Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Value of Humility.

Student life is the most crucial period in one's life. All the values that we imbibe in this period stay with us to the end of our life. Hence, it is very important that we pick the right impressions and the right attitude. It may become very difficult to change ourselves at a later stage.


            The most important quality required for a student is humility. There is nothing in this world which humility cannot win us. The greatness of a human being is measured by the humility he or she possesses. The more we learn, the more we understand that what we know is but very little. In Tamil, they say, "therinchathu kaiyalavu, theriyathathu ulakalavu." It means that what we know is just the measure of the palm of our hand, what we do not know is as large as this world. It was Newton who said that he would consider himself as a small child picking up small shells in front of the great ocean of knowledge.


            Our Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was once visited in his Ashram by a western gentleman named Louis Fischer. He was amazed at the disciplined life that Gandhiji lead. He told Gandhi, "I have travelled around the world, but I have not seen someone who is as perfect as you are." Gandhiji's humble reply was, "Before you leave this place, you will find a hundred imperfections in me. Should you find it difficult to find, I will help you in finding it." Louis Fischer later went on to become the biographer of Gandhiji.


            Humility is praised by the scriptures of all religions. The Bible says that the higher we reach, the more humble we should be. In a heavy storm it is the huge unbending trees which breaks and fall but the tiny grass bends and survives. The Gita defines a scholar 'panditha' as someone who has not just knowledge but also has humility. "vidya vinaya sampanne" says the Gita. The Vedas also say that knowledge must bestow humility: "vidya dathathi vinayam."


            It is easy to go through the troubles of this world if we have humility. If we look at the trees those which have borne fruit will bend their branches in humility. Similarly among human beings the greatest scholars are the most humble.


            "Not on our merits, but on His grace." Humility also means accepting the fact that we are what we are simply because of some strange destiny that put us here. There have been many business men but not everybody succeeded. Of those who succeeded not everybody became a Dhirubhai Ambani or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. If the trick was in the business everybody could have done it. There is some unknown ingredient which adds and gives the different results as it were. People call it by different names – destiny, fate, God, luck, and the like. Call it what you may, the fact remains that it is not the merits of the businessman which made him succeed. Similarly, it is not necessarily the demerits of another that made him a failure. It is here in the picture that humility comes in.


            There were hundreds of thousands of candidates who applied for a course of our choice or a job of our dreams. That we were selected doesn't by any means mean that we are 'superior' to the others. Surely there were many others who were more brilliant, who more deserved to be here. But the fact remains that we were selected. Humility means those who are out there are equal, or even better, and surely respectable.


            Humility does not mean that we should degrade ourselves. It only means that we should respect others as much as we respect ourselves.


            Student life is the ideal period to develop humility in us. We will meet many other students who come from diverse circumstances – social and economic. We will see many of our peers who come from humbler dwellings and poorer families than ours, yet their lives are full of hope, their faces are always bright and have a contagious charm. Their lives also should inspire us to be more humble in our attitude, simple in our needs, and pleasant in our behaviour.


            How do we identify a humble person? A humble person listens more than he speaks, watches more than he listens and thinks more than he watches. He doesn't try to be on the limelight (though we may find him there often), doesn't talk much (though others are all ears to listen) and is self-effacing (though the whole world may be praising him). He considers all as equals and treats them as such. A humble person knows that life is simple. When we lose our humility life becomes complicated. Haven't we seen people singing that life is beautiful and on the other hand others crying that life is misery. Life is neither. Life is just life for the humble person. For, the humble person can have pain without suffering and happiness without ecstasy. If it is one or the other doesn't matter much to him. For he knows that life is but an intermingling of both.


Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

                                                                                    (St. Matthew 5:5)


            Consideration for others before oneself is a major aspect of humility. A humble person sees oneself in others. He thinks about others before he thinks of himself.


            People are different. It is most interesting to observe people. Often we judge people by what they say. Most of our interpersonal problems are because we set people into certain patterns and blocks. Whereas, like us, they also are continuously changing and evolving. Hence, in interpersonal relations it is very important to forgive and forget the bad experiences that people have given us. They themselves may have later regretted their words or actions. But the ego comes in the way of revealing these regrets. If at all these regrets are revealed, it will help to make up strained relations. There is no use in our enmity for little things, except that it will become a laughing matter for others.


            In interpersonal relations, it is important also to accept the blame especially when it is difficult to find who strained the relation. In quarrels, it is commonly observed that when we give in, when we yield to the other person, the quarrel immediately comes to a end, irrespective of whether the problem is solved or not. Not only that, the other person starts respecting us for our humility. Let us understand that our success lies not in winning quarrels but in making up, not in waging wars but in building peace, and not in creating opponents but in adding friends.


