Align Your Actions to How the World Works…

….and the world will do the work for you!

Question! What is that one tiny but major, basic but elusive secret to being a happy, successful, level-headed professional and human being?

Answer: According to research and this article by Farnam Street, it’s by working with keeping the basic principles of how the world functions in mind, and aligning one’s actions in that direction. Now that might sound confusing, generic and somewhat vague. Let us delve deeper into this.

Universal Principles:

 We will start by taking a very general example. We have all heard truisms like ‘health is wealth’ since ages. We know being healthy is a basic step to living a good life- everything else comes secondary. We know that without good health, we can’t enjoy the fruits of our labour. And yet, if we were to be honest with ourselves, how many times do we neglect our health in the day-to-day life? We forgo little chances of leading a healthy life. We scroll endlessly on our phones late into the night, or decide to keep the homecooked lunch on the side and opt for that vadapav.

Or consider waiting. Investments, be it financial or personal, take time to show results. We must wait a bit. We know this. But do we have the patience or willingness to wait?

Or how kindness leads to kindness, and fire leads to more fire.

Do you find yourself thinking of similar universal principles? Think principles around return of investments, savings, compounding, effort-reward, reciprocity of actions and so on.

Our peculiarity as human beings is that we tend to ignore these basic universal principles a lot of times. We know that we are ignoring, but we continue to ignore, and sometimes only follow them when we are forced to.

No one is an exception to these rules. Everyone needs to put in effort to live a healthy life. Everyone needs to wait for their investments to come to fruition. Everyone needs to put in effort to maintain and improve the status quo, whether we are talking about our professional or personal life. There are no exceptions to these universal principles of effort and returns.

Instead of aligning our actions to these universal principles, we tend to steer away from them, even when we know it’s not a good idea.

Where the Magic Lies:

The magic of universal principles and sticking to them is that once we start aligning our actions to them, the world will do the work for you.

All you need to do is align your actions to these universal principles. Nothing complicated. Whenever confusion arises, all we need to do is remind ourselves of these universal principles and align our actions to those, the rest would just be noise.

Nervous about an interview? Just think about the universal principle of effort and returns, and work on it accordingly. The rest will fall into place.

Confused how to approach a supposedly difficult client? Just think about the universal principle of reciprocity of behaviour, and approach them with a behaviour that you’d want them to reciprocate. The rest will figure itself out.

Wondering why a project seems stuck? Just think if you have waited long enough for the investment to show, and if you have waited long enough, think about the alignment that we talked about in our older article about working hard easily.  

One could also think about this in micro terms. Consider your office or field of work as a world. How does this world work? What are some ‘principles’ that seem to be embedded in its functioning? Find those out, and align your actions to those principles, and chances are, you will be pleasantly surprised by how perfectly and easily it all fits.

‘Alignment’ is the word to keep in mind. As we align our actions to how the world (and the multiple ‘worlds’ we inhabit) works, and stay true to ourselves, the world will do its magic for you.

Better Together: Growth for the Companies is tied to Career-Growth of its Employees

career-growth of employees, companies

Thinking about career growth is one of the favourite pass-times, it seems.

We have thought about it in the middle of a meeting, or when we were having a quiet moment in the office, or maybe when we were on a holiday, all happy and relaxed. Suddenly, muscles go tense, and the mind goes racing. Sometimes, these thoughts act as motivating factors, the ‘positive’ stress that propels us to think ahead.

Individuals think about career growth a lot.

It’s time companies think about it too. Thinking about career growth shouldn’t just be a concern of the individuals. Companies can benefit a lot by sharing this concern. Yes! Companies can benefit from thinking about the career growth of their employees! How so? Let us delve into it quickly.

The first benefit is right there in our introduction! Individuals think about their career growth a lot. When the company they are working for is genuinely concerned about it as well, it can motivate them to stay. Talk about retaining talent! When companies show interest in helping their employees advance in their careers, it attracts more candidates, because of course, people like to work at places where they see a possibility of concrete growth on paper.

Secondly, companies can reduce their talent acquisition costs by thinking about the career growth of their employees. An employee who sees a career growth while staying at the company means that the company would be able to hire internally. Hiring internally means cutting down on sourcing and onboarding costs. And think of all the time that could be saved on background checks and references.

Thirdly, companies can improve their employee engagement when they think about the career growth of their employees. Employees who know there is a scope to grow professionally within the walls of the company, that there is a chance that they will get an opportunity any moment, are naturally more likely to engage with their work. When the employees know that what they are working at is nota dead-end job, it is likely to increase their motivation and engagement levels. They can attach more meaning to their work and to the company, because they know it is indeed leading them somewhere, that is, it’s not a dead-end job.

So, what can companies and employers do to implement this idea of showing interest in their employee’s career growth?

Think which positions and skill gaps are hard to fill in the company. Talk to the employees about their goals. A few conversations later, it should be possible to align the two, and realise the kind of opportunities the company can offer so that those hard to fill positions and skill gaps are no longer that hard to fill.

Opportunities can range from digital learning, workshops and seminars, sponsored L&D opportunities, shadowing positions and so on.

