Secrets of the One Minute Manager

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have written the best seller, The One Minute manager. This book has sold over a million copies. It deals with the search for the best management techniques by a young man, who finally discovers a One Minute manager. The One Minute Manager tells him about the three secrets and more. You can read my summary of the book here.

The three secrets revealed in the One Minute Manager can be used in our professional life. Here is my interpretation of the same.

One Minute Goal Setting

This is the first secret revealed in the book, The One Minute Manager. This deals with setting clear expectations between the manager and his team member. Often the team member is clueless of what is expected from him. The manager does not specify what exactly a win is. The team member does not know what good behavior in his specific context is. He does not have a goal. So, the One minute manager recommends the following steps:

  • ·         Agree on your goals.
  • ·         See what good behavior looks like.
  • ·         Write each of your goals on a paper using less than 250 words.
  • ·         Read and re-read each goal, which takes only a minute to read.
  • ·         Take a minute every once in a while to look at your performance, and
  • ·         See whether or not your behavior matches your goal

The Goal setting helps establish a contract. From what I have read, a written goal, as opposed to just having it in mind, is one of the most effective ways to imprint the goal in our mind. It enhances certain neural pathways that help us in the longer term to achieve the goal. Then reading and re-reading the goal helps one remain focused. Often, due to various distractions in our daily life, we loose track of our goals. This is where reading and re-reading helps us. Now, it has to be within 250 words so that you can read it faster. Had it been a 2500 words goal, one will not be willing to read it at all! Then it helps to check if our actions and behavior are leading us towards the written goals or not.
This is all about 1 minute goal. The idea is not to set goals in 1 minute. But that the goals can be reviewed in 1 minute. Also, one can use the Pareto principle for goal setting. Since 20% of our actions produce 80% of results, the goals should be focused on those 20% of actions only.

One Minute Praises

The second secret of the One Minute manager is the One Minute Praise. This is based on the belief that everyone is a potential winner. The manager should help them reach their full potential. This can be done by catching the team members early doing something right. Below are the steps that can be taken for the same.
  • ·         Tell people from the beginning that you are going to give feedback to them.
  • ·         Praise them as soon as they do something right.
  • ·         Tell them exactly what they did right.
  • ·         Tell them how good you feel about what they did right and how it helps everyone
  • ·         Stop for a moment of silence to let the good feeling  sink in.
  • ·         Encourage them to do more of the same behavior.
  • ·         Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success

Please note that one of the step is to have a moment of silence, after you praise. This lets the feeling sink in. This is a psychological technique to win people over. The other one is a light touch on the hand or shoulder. It is incredibly effective and I have seen one of my supervisor use this technique to win over the team members. But if you are going to use it, be sure that you are authentic and it should not be construed as acting.

Praising someone reinforces the right behavior. This is the method that Pavlov used on his dog in his famous experiment. This is the technique used by parents to encourage their child to walk or learn new words. We do it instinctively in social and family setup. But how this technique is to be used in a professional setup is something many are not aware of. If used correctly, this technique will reap rich dividends in terms of developing your team.

One Minute Reprimand

The third secret is One Minute Reprimand. This is needed in order to rectify incorrect or improper behavior. There are 2 parts to it. As soon as you catch someone doing something wrong, you have to give the feedback on the behavior. That is the first part. After that, you should also support the person so that he understands that the behavior is  undesired, but not the person. The basic steps are listed below.
·     
     Set the expectation with your people that you are going to give them direct feedback

    The first part – Reprimand:
  • ·         Reprimand people immediately when they do a mistake.
  • ·         Tell them specifically what they did wrong.
  • ·         Tell them how you feel about what they did wrong.
  • ·         Stop for a moment of uncomfortable silence to let the feeling sink in
  • The second part – The support:
  • ·         Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are with them.
  • ·         Remind them how much you value them as a person.
  • ·         Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation.
  • ·         Realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over

Most of the time, the feedback is not given immediately. It is given at the time of appraisal. At that time, it is too late for the team member to change. Also, we forget that we should hate the sin, not the sinner. Too often, it is the sinner who is punished!


These are the 3 secrets of the One minute manager. Easy to say, easy to remember but difficult to practice! 

Talk by Anu Vaidyanathan - Hyderabad Runners




Sunday, June 26th 2016, I went to St Mary's College at Yousufguda. There was supposed to be a talk by Anu Vaidyanathan, India's first  Ultraman. Now, I didn't know what Ultraman means.

