The best book on Leadership & Spirituality that I have read!

It is very difficult to articulate the effect of a spiritual guru in your life. While on hand one goes through life’s up and down’s like everyone else, there is a unseen connection and bond that permeates all through. Dr APJ Kalam’s latest book “Transcendence” is a brilliant exposition on the impact that his spiritual guru – Shri Pramukh Swamiji of Swaminarayan Sanstha had on him.

Kalam writes:

“How do I summarize Pramukh Swamiji’s effort on me? He has indeed transformed me. He is the ultimate stage of the spiritual ascent in my life, which started with my father, was sustained by Dr Brahma Prakash and Prof Satish Dhawan; now finally, Pramukh Swamiji has put me in synchronous orbit. No maneuvers are required any more, as I am placed in my final position in eternity.”

Those of us who are fortunate to find a living spiritual master can instantly recognize what Kalam writes. My first visit to Swaminarayan temple was in Chicago sometime in 2004 or 5 and then I visited Akshardham in Delhi sometime in 2008 and was blown away watching the movie on “Neelakanth” (Linking to Mystic India movie on YouTube, but I guess the one I watched in Akshardham was a shorter version and more crisp)

Kalam writes about his experience of his chance encounter with the BAPS organization and Pramukh Swamiji and how the spiritual connection and the presence of Swamiji helped him take tough decisions with ease. Kalam talks about politics, his presidential term, his travels, his vision for India, all coupled with stories, anecdotes, and lessons from the lives of scientists and great leaders. But the underlying essence of the book is how the presence of Swamiji in his life helped him. Kalam quotes extensively from The Quran and Thiruvallavur and from other great philosophers and thinkers driving home the point as to how a true spiritual person embraces wisdom of all religions and makes it his own and more importantly, reflecting on the knowledge, acting on it and living can make a huge difference.

The book is divided into four parts and I loved the part where Kalam writes on Creative Leadership.

He drives home the point that Creative Leadership as the foundation of change. He writes:

“Creative Leaders are not born. They are the product of particular circumstances and conditions; they evolve to bring change for the better. I have enumerated eight facets of creative leadership, namely – fearlessness, courage, ethical living, non-violence, forgiveness, compassion, vision and cooperation….” Each of these attributes are explained through stories drawn from the lives of Nachiketa to Verghes Kurien.

I wish I could write more, but suffice to say that this book integrates Science, Spirituality and Leadership in a scintillating way and will remain as one of the best books on leadership and spirituality that I have read.

The print version of “The Gita In My HomeWork” is out

Taking a freshly minted book, smelling the pages, is sure a much different and satiating feeling than viewing an ebook on computer / tablet. I am delighted to let you know that the print version of “The Gita in My Homework” is now available for purchase.

The Gita In My HomeWork

How to purchase:?

The book is available on Flipkart at: http://www.flipkart.com/gita-my-homework/p/itme2rpc3sm7pf74?pid=RBKE2RPCFHT69KPF 

Currently available on Amazon as a paperback and in ebook format: http://www.amazon.in/Gita-My-Homework-Raj-Waghray/dp/B00R32UQ2U/

Here are some Customer Reviews:

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An approach to life – Contentment and Generosity

Extract from “The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living” Volume 2 by Eknath Easwaran

Contentment

Sri Krishna says, Tushti: “Be content with what life sends you.” Don’t be a beggar, sitting with your little tin cup and begging of life, “Please give me a few cents of pleasure, or at least don’t give me any pain.” Don’t ask always what you can get from life, but danam: ask what you can give. Stand up to your full height and give freely to those around you – your time, your resources, your talents, extra clothes or vegetables from your garden, whatever you have. It doesn’t matter whether the gift is simple or modest; what matters is that it be given freely, wholeheartedly, without any reservations, without even the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing. You are not wealthy simply because you have a lot, you are wealthy when you have given a lot away; the more you give, the more you will have to give – not in money, but in the richness of your life.

Navigating the ebook self publishing maize the APE way

A friend of mine has a reasonably well selling self published book in the market and I have been trying to get her to move it as a ebook and sell it on Amazon. I thought it would be a simple task of taking the manuscript and converting it into .mobi format and push it out to Amazon; how wrong was I. To see the madness about the formats and the support on different platforms, you just need to head to this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats; you will get an idea of what I am talking about. Innumerable formats, innumerable platforms and innumerable rules, enough to drown you.  As an author, who isn’t well versed with technology, this is overwhelmingly and daunting. How do you publish an ebook? What does one need to understand from a technology perspective? Which formats to use? How to convert your document to those innumerable formats? Will the images render properly? How does one figure out the pricing of the ebook? Should one opt for a 35% royalty or a 70% royalty on Amazon? What about Apple ecosystem? Which aggregator to use? Isn’t it enough to sell on Amazon? Do I need to create another format for Nook and Kobo? Questions, Questions and more Questions. Enough for one to walk away from this business of self publishing ebooks. And trust me finding answers on the net isn’t easy either.

So when Guy Kawasaki sent me a review copy of his to be released APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a book, I was glad to find a book that can help people understand the complete ecosystem of writing a (e)book, publishing it and lastly marketing it.

