Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hyderabad - Book Review

This is one of the books I read recently. Here is my review of it on my other blog.

With the issue of Telanganaboiling in Andhra Pradesh, I just chanced upon a book called Hyderabad, a biography of Hyderabad written byNarendra Luther.

It is an account of Hyderabad from its beginnings till now. It starts with the building of Golconda fort till the debacle of the IT chief minister of the state ChandraBabu naidu.

I learnt a lot of interesting things about Hyderabad from that book.

> Md. Quli was the person who built Hyderabad. There was just a small settlement at the banks of river Musi before that. He built it exactly where he saw and married Bhagmati, his lover.
> There were two dynasties who ruled Hyderabad. The Qutb-Shahi and the Asaf-Jahi dynasty.
> Quli's city was one of the best in the world. There were lot of garden's in and around the city. All the Baghs in Hyderabad were all gardens from his time.
> Most of the modern development in Hyderabad happened in the prime ministership of Salar Jung.
> Hyderabad was a very beautiful city even till independence. It was after independence that city expanded rapidly.

You can read some of the poetry written by the Nawabs of the time. It was a breeze to read through the book and its like a whirlwind view of that society. But I was saddened to see the the last Nizam actually didn't do much and was sidelined by the Razakars and how the last Nizam was very stingy that he offered biscuits himself that to one by one and put in them in the locker!!!

Not a must read, but you can pick it up if you want to know about Hyderabad or particularly interested about history of Golconda, Charminar.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Winning With People - Summary

John Maxwell's Winning with people is a very good book. How to win Friends and Influence People is a classic personal development book written by Dale Carnegie. Brain Tracy another personal development expert says regarding this book as 'John has rewritten how to win friends and influence people better than ever.' If you have read the HTWFAIP book then you will understand the depth of that statement and I feel it completely lives up to that statement.

This is my attempt to summarize all the principles in the book and share those parts in the book which I found helpful. The book is divided into five parts each dealing with one aspect of relationsips.

First part is called The Readiness Question which speaks about whether we are ready to go into a relationship. The lens principle described in the first part is previous post.

The Readiness Question
The principles in that are
Lens principle : Who we are determines how we see others
Mirror principle: The first person we must examine is ourselves
Pain principle: Hurting people hurt people and are easily hurt by them.
Suggestions while dealing with people in pain:
Don't add to the hurt. Look beyond the person and situation and help them find help.
Hammer principle: Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone's head
Elevator principle: we can lift people up or take people down in our relationships

The elevator principle basically means that there are people in our life interaction with whom leaves us smiling and happy . Those are the lifters. Lifters commit themselves to daily encouragement, Lifters initiate positive in negative.

Next is the connection question, where the emphasis is on putting others before ourselves.The principles in that are

The big picture principle: The entire population of the world - with one minor exception is - composed of others
The exchange principle: Instead of putting others in their place, we must put ourselves in their place - empathy
The learning principle: Each person we meet has the potential to teach us something
The Charisma principle: People are interested in the person who is interested in them.
Ways for that are
1. Become genuinely interested in other people
2. Smile
3. Remember their name
4. Good listener
5.Talk in terms of other person's interests
6. Make the other person feel important genuinely.
The Number 10 principle: Believing the best in people usually brings out the best in people. So always believe that people are always 10 out of 10. If you think that way, they will deliver to that level.

The confrontation principle: Caring for people should precede confronting people.
I liked this very much. These will be very helpful when we have to confront people.
1. Confront only if you care about that person
2. Meet together asap.
3. First seek understanding. Not necessarily agreement.
4. Outline the issue
. Describe your perceptions
. Tell this how you makes you feel.
. Explain why this is important to you
5. Encourage a response
6. Agree to an action plan
Identification, agreement to solve it, steps, accountability, deadline, commitment to put the issue in the past after resolution.