Anu is a triathlete. She runs, rides bike and swims. She has finished several marathons, iron mans (2.4 mile swim, 112 miles bike ride and 26.2 miles running). In 2009, she completed the Ultraman, which is swimming for 10k, bile riding for 425.6k and running for 84.4k. Now, you may be thinking that she is an adventure sports junkie.

Well, she has a graduation and post graduation in computer science, a PhD in electrical engineering, and she has been a professor at IIT Ropar and IIM Ahmedabad. She has her own consulting firm operating in the patents field. Also, she is a daughter, wife and a mother!

Now, that's some list of achievements that can make any one proud. But she is all about humility.

I had read about Anu earlier and knew about her achievements. So, when HR Runners decided to host her talk in the occasion of the 10 years celebrations, I registered a slot for myself.

Though I had been to St Mary's College at Yousufguda earlier, I was and still am not familiar with the way. Google maps have become my best friend and they guided me to the destination. There were few cars and bikes parked outside the college compound. As I entered the gate, the security staff told me to go to the 4th floor.

Near the lift, I met Amulu, a Toastmasters friend who was also there for the talk. There was a small auditorium, with capacity of around 150 people on the 4th floor. Rajesh Vetcha, founder of Hyderabad Runners, along with Shiv Kosgi, the operations manager, were there at the door of the auditorium, welcoming people as they walked in.

The auditorium was dimly lit. There were about 50 odd people inside the auditorium. Some were seated and some were milling around the stage. On the stage, there was a small table to the right with a pile of books neatly stacked. There were 2 standees on the stage, one announcing Hyderabad Runners 10 years celebrations and another for Anu Vaidyanathan' book, Anywhere but home. Anu was standing there talking to anyone who wanted to, signing the books for anyone who bought it.

After some time the talk started. Rajesh gave a welcome speech and invited Anu to take over. Anu passed on a feedback from and a post card with a lucky draw instructions before starting the talk. She was very calm and composed. She spoke in a natural style, spoke very fast and had lots of humor baked into her talk. She started with her connection with Hyderabad and especially Rajesh. Then how there were many Telugus who were part of her life and the contribution by them in her journey. She told about her childhood, school days and college days at USA. She apparently used to be a chubby kid during school. Is was the college that one of her friend introduced her to running.

Post her engineering in the US , she started pursuing a PhD there. Somewhere in between, she got frustrated and decided to come back to India. She came to Bangalore and started a start up. Running was her anchor during that time. She felt most comfortable while running.

Then one after the other, she started taking up bigger challenges, culminating with the Ultraman in 2009. Later she got married to a person who also supported her ambitions. Then, she became pregnant and continued long distance walking till almost the end of her pregnancy. It was during that time, someone asked her to write a book. The book project took about 2-3 years to complete. Now, it was being released.

If you look at her now, it will be difficult to believe that she was once a triathlete. She has gained weight. But there is one thing that she said which I liked. Her overall message was to keep passionate goals and achieve them. She said, people like to brand themselves as something. Like you may say you are a runner. Then you become imprisoned with your own definition of yourself. You have to prove to yourself and to others that you are a runner. You have to beat a certain time. That is dangerous. She said, do not cubby hole yourself. Do whatever you are passionate about. Reinvent yourself based on the time and circumstances. You define yourself. Others definition of you doesn't define you!!

Finally, there was a question and answer session and a prize distribution ceremony of HR Relay Run.


Influence of 7 Habits

Books are like people that you meet and you know. You like some people and some people, you dislike very much. Then there are others that you neither like nor dislike! Then there may be one person whom you like very much, but your friend may not like that person. Similarly, books that are important and that you like may not be important for others. Some books speak to you directly. Some do not. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one such book that had a huge impact to shape my thinking and world view.

Covey’s book, 7 Habits, is one of those books that I give credit for having had a deep influence on me and my thought process. It provided me with a paradigm to look at myself, to look at my relationship with others, and to look at the world in a pair of new eyes. It gave me ideas and links to discover more. I read up Vicktor Frankl and his works, I learnt about the stimuli, the response and freedom of choice in between. It taught the concept of inside out change and the concept of dependence, independence and interdependence! The 7 Habits book gave me a completely new way of thinking. Over a period of 6–7 years of trying to read, re-read, listen to the audio book, and incorporate his ideas in life, I found myself improving in many ways. My relationship with myself and with others has improved. I have become a better person. This book has done wonders for me. Hence, it is very important in my life.