            Sometimes we tend to think that if we were in a different circumstance with a different set of people we would be happier and behave better. However, the fact is that the change has to happen in us and not in circumstances or other people. A person who constantly tries to refine himself will surely enjoy every moment of his life. As it is rightly said, "Happiness is not at the end of the road, it is the path itself."


            If people are different let us enjoy it because variety is the spice of life. If everyone were the same how monotonous and boring it would be! It takes different kinds of people to make the world. Let us become embodiments of humility and appreciate everyone and everything.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Fwd: Character

Daily Reflections
Tuesday, June 03, 2014  

A good heart, benevolent feelings and a balanced mind lie as the foundation of character. It must be capable of standing firm in the world of daily work, temptation and trial, and be able to bear the wear and tear of actual life.

Taken from the book "Truth Eternal (5th edn., 2010)", Chapter "Lalaji", pg. 8, by Babuji Maharaj

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Thought of Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

« One day, a man who was suffering cruelly because of the attitude of his grown-up children came to see me. Although he showed them a lot of kindness and generosity, in return he received only ingratitude, cruelty, and he was incensed and devastated by their unfairness. I told him, 'Would you like me to give you a remedy, an effective antidote? You will overcome these difficulties if you accept the idea that fate is using this means to strengthen you, to free you, to make you think or to make you a better person. What is consuming you and making you ill is the thought that what is happening to you is unfair. Tell yourself it is fair and you will be healed'. This man trusted me, and he recovered. He was also willing to tell himself that he might be paying for mistakes he had made in a previous lifetime… As long as you are unable to accept this way of thinking, you make yourself sick with worry and destroy yourself.
So, if you feel you are a victim of injustice, accept the idea that things only appear to be unfair. It may not be true, you might be entirely innocent, but this idea will help you, for by accepting it you become free. I have verified the truth of this for myself. »

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov




Friday, November 22, 2013

Food for thought.

Managerial Insights

"Sine ira et studio" (Without fear or pretentiousness) - Tacitus

Speech at the 2013 PRME Summit

(under the auspices of the United Nations)

Delivered on September 25, 2013 in Bled, Slovenia

Ichak Adizes 2012

I have come to celebrate CEEMAN's 20th Anniversary and applaud and acknowledge Danica Purg's leadership. I have known Danica for 40 years. I met her in Dubrovnik, at a conference on self-management ,and I immediately realized that she was a live wire. She has developed something that is absolutely amazing. I am proud to be her friend, and I am always available if I can help as I think that she is doing a fantastic job.


CEEMAN's celebration is tomorrow. Unfortunately, I cannot attend it as I have to leave for another event. But never the less, today, let me share my thoughts on developing future leaders, the topic of this gathering.


We have three words in our topic: "developing", "future", and "leaders." Let me first talk about the future and then about what it means to be a leader in the future. Finally, I will address the issue of leadership development.


I have been in the field of change management for 40 years, and I have come to a very sad conclusion. You should not try to predict the future. Although there are 20 Nobel Prize winners in economics in the United States, none of them managed to predict the economic crisis from which we are emerging just now. Who would have believed that the Lehman Brothers would go broke? Who would have believed that if the US government had not helped the country's banks they would have all gone bankrupt? This would have resulted in a total economic disaster across the world.


Remember how arrogant General Motors used to be, saying that what is good for General Motors is good for America. That company would have also gone down the drain without the support of the US government. Nobody predicted that.


Why are we unable to predict the future? Because the world has become extremely complex. It is not atomistic anymore. Its different parts are all interconnected and overlapping. Technology advances have sizable social repercussions, which in turn have political and economic repercussions. It is one big bouillabaisse.


Is it not strange that nobody went to prison for the financial crisis? Do you know why? Because nobody can find who is the culprit. Even the government did not know what to do. They were changing their policies every 24 hours.


"Let us do this!", "No, wait; let us do that", "No, no; that is not a good idea. Let us do something else." Why was that? Because they did not know what to do.


Even the Federal Reserve admitted that the crisis was unpredictable. We are becoming increasingly confused. Do we really know what is going on? And because of accelerated change we are becoming older at a younger age. Some people are old at the age of 40. They are considered too old to be given a job. They are too old for the new technologies that are in vogue at that time.  I am ready to bet that the age at which people are considered old is going to fall even further. In some fields, like rock music, you are too old at 23. What are we supposed to do?


