be a little more tolerance for harsh behavior from men rather than women. Women are quicker to get labeled, and with men, it’s easier to brush it off…” (High-potential woman, US-based manager).

“I have experienced in the past that women can be distrusted in leadership roles, especially when they use a dominant style of communication. On the contrary, if they use a collaborative style serving their organization and empowering people, they get more recognition and sincere appreciation from their male equals” (Spanish man, age 31-35, middle management).

The report suggested that organizations need to develop strategies to remove the pervasive and damaging impact of gender stereotyping from the work environment to take advantage of the expanding pool of female leadership talent.

Ilene H. Lang explained:

“While women may address double-bind dilemmas with individual strategies this is clearly about organizations shifting their norms and culture to meet marketplace demands.”

The report argues that education about how stereotyping works and holding individuals accountable can decrease the negative impact of gender bias. Actions that organizations can take include:

Providing all employees with tools and resources to increase awareness of women leaders’ skills and the effects of stereotypic perceptions.
Assessing the work environment to identify ways in which women are at risk of stereotypic bias.
Creating and implementing innovative work practices that target stereotypic bias; particularly effective when specific areas of risk, such as performance management procedures, are addressed.
The report suggested ways in which organizations can apply this knowledge:

Managerial training and diversity education – educating managers and employees about the origin and consequences of bias, inconsistencies between values and actual behavior, and causes and effects of gender inequality in the workplace.
Performance and evaluation management – employing objective and unambiguous evaluation criteria.

Source: http://www.hrmguide.com/diversity/gender-stereotyping.htm