I am a fan of Stephen Covey. I have read most of his books as well. Two other books that I liked were First Things First and The Principle Centered Leadership.


Book Review - The One Minute Manager



Between 2009 to 2011, I was working at a client location in Bangalore, the IT hub of India. Our client was ANZ Bank, which had its captive IT operations running out from Bangalore. I used to stay in a village called Kagadasapura. ANZ office was at Embassy Golf Links Business Park, a modern IT factory, about 10km away from my residence. I used to travel to office by bus from the CV Raman nagar bus stop. This ensured that I got a seat and it also gave me ample of time, almost 1 hour daily, to read books.

ANZ was, and I believe still is a progressive organization. It used to organize several events to promote different type of awareness among its employees. In one such quality awareness drives, the Quality team had come to our work bay and they conducted a mini quiz. They said, anyone who could answer 3 questions would get a spot prize. I do not remember the questions now, but I eventually won the prize. It was a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate and a small red book titled “The One Minute Manager”. Being a book lover and also a chocolate chaser, I could not have asked for anything more. So, I devoured the Diary Milk Chocolate as soon as the event was over. Then, I took a hard look at the book and read the synopsis on the back cover. It was interesting. It talked about 3 secrets of a One Minute Manager. This piqued my interest to glance at the contents. From the contents, the book seemed very funny. I decided to read it cover to cover once I board the bus, I thought to myself.

The One Minute Manager is a very small book, about 110 pages, written by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. A small book, published first in 1981, you can literally breeze through it quickly and understand the core concepts easily. Before I go to the core concept of the One Minute Manager, let me tell you about the characters in the book.
In this book, there are 2 main characters – The young man & the Old man and 3 supporting characters – the 3 folks who report to the old man.

The scene opens with the following context. A young man is searching for the most effective manager. His search has taken him many places. He interacted with different types of managers. Some of them were ones who got results, but the people under them were not happy. Some were such that the people working with them were very happy, but they did not get results. Finally, he comes to a manager of whom he has heard a lot of good things. He thinks it will be difficult to get an appointment. But he is surprised with the ease with which he is able to meet him.

The Young man spends some time the Old Man, discussing about his management style. He learns various quirks of the old man. The old man commends him for his sincerity to learn the method of management and also rebukes him when the young man asks the old man to repeat something. When the young man asks him what is his management style, the old man says he is the One Minute Manager. Our young man is not able to understand, let alone believe what the old man said. So, the old man asks the Young man to talk to his staff to understand his management style.

Our young man goes and meets the staff members and each one tells him one secret. So, here are the 3 secrets of the One Minute Manager.

  1. One Minute Goal Setting – Set written goals that can be read in 1 minute
  2. One Minute Praise – Praise people doing right thing to encourage that behavior
  3. One Minute reprimands – Reprimand the wrong behavior, not the person


These are 3 simple but effective techniques that the young man learns. The young man also discovers that the operations run by the old man was the best in the organization and the old man was known to be a manager-maker in the organization. After learning these, the young man comes to the one minute manager and has a long discussion with him. He has some doubts in his mind. He asks the following questions:

  •         Why does One minute Goal Setting work?
  •          Why does One minute praise work?
  •          Why does One minute reprimand work?


The old man patiently explains why each of these techniques work. He tells that these are based on psychological principles and concepts. He gives examples from animal world as well as social real world context on how these principles are applied. At the end, the young man is convinced of the effectiveness of these techniques.

Finally, the old man offers a job to the young man. He gladly takes it up and starts practicing the one minute management concepts. He keeps sharing these concepts with others

My observations


This book gives simple, effective and easy to remember management techniques for managers. I loved the simplicity and the reasoning that is given in the book on why these techniques are effective. These techniques can be easily implemented, provided you learn them properly, practice them and get a conducive environment. Being in toastmasters, I could relate how effective these are while providing evaluations. In fact, as an evaluator in one of the toastmaster meeting, I had once used this technique to provide my evaluation to the speaker.

I have few qualms with this technique as well. The first one is, this principle is quite good for managing team members. But, it cannot be used while working with peers or with your supervisors. The second one is that the scenarios described in the books are idealistic. Real world is much more complex. It has various nuances and shades and a direct application of these techniques may not be possible.


Having said that, my verdict is this is a good book. I would advise you to read it, re-read it, understand it and apply it in your professional and personal life.

