Shake it off and take a step up

I remember reading a story in a newspaper many years ago. This is a story of the donkey and the well. There was an old donkey which is not liked by the farmer who owned it. The donkey served the farmer all its life, but due to its old age, it is not found to be useful any longer by the farmers family. The donkey used to wander around in the massive property owned by the farmer all day long.

One day there was a massive sound in farmer’s property. The farmer wondered what the stupid donkey had done now. He looked all over his property and found the donkey at the bottom of an old abandoned well. The donkey cried piteously for hours, as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided that the animal was old and the well needed to covered up anyway, it just doesn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited a couple of his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well and on the donkey.

At first, the donkey realised what was happening and cried horribly. Later to everyone’s amazement, donkey stopped making any sounds. The farmer and his neighbours kept shovelling. A few shovel loads later, the farmer wanted to have a look into the well and see what happened to the donkey. He was astonished by what he saw in the well. With every shovel of dirt, that hit donkey’s back, it was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbours carried on to shovel dirt on top of the donkey. The donkey would shake it off and take a step up. Having seen this farmer and his neighbours now changed their mind. Their mission is now changed from trying to bury the donkey to trying to save him. They started shovelling more and more dirt into the abandoned well until the donkey jumped out of the top victorious.

Once this happened, everyone left their shovels and applauded the stubborn old donkey with newfound admiration. The story is all about finding a way to overcome challenges even when everything appears to be working against you. It teaches that we should always continue to find a way through hardships. There are times in life when it seems like we are that donkey. Trapped inside a deep well and feel as if life is trying to shovel dirt on us, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting off the well is; Shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, by never giving up.

Persistence is the greatest separator between losers and achievers. Usually, people let their circumstances determine their attitude to quit and become looser. It is sad to see people quitting when they are so close to their finish line or success. There are many people that I know with gifts and talents but lacks tenacity and persistence to press on. Therefore they start well, but they don’t finish well. Successful people maintain a positive attitude even on bad days. Their attitude has little to do with their circumstances. They are good at displaying mindset.

Pleasing People to Challenging People

Early in my leadership role working with small teams, I realized that most people liked me. My relational connections with my team members were very strong and I was able to please each one of them. I worked very hard at developing my people-pleasing skills. At one point, leadership for me is all about – “Make people happy and they will follow you”. I was continually asking myself one question: “Is everybody happy?”

What a mistake? 🎯

No leader can please everyone all the time. It took a while for me to realise that I was doing things backwards. All this while, my goal had been to get people to like me enough so that I could gain the confidence to ask them for commitment. If they declined I simply worked harder to try to get them to like me more, thinking that would solve the problem. I gave the most time and energy to the unhappiest and least committed people, even though they are neither superstars nor contributing to the vision or helping the company to move forward. I was letting the tail wag the dog instead of the dog wag the tail.

I finally realized that I wasn’t leading people. I was trying to please them thereby making them and myself feel good. I wasn’t moving the organization forward. I was in the friendship business, not in the leadership business.

I was not helping people to do better and get better. I have now moved from Pleasing people to Challenging People. It was not an easy process for me. My desire to be liked by others was deeply rooted within me to the point where the best days in my leadership were the ones when people affirmed me. I craved for affirmation every single day. Now, I realized that affirmation doesn’t equal leadership accomplishment.

WIth my new level of awareness, I am now on a path to become the leader people really needed, not just the one they wanted. It’s been one of the most difficult changes I’ve had to make in my leadership, but it has also been one of the most rewarding.

#leadtip #leadershift #relationalshift #dontcoast #borra #johnmaxwell

Less Is More

We often hear the word time management. There is no such thing as time management. I don’t understand how we manage something that is already set. Unless we miss understanding something whether we manage or don’t manage the time, it is always 24 hours in a day. It goes by itself. It’s not the time management that we need to work on but it is priority management. The 80 20 rule is quite handy when it comes to priority management.

The 80 20 rule is one of the most helpful concepts for life and time management and is also known as the Pareto Principle. This is considered to be the greatest time management tool from the 19th century economist Vilfredo Pareto. 

According to this rule, 20 % of your activities will account for 80 % of your resultsOne day Pareto noticed that 20% of the pea plants in his garden generated 80% of the healthy pea pods. This observation caused him to think about uneven distribution. He thought about wealth and discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the population. He investigated different industries and found that 80% of production typically came from just 20% of the companies. In other words, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

We can take Pareto’s 80 20 rule and apply it to almost any situation. Understanding the principle is essential to learning how to prioritize your tasks, days, weeks, and months. If you observe carefully you will find Pareto principle all around you.

