Why #leadership development #fails & #How to #fix it!


What’s with the # – It’s for #twitter. But imagine if everything was written with a ‘#’, if everything was a keyword? How would that work?

Well, it is no different for the first time leader. A new language, new words, new meanings and too much information which can be blinding. A new place where everything has an alternative and every decision has a repercussion, more than ever. If you are already what one can call a ‘leader’ you know the pressure I am talking about.

The pressure to change, to live up, to manage, to drive and to deliver! But how? With a world where everything seems to be top priority, like the # or the keyword, every new leader takes one of two ways  :

A: Ignores all hashtags ‘#’ and goes with the best guess any way! OR B: Tries to deal with all of them and eventually burns out!

While our poor protagonist is making the wrong choice or the wrong choice, the mounting pressure teaches him/ her to either pretend or defend. That’s the behavioral approach which is the social equivalent of being either a lifelong victim or a ‘know it all’. Where is the ‘leader’ in all this, you ask? So do I!

Add to this, a dose of the ‘leadership development workshop’ and the person in question hears the following :

#Sources of power for a #leader | #Types of #leaders | #Leadership principles | #Leadership Best Practices | #Leadership Models | #Delegation | #Situational Leadership | #Action centered #leadership | #level5 Leadership | #Feedback | #Lead by #example | #Team-Management | # Task-Management | #Conflict Management | #People & #Project Management | #Inspiration | #Problem solving | #Decision making | #Motivation”

Thats pretty much every two day leadership workshop ever designed. To you, me and every other L&D / HR professional these are must have skills! To the protagonist, nothing but more words.

How do these words benefit them? What should they do when, under pressure, these words frankly just don’t occur to them?

The answer is not to change everything head over heels and de-credit what the best of thinkers and management maestros have thought up. All the buzzwords and # (hashtags) are both important and relevant. The challenge however is in how these are driven and drilled down the to-be leaders #neural network?

The answer may be in Bloom’s taxonomy. Blooms taxonomy is a model that demarcates levels of adult learning. Understanding this could be the key to teaching and driving leadership development.

Most of current leadership content takes people (learners) to the receiving andresponding level i.e. they understand the definitions and are able to recall it when faced with the terms in day to day conversations.

Some workshops, practice oriented sessions and customized learning experiences do manage to take this leadership learning to the organizing level i.e. participants are able to plot valid responses, scenarios and tools together. But is this enough to prepare these learners for the real world challenges and expectations?

To make meaningful difference, we need to take this learning to the ‘Valuing‘  and ‘Internalizing‘ levels. How?

While even through workshops that are limited in content but deep rooted in practice, some amount of this is certainly possible. However, I have always seen the best results through #gamification and #simulation.

Here are some ideas that you can use for the next set of people you work with :

1. Use theatre – It’s nothing complicated and there are many ways of using this. For e.g. Make and prepare a drama club in your office and use them to drive situations where learners participate and get to respond to complex workplace conversations as leaders and managers. Feel free to take this to other avenues of learning like communication and customer service. If not this, give simple scenarios and get teams to role-play them without knowing what the opposition plans to do.

2. Use Gamification – I don’t mean to complicate at all, but this simply means to create content where people get to decide on their own, pay for the consequences and build rewards on their own with limited supervised learning. For the nay-sayers, this is not idealistic because the activity is still very much supervised, the learning is not! For e.g. here are few things you can do :

  • I designed this simulation called the ‘6talk plan’ for managerial development.
  • This is basically the 6 key conversations every manager needs to have with their subordinates – 1. Start of the annual goal setting 2. Quarterly / Incidental Review 3. Half Yearly Review 4. Personalized feedback / teaching moments (Task based) 5. Personalized feedback / teaching moments (Behavior based) and 6. Annual review and appraisal discussion.
  • I recommend that you go the whole hog and invest a week in building content for this. You will need a Fictitious company brief, a CEO brief (To whom everybody reports including the protagonist), a Manager Brief, Team member profiles 4-5 (Fictitious). This is just background.
  • Then you need situational cases for each of the 6 conversations and cue cards for concepts / models that you would like people to use. If possible, even video record these briefs as personal anecdotes instead of words on paper.
  • Each case then needs to be played by unique trio’s , Manager – Team Member – Observer (Regulate roles here!)
  • You can also record an ideal conversation on video so that people can learn and compare to.
  • Quick-tip – Make it tough and realistic at all times. Too basic and you will have people bored, too complicated and they will disengage. Don’t be afraid of some trial and error.

3. Use Business Simulation – Personally, I am a big fan of Ram Charan’s and Larry Bossidy’s book called ‘Execution’. I feel it effectively describes what every leader should know about getting things done. In essence it says that there are three key aspects to perfect execution : People, Operations and Strategy

Points 1 and 2 in this article work really well when teaching ‘People’ and to some extent ‘Operations’ aspects. But for strategy the key is to teach people about the broader picture. Strong debrief, business leader feedback and buy-in are crucial here. If you have a good budget, maybe you can go for some real time online simulation like Capstone etc., if like me the budgets are often tighter and the management wants ‘Harvard’ like learning in ‘private-tuition’ costs, try using Monopoly and/ or Human Chess!

What I have shared here are merely some quick ideas of building more meaningful leadership development options for your workforce. Needless to say that the intent is not to prove that theory isn’t important. The question simply is how to treat it the right way to ensure application?

While you try your hand at the above tips, please do use your judgement focusing on how to leverage on these ideas and not just replace everything else. Let me leave you with a story that tells us why this judgement is critical for both , leadership development and learning in general :

This is allegedly a true story. Engineers at a major aerospace company were instructed to test the effects of bird-strikes (notably geese) on the windshields of airliners and military jets. To simulate the effect of a goose colliding with an aircraft travelling at high speed, the test engineers built a powerful gun, with which they fired dead chickens at the windshields. The simulations using the gun and the dead chickens worked extremely effectively, happily proving the suitability of the windshields, and several articles about the project appeared in the testing industry press.

It so happened that another test laboratory in a different part of the world was involved in assessing bird-strikes – in this case on the windshields and drivers’ cabs of new very high speed trains. The train test engineers had read about the pioneering test developed by the aerospace team, and so they approached them to ask for specifications of the gun and the testing methods. The aerospace engineers duly gave them details, and the train engineers set about building their own simulation.

The simulated bird-strike tests on the train windshields and cabs produced shocking results. The supposed state-of-the-art shatter-proof high speed train windshields offered little resistance to the high-speed chickens; in fact every single windshield that was submitted for testing was smashed to pieces, along with a number of train cabs and much of the test booth itself.

The horrified train engineers were concerned that the new high speed trains required a safety technology that was beyond their experience, so they contacted the aerospace team for advice and suggestions, sending them an extensive report of the tests and failures.

The brief reply came back from the aero-engineers: “You need to defrost the chickens….”

Regards,

Abhinandan Chatterjee (Article also available independently at www.abhinandanchatterjee.com / www.humanwareworks.com / LinkedIn)

Connect on twitter for #HR folks : @humanwareworks

L&D 2.0 – Why Learning in Business needs a Makeover?


learning_0 (1)Let’s get to the point – L&D, when too simple – is a farce and when too complicated – doesn’t deliver. I am not saying this, but a lot of organizations have come to prove this statement true over the past few years. The ROI myth is still going strong and neither people (learners) nor learning leaders seem to be able to take accountability.

How? – you would ask.

With research, technology, expertise, education and the good old fashioned trial and error, we know that people, culture, leadership and organizational learning are more critical today than ever before. We also know that its possible to drive if all small pieces in play come together. And we also know that this entire process is -Fragile!

For an organization to learn , there are no simple ways. Where there are ways, they are complicated and people just don’t seem motivated enough to see them through.

A lot of talented professionals spend years of work to drive results through L&D but how many can take credit and say that they contributed to the business top-line – or bottom-line directly through what they did. My problem is that when the effort is made the result should be visible.

Having worked with over 200 world-class organizations as a consultant, I now feel the need to work long term (say 3 years) with a single corporate and help them see through the change, later in my career, lead the HR team from a business standpoint to deliver numbers that add to net profit and grow enough to become the CEO of a regular business. I have at least 25 years of a career left ahead of me, so I m sure I will get this done!  But for this to happen, either for me or for anyone else, we need organizations that are great at learning, high on adaptability, comfortable with change and aligned to the same business objectives regardless of the department. Along with this, we need HR that has business acumen and aspires to become the CEO some day.

As of today, we have a long way to go!