Good Habits Kill Bad Habits

Can developing good habits kill the bad one's?

The short answer - Yes.

The long answer, well it is a long process and it takes time. But developing certain good habits are known to kill bad habits. Let me give you an example from my own life. 6 years ago, I was a sedentary, lethargic and utterly unfit person. I used to eat all kinds of junk food, smoke almost 8–10 cigarettes a day, sleep late and wake up late. All my vital health parameters like BMI, Blood Pressure, Lipid Profile, Urea, etc had gone over the roof. I knew that all that I used to do like smoking, binge eating, oversleeping etc are bad habits. But I did not know how to get rid of them. In fact, I never tried to shed those habits because I used to enjoy them.

In 2011, I took up running to control my weight. It was a difficult process. It took me several months and a truckload of will power to get into the groove of running. You can read that story here: Couch Potato to Runner - My Story!

In about an years time, the running habit was firmly established. I started calling myself a runner. I did not know that I was setting up a habit that would change my life. I lost the extra weight that I was carrying for most of my life. The health parameters came back to normal. I started taking part in longer runs. This meant I has to eat healthy food. My binge eating stopped. I had to wake up early to go for my daily run. This meant that I had to go to sleep early. My overall lifestyle changed because of the habit of running. In order to run better, I felt like quitting smoking. One fine day, I just stopped. The runs were much more enjoyable and I became faster.

Today, I am a changed person. I have become much disciplined and have incorporated many other practices into my daily life. My life today is 360 degree different from what it was 6 years ago.

So, yes, it is possible. It will take time. But with your will power and patience, a good habit will help you kill bad habits. Such habits are known as key-stone habits. They are the ones that help add more and more good habits in your life and drop the bad ones. Example of keystone habits are running, meditation, tracking your food intake, maintaining a daily to-do list etc.


The Three Bulls


Long ago, in a village, lived a young man. He fell in love with a beautiful young woman. He wanted to marry that woman. So, as was the custom in those days, the young man went to the woman’s father and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

The woman’s father wanted to test the courage of the young man. The father said, “I will give you my daughter in marriage if you are able to pass in a certain test”. He added, “Come to my farm tomorrow morning. I will release three bulls one after the other. All you have to do is to touch the tail of any one of the bulls. Mind you, you have to touch the tail only. You cannot touch any other part of the bull”. The young man agreed.

The next day, the young man reached the farm. He was waiting at the gate of the farm for the bulls to be released. Soon, the gate of the farm was opened. The young man could see a large black bull was stomping inside. It was huge. It was more like a rhino than a bull. As soon as the black bull started running towards him, he felt nervous and queasy. He thought, “This is a large bull. If I try to touch it, it could kick me hard. I would be make pulp out of me. There are two more bulls to come after this. May be I should try the next one”. And he let the large bull get away.

After some time, the young man could see another red bull stomping inside the farm. It was not as large as the previous black bull. But it had two ferocious horns. The red bull was stomping the ground, raising a little storm, all the while tossing its head all around and jumping up and down. It displayed very aggressive behavior. The young man thought, “This bull is smaller that the previous one. So the next bull will be even smaller. Why to take risk of life. I still have one more chance and I will try it.” Thus, when the bull came running towards him, he let it go.

Finally the third bull came around. It was a white bull. It was built small. It had very small horns and looked very docile. The young man thought “This is my chance and I will catch the tail of this bull”. He positioned himself and got ready to catch the tail. The bull came running slowly towards him. Just as the bull reached near him, the young man stepped forward to catch its tail. But, alas, the white bull had no tail!

Thus, the young man could pass the test and could not marry the woman he wanted to.


In life, many times, we also let go of opportunities. Under various pretext and excuses, we forgo opportunities that life gives us. We say, we will take the next opportunity or the next one. But no one knows, whether the next opportunity will be the right one or not. 

Benjamin Franklin - Moderation

The ninth virtue developed by Benjamin Franklin was moderation. He described moderation as - Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

Franklin advises us to avoid extremes in anything. One should be moderate. Everything in extreme is bad. Excess rain causes flood and no rain causes draught. Excess enjoyment causes senses to become dull and no enjoyment makes life very uninteresting. Excess eating causes health problems and so do not eating anything.

The second part of his description is about resentment. When someone causes you an injury, it is natural for the aggrieved person to resent it. In this situation, Franklin advises that one should tolerate it and not resent it so much. Basically, do not go to the extreme. One could say that if you have to get angry on someone, get mad, but be in control!

