Happiness Evangelist

The Place to Be Happy is Here…

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I am free

Today, I am thankful for my country, India.

I must guard against becoming cynical and losing faith in her. Without approving everything I see, there is still sound reason to be thankful for my country and all that she stands for.

Among the treasures that I enjoy is freedom. I am so used to being free that I am in danger of taking my freedom for granted.

Whatever nationalities we belong to, let us never take our freedom for granted.

Thousands of brave men who loved life as dearly as we do, secured for us the right to walk in the sun and to breathe in the air.

We should always think of them with respect and gratitude.


Jai Hind!


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What Leadership Skills Do You Need The Most?

John H. Zenger and Joseph R. Folkman  had an interesting hypothesis.

At different points in their career, do leaders need to focus on different skills?

Should lower level managers focus on driving results and top management focus on developing a strategic perspective?

Are some skills less important for leaders at certain levels of the organization?

Are there a set of skills fundamental to every level?

They asked 332,860 bosses, peers, and subordinates “what skills have the greatest impact on a leader’s success in the position the respondents currently hold”.

The following seven competencies were selected as most important for supervisors, middle managers, and senior managers alike, and six out of the seven topped the list for top executives. Executives at every organizational level, the respondents reported, need a balance of these competencies. 

  1. Inspires & motivates others
  2. Displays high integrity & honesty
  3. Solves problems & analyses issues
  4. Drives for results
  5. Communicates powerfully & prolifically
  6. Collaborates & promotes teamwork
  7. Builds relationships

The other nine competencies included in the study were chosen only half as frequently as the top seven.


Some Pointers

  • As people move up the organization, the fundamental skills they need will not dramatically change.
  • But, the relative importance of the seven skills does change to some degree as people move up.
    • The graph talks about the competencies in the superisory group
    • With middle managers, problem solving moves ahead of everything else.
    • For senior management, communicating powerfully and prolifically moves to the number two spot.
    • Only for top executives does a new competency enter the mix, as the ability to develop a strategic perspective (which had been moving steadily up the lower ranks) moves into the number five position.
  • A leader has to focus on distinct competencies at different stages of development.
  • However, there are a set of skills that are critical throughout her/his career.
  • According to Zenger and Folkman, “lack of strategic perspective is considered a fatal flaw even when the current job does not require it.” It is therefore improtant for a leader to develop the strategic perspective competency.

It is useful for a leader to ask which competencies are critical now. It is also critical to ascertain and build on competencies that will be most critical in the future. Demonstrating those skills now provides evidence that a leader will be successful in the future.


** John H. Zenger is the CEO and Joseph R. Folkman is the President of Zenger Folkman, a leadership development consultancy. They are the authors of The Inspiring Leader (McGraw-Hill, 2009).

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The Right Brain – Left Brain Conundrum

Each side of our brain controls different types of thinking.

For example, a person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. People are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other, but some of us have both sides of the brain functioning almost equally.

The right brain-left brain theory originated in the work of Roger W. Sperry, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1981.

The Right Brain

According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. Some of the abilities that are popularly associated with the right side of the brain include:

  • Recognizing faces
  • Expressing emotions
  • Music
  • Reading emotions
  • Color
  • Images
  • Intuition
  • Creativity

The Left Brain

The left-side of the brain is considered to be adept at tasks that involve logic, language and analytical thinking. The left-brain is often described as being better at:

  • Language
  • Logic
  • Critical thinking
  • Numbers
  • Reasoning

The left-brain, right-brain theory has now been over taken by recent research that shows that the brain is not nearly as dichotomous as once thought. For example, abilities in subjects such as math are actually strongest when both halves of the brain work together. Today, neuroscientists know that the two sides of the brain work together to perform a wide variety of tasks.

But it is still good to understand our strengths and weaknesses in certain areas and look at ways to overcome them. For example, if we find it difficult to follow verbal instructions (often cited as a right-brain characteristic), we might benefit from writing down directions..

Take this quick 30-second brain test to find out: http://braintest.sommer-sommer.com/en/

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The How of Happiness

Are we genetically predisposed to happiness?

Why are some people happier than others?

Are people predisposed to unhappiness destined to stay that way?

In her book, The How of Happiness: A Practical Guide to Getting the Life You Want, Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California proposes that 40% of our happiness is well within our control, She determines from data on fraternal and identical twins that 50% of our happiness set point is genetic and 10% dictated by circumstance.

“I argue that there are things we can actually change” says Lyubomirsky, who has been studying happiness for nearly two decades. She offers a dozen happiness intervention strategies in her book, all backed by her own or others’ research. With help from a National Institute of Mental Health grant, she and colleague Ken Sheldon have conducted or reviewed studies with participants who, for example, wrote letters of gratitude, performed conscious acts of kindness or kept a “best possible selves” journal to outline future goals over six or more weeks.

When compared with control groups, those who performed the activities regularly reported “significantly bigger” increases in their happiness levels, as compared with before the intervention. “Even nine months later, we still saw the effects: those who continued to practice these strategies had more sustained happiness,” she says.

She details 12 scientifically tested activities that can be used to increase levels of happiness.

Let us take one strategy at a time and practice it faithfully; we can be assured of increased set-points to happiness