Blog

Job cuts in IT sector – What Went Wrong

The layoffs in India’s IT majors, among the largest private employers providing jobs, is bit worrisome. Added to it the backlash the IT industry is facing in the US on the H1-B visa front, and in countries such as Australia, Singapore, the future of the industry as a beacon of hope for young professionals is dimming, feel many.

The Mc-Kinsey report mentioning that 50% of the workforce will become redundant soon only points to the growth curve moving towards south.

Is projected slow growth in the IT industry a result of policy changes across the globe or is it an after effect of our own demonetization. To my knowledge the above mentioned factors have a negligible impact on the growth rate of the industry. Then, what are the significant factors that are the cause of this sudden down-slide and the unexpected job cuts.

Automation: Every business is going through huge transformation with the rampant use of technology that is making several traditional jobs obsolete. Industries like Automotive and Banking sectors have already experienced this. IT sector is new to this with automation making some of the low end jobs redundant.

The issue has become more pronounced with the job losses striking the IT industry. The problem is more for the homegrown majors who have made an international mark and seen as a good paymaster.

Capacity building : One of the unique nature of the IT industry as against the other industry is that the growth of an organisation is not restricted to production capacity as seen in manufacturing and other industries. An IT organisation’s growth is directly proportional to its ability to ramp up its delivery capabilities and this doesn’t require large lead times. Innovative methods like Work from home, onshore, offshore model etc really helped in the rapid growth. With the overall growth slowing down organisations feel the heat of excess manpower and are forced to trim their size.

Skill Development : With the growth rate being so high all these years organisations and individuals seldom focused on “Sharpening the Axe”. Training and technological development was given a miss unless it was absolutely necessary. With the growth rate slowing down the less skilled are the ones sure to face the heat.

Advertisements

It’s the First who get noticed.

We all know Neil Armstrong, the 1st person to set his foot in moon.

But, do you know who was supposed to be the 1st person? Many don’t know…

His name is Edwin C Aldarin…

He was the pilot for the Apollo mission. He was working for the American Airforce. Moreover he had experience of space walking, hence selected as the pilot.

Neil Armstrong worked for the American Navy. He was selected for his courage as co-pilot.

When the Apollo mission landed on moon, they received a command from NASA, “pilot first”.

But Aldarin was hesitant, “what will happen”, “will I get sucked in or will I burn out”, etc. The hesitation was not for hours, but few seconds.

In the meantime, NASA sent the next command, “co-pilot next”.

Within next second, Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon & became part of world history.

World history was changed in 1 second… Though Aldarin had the qualification and talent, because of hesitation, he is not recognised by many people.

The world remembers only person who comes first…

This is a good example of how people lose out because of hesitation & fear. Whenever you see the moon, remember this, a moments hesitation can stop us from our greatest victory.

We all have great potential in us, the only thing that stops us from achieving what we are supposed to achieve is our hesitation, fear and shyness.

Many people are shy to ask, shy to appreciate others, & some are shy to share. If we fail to do the right things, we will most likely do the wrong things.

Avoid hesitation…..

The Circle of Good Deed

Once upon a time Shree Krishna and Arjun went for a short stroll around the city. They saw a poor looking priest begging. Arjun felt pity at him and he gave him a bag full of 100 gold coins. The priest became very happy and thanked Arjun. He left for his home. On way, he saw another person who needed help. The priest could have spared a coin or two to help that person. however, he chose to ignore it. But on way to his home, one thief robbed him of his bag of coins and ran away.

The priest became dejected and went back again for begging. Next day again when Arjun saw the same priest begging and he was surprised that after getting a bag full of coins which can last a lifetime, the priest was still begging! He called the priest and asked him the reason for this. The priest told him about the whole incident and Arjun again felt pity at him. So, this time he gave him a diamond.

The priest became very happy and left for home and he again saw someone who needed help but he chose to ignore again. Upon reaching home, he safely put the diamond in an empty pot of water with a plan to cash it out later and live a wealthy life. His wife was not at home. He was very tired so he decided to take a nap. In between, his wife came home and picked up that empty pot of water, walked towards the river close by to fill up the water. She had not noticed the diamond in the pot. Upon arriving at the river, she put the whole pot into the running river water to fill it up. She filled up the pot but the diamond was gone with the water flow!

