Power of Acknowledgment


Click here to watch the movie

Click the image to watch the movie

On August 1st, 2010, I received an forwarded email with a powerful story from a guy “Shreehari Prasad” whom I don’t know in person (not sure how he got my email, but I am glad that he did).

I sent the same email adding my personal message to some of my friends.  I took that opportunity to acknowledge everyone whom I remember for their contribution. A few of them replied back and shared their happiness for getting my email. Their words had made that day more beautiful.

Even a small acknowledgment can break the barrier, build the trust and strengthen the relationship with our friends and family member. We should not shy away from expressing our gratitude for other’s contribution.

This is the message of the powerful true story I received from a friend and shared with others by email. The story is about the power of acknowledgment that alters a 14 year-old boy’s life for ever.  You can watch this movie here. If you could not watch it (flash player required), then you may read the story as told here :

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I make a difference

A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in High School by telling them the difference each of them had made. She called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First, she told each of them how they had made a difference to her, and the class.

Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon, imprinted with gold letters, which read, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.” Afterwards, the teacher decided to do a class project, to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a Community.

She gave each student three more blue ribbons, and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom, and report to the class in about a week.

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company, and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon, and put it on his shirt.

Then he gave him two extra ribbons and said, “We’re doing a class project on recognition, and we’d like for you to go out, find some one to honor, and give them a blue ribbon. Then give them this extra blue ribbon, so they can acknowledge a third person, to keep this ceremony going. Then please get back to me and tell me what happened.”

Later that day, the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had a reputation of being kind of a grouchy fellow. He told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon, and give him permission to put it on him.

His boss said, “Well, sure.” The junior executive took one of the blue ribbons and placed it right on his boss’s jacket, above his heart. And then he asked, offering him the last ribbon, “Would you take this extra ribbon, and pass it on by honoring somebody else. The teenager who gave me these is doing a school project, and we want to keep this ribbon ceremony going and see how it affects people.”

That night, the boss came home and sat down with his 14-year-old son. He said, “The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office, and one of my employees came in and told me he admired me, and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius.

Imagine! He thinks I am a creative genius! Then he put a blue ribbon on me that says, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.” He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor.

As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about who I would honor with this ribbon, and I thought about you. I want to honor you. My days are hectic and when I come home, I don’t pay a lot of attention to you. I yell at you for not getting good enough grades and for your messy bedroom.

Somehow, tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You’re a great kid, and I love you!”

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn’t stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, “Dad, earlier tonight I sat in my room and wrote a letter to you and Mom, explaining why I had took my life, and I asked you to forgive me.

I was going to commit suicide tonight after you were asleep. I just didn’t think that you cared at all. The letter is upstairs. I don’t think I’ll need it after all.”

His father walked upstairs and found a heartfelt letter full of anguish and pain. The boss went back to work a changed man. He was no longer a grouch, but made sure to let all of his employees know that they made a difference.

The junior executive helped many other young people with career planning, one being the boss’ son, and never forgot to let them know that they made a difference in his life.

In addition, the young man and his classmates learned a valuable lesson:

“Who you are DOES make a difference”.

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If you like this story and feel that someone has made a difference in your life, please share this. Someone might be waiting there whose life is about to change receiving your gratitude. And so is yours!

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Power of compassion


Click here to watch the movie

Click the image to watch the movie

A spark is all it takes to start a mighty engine.  A sincere attention is all it’s needed to make a difference in someone’s life. Let’s be the spark and give our attention to someone who is in need. Who knows tomorrow is the day, we might find ourselves in the receiving end. Because giving is the first step of receiving.

This is an inspiring story published by Mary Robinson Raynold.  You can watch the story as flash movie or read it in this flash book (click on the link).  Else read it here in her words.

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The Teddy Stallard Story

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat was a little boy named Teddy Stallard.

Miss Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with other children, that his clothes were messy, and that he constantly needed a bath. And, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Miss Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Miss Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records, and she put Teddy’s off until the last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote:

“Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners. He is such a joy to be around.”

His second grade teacher wrote:

“Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness, and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote:

“His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote:

“Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Miss Thompson realized the problem, and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s.

His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Miss Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the students started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stallard stayed after school that day just long enough to say,

“Miss Thompson, today you smell just like my Mom used to.”

After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Miss Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind began to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.

By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class, and despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets.”

A year later, she found a note under her door from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he’d ever had in his whole life!

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school. He’d stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors.

Again he assured Miss Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he’d ever had. Then four more years passed, and yet another letter came. After he got his bachelor’s degree he had decided to go a little further.  She was still the best and favorite teacher he’d ever had. But now his name was a little longer… the letter was signed “Theodore F. Stallard, M.D.”

The story does not end here. There was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago, and he was wondering if Miss Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Miss Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stallard whispered in Miss Thompson’s ear:

“Thank you for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Miss Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back.

She said, “Teddy you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you!”

You can never tell what type of impact you may have on another’s life by your actions or lack of action. Please consider this fact in your venture through life, and just try to make a difference in someone else’s life today.

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What impact do you have on someone’s life today? Please share this story with your friends and family if you like it.

