Six Thinking Hats

Ever heard the phrases “He is an innovator”, “She is a devil’s advocate”, “He can see things that don’t exist yet”. We all have different strengths in our core thinking styles. What if we understood and learnt different thinking styles?

Six Thinking Hats is a system designed by Edward de Bono which describes a tool for group discussion and individual thinking involving six colored hats.

Learn this framework and use it for in all discussions and decisions for work or life. Learn how to separate thinking into six clear functions and roles. Each thinking role is identified with a colored symbolic “thinking hat.” 

What is the big idea?

Image result for six hats thinking
Image result for 6 hats thinking

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Research has shown that the brain does not spend much energy on habit based actions. Our capabilities of being frazzled and distracted have increased over time. Information about these habits purposes to impart you with knowledge on how you can become an effective individual at work and generally in life.

What is the big idea?

  • Be Proactive
  • Begin with the End in Mind
  • Put First Things First
  • Think Win-Win
  • Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the Saw

Read Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Habit#1: Be Proactive

Being proactive entails being responsible for everything that revolves around your life. Individuals who are proactive can see that they can respond to happenings in their lives. Reactive is the opposite of being proactive. Proactive people will understand their responsibilities in their lives and therefore take the appropriate actions on matters. Proactive people will be driven to achieve their goals regardless of the surrounding circumstances. 

Habit#2: Begin with the End in Mind

Begin with the end in mind is based on one’s ability to see with their mind what cannot be seen physically. There are both physical and mental creations in this habit. The same way construction follows a blueprint; the physical creation follows the mental creation. When one does not make efforts to envision whom they aspire to become, they are empowering other people to make decisions that lead default shaping their future. Putting your goals and targets first reaffirm that you are moving your ideas into reality.

Habit#3: Put First Things First

Put first things first means that you have to set your priorities right and in order. It is essential to understand that you do not have to prioritize everything that comes your way. There is no point in over-stretching yourself; this will make you less effective. It is important to realize that you have the power to say no to things that are not priorities. This habit entails management and controlling of your priorities, roles, values, and your objectives. If you set your priorities, you will be able to manage and organize events and time according to the individual preferences you set in the second habit; Begin with the end in mind.

Habit#4: Think Win-Win

Majority of people love to base and measure their self-worth based on competition and comparisons. We think of succeeding based on another person’s failures in that if “you lose I win” and vice versa. There is a better alternative. Think win-win. Solutions and agreements cane be made mutually, making them beneficial and satisfying. An organization or a person who approaches issues with the win-win attitude has three essential character traits which include maturity, integrity and abundance mentality. You also have to be confident and brave to go win-win. 

Habit#5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

In life, communication is a very vital skill. Therefore, are you a good listener? A significant percentage of people will want to get their points across first. This will sometimes lead to ignoring what the other person is saying and therefore you will not understand them. A vast number of people will not listen to understand but to answer. Listen. Understand. Answer. 

Habit#6: Synergize

Two ideas put together are better than one. This habit entails the creation of cooperation. Synergy is also Open-mindedness and teamwork. Can you put together you expertise and life experiences to create synergy with another party? Synergy allows unveiling of good results we would not discover on our own. You will attain new insight when they start to interact with each other honestly. You will know you are in synergy when you start viewing things from a different perspective. Being able to value how people are different will help you see and drive synergy.

Habit#7: Sharpen the Saw  

Enhancement and preservation of your greatest assets mean to sharpen the saw. You have to have a balance in all life areas which include spiritual, mental, social and physical. One needs to eat, exercise and rest enough to be productive. Also, it is of great importance to be social, read more for mental growth and expand your spiritual self through prayer, music, and art. Practicing this habit keeps you rejuvenated as you engage in practices of the other six habits. Your ability to handle challenges and being productive increases tremendously.

Habit#8: Find your Voice and inspire others

Finding your voice tells you to discover work that encourages your talent and motivates passion. Finding your voice indicates that you are no longer on the path of mediocrity but on the right track. You will be able to increase your feeling of contentment by assisting others in helping theirs. Inspiring other too to find their voices by respecting, recognizing and creating meaningful opportunities. 

