Monthly Archives: August 2018

Evolution of Early Chalukyan Art – the Historic Meguti Temple, Aihole

Ravikirti Inscription - Meguti Temple, Aihole

Aihole, ancient Ayyavole, now in Bijapur district was a great centre of early Chalukyan architecture. In fact this was the cradle of Chalukyan temples. Literally more than one hundred early-Chalukyan temples were built here in the sixth and seventh centuries CE.

Meguti temple is one such temple at Aihole. This temple is built on a hillock and looks prominently even from a distance.

The Meguti Temple is also famous in Indian history and literature for the inscription written by the celebrated poet Ravikirti. This inscription mentions Kalidasa and Bharavi by name and for this reason highly useful for fixing the date of both these poets as the inscription is dated 634–35 CE. From this evidence, it becomes comprehensible that this temple was built in 634–35 CE. It also gives a graphic description of the eminent conquests of Chalukya Pulakesi II.

This is a Jain temple and stands on a basement of 4 ft and faces north. The temple consists of a garbhagriha, pradakshinapatha, antarala and a mandapa. The outer wall of the temple consists of two thick decorated moldings. The mandapa portion is open with square pillars above the moldings. Below the base moldings are carved chaitya type niches, amorous couples, musicians playing on musical instruments and wrestlers.

Evolution of Early Chalukyan Art - Meguti Temple, Aihole

The square garbhagriha has a sitting tirthankara under a tree. Some scholars recognize him as Mahaveera. He is flanked by two chauri bearers on each side. Above the garbhagriha is another garbhagriha, which can be entered from the sukhanasi. In general, Jain temples (basadi) contain two garbhagrihas one over the other. On the western sidewall of this, is a very beautiful female sculpture which may be either Ambika or Siddhayika or Sujata. On her sides are chamara bearers and below are the sculptures of monkey and a swan. The upper garbhagriha has no sikhara over it. Its walls are also unadorned except niches, which are now empty.

Though this temple is not highly attractive from the point of view of the embellishments and decorations, it is notable in understanding the evolution of early Chalukyan art under the background that this is a dated temple assignable to 634–35 CE. This is the earliest dated temple of the Chalukyas of Badami.

This is one of the early temples where the Chalukyan architects were making experiments in the construction of a perfect temple. From the famous Ravikirti’s inscription this temple is better known than others.

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Posted in Faith and Religion Travels and Journeys

How to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

How to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

The workforce is changing dramatically. For the first time in modern society, four generations—Millennials, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers, and Matures—are working side-by-side. The fastest growing segment is comprised of employees age 27 and under. In the past four years, they became 21 percent of the workforce. About 50 percent of the workforce is age 40 and under. A larger proportion is past traditional retirement age as Baby Boomers continue to redefine retirement and Matures continue to work.

These generational differences can cause friction, mistrust, and communication breakdowns; prevent effective teamwork and collaboration; and impact job satisfaction, retention, and productivity.

To manage a multi-generational workforce, leaders must first understand each generation, and the common experiences that connect its members. This enables them to align all employees with goals and create an inclusive culture in which age differences are recognized and leveraged.

Multi-Generational Workforce: Where Are You Coming From?

Knowing more about each generation affords a better way for managing and motivating employees of all ages. The common experiences of a generation, along with age and life stage, drive the attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles of its members. Each generation has a different perspective. Each brings unique attitudes and expectations to work, and each influences the manager-employee relationship. We need to understand other generations so we can build relationships that lead to cooperation and job satisfaction.

Millennials: Age 27 and Younger

Raised by Baby Boomer parents, Millennials want responsibility, recognition, and opportunities for high engagement. Many have a friend-friend relationship with their parents and expect to be treated as equals. At work, they are adaptable, open, and comfortable with ethnic diversity. To Millennials, a leader is a guide and mentor, not an autocrat. Their work style is independent, but they need feedback. Their solutions are often technology-oriented. They have a strong sense of social responsibility, and carefully select the organizations they work for. Millennials thrive on short-term goals and deadlines, and want frequent feedback and reinforcement.