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Assumption


Who does the child look like?

A few days ago, I posted this photo of me with my friend’s son and asked “who he looks like”. Some of my close friends expressed their surprise for not telling them that I already have a kid.

I know the question was loaded to make them think that the kid is mine. I am also guilty of making assumption in my life that sometimes curtails my ability to understand a situation correctly. It made me take wrong route in academic life as well as personal life.

Assumption and academic life:

My first encounter with “assumption” that changed my life occurred in Hawaii – during my transition period from Physics to Environmental Engineering. Coming from science background, I don’t assume anything while solving an engineering and complex problem. I ended up not solving some because it was nearly impossible to solve those problems without simplifying those by correct assumptions.

Right assumption may simplify the problem to get a meaningful answer.  Our obsession for simplification sometimes changes the basis of the problem and we may found ourself solving a modified or entirely different problem.

Starting from scratch and going to the basic without too much assumptions should be the best way to go. Imagine Netwon would not have discovered the power of gravity or Einstein would not have realized the theory of relativity if they would have assumed what everyone had been assuming. The greatest scientific invention comes when one refuses to make blind assumptions.

Assumption should be our last resort to solve any problem. Because assumption is a biased opinion based on our previous experience that might not be perfect.

Assumption and social life:

Imagine your friend/partner/colleague acts in a manner that is very uncomfortable or socially unacceptable to you. What is our first reaction? More often than not, we start making assumption and start judging even before we listen to their complete story. Fight/misunderstanding rises and we get stuck with finding the answer about who is right and who is wrong.

There is not always an answer for every misunderstanding when the problem lies with our attitude of making assumption based on our life’s experience. Everything is okay when we are listening without making assumption. However, the moment we do, we stop listening and start judging. An example of wrong assumption and following events that change the heart of a father is told in this “$100 – a touching story

We blame everything on being overly judgmental or not listening. Little do we know that act of making assumption at each moment of any conversation is the origin of every misunderstanding or no understanding.

Blind assumption is the worst enemy of creative thinking and our understanding in establishing any relationship in science or social life.

Everyday our vision is blurred based on the assumption we make in daily life. It distorts our judgment. We end up landing on a place that is far from ideal.  And everything begins with an assumption.

What assumption have you made today? Was it helpful or not so helpful? Please share your story with us.

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$100 – A touching story


Are you spending enough time with the person you love?  Are you not neglecting something that is part of your present and future?  We all think we do it to some extent.  But how sure are we?

This following story is going to keep things in perspective.  I got it in one forwarded email from one of my friend.  Nothing more to say.  Story said it all.

A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door.

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?”
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?”
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh! (With his head down).
SON: “Daddy, may I please borrow $50?”
The father was furious.
DAD: “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work hard everyday for such this childish behavior.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.
The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?
After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think:
Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $ 50 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.

DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”

SON: “No daddy, I’m awake”.
DAD: “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the $50 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
SON: “Oh, thank you daddy!”
Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”

SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do.

“Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.

It’s just a short reminder to all of you working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts. Do remember to share that $100 worth of your time with someone you love? If we die tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family and friends we leave behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our family.

Do you have time for your loved one? Please share this story with your friends and family members if you like it.


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A confession


My flight from Spokane was about to land at Denver International Airport.  I was sitting near exit row.  I hurried myself to put my iPod and laptop in my bag.

“Would you please ______  the ________?”

“I am sorry. Can you repeat what you are saying?“ I said.

“Would you ______  the ________?”

I still could not understand what the flight attendant was talking about.  Without wasting any second, I began to imagine any instruction or protocol required for those who sit near “exit row” of the airplane.

Looking at the confusing look of my face, my fellow passenger stretched his arm and opened the window cover.  Only then I realized what the flight attendant was trying to tell me.

Bemused with my poor understanding of her instruction, the flight attendant whispered loudly to her fellow flight attendant – “I thought he (me) said he understood English”.

I must confess that it was painful when someone like her judged me within seconds without understanding various possibilities. Possibilities like, flight attendant was talking way faster – she was using sentence without window or anything in it for easy guessing – I was very absent-minded after listening a powerful story in my iPod.

With a heavy heart, I came outside of airport to catch the bus.  The bus driver asked me about my destination before putting my luggage in proper compartment. I said “Baseline” in my accent.

I saw the same confusing look that I must have while trying to decipher the flight attendant’s question. Before I could speak the second word, bus driver guessed my destination and nodded positively before moving on to the next passengers waiting with their heavy luggage.

This series of events about language barrier and misunderstanding reaffirm my thought about how I should respond to this kind of embarrassment.  I am sure many of my international friends whose native language is not English must have gone through similar incidents to some extent.

It’s not what has happened to us, it’s our choice or reaction to what has happened determines the outcome.

We often expect others to change to cover our limitations.  Instead of learning English or anything else for that matter in proper way, we sometimes wish other to understand our shortcoming and being nice to us.  Why?  Are we not judging other in the spur of moments? If yes, it is just another day to remind us the ground reality.
The reality is that we all should take responsibility to overcome our shortcoming.  Taking things personal does not do any good to us rather makes us trapped in our excuses.  It is nice if others are less judgmental.  But this is the very opportunity we sometimes need to break out of our own misery and be a better person than what we are.

