Posts Tagged ‘empathy’

Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude

by William Reed on February 3, 2011

The roots of inflexibility

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. These attitudes have ruled and ruined empires as well as personal relationships throughout history, and of course are equally evident today.

The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. In Asian tradition, pride is like the brittle stick which does not bend, but only breaks. The inflexibility of mind, also known as the hardening of the attitudes, is ultimately the cause of the problem. It is better to be flexible, like bamboo.

Unfortunately, pride can be deeply rooted, and actually leaves visible traces in your posture and bearing. In Japanese there are many expressions for the body language of pride and its many moods: high nose (hana ga takai), big attitude (taido ga dekai), bent mouth (kuchi ga he no ji), twisted navel (heso magari).

We must become the change we want to see. ~M. Gandhi

It takes discipline and awareness to restore the flexibility you had as a small child, to be simple and natural. And there is a faster way to flexibility, based on a Mandala Principle from Buddhism, the Principle of Gratitude (慈悲喜捨 Jihi Kisha).

This 4-character compound contains the keys to that principle.

(Ji) Kindness, Love, Benevolence. Giving other people happiness or abundance.

(Hi) Compassion, Mercy, Charity. Offering support, or a helping hand.

(Ki) Celebration, Joy, Empathy. Feeling happy for other people’s happiness or success.

(Sha) Giving, Releasing, Forgetting. Giving freely without strings attached.

These four attitudes, or four gratitudes, will quickly open your eyes and your heart to a deeper level of flexible focus. Instead of looking for things, you will see and notice them, as well as understand exactly how you can help people in each situation. As a reminder, you can download the Mandala of Gratitude, and start using it in your daily life.

There is no limit to how far you can take this. But even if you do not approach the depth of gratitude and awareness of Mohandas K. Gandhi or Mother Teresa, the very intention to shift your awareness toward gratitude can change your life. It will certainly improve the lives of the people around you.

A new model for coaching

While the term Jihi Kisha comes from Buddhism, the importance of gratitude and giving thanks is universal to all religions and even in secular life in all cultures. Even the master of human relations Dale Carnegie, author of the world’s bestselling classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, said that the key to human relations was “to be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” For a great summary of other Dale Carnegie wisdom, visit My Choices, My Life.

Why not apply this to your own relationships, particularly those in which you are supporting or coaching another person, whether it be a family member or friend, or a coaching client?

While it may seem difficult to strive for high character ideals, the Mandala Chart gives you a structure and a tool that you can adjust and apply to your own situation. Using any of the PDF templates in this Flexible Focus series, or the Mandala Chart for iPad, you can start with eight key questions or points of focus, or you can create your own, and you will have a coaching tool with far more flexibility and functionality than a mere list of bullet points.

When you start doing this, one of the first things that you notice is that you are not the only one in trouble, and there are lots of ways that you can help other people, starting with those around you. The more you do this, the more good things come back to you, unless that was your reason for doing it in the first place. Give without strings attached. Give because we are all connected.

Lose the scarcity mentality and replace it with one of abundance, and make the world a better place. It all starts with you!

Quality #14: Process Improvement and 3E’s

by Tanmay Vora on January 25, 2010

The next installment in the QUALITYtweet series is: Process Improvement and 3E’s

Here are the first thirteen posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look:

  1. Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator
  2. Quality #2: Cure Precedes Prevention
  3. Quality #3: Great People + Good Processes = Great Quality
  4. Quality #4: Simplifying Processes
  5. Quality #5: Customers are your “Quality Partners”
  6. Quality #6: Knowing what needs improvement
  7. Quality #7: Productivity and Quality
  8. Quality #8: Best Practices are Contextual
  9. Quality #9: Quality of Relationship and Communication
  10. Quality #10: Inspection can be a waste if…
  11. Quality #11: Driving Change Through Leadership
  12. Quality #12: Middle Management and Quality Culture
  13. Quality #13: Reviews can be fun (if done right)

#QUALITYtweet Lack of 3E’s can be your biggest road blocks

in improvement journey. Empowerment, Education,

and Empathy

There are many reasons why a lot of improvement initiatives fail. However, top three reasons for most of the failures are:

1)      Lack of Empowerment

2)      Lack of Education and Training

3)      Lack of Empathy

Lets carefully look at each one of these culprits, and what you can do about it:

Empowerment

All improvement starts from the top. Most of the top leaders would claim that they want their processes to improve and efficiencies to increase. However, their best intentions to improve processes do not translate into actual commitment to improve. They assign responsibility of process improvement to a group but tend to bypass the processes themselves for short-term benefits. Worst yet, they assign responsibility of process improvement to a team and then reallocate the same team when faced with an immediate need of those resources. Leaders set a wrong precedence when they do this, and often create a culture where bypassing processes is considered normal. Lack of empowerment also means that people are not allowed to make mistakes. As a consequence, people responsible for or interested in process improvement initiative soon lose interest and move on and organization looses substantial time and effort already spent so far.

What can you do about it?

  • Map your intentions with your actions on process improvement.
  • Assign ownership and divert all communication related to improvement at one point.
  • Set expectations clear on goals and purpose of process improvement initiative.
  • Welcome innovation and let your improvement team make mistakes.
  • Announce your process improvement goals and track the progress.
  • Announce the results as well.
  • Periodically review improvement efforts and results.

Education

Either most people are not aware of the best practices or they don’t know how to apply those practices in given situations. Technology folks are deep into technology, but they don’t necessarily go deep into processes and practices. This is where continuous education is required. People need to be trained on processes and best way to implement them. When people don’t know the process, no wonder they will not use it optimally.

What can you do about it?

  • Set up a process training calendar throughout the year.
  • Ensure that all new processes, practices are propagated across the organization.
  • Set up a process advisory function for current/new projects.
  • Create best practices group and empower them to explore/share their expertise.
  • Have right knowledge management tools that help you in spreading process awareness.

Empathy

Process improvement can only be effective when process has an “empathy” element into it. If applied rigidly, processes can become your biggest barrier in solving your customer’s immediate problems. Empathy means accepting that processes may still not be able to solve all your/your customer’s problems. Empathy also means accepting that processes cannot be rigidly applied to all situations.

What can you do about it?

  • Understand the situation in which processes are applied.
  • Understand the larger context.
  • Assess if processes can be applied in an “as-is” state or would it need some tweaking.
  • Learn from unique situations and improve processes to include those scenarios.

As a first step to your process improvement journey, even if you focus on these Three E’s, your journey will become much easier and fun