When the priest woke up, he went to see the pot and asked his wife about the diamond. She told him, she had not noticed it and it must have been lost in the river. The priest couldn’t believe his bad luck and again started begging. Again Arjun and Shree Krishna saw him begging and Arjun inquired about it. Arjun felt bad and started thinking if this priest will ever have a happy life.

Shree Krishna who is an incarnation of God smiled. Shree Krishna gave that priest one coin which was not even enough for buying a lunch or dinner for one person. Arjun asked Shree Krishna, “Lord, I gave him gold coins and diamond, which could have given him a wealthy life, yet it didn’t help him. How will just one coin help this poor guy?” Shree Krishna smiled and told Arjun to follow that priest and find out.

On the way, the priest was thinking that one coin Shree Krishna gave him, he can’t even buy a lunch for one person. Why would he give so little? He saw a fisherman who was getting a fish out of his net. Fish was struggling. The priest felt pity at fish. He thought that this one coin won’t solve my problem, why not I save that fish. So the priest paid the fisherman and took the fish. He put the fish in his small pot of water which he always carried with him.

The fish was struggling in a small pot of water, ended up throwing out a diamond from the mouth! The priest screamed with a joy, “I got it, I got it”. At that same point, the thief who had robbed the priest’s bag of 100 gold coins, was passing through there. He thought that the priest recognized him and may get him punished. He got nervous and ran to the priest. He apologized to the priest and returned his bag full of 100 gold coins. The priest couldn’t believe what just happened.

Arjun saw all this and said, “Oh Lord, Now I understand your play”.

Big John doesn’t pay….

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops – a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well.

At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight,built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!” and sat down at the back.

The driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek and hence, he didn’t argue with Big John, but he wasn’t happy about it either. The next day the same thing happened – Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the next and continued for few weeks.

This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him. Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff.

By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; what’s more, he felt really good about himself. So on the next Monday, when Big John once again got on the bus and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!”

The driver stood up, glared back at the passenger, and screamed, “And why not?”

With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, “Big John has a bus pass.”

Many a times we spend a lot of time worrying and trying to find solutions for problems that doesn’t exist. “Be sure there is a problem in the first place before working hard to solve one.”

The Obstacle in our Path

In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.

Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand.

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition. 

Leave entitlement for Private Sector Employees as per UAE Labour Laws

  1. Dear Reader,

    I am trying to provide the understand of the UAE labor law as it applies to Private Sector Employees. I would quote the exact transcript of the law and try and explain where ever necessary the details in length. I am not a law student hence don’t look at it as final you may check with a legal expert if you so desire.

    Leave Entitlements :

    ARTICLE (74)

    Each employee is entitled to an official leave with full pay on the following occasions:

    – Hijra New Year. One day
    – Christian New Year. One day
    – Eid Al Fitr Two days
    – Eid Al Adha and Waqfa day Three days
    – Birthday of the Prophet One day
    – Ascension Day One day
    – National Day One day

    ARTICLE (75)

    The employee must be granted an annual leave during each year of service which may not be less than:
    1. Two days per month in respect of any employee with more than six months and less than one year of service.
    2. Thirty days per annum in respect of any employee whose period of service exceeds on year. In the event of termination of an employee’s service he shall be entitled to an annual leave for the fractions of the last year of service.

    ARTICLE (76)

    The employer may at his discretion determine the date for commencement of annual leaves and, when necessary, he may decide to divide the leave in two parts at the most, except in cases of juveniles where vacation may not be divided in parts.

    ARTICLE (77) *

    The annual leave period is deemed to include such holidays as prescribed by law or as agreed to, and any other periods of sickness, occurred during this leave and is considered as part thereof.

    ARTICLE (78)*

    The employee shall receive his basic pay in addition to housing allowance, if any for the annual leave days. However if the exigencies of work necessitate that the employee works during his annual leave in whole or in part, and the period of leave during which he has worked, has not been carried forward to the next year, the
    employer ought to pay him his wage in addition to cash in lieu of leave for his working days based on his basic pay.
    * Amended by Federal Law No. (12) of 1986.

    ARTICLE (79)

    The employee is entitled to receive cash in lieu of annual leave days not availed by him, if he was dismissed or if he left the service, after the period of notice stipulated by law. Cash in lieu of leave is calculated on the bases of pay received by the employee at the time of maturity of such leave.