To take the relation to the next level, we should increase the level of trust in the relationship.
The Trust Question:
The principles are
The bedrock principle: Trust is the foundation of any relationship
The situation principle: Never let the situation mean more than the relationship
The Bob principle: When Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob is usually the problem
When we have to deal with Bobs in our life, these are some suggestions
1. Respond with a positive comment
2. Show your concern for someone being criticized
3. Encourage steps toward resolution
4. Ask Bob to think before speaking
Is it true?, Is it helpful, is it inspiring, is it necessary and is it kind?
5. Keep Bob away from others

The next principle is about easily being approachable to people...
The approachability principle: Being at ease with ourselves helps others to be at ease with us.
How to put others at ease?
1. Personal warmth - They truly like people.
2. Appreciation of differences in people
3. Consistency of mood.
4. Sensitivity towards people's feelings.
5. Being Human - understanding of their weaknesses and showing our own
6. Forgive and ask for forgiveness
7. Be Authentic

The Foxhole principle: When preparing for a battle, dig a hole big enough for a friend

Next comes to the requirements for sustaining a long term relationship
The Investment Question:
The gardening principle: All relationships need cultivation.
The 101 percent principle: Find the 1 percent we agree on and give it 100 percent of our effort.
The patience principle: The journey with others is slower than the journey alone.
The celebration principle: The true test of relationships is not only how loyal we are when friends fail, but how thrilled we are when they succeed.
These are the advantages.. I can use this principle the most ;)
The joy of accomplishment is diminished when no one celebrates with you.
Many people identify with failure, few with success
People who celebrate with you become lifelong friends
Celebrate with the most closest to you.
The High Road principle: We go to a higher level when we treat others better than they treat us.
Directions for high road :
1. Stay on kindness street as long as possible
2. Turn right on forgiveness avenue
3. Avoid get even alley as it is a dead end
4. Climb to the top of the hill as you will see the high road.
5. Take it and stay on it

Next to make the best of the relationship there is
The Synergy Question:
The principles are
The Boomerang principle: When we help others, we help ourselves.
The Friendship principle: All things being equal, people will work with people they like; all things not being equal they still will.
The Partnership principle: Working together increases the odds of winning together.
The Satisfaction principle: In great relationships the joy of being together is enough.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Winning With People - 1

Currently, I am reading a book called 'Winning With People' written by John C Maxwell about people principles which work every time. There are all together 25 principles in the book. This is my attempt to summarize the laws.

1. The law of Lens: Who we are determines how we see others.

What determines what we are?
And he says that if I am trustworthy, I see others are trustworthy. He says the factors that influence what are are are genetics for the major part and then our experiences, our attitude and our self image and our friends.

So what can we change or improve?

We cannot change genetics and there is a classic question of whether we should work on weaknesses or our strengths. I think the author has given a very good answer to this question.
When it comes to character issues, work on your weaknesses. When it comes to your talents, work on your strengths.
I somehow feel this is correct intuitively. I feel, that I should be more courageous, and not being courageous enough is a big drawback. Hence I cannot avoid improving it if I have lead a better life unconstrained.

I am strong in English language skills. My friend is strong in Mathematics. I sometimes feel if I should improve my maths skills and have tried various ways of improving it - reading vedic maths and shakuntala devi's books etc. but they have never been sticky... but I have been voraciously reading books after book. So I also came to Maxwell's conclusion that I should better work on improving my character but when developing our talents, with little efforts we can become very very good in our strong areas whereas a small improvement in our weaker areas seems to take a lot of effort.

Regarding friends, the difference between what we are now and what we will be five years later will be the people you spend time with and the books you read. So he advises us to choose our attitude well, have good self-esteem, select good friends and read good books.

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The Five Rules of Stratospheric Success from the Go-Giver

I have read a book called the Go Giver which is small fable about a man called Joe and how he achieved success. There is a man called Pindar who introduces Joe everyday to a successful person who introduces him to one law of stratospheric success with the catch that he has to implement it in his life before he is taught the next law in the series. It is a really gripping read and whats more, the principles look like they are really useful. This is a summary of the rules.

The Law of Value
Your true worth is determined by
how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
The Law of Compensation
Your income is determined by
how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
The Law of Influence
Your influence is determined by
how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
The Law of Authenticity
The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
The Law of Receptivity
The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

Each law is so simple and few are obvious but some others like receptivity and influence were eye-openers to me. I am applying all those laws in my life now and hope it is useful to you too.
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Practical Tips from the Power Of Now

Ever since Steve Pavlina mentioned about Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, the book has been in my wishlist. It is a spiritual book. It talks about how living in the now can help us be peaceful and do our best and live our best life now. It might seem paradoxical but the principles mentioned in it are quite sound for us to follow.