Generation X: Ages 28 to 40

Gen-Xers were raised when many women worked outside the home, and so they learned to be self-reliant, resourceful, and independent. They bring work-life balance to the workplace. Gen-Xers are strategi, altruistic, tech-savvy, and impatient with Boomers’ emphasis on meetings and relationships. Though they are collaborative, they prefer to work independently with minimal supervision. They focus results and are masters at multi-tasking. With their focus on work-life balance, many Gen-X women are giving up high-powered careers or cutting back on work hours in order to raise their children. Finding ways to retain high-performing Gen-Xers as they start their families is a challenge. Gen-Xers are motivated by independence, growth opportunities, and managers who trust them.

Baby Boomers: Ages 41 to 59

Often called the “Me” generation, Boomers were raised in a time of economic prosperity and civil rights upheaval that fostered individualism and a sense of entitlement. Work is a high priority, which translates into 12-hour workdays and stressful lives. They are innovative, and tend to challenge the rules. As managers, Boomers pay attention to relationship building and expect others to work the same long hours. Boomers look for new challenges that leverage their experience, and recognition for their contribution.

Matures: Ages 60 to 80

Matures were influenced by the Great Depression and World War II. As children, they were “seen and not heard.” Their values of hard work, honesty, and dedication became America’s values. They respect authority and seniority, and prefer a formal relationship with their manager. Matures are comfortable with hierarchy and a top-down management style. Matures desire to contribute and want respect for their experience.

Multi-Generational Workforce: Aligning the Generations

You can manage all four generations by recognizing and valuing differences and by creating a culture of inclusion in which every employee can thrive.

We have developed three action steps for greater engagement:

  1. Understand your workforce. Develop a deep understanding of your workforce-demographics, skill sets, personality traits, and perspectives on the culture.
  2. Build and maintain a balanced workforce. This requires recruiting strategies that appeal to diverse ages. Online job boards may have more appeal for Millennials than Matures. In contrast, newspaper ads that feature employees with 20-plus years of experience connect with Matures. Each generation expects and needs something different from work, and retention strategies should be tailored to those needs. For example, Gen-Xers may value a flextime program, while Baby Boomers will want recognition.
  3. Create an accepting culture. A culture that accepts and values each person can make a positive difference for everyone involved. Incorporating multi-generational workforce management into business goals is one effective way to develop an accepting culture. Facilitate interaction by including development programs geared to managers, leaders, and employees at other levels; mentoring and reverse mentoring; participation on committees; and informal social activities. Foster relationships among employees of all ages.

Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

A workforce comprised of all generations offers flexibility, a range of skill sets, different approaches to problem solving, and the ability to attract and retain high-performing people.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