From an Operations lens, there are three kinds of HR team cultures in organizations (Across the company for SME’s and in pockets and silos for large , multi-layered corporates). Hence,  approaches towards people, culture and learning management are only usually a blend of these three. Not based on the Org. charts but on the actual culture, these are:

1. HR as Service Provider – HR is just the ‘yes’ man and the part time office boy who gets what operations asks for. There is rarely any depth to the actions and its usually about compliance. In all this the learning perspective is :

  • Organize generic programs to keep people occupied
  • Meet the ISO mandated number of training days
  • Don’t take too much pain to find what is needed but give only what is asked
  • Nobody invites you to the serious business talks, accept it!
  • Play up to an audience and show the CEO your accomplishments to get next years budget!

2. HR as a News Anchor – In this case, the companies seem to have a little more faith in HR, they are given the news (Good, bad and ugly)  and the responsibility to share it, specially when it is bad and ugly.

While the key role is still keeping discipline and managing payroll, its usually after a key discussion of ‘serious business’ , they are called in to the board room and told about the judgement. ‘What can I do, it is a business decision’, is one statement you would hear often in this culture from the HR representatives. In all this the learning perspective is :

  • Business takes priority, learning takes a backseat.
  • Learning is often looked as an event and not a solution/ application process.
  • Managers, learners and unfortunately sometimes even learning leaders want crowd pleasing ‘fun’ driven learning as opposed to things that can actually make business sense.
  • Budget is decided before outcomes are decided – which are usually vague (Ref: the ROI Myth).
  • Basic L&D deliverables are rebranded as super successful and good looking (On Paper) outcome drivers, not much changes in what it actually happens. Add some pre and post tests if you will!

2. HR as a Business Partner : Agreed, its a novel concept. But what matters is where the designations have changed, have the organizations changed too? Many a places still call the new HR guy a ‘business partner’ but discusses no business with him!

In an ideal world, this would mean using HR as a strategic driver to ensure business outcomes. Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy, in their book ‘Execution’, talk about business being driven by – Strategy – Operations and People. Equally and not selectively. But I will leave it to you to judge how often that happens!

In all this the learning perspective is :

  • More business driven , so at least a TNA happens and ops is on board as a client where the HR is consulting.
  • The moment is gets too ‘businessy’ HR pulls a step back and says things like ‘I can do this much but the rest is up to you’
  • In words of a senior ops. professional talking about Sr. HR business partners, ‘it’s like working with the MD’s son. They come, they ask, they tell – throw some weight around and propose a change or two. Then they get busy with their own thing!’
  • There is a blend of calendar programs (Kool to do) and the need based programs (Need to do to shut ops. up) along with ‘Value’ based initiatives, glorified and often exaggerated e mails for what has been achieved.
  • No doubt, this leads to some short term successes which is more than what can be said for the first two approaches.
  • On the positive side, there is a lot of work that gets done – but it is affected when participating in all this just becomes voluntary and optional for every employee.
  • A lot is expected from Ops in terms of implementation assistance which seldom comes through and everybody finds some data to validate post which everyone lives happily ever after.

Isn’t this sounding all too negative? Take a moment to think what all have you experienced as a professional so far?

These to me are good reasons to believe that learning indeed needs a makeover. Here are some of the key things that I have figured out based on research, technology, expertise, education and the good old fashioned trial and error which would certainly feature on my Learning 2.0 Agenda :

1. Say bye to calendar programs – Its important to meet your ISO or whatever other certification standards you want to meet, but the the first element of learning 2.0 is about being deadly serious on ROI. Generic programs add zero to no tangible value, take them online, replace them with e learning and create internal champions who could do seminars from a business standpoint. (This qualifies certification hours)

2. Teach HR to talk business – Whether you do it through committee based decision making or more business oriented HR hiring, if your HR team talks business, they help create a culture where the operations team trusts them and can truly look at them as partners. It  is simply about credibility.

It is this credibility that HR/ L&D needs to build and bank upon while driving initiatives that make people take accountability.

3. Teach business the value of HR : Lets look at it this way – what are the key moments when ops. guys have to play HR type roles ? Annual Goal Setting / 4 Quarterly Reviews / Final Appraisal – I call this the ‘6Talk Plan’. If you can ensure effectiveness in just these 6 touch-points to start with, I will bet my money on the fact that you will see positive changes in your culture over 12 months or less!

This is why every manager needs to have the HR pill, whether they like it or not. To take this a step further, drive managerial cross skilling to build empathy and unity within your managerial audiences.

4.Executive coaching is not the only type of coaching – Its expensive to get an senior and certified executive coach , honestly, its somewhat irrelevant as well if you are doing this for mid to junior level professionals. So create internal coaching systems and maybe even create a new designation, the idea is to use OJT (On job training) more sincerely and create a blend of generic + feedback based learning. For Eg. a coach who can talk about Maslow’s hierarchy while giving feedback on team management to a first level supervisor. Get your internal coaches to mix models and meaning to make magic!

5. Create curriculums and reward learning success – There are many ways of doing this meaningfully. The most common one that you too would know are MDP. The issue is not that they are not done. At many places, they are not done seriously enough. Either senior leaders do not value them and propagate them or Ops/HR does not follow up hard enough.

It can also be done through MOOC’s on Udemy, Coursera etc. Only word of caution is to ensure validation.

One way I feel this can be done is by asking people to pay for their own learning and if they complete it successfully, reward them with a 3X payback. Adding curriculum completion points for IJP’s / Promotions and Even appraisals may be a good idea. Now this is what an IDP (Individual Development Plan) should look like!

6. Action Learning Projects – This is nothing new, but I have not seen it being done to well, so it is still on the list! Every program is done with a set of clear achievables which are documented by individuals and teams as projects. They don’t choose independently but from a list of business approved projects that add real-time value. Don’t give up on the follow ups and calculating ROI will be easy.

7. Teach Twitter (OR any social platform, even internal!) : Most people who don’t use twitter do so due to a lack of understanding. Teach them how twitter can help them, maybe even schedule twitter time and let the tweets flow. Stay away from touchy topics – this is just developmental. Not a platform to discuss policy but just to learn! This has tremendous advantages when it comes to social learning, recognition and award systems. There are risks, but where are they not?

Maybe even make IDP’s as Individual dev. plans as individual dev. profiles. Get people to want an all-star rating for their profile which helps with appraisal and also gives them a reason to keel learning!

8. Do more with less : Your L&D offering does not have to have a 100 elements. Let it have 5, be focused on quality and depth of application. Not on quantity. I even advocate ending full day workshops (Business loves this!) , make it frequent, make it small, and make it application oriented. For eg. Teach a time management technique in an hour, get people to commit to applying and schedule a review next week. Reward doers, give the nay-sayers another chance but document it all. Map this to commitment and accountability during appraisals.

9. Spend Wisely – Use the ops and finance expertise to plan you L&D budgets.  A lot of companies plan for processes , i.e. 20% for Technical training / 30% for Behavioral Training etc. ; Instead, plan for outcomes, what do you want to achieve, how much could it impact business, how long term is plan, is the task maintenance or progressive and lastly, what % of my budget should be allocated to that. Then plan for how to use the money towards the best possible outcome!

10. Target Harmony – Organizational Harmony – I can learn from James bond here, when he is in a tough spot (Like he always is, much like HR), he has to prioritize, make tough choices; So if I asked you to choose only two things that you could do as HR / L&D leads in you organization – What would they be ?

This question has bothered me for a while now here is what I have finally come to terms with :

  1. Align Values > Competencies > Vision > Mission > Strategy > Targets > KPI’s / KRA’s > Rewards > PMS > On-boarding and Exit as one experience with a simple goal – People should know 100 % of what their piece is and a 10,000 feet overview to everyone else’s. In simple terms, writing and pasting this at the reception is not going to help. These things have to become a part of the lingo, the everyday talk in teams and the manager’s feedback in high stress situations for everyone else but HR. (HR is busy talking business – Remember!)
  2. Make the ‘6Talk Plan’ Work – What people care most about in any system is how they were treated. it is about respect, fairness and trust. These 6 conversations (Point 3 from the above list) is what can be a solid foundation to a culture that makes this happen.                               (While these two things are not small and easy things to accomplish, they are only two, and as HR , I am sure that you have done much more!)

Thinking about a MDP project that I worked on recently got this thought going. I would love to hear from you about what you think about these pointers and if you would also recommend anything else.

I feel L&D today needs a makeover – Do You?

Also posted on my linked pulse feed.

The First Job – 3 Things you cant do without


Some people are lucky to have good jobs straight out of college and some are not! Are you and / or your loved ones that Lucky?

As Malcolm Gladwell would say Luck = Opportunity + Preparation. But honestly, and I will bet my 10 years of working with more than 200 global organizations as a people and culture consultant, luck has nothing to do with it!