Various religions in the world have advocated the virtue of moderation. The Buddhists say, follow the middle path. In Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosophy, moderation is considered as a key part of one’s personal development. The Taoists believe that there is nothing that cannot be moderated. One's actions, one's desires and even one's thoughts can be moderated to an extent.

In ancient Greece, Moderation was a principle of life. In the temple of Apollo at Delphi there is the inscription Meden Agan which means 'Nothing in excess'. Greek philosophers believed that health was seen to flow from observing moderation – in exercise, in study, and in diet.

Thus moderation has been a key principle throughout history of mankind and many cultures and religions have extolled this virtue. This is certainly a key virtue for the student of success

Benjamin Franklin - Justice

The eighth virtue practiced by Benjamin Franklin was justice. Franklin described justice as (do) wrong (to) none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Everyone wants to live in a fair world. We want others to treat us fairly. This is something which was known even 2000 years ago. As Jesus told - Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you. This is known as the Golden Rule or the law of reciprocity. This is a principle which is seen in many religions and culture. If you want to be treated fairly treat others fairly. This is a very simple principle. You reap what you sow. You get what you give. Thus if you want to get justice, you have to be to be just. One cannot expect to be treated in a just manner while inflicting injustice or injuries to others. Similarly one cannot be partial and stop the benefits that are due to others and expect impartiality from others.

To be fair and just in all dealings requires a high degree of moral values. This is an investment which does not seem to pay in the short run. There have been many examples in real life and in stories, where the protagonist has been fair and just in all his dealings, but life has not treated him fairly. In real life, we see that the ones who wield muscle power, political power, and the ones who barge their way through things, the corrupt people seem to make the most progress in life. The ones who follow the law, the one who is on the path of the truth and Justice seem to lag behind. But if you look at the conscience of these two different type of people, you will find that the latter has a clear conscience. They go to the bed every night without any worries and fear in their mind.

There is another side of justice as well. One can be just and at the same time bear injustice from another person. In such a situation, one should not submit to the injustice. One has to raise his voice against it. This requires some degree of courage. As a student of success, we should develop this virtue of being just to everyone and have the courage to stand up against injustice.


Benjamin Franklin - Sincerity

The seventh virtue that Benjamin Franklin worked to develop was Sincerity.  Franklin described it in simple words as - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

This particular virtue is the one that is closely related to being truthful. Franklin upheld truth not only in act, but also in thought and speech. He exhorts us act in a non-deceitful manner, to think innocently and justly and speak on the same lines as well. So, in a nutshell, it is to think, speak and act in a non deceitful manner.

We find so much degradation of moral values in today’s world. People have become so materialistic that they not only think and speak twisted truth, but also act in such a way as to deceive and hurt other people for their material or political gain. But in the fundamental analysis, all human connections depend on a single character strength which is trust. Trust is the bond or the glue which holds all connections together and everything else originates from that. Trust is the basis of business, trade, exchange of goods, services or knowledge. Trust is the basis of our life. And trust is sustained by truth.

Untruth, insincerity is the enemy of trust. Employing those tactics may lead to short term gains in business, but they lead to a erosion of trust. When there is lack of trust, or depreciation in trust levels, at the end of the day, the relationship suffers, the connections suffer and business suffers. But if someone is sincere, it leads to a higher level of effort, better trust and stronger bonds. Hence, being sincere is a very important virtue for a person.

Book Review - The Ice Cream Maker - Subir Chowdhury

icecream-maker-subir-chowdhury


Browsing through the book shelves in the management books section of our library, I came across a small book with a unique name - The Ice Cream Maker. The spine even had a tiny picture of an Ice cream cone! My first reaction was that probably someone has misplaced a story book in the management section. I looked at the name of the author – Subir Chowdhury. It was not a familiar name. However, the book seemed well worn out and I was intrigued. So, I pulled it out and read the front cover – It said – An inspiring tale about making quality the key ingredient in everything you do. I realized that this is not a story book, or may be a management book masquerading as a story book.

Subir Chowdhury is an expert in quality and processes. This is a story, fictional I guess, in which the protagonist is a manager in charge of an Ice-Cream manufacturing unit which is a profit centre on its own and is responsible for sales and marketing as well. The unit is not doing well and the owner is contemplating to sell it off or shut it down. Everything seems to be going wrong with the Ice-Cream factory. Their sales were dropping. Their quality was bad. The people were de-motivated and cynical.