A few practical tips from that

1. The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.

The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind.

This is very very true, mostly we play the same scenes back and forth again, thinking about it but not able to do anything about it.

2. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are cause by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.

3.Wherever you are, be there totally. When listening to another person, don't just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen.That takes attention away from thinking and creates a still space that enables you to truly listen without the mind interfering. You are giving the other person space - space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give. Most people don't know how to listen because the major part of listening is taken up by thinking. They pay more attention to that than what the other person is saying, and none at all to what really matters: the Being of the other person underneath the words and the mind. Of course you cannot feel someone else's Being except through your own. This is the beginning of the realization of oneness, which is love. At the deepest level of Being, you are one with all that.

He says this way, we can give the other person the space to understand themselves and come out of it.

4.To be free of time is to be free of the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment

He says we should always work in the now and that doesn't mean not planning or thinking about the future. If all we want to do is plan, then do that planning in the now. Don't just build castles in the air about how it is going to work out and then leave it. I think this is the biggest take aways from the power of now.

It makes a lot of sense to always be in the present. We can embrace all our opportunities if we are in the present. We can look through and really what the other person is trying to tell if we are really present. I really really recommend this book. It will surely change your way of thinking as it has mine.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Book Review - Upbeat

Rajesh had to say the following on the importance of right strategy in his book Upbeat

Imagination is a poor substitute for reality. Otherwise people will imagine their way out of their troubles. Reality is real. Now that you have accepted reality, you need a game plan to address this reality and accommodate in your thrive plan. This will call for ruthless re-priortization of your projects.Connected..Yet Disconnected, My World, Aug 2009

You should read the whole review here .

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesdays With Morrie

I read a book called 'Tuesday's with Morrie' a non-fiction book written by Mitch Albom. The book chronicles his meetings with Morrie Schwartz, his favorite professor in Brandeis University, who is battling ALS(amyotrophic lateral scelerosis) and has his days numbered. But rather than wobbling in self-pity and die decides to live each of his day fully.

Morrie is Mitch's favorite prof when in college, and promises to keep in touch with him after leaving college. But he gets caught up in the rat race becoming a sports writer and publisher and never gets a chance to meet Morrie again. He accidentally meets him on a wheelchair while going somewhere and has to visit him but not before completing his work. And he is hooked after the first meeting. He is reminded of the days when he used to study under him, discuss things about life with him. Due to the union strike in his company, Mitch gets a chance to visit his professor every tuesday which is the name of the book.

Mitch who considers Morrie as a coach decides to ask Morrie about the questions vexing him. I felt these questions universal and surely every reader would identify with it. To quote Mitch

On the plane ride home that day, I made a small list on a yellow legal pad, issues and questions that we all grapple with, from happiness to aging to having children to death. Of course, there are a million self-help books.
But there seemed to be no clear answers. Do you take care of others or take care of your "inner child"? Return to the traditional values or reject tradition as useless? Seek succees or seek simplicity? Just say no or Just Do It?

This forms the core of the book as Mitch discusses these things with Morrie every tuesday that he visits him as Morrie tells his thoughts about the world, culture, love, money, marriage and death too. In the context of dealing with emotions, he says that we should let the emotion take over us, experience it completely and after having the knowledge of the emotion, to detach from it. And he makes a profound statement with regard to the impact that culture should have on us.

He says " I don’t mean you disregard every little rule of your community. I don’t go around naked, for example. I don’t run red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things - How we think, what we value - These you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone- or any society - determine those for you"

The book is very touching and just put the fact that the things which make us happy are the simple joys of sharing and caring.

A must read...

#Th!nkTweet - 140 bytes of wisdom in 140 characters - A Review

After reading the book 'Life Beyond Code' written by Rajesh Shetty, I was excited to review his latest book ThinkTweet, which contains 140 tweets on various topics..

I love Rajesh's take on networks, relationships, time and teamwork. I initially thought of selecting the best tweets and writing about them. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that each tweet made me pause, think and have an aha moment.