A 2014 CII (Confederation of Indian industries) report co-authored by Wheebox says that only 1.5 out of every 5 Indian graduates are unemployable in India. This is a number that should scare you – it scared me!

So, here are 3 things you can’t do without to get hired for the first time :

1. Be worldly-wise and not just book-wise : When I was studying, there were all kinds of kids in class – the talkative ones and the quiet ones, the strong ones and the intelligent ones, the bookworms and the doers, the good-boys and the mis-chiefs (Pun intended) and finally, the toppers.

I got along well with most and I had somewhat of an opinion about who would succeed in life. Here is the order of people from successful to not so successful that I thought will happen : Toppers > Bookwise > Intellectuals >Good-boys>Doers >Strongmen>Talkers>Mischiefs>ME (Happily, this didn’t turn out correct!)

Today, after many years that I see what has happened, the order is insanely different. It is: Talkers > Mis-chiefs > ME> Doers > Good Boys> Toppers>Intellectuals …. and so on. I also validated this observation with friends and family and somehow , almost everyone said that it’s strangely true!

So, the first thing you need is life experience – the more you have tried, the more you have failed, the more you have seen – the better are your chances to succeed.

Focus Skills : Agility and Adaptability

2. Be the ‘Why’ Guy (Or Girl) : There is a boat-load of people who seem to have an opinion about what needs to be done. When you apply a filter to that list saying who knows ‘why’ and ‘how’, you will be surprised to see that the list has shortened by about 80%. What does this mean?

This means, that while a lot of people can be smart enough to know the right thing, they are unable to execute. When any business looks to hire, they want people who can deliver.

A while ago we were taking interviews for our business at http://www.ITrainConsultants.com; we interviewed more that 50 valid resumes to learn only one simple fact – Credentials do not guarantee skills!

So as a fresher, you should focus on ‘why and how’ you did things and not just on ‘what’; when you land that interview. You have a simple agenda – Project yourself as someone who knows how to deliver!

This alone will make you a memorable candidate and push you to the top of the shortlist.

Focus Skills : Focus on ‘Why’ and Communication 

3. Become work ready : What really changes between college and work? I have asked this question to more than 1000 people across the many Campus to Corporate workshops we delivered for clients like Maruti, Sapient, Sterlite Tech. and many more. The answers I get include Money, Lifestyle, Loosing Friends, Social Circle, Needs, Responsibilities, Routine, Boredom, Less fun, Being answerable etc.

What I wanted to hear but never did, is – Expectation.

What your parents, college, and you expect from yourself are nothing similar to what a business, an employer, expects from you. That is why, what you did yesterday which worked well does not necessarily work well today (When you are at work).

You will complain that you need to be who you are, you can’t change your personality and the business needs to learn to deal with you. You will own every success and blame every failure on the effervescent – SYSTEM! But it will not help you grow.

What you need to learn is that ‘To change a system you first have to be a part of it’. Therefore – For the first 6 months or so, suppress your urge to change things, master the system and keep an open mind by listening and learning.

If you are at a place where you are not learning a lot, don’t worry – Ask!

Doing this and other simple things like ensuring right email etiquette, manners , phone etiquette, dressing well (Even if others are not doing it!) will give you something that many take years and years to build – Credibility.

Without credibility even the best ideas are worthless because the way this business world works – An idea is usually as important as the person giving it.

Focus Skills : Listening, Learning and Etiquette

I know that there are many naïve people out there who may not agree with this straight up commentary and will give a different advise. Listen to them too because what they say is not wrong. Just remember, an year later, you will be in a position to give advice and I hope that you then give what you truly believe.

We wanted to do something to help fix the issue of low employability and therefore this article. But that is not where our accountability ends, having been in learning and development for over a decade with many world class organizations, there is certainly more that can be done.

That is why we established the IERF (International Employability Research Foundation) and sculpted the Corporate Accelerator program. Simply put it does three things :

  • Corporate certified assessment – skill evaluation which allows the employers from 200+ organizations to see the potential talent of each student and how quickly they can deliver results once hired
  • Psychometric Evaluation – allowing recruitment to be a lot more focused and ensuring that the right talent is hired for the right job. Something that students will not have access to anywhere else in the country
  • Profile Showcase – students who certify through our program have their profile uploaded to our recruitment database which is an access point for our corporate partners to conduct their recruitment.

Here are two presentations that will tell you everything you want to know. Don’t wait, if you have outgrown this but wish that you knew about it when the time was right – please share with those who CAN use it today!

The Idea :

The Program:

We are just starting out sharing this but we spent the last 7 years building it. I will be very keen to know what you think about the ‘corporate accelerator’ idea. Looking forward to hear from you.

For sign-up, participation, referral or if you know a college that we can pitch to or anything else that you may think of , please write to ierf@itrainconsultants.com

– Abhinandan Chatterjee

How to tell a story


Have you ever spoken to someone, where you shared something interesting and they still lost interest – or you did! Have you ever wondered why some people are better than others when it comes to communication, influence and building trust/faith?

One of the major things these ‘better’ people do is to tell a story really well. Have you ever told a story?If yes , you can make it better and if no then you must try! This is one skill that can go a long  way with and for you to. Whether it is about landing your dream job or getting your dream partner – If you can tell a story well; you will have a better chance at being heard, being understood and being believed upon!

That is what my message was to the 1000 people present at TedxJUIT in the Solan Valley – November 2014. Here is my TED talk titled –

How to tell a story !

 

This talk was described on the Tedx website as follows :

“This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. The talk is woven around three short stories of a businessman, with each story having a moral of its own.

He describes how communication plays a chief role in depicting the thoughts while simultaneously conveying a message with a meaning. Telling stories are about questioning the question. The stories go around the world of four keywords – what, why, where and when.

Stories communicate emotions and not merely facts.He gives his mantra of telling amazing stories. This mantra constitutes the hook, the bait and the pull. Hook is about what you want the audience to be interested in. Bait is something that makes them believe that your statement is correct. Pull is about truth that drives the story.

Another point of focus was ‘Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana’. This vision of working without any dreams of bearing fruits is challenging the very basic idea of the existence and the way it is today thereby generating circumstances to create amazing stories.

Abhinandan Chatterjee is a storyteller. His forte lies in his ability to get people to learn through participation, thought and action! “Learning is not compulsory, neither is change, nor is survival”, is his idea to enable learning for grown-ups. He has been assisting learners for over nine years and comes with an excellent understanding of participant behavior and adult learning best-practices. He is also a people performance consultant and the managing partner at I Train.

In his current role he works with over a 175 organizations like McKinsey, PepsiCo, ILO, Philips, Google and many more around South Asia to help develop their culture, people and learning initiatives.

His education has been about business, psychology and human resources from institutions like the University of Stonebridge and IIM Calcutta.

When he is not with groups or individuals, assisting them in their professional development, he is often clicking pictures, eating or writing either for his blog at http://www.abhinandanchatterjee.com or books and articles. ”

 

Please do share what you think about this. Cheers – Abhi

Why fairy tales don’t inspire anymore!


Believe them!

Believe them!

Who does not like a little story? A good plot, some identifiable characters, a little background, a convincing story-teller sprinkled with some emotions

  •  Little Red Ridinhood didn’t listen to her mother.
  • Jasmine was in a live in relationship with Alladin.
  • Snow White alone lived wid 7 men.
  • Pinnochio was a liar.
  • Robin Hood was a thief.
  • Tarzan walked without clothes on.
  • A stranger kissed Sleeping beauty n she married him.
  • Cindrella lied, sneaking out at nite 2 attend a party..
  • These r d stories our parents raised us with n den they complain our generation is spoiled!!
  • Jasmine was in a live in relationship with Alladin.
  • Snow White alone lived wid 7 men.
  • Pinnochio was a liar.
  • Robin Hood was a thief.
  • Tarzan walked without clothes on.
  • A stranger kissed Sleeping beauty n she married him.
  • Cindrella lied, sneaking out at nite 2 attend a party..

These are the stories we grew up with and still the they complain our generation is spoiled!!

There is one thing that has continued to bother me though. How is it that as kids we looked at the good sides of these stories and loved them. What really changed by the time we grew up? Today, even when we hear a good story, lets say – a politician doing something good , we still think there is some sneaky self interest involved somewhere.

I mean , by all means, please be a pessimist if you will but then either stop telling children lies or start looking at the truth in them as a grown up!

What really has changed is a term coined by Motivation theorist Ashland –  UPR (Unconditional Positive Regard). In  simple terms when you meet someone for the first time , you think of them as good people who are there to help and help them if needed.  Today however, you reach someone who you don’t know and you are taken up as a disturbance if not a conman already.