That is when the protagonist finds a mentor, who is the manager of a large retail store in their town. He visits him and asks for his guidance. The subsequent story is about how the Ice-Cream Factory is turned around and finally sales soar and our protagonist gets a promotion.

A very lovable acronym – LEO is introduced in the book.
·         L stands for Listen. Listen to your customers ( and employees as well!)
·         E stands for Enrich. Enrich your products and services (innovate)
·         stands for Optimize. Optimize the customer experience

Here are a few more quotes from the book –
  • ·         If you sell something, you have customers
  • ·         Most companies are better at delivering “excitement” than at serving customers’ “basic” needs
  • ·         You need to think about how to improve your product or service every day
  • ·         Recognize the price of failure
  • ·         Get absolutely dogged on the details
  • ·         Develop productive paranoia
  • ·         Instill a passion for perfection in your team
  • ·         The real measure of performance is not how you do at your best, but how you do at your worst.



Overall, this was a very light read. It does not introduce any new concepts or ideas that you do not know. But it is a good refresher into how some of the basics of quality can be introduced in your team/operations.

Benjamin Franklin - Industry

The sixth virtue that Benjamin Franklin sought to develop was Industry. The word industry in today’s common usage means a factory or a place where some goods are produced. We have the Film industry, the IT industry, the heavy industries etc. But the another meaning of industry is to be industrious. It is to be productively engaged or employed in something useful. Franklin described Industry in the following words - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
These days, everyone is very busy. We find it difficult to add another item on to our packed schedule. There are so many attractions and distractions. Family, friends, profession, hobbies, social and personal life – all demand our attention and time. Hence, it is very important for us, not to lose time in those activities which are not useful and congruent to our goal. If someone’s goal is to be the best badminton player, his focus should be on the game most of the time. Except for some time devoted to recreation, he should focus on practicing the game, reading books on badminton, discussing various techniques with his team members, coach or other players, encouraging others to play and talk about the game because by doing so, one becomes motivated. The badminton player should not spend hours together watching movies or surfing internet or playing video games. He should drop out all the other activities that do not help him progress toward his goals.
The biggest impediment to industry is a lack of focus and laziness. If someone does not have a goal, if there is no focus, no aim in life, then one does not know what to work on. He wastes his time on many activities. He does not move forward on anything. It is like a mouse running on a mill. It keeps the mouse busy, but it don’t reach anywhere. Similarly, if someone has a goal, but is lazy to work on it, he keeps procrastinating the work. It is like you want to exercise to reduce weight, but every morning you tell yourself that you will do it the next day and sleep in some more. In either of the case, you will not be able to reach your goal.
Industry and hard work are key ingredients for a successful life. It has been the same 300 years ago during the time of Benjamin Franklin and it still is one of the key ingredients today. All students of success should have a big helping of this virtue to make their life sweet, successful and satisfying.

 
Related Posts:
List of 13 virtues developed by Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin - Frugality

Frugality is the fifth of the 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin striven to develop as part of his self improvement effort. In short, he described frugality as: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

Today’s materialistic world entices people to spend more. There are such creative advertisements which artificially creates wants and needs where none really exists. Consumerism urges people to buy more unnecessary stuff. Consumerism thrives on creating a sense of inadequacy in your life. It fires the emotions of envy and pitches it against pride. Remember the feeling of keeping up with the Joneses?  All these have led to the consumerist society.

The consumerist society is full of show offs. They are the ones who get a sense of achievement by bragging their latest acquisitions, be it the newly launched iPhone or an Applewatch or some other gizmo. Some people love to splurge on cars and yachts, some others on castles and property. They have different tastes. Different strokes for different folks. But in the final analysis, to live a life well, one need not spend unnecessarily on such extravagant luxuries. Benjamin Franklin believed that the money that one earns should be spent judiciously. Money should be spent in such a way that it should either do good or be beneficial to others or be beneficial to yourself. There should not be any wasteful expenditure.

Some people may argue why one should not be free to spend their own money in the way they like. I am sure Ben Franklin would not have objected to one spending his own money as per his desire. But before spending that money, one should ask, if this expenditure will result in something beneficial or not. When a millionaire goes for yet another race car, whom is he doing good? It is only for his ego satisfaction that he is buying another race car or luxury yacht. Doing something for your own ego is universally known as a selfish act. A student of success should not act in a selfish manner.