10 Characteristics and Competencies of an Effective Trainer

10 Characteristics and Competencies of an Effective Trainer

  1. Know what you want to accomplish within the learners and measure it. Provide an exercise that simulates the behavior or action you are teaching in the second half of your training session. Now you have a way to estimate if the learners understand what you are teaching. If not, you have more time to get your point across as you discuss the results of the exercise. If the learners did get it, you can instill confidence by telling them they got it right! They will feel successful and be more likely to apply their new learning at work. Leader-trainers gain respect among participants just by saying, “Yes! You’ve got it!”
  2. Use PowerPoint slides as a learner-aid, not a trainer-aid. Learners need a few key graphics or words to help them focus. For words, use the 3×3 to 6×6 rule (no more than 3 to 6 words per line; no more than 3 to 6 lines). For graphics, use representations of your words, or use graphs, charts, and models to organize concepts. Don’t stand behind a podium or hold your notes in front of you when present. Nothing should come between you and your learners. Use body language to indicate that you are open to them.
  3. Tell them what they can do as a result of your training, not what you will do. Paint the picture of what the learner will accomplish during training and after it. Speak their praises, not your own. Use interactive, active words for which any observer could see the result. You cannot see if a person “understands,” “learns,” or “knows.” You can see if a person “applies,” “improves,” “uses,” “describes,” or “creates”.
  4. 'The Trainer's Handbook' by Garry Mitchell (ISBN 0814403417) Plan an interaction every 10 minutes. The interaction can be an exercise, or question to the learners with a chance to respond to you, their fellow participants, or on paper. Communications help learners process the information. Try asking each person to tell their neighbor one significant thing they heard in the last 10 minutes.
  5. Put the learner to work, instead of you, during the training. Give learners opportunities to try out new information and make new connections with carefully designed exercises. Direct them as they practice new skills or ideas. Tell them when they are on the right path, and when they are off. Learners look for both your assurance that they are correct, as well as your supervision if they are off-target.
  6. Provide Purpose, Action, and Limit (PAL) for every activity. Tell the learners why they are doing the activity and what they will do. Often, this is a list of steps to complete the assigned activity. And, give them limits—such as a time limit, a limit on resources, or a limit on location, such as in the room or at their table. If your activity is multifaceted, consider trying it out first on a few friends to hone your directions, avoid misunderstandings, and save face-to-face time at the training event.
  7. Use the magic numbers—3 and 6—for group work. I find that teams of 3 or 6 people is optimal group size for any activity or exercise. Three people bring diverse thinking to a problem and help each other learn complex tasks or skills. Groups of six provide a critical mass to assure a high level of energy.
  8. 'What Great Trainers Do' by Robert Bolton (ISBN 0814420060) Know your audience. Learn what they care about and what interests them. Are they energized by stories and examples? By doing it themselves with guidance? By cooperating or discussing with others? By having time to reflect? Learn how participants are responding.
  9. You are responsible for the energy in the room. You may have a tough group, but you should never have a quiet, nonresponsive, low-energy group. If the energy is low, you need to be more vigorous. If their energy is too high, you can take your energy level higher still in order to gain control; then bring the energy level back to a good level. Your passion for the subject can boost energy.
  10. If you are concerned about the learners’ success, they will value you. Your attitude matters. If you sincerely care about the learners and their success, learners respond more positively. People learn more from someone they respect and value. You need to be that someone, so members will learn and apply their learning.
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Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Glimpses of History #4: The Neanderthals

Glimpses of History #4: The Neanderthals The Neanderthals are a defunct species of human that was extensively dispersed in ice-age Europe between c.120,000 and 35,000 years back, they are distinguished by an exceptional combination of distinctive anatomical features, and are found with stone tools of the Mousterian stone tool industry. The Neanderthals were associated with the Mousterian flint industry of the Middle Palaeolithic era.

Neanderthal residues were previously uncovered in the early nineteenth century, but their importance was not acknowledged up until the discovery of the skeleton from the Neander valley in 1856, approximately concurring with the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859.

Homo neanderthalensis‘s close affinity to modern humans and European stronghold meant that it was the first fossil hominid to attract attention (discovered in Germany’s Neander valley in 1857). The Neanderthals seem to have settled after the first wave of hominid migration from Africa and to have persisted until about 40,000 years ago. Homo sapiens, meanwhile, may have arrived from Africa 60,000 years ago, so could have played a major role in Neanderthal extinction.

DNA substantiation for interbreeding is as yet inconclusive. Scientists originally surmised that Neanderthals were unintelligent, hunchbacked beings, largely because one of the first skeletons found was of an arthritic man. More recent finds have shown that they were physically powerful, and evidence is increasing of abstract reasoning and large cerebral capacity. Physically capable of limited speech, they had sophisticated flint tools and religious rites—many burial sites have been found.

'The Humans Who Went Extinct' by Clive Finlayson (ISBN 0199239193) Neanderthals are differentiated by a multitude of distinctive cranial, mandibular, dental, and postcranial anatomical features, many of which are unique to them. Neanderthals also show several “primitive” features, i.e., characteristics shared with the shared ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern humans.

Numerous scenarios for the Neanderthal extinction have been propositioned, and frequently they summon some direct or indirect contest with early modern humans. Some paleoanthropologists contemplate worsening climatic and environmental conditions to have been major driving forces in the Neanderthal extinction.

