Follow by Email

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Career success needs a framework like a doctor's health framework, not specific advice

End goals are similar

End goals are similar ! 
In career, the end goal is known and understood. The mountain to climb is quite similar for all the individuals. It is either earning money, finding job satisfaction, doing something of significance, leaving behind for legacy or the combination of the above four. A doctor's health framework also has clear established end goals of health which are similar across different individuals.

But the roads to reach the end goal are dissimilar ...

The challenge in career is therefore not having the right end goal, but to negotiate the roads smartly to reach the goal. In order to reach these end goals, an individual faces unique situations ( and therefore difficulties) which are caused by the combination of these four variable factors:

Every individual faces a different difficulty in his/her career path
for which he must be ready
1. Starting point dissimilarity: Depending on your starting point, your difficulty changes.If your family is rich, then your opportunities of learning ( and doing) increase, but your motivation engine  is down. On the other hand, your friend's ( who is from a poor family) motivation engine is working automatically but he faces the difficulty of finding the right school or college. You cannot follow the same strategies as your friend because your path is different than your friend. Or if your family is from law background, and your interest is in music, you have to find a different 'road' to negotiate with your family to pursue your interest. Or if your family is 'Marwari', and you want to do research, you have to surmount the 'beliefs' of your community to pursue a path of researcher.  Or if you are from a typical Maharashtrian background, and you want to become an entrepreneur, beliefs of your community will force you to take another path. Another path change !

2. Work-path dissimilarity:
Differences in work paths constitute the biggest differences of road changes ( and therefore the difficulties) in reaching the end goal. If your path is of a sportsman, you have to achieve everything before the age of 25. If your work path is of a knowledge professional - like engineer, consultant, researcher or even entrepreneur - you start your work-life only after the age of 25. Therefore, for the sportsman, choosing his ' workpath' happens automatically, while for a knowledge professional, choosing a path of education at the age of 16 is a major challenge for which he has to start getting ready at the age of 12.

Similarly, Artist faces a different challenge than, say, an engineer. An artist's work in design, fashion or drawing cannot be evaluated objectively like an engineer. Therefore, an artist has to negotiate a different road: he has to develop a huge stock of self-belief in his work unlike an engineer. Even within a professional work-path, the difference can be large. A gynecologist, for instance, seeing patients every day has to learn and practice being empathetic, while a pathologist may not be very adept in dealing with people. Every profession - be it research, banking or software - forces an individual on a specific road with its unique set of difficulties which an individual has to negotiate. The professional, to avoid derailment, should be ready for meeting these challenges, so that can exploit all the given opportunities.

3. Difference due to intermediate success or failures: Intermediate success also changes the expectation and therefore unknowingly changes the workpath of reaching the end goal. For instance, if you are successful in your first job, and earn lot of money in the first job itself, your expectation from next job changes. Instead of seeking money in the next job, you seek job satisfaction or meaning in job. Your workpath has changed unknowingly, but, if you do not equip your mind for this path-change, you struggle to find your next job. On the other hand, when one fails in the first job, the challenge is to find right kind of job, where one can find one's footing back. Every individual encounters success or failure in different part of his life, which in turn, creates a unique situation ( a road) for that individual that he/she has to deal with.

4.Problem-dissimilarities: Every individual faces a different problem in his life. Besides work oriented problem - like a wrong boss, an obsolete technology to work, or an inappropriate work-location - individual also faces problems in his family ( working spouse, too brilliant child, or father who needs your support) and health that may present a unique difficulty to that individual. Once again, the solution has to be unique for the individual. You cannot utilise someone else's solution, because your situation is different from others, even if the problem looks same on the surface.

Because the end goals are similar, but the roads are dissimilar, we need a framework that can guide an individual in negotiating the road smartly