    ARTICLE (80)

    Remuneration due to an employee plus that of the approved leave under this law shall be paid in full by the employer to the employee before the latter’s departure on annual leave.

    ARTICLE (81)

    If exigencies of work necessitate that the employee work on holidays or rest days against which he receives full or partial pay he shall be compensated in lieu thereof with increase in pay by 50% of his wage, but if he has not been compensated for the same with a leave, the employer shall pay him an increase to his basic wage equivalent to 150% of the days of work.

    ARTICLE (82)

    If the employee falls sick for reasons other than labour injury he must report his illness within a period of two days at most and the employer must take necessary measures having him medically checked up to ascertain illness.

    ARTICLE (83)*

    1. During the probationary period, the employee is not entitled to any paid sick leave. 2. If the employee spends over three months after completion of the probationary period, in the continuous service of employer, and falls sick during this period, he becomes entitled to a sick leave not more than 90 days either continuous or intermittent per each year or service, computed as follows:-
    A. The first fifteen days with full pay.
    B. The next thirty days, with half pay.
    C. The subsequent period, without pay.
    * Amended by Federal Law No. (12) of 1986.

    ARTICLE (84)

    Pay during sick leave shall not be made if sickness resulted from misbehavior of the employee such as consumption of alcohol or narcotics.

    ARTICLE (85)

    The employer may terminate the services of an employee who fails to resume his duties at the end of such leave as stipulated in Article (82), (83) and (84) hereof, and in such case the employee shall be entitled to his gratuity in accordance with the provisions of this Law.

    ARTICLE (86)

    If an employee resigns from service because of illness before the lapse of the first 45 days of the sick leave and the Government Medical Officer or the physician appointed by the employer justifies the causes of resignation, the employer must pay to the employee his remuneration due for the period remaining from the first 45 days referred to above.

    ARTICLE (87)

    A special leave without pay may be granted for the performance of pilgrimage to the employee once through-out his service and shall not be counted among other leaves and may not exceed 30 days.

    ARTICLE (88)*

    During the annual leave or sick leave provided for hereunder, the employee may not work for another Employer; however, if the employer has established that the employee has done this, he shall have the right to terminate the service of employee without notice, and to deprive him of the leave pay due to him.

    ARTICLE (89)

    Subject to the provisions herein contained, every employee who does not report to duty immediately after expiry of his vacation, he shall be deprived of his pay for the period of absence commencing from the day following to the date on which the leave has expired.

    * Amended by Federal Law No. (12) of 1986.

    ARTICLE (90)

    Without prejudice to cases where the employer has the right to dismiss the employee without notice or gratuity as prescribed herein, the employer may not dismiss an employee or serve him with a notice of dismissal during his leave as is provided for in this Section.

    ARTICLE (30)

    A working woman is entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of forty five days including the time before and after delivery, provided that her continuous period of service with the employer should not be less than a year, but if a working woman has not completed the said period, the maternity leave shall be with half pay. A working woman, on the expiry of the maternity leave, may discontinue work without pay for a maximum period of one hundred consecutive or intermittent days if such absence is due to illness which does not enable her to resume work. Such illness shall be evidenced by a medical certificate issued by a medical authority attested by the competent health authority or endorsed by such authorities to the effect that the illness resulted from pregnancy or delivery. Leave provided for in the preceding two paragraphs shall not be computed as part of other leaves.

    ARTICLE (31)

    In addition to any prescribed rest period, a working woman nursing her child shall, during the eighteen months following the date of delivery, be entitled to two additional breaks each day for this purpose, neither of which shall exceed half an hour.

  2. These two additional periods shall be considered as working hours and shall not cause
    any reduction of remuneration.

    Explanation of the above

    Generally the leaves are categorized in to the following categories

                     a)  Annual Leave
    b)  Official Holidays
    c)  Sick Leave
    d)  Maternity Leave
    Annual Leave

    What are an employee’s annual leave entitlements?

    For every year of service, an employee is entitled to annual leave of not less than the following:
    1. Two days leave for every month if his service is more than six months and less than one year.
    2. A minimum of thirty days annually, if his service exceeds one year. At the end of his service the employee       is entitled to annual leave for the fraction of the last year he spent in service.
    Annual leave is usually calculated on the basis of a calendar month rather than by working days. If an employee however fails to report back to work after the expiry of his leave period, his remuneration will automatically be forfeited for the days he is absent.

