Sunday, 10 July 2011

Guru corner- 5 Rafayel ethos that we drill every day in our colleagues’ heads:-


Human Beings are Amazing!

The pulse of our work is creative empowerment. We really, really want people to be better and to reach their highest potential. It gives us a real kick to see a person grow.

For this week I have selected special 5-pointer kind of reflections on success across generations by a very senior executive:

1. “All work is honorable.”
2. No Excuses, No Regrets
3. "Wisdom knows no rank."
4. "It's not our abilities that define us, it's our choices.
5. Time should be precious, but not anxious.

First, "All work is honorable." Most of us will end up at some point in our careers in jobs that are not fulfilling, or at least for a time working on tasks that seem pretty frustrating. But, interestingly, we often learn more from those 'uninspiring' tasks — or we are watched or admired more for how we perform in them — than we might realize.

In his autobiography, My American Journey, Colin Powell tells this story of a summer job he had in college working at a Pepsi-Cola bottling plant. He wrote, "When I reported in, I was handed a mop, an experience that black workers had for generations. I took the mop. If that was what I had to do to earn $65 a week (this was in the 1950s), I'd do it. I'd mop the place until it glowed in the dark. Whatever skill the job required, I soon mastered it. "It could be godawful work, as it was the day fifty cases of Pepsi bottles came crashing down from a forklift and flooded the floor with sticky soda pop.

"At the end of the summer, the foreman said, "Kid, you mop pretty good." "You gave me plenty of opportunity to learn," I told him. "Come back next summer, he said, "I'll have a job for you." Not behind a mop, I said. I wanted to work on the bottling machine. "And the next year, that is where he put me. By the end of the summer, I was deputy shift leader and had learned a valuable lesson: All work is honorable. Always do your best, because someone is watching." So, remember — all work is honorable. It is our effort, our attitude, and our values that make it so — not the title on our business card or the number of people reporting to us.
We need to make the most of our effort — because all work is honorable. We need to make the most of all our relationships — because wisdom knows no rank. And we need to make the most of our time — so our hours are precious, not anxious. 

A Booz Allen employee headed out of the office in his gym clothes — and his t-shirt proclaimed in big block letters, "No excuses. No regrets." Of course, the t-shirt was talking about fitness — it pictured a huge dumb-bell. But, it occurred to me that this sports proverb was, in fact, a powerful guidepost for success in life. "No excuses. No regrets" aptly summarizes the feelings of the senior executives and young professionals I heard from. Distilling the common themes, I believe the key to having "no excuses and no regrets" is — making the most of our effort, our relationships, and our time.

Let me talk about these in more detail — in the form of three principles:
1.     All Work is honorable.
2.     Wisdom knows no rank.
3.     Time should be precious, but not anxious.

"Wisdom knows no rank." - One final piece of advice on choosing and doing honorable work — is from a senior partner Paul Anderson who just celebrated his 40th anniversary with the firm. Paul relayed this advice given him by a b-school professor: In any organization, you will find things that trouble you. Even the best companies are far from perfect. There are four responses you can have to this — three of them are acceptable and one is not. "One — you can decide to overlook the 'bad things' and focus on the positive. Two — you can try to change things for the better. Three — you can decide that the shortcomings really bother you and leave. All three of these options are valid. The fourth one is not — and that is to dwell on and complain about the things that trouble you, yet fail to move on or take positive action."

The second major theme that emerged from the e-mails and interviews, is this: "Wisdom knows no rank." It's fascinating to listen to the most learned, most confident person in the room. And, in the world's top business schools, as in the profession of management consulting, we are blessed with the company of incredibly smart, hard-working people. There are times I sit in a meeting and just get caught up in the intellectual stimulation and energy — listening and enjoying the interplay of ideas and solutions. It can be exhilarating. And, we are very lucky to have this kind of education and experience. But we can learn just as much — maybe more — from meeker voices — from those not in corner offices.

The best advice I got early in my career was from my office mate, Paul Boehm, at RCA. Paul was quite senior to me in experience and expertise and the more I talked with and learned from him, the more I saw that he was perhaps the smartest person in the whole company. But, instead of occupying a corner office with a large division reporting to him, Paul was sharing a cubicle with me. When I asked him why, Paul explained this was his choice. He gave his all to RCA while at the office, but he got to go home at a reasonable time and he didn't worry about work after he left. Paul spent a lot of time with his family and playing the piano which was his passion.

"Time should be precious, but not anxious."

A profound quote — that I had heard in a very unlikely place — a dumb movie. The movie was "Bruce Almighty." Back in June, my wife Janice and I went to see this movie in which a whiny TV reporter (Bruce, played by Jim Carey) rails at God for his lot in life. God, played by Morgan Freeman, decides to give Bruce all his powers to see if he could wield them better. Needless to say, almighty powers don't make Bruce any happier or more successful. And when he comes to ask why, God replies, "It's not our abilities that define us, it's our choices." So, think about that — "It's not our abilities that define us, it's our choices."

In this case, wisdom came literally from on high. But in our day-to-day lives, wisdom knows no rank.

Time should be precious, but not anxious. The last "umbrella theme" from the advice I gathered, is about time — specifically: Time should be precious, but not anxious. So, what do I mean by that? I mean that we need to cherish the days and hours of our lives and those of our loved ones — but we need not be so anxious and pressed about time that it becomes a worry rather than a gift.

I'd like to share with you some thoughts on this that I wrote in an e-mail to Booz Allen's worldwide staff on September 11, 2002. The subject line was "Moments in Time." And it read, in part:

I wish you great success in your chosen careers. And, I wish for all of you, that in thirty years, you will look back having 'No excuses, No regrets' — and you will look forward to great things still to come.

Selections from the Speech given by Ralph Shrader (Booz Allen Chairman & CEO) at the University of Michigan Business School.

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