Now, companies may or may not be able to offer everything to everyone, and even if they do, there’s still a chance that the employee might have different priorities and choices.

That doesn’t mean companies should only and only think about offering career growth opportunities to those who would promise to stay, or to those who would directly, most certainly, be helpful to the company in some way. Benevolently given career growth opportunities to employees ensure a good word of mouth of the company, a good employer brand, and a chance that someone might come back as a boomerang employee!

How Useful Is A Not-To-Do List?

To be or not to be that is the question but to do, or not to do, is also a question which needs our attention. We have all come across articles and blogs telling us about to-do lists, where we prioritise, plan and mark the task from urgent to not so urgent. If you have a habit of maintaining a to-do list, you probably know the wonderful feeling you get when you put a tick-mark on an accomplished task. To-do lists have their place. But did you know, not-to-do lists could be equally helpful?

Many experts on strategy and planning often talk of a ‘negative’ list’; a list that tells us what should be avoided. Think about it. Sometimes, we might not be sure what we want to do but we are pretty sure about the kind of situation we would like to avoid. For example, we often hear ourselves saying things like:

  • ‘Do not forget to call that client today.’
  • ‘Do not to bring up an issue that doesn’t add to the agenda of this meeting’
  • ‘Do not forget to double check the data.’

Sometimes, clear and specific not-to-do list can lead to a better understanding of the need of the moment, rather than a vague to-do list.

For the sake of examples though, let us take a look at some more general and universal tasks which could be added in the not-to-do list. Doing those tasks have known to make people regret some of their decisions in life.

Do Not be Worried What Others Might Think:

Sounds so simple, right? But have we all not worried at some point what others might say about our decisions and choices? Have we not been scared of what people might think of us?

Simply keeping in mind to not worry about other people’s (often unsolicited) opinions could potentially help us make decisions which are about us, and not others.

Do Not be Scared to Take Risks:

We all have thought of certain things we want to do, and have backed away at the last moment only to look back years later, and thought that maybe  we should have taken that risk because that was the time. It doesn’t matter whether you look back at your twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or even sixty year old self. There is no age when we haven’t looked back and regretted some of our decisions.

It is important we add this to our not-to-do list to be completely free from all the what ifs and buts.

Do Not Drag On a Bad Job For too Long:

It is important to not run away from a momentarily tough situation. We have talked of strategic quitting in the past. A temporary situation is not a good enough reason to quit.

But it is equally important to not drag on a job that is holding you back from achieving your long term plans and dreams. It is necessary we add this to our not-to-do list so we don’t end up feeling like we wasted our potential.

Do Not Save the Expression ‘For Later’:

Haven’t we all had to face a situation where we needed people to be there for us? Whether it is a difficult family crisis, or a professional crisis, expressing empathy, kindness, offering a few healing words, taking actions which we know will help the other person to cope should not be saved for later, for the ‘right time.’

Haven’t we had loved ones suddenly depart, and felt we should have mended that relation before it was too late? Why push mending something broken to ‘later’ when it can be mended ‘now’?

Keeping this in our not-to-do list will ensure we know there is no ‘wrong time’ to express kindness in actions and words.

Do Not Think It’s Too Late to Pursue Higher Studies:

Learning, knowledge, study have no age bar. If circumstances made you give up on studies, temporarily, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on them permanently.

It is necessary we don’t let socially constructed conventions about age hinder us from pursuing anything which could add to our skill- and knowledge- set, helping us grow as a professional, or simply something which could help us grow as a person.

It is important we add this to our not-to-do list, so we remember to never stop learning.

These are just a few examples of a not-to-do list. You could make your own specific ones, or just keep a general list to help you steer clear of some preconceived and outdated notions. Either way, it is not always wrong to think in terms of ‘negatives’. Sometimes, the negative is in fact a positive!

And finally, the most important item to add to any not-to-do list these days:-

Do not be casual while taking precautions in the ‘new normal’!

 Do not take the safety directives lightly. Do not venture out without wearing a mask, do not be lazy about washing your hands, do not take the social distancing rules lightly, do not forget to sanitise the goods you buy, and do not be afraid to put your health first. Adding all this to our not-do-list will ensure we realise our responsibilities.

Professional Lessons to learn from Diwali Festivities

Diwali image 1


As many of us know, Diwali is not just about a day. The festivities and the rituals begin right from Dhanteras, and go on for days till Bhai Dooj.

Now, here are some professional lessons to be learnt from the five days. Don’t worry, we are not asking you to work during the holiday season, but the following lessons can always be implemented after you come refreshed from a Diwali break.


This day, the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month Kartik, is associated with cleansing and purchasing.

The day gives us lessons about the importance of getting rid of chaos and old clutter , and thus make space for order, novelty and freshness.

In the office space, it is similarly necessary to get rid of old, obsolete technology, and be up to date with the emerging trends. Plus, it is a great idea to keep the work station clean, tidy and ordered. There is known to be a positive correlation between work efficiency and a well-lithygienicpeaceful work environment with minimal disturbances.