    What would be payable to the employee during his annual leave?

    An employee is paid his basic wage plus the housing allowance, if applicable, and any other allowances which he receives in the normal working month exclusive of any bonuses received.

    Who determines when the annual leave commences and its duration?

    The employer has the right to determine when an employee is allowed to take his annual leave and whether   (if required) he is entitled to divide the leave into two parts.

  3. If however, work circumstances require keeping the employee at work during the whole or part of his annual leave and the leave has not been carried over for the following year, the employer should pay the employee his wage in addition to a leave allowance for the days he worked equal to his basic wage.

  4. In all cases, no employee should be required to work during his annual leave more than once during two consecutive years.

  5. In other words, the employer may only defer the annual leave once in two consecutive years and at the same time pay the employee the annual leave wages.

    When should annual leave wages be paid?

    The employee should be paid his full wage before taking his annual leave, plus the wage of the leave days he has accrued.

    Is the employee entitled to payment in lieu of leave if his services are terminated?

    The employee is entitled to payment of his wages for the annual leave period not taken if his employment is terminated, or he resigns after serving the period of notice determined by law. Such payment is calculated on the basic wage received at the time the leave was due including any housing or accommodation allowance where applicable. Some employers also include transportation allowance in the calculation, although this is discretionary rather than compulsory.

  6. Nevertheless, according to judgments delivered on the matter, an employee may only claim remuneration for the annual leave not taken for the last two years of employment at the rate of the wages paid during that   time. Any leave days not taken prior to that period are therefore time barred and the employee is precluded   from claiming remuneration against them (providing the employer relies on this time bar provision in the event of a claim).

    Is going to Haj for pilgrimage considered part of the annual leave?

      The employer must give the employee once during his employment a special leave without pay to go for Haj   (pilgrimage) which should not exceed 30 days. This period is not part of the employee’s annual leave or any   other leave which he is entitled to.

    Official Holidays

    Which official holidays are an employee entitled to take?

      An employee is entitled to an official holiday with full wage on the following occasions:
    Occasion Time Off
    1. Hijri New Year’s Day one day
    2. Gregorian New Year’s Day one day
    3. Eid Al Fitr (end of Ramadan) two days
    4. Eid Al Adha and Waqf three days
    5. Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday one day
    6. Isra and Al Miraj one day
    7. National Day one day

  7. The holidays listed above are applicable to all employees whether they are working in the public or private sectors. However, public sector employees may be granted additional days off to those specified on the above occasions, which are announced from time to time.

  8. It is therefore open to private sector employees to grant their employees a holiday on the above occasions or to pay them instead. The date(s) on which the above official holidays fall depend on the Ministry’s announcements, which are published in the local newspapers shortly before they occur.

    Are official holidays excluded from the calculation of leave?

    The calculation of the duration of annual leave includes holidays specified by law or by agreement, or any day taken for example due to sickness, if they fall within the leave period and are deemed to be part  thereof.

    Sick Leave

    Is the employee entitled to sick leave?

    The employee must report to the employer any injuries or illnesses preventing him from working within a maximum period of two days.

  9. The employee is not entitled to any paid sick leave during the probation period. However, after a period of   three months continuous service following the probation period, the employee is entitled to sick leave  (continuous or intermittent) wages as follows:
    (1) Full wage for the first 15 days.
    (2) Half wage for the next 30 days.
    (3) Any following period will be without wage.

  10. However, if the employee’s illness is directly caused by his misconduct (for example by excessive drinking),   he is not entitled to any wages during the sick leave.

  11. It should be noted that the employee should provide evidence of his illness warranting sick leave by an official medical certificate.

    Can the employee resign from employment during the sick leave period?

    The employee may resign from employment during the sick leave period and before the completion of 45 days specified by law, provided the reason of resignation is approved by a physician. In this situation, the employer must pay the employee all the wages he is entitled to, until the end of the 45 days referred to above.

    Can the employer dismiss an employee from service during his sick or annual leave?

    The employer may not dismiss an employee from service during his sick leave or annual leave. During this     period any notice for termination will be considered null and void.

  12. However, the employer is entitled to terminate the employment contract if the employee has exhausted his full sick leave and is not fit to return to work. In such cases, the employee will be entitled to his full gratuity and end of service entitlement in accordance with the Law.