Luckily our end goals are similar. So too is the functioning of our minds. Therefore, to reach our end goals, we need a framework - like a doctor's framework that enables us to monitor our health - that can help us achiever our unique career end goals. Such a framework to negotiate career challenges should have 5 robust features like a doctor's framework:
  • Career Result framework should enable an individual to anticipate the road ahead in producing the desired results ( like a doctor anticipating health problems with high calorie diet) In other words, the individual should be clearly aware of the results that are required to achieve the end goals. 
  • Career Input framework should help the individual to get equipped with the minimum inputs ( or abilities) to achieve the career end goals ( like food and exercise that helps individual to remain healthy). In other words, the individual should be aware of the minimum basic inputs that are required to produce the desired results. This should help individuals to 'change' and alter his input skills and traits that can be used by an individual to either fill the gaps or build new inputs that are required to achieve the desired end goals. 
  • Action framework to produce the desired results should be simple enough to be understood and applied by every individual in one's life but also robust enough to respond to the complexity of the situation. ( Like doctors health framework that can be applied by every individual  )
  • Diagnostic framework of correction to diagnose and correct a career-problem . This framework should be like a doctors health framework that will help him detect a problem and find a solution. This framework should help an individual separate root cause from multiple symptoms to enable normal individuals to seek timely help from different help-givers like teachers, mentors and role models ( like a doctor's framework that enables one to take help of health-providers like physiotherapists, nutritionists and plastic surgeon) 
What happens if you do not have this career framework to guide your career 

If you do not have a framework to deal with your unique career challenges, you will suffer like citizens of 18th century who suffered from health because they they never had a health framework. In 18th century, every prescription of a self-proclaimed doctor was right even though it cured one person by fluke. Every advice of a physician, be it a prescribed by a road side quack or by a renowned doctor, was considered right, because we did not know the criteria on which each health advice could be evaluated. In a way, any health advice was right, if the person said it more loudly or if he had large followers.

In the matters of career advice, we are still in 18th century. In the same way, we are at the mercy of quacks who claim to know what is right for us in succeeding in our career.Anyone prescribes a career advice and claim to be the best because there are no criteria to judge the validity of any advice. Without any framework, any person can claim his advice to be the best, if he can shout loud and show to have more followers.

But there is no free lunch if you make a mistake.If you listened to a wrong advice on health in 18th century, you suffered. Some people even died. So too, you suffer when you listen to a wrong career advice today in 20th century. Although the price of wrong health advice is paid immediately, the price of wrong career advice is paid by us sooner or later. 

When the sportsman, for instance, is advised to work on her game and not on his mind, she is unable to sustain her performance as soon as she starts playing serious game. However, when a student does not work on his mind and makes a wrong choice of education path, he pays for his mistake much later in his life. Every time, when we do not anticipate the difficulties in our work path, we lose time in recovering. And every time, when we cannot use our life situations ( such as rich family or poor family) to build the right skills, we waste opportunity to learn faster.

Are you ready to learn Enlight framework to achieve your end goals? We shall see what results are required to achieve the end goals in the later blogs.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is too much of self-awareness a liability?

Please listen to this interview of Kangana Raut. Kangana Raut is very honest in her answers and seems to express herself without any hesitation. Her self awareness is refreshing and appealing. For instance, she is clear that she was very 'insecure' after her initial success with Gangster and picked up wrong movies. Or that her 'style-sense' emerges from her middle class background that keeps on reminding her that she does not belong to the industry. Or her candid acceptance about the state of her house, because 'women were treated as secondary citizens' even in her house when she compared with her brother.

Her self-awareness is striking and shocking because she is just 26. Being a developmental coach, who charts an output path of individuals to anticipate and prepare them for the challenges in their development, i am glad to see the emergence of self. Unfolding of Self is the first important milestone of development through which the individual takes charge of his/her life. It starts with self-awareness ( i know i am different than parents), which later grows into self-knowledge ( i am aware of my emotions, beliefs and key drivers). After this, the individual learns to mange his Self (instead of fighting my weaknesses, i start using them), and 'takes the steering wheel ' of his/her life.

But, in my practice of coaching professionals over last 6 years, i am also surprised to watch how this self-awareness, if it comes too early, can sometimes de-rail the development of an individual or raise more difficult challenges for the individual. Here are some situations that i have observed:

1. Too early self awareness compels a professional on spending time to find answer to the question "What is purpose of life?"

Ajit, a very bright student was graduating from IIT. His self-awareness was very high, and he used to ask me questions ( like why are some people born with so little money, or what is God, or is the universe moving ahead by some laws) that were way ahead of his age. Ajit gradually started taking interest in Hare Krishna movement, and before finishing his graduation, decided to spend a year of his studies in doing Yoga and meditation. 

Early self awareness raises lot of questions on the 'purpose of life', for which the individual is not matured enough to find answers. The answers, even when they are available, are not understandable. The individual loses track of his output path and over-focuses on this question, even when he is not ready. Luckily, Ajit remained in touch with me and family. He returned after a year. 

