The books I purchased and practised – Seven habits

7habitsThe seven habits of highly effective people’  by Stephen Covey is one book I purchased several times during the last 20 years and read several times, and benefited a lot by practicing the concepts. One of the exercises in the book under ‘Begin with the end in mind’ habit was to write down a personal mission statement, and I did one. The gist of it was to get into a job which will help me to travel a lot, meet lot of people, see new places…I wrote them in a writing pad, and as usual I lost track of it. After another ten years this writing pad surfaced again, and to my surprise I had accomplished everything that was written there as my personal mission. It sounds good. According to the book ‘The power of the sub-conscious mind’, which I just completed reading last week,  when I wrote my personal mission statement on a sheet of paper, it might got registered in my sub-conscious mind, and slowly the vision became a reality, because the subconscious mind, and in turn, the conscious mind started working toward it. Then the hunt for the next set of ‘vision starts’, and the cycle repeats.

“What is your personal mission statement?”. Yes, I am asking a difficult question. This year, I started by asking several people about their ‘definition of success of life’ and the majority did not know about it, yet they were chasing it. Here is a great opportunity. Take a sheet of paper, and write down your personal mission statement. Once the mission is clear, then we will be able to clarify our ‘to do list’ and ‘not to do list’. The ‘not to do list’ is as important as the ‘to do list’, because the ‘not to do list’ releases time for the ‘to do list’. Stephen covey explains the time quadrants of;

  • Urgent and not important
  • Urgent and important
  • Not urgent and not important  (eliminate)
  • Not urgent and important (give priority) 

‘Not urgent –  important’ activities are the ones which will give maximum benefits in the long run. One must eliminate the ‘not urgent – not important’ stuff, and make time for the ‘not urgent and important’. My post graduate degree happened like that. Some of my certifications which gave me maximum dividends in the longer run happened like that. Once we have our personal mission statement defined, then prioritization of our activities become easier. After all, it is just one life, that comprises of just 36,500 days, if we live for 100 years. Time is constant, and we must prioritize.

Once we know what is our true mission, then…

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist



15 points for effective daily stand up meetings (scrum)

  1. Start the meeting on time and finish it on time. Some teams do it at the beginning of the day. Some do it by 11 a.m. Some do it towards the end of the day. This can be a challenge when you have teams working from two different geographies with time zone differences. Choose the time slot that works for you, and stick to it, till it works, and when it does not work for some reason change the time of the meeting.
  2. Like every other ceremony of scrum, the daily stand up meeting is also time boxed into a maximum of 20 minutes. That means, for a ten member team, each person gets approximately 2 minutes to update the status of his/her work to the rest of the team (what did I do yesterday, what am I doing today and what are the issues I am facing. If the stand up meeting is exceeding the time box of 20 minutes, then correct it.
  3. Do not convert the daily stand up meeting into issue resolution meeting. Sometimes, logistically it is convenient to have the issue resolution meeting immediately after the daily scrum. In that case, conclude the daily scrum (daily stand up meeting) formally, before starting the issue resolution meeting, so that only those required need to participate in the second meeting and all others can go back to work.
  4. As in every other meeting, during the daily scrum also, the team members tend to talk to the senior most person in the group. In that case deliberately cut the eye contact with that person so that he/she will be forced to have eye contact with the rest of the team. This is the team’s meeting, just to see the status of the project together. By talking to the manager / scrum master, you are again falling back to the command and control mode, rather than the desired self organized teams.
  5. Please remember that going for a meeting late or skipping an agreed upon meeting are not positive indicators of mutual respect. Exceptions are fine, but if not controlled they can become the rule.If somebody violates the meeting norms anyone in the team can highlight it so that the correction happens then and there itself, before it becomes a team norm.
  6. Every one must stand up during the stand up meeting. There is a purpose for having a stand up meeting, instead of a sit down meeting. The objective is to have a quick and effective meeting within twenty minutes. Those lethargic souls and bodies, please excuse.
  7. Switch off mobiles. There is nothing more irritating than the mobile rings. These break the tempo and rhythm of communication. Even worse is answering the phone calls during the meeting.
  8. Demonstrate mutual respect and team work. When a person talks (updates his work status), listen with an intent to understand, and help, if required.
  9. Stand up in a circle, so that there is no hierarchy.
  10. Do not stand with the boss on one side and others on the other side.  This creates a divide.
  11. Who will start the meeting?. The person standing on the right side or left side of the scrum master, or on the left side. Go clock wise or anti clock wise, but have a norm, that is very important.
  12. Whenever someone requests help / highlight the challenges faced, note it down with an intent to help him/her. Remember, success of the sprint is joint responsibility.
  13. Always have the scrum meeting near the tracking board.
  14. If there are any action items for the scrum master, and if the scrum master is not available in the meeting (as per the latest scrum guide, scrum master’s presence is not mandatory in every scrum meeting), assign tasks to the scrum master, immediately after the daily scrum or just after it, so that she can work on them.
  15. Conclude the meeting by putting your hands together for the progress made. Celebrate even small achievements. Small achievements leads to big success stories.

Trust this helps.


Fluctuating motivation. How do you manage it?

Most of us go through periods of high motivation and low motivation. What could be the reasons?. How can we overcome it?

The best way to manage it is to acknowledge the fact that it is temporary and everyone goes through it.In my experience one of the reasons for fluctuating motivation is imbalance in work life balance. Some days I work very long and hard to feel lethargic the next day. I overcome demotivation by working on interesting personal projects, studying others projects, and spending time for re-creation (physical fitness, enough sleep, meditation, photowalks, prayer, reading good books ). These days I am reading ‘GRIT’, and ‘the power of the subconscious mind’

Click on the link below to know what others are doing to get out of lack of motivation.

Time Management for Bloggers

Our blog can be one of the best differentiator for us, yet sustainability of the blog is the challenge. While a well maintained blog is an advantage, a bad blog can boomerang.

This blog post by Christian Mihai is very relevant for bloggers, especially for those who starts blogs with great goals and later abandon them due to lack of time, or spend too much time blogging without any goals. The steps recommended by the blogger are simple, effective and practical, based on the global truth of “whatever we want control must me measured”.

Click the link below for the original post.