I felt lot better after these thoughts. Bus started moving, so do my thoughts – a step closer to where I like to belong.

Do you have experienced similar embarrassment and learned something positive out of it? Please share my view if you like it.

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Paulie


Paulie - The epic journey of a parrot to find his little friend

“There are things in life you put off, because you think you’re gonna do them later. But the real thing Ivy taught me is you gotta live like there may not be a later.”

This is my favorite quote from the movie “Paulie“. The movie is about plight of a parrot named “Paulie” who was trying to find his lost friend “Marie”.

In his way, he met many amazing people whose lives were touched by his selfless attitude and vice versa. He also found many selfish people who used him for their advantages. He was tortured, emotionally broken and challenged  in his way to find his little girl, Marie.

This epic animal-adventure story may be made for children, but this movie has many messages that can touch anyone’s life. The messages are more clear when we have something to relate to Paulie and his journey.

Paulie could not have endured all difficulties in his way or would have lost his focus if he has no “Marie” in his life. Like Paulie, each one of us are having that journey to find someone or something in life.

As long as our life is driven by the desire to find our own “Marie” of our life, we will pass through anything and everything. Marie does not have to be a person but could be anything that will fulfill us.

Do you know what is driving you and who is your “Marie”?  If yes, you will get it as long you have the wish and determination to have it. If no, then the time to look for one is never late yet.

Braking free out of our own misery


Dogs won't see the wall, they see a way to cross it. Why not us?

I am going to be 4th year of my PhD and have no noteworthy progress (publications) to measure my success.  But my life is never more hopeful as it is now amid of all hopeless situations as foreseen by many of my friends.  I have found my way to make up for the lost time and have a successful career by end of my PhD.

Life was not as hopeless as it used to be for last few years.  I changed my major from Physics to Environmental Engineering when I have everything to take from Physics.  Then 3 years was a struggle to find my tone during my MS in Environmental Engineering.  And now, three years into my PhD where I finally felt like to find my lost rhythm.  I have this hope of everything can be possible and I will become what I am working for.

When I look back, there is thousands well-articulated excuses to convince all that I have not done that badly, if anything – it is because of circumstances (bla bla..).  The excuses that most of us can throw so convincingly that failure seems a natural disaster like tsunami – that we have no control on it.

This attitude of being focused on problems, circumstances and other’s fault dangerously cripples our ability to think a way out of it. We are hold hostage to the world we created, the world that is so negative that one can find a negative reason in everything.  Being negative does not change anything, but makes it worse until there is celestial blast to shatter everything we believe.

Should we not try to break this wall of negativity before the blast and have a fresh air to look at everything in different prospective?  If yes, how do you wake a non-sleeping human from the world of denial where everything is conspired against him/her.

Here I need your help to tell me if you have learned anything about it so that I can get out of my denial, if any or help someone coming out of his or her negative world.  Feel free to write me email or post it in comment section.  I will appreciate a lot for your thought on it.

Here are my checklists that you can add on to find if anyone needs to change his or her approach for better future.

  1. Does anything bother someone for more than years and there is nothing s/he can do about it other than worrying about everyday?
  2. Is s/he doing the same thing over and over and waiting for the misery to go away somehow?
  3. Is s/he feeling alone in this world where none understand him/her or even they understand, cannot help him/her?
  4. Does s/he have dying desire to be someone else other than who s/he is now?
  5. Does s/he have issues that preventing him or her to have happy personal or professional life?

If s/he has even one YES to any of these questions, s/he is ready to try something new in life.  First thing that helped me to break out of my cage of negative world is to stop worrying about other’s opinion, projected consequence and start trusting more on myself.  I stop giving too much attention to anyone who judges me for anything, though I tried my best to listen to their say on my matter.

The more I look my part that is contributing to the misery, the more I found myself focused on solution.  That prevented me to have those desperate feelings to depend on others.  Truth is none can help us unless we are not that desperate to make the best out of anyone’s help – how little it may be.

Time is to stop looking at the problem and focus more on solution and self. It does not matter how much you try to solve world’s problem.  If it is by cost of your own problem, your future will be a liability to you.  So lets not live a life dictated by others and circumstance, but a life that is earned by us. I am glad to learn from your experience on how you overcome your difficulties.

Success is what count at the end irrespective of how we start. Success changes everything – it will make cynics to run away from you and friends to run toward you and life will be never same again. I will end this post with a phrase from Darren Hardy, the editor of “success magazine” – man who earned six figure at age of 18, and have earned million dollar by age of 21 and now multimillion dollar business by helping people achieving their success.

Unsuccessful people think about what they don’t want most of the time. They talk about problems, listen to news & gossip, & spend their time blaming circumstances, situations & others. Successful people think about what they want & how they will get it. They are intensely focused on their goals & the information needed to help obtain them.”

Which person are YOU?” Please share this post if you like it.

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