Tuesday, July 14, 2009

40) Attitudes (continued)


"We are faced with great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations." Chuck Swindoll

Eileen Egan, who worked with the Missionaries of Charity for 30 years, writes of her experiences with the Sisters, in her book 'Such a Vision of the Street'. In it she recounts one of the important lessons she learned from Mother Teresa. When Eileen referred to any 'problem', Mother Teresa preferred the term 'gift'. After that, small problems became small gifts and big problems, big gifts. Once, when there was a long delay for a connecting flight at an airport, Eileen informed Mother of the 'gift'. Promptly the Living Saint composed herself and began to read her favorite book on meditations. No complaints; just an opportunity to do something useful. Peter Drucker, the management guru, made a sensible comment, when he wrote: "Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems. All we can hope to get by solving problems is to restore normalcy". His wisdom is born of experience with Top Corporations.

When our children learn from us to convert a problem into an opportunity, they will see in the changed situation, a challenge to be conquered. In school, among playmates
or siblings, and just going through their daily routine, with the changed mindset, they become enthusiastic, resilient and full of hope; not complaining, sullen, spiteful and difficult. Wouldn't we want that?


Courageously facing adversity is a sequel to finding opportunities in problems(pt 3).

An eagle senses a storm before it arrives. It will fly to a high level and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, the eagle sets its wings to let the wind pick
it up and lift it above the turbulence. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm; it simply uses the storm to lift it higher; to safety. Without intending to do so, the eagle teaches us a lesson.
When we are buffeted by the winds of adversity, we can rise above the storm and nestle in the safe arms of God. When we trust in His Power to lift us out of adversity, we shall not be blown away. Will it comfort us to know that others too face adversity? "Everyone is either coming out of a storm, in a storm or headed for
a storm", are the matter-of-fact words of Beecher Hicks Jr. And we can find hope in knowing that nothing lasts forever; not even our troubles.

Thomas Alva Edison's warehouse was burning. After the fire, he gathered his workers
and said to them: "We are going to rebuild. You can always build opportunity out of tragedy". Edison stood up well to the test Plutarch set: "The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune". Are we teaching our children to turn stumbling
blocks into stepping stones?

For those of us who never stop complaining about the misfortunes that visit us, we must pay heed to the findings of a survey: 80% of those we complain to don't care, and 20% are glad that we have problems.


"What is the greatest thought that has ever passed through your head?" someone asked
Daniel Webster. He answered: "My accountability to God".

At different times in life we are accountable to different people in authority over us - parents, teachers, bosses family and so on. But at all times we are accountable to God. It is our accountability to God that gives us a purpose and direction in life. Very early in their lives, children need to use a compass to set a direction for themselves; and find joy in doing things with responsibility. Jack Moffitt, in plain words explains why: "The thing that keeps you on the ground is responsibility, placed on your shoulders"; because without responsibility we are likely to take off,
to nowhere in particular. Being accountable does not take away our freedom; instead it gives meaning to freedom. Through responsible behavior we exercise self-control,
which in turn saves us from excesses. It restrains us from drifting. Responsible behavior makes us honest in acknowledging our actions; even the wrong ones. In the early years of childhood a sense of accountability should be instilled in their receptive minds; otherwise they are likely to form the habit of blaming others. Let us imagine a situation when responsibility is taken lightly. Teachers would not be accountable; so would students; so would people who escape responsibility for their actions. Then fair play, courtesy and kindness would disappear from the scene, and chaos would reign. Fear of such a situation should put us on red-alert.


"Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest when you haven't planted." David Bly

The one time President of USA, Theodore Roosevelt, made it clear to Americans that when it came to work, there was only one type - hard work. He said: "When you work,work hard". Caught up with the charmed lives of Celebrities and the easy lives of VIPs, our children believe that they too could live in ease and plenty, without hard work and a struggle. So they begin early. At school they get others to do their home work, decide to cheat during tests(because they will not study for the tests) and look for others to carry their load. Unwittingly, parents become willing load bearers - carrying school bags, doing assignments and sparing children from chores at home. Henry Ford had a practical attitude to work, which we could transfer to our children: "Work is the only pleasure. It is only work that keeps me alive and makes life worth living". Will our children find pleasure in work? Will they find purpose and profit in responsibly doing work? That would depend on us.

Many years ago, I worked for a Multinational Corporation who appointed the first Indian Managing Director. He had an uninspiring background - an undergraduate who stammered and worked as a Stenographer. (In the old days a Stenographer took notes
from the boss in shorthand and typed out the text on his/her typewriter.) Despite his background, he had a dream and was ready to work for it. He worked hard to acquire knowledge in different areas of Management, passed different examinations, cleared difficult interviews and moved up jobs in the same company, through acclaimed performance, until the American Bosses found him to be the right candidate for the position of Managing Director. In the same company he rose from being Stenographer to MD. I know this is true, because I know the man. The Chinese were right: "The more plowing and weeding, the better the harvest".

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