Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lessons from sparrows

Was just about done with lunch the other day at the office cafeteria when to my surprise I heard the chirping of a bird. Looking around I spotted a sparrow perched on a ledge by a glass wall. Probably trying to build a nest on the small ledge I thought. I returned to the cafeteria later in the evening and was even more surprised to hear the same sparrow chirping, this time more frequently & with a sense of desparation in its voice. It was only then that I realised that the little bird was not calling out to its mate or building a nest but in fact it was trying to escape. The sparrow was actually flying into the glass time and time again to get outside till it would get tired. Then it would rest on the ledge and cry out in desparation. It would be safe to assume that the sparrow had been trying the same thing for hours.

In fact all the sparrow had to do was turn the other way & it would have seen the open doors & made its way out of our cafeteria. But the poor thing was fixated on the open garden that it could see from the ledge. Isnt this often how we approach life? We believe true happiness lies in some pasture (as brown and as barren as it may be) and we refuse to see the lush green fields which are not that far off. Ask yourself, what are you chasing?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Excerpt from: The Simple Truths of Service,

No one can make you serve customers well. That's because great service is a choice. Years ago, my friend, Harvey Mackay, told me a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point. He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said:
"I'm Wally, your driver. While I'm loading your bags in the trunk, I'd like you to read my mission statement."
Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said:
Wally's Mission Statement:To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest, and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment
This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean! As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, "Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf." My friend said jokingly, "No, I'd prefer a soft drink." Wally smiled and said, "No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice." Almost stuttering, Harvey said, "I'll take a Diet Coke". Handing him his drink, Wally said, "If you'd like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustratedand USA Today."
As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card. "These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you'd like to listen to the radio." As if that weren't enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of the day. He also let him know that he'd be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights, or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.
"Tell me, Wally," my amazed friend asked the driver, "have you always served customers like this?" Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. "No, not always. In fact, it's only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You'll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you'll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, 'Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don't be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.'
"That hit me right between the eyes," said Wally. "Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more."
"I take it this has paid off for you," Harvey said. "It sure had," Wally replied. "My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I'll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don't sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can't pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action."
Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I've probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all th reasons they couldn't do any of what I was suggesting.
Johnny the Bagger and Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. They decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles. How about you?

From a recent email forward

Nothing against Australia .....

Friday, September 04, 2009

Horn not ok please !

We Indians might be a smart bunch. History doesnt lie. And yet for all our inherent intelligence we can really be a bunch of morons. It never ceases to amaze me how throwing the keys of a
car / bus / truck / bike / auto / (or even the reins to a bullock cart) to an Indian amounts to them in turn throwing their IQ out the window of the above mentioned car / bus / truck / helmet (in case of bikes) / open air (in case of autos & the bullock cart).

Lane discipline here is a no no. In fact it is so rampant that someone visiting India for the first time might mistake it to be a prerequisite for obtaining a driving license. But that is something one learns to live with and accept over a period of time. 2 things that our average Indian road goer (hence forth referred to as Mr X) has in bucketloads and which I cannot accept are
1) Our inching forward mentality
2) Our parking sense (lack of it actually)

We all know that India is a people friendly country. People like to be with other people. There's none of that western formality of calling someone up and asking if they are home and if we can drop in. Here we just drop in. Uninvited in most cases. Its probably this people - centric mindset in us which we grow up with that explains the inching forward mentality. If the vehicle in front of a person moves forward by an inch, our Mr X will faithfully move that inch forward. Stationary traffic does not seem to warranty switching off of vehicles either. Maybe these guys know of some oil field on their ancestral land wihch we dont know about. Have to take a right turn ? No issues, stick to the extreme left lane, show your right indicator and expect that everyone else will stop for your royal highness, Mr X. So what if you end up blocking all (ok Ill admit it, few) the traffic rule abiding citizens who were sticking to their lanes ? Nowadays this ailment (for lack of a better word) seems to be affecting quite a few people. Approach any major 4 way junction these days and its no surprise to see a handful of cars inches away from another handful of cars (face to face mind you) all because some joker tried to take a u - turn while attempting to overtake another guy trying to take a u turn and realising that he is face to face with another joker from the other side who was trying the same u turn overtaking stunt. And nobody will budge. I suppose that they suppose that God will come lift up the people blocking their route (when in actuality they are the ones blocking the other people) and ensure an open road or that flash floods will come wash away all those who stand in their path or ....
The extreme lack of parking sense that we Indians suffer from is something that is known to quite a few. Ive often observed that people will travel over several kilometres to their destination and the moment they enter the parking lot they will search for the nearest possible non existant parking spot (instead of the nice empty slot 10 feet further down) cause God forbid they have to walk 10 feet extra. Go figure !
Not that everything else is perfect or anything. For the life of me, I cannot stand people who honk for no reason. Special resentment reserved for those who honk at motorists in front of them while at a red light. I think they expect those in front of them to get out of their vehicles and move (akin to the splitting of the Dead Sea in the Bible) so that they have an open road in front of them when the light turns green. Special sympathy in bucketloads for our Indian heroes who do not see the need to wear a helmet on our dangerous roads. They are just plain stupid.
Looks like the above symptoms are displayed by 99.99 % of Indian vehicle owners. I guess, its the rest of our population that gives us the 'smart' tag.