Monday, June 23, 2014

Parenting LOL ( Or , what Lessons of Leadersip, aptly - LOL - Can you learn with a diaper on one hand? )

Sunday Evenings that you spend on long intercity drives are very dangerous. It gives you time to think of weird aspects of life, and try to connect some really abstract dots. I was traveling back from Bangalore to Chennai last evening. Over that long drive, with my daughter asleep on her mother's lap ( and the mother also nodding off to sleep ), it got me thinking.

My communication with my baby is pretty much one way. Unlike what "Look who's talking?" would have me believe, I am sure she has no clue of what I am saying - and yet, I try my level best to understand her, to communicate to her, and to make her feel "taken care of". And I was wondering - Isn't that something that we expect from our leaders too ? So, are there some lessons for us here?

1. It is not about you ( No it is not, even though you are the leader :) ) - When you have the child, one thing that you will hear many times is "now your life will change. Everything has to revolve around her" . How true! Even though you are the parent, the breadwinners, the more intelligent ones, the more capable ones - you are not the center of that universe. Your child is. It doesn't matter what you are doing at any given moment, when your child needs you, you attend.

That's how leadership is. You are a leader ( and a good one at that ) - because others felt that you are more capable for that role. But remember, it is not about you, or your capabilties. It is all about the team that you lead. Always have their needs as priority one. Not yours.

2. Be Kind and Considerate -  You do not get angry when your child cries - instead  you try to understand why she's bringing the house down. So why would you get frustrated when your team approaches you to solve a problem, again and again? . A Good leader understands why the team is upset - and how you can help to solve the problem.

3. Leadership cannot use Cookie cutter solutions - The toy that helped stop your child's crying one day, cannot help her to smile every time. You need to try different things at different times. The funny part is, we don't get angry when the child is not satisfied with the same toy. We smile, say to ourselves "oh she's bored of that!'  and move on. So, why would you think that the same solution that worked before with your team would work now? Different situations need different solution. And yes, time does change the situation - even if everything else is the same.

4. Encourage, and Nurture - You cannot force your child to walk when you want  - you will probably end up casing permanent damage through bent legs. But you can encourage her in all she does. What you can achieve with attention, focus, smile and words of endearment and encouragement can never be achieved by force. And amazingly, your child would try harder, better to achieve - understanding your encouragement.

So will your team.

5 Explore Quick. Establish well. And Build from there - When my child cries, I "entertain" and question her with various different things. I point to the milk bottle, and check if she stops crying, show her the water bottle. In same situation, we would also check for any injury, we check the diapers, and also calculate in our mind time from the last feed and sleep. We would show her multiple actions, to see which one takes her attention. And once we know what works, then we continue on that line, engaging her, to slowly lead her in the action that we want her to do - be it sleep, or play, or eat.

As good leaders, we ought to do the same with our team. Explore a lot of options. Find the common ground between us and the team. And then, use the common ground to build a relation. Leading start from there - empathizing. Establish the ground where the

6. Be Calm - Sometimes, inexplicably, your child will be cranky. You would try everything in the book - feed, play, walk, hold, swing, laugh, make faces. Everything. And she will cry. You have no idea why she is crying. Sometimes your team would also be the same. When you expect that logically everything should be well, you would see your team cranky.

Try everything in the book to get the team to start performing again. When you are in the last page, try more. :)

It is tough to be a good parent. It is tougher, I think, to be a good leader.

Be Calm. :)

Do you think these are good LOL ? Do you have anything that you would want to add to this? Please comment and let me know.

(Picture from: - No copyright infringement intended. Please let me know if I am violating and will remove the image

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Exploring new worlds (or how did the Teddy Bear get it's name ? :) )

Another day, Another cliché :) "It's amazing how things change when your life starts revolving around your baby"

But no, this is not the standard gushing post ( or atleast I hope it's not :) ) - I have started to explore a lot of new "why?" s around stuff that relates to the baby.. And the flavor of the day?

Why is a Teddy Bear called a Teddy Bear? :)  Apparently there is a very interesting story behind it.

Cut to 1902. The then Us President Theodore Roosevelt was in Mississippi wanting to take a break from White House duties with a little Bear hunting. Day 1, Everyone enthusiastic, but not a single black bear could be spotted ( Hmmm - did they have prior information ? :) ) Day 2 also wasn't very successful. But the hunter dogs did corner one black bear, and the hunting guide, gave a knock on its head and tied it to the tree.

He then used his bugle ( I wanted to say blew the bugle - but is that correct? :) ) to call the President, who had by then given up and retired to the camp. But when Roosevelt saw this really underweight, dazed, poor female bear tied to the tree - he couldn't bring himself to shoot it. So, he asked that this bear be let loose.

Within no time, the media converted this into a now famous cartoon. And the toymakers, made the bear in the cartoon immortal by making a plush toy out of the bear and calling it - drumroll please.... - Theodore's Bear , or The Teddy Bear. ( and of course, the bear in the cartoon looked so helpless that you would want to immediately protect it - See for yourself :) (Pic from Library of Congress Archives - )

So if the President hadn't drawn the line in Mississippi, my daughter wouldn't have got her hugging toy more than a 100 years later :) As she leaves the plush toy, tired of playing with it, and as my gently puts her to sleep singing her a lovely Malayalam Lullaby, my mind is now starting to wonder - Why do Lullabies put a child to sleep? More on that, next time :):)

(And thanks to this wonderful TED talk by Jon Mooallem from where I learnt about Teddy Bear: )

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wait until the first time the baby grabs your finger....

I am big fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S - the TV series. And I couldn't have agreed with Ross more, when he says these words to a pregnant Rachel ( If you haven't seen it - watch it - )

And it is Magical. Truly so. But wait, wait...

Wait until the first time, the baby puts his/ her hands around your neck, and rests her head on your shoulder drifting off to sleep.  Everything will suddenly seem alright with the world.

Ah yes, I am a proud father now. I wake up every day next to an adorable princess who stretches her hands, shakes her head, opens her eyes, and gives me that smile when she sees me next to her.

That smile. You know that smile, don't you? :)

PS: I hope I can start writing again, regularly, now that I have someone whose experiences I can chronicle. :)