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Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for Millennials

If you’re like most millennials in business, you haven’t read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It perhaps never fascinated to you. In actual fact, if you’re like many smart and talented millennials I’ve met, you may believe it to be completely contrary to your nature.

There are certainly millennials who’ve read The Art of War and used it to their lives and their businesses. But if you’re like most, you may wonder how you can possibly familiarize the wisdom of a Chinese military strategist from 500 B.C. to your daily business encounters.

The answer is in an approach to business and life that is both time-tested and groundbreaking. Sun Tzu’s classic has had overwhelming influence the world over. It’s shaped Eastern military and business thinking, and in the West, its attractiveness continues to grow as managers and leaders apply its principles to their business challenges.

The book is about how to seize the advantage in all battles, including those you choose not to fight. While The Art of War is rather literally about warfare, presuming it’s about seeking combat as the best option is very far from the real Sun Tzu. In fact, a major theme of The Art of War is “He who knows when to fight and when not to fight will win.”

'The Art of War' by Ralph D. Sawyer (ISBN 081331951X) For most business readers, waging war doesn’t mean assembling forces to take a city. It means mobilizing ourselves or our teams to win a big contract, seize a market opportunity, control an industry, or reposition a company. Sun Tzu says a great deal about the traits and characteristics necessary for this type of victory. To be successful, Sun Tzu calls for vigilant strategy and proficient perception, superior subtlety and technique, and skillful application of your assets and attributes. He stresses that you understand yourself, your opponent and the conditions of the battleground, however you define that field. Below are just a few ways to apply Sun Tzu to business challenges that plague many millennials.

  • Ditch the Rules: Too many millennials fall into the trap of assuming that success will be found in following prearranged standards. This mistaken belief has its origin in childhood when most millennials are content with playing by rules and being patient and polite. While times have changed, you were probably habituated to be reactionary. There’s a time for patience and politeness, but in business, waiting your turn will often result in missed opportunities. Sun Tzu calls for the perception to move with intensity when the time is right: “An army superior in strength takes action like the bursting of pent up waters into a chasm of a thousand fathoms deep.”
  • Overcome Mistakes: Writing of ideals, Sun Tzu had no regard for mistakes. But the rest of us live in a very distinctive reality. Habituation often extends to how differently men and millennials regard mistakes. millennials, in general, have a more difficult time with mistakes, largely because we’re socialized to feel differently about mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunity to do better next time. But when millennials make mistakes, they’re solaced, emphasizing the idea that they should feel badly about making them.
  • Take the Right Risks: Risk taking is another area where millennials tend to function very differently, but where Sun Tzu delivers lucidity. A student of war, taking calculated risks is fundamental to him. He recognizes that we’re the architect of our victories, which means we need to define winning on our terms, and when necessary, change the game entirely. Sun Tzu writes repeatedly of manipulating circumstances. Many millennials find themselves on career paths or within organizations where their skills and strengths are painfully limited. Victory demands excellence and the only way to excel is to be positioned to achieve. If this doesn’t describe your circumstances, a game change is in order.

'Sun Tzu Machiavelli Leadership Secrets' by Anthony D. Jensen (ISBN 1530006619) So what’s in The Art of War for millennials? For one thing, it provides awareness into how to gain a decisive business advantage by leveraging your strengths and assets to craft and execute effective strategies. It will help you understand and develop the traits and obstinacy necessary to make major achievements. And significantly, the Chinese philosopher-general will show you to do it in ways least expected: “Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness, make your way by unexpected routes.”

In a competitive world, the currency of the people, businesses, products and ideas that are winning is innovation. For Sun Tzu, and for you, winning requires careful preparation and the opportune launch of unexpected strategies and tactics.

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom

Zen Koan #31: Parable of Everything Is Best – Buddhist Teaching on Listening

Zen Koan #31: Parable of Everything Is Best - Buddhist Teaching on Listening Criticism is usually unjustified. Yet even in the midst of this noisy and crowded world, we are given a small area to practice. After defining all those you have to work out how to do it in real life—that’s the hard part—how to abstain from all these. If others can practice, then at least you can endeavor. Let us verbalize about rest. You should have faith that every method is a good method and every individual is good practitioner. If any part of your body feels painful, you should try to relax it. However, this Bodhi tree is alive and growing. When examining a branch, we can’t disconnect it from the earlier branches, the trunk, or the roots. They’re all part of the whole.