  • 20% of roads will have 80% traffic jams
  • 20% of the population will have 80% of the money
  • 20% of people will have 80% of the influence
  • 20% of the drinkers will consume 80% of alcohol
  • 20% of students participate in 80% of classroom discussions
  • 20% of customers will bring 80% of profits in business
  • 20% of sales staff generates 80% of the sales
  • 20% of the book contains 80% of the content
  • 20% of your clothes worn 80% of the times
  • 20% of the features cause 80% of the usage
  • 20% of the staff generate 80% of the problems
  • 20% of staff take 80% of management time
  • 20% of your results come from 80% of your time
  • 20% of people eat 80% of food in a picnic
  • 20% of the most reported software bugs cause 80% of software crashes.
  • 20% of patients account for 80% of healthcare spending
  • 20% of mobiles apps will account for 80% your time on the phone
  • And many more…

Hence invest your best in what matters the most.

To determine the top 20% of your priorities keep asking yourself a magic question – what do I have to do that no one else can do except me? and the rest should be delegated to others. Its bit funny but all your life you need to work hard to get yourself out of unimportant stuff and it is such a precious gift.

The Pareto Principle is a concept that suggests two out of ten items, on any general to-do list, will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together. The sad fact is that most people procrastinate on the top 10 or 20% of items that are the most valuable and important, the “vital few,” and busy themselves instead with the least important 80 %, the “trivial many,” that contribute very little to their success.

Here’s what we should do in order to effectively apply the 80/20 rule to setting smart goals which will boost your overall productivity. First, take a piece of paper and write down your goals. Then ask yourself: If you could only accomplish one of the goals on that list today, which one goal would have the greatest positive impact on your life?

Then pick the second most important goal. What you’ll find is, after you complete this exercise, you will have determined the most important 20% of your goals that will help you more than anything else. You should continue to work at those goals that you’ve chosen as the most valuable all the time.

Eat The Big one First: 

You often see people who appear to be busy all day long but seem to accomplish very little. This is almost always because they are busy working on tasks that are of low value while they are procrastinating on the one or two activities that could make a real difference to their companies and to their careers. The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex, but the payoff and rewards for completing them can be tremendous.

Before you begin work, always ask yourself, “Is this task in the top 20% of my activities or in the bottom 80&?”. The rule for this is: resist the temptation to clear up small things first.

Always stay focused on your main goal: 

Finally, I want to tell you about a study that has just been done about the attitudes of rich people versus poor people in regard to goal setting. What they found is that 85% of rich people have one big goal that they work on all the time. So, if you want to be wealthy, do what wealthy people do. Pick one big goal and work on it all the time, and if you do, it will change your life. If you choose to start your day working on low-value tasks, you will soon develop the habit of always starting and working on low-value tasks. You should Say ‘NO’ to many small things to say ‘YES’ to a few big things. 

Having clarity of your desires and a clear vision for your future will help you stay focused on your goals every day. Focusing on your goals daily is actually one of the most important habits of successful people. No matter what your situation, it’s important to remember that there are only so many minutes in an hour, hours in a day, and days in a week. Pareto can help you to see this is a good thing; otherwise, you’d be a slave to a never-ending list of things to do.

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Perfection is stagnation!!

Perfection is stagnation

I have been thinking about writing a book for many years. I knew that becoming an author can change my life and gives me the ability to impact many people. I always wanted to write a book but I don’t know where to start. I delayed it for so long thinking that I need to understand everything about writing a book before I start. One day I decided to jump and build my wings on the way down. Although the idea of getting good first is so exciting but trust me when I say that no one would be good the first time. You have to make the decision to learn along the way. Growth happens through actions. So you should start to evaluate the experience and apply the knowledge that you have gained, and then do it again. Fear, confusion and doubt are the biggest enemies of our success. If we are afraid to take the next step, then we will remain exactly where we are instead of where we need to be.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Start with whatever tools you have and better tools will be found along the way. Go as far as you can see, when you get there, you will see how to go further. Don’t wait until you can do it perfectly before you start. No one was ever good at anything the first time. When I started writing the book, I have no idea about some of the basic aspects of book writing such as where to start, what each step entails, how to overcome fear, procrastination, writer’s block and how to keep from feeling overwhelmed?

Once I started writing I have realized that it is easier to quit than to finish the book. At some point, I was tempted to give up since I ran out of ideas, my own message started boring me and I was overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the task. I slowly started assembling my writing tools, settled on one big idea, divided the project into small pieces, constructed the outline of the book,  started my research and had a firm writing schedule. I learnt a lot of things once I started writing the book. I am now slowly getting better at it. I started understanding what works and what doesn’t.

The perfectionist has to be sure that everything is perfect. If you are a perfectionist, you should bear in mind that there’s no such thing as perfection. You learn with practice and every time you do the task you become better. It is better to take imperfect action than perfect inaction! If you do the task for 30 minutes every day you will be further ahead one who is still thinking how to do it perfect. So, don’t think. Do it!

I can’t wait to finish writing and publish my maiden book Don’t Coast – Accelerate your personal and Professional Growth in 2020. I’m looking forward to your support and encouragement.