Check out this great summary of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

On Him Growing Up

Days turn into nights,
nights turn into days.

They come and they go,
Rather predictably and cyclically.

School years starts turn into school years ends,
School years ends turn into school years starts.

They come and they go,
Rather predictably and cyclically.

Winter turns into Spring,
Spring turns into Summer,
Summer turns into Fall,
Fall turns into Winter.

They come and they go,
Rather predictably and cyclically.

In the midst of all that predictably and cyclicalness,
I stand in utter awe of how nature and nurture are turning this wonder of a baby into a fine-&-refined young man.

And, how grateful I am to know and to feel,
that I am a very minuscule part of this grandiose life as it unfolds, right in front of my eyes.

Life… predictable and so cyclical…..
yet, not so predictable and not so cyclical,
blooms, grows and takes form in unpredictable and uncyclical ways.

On How Love Manifests in Hidden Places

Love manifests in a zillion ways in zillion places.

As the firm voice that says “Don’t do it..or else”.

As the pat on your shoulder that says “Atta girl (or boy)”

As the peck of teary kiss that says “Good bye…be back with me soon”.

As the glance of a friend or a lover that only you know and understand.

Let me give you an example of how love manifests under my roof in the least of places.

I hope with this story, I will urge you to notice the love that unfolds in unforeseen places and circumstances.

The times I grew up in, taught me that one never really wastes any resources or dumps stuff away. One makes the most of what one has.

I have had the same kitchen mittens for over a decade. They had worn out and when I pulled something out of the oven, I winced due to the heat.

The boys immediately rushed to my aid.

One got a towel dipped in cold water to wrap around my hand.

One got an ice pack and put it on my hand.

One yelled – “How many times I have asked you to throw those worn mittens out?”

A few months ago, Kumar got a sturdy pair of mittens from Costco and gave me a firm look and even firmer words. “Look. I am dead serious. You are going to start using these mittens when you stick your hand in the oven. I threw away the old ones. They are gone.”

I gave him a sheepish “Yes Sir” look.

I asked him in my sweetest voice possible – “Those mittens. Remember? Those were the ones we picked out long ago. Did you really throw them away?”

He said -“Quit it. I am not going to fall for that melt your heart look. Those old mittens are gone. Start using the new ones.”

Fast forward a few months. I have been using the new mittens and getting used to them.

Yesterday evening, as we started preparing for Thanksgiving get togethers for the upcoming week, I reminded Kumar to take stock that we had enough disposable supplies (plates, spoons, cups etc). He didn’t.. despite my nagging. Disposable supplies are typically stacked away in a tall cupboard that are difficult for me to reach (remember – I have a 5 foot lean and mean form). I had to go find the step stool from the garage, place it underneath the cupboard and lean over the refrigerator to take stock of supplies.

Guess what I found?

Guess where Kumar had put away my old mittens – out of sight…and out of my height 😉

That is right…on top of the refrigerator…below the tall cupboard.

What transpired next…I’ll leave it up to your imagination.

Like I said earlier, love manifests in very simple….yet beautiful ways…like buying you new kitchen mittens and putting away (not throwing them out) your old ones beyond your reach.

Our view of love has been colored by what we are led to believe is love by popular media.

Don’t over romanticize love…because, love is hiding in plain sight…right before you….or, in my case, right above me.


May you find love.

May you give love.

May you get love.

May you revel in love.

May you be love.

To love…my friends.


On Harvesting Time

What comes to your mind when I say “4 Quadrants”?

Well, if you are a math geek like me, you see something like the image below in your mind’s eye.

What comes to your mind when I say “4 Quadrants of Time Management”?

While you are thinking about it, let me tell you a little about my life.

I am a mom.
I am a wife.
I am a daugther.
I am a teammate.
I am a dog owner.
I am a friend.
I am a reader.
I am a writer.
I am a carpool partner.
The list goes on…

You get the picture here….I wear many hats and juggle too many balls that I can’t drop. I bet it is the same with you and your life.