What is this happening to the world around us? I asked around , many poeple, and what I got was ‘The world is not a safe place place any more?’ Where do you intend to go – I ask!

So here are three super simple things you can do the bring the UPR back :

1. Realism – Tell children (and adults) what is with the risks and the good sides.

2. Make a Opinion marker – For E.G. I tell myself that I will make an opinion about someone only after meeting thrice. This works, if i did’t do this, trust me I would not have been married yet!

3. Share – When people make you uneasy, say things that you disapprove, share your feeling without accusing other of being wright or wrong.

Do this and slowly and steadily UPR will return to your life. Once you give it, you will get it and then the fairy tales will inspire again!

 

The Biriyani Lesson – How adults learn


Biriyani has always fascinated me !

What is more fascinating is what we can learn if we become a little more curious and observant of our own lives…

And to say that there is more to biriyani than just eating it, nothing better than that !

Here is me talking about how adults learn based on a few biriyani related experiences.

Its time to biriyani.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please do comment !

Cheers,

Abhinandan Chatterjee

TedxGurgaon Talk – On Non Conformity


My talk at the TEDxGurgaon. 2011 10’Dec

Penguins, Lightbulb and a Beer belly! – A talk about non-conformity and us. Happy watching!

I would request you to share your perspective about the idea in it, or the presentation. Looking forward to your comments!

So what if the technology fails, you can still keep going as long as you believe in the message you share!

You can even read an article about this topic at https://abhinandanchatterjee.com/2012/01/04/dreamsfaith-a-beer-belly/

Cheers,

Abhinandan Chatterjee

Dreams,Faith &; a Beer Belly!



Dreams

I believe some things are just not meant to be. Impossible means ‘I am possible’ I like the tagline, but it is just always a tagline. I am a conformist, I have been a conformist all my life.

I care about what is possible and I have a problem when people get too ambitious. It’s okay to get ambitious but some things are possible, some are not. That is a well established fact..Who doesn’t think so ?

But I dream, I dream about a BMW in the next 3 years and a big 4 bedroom house with 5-star like interiors, a study, play area and even parking ,and here is the biggest one ‘all in Gurgaon’ in the next 5 years. Dreaming has taught me to dream more and dream big – correction, day-dream more and day-dream big, Day-dream on!

To daydream is to think and to think is to learn. Now learning is not compulsory, neither is survival. W.Edwards Deming said that.

Today, lets learn to- day dream !

Since I was a kid, I have known what to do, when. Mostly I was told, with examples and valid references and an explanation that was designed to convince me  that it’s either this way or no way at all!

Whether to take commerce or Science, whether to wear full pant or half. Whether to eat now or later ( It is a standard ‘now’ for me to this always!)But I fixed the way it works. Or so I thought, while all I fixed, were just limitations for myself. Beliefs about how things can and can’t be done.

I even tried to fix the society, the systems and cultures – I never asked  questions before because I knew, ‘kool’ people don’t ask too many questions, Amitabh Bacchan didn’t, neither did superman – they always just have the answers.

Then I came to work and realized I need to be accountable – how would I look like if I ask for help, which big guy at work ever did that? …and I never escalated, even the things that I should have.

Then I got married, and I hated shopping, I told everyone so while I spent 3 hours picking the right suit to wear today. But don’t tell anyone that, because we Men, don’t like shopping!

I did these things because either someone told me to or it looked socially acceptable or at least logically possible! It’s funny how this is not just an issue with people.

Even large organizations do this. A leading camera film maker with over a century of business experience, almost ran out of business because they stuck on to the cash cow of film photography products in spite of having developed the digital tech. Clingy!

Such thought has a definition – RTP ( Rational thinking perspective) , now we all know rational is right. Don’t we?

Rational thinking perspectives are good because they educate us about our possibilities.

A man with a body on which nothing moves. Stuck to a bed for all his life. The only RTP I could think of is ‘Mercy Killing. Stephen Hawking.

Another man contracted polio as a child, and he used a wheelchair for a while. He devised his own exercises to strengthen his legs. The only RTP I could think would be to learn typing and shorthand. He went on to become one of the most successful Olympic athletes of all time, winning 10 gold medals. In the years 1900, 1904 and 1908. With about 1 % of the means and methods of today, none of the modern medicine and no google for instant advice or Facebook for popularity. Ray Ewry. How many did we as a country win in the last Olympics?

There is a another side of this coin,  it is called Generative thinking perspective (GTP), which is governed by intuition, faith and conviction. You do what you feel right.

Hey I have an idea, how about I leave everything and start a new website where all people can connect online, maybe we can call it FACEBOOK. Oops, that’s taken, by a Harvard student who dropped out to pursue a website and left what could have been an amazing job in the silicon valley which would have paid millions, in dollar. That’s Zuckerberg and think of the Steve Jobs if you will.

Another man who did not make so much money but taught me most about GTP was my father. I learnt this later, and I will get to it in a bit.

I am sure some of us could have answered these questions about rationale or gut, but when I was 16, I never could. It was so tough to get all this sorted because I had never seen anyone ask these questions before, there was no guidance available. To be logical or to  day-dream was as tough as answering shakespere’s ‘to be or not to be’?

Dream = 1,600,000,000 (160 Crores) ,references on Google. If so many people talk about this must me something good.

Faith

What do we learn out of day-dreaming. One dream that lasts long enough and is desired bad enough gives birth to faith.

Faith leads to only two things, We learn to Regret or we learn to Perform.

When I was 13, I lost my father to a heart attack, his 13th – 4 major and 9 minor. The last one was minor. Even on his last day he was in a client meeting after 1 very successful job, 5 failed businesses and 1 somewhat livable construction venture. Bed rest was the only rational thing but he pushed because he had immovable faith that he can.

That’s GTP.

So, when I went home, saw his dead body and had absolutely no clue of what to do. Maybe stupid, but I was still thinking about what to do? I had an idea, I wanted to get a live wire and give him an electric shock. In our movies they do it to anyone who is unconscious. Maybe that will work!

So I went and told my mother this, who smiled and continued crying. I never got to do that. But even today, every time I think of my father, I regret not doing that. What if he stood up?

‘What if’ is a big question. Is there anyone, anyone at all in this gathering who has not asked themselves a question starting with ‘what if’ ?

To do is better than to regret. Haven’t we all had those days when we thought, ‘I should have said something to that girl, I should have bought that thing, I should have learnt that art and last but not the least, I should have paid attention.’

Thousands of people with ideas as brilliant as nano, brail, chocolate and algebra.(Cut algebra out, wasn’t a brilliant idea) go to work, come back home and push it to tomorrow and years later they ask themselves ‘what if’.

It is really easy to confirm to things, we believe them to be true, mostly blindly.

While you read this in the last 7 minutes and 30 seconds based on the number of words, 810 people confirmed to death with all their ideas which will never be heard again. Ideas but not dreams!

All I wish is that, before I die, I could leave this world with one idea that continues to live even after I die.Dreaming is non conformity, some us do it because we are allowed to.Some of us do it because we have to. And even death cannot make a dream confirm to it.

This article was titled dreams, faith and a beer belly. We spoke about dreams and faith. Here is the Beer belly, and I believe, I look better with it than without it, I am comfortable with it. Because 1 more tablespoon of belief is the only thing missing from our lives.

P.S. I wrote this article primarily for the speech at a  TED Event. Though it was changed eventually these thoughts have had my minds occupied. What would you consider yourself; A conformist or a non-conformist?

You can even view the my TED talk at this link : http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxGurgaon-Abhinandan-Chatterj

Be the feedback you give!


A few years ago, Chris Oster’s unit at General Motors got so fed up with traditional reviews that it abolished them. “There were so many problems – for managers and for people being appraised,” explains Oster, director of organizational development for the GM Powertrain Group. “We had ‘rater error.’ We had the ‘contrast effect.’ We had the ‘halo effect.’ But the biggest problem was that feedback wasn’t leading to changes in behavior.”

Darcy Hitchcock, president of AXIS Performance Advisors, helps companies create high-performance work systems, including feedback systems. She says that one of her most painful professional moments came from a performance review early in her career: Her boss rated her a four on a five-point scale. Though most people would consider that a decent score, Hitchcock agonized over why she didn’t get a five. She confronted her boss: What steps could she take to get a perfect score? He had no answer. Angry and confused, she left the office and spent the day in a nearby park. “In the space of a one-hour meeting,” she says, “my boss took a highly motivated employee and made her highly unmotivated.”