— Kishore Borra

Leading Up

Leaders today face the challenge of influencing people from all sides of an organization. John C. Maxwell, In his book 360 Degree Leader, explained the principles using which how middle managers leverage their unique positions and become 360-degree leaders by exercising influence in all directions–> lead up(to the boss), –> lead across(among their peers), –> and lead down(to those they lead) in addition to lead self (self-leadership).

360 Leadership Compass

In this article, I would like to focus on the concept of Leading Up. According to John C. Maxwell to attain leading up mindset, first, we need to come out of the below myths #

  • I can’t lead if I am not at the top
  • When I get to the top, then I will learn to lead
  • If I were on the top, then people would follow me
  • When I get to the top, I will be in control
  • When I get to the top, I will no longer be limited
  • I can’t reach my potential if I am not the top leader
  • If I can’t get to the top, then I won’t try to lead

Lead yourself :

In order to lead up first, you need to lead yourself exceptionally well. Lead yourself. That’s where it all starts. Besides, if you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else? Once you start doing it you would soon realize that this will be one of your greatest challenges. If you lead yourself well, then you will earn the right to lead others.

Lighten your leader’s load :

Leading up is the process of influencing a leader. This process includes lightening the leader’s load by being willing to do what others won’t while knowing when to push forward and when to back off.

Many managers with leadership responsibilities feel that because they are not the main leader, that they cannot influence their bosses. One of the most commonly asked questions is:  How do I lead when I’m not in charge? You do not have to be in charge in order to lead. It’s the biggest myth about leadership. If you’re on the front lines, you see things others don’t—you have a unique perspective. You have ideas that could make a big difference. You are thinking of solutions to problems some people don’t even know exist. Leading up will not only help your organization, but it will eventually help you.

You can think of lightening your leaders load by means of doing the following:

  • Do your own job well first
  • When you find a problem, if possible provide a solution
  • Tell leader what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear
  • Go the second mile
  • Stand up for your leader whenever you can
  • Always go the extra mile
  • Always show in spite of attitude rather than instead of attitude
  • Ask your leader how you can lift the load.

Your ability to lead up NOW will help determine your ability to move up LATER. It doesn’t matter which position you are currently in the organization, leading up will open doors for more influence in your organization in the future. Organizations won’t excel without honest upward communication.  Lighten your leader’s load. Find something that needs to be done and do it. The best team members don’t need to be told what to do because they intuitively find important things to do.

Honor your leaders:

Leading up can be risky. If you lead in the wrong way, you can get some negative labels and lose personal power. Honour your leaders publically results in getting an opportunity to influence them privately. If you want to be over people, you need to learn to be under them.

If you don’t feel a sense of honour for the person who is above you, they are going to sense it through you. One day, If you want to be OVER others, then you need to learn to be UNDER others and show honour from where you are now.  Well, you may say that my leader is not amazing and if I work for a great leader it is easy for me to show honour. Please don’t get confused between honour and respect. Respect is earned. Honour is given. We simply honour those in authority over us. You should accept that they are in that position because they are supposed to be there. Therefore show your influence by serving them and helping them rather than being critical about them all the time.  Still, if you feel like you can’t honour your boss then it’s better if you consider doing everyone a favour by going somewhere else where you can show honour. Here is what I know, without honouring UP we can’t lead UP.

Value Leaders Time:

If you are going to lead up, make sure the time is right. Value their time. Schedule a meeting, and keep it short and focused. Have a written agenda. If you’re leading up, it shouldn’t be to make yourself look better, or to be a hero, or to make someone else look stupid. Your only motivation to lead up should be to push the mission forward. Some leaders are moody. You can’t change who someone is. Be aware of your leader’s mood and then go on with your day like normal. The best thing you can do for your leader’s mood is to act as you normally do. Be the consistent force they can rely on. Don’t let your leader’s mood affect you. You have no idea what they are dealing with after hours.

Don’t just point out problems; bring solutions. Your leader would rather hear someone who has potential solutions than hearing about problems. Even if your idea isn’t perfect, it often evolves to a better solution. If you have only a critical spirit, you’ll never have an upward influence.

Always be honest and think critically :

Always remember that there is a world of difference between thinking critically and being critical. If you’re a yes-man, you will lose credibility. Truth always trumps flattery. The more successful you become, the more difficult it is to find people who will tell you the truth. Those who care enough to tell you the truth are incredibly valuable. Tell leader what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear

Finally :

As a leader, we must do everything we can to give opportunities for others within our organization to allow them to lead up. We should never penalize them for telling the truth. Instead, give them public credit for bringing good ideas, taking initiative, and putting the organization first. Saying you don’t care what your team thinks is unacceptable! If you say you don’t care what your team thinks, either you have the wrong people or you are the wrong leader. Change the people around you or change your mindset. If you don’t listen to them, you will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.

Always remember you don’t go into an opportunity, you GROW into an opportunity.  Good leaders in the middle make better leaders at the top. 


  • 360 Degree Leader – John C. Maxwell
  • Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast
  • The Art of Managing Your Boss Podcast – Wharton University