A Bodhi tree (ficus religiosa) is withal a stringy looking fig tree, with branches that infrequently weave into each other, and then back out again. So long as you practice diligently, practice is the totality. If you were to leave the water alone, the ripples would eventually subside and the surface would be still.

You may be critical of the food, or the style of the retreat. It is just as if when one side senses it is losing the battle, suddenly all resistance is gone and they are defeated very quickly. This was due to his greed for the experience.

Zen Koan: “Everything Is Best” Parable

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

“Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer.

“Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best.”

At these words Banzan became enlightened.

Buddhist Insight on Listening

Anger, hatred, aversion is related qualities, according to Zen Buddhism. It’s not that you should do it, but these are just laws of what makes life richer or better off in some way. They should be reminded that there are some listening eternal truths, which can never become out-of-date. However, if you have an interesting idea or very original thought, listening, ill will is willing to hear it out. Shunryu Suzuki, the Japanese-American Zen monk who helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States, writes in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,

When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe the way he is. We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good or bad. We just see things as they are with him, and accept them. This is how we communicate with each other. Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it.

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Posted in Faith and Religion

Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues

As a young adult, Ben Franklin identified 13 virtues he aspired to. To implement these virtues in his life, he devised a “Plan for Self Examination,” an agenda whereby he concentrated his attention, one virtue at a time, for one week at a time, rotating through the entire list four times a year. He kept a detailed log of the actions he took to develop the virtues in himself, along with his personal results.

He traced his development by using a little book of 13 charts. At the top of each chart was one of the virtues. The charts had a column for each day of the week and thirteen rows marked with the first letter of each of the 13 virtues. Every evening he would review the day and put a mark by the side of each virtue for each error committed with respect to that virtue for that day.

Unsurprisingly, his goal was to live his days and weeks without having to put any marks on his chart. At the start he found himself putting more marks on these pages than he ever anticipated, but in time he enjoyed seeing them diminish. Eventually he went through the series only once per year and then only once in several years until ultimately omitting them entirely. But he always carried the little book with him as a reminder.

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom

The True Master of the Universe

The Lord Can Take What He Has Given

The Lord Can Take What He Has Given All life is a gift from the hand of the Creator. It is an ever-recurring miracle, which renews the wonder of creation. In addition, when life is withdrawn, we dare not fret, for its withdrawal is a reminder of die privilege we enjoyed during the time we were permitted to keep the gift.

The greatest grief comes to those who regard the world as their very own, for when deprived of something they feel that a great injustice has been committed. Happy are the enlightened who realize that we are here only by the invitation of the divine Host who is the true Master of the universe. A guest is conscious of being privileged by whatever token of recognition he receives from his host, though he knows that whatever is showered, on him will be withheld before long. The Lord only takes what He in the first place has given.

The withdrawal of the gift arouses a feeling of gratitude in a sensitive person for whatever time he was privileged to keep it. He will grieve because he misses what he has lost, but he will praise God as a righteous Judge. If in our casual life, we can smile, if we can be peaceable and happy, not only we, but also everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.

Our Triviality and Vulnerability

Our Triviality and Vulnerability All that we really know so far encourages me to conceive in the hypothesis of further important progress in this region. This is not genuine: the ocean is ten times as large as the earth; salt makes a fortieth part of the sea. The importance of spiritual knowledge to the cheerfulness of humanity. All such references are to be taken as no literal expressions. On impact, he moved his BlackBerry from his belt clip to the inwardly pocket of his blue-gray tweed blazer.