We ONLY have 24 hours.

Couple of decades ago, I noticed that some people were making more out of their 24 hours than others. So, I started reading books on time management….like a MANIAC.

I know what you are going to ask me – “Ambal, how would you summarize your learnings?”

Buy me coffee and I’ll give you my version of the summary.
But, until that day you and I get together for coffee, here are few of my observations:

Observation #1  Plutonium and diamonds are NOT the most valuable resources on this planet that you and I call home. I don’t give a rat’s a** about any of those precious things or resources that are commonly put in the precious pile. I urge you not to put crappy stuff in the precious pile too.
Do you know what is the most valuable resource that is ready for you to harvest any time and any place? Ready for it? TIME is the MOST valuable resources on this planet.

I wrote part of this post while waiting to get my  latte at Starbucks, another part while waiting to pick up my son. Any place. Any time. You can harvest time. And, notice I wasn’t really waiting while waiting. I didn’t give the power to the barista or even my beloved son to take over my time. I still owned it.

Do you own your time at all times? Think about it.

Observation #2 There is only one chart that you need to know to manage your time. That is the “4 Quadrants of Time”. Read Covey’s Time Management Grid


Observation #3 I believe that success doesn’t happen on one dimension….it is along multiple dimensions.

  • Are you growing spiritually?
  • Are you growing as a person?
  • Are you growing in your career?
  • Are you growing on the family dimension?
  • Are you growing on the adventure dimension?
  • Are you growing on the health dimension?
  • Are your growing other people around you?
  • Are your growing trees and plants that will out live you?

The list goes on…..and it is based on what is important you and what YOU define as success.

The only want to grow along multiple dimensions is to ensure you invest time (the same 24 hours that you and I have.) wisely in each dimension that is important to you.There is no right or wrong answers. You do what is right for you.

It is important to me to bag peaks. I have a running list of mountains that I have climbed and will climb. It is not an easy task and one to fit into my hectic life. But, it is important to me to stand on mountain peaks and observe. It is important to me to go through that struggle (both physical and mental) of climbing. It is important to me to walk through the forests, the lakes, the tall trees and head toward the peak and immerse myself in the sheer beauty of nature. It is important to me to let myself be conquered by nature as I try to conquer a peak that I have set my eyes on for several years. It is important to me, that my children see (and, hopefully, remember long after I am gone) that I found time to do bag peaks….despite being a 5 foot lean and mean looking woman. So, I continue to do it,  all the while trying to make progress on other dimensions too.

What dimensions are most meaningful to you? Think about it.

Observation #4
In my mother tongue Tamil there is a saying (by a lady poet who lived in 13th Century named Avvaiyar)  that goes like this –

கற்றது கைமண் அளவு, கல்லாதது உலகளவு
“Katrathu Kai Mann Alavu, Kallathathu Ulagalavu”

Her quote has been translated as “What you have learned is a mere handful of sand; What you haven’t learned is the size of the world” and exhibited at NASA. It can also be translated as “Known is a drop, unknown is an Ocean“.

My learnings about time and my inherent gut level appreciation and understanding (thanks to my Eastern roots and upbringing) of how timeless time actually is …..all those learnings are indeed so miniscule. So, I will continue to learn about time and hone time management skills over a lifetime.

I hope you will do the same.

To Time! Cheers,  my friend!

More posts on  Time & Moments:

On Time

On Waiting

Embrace‬ ‪the‬ ‪Metaphysical‬

Look at the Sun Rays

All Kind of Miracles Happen. Don’t they?

Experience Moments, One by One

Warm water of the Atlantic Ocean. Met my feet.

The Mindset to Enjoy the Little Things in Life

I would have bet Bolt hands down!

On What you are seeking and How it is seeking you

Thoughts of a Weary Traveler

On Moments that become Meaningless

Right place at the Right time with the Right person

Nostalgia Reminds us that some Beautiful Moments are Past Us

Moments eventually come to an End

Mad Rush through the Grocery Store Aisles