Many years ago, top executives at Glenroy Inc., a privately held manufacturer of packaging materials outside of Milwaukee, held an off-site at which they reviewed key company policies. A week later, Glenroy held a rally in the company parking lot at which employees built a bonfire and burned its policy manuals.

The company’s well-established approach to reviews literally went up in smoke. But unlike other policies, which Glenroy refined or reinvented, reviews were never reinstated. “When people find out that we don’t have formal reviews, it drives them crazy,” says Michael Dean, Glenroy’s executive vice president. “They don’t understand how we can run the business. Leaders here provide people with feedback. But the way for it to be effective is on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis – not twice a year.”

Feedback matters. The only way for people to get better at what they do is for the people they work for to provide candid, timely performance evaluations. “In today’s environment, you have to evaluate what’s changing and what’s staying the same, what’s working and what’s no longer working,” says Bruce Tulgan, author of FAST Feedback (1998, HRD Press) and founder of Rainmaker Thinking, a consulting firm based in New Haven, Connecticut. “Feedback plays that role.” Anne Saunier, a principal at Sibson & Co., a consulting firm based in Princeton, New Jersey, puts it this way: “If you have ideas and information that will help someone perform better, it’s hostile not to share them.”

So why are reviews still the most painful ritual in business? A 1997 survey by Aon Consulting and the Society for Human Resource Management reported that only 5% of HR professionals were “very satisfied” with their performance-management systems. In 1995, William M. Mercer Inc., based in New York City, polled executives about reviews. Only 7% said their systems were “excellent”; more than 70% had revamped them or were planning to.

Part of the problem with reviews is that human nature hasn’t changed – few of us enjoy hearing about our shortcomings, and few of our bosses and colleagues look forward to describing them. Part of the problem is that work itself has changed – it’s more team- oriented, less individualistic. The tougher it is to measure individual performance, the tougher it is to evaluate it.

But the biggest problem with reviews is how little they’ve changed. Too many leaders still treat feedback as a once-a-year event, rather than an ongoing discipline. “Doing annual appraisals is like dieting only on your birthday and wondering why you’re not losing weight,” cracks Saunier. Too many leaders confuse feedback with paperwork. “Filling out a form is inspection, not feedback,” says Kelly Allan, senior associate of Kelly Allan Associates Ltd., a consulting firm based in Columbus, Ohio whose clients have included Boeing, Paramount Pictures, and IBM. “History has taught us that relying on inspections is costly, improves nothing for very long, and makes the organization less competitive.”

We can’t teach you the one right way to provide – or receive – feedback. But our program does offer five action-oriented principles to improve your performance with performance reviews. Be sure to let us know how you think we performed. . .

1. Feedback Is Not About Forms

Mention the term “performance review,” and the first image that comes to mind is paper: checklists, ratings, all-too-familiar reports that invite all-too-predictable answers. That’s a problem. Anyone who equates delivering feedback with filling out forms has lost the battle for smart appraisal before it’s begun. “If you use forms as the basis for meetings about performance,” argues Allan, “you change only one thing – what might have been a natural, helpful conversation into an awkward, anxious inspection.”

Yes, there are reasons to document the appraisal process. But most of them involve administrative neatness or legal nervousness, not sound thinking about feedback. That’s why more and more companies that are serious about reviews use forms only to confirm that a review has taken place – not as a tool for the review itself.

Consider the example of Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado. For years, the hospital’s leaders have been importing new ideas about quality and service into their 286-bed facility. Early on, administrators and executives looked at ways to improve how the hospital evaluated its employees. They began by exploring how best to modify the hospital’s existing checklist-based reviews: Which ratings made the most sense? Which scoring systems worked best? But no amount of tinkering satisfied Parkview’s leaders.

Dorothy Gill, vice president of human resources, and a team of her colleagues explained their dilemma to the CEO: “He said, ‘If there isn’t a better way to do reviews, let’s just stop doing them.’ So we did. We had no idea what we were going to do instead.”

Gill and her colleagues eventually came up with an idea. It’s called APOP, for Annual Piece of Paper. The most valuable kinds of feedback, they concluded, are the daily interactions between leaders and their people – interactions that can’t be captured on paper. The hospital still requires that managers do annual reviews. But instead of being top-down appraisals, the reviews are bottom-up requests for assistance: What can the leader do to make the employee’s job easier? What gets in the way of accomplishing the job?

And the medium for those reviews is conversation, not written evaluation. There is a form – the APOP. But its only role is to confirm that the conversations took place. There are no scores, no written goals for the next year. It’s literally a piece of paper, signed by the employee and the director, that records the date, place, and agenda of the meeting. The APOP process “takes performance reviews and turns them upside down,” Gill says. “Directors don’t tell employees how they’re doing. They ask open-ended questions to see what will help employees do a better job.”

2. Feedback Delayed Is Feedback Denied

You know the old joke about airline food. First passenger: “This food is terrible!” Second passenger: “And the portions are so small!” Most of us feel the same way about performance reviews. The only thing worse than how unsatisfying they are is how seldom they take place.

Bruce Tulgan interviewed hundreds of managers and employees for his book, FAST Feedback (the acronym stands for “frequent, accurate, specific, timely”). One of the most common complaints, he says, is that reviews take place too long after the performance being critiqued has occurred. “We don’t work in a year-by-year, pay-your-dues, climb-the-ladder environment anymore,” he says. “The once- or twice-a-year evaluation is a creature from the workplace of the past. Today’s business leaders expect workers to be project-driven, results-oriented. That doesn’t fit with the old model of reviewing performance every 6 or 12 months.”

Why do smart companies and leaders stick with such an obsolete practice? Because, Tulgan argues, they have well-established systems for conducting annual or semiannual reviews. “There are no systems for day-to-day engagement with workers,” he says.

That’s where “FAST feedback” comes in. Tulgan offers lots of techniques for accelerating how people deliver and process feedback. Managers, he says, can build feedback into routine meetings and memos. They can learn to deliver feedback through email and voice mail. They can use short notes. Ideally, they should set aside a designated chunk of time each day, just for giving their people feedback. “If we really want a just-in-time workforce,” he argues, “we have to create just-in-time feedback.”

One caution: There’s a difference between timely feedback and rushed feedback. Rick Maurer, author of Feedback Toolkit (Productivity Press, 1994), argues that a few old-fashioned principles of human behavior still apply, even in fast-paced work environments. If you’re providing feedback around an emotionally charged event, wait a day or two (but never more than a week). “Sometimes you’re so emotional that it makes sense to wait,” he says. “Let your gut be your guide.” And if your feedback involves a big issue, something the person you’re working with really needs to take seriously, then find an appropriate time and place – even if it delays the session. “Schedule an appointment and have a meeting,” Maurer urges. “Don’t give important feedback in the hallway.”

3. Feedback Is Where You Find It

It’s a mistake to blame all the problems with performance reviews on the people who deliver them. Feedback is no different from any other business process – you get out of it only what you put into it. If you’re not getting enough useful feedback, don’t look at your boss; start by looking at yourself. “Ultimately,” says Sibson & Co.’s Saunier, “managers aren’t responsible for their people’s performance. People are responsible for their own performance. There’s feedback all around you – if you pay attention. If you’re not getting enough feedback, ask for it.”

Saunier offers an example from her own experience. She heard from a unit coach that a new employee, who’d been on the job three months and had been working with Saunier on a project, complained that he wasn’t receiving enough feedback. “I couldn’t believe it,” Saunier says. “We walked back together from the client’s office every day. And every day we discussed what we could do better. Just because I didn’t sit him down in my office doesn’t mean I wasn’t providing feedback. The next time we walked back from the client’s, I began our discussion by saying, ‘Now, here’s some feedback.'”

LeRoy Pingho, a vice president at Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant, never complains that he’s not getting enough feedback. Since the mid-1980s, he’s organized annual 360-degree reviews. This is not an official company program; it’s his personal program. He selects a cross-section of colleagues – a boss, a subordinate, a customer – and asks them each to assess his performance. “Some things are ‘flat spots’ for me,” he says. “I can struggle with them alone or get help.”

Last year, Pingho took his review process a step further. He wrote an assessment based on the feedback he received, and then distributed copies to 50 people: bosses, peers, direct reports, his wife. He sent everyone the same message: “You work with me, so you should know my strengths and weaknesses. Also, I’m going to ask four of you to help me work on the things I’m not good at.”

Pingho dubbed those four people his “spotters.” He chose two at his level, one above him, and one below him. He met with each of the spotters to review the “flat spots” he’d identified. Then he told them that he wanted to focus on getting better at two of those weaknesses. (He didn’t think he could tackle five at once.) One was active listening: “When I’m in meetings, I’m already through the presentation before the presenter has gotten to the first page.” The second was empowerment: “I want to use the input I get from people instead of disregarding it.”