Nearly in the clouds, on a mountaintop resort that is making the modulation from the rust color of fall leaves to the rainbow apparel of skiers, the heavyweight-boxing champion of the world is in training for his first vindication of the title. The Swiss-born British author and philosopher Alain de Botton wrote in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work,

Death is hard to keep in mind when there is work to be done. … Work does not by its nature permit us to do anything other than take it too seriously. It must destroy our sense of perspective, and we should be grateful to it for precisely this reason, for allowing us to mingle ourselves promiscuously with events, for letting us wear thoughts of our own death and the destruction of our enterprises with beautiful lightness, as mere intellectual propositions. … We function of the basis of a necessary myopia. Therein is the sheer energy of existence, a blind will no less impressive than that which we find in a moth arduously crossing a window ledge, … refusing to contemplate the broader scheme in which he will be dead by nightfall. The arguments for our triviality and vulnerability are too obvious, too well known and tedious to rehearse. What is interesting is that we may take it upon ourselves to approach tasks with utter determination and gravity even when their wider non-sense is clear. The impulse to exaggerate the significance of what we are doing, far from being an intellectual error, is really life itself coursing through us.

Life on board a pleasure steamer violates every moral and physical status of goodly life except fresh air. It is a guzzling, lounging, gambling, dog’s life. The sole interchange to excitement is peevishness. A great number of like experiences have made it seeming that in the cases only the cognizance of the patient does not see and does not hear, while the sense function is in the meantime intact. Like ice cream, this definition would enable one to analyze many forms of happiness. The heaviest hammer of ironwork could not do it the fortieth part so soon. If we concur that the bottom line of life is happiness, not success, then it makes consummate sense to say that it is the journey that counts, not reaching the goal. It may be the same with sounds; the tone may decrease by aloofness, and yet we may not be spiritualist of it without a nice comparison. However, to determine the universal ability is not sufficient.

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Posted in Faith and Religion Philosophy and Wisdom

Four Key Traits of Conscious Leaders

Four Key Traits of Conscious Leaders

Leaders who have an effect for good or ill hold three common attributes: vision, discipline, and passion. The differentiation is conscience. When conscience governs, leadership endures and changes the world for good. Moral authority prepares formal authority work. When conscience does not oversee, leadership does not prevail, nor do the institutions created by that leadership. Formal authority without moral authority collapses.

Leadership for good lifts and lasts. Mahatma Gandhi’s vision, discipline, and passion were driven by conscience, and he became a servant to the cause and the people. He had only moral authority, no formal authority, and yet he was the father of the second largest country in the world. When vision, discipline and passion are governed by formal authority void of conscience, it changes things for the worse. Rather than elevating, it rescinds; rather than last, it fails.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #1: Vision

Seeing a potential state with the mind’s eye is vision. It’s applied imagination. All things are created twice: first, a mental creation; second, a physical creation. Vision starts the process of reinvention. It signifies desire, dreams, hopes, goals, and plans. These dreams are not just whims—they are reality without physicality, like a building blueprint.

Most of us don’t envision or appreciate our potential, even though we all have the power, energy, and capacity to reinvent our lives. Memory is past. It is finite. Vision is future. It is infinite.

'The Conscious Leader' by Shelley Reciniello (ISBN 098528644X) The most important vision is having a sense of self, a sense of your own destiny, mission, role, purpose and meaning. When testing your own personal vision, first ask: Does the vision tap into my voice, energy, and talent? Does it give me a sense of “calling,” a cause worthy of my obligation? Acquiring such meaning requires overwhelming personal reflection to rise above our autobiography, rise above our memory, and create a high-mindedness of spirit toward others.

We need to consider not only the vision of what’s possible “out there” but also the vision of what we see in other people, their unseen potential. Vision is about more than just getting things done; it is about unearthing and enlarging our view of others, affirming them, believing in them, and helping them discover their voice and realize their potential.

Seeing people through the lens of their potential and their best actions, rather than through the lens of their current behavior or weaknesses, produces positive energy. This affirming action is also a key to rebuilding broken relationships. There is great power in viewing people apart from their behavior and upholding their inherent worth. When we acknowledge the potential of others, we hold up a mirror to them, reflecting the best within them. This affirming vision unshackles them to become their best and frees us from reacting to bad behavior.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #2: Discipline

Discipline represents the second creation. It’s executing, making it happen, doing whatever it takes to realize that vision. Discipline is willpower personified. Peter Drucker noted that the first duty of a manager is to define realism. Discipline defines reality, acknowledges things as they are, and gets totally immersed in solutions. Without vision and hope, accepting reality may be discouraging. Happiness results from subordinating or foregoing immediate pleasure for a greater good.