I just noted down a few tweets which hit me hard.. read them and you can understand the intelligent, witful but insightful message of the author.
One on relationships:
When it comes to
relationships, you hit a home run
when you stop keeping score.
This one makes you think on the direction of your life:
What will be
the title of a book
written about you?
What will be
its subtitle?
Why should
someone read it?
On the importance of journey:

If you are “faking it” so that
one day you can make it, you
are missing the point. It’s the
journey that counts.

Pick up this book for 140 such aha moments... which will leave you lot wiser than before you picked the book.

Its a small book with 140 such tweets on improving your business, relationships, networks, career, teamwork and life and will make for an easy read. Its an ideal gift for your friends. Anyway you will just be marvelled on reading the book. Thanks to @UpbeatNow for giving me an opportunity to read and spread this wisdom.

You can buy the book from here or here @ amazon

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Top five fiction books I read

I have read lot of books but each book doesnt leave the same impression. 
This is the list of books which have a big impact on me which make me think of them again and get inspiration

As A Crow Files - Jeffrey Archer: A classic rags to riches story with world war episode in between. Absolute page turner, more than that it made me dream of the rags to riches story. With nothing but his will and resourcefulness, the hero becomes a big retailer. Must read. 

If Tomorrow Comes - Sidney Sheldon. If the first book has inspired me, this book helped me to see life in a different way where by we have to constantly deal with whatever fate throws at us. A thoroughly gripping novel written by Sidney sheldon where the heroine after being ruined by fate, gets up and makes her space in the world. Must read too

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand - This book talks about Rands objectivistic philosophy. As I read it after reading the fountainhead, it was really interesting. Though I wouldnt agree with all whatever is said, it is a must read to get the perspective of contributing enough to the world and not be a leecher who just feeds on the innovative people. It is not really a page turner and sometimes patience is required to go through it but worth reading. 

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho - The magical fable about living your dreams. Absolute page turner. It tackles many subjects like universal love in a mystical sense and leaves us wishing for more. Interesting and must read. 

Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach - It is a story about a seagull learning to fly and improvise its flight from that of other seagulls. It urges us to live our divinity and achieve perfection. It reminds us of our divinity and strikes a chord with us. Must Read too.. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Review - Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families - Part 1

"Happy families are all alike; Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." - Leo Tolstoy

Stephen Covey in his book 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families' tries to teach the framework for developing such happy and beautiful family culture.

What is beautiful family culture?  It is a nurturing culture where family memebers deeply, sincerely and genuinely enjoy being together, where they have a sense of shared beliefs and values, where they act and interact in ways that really work. And building such family is no easy work. It takes a lot of time and when it is happening the progress might not be visible outside. The seven habits framework can be used this way to develop that 'we' culture in a family. 

Habit 1# Be Proactive: Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response, In our response lies our growth and happiness. The growth in any family begins with the recognition of this great truth that we can choose our response. We can use our four uniquely human gifts, self-awareness (to step back and observe our own behaviour), conscience (which tells us what is right), imagination (to imagine what we want to do) and independent will (the power to take action) to choose a proactive response which would help us reach our ends. We can use our fifth gift called 'humour' effectively in such situations. 

He introduces a concept called 'Emotional Bank Account' which is the trust level we have with our family members. The more the balance, the easier it is to have a happy family. At any time the balance of the trust in the account determines how well we can communicate and solve problems with another person. The emotional bank account can be built by loving unconditionally, being kind (doing little things, saying please thank you etc) , apologizing when wrong , by being loyal to those who are not present and most importantly by making and keeping promises. We also need to forgive the mistakes - You will always be a victim unless you forgive.  All these deposits are based on the primary laws of love namely 
  • Acceptance rather than rejection
  • Understanding rather than judgement
  • participation rather than manipulation
These laws are the foundation of a beautiful family culture and if family is a place where these are followed and the environment is loving, then we encourage obedience to primary laws of life such as honesty, responsibility, integrity and service. 