Two things to start with:


First, you cannot be educated in one particular field and assume that this will be enough for the future. You have to have a multidisciplinary education. That is why I told the International Academy of Management that our business education is wrong. We teach Marketing, Finance, Sales, Supply Chains, Human Resources, and Accounting, and we assume that we can manage the totality. But there is no course that teaches anything about the totality. How do you integrate all elements of the system? How do you think in a systemic, integrated way?


Business education should have a much wider scope. It should provide a background in political science and sociology among others. You have to know multiple disciplines so that you are not lost in one.


Training of future leaders has to be systemic. At the Adizes Graduate School, the most important courses for future leaders are not Finance, Strategic Planning, or Human Resources. It is Epistemology and Systemic Thinking. Epistemology has to do with knowing what you know.


Second, please, do not ever graduate. The diploma that you get from the Adizes Graduate School does not say that X, Y or Z completed his studies. A good diploma should say "Allowed to continue studying." The day you stop learning, you stop changing, and unless you change fast, you die slowly. This happens to persons, companies, cities, and countries. The world is changing so fast that you should never assume that you know enough. As you study, you do not discover how much you know but how much you do not know.


Let me tell you a story, even though some of you know it because I like to tell it. I got my doctorate from Columbia University. I worked hard for it and made tough sacrifices. I was walking down the hallway with my diploma in my hands, very proud of myself. I had finally made it. I had the doctorate in my hand. I was very arrogant. At that point, a door opened and two students came out. They had just taken their Qualifying Examination for a doctorate degree. That is the exam that you take before writing your dissertation. I asked them if I could see the exam questions. I was shocked. I would have failed that exam if I had sat for it. The day that I got my doctorate, I was already obsolete.


To be leaders of the future do not be dogmatic - "I have a plan, I know which way I am going and that is it!" No! You have to be extremely flexible. You have to be extremely humble. You must admit to yourself that you do not know. This means that you are willing to learn from others all the time. And from whom do you have to learn the most? From the people down below. The workers. The people on the line. The rule of health is "Listen to your body."


The day you stop listening to your body, you become sick. Managers, listen to your organization! Leaders, listen to the organization! The higher you climb up the company's hierarchy, the smaller your mouth should be and the bigger your ears! Listen because you do not know. That will be your strength.


Good education should teach you how much you do not know rather than how much you know. The more you know, the more you should realize how much you do not know. That is good education. That means that good management education is not about teaching you to know but teaching you to be: Open-minded, humble, a good listener. Willing to admit mistakes. Willing to surround yourself with people that are better than you.


I am very disappointed with management education as practiced today. We have to change our education. I was a professor at UCLA, Columbia, and Stanford, as well as in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And I gave up. I gave up my professorship and my tenure because I was disgusted with management education. The reason is that the natural sciences have penetrated the social sciences in a dysfunctional way. The prevalent logic is that if you cannot measure something it does not exist. Therefore, everything must be measured. People get promoted on the basis of statistical analyses of answers to questionnaires. This is totally useless. After that, they will get a doctorate and ask "What do I do with this degree now?" I have no idea.


The quantitative approach has penetrated education so deeply that it has put an end to thinking. People are not thinking anymore. Developing questionnaires and doing statistical analyses is not thinking.


A quantitative analysis is fine but it can only be a tool, not a purpose. What we need is qualitative thinking although qualitative thinking is fuzzy. There is nothing precise about it. This is why management and leadership are not only a science. There is very little science in it by the way. It is mostly art. You have to spend sleepless nights and make judgments and evaluations. You have to suffer because there is no clear answer to your problems. You just have to bite the bullet.


I observe that the discipline of General Management has actually disappeared from management education. There is only one course called Strategic Planning. But that is only one little piece of what is known as General Management.


Many years ago, I came to the conclusion that the excellent manager of an organization does not exist. We are trying to produce something that does not exist. It is a fata morgana. Why is that so? To manage any organization, be it a city, a country, a company, or a family, you need to produce results. You have to do that efficiently so that you do not waste resources. At the same time, you must think about the future and prepare the organization for it. This means that you have to be entrepreneurial. But you should also surround yourself with competent people and make them work as a team so that they do not waste energy fighting with each other. You want a constructive culture in your organization.


This means that we want a leader who is task-oriented, efficient, active, organized, systematic, motivated, ambitious, detail-oriented, creative, innovative, inspirational, sensitive...


In the prevalent management education that today is called leadership development we try to produce that person. There are not many of us around that fit this description, right? Because it does not exist. And I have to tell you that the worst clients that I have had as a consultant are those that graduated from Harvard Business School. They are arrogant. They end up in private equity firms and consulting companies and start putting on airs.