Most people associate discipline with an absence of freedom, with coercion or duty. In fact, only the disciplined are truly free. The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions. What about the freedom to forgive, to ask forgiveness, to love unreservedly, to be a light, not a judge—a model, not a critic? Discipline comes from being “discipled” to a person or a cause, often subduing an impulse in obedience to a principle or sacrificing present for future good. Successful people may not like doing things that failures don’t like to do, but their hate is subordinated by the strength of their purpose.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #3: Passion

Passion comes from the heart and is discernible as optimism, excitement, emotional connection, and determination. It fires remorseless drive. Enthusiasm is deeply rooted in the power of choice rather than circumstance. Enthusiasts believe that the best way to foresee the future is to create it. In fact, enthusiasm becomes a moral imperative, making the person part of the solution rather than part of the problem of feeling hopeless and helpless.

'The Conscious And Courageous Leader' by Tracy Tomasky (ISBN 0692725229) Aristotle said, “Where talents and the needs of the world cross, therein lies your vocation.” I say, “Therein lies your passion, your voice, your energy, your drive. It keeps you at it when everything else may say “quit.” When life, work, play, and love all revolve around the same thing, you’ve got passion! The secret to creating passion is finding your unique talents and your special role and purpose.

Courage is the crux of passion, and is, as Harold B. Lee once said, “the quality of every virtue and acting at its highest testing point.”

Skills are not talents. Talents, however, require skills. People can have skills and knowledge in areas where their talents do not lie. If they have a job that requires their skills but not their talents, they’ll never tap into their passion. They’ll go through the motions, but need external supervision and motivation.

If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within. Their motivation is internal.

When you can give yourself to work that brings together a need, your talent, passion, and power will be unlocked.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #4: Conscience

'Awakening Corporate Soul' by Eric Klein (ISBN 0968214932) Conscience, this moral sense, this inner light, is universal and independent of religion, culture, geography, nationality, or race. All major traditions are unified when it comes to basic underlying principles or values.

The thesis developed by authors Eric Klein and John Izzo in Awakening Corporate Soul begins to explain how leadership and working with conscience, compassion, and commitment are relevant to individuals. They write,

There is, at this time, both a crisis and a longing that permeates organizations across North America. We call one the commitment crisis, the struggle of organizations and their leaders to discover ways to ignite commitment and performance in a rapidly changing insecure climate. The other is an awakening that is slowly occurring within traditional businesses—the awakening of the Corporate Soul. It is a nascent movement that seeks to reclaim the spiritual impulse that is at the heart of work. It is about people wanting work to have meaning and even more, to engage more of them at the deepest levels of their capacity and desire.

  • Conscience is the moral law within—the voice of God to his children. Hence, there is an innate sense of fairness and justice, of right and wrong, of what contributes and what detracts, of what beautifies and what destroys, of what is true and what is false. Culture translates this basic moral sense into different practices and words, but this translation does not negate the underlying sense of right and wrong. There is a set of values, a sense of fairness, honesty, respect and contribution that transcends culture—something that is timeless, which transcends the ages and is also self-evident. Conscience is the still, small voice within. It is quiet and peaceful.
  • Conscience is sacrifice—the subordinating of one’s self or ego to a higher purpose, cause or principle. Sacrifice means giving up something good for something better. Sacrifice can take many forms: making physical and economic sacrifices (the body); cultivating an open, inquisitive mind and purging oneself of prejudices (the mind); showing deep respect and love to others (the heart); and subordinating one’s own will to a higher will for the greater good (the spirit). In business, you know those who are honest with you and who keep their promises and commitments. You also know those who are duplicitous, deceitful, and dishonest. Even when you reach a legal agreement with those who are dishonest, do you trust they’ll come through and keep their word?
  • Conscience tells us the value of both ends and means. Ego tells us that the end justifies the means, unaware that a worthy end can never be achieved with unworthy means. It may appear that it can be, but unintended consequences that are not seen or evident at first will eventually destroy the end.
  • Conscience transforms passion into compassion. It engenders sincere caring—a combination of sympathy and empathy where one’s pain is snared and received.