Many people who have never recieved unconditional love and have never developed a sense of intrinsic worth struggle all their lives for approval and recognition. To compensate for the impoverished, empty, hollow feeling they have inside, they borrow strength from a position of power, status, money, posessions, credentials or reputation. They often become very narcisstic, interpreting everything personally. And their behaviour is so distasteful that others reject them throwing fuel on the fire. What would happen if, rather than labelling them, you were to love unconditionally instead? As Goethe said "Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he should be, and he will become as he can and should be." The laws of love affirm the basic worth of the individual, now they are free to develop their own strengths rather than worry about proving their worth. 

Habit 2# Begin with the end in mind: Most relationship problems come due to lack of proper communication and different expectations. So the best way to overcome this is to have a common mission statement of what their family means, how do they plan to resolve issues and other things. So basically explore what family means to them, create a mission statement and use it as a compass to guide the family through trials and tribulations. It would work only if everyone is involved and given sufficient time to work on it and it is really followed i.e dont announce it, dont rush it and dont ignore it. 

We stand at crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow our mind to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel and actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made of the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selected the value system, we have made the most important choice we will ever make. - Benjamin Franklin 

In the same way, the challenge of creating a family mission statement will drive you to do the inner work to have the vision and values of a family clear and thats why it is so important. 

Habit 3# Put First Things First: We know that happiness in family is more important than other things, we need to make sure we put it first. When there are so many sources of influence to the family - peers, tv, movies, it is easy for our conscience to become disoriented, the moral compass is thrown off. Hence he argues that we should steer the family or it will go where the river takes us. And the key to successful steering of the family is to be intentional about the family rituals. So you should commit to a weekly family time and also one on one bonding time between the members of the family. This will increase the trust level between each of them and they will be able to open up. The relationship grows. One-on-one bonding times give you the opportunity to build the relationship, the emotional bank account, so that you can teach. Without the relationship, the feeling would be " I dont care how much you know, until i know how much you care." To sum it up, this can only work if family is made a real priority. 
Okay now, I know what you're going to hear from people is "We dont have time." But if you dont have time for one night or atleast one hour during the week where everybody can come together as a family, then the family is not a priority. - Oprah Winfrey. 

This post is becoming very big so I will write about the remaining habits in the next post. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Review - Waiting For The Mahatma

I have recently read the book 'Waiting For The Mahatma' written by R.K Narayan. It transports you to India in 1940s when the freedom movement was gathering steam. The book is written through the words of a young boy Sriram, who lost his parents and is brought up by his grand mother. It is about how he falls in love with an orphan girl, Bharathi, whose father is killed in the non-cooperation movement. She is brought up by Gandhi and grows with his values instilled in her. When Sriram asks her to marry him, she says that it can happen only with the permission of the Mahatma. The book is about what all Sriram has to go through before he secures the permission of Mahatma to marry. 

The story starts with Sriram being given a pass book with all his pension money being given to him on his twentieth birthday and he revels in the newly gained freedom. It describes the fictional town Malgudi, which R.K Narayanan has used in many of his stories. 
Sriram sees Bharathi when she collects funds for the Mahatma's tour of Malgudi and then he attends the meeting to see her again. Here he is introduced to the philosophies of Mahatma.. He is inducted into the camp and while cursing the lack of the luxuries in his home, slowly becomes used to them. The dialogues with Mahathma will make the reader understand his philosophy and the human touch of Mahatma. 

The author captures the details of how people joined the national movement and how they tried to participate through Sriram and his work for Quit India Movement. When Bharathi goes to jail, who guided him till then, is faced with an identity crisis and  joins the Indian National Army of Jagdish Chandra Bose and due to the activities he does then, he is jailed.

He comes out of the jail to a free India. Here the author portrays the horrors after the partion and how Gandhi has helped to stabilize the society with his fasts and marches in Calcutta and Bihar.  The story ends with Mahatma being shot dead by Nathuram Godse, but not before he okays the marriage of Sriram and Bharathi.. 

As we read through we understand the the identity crisis of Sriram to how he matures under the guidance of Bharathi and Mahatma to a freedom fighter.  It also honestly portrays the Indian national movement and how Mahatma influence people with his love an compassion and how he touched the lives of people whom he knew. The tender feelings of Sriram and Bharathi and their desperation to get married is also well portrayed. 

If you like to read the book, get it right here from amazon.