  13. Furthermore, the employee will not be entitled to wages for the days that he has not reported to work after the end of his leave (whether sick leave or annual leave). This will not prejudice the rights of the employer to terminate the employee’s contract if the employee fails to report back to work within seven consecutive  days from the date he was due back.

    Maternity Leave

    What maternity leave is a female employee entitled to?

    A working woman is entitled to 45 days maternity leave with full pay which includes the period before and  after the delivery, provided she has served continuously for not less than one year. The maternity leave is  granted with half pay if the woman has not completed one year of service.

  14. At the end of the maternity leave, a working woman has the right to extend her maternity leave for a maximum period of 100 days without pay. This unpaid leave can be continuous or interrupted, if the interruption is caused by illness which prevents her from coming to work. The illness must be confirmed by a certified government physician licensed by the competent health authority.

  15. Maternity leave in either of the above cases is not deducted from any other leave that a female employee is   entitled to.

  16. During the 18 months following delivery, a female employee who nurses her child has the right to have two     daily intervals which do not exceed half an hour each for the purpose of nursing her child. These additional     intervals are considered part of her working hours and no deduction in wages can be made.

  17. Paternity leave is not provided for under the Law.

Loading

We are beautiful with our flaws.

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfectly made and never leaked. The other pot had a crack in it and by the time the water bearer reached his master’s house it had leaked much of its water and was only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it,God will use our flaws to grace his table. In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty.

Innovative HR Practices a look at Netflix

Popular internet streaming company, Netflix, is known for its innovative HR strategies that are amazingly humane to its employees. The measure of success of an HR strategy is directly proportional to the success of the organization.

Netflix’s iterative experiments with ground-breaking policies to see what helps with employee satisfaction and performance. The refreshing approach of treating employees as opposed to the old draconian rules has helped the organization create a new benchmark in corporate culture. 

Some of the Innovative HR strategies of Netflix are:

Spectacular Severance Package

Employees especially ex-employees are good brand Ambassadors. Netflix’s spectacular severance package, it is not a compensation for loss of earning but a reward for the exemplary service that the employee has rendered to the organisation. Such exit package offer an opportunity to the person to invest a part on them for the future. Needless to say they bring in a lot of loyalty to the organisation and erase all ill feeling of being let go.

Hire, Reward, and Tolerate Only Fully Formed Adults

While every company plans and focuses on hiring right, Netflix was different in that, they believed that one not only need to hire the top performers but also one who will put the company’s interests first, and who understand and support the desire for a high performance workplace. The belief that 97% of the employees do the right thing and hence never believed in enforcing HR policies to deal with problems the other 3% might cause. The organisation felt that it is better not to hire such people or let them go even if you happened to hire them.

Treating employees as fully formed Adult is an approach many an organisation want but are afraid of; Netflix’s approach to their leave and holiday policy where employees are told  to take whatever time they felt was right as ‘off’ is an example of how the organisation really believed in treating its employees as matured Adults. However there were guiding frame-work within which the employees are expected to work but these were not rules that work against the policy.

Performance Management System

Netflix believed that formal Performance didn’t make sense and that they were too ritualistic and too infrequent. Hence discussion between Employee and Manager on performance are made as an organic part of their work. Further PIP’s were a no no. They believed if a person didn’t fit the bill it is better to have a straight talk and offer the best severance package.

Managers Own the Job of Creating Great Teams

At Netflix its “The team is as good as the Captain” and hence own the job of creating great teams. Managers have the option of picking the team member and developing them to produce the best output.

Managers are brand leaders and engineers of work culture

The ideal managers at company are the real ones. The ones who encourage growth of an employee as an individual as much as they care about the organization. Netflix’s HR policies encourages managers to set an example of how to create a work-life balance for their team-mates. Be it taking a long paid leave or playing games at work. The managers promote it all in well balance for their team by doing it themselves.

Netflix truly brings to table how innovative HR practices can take the organisation to great heights.

Its Perception

Read & ponder ……

It is Perception…

THE SITUATION:

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent — without exception — forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. A couple of days earlier, Joshua Bell played to a sell out audience in a theater in Boston where the seats averaged over $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, Ordo we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Are we able to recognize talent in an unexpected context?

Some possible conclusions reached from this experiment could be these:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Or is it that the value is perceived only when we pay for it?

Push the Cow off the cliff

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Happy New Year!