People who do not live by their conscience will not experience this internal integrity and peace of mind. Their ego will try to control relationships. Even though they might pretend or feign kindness and empathy, they will use subtle forms of manipulation.

The private victory of integrity is the foundation for the public victories of establishing a common vision, discipline and passion. Leadership becomes an interdependent work rather than an immature interplay between strong, independent, ego-driven rulers and compliant, dependent followers.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

A Value Investing Checklist from ‘Poor Charlie’s Almanack’

'Poor Charlie's Almanack' by Charles T. Munger (ISBN 1578645018)

From Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

Risk—All investment evaluations should begin by measuring risk, especially reputational

  • Incorporate an appropriate margin of safety
  • Avoid dealing with people of questionable character
  • Insist upon proper compensation for risk assumed
  • Always beware of inflation and interest rate exposures
  • Avoid big mistakes; shun permanent capital loss

Independence—“Only in fairy tales are emperors told they are naked”

  • Objectivity and rationality require independence of thought
  • Remember that just because other people agree or disagree with you doesn’t make you right or wrong—the only thing that matters is the correctness of your analysis and judgment
  • Mimicking the herd invites regression to the mean (merely average performance)

Preparation—“The only way to win is to work, work, work, work, and hope to have a few insights”

  • Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day
  • More important than the will to win is the will to prepare
  • Develop fluency in mental models from the major academic disciplines
  • If you want to get smart, the question you have to keep asking is “why, why, why?”

Intellectual humility—Acknowledging what you don’t know is the dawning of wisdom

  • Stay within a well-defined circle of competence
  • Identify and reconcile disconfirming evidence
  • Resist the craving for false precision, false certainties, etc.
  • Above all, never fool yourself, and remember that you are the easiest person to fool

Analytic rigor—Use of the scientific method and effective checklists minimizes errors and omissions

  • Determine value apart from price; progress apart from activity; wealth apart from size
  • It is better to remember the obvious than to grasp the esoteric
  • Be a business analyst, not a market, macroeconomic, or security analyst
  • Consider totality of risk and effect; look always at potential second order and higher level impacts
  • Think forwards and backwards—Invert, always invert

Allocation—Proper allocation of capital is an investor’s number one job

  • Remember that highest and best use is always measured by the next best use (opportunity cost)
  • Good ideas are rare—when the odds are greatly in your favor, bet (allocate) heavily
  • Don’t “fall in love” with an investment—be situation-dependent and opportunity-driven

Patience—Resist the natural human bias to act

  • “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” (Einstein); never interrupt it unnecessarily
  • Avoid unnecessary transactional taxes and frictional costs; never take action for its own sake
  • Be alert for the arrival of luck
  • Enjoy the process along with the proceeds, because the process is where you live

Decisiveness—When proper circumstances present themselves, act with decisiveness and conviction

  • Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful
  • Opportunity doesn’t come often, so seize it when it comes
  • Opportunity meeting the prepared mind; that’s the game

Change—Live with change and accept unremovable complexity

  • Recognize and adapt to the true nature of the world around you; don’t expect it to adapt to you
  • Continually challenge and willingly amend your “best-loved ideas”
  • Recognize reality even when you don’t like it—especially when you don’t like it

Focus—Keep things simple and remember what you set out to do

  • Remember that reputation and integrity are your most valuable assets—and can be lost in a heartbeat
  • Guard against the effects of hubris and boredom
  • Don’t overlook the obvious by drowning in minutiae
  • Be careful to exclude unneeded information or slop: “A small leak can sink a great ship”
  • Face your big troubles; don’t sweep them under the rug
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Posted in Investing and Finance