He asked his spotters to alert him when they saw behavior that related to those improvement goals: “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this in a formal way. But if you see something, tell me.’ It’s like being on the high bar. Just knowing that there’s somebody to make sure you don’t fall helps you become more self-confident.”

At GM Powertrain Group, a new approach to feedback is helping salaried employees gain more self-confidence. The group, which designs and manufactures castings, engines, and transmissions, began redesigning its appraisal processes in July 1996. The new system, called Individual Growth Strategy, revolves around a few simple principles: People want to do their best. The people who improve are those who have the most control over their development. So it’s up to employees – not managers – to decide what kind of feedback is most useful and from whom it should come.

GM offers training in ideas, techniques, and tools for soliciting feedback. But it’s up to the people who want feedback to seek it out. “If I buy something, I’m more committed to using it than if someone gives it to me,” explains Chris Oster. “The same goes for feedback. If I solicit feedback, I’m more inclined to use it.”

4. Giving people a Raise isn’t the Same as Giving them Feedback

It’s hard to argue with the principle that the better you do, the more money you should get. But most performance gurus say that explicitly linking reviews and raises has unintended consequences.

“A raise is a transaction about how much money you or I can get,” explains Kelly Allan. “Feedback is a conversation about how much meaning you and I can create. Feedback is about success for your people and your customers. Pay is about marketplace economics and skills. Pay and feedback are not related.”

Allan practices what he preaches. At his company, discussions about money are tangible and statistical. People play a big role in setting their own pay. Associates research market rates for talent in their peer group, based on skills and experience. People who want a raise can present evidence that they’ve acquired a new skill or had an experience that the market would reward with a salary increase.

Conversations about performance, on the other hand, are informal and collegial. Associates meet weekly with a colleague to discuss their current project. The firm schedules formal sessions monthly, quarterly, or every six months (depending on the associate’s tenure) to discuss the past, present, and future of each person’s work. “We have conversations, not appraisals,” Allan says. “And these conversations never include discussions of pay. Period.”

Glenroy Inc., the Wisconsin manufacturer that burned its employee manuals, has experimented with a more radical approach to pay. Several weeks after the bonfire, it was time for annual performance appraisals and salary reviews. Management was clear: Reviews were on the ash heap of history. But Glenroy did need to figure out what kinds of raises its employees would get. The improved approach? Employees decided their own raises.

Glenroy divided its workforce into peer groups based on job classifications. It was up to those peer groups to set their raises. In most cases, executive vice president Michael Dean reports, the peer groups were tougher than management would have been; the company later had to adjust many of the raises upward. “We treat people like adults,” says Dean. “That’s the essence of leadership.”

5. Always Get Feedback on Your Feedback

One reason candid feedback is so important is that most people are great at self-delusion. It’s easy to think we’re better at writing software, creating marketing campaigns, or evaluating business plans than we really are. That same talent for self-delusion applies to the art of giving feedback. Bruce Tulgan puts it this way: “There’s such a disconnect between managers’ impressions of the feedback they give and their employees’ impressions of the feedback they get. Most managers need a reality check.”

Tulgan has devised a simple technique for creating such a check. He suggests that managers think about the three most recent times they offered feedback to one of their employees. Then, they should write down brief answers to questions about those sessions: What prompted you to give feedback on that matter at that time? Did you check your facts first? What was the substance of the feedback? Was there any concrete action as a result? Next the manager should ask the employee to write down brief answers to the same questions. The comparisons, Tulgan says, make for interesting reading.

“Think of the people who work for you as ‘customers’ for your feedback,” he argues. “Find out whether the feedback you’re providing is working for them. If it’s not, what’s the point?”

Source: This is an article from my collection of inspiring online articles. Author – Unknown.

The Unlikely Learner


Why Learn, Why bother ?…

A 6 year old girl once went to her elder sister who was in the kitchen.

She saw her frying fish (I have every right to start with fish , I am a bengali !) and in astonishment, asked her , ‘Dee, why did you cut the head and the tail of the fish off before frying it?’

Her sister took a while and said, ‘Why?, I dont know, but mom does it this way so I do it this way too.’

Hearing this the little girl ran to her mother and asked, ‘ Maa, why do you cut the head and the tail of the fish off before frying it? Dee told me’

Her mother too, took a while to think  and said, ‘Why?, I never thought about , I don’t know, but your Granny does it this way so I do it this way too.’

The little girl became more inquisitive than ever, she really wanted to find the answer to this question. In this quest, she ran towards her granny, found her and asked, ‘ Dadi, why do you cut the head and the tail of the fish off before frying it? Dee and Maa do it too , they told me’

Of her old age, her granny took a while but finally figured it out with a gleaming smile; ‘I don’t know why they cut it , but I did it because my frying pan was very small.’

…In our world of make-belief

Every time I hear this story, apart from becoming hungry, I also am forced to ask my self, ‘ Am I doing the same thing? Cutting the head and tail off the fish without knowing why?’ In fact, think about it , are you doing the same thing ?

When was the last time you decided to learn something new and actually used it with a bit of compassion?

If it wasn’t yesterday, are we doing even close to what we are capable of doing as people? If no, why not so ?

These are some questions that keep coming back to me, every time someone says something about ‘How they are forced to, supposed to,told to,taught to, made to or confined to do something?’ How in the hands of fate they are simply stuck? or in extreme cases infected by depressing movies, like ‘Ram Gopal Verma ki AAG’ , find themselves almost at the world’s end.”

People complaint about boredom, about monotony and about that ‘something’ missing from life.It is just the ignorance for what is available and what can be done in most cases.

We start treating our philosophy as facts and live in that world of make-belief. A world that says, after you are 40, you are done with most of your life and learning is not your ball game anymore. You can sprinkle some emotions by saying ‘ You cannot teach an old dog new tricks. What is to prove?’

Funny thing, it is not only a challenge with people, even organizations face this music. I’ll give  you an example, Kodak first developed the digital camera, maybe too soon and that did not gel with the business plans of the worlds No.1 film manufacturer. They put it in the cold bag and went conservative, 3 years later , they were almost out of business. And they were not, the only big fish with a million business forecasters, that went really wrong.

There is always a right way, a right strategy, right age, a right time, a right direction. Most of our actions are governed by what we are supposed to or not supposed to do based on things which are supposed to or not supposed to work. Who decides that, moreover, why is it more of a law than just a suggestion?

These suppositions spoil our freedom and cloud our judgement, crippling our ability to learn. This lack of comfort, peace and openness is called conformity.

Sometimes its with systems, sometimes with society, sometimes with values and mostly with our own mindset.

And the very few people who dare to stand out, are thrown out, mostly to be appreciated later. Look at Einstein, Jobs, Gates, Bacchan and the list is endless.

…Find your way to evolve

Those who argue, will argue that non-conformity is chaos. It’s random, unpredictable and hence not social enough to fit into our lives. But let’s look at it from the other side of the greenfield; what is not chaos is boring like our college lectures, what is not random is often to too structured like our education system, what is not unpredictable is just around average like our political reforms; and all because we are suppose to do things a certain, pre-defined way. Where is the room to breathe and experiment? Where is the room to learn?

Every invention was, is and always will be an example of non-conformity. Buddha was non-conformity, so was your special short cut to your girlfriends house, so was your signature style at college, so was your special strength area at work,so was that situation when you had no clue what to do , yet ‘Jugaad’oed’ your way through. In other words, you did things differently and experimented because that was the only way to evolve! Wise decision. P.S.( I didn’t say so, Darwin did.)

That was the real  learning that happened, the question for you to answer is, how often do you manage that kind of stuff.

That 6 year old girl I was talking to you about earlier,asked a lot of questions,  most of us don’t even dare or bother doing so. How much do we learn? How much have you evolved? Dont answer it, just find the answer, only if you feel like!

Learning is surely not necessary, its not in the rule book but neither is survival.

Here is what a non-conformist would say his philosophy of life is; Be open to listen, Be curious to learn and Be yourself to live at peace. That is true non-conformity. But, only if you like!

 

The ‘Value’ Culture


While working across the board with over 50 organizations and 12 industries, I have always heard employee’s complaint of favoritism, or inconsistency in decision-making, or lack of fairness. This constant cribbing gets to me at times; I can only wonder what it does to the poor HR people!

I am looking at only one side of the story here, the employee’s side, I am sure there is an organizational perspective to justify whatever, but hey, this side is a big one and it is hard not to choose it over others.

I do wonder if you have ever faced this challenge. If so, the problem – and the solution – may be your organization’s values.