You would have probably started the year with a hope of doing far better than the previous years, or you probably want to maintain to minimum status quo as was in 2016. After all, If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

With every thing becoming complex as days progress, nothing ever remains the same for too long. If ever things remain same, with this seeming comfort comes complacency.

What you are doing may be sustaining you, but is this what you aspire, is it inspiring you? Is there any thing driving that is significant enough to drive you to move into a necessary, even if not yet currently desired future? Remember, You cannot grasp the future while holding on to the present. Many of us are crippled by the syndrome of “it may not be much but at least it’s certain”. Or is it that we compare ourselves with others who are less fortunate than us and get to a the self-consoling thought that “I may not be doing too great but at least I am better off than some people that I know”. Thoughts like these merely cripple over initiative to excel. Let Contentment never be mistaken for Containment.

Let me share with you a story that I read recently.

It had been a long trek for the sage and his disciple. Tired from the long walk and needing rest and food, they lifted their eyes and saw smoke in the distance coming out of a solitary hut in a desolate location with little or no flora. There they met a man living with his wife, three young children and a thin, tired cow. The sage and his disciple were well received as their hosts made them a hot meal and some fresh cow milk to go with it.

While they were seated at table, the sage asked: “This is a very poor place, and is very far from anywhere. How do you survive?”

“You see that cow?” said the head of the family, “She sustains us. She gives us milk. Some of it we drink and some we make into cheese. When there is extra, we go into the city and exchange the milk and cheese for other types of food. That’s how we survive.”

The wise man thanked them for their hospitality and left. When they were out of sight, he said to his disciple, “Go back, get the cow, take her to the cliff ahead of us, and push her off.”

“What? I cannot do that, master! How can you be so ungrateful? The cow is all they have. If I throw it off the cliff, they’ll have no way to survive. They might all die! That doesn’t seem to me a good way to repay kindness.”

Taking a deep breath the sage repeated the order; “Go ahead. Push the cow off the cliff.”

Though outraged at what he was being asked to do, the disciple had no choice but to obey his master.

He returned to the hut, quietly untied the animal and led it to the edge of the cliff and pushed. The cow fell down the cliff and died.

The disciple lived with the guilt of that act for many years. One day, when the guilt became too much to bear, he left the master and returned to that little shack. He wanted to find out what had happened to that family, apologize for what he and his master did and possibly help them out.

As he progressed on the road approaching the hut, he could not believe what he was seeing. The hut was gone. In its place was a beautiful house with trees all around, a swimming pool, several cars in the garage, a satellite dish, and many pointers to a new-found prosperity in the environment. As if that was not enough, he saw some teenagers celebrating their first million dollars with guests around a barbecue fire.

He was petrified. What could have happened to the family? Without a doubt, they must have been starving to death and forced to sell their land and leave.

Perhaps they had become mendicants begging on the street corners of some city. He approached the house and asked a man about the whereabouts of the family that had lived in a hut in that forlorn environment several years earlier.

“You’re looking at it,” said the man, pointing to the people gathered around the barbecue.

Unable to believe what he was seeing and hearing, the disciple walked through the gate and took a few steps closer to the pool where he recognized their host from several years before. Only now he was strong and confident, the woman was happy, and the children were now nice-looking, grown teenagers.

Dumbfounded, he went over to the man and asked, “What happened? I was here with my teacher a few years ago and this was a miserable place. There was nothing except your family and a tired cow. What did you do to improve your lives in such a short time?”

The man looked at the disciple, and replied with a smile: “You are right. We had a cow that kept us alive. She was all we had. But the day you visited, she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to learn how to do other things. By that, we were able to discover and develop skills we didn’t even know we had. We were therefore forced to come up with new ways of doing things. The result is that we are now much better off than before.”

Lesson? Comfort is the enemy of progress. Good is the adversary of the best. The greatest antagonism to your progress in 2017 is the ‘success’ you accomplished in 2016. To make significant progress in life, you must learn to move beyond sufficiency before you are pushed into abundance. Whatever chains you to the present cannot launch you into the future!

If where you are is nowhere near where you ought or desire to be, I have one prayer for you in 2017. It is that you or someone else who cares enough about your future would throw the cow that you so heavily rely on for sustenance over the cliff.

Perhaps then you will be able to see the uncharted horizon of endless possibilities that God has placed before you but which your slavish dependence on what you thought was certain had never allowed you to see.

Remember, the sky is not your limit!