If you are an author or about to author a book, I would strongly recommend that you read APE  first before embarking on your journey. APE demystifies the entire process of Authoring, Publishing and Marketing your book. It is divided into three sections – Authoring, Publishing and Marketing (Entrepreneur) and I thought depending on where one is in their current journey, one can focus on that relevant section and get the most from this book. The three sections covers the following topics:

  • Authoring a book: covers topics such as:
    • Should one write a book
    • Tools for writers
    • How to write your book and
    • How to finance it
  • Publishing a book: This section for me was the heart of the book, pretty detailed and exhaustive, this section alone is the reason why one should buy this book
    • Apart from editing, copywriting and how-to’s about turning your manuscript to a book, it covers the entire eco systems of ebooks
    • Selling your ebook through Amazon, Google, Apple, B&N, Kobo etc
    • Using Author Servicing companies
    • Using Print on Demand capabilities
    • How to price your book
    • Issues with Self publications
    • Navigating Amazon.com
  • Entrepreneurship: Last, but not the least, success of a book is judged by how many people read it and find it useful. This section deals with marketing, building an enchanting brand, using social media to get the buzz out and engaging with bloggers and reviewers.

I am delighted Guy and Shawn saw the need for this book and wrote it. I am sure this will very well turn out to be a bible for authors.

The 4A’s to career success – A review of “What the CEO really wants from you”

The last time I wrote about Gopalkrishnan, I mentioned that if there is one author I would like to meet, it has to be him. And look at it, the desires do get fulfilled as they come, I did happen to bump into him at the NHRD Conference in Bangalore when I had gone along with Guruji. Unfortunately, apart from a few words introducing myself and saying how much I enjoyed reading his two books, I did not get adequate time to spend with him, maybe the universe in its generosity will fulfill this wish too at some point in the near future.

Meanwhile, Gopal’ new book : What the CEO really wants from you: is definitely a must read. Written in the same style as his previous book, “When the Penny drops“, it begins with an introductory story that Gopal uses to build the concept for his 4-A framework that he expands in the rest of the book. Interspersed with anecdotes from his corporate life, relevant case studies and the sidebar boxes that help reinforce the concepts, make this book a compelling read for all in corporate life.

The underlying theme running through Gopal’s three books is about deep awareness of the our own Self. Our performance in the corporate world is but a reflection of how well we are connected with ourselves. I believe that these books are really about becoming aware of your latent spiritual side and bringing it to workplace.He could have as well named this one as “Implementing your spirituality in the workplace”. If it was digging into the repository of Avvaiyar’s to talk about self-awareness in his last book, Gopal starts this one by drawing an analogy of Buddha’s middle path and the dangers and pitfalls one faces in one’ corporate life and how one can get derailed by not being on the middle path.

As I read through the book, I created a visual map of the same and instead of writing a review of the book, I will embed the visual map of the book. Hope you will love this.

4A-24A-3

Why CMM, ISO and other Quality initiatives don’t capture the hearts and minds….

Stumbled upon Karl Albrecht’s book “The only thing that matters” and came across this paragraph that resonated with me:

Many organizations fail in their quest for Total Quality Service, not because their leaders don’t understand the conceptual or technical requirements for achieving it, but because they don’t realize that the heart of the service journey is spiritual rather than mechanical. They will bureaucratize the whole thing and make it look like every other “program.”

Too many quality initiatives are sterile, intellectual and administrative from start to finish; they don’t appeal to the human heart. They are based on a view of the organization as an apparatus rather than a society. They don’t start with human energy as the focus of change.

Spirit is the invisible force that moves organization and people. Spirit in an organization reflects the core values, attitudes and beliefs that shape the way people see themselves, their customers, and the business world, and cause them to behave the way they do.

Mired in their history and habits, many organizations do not have a spirit of service. They have instead a rational spirit, a technological spirit, a financial spirit, a manufacturing spirit, or some other dominant orientation that creates and defines the company’s culture – those things deemed to be important and “the way we do things around here”.

The journey to Total Quality Service is as much an individual and personal one as an organizational one. If the people don’t want to go there, the organization won’t go there; ultimately they are the organization. The spirit of service must come alive, grow, and flourish if the organization is to leap beyond the bounds of mediocrity.

When was the last time you listened…?

Leo Buscaglia’ writing has a depth and richness that reaches out and touches you. Two books that I heartily recommend are Living, Loving and Learning and Love. In his book “Love: What life is all about”, he writes:

In fact an investment in life is an investment in change to the end, and we can’t be concerned with dying because we must be too damned busy living! Let dying take care of itself. And don’t ever believe that your life is ever going to be peaceful – life is not like that. With change taking place all around you, you’ve got to continue adjusting which means that you are going to be constantly becoming, there is no stopping. We’ re all on a fantastic journey! every day is new. Every experience is new. Every person is new. Everything is new, every morning of your life. Stop seeing it as a drag! In Japan, the running of water is a ceremony. We used to sit in a little hut when the tea ceremony took place, and our host would pick up a scoop of water and pour it into the teapot, and everybody would listen. The sound of the falling water would be almost overpoweringly exciting. I think of many people run showers and water in their sinks every single day and have never heard it. When was the last time you listened to the rain drops?

Herbert Otto says, “Change and growth takes place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.” Isn’t the fantastic? A person has risked himself and dared to become involved with experimenting with his own life, trusting himself. To do this, to experiment with your own life, is very exhilarating, full of joy, full of happiness, full of wonder, and yet it’s also frightening. Frightening because you are dealing with the unknown, and you are shaking complacency.