On its face, identifying values to guide workplace behaviors and decisions seems reasonable, productive, and highly desirable. Yet such values may, in fact, be detrimental to the organization’s health. In fact, unless managers go beyond merely identifying organizational values, unintended negative outcomes are likely to occur.

For example: An organization where honesty is fostered; maybe pushed too hard, processes become so stringent that they begin to hamper its growth by reducing flexibility. Or for that matter, too much focus on fairness and equality will not let two colleagues with minor hierarchical differences to work together; they will simply be scared that ‘what it might look like?’

The fact that values are subjective is the reason they may be detrimental to organizational health. To take this discussion further, let’s take the value of ‘Integrity’ as an example. Each of us has a “picture” of what integrity looks like. That picture varies from person to person – and in fact, often is very fuzzy. We tend to think, “I’ll know integrity when I see it.” That’s not good enough: when the pictures vary, so do the judgments of who is acting with integrity and who is not.

You and I could argue all day about whether someone has acted with – or without – integrity without reaching agreement because we’re arguing about a subjective concept. In order for us to resolve this argument, we have to agree on specific behaviors that demonstrate “integrity” so we have a more objective way of assessing the extent to which someone’s behaviors and decisions reflect this value.

I wonder whether it might cover the flight of good intentions from an employee and make him look like being an ‘Asslicker’ (Sorry for the language, the last I checked, this is what we used!)

The impact of such situations can have a life-long effect on the people and the culture of any organization

Hence, there are very real costs to the organization when employees perceive a disparity between stated values and actual behaviors.

Based on this discrepancy, employees might conclude that management is inconsistent, unfair, and shows favoritism.

They may experience feelings such as disillusionment, anger, betrayal, disappointment, confusion, and distrust. An organization that articulates values sets the expectation that its managers’ behaviors and decisions will reflect those values.

What if this can’t happen because employees and managers define values differently? In addition to the above negative outcomes, we can expect low morale, decreased trust, and increased cynicism.

Yes, managers are expected to demonstrate these values, but new managers, new to the role, the team, the task or to the company will find it hard to demonstrate a set of mnemonics he or she barely remembers. In my book, it’s not too much of a fault for them too.

We can maximize the likelihood that employees’ expectations will be met by identifying specific behaviors that indicate people are acting with integrity, having conversations around those behaviors, and distinguishing clearly between desirable and undesirable behaviors.

For example, I would characterize people as acting with integrity when they engage in the following behavior:

– Do what they say they’ll do.
– Tell the truth.
– Make decisions based on stated criteria and logic (e.g. Work    allocation,        promotions, appraisals).
– Hold themselves accountable for their behaviors.
– Hold others accountable for their (others’) behaviors.
– Admit their mistakes and take responsibility for them.

Once we have identified and communicated the behaviors represented by the value of integrity, we can have a productive conversation.

NOW we’re getting somewhere!

Here are nine steps to ensure that your organization’s values are not detrimental to its health:

1. Identify a few values that support the strategic goals and define them at the organization level.

2. Have, Invest in developing people based on their natural value sets or hire based on it, managers and employees collaborate on personalizing those values – i.e. identify specific behaviors that demonstrate each value and groom people who demonstrate them more.

Note: Examples of specific behaviors may change at different levels. All behaviors should be consistent with the organization’s definition of each value so there is alignment up and down the organization. For reference, you can look at the Affective Domain of the Bloom’s Taxonomy – ‘RRVOI’

i.e. Level 1(Frontline) audiences are mostly stuck at the first R-Receiving & R-Responding, Level 2 audiences (Middle Management) take it mostly to V-Valuing and if done with care even O-Organizing. Only the Level 3(Senior Management) can be and should be deemed capable of I-Internalizing the organizational values.

3. Communicate the behaviors through multiple media. Don’t just share the values. Break it down for those who don’t think.

4. Incorporate the values and their respective behaviors into the performance management process – for managers as well as for employees. State what behaviors you WANT, rather than those you don’t want.

5. Ensure all systems support the values and do not punish desired behaviors (e.g., when teamwork is a value, rewards are based on team behaviors rather than on individual behaviors).

6. Provide training as necessary (e.g., how to identify relevant behaviors, how to evaluate behaviors, how to give and receive constructive feedback).

7. Reward/recognize people whose behaviors demonstrate the values.

8. Take corrective action when behaviors violate the values.

9. Ensure that managers consistently model the desired behaviors.

What percent of your employees can identify your organization’s values?

How many of those individuals can tell you what each value “looks like” in terms of their own performance?

Unless you are able to answer nearly 100%, you may want to consider taking the above steps to improve the health of your organization. End of the day, it takes more than an apple to keep the doctor away.

The Unlikely Teacher


We run after ivy leagues and IIM’s to seek knowledge. No harm in it but what about the knowledge available around us.

Learning in not limited to books, degrees and institutions, its limited only to our thirst and what it takes to quench it.

It is infact an enlightning experience, what little things can teach you. I have heard, felt and experienced this serendipity. Here is a story that compells me to look out, be open and learn every time I remember it.

Gautam buddha was sitting underneath a banayan tree, meditating.On the other side of the tree two local musicians met and were discussing their work.

One of them wanted to learn the ‘ektara’, to increase his expertise.
The other musician, to express his expertise, started talking about the ektara.
He said ” The ektara is a beautiful instrument. If you want to learn how to play it , you must first learn how to tune the string. Make it too loose and it will not sound desirable, make it too tight and it will break.”
He concluded by repeating “not too tight, not too loose”

Buddha left his meditation and jumped up to stand. It was almost like someone had told him something unbelieveable.

He had realized the secret to happiness or ‘moksha’.

Like the string for the ektara, too much or too little of anything is the reason for most sorrow.

Be it money, love, knowledge or even life. This philosophy gave birth to the idea of ‘madhyama marga‘ or the middle path.

How many such opportunities have we missed, is anybody’s guess.

I see people with books and e books alike, not appreciating the simple logic in things or using it to make life better.

Why use blunt force when you can use physics! and it is not necessarily in books.

While discussing negotiation skills with a group of professionals form a Telecom company. I learnt a new lesson.

It was the story of an ongoing negotiation between them and a network giant where both of them were fighting their corners ,die hard. Eventually, they stopped listening to each other, did not let the other person speak, and finally quit conversations.

Untill an year later, a change of management got them to dig up the initial proposals that were shared and to everybody’s astonishment, they proposed the same resolution. This infers that they kept arguing with each other while saying the same thing.

This tought me to ‘shut up and listen’ while negotiating. The knowledge from the books can be brought in only later. Basics are basically always around us.

This is an everyday thing but when is it that we stop applying logic and start using our biceps to think.

It is very interesting how things get done around us, how a rickshaw puller manages to paddle all day, how a chefs kitchen produces food in 20 minutes or less, how the courier guy always find the address.

Their techniques can teach us tonnes.

The only question you need to ask is ‘HOW’? go ask …

Everyday Bliss : Managing Stress


Stress can be intimidating. It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level. The bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.

Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.

Identify the sources of stress in your life

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?

Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).

Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and    unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

Start a stress journal

A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

  • What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure).
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
  • How you acted in response.
  • What you did to make yourself feel better.

Look at how you currently cope with stress

Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.

Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much
  • Overeating or under eating
  • Spending hours  in front of the TV
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
  • Using pills or drugs to relax
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out,angry outbursts, physical violence)

Learning healthier ways to manage stress

If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s

Change the situation:

  • Avoid the stressor.
  • Alter the stressor.
Change your reaction:

  • Adapt to the stressor.
  • Accept the stressor.

Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

  • Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or  professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.
  • Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.
  • Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.

 

  • Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

 

  • Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

 

  • Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

 

  • Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.

 

  • Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
  • Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

 

  • Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

 

  • Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

 

  • Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Adjusting Your Attitude

How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.

Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—  particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

 

  • Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

 

  • Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

 

  • Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make  mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation

Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.

Healthy ways to relax and recharge

  • Light scented candles.
  • Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Work in your garden.
  • Get a massage.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a comedy.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Call a good friend.
  • Sweat out tension with a good workout.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Take a long bath.

Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

  • Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
  •  Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong  support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
  •  Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy,  whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
  • Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Learn the relaxation response

You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques that evoke the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. Regularly practicing these techniques will build your physical and emotional resilience, heal your body, and boost your overall feelings of joy and equanimity.

Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle

You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.

 

  • Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.

 

  • Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate,and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

 

  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
Hope all of this helps you feel better and live longer !

Lead Yourself


‘Leadership’ has been a business buzzword for well over 30 years now, most of what could have been written about it, has been written, what could have been thought, has been cerebrated upon and yet we stand amidst people who struggle to be the leaders they have always wanted others to be.