 Chhoti Diwali:

The fourteenth day of the fortnight is associated with preparation of sweets using various ingredients like flour, semolina, dry fruits, milk solids, etc.

Remember how the various sweets are not simply “sweet”, but the taste of the main ingredient always lingers? Be it milk, cashews, almonds, pistachios, there is an instant recognition.

It would do us good if we keep this in mind: it is necessary to retain one’s essence to gain recognition.

For example, an HR manager of any company, would much prefer a candidate who is honest  and transparent as opposed to someone who is showy (flamboyant) and ingratiating.

Sooner or later, the inner qualities of that candidate would be recognised, like the main ingredient of the “sweet.”



Here comes the festival of lights! There is sound, there is colour, there are feasts, there are Pujas performed, there is celebration everywhere! The young people visit and take blessing from the elders. Oh, and there are diyas, rangolis!

In the professional lingo, this teaches us the importance of good networkingbonding, the importance of mentors. It tells a lot about the power of one small diya. About the power of one single colour to add that missing touch in a rangoli. Sometimes, a rangoli remains incomplete without that one colour. Team work is the Key.

A line of diyas has the capability to light up an entire place. Collaboration, not competition is the way to go.


Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj:

Govardhan Puja is celebrated to mark the feat of Shri Krishna when he lifted up a mountain to save cowherds and farmers from incessant rains. Some regions celebrate this day as a New Year, and some as the Annakut, literally mountain of sweets. Some celebrate the bond between husband and wife.

Bhai Dooj celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, here, the sister acting as a protector of the brother.

Anyhow, the two days teach us a lot about the importance of being supportive to our colleagues, especially in the time of crisis.

Taking responsibility, having empathy, handling interpersonal relationships effectively are some of the lessons we can take with us. It tells us about the importance to have Emotional Intelligence. In short, the importance of taking leadership in little things.

Emotional Intelligence could be used in handling meetings, negative feedback or appraisal, client relations, empowering your colleagues, etc.

Diwali festivities not only give us good times, but good lessons which could be applied in a professional setting.

Delving into meanings of festivals and traditions, could help us a great deal to understand the values and their timelessness.

Happy Diwali!


What is your Learning Style?

Learning Styles image


Cause for Friction:

There are times when no matter how close attention you pay, the information just doesn’t get registered.

Sometimes, it tires you to no limit as you try to explain something to a colleague or friend but they just don’t seem to be getting what you are saying. How much more simply could I sum up this, you wonder.

Meetings end in confusion, presentations are deemed having no impact.

You wonder, at times why people can’t even grasp some basic concepts.

It could be that there is a difference of learning styles.

Learning is not limited to school days. Training for a particular job, learning about the inside workings of an industry, learning about some new model of work that is going to be integrated in what you did until now: there are countless examples in our professional lives where you either need to learn or need to impart some knowledge to others.

It is important to have an understanding of the various learning styles:

  • To increase efficiency.
  • To save time and energy.
  • To learn better.
  • To teach or train better.


The Learning Styles:

The model of learning styles first devised by Dr. Richard Felder, Linda Silverman and Barbara Soloman during the late 1980s is one of the most widely used and comprehensive classifications out there. It was updated in 2002.

According to this, there are four dimensions to learning styles. Each dimension has two poles with a continuum in the space in between.

Sensory: Sensory learners look at everything concrete. They are concerned about hard facts and things which could be substantiated.

Intuitive: Intuitive learners look for meaning. Their eyes are open to theory. They process in terms of concepts.

Visual: Visual learners, as the name suggests, process in terms of visual representations. Graphs, diagrams, charts, pictures grab their attention.

Verbal: They explain/need explanation through words. Hearing, listening to, reading information is how they process it.

Active: Active learners like to manipulate objects, experiment, go for trial and error to figure things out. They work well with groups.

Reflective: They think, contemplate, evaluate, analyse. They figure out things by themselves.

Sequential: Sequential learns look for the building blocks to a big picture. They prefer to have information in a linear, orderly manner.

Global: They look at the big picture and then fill in the details. Their approach is much more holistic.


Being Aware Where You Lie on the Spectrum:   

It is important to be aware about one’s learning style so that one knows what they might be missing.

For example, a sequential learner might miss out on the big picture at times, and on the other extreme, a global learner might miss out on the smaller details.

Or, it might take an intuitive learner more time to understand the importance of facts which are needed to substantiate any theory. A sensory learner might underestimate the importance of conceptual clarity.

Visual learners might have trouble “reading” data that has not been presented in graphs and diagrams. Verbal learners might have a tough time handling audio visual learning where they can’t “read” anything.

Reflective learners could take a cue from active learners and focus on decision making rather than just poring over the available details. Active learners could learn some patience and learn to look (closely) before leaping.

Thus, as obvious as it sounds, it is important to strike a balance in terms of the aforementioned dimensions.

Whether you are the learner or the one imparting, it is necessary to identify your learning style, whether it’s a combination of many styles, where you lie in the continuum, what could be missing from your approach and what is the best thing about your approach, and try to understand the same about the person/group you are to learn from/ explain/train.