Frugality is a way of life. It can be practiced not only in matters of money, but also in matter of words. Wise people are known to be frugal with their words. They think more and speak less. By being frugal with their words, their words carry more weight. These days, there is a small tribe of people who follow a way of life called minimalism. They like to call themselves minimalists. Their philosophy is one should live one’s life with minimum need for material things. They live in a sparsely furnished house. They have bare minimum possessions. They may have just a pair of dresses, few books, few utensils, etc. Some sleep on the floor and live a very monastic life. Some of them take minimalism to a different sphere by thinking in a minimalist way. They try to think less. They meditate more and try to stop their thinking process when it is not needed. I think this is the height of being frugal. This may not be possible for many people.

There are 2 ways to become rich – either earn more, or spend less. Those who are frugal will be rich due to the second reason. Their life is a life of fewer needs. Since the needs are less, they have more time, better relationships and enjoy life more.  By practicing the virtue of frugality, one can get the strength and courage to drop out of the rat race and focus on those things that are truly fulfilling and uplifting. Being judicious in money matters and avoiding wasteful expenses will result in a wonderful life. 

Benjamin Franklin - Resolution

Benjamin-Franklin-Resolutions


The fourth virtue that was practiced by Benjamin Franklin was Resolution. He described Resolution as - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. In other words, make and keep promises.

Making resolutions and keeping them is what separates the dreamers from the achievers. The dreamers see a beautiful future. They nurture their dreams and some of them make promises to themselves to realize those dreams. But, only a few of those dreamers, who are disciplined of mind and spirit can only make it to the next stage of keeping those promises. Most of them fall off track from pursuit of their dream. It takes courage, it takes determination and most of all, it takes perseverance to go after one’s dreams, despite obstacles in the way, despite failures, and despite challenging circumstances, to finally emerge victorious. It is then that the dreamers become achievers.

Habits are the passport to create or destroy one’s life. If a person has good habits, his life will be ordered, disciplined and successful. A person with bad habits will eventually succumb to the effects of those bad habits. Creating good habits and changing bad habits are essential for any student of success. Will power is the basis of creating good habits. It is the basis of breaking bad habits. It is the sole source of strength. And contrary to common perception, will power is something that can be developed in a person. The surprising thing about will power is that just like your muscle power. It can be strengthened by exercising it on a daily or regular basis. Just as one can increase the strength in ones arms by doing pushups daily, one can increase one’s will power by taking up certain small challenges and progressively big and bigger ones.

In order for a dreamer to become an achiever, one needs strong will power. Will power is that internal strength which propels the dreamer to move forward in a hostile environment. This can be developed by making and keeping resolutions. This is as applicable in today’s world as it was 300 years ago!

Benjamin Franklin - Order


The third virtue that Benjamin Franklin sought to work on was Order.  He advised - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

Keeping things in order is a sign of a great mind. It is not only sign of a great mind, but sign of a very disciplined person as well. How many times do we forget where we keep various things. Hence, it is good to not only have a place for everything, but also have everything in its place. Assume that you have a book shelf to keep all your books. But if most of your books are lying scattered here and there, all over your house, what is the purpose of the book shelf?

Following this simple virtue can save you hours which would have otherwise been wasted searching for things. It is not only with things, it is about time as well. If we have a proper routine for our day, we will be able to focus on all the things that are important to us, without missing out anything. We will be able to attend to the important things as well as the urgent things.

If you maintain order in material things around you, it will also rub off in other spheres of your life. You will be disciplined and ordered in your activities and in your thinking as well. When you keep things in order in your personal and professional life, your life will be in order.


Related Posts:List of 13 virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin - Silence


The second virtue that Benjamin Franklin practiced was Silence. He advised to speak that what may benefit others or yourself and to avoid trifling conversation. 

With regards to speaking Aristotle had proposed a very simple and effective test known as the Triple Filter Test. When one of his friends came and told him that he had some news to share, Aristotle stopped him and asked if he had used the triple filter test. He said, before one speaks, one should check if any of the following questions is true, with respect to what one has to say:

  1.           The Truth Test:              Is it true? 
  2.       The Goodness Test:        Is it something good?
  3.       The Usefulness Test:      Is it something useful?


If the answer to anyone question is yes, then one should tell it. Else, it would be better to remain silent.