Why is leadership such a hard choice?

Robert Frost, in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ said the best of what I think every leader would agree to;

“And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”

All of this bubbles out a lot of questions every professional asks at the hierarchical crossroads, and how they answer them, determine their journey ahead.

–    What is leadership?

–    Do I qualify to be a leader?

–    How can I be a successful leader?

Let’s see if we can find some simple yet practical answers for these age old dilemmas’.

–    What is leadership?

Leadership is Responsibility. You can get it or you can take it.

I learnt my lesson early here, after my father died when I was 15, we were left stranded in the middle of nowhere – financially, emotionally and socially. Expensive treatment led to debts and an expensive lifestyle, like my family had, led to problems and an acute inability to manage in less resources.

I am the eldest son in the family and it was going to be my responsibility later to do the damage control (once I grew up – Sigh!)

I just had one question, can we afford ‘later’?

Every bit of logic I had said ‘No’

The crossroads came, I had to either ‘take responsibility now’ or ‘wait or watch the things to move on their own’.

I chose to take the responsibility, surprisingly a lot of hands started to come handy.

Lesson learnt: Help comes only to those who help themselves!

My school was the most expensive school in the city, I couldn’t have paid the fee, My teachers paid it from their pockets, I never understood, why?

I was too young to work; I didn’t tell anybody my age in my interview.

I went to an international BPO, the first in town, to get myself a Job. I appeared for the interview, cleared it, negotiated my salary and told the panel all about my age and situation afterwards.

The look on their face was worth it; they asked for some time, consulted some lawyers and gave me a job. Full time, as an apprentice.

There I was, cycling 15 miles to School, 10 back to my office and another 10 back home by midnight. But I managed to support my family. My need was met and we survived the winter.

Lessons Learnt:

Hard work is good, Smart Work is great but they can’t substitute each other.

Leaders hold themselves accountable for the outcomes of their actions, even if the task was done by the one they delegated it to and speculatively take risks.

A leader takes responsibility to take control of the situations around , no matter how good or bad they may be.

–    Do I qualify to be a leader?

In my book, there are only two ways you get into leadership.

i. Designated Leadership – A leadership role granted by authority, a type of leadership where the designation makes the person a leader. This comes with power, the power to reward, punish or make decisions. So maybe your next promotion is when you can start.

Prime Minister is a good example of this type of leadership. I can also cite my first managerial role at work. Simply put, it mattered more what my business card said than what I said.

ii. Acquired Leadership – A style of leadership where an individual develops a character of leadership within by working on his strengths continuously. This can be done either by building a strong relationship with the followers, by being a source of inspiration or by developing expertise in the chosen field. This would mean you can start being a leader ‘Now’.

Indira Nooyi of Pepsico who built her way to the top through her expertise and capability or a business consultant who enjoys no designation yet caters to high responsibilities in any organization. ( Like me , Sigh !)

Lesson Learnt:

It’s not who you are but what you dream for and how desperately so, that makes you a leader.

So, of course you qualify to be a leader; but ‘How’ is still under wraps. Let’s find out!

–    How can I be a successful leader?

“Endowed with his bright armor,

He came all the way…

A spec of doubt saw not his face,

Though he had a beast to slay…

With the rising sun he embarked

To accomplish what was right…

And till this day we sing his song,

He was the Golden Knight”

We have all heard stories of Knights and Superheroes; it almost feels that you need to be one to succeed as a leader. But think of it this way, no matter what the density or depth of water might me, if you know how to swim, with the correct technique and adequate effort you can get through the liquid.

The two things, technique and effort stand out to be the mark of any leader.

Now effort is the result of desperation and passion, of how badly do you want to achieve whatever you are gunning for. It can’t be taught but can only be realized. That’s your job!

For the technique, as the poem above talks of Armor, every leader needs one.

That needs to be developed through practice and persistence.

So, what is this Armor? How can you get it?

It’s a code of conduct which if followed ensures your success and I will share this secret with you.

L.E.A.D.E.R – The Six Elements of Leaders Armor

L– Legitimate: Be whoever you are but be real and fair. Nobody respects a phony with sly perspectives.

E– Effective: Take planned action. There are more chances to succeed if what you are doing is planned well in advance versus it being an improv.

A– Assertive: Be true to your word by being logical and comprehendible

D– Decisive: Make decisions that are fair, logical and credible

E– Evaluative: Know your environment without judging people for who they are, work around what they do and make it better

R– Resilient: Learn as if there is no tomorrow, the day you stop learning, you stop living.

This is not rocket science, in fact it’s like cooking a hearty meal – a fine balance of spices masters the taste.

Now, you have the Knowledge, your key to the power which brings along with it the responsibility. You don’t have to be a L.E.A.D.E.R, but if you wish to be one,

Lead On and Lead Well!

The Master Key to Successful Feedback


If you want to be more successful in helping others succeed, regardless of the source or sources of your coaching, you need to clearly understand this master key.

If you want to take advantage of and be open to any coaching or feedback you receive, you must understand this key as well.

The master key to successful feedback is intent.

Stated simply, when our intent is clear and pure; when we really are giving feedback and coaching with the very best for the other person in mind, it will be more successful. And if our purposes are vindictive, punitive, meant to “fix” someone, or come from our frustration or anger it will be less successful.

In other words, coaching shouldn’t be about us, but about the other person and their success.

Since we have all received much coaching and feedback in our lives, we know this is true. When we sense that the feedback we are receiving is valuable and comes from a perspective of truly wanting us to improve, we are more open to hearing and applying it.

 

All said and done , it’s you who got to choose if there is someone’s life you would alter, just a little, in a good way.

 

On Motivation


So there I was , in my bedroom , at 3 in the morning all alone – At my lazy best ; when out of nowhere I saw a  wasp in the room , after being bothered for a few seconds , I got back to viewing TV until…

…that bloody wasp was just an inch from my face, and then I ran , I screamed , I picked up my newspaper and tried to hit it , I picked up my slippers and jumped to reach it around the roof, all in vain but I did not give up. I got a broom with a long stick and galloped at it for 30 minutes before I could make it rest in peace. Huh… Man was I tired!

This is how life moves – Go deeper and you will find the secret of all motivation in this incident.

Humans are emotional beings , they are motivated by either pleasure or pain. We get late and then we panic because now we can loose things. We sit and watch ‘Facebook’ until there are stomach cramps due to hunger. We wait and wait and wait before we go to the doctor. We act only when we see some pain or some pleasure attached to doing or not dong that action.

It’s either high pain or a high pleasure that makes us move; when moderate it pushes us to the zone of complacency, laziness and ignorance.

Allow me to draw a couple of similarities between the way this story has worked and the way motivation happens:

Exhibit A : Commonwealth 2010 – We were sitting on the idea for 10 years flat , now that it is matter of national pride everyone is pushed to work at the brink of the event.

Exhibit B: Similarly, when the wasp was in my room I dint care until it came close to my face and I felt threatened.

Both these situations are high pain situations where the fear of loss was the motivator. As we know that pain is not the only motivator, we have a stint with pleasure too , let me share what I feel about it .

Exhibit A: On a personal note, whenever I have been out on a date, the amount of effort I put in to make that date a success was correlated to how beautiful the woman was. More beauty means more effort.

Exhibit B: There is a friend of mine, Renuka; she works with a renowned credit card company. They have an interesting office and since she is into sales the pressure is always on. She is an average performer.

Here is how she works – She closes on an average 2 credit card applications every day. However when there  is a scheme running for a 1000 INR shopping voucher for every 5 Credit Card Applications closed , she manages 10 of them and grabs the vouchers – Only she and the devil knows where those come from.

These are classic examples of the high pleasure principle. How great pleasure pushes people to act. The question that arises now is ‘How can you use this Pain and Pleasure Principle to motivate yourself?”

Here is what I do, I Question the possibilities with ‘What if?” questions and drive the issue to high pain or high pleasure.

Example: I need to lose weight but lack the motivation; I am not that heavy yet 😉

Q: What if I don’t lose it? A: I will be very obese.

Q: What if I become very obese? A: I will be less active and more prone to serious health issues like heart and orthopedic.

Q: How will all this make me feel? A: Embarrassed, as I won’t look good. Unhappy as I might get cranky and insecure. Heavy at heart as I will not be the one I used to be.

Conclusion:

A: To keep feeling better and live a healthy life I will lose it!( High Pleasure Perspective)

B: To live a normal life and not be bedridden by the time I am 40, I will lose it! (High Pain Perspective)

This is what we call WIIFM (Whats in it for me?)

Motivation is nothing but the result of a strong WIIFM.

How strong is yours? Go Find.