What makes a good leader? Think of a family. It is very difficult to raise a child as a single parent, is it not? It takes a family; a man and a woman. It takes masculine and feminine energy. They have to complement each other.


Building a company is like building a family. You need a team whose members complement each other. You cannot do it on your own. That is why dictators destroy countries. That is why democracy is better. So who is a good leader? Somebody who is not afraid of working with people who are different. A leader must not be afraid of differences. A leader must not curse a rose because it has thorns. Try to learn something from the differences that you observe rather than being afraid of them. This takes mutual respect and trust. Team members should be like the fingers of a hand: different yet united. And they should not be united despite of being different but because of being different. When we are different, we learn from each other. Our differences make us stronger.


Can you command respect and trust? Are you a person who can work with different people? If you are, you can be a leader of the future. That leader is not one who has a degree and is knowledgeable. If you think you know everything and you can predict the future, you are in trouble.


There is another problem with education. What does it teach you?  How to maximize Profits. As a consequence, profit has become a religion in our education. That is what we teach in finance, strategic planning, marketing... It is all about how to measure and achieve profit. That is the ultimate goal.


Milton Friedman got a Nobel prize for turning profit into a religion. But do you know what this is doing to us? It is destroying our environment. By trying to obtain more and more profit, we produce more and more things that we do not need.  In California, where I live, people have enormous houses and three cars each in their garages, and they are still miserable because it is not enough. They want more. But more is not better. It is worse. By trying to have more we destroy the world that we live in.


I do not mean to say that profit should be ignored. I have been a consultant to several socially conscious organizations, like the Body Shop. They all got in serious trouble because they ignored profit. Do not ignore profit! But accept that there should be a limit to it. You need it so that you can survive and grow. The real goal must be different: make a better world. Make it a better place to be.


I just came from Montenegro where I was an advisor to the Central Bank. The bank's executive director took me to his village where he was born, in the north of the country. He introduced me to his brother. I asked him how he felt in that small mountain village of 3,000 people. He said, "Great!" I wondered how one can feel great in such a small place. He answered, "I have a roof over my head. I have food. I have rakia to drink. What am I missing?"


I hear more laughter in a developing country in one day than in a whole year in a developed country. As the standard of living goes up, the quality of life goes down. Which of the two is more important?


The leaders of the future must have a different set of values. We need a new value system in which less is beautiful. Less is better. Small is wonderful.




Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes


Ichak Kalderon Adizes, PhD.
CEO/President, Adizes Institute

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thought of Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"When you give something to someone, obviously it is no longer yours. When you give the greengrocer money in exchange for a pound of cherries you are buying, you have a bit less money in your purse. But on the psychic plane, it is different: anything you give that is good and luminous makes you richer. Yes, and when you feel gratitude toward people, even if they give you nothing, you receive something. Does that surprise you? No, there is nothing surprising about it.
Gratitude is the opening of your heart and your soul, and by opening up in this way you receive everything beautiful and good that nature and life have to offer. Even if such gifts were not intended for you in particular, you will receive them, whereas those who are ungrateful receive nothing, even if the gifts were meant for them. Be grateful, and you will have the feeling that the whole of heaven is opening up for you. Even if you have no reason for giving thanks, say many times a day, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord…'"
  C0002AN: Complete Works

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The Mysteries of Fire and Water

Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov


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Saturday, June 9, 2012

On Equality.

Managerial Insights

"Sine era et studio" (Without fear or pretentiousness) - Tacitus

On Equality


"Equality" was one of the three famous rallying cries of the French Revolution, the others being "Liberty" and "Fraternity."


"Equality" has been a goal of numerous political and social movements, Communism among them. "All people are born equal" had in it the assumption that if people are born equal, they should remain so. Inequality to them is an anomaly.

The kibbutz movement in Israel, which I am advising now, has always had equality as a cornerstone of its philosophy. And it is a cornerstone of many religious movements, as well. I consulted to such an organization years ago: Kripalu, a USA yoga spiritual center. The Catholic Church, to whom the Adizes Institute consults today, has many Orders whose members commit to equality, poverty, and service.

I encountered something similar in consulting to some Jewish families, originally from Halleb, Syria. The brothers in the family work as hard as they know how, earn as much as they can, but share equally, regardless of how much each of them has contributed. The same is true in traditional Albanian families.

But, how does it work? Does it work?

First, we should realize that there is no equality in nature. Look at animals; there is a clear hierarchy.

But the same holds for humans. Look at your children: Don't they fight for the toy their sibling is holding, even if an identical toy is sitting on the floor next to them? In other words, if they want equality, there it is: two toys, exactly the same. So why are they fighting? For dominance. For a position on the totem pole, in the hierarchy. Not for equality.