Today, it is a world of self-promotion.  We find people too loud and verbally too aggressive. When one is too preoccupied in airing ones views, it does not give us the time to reflect, think and construct the correct world view. This is where silence helps. Silence is the garden where good thoughts grow. Silence provides us time for introspection, time to review our goals and time to think about course correction. The best form of silence is not just to stop talking – it is to stop thinking – it is silencing the mind.

There is a constant inner talk that goes on in our mind. This inner talk affects us in many ways. It drains us of our energy. It can create a negative outlook and persona. The way to stop this is to silence the mind – an extremely difficult, but very powerful tool that one can acquire. Silence calms a person. It paves the path for clear and focused thinking and thus taking correct decisions.

The virtue of silence has been described as a source of great strength by the Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu. Francis Bacon, the English Philosopher compared silence to the sleep that nourishes wisdom. Unfortunately, in the affairs of the world today, silence is seen as a weakness. The most loud and vocal groups or persons are making the most hay. But from the development of your inner strength and virtue, silence is as effective today as it was 300 years ago.


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List of 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin - Temperance


Temperance

The first of the 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin worked on was Temperance. He defined Temperance as “Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation”.  Temperance means having restraint, having control or self-control. It is the opposite of excess. So, it is basically moderation.  One might wonder, why Franklin chose Temperance as the first of the virtues to be practiced. Franklin probably believed that to start on a virtuous path, temperance in food is one thing that could be easily followed and will build the requisite discipline and will power to master the other virtues as well.

Franklin meant temperance only in terms of food and drinks. It seems to me Franklin developed this virtue to maintain a good health. We all know how important health is. As long as someone is healthy, one does not realize how lucky one is. But as soon as one’s health fails, one realizes the adage Health is wealth.

Apart from very few diseases that can be congenital, all others are due to some foreign germs or carcinogens or particles which get into the body. The bulk of the diseases in human beings can be traced to what we eat and drink. So, if we are able to control our food intake, it will result in a strong and healthy body. That could be the reason that Franklin advised not to eat so much so as to become dull and lethargic. He advised not to drink so much as to lose one’s sobriety. Being a man of the world, he did not restrict someone completely. It was not very prescriptive saying one should remain in a sugar free diet and have only proteins, or abstain from alcohol completely. Food and drinks should be taken in moderation. With a healthy body and a healthy mind, one will live long and enjoy the gift of life fully.

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List of 13 virtues of Benjamin Franklin



How to Become a Voracious Reader

voracious-reader



All good habits are difficult to form but they make your life easy. A reading habit is no exception. But there are certainly somethings that can be done to establish this habit. Here is a list of 10 tips that can help to make you a voracious reader
  1. Make a list of 12 books that you should read. You can compile this list by looking at best sellers in NY Times or books in your area of interest or the most popular books in Goodreads etc. Try to finish one book a month. 
  2. It is a good practice to make sure that you read at least 15 pages of a book every day. You have to read it every single day, whether you feel like it or not. 
  3. Join a reading challenge in a social media forum . The 2016 reading challenge is underway in Good reads. The 2017 Reading challenge will start in 2 months time.
  4. Join a book club in your area. If there   are no book clubs, form one with like minded people. This will help you with a support group that will be encouraging and appreciative of your efforts. Also, you will get to learn from the reading experience of other members of the club during the club meetings where you discuss on the books that people have read. 
  5. Join a book lovers group in Facebook or good reads. This provides the similar benefits of being part of a tribe, even if not physical. There can be virtual discussions, book reviews and immense learning.
  6. The amount of information you can acquire depends upon how fast you can read printed materials or articles online. Learn various techniques and methods for speed reading and skimming contents of books. You can devour more books in a shorter time span using these techniques. 
  7. Once you finish reading a book, ensure that you write a review or summary of the book and your key take away in the form of a blog or review on Goodreads or on other social media. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help retain the knowledge. 
  8. Become a member of a lending library. If not a member, try to visit libraries in your area and browse through the different collections. You can also visit upmarket book stores where you can sample and savour many books. This will help you find out the genre of books that you like. 
  9. Once you create a habit of reading, read books outside your area of interest. This will help you understand different forms and structure of writings and broaden your knowledge base.
  10. Make your intention to read more books public and you will see your family and friends will help you achieve it.
All leaders are readers. Hence, you should cultivate the habit of reading. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes loads of patience to establish this habit. Once you start, you may not be able to continue on a daily basis. But do not give up. Start again. Slowly but surely you will find your rhythm and become a voracious reader!