A hierarchy is one of the causes of inequality.  Since hierarchy cannot be avoided, nor can it be eliminated either legally or politically, since it is a natural phenomena, inequality can not be eliminated either.

When equality is forced like in income levels, for instance, in order to return to the natural state of inequality, inequality in non-pecuniary differentials will appear with extra force(Status will become more important than when there are income differentials). And if equality is forced both in income levels and in status, somehow the dynamics of the social interactions will find a way to bring the system to its natural state of inequality.

Take the kibbutz example. In my opinion, the insistence on equality in the monthly allowance for each member, as well as the insistence on the principle that leaders get no more recognition than anyone else, is causing much of the internal discord, even backstabbing, that characterizes some kibbutzim. Inequality is created by the negative feedback people give each other. They put themselves up by putting others down.

A condition for finding a solution I believe is to first of all emancipate ourselves from a utopian expectation of equality. We should accept that there is not and cannot be equality, always and forever. Instead, we should be vigilant in ensuring that the inequality, at any point in time is not hopeless:  the "losers" should not perceive the inequality as impossible to overcome, that there is no future opportunity to be equal even through multi-generational efforts.

In the meantime what to do?  What is a "workable inequality"?

Regarding income differences, I found out from experience that a multiple of seven is tolerable: the top person in the organization does not earn more than seven times what the lowest paid in the same organization earns. A multiple of five is not only acceptable but recognized as being legitimate. A multiple of three is tolerable, but not sustainable; It will discourage people from taking leadership positions.

I found out, again from experience, that those multiples work not only in financial terms, in income, but also for non-pecuniary rewards such as recognition and status symbols. For example, when structuring companies with the Adizes methodology, we insist on no more than seven layers in the organizational structure, regardless of how big the company is. (The largest company we ever restructured was a multi-national company with 250,000 employees.)

I also insisted on this principle in designing a structure for the armed forces of a country: from private to the chief of staff, there should be no more than seven ranks. (Unfortunately, the client did not accept the principle, and the result has been an increasingly bureaucratic military establishment.)

How about a family structure?

Obviously, children are not equal to parents. But what about equality between the parents? Women have been demanding equality in all aspects of running family life. But in reality, has equality been achieved, or has a new and different but still unequal balance been established? I have noted a burgeoning movement of men demanding equality, because, for instance, they feel that women are increasingly getting a preferential treatment from courts in time of divorce.

The multiple principle will not work here. No one is on salary and there is no such a thing like a multiple in recognition. What to do?

With some effort, a workable inequality can be achieved in a dynamic way.

How would that work? In certain areas of life, one party will have more than the other. For instance, the cosmetic needs of women exceed the cosmetic needs (so far) of men. So be it. At the same time, men's need for gadgets exceeds that of most women. (Please do not take this differentiation literally. Of course it is sometimes true that a woman wants more gadgets and a man more cosmetics. What is important is that there is give-and-take. The principle will obviously not work if one of the parties wants more of everything, in every arena, than the other party gets.)

How about the hierarchy in decision-making?

A workable solution is that on some issues the wife has final authority, while the man has final authority on others. The decision about who has final authority on which issues should be negotiated.

There are extreme situations where "equality" is a social or political or religious requirement, a value statement that is forced. I found it can work (more or less) but it requires a very strong "parent," or leader, who is accepted unequivocally by all the stakeholders, who ensures that the natural forces of inequality are dealt with, one who instills religious, political, or social pressures to overcome the natural tendency for inequality.

In the case of the kibbutzim, in the past, when Israel was being established, the dual ideologies of Communism and Zionism to build a homeland for the Jewish people, temporarily created a unifying force that obviated the need for a "parent" to solve the problems caused by forcing people into an unnatural environment requiring total equality.

That unifying ideology did not last: the country was established and the Israeli pioneering society has been replaced by rampant materialism, and the kibbutzim inside that society that are still trying to live by the principles of equality are in serious crisis. Some have dissolved utterly, while others have become somewhat privatized and continue to struggle with how to define "equality"-and, indeed, how to define "kibbutz"-under these new organizational principles.

The goal should not be equality in results. It is not natural. The goal should be equality in opportunities. The inequality in results should be carefully managed by the leadership of that system, in order not to become dysfunctional.  At the minimum, leadership must provide hope that the inequality can be overcome.


Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes



Ichak Kalderon Adizes, PhD.
CEO/President, Adizes Institute

What do you think? Please post your comments, criticism or support on my blog ...let me have it all.
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