2. Too early onset of Self awareness forces one to 'find ones motivation engine' in the 'purpose category' ( following from above point 1)

Typically, in the output path, one finds motivation through external motivation engines like money, power and reputation. Although, self help authors and coaches belittle these motivations, they help the individual to focus on the development of their cognitive abilities and character traits ( the 2 Cs of talent). By the time they are ready to shift to internal motivation engine, these individuals have got the appropriate maturity to deal with the unexpected, and also gained the right level of confidence to weather the storm. In other words, they are ready.

But these highly self aware individuals start searching their internal motivation in only one path ' Purpose of life'. They ignore other equally relevant triggers of internal motivation such as passion, expertise, and significance. Because of this over-commitment on purpose, they spend their valuable time and energy looking 'inside'. In the professions ( output paths) like writing or consulting this could be  helpful. But in many other professions, this derails a person's output-path.

3. High degree of self awareness can create difficulty in relationship 

In our relationships, we switch from one role to another: father/mother, buyer, seller, friend, neighbour, employer or employee. Each role demands a certain protocol and behaviour to be effective. For instance, in the role of employer, you may have to take a very strict action against 'cheating' because of its influence on other employees. On the other hand, in the role of father you may take a more lenient view if your child has 'stolen' something, because he can learn from his mistakes.

Individuals with high self-awareness cannot switch from one role to another, because they worry about making their behaviour 'consistent' between the roles. If they are not consistent, they call themselves a hypocrite - a person who behaves differently than from what he says. Caught in this dilemma, they constantly catch themselves behaving 'inappropriately' to the role/situation. And they keep on paying the price of this mistake. When they cannot shift from the role of buyer to seller, they lose money on the table. When they cannot shift from the role of 'subordinate' to 'boss', they lose authority.

4. High degree of Self awareness makes it very difficult to get 'feedback' from others

Feedback from others is a big source of one's development and growth. However, for individuals whose self awareness is high, they find it very difficult to find 'mentors' and 'role models' because they have unknowingly raised the bar of evaluating people. Naturally, they find no 'helpful feedback' from friends, elders or mentors. They are on their own.

Either they keep second-guessing their own behaviour all the time, which others misinterpret as 'lack of confidence'. In certain professions, like in acting , this can directly hamper performance. Or these individuals become so introspective ( finding their own answers to difficult questions), that they lose the fire to get the most from life. They get satisfied with their inner quest.


Everyone of this challenge can be overcome by application of thought and practice. But, the person with high self awareness cannot use the solutions of others. They cannot find mentors like others. They cannot engage in relationships like others. They cannot be happy with external motivators like others. For them, every problem becomes a 'different problem'.  Their high degree of self awareness has made normal solutions inapplicable to them.

Isn't that a paradox? In my 6 years of coaching experience I have repeatedly observed this phenomenon: a strength becomes a weakness at some point of life and the same weakness can become a strength in a different situation.  I call this the law of relative strengths/weakness. It states "Traits and abilities are not positive or negative by themselves; they are positive or negative, based on the output system in which your traits and abilities are used". Self-awareness becomes a weakness for them, because they are forced to find their own solutions; they cannot use the solutions of others. 

Because any ability/trait can become a weakness or strength depending on the output, one cannot list down a comprehensive list of abilities/traits that are ideal for a professional. One can only list down a minimum list of abilities/traits that can prevent a professional in achieving anything in life, but no one can make a comprehensive list of abilties/traits that can guarantee successful output in life. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

First challenge of your career is finding your work-path

Career destination is known

Destination points are known: We all work in our careers to reach one of the four destinations. According to the HBS researcher Laura Nash, it is either achievement measured by money or reputation, satisfaction, significance in work, or leaving behind legacy. Although, we may not mention our career destination in these four words, if someone drills us it will be either of the four or the combination of this four outcomes. 

But starting points are different: To reach this destination, we start from different starting points. As we discussed earlier, we possess 3Cs of talent in varying degree - Cognitive abilities, Character traits and Conative traits. In terms of abilities, we may have different innate abilities. Either we may have high cognitive ability ( meant for researcher or executives in companies), or kinesthetic ability ( meant for sportsman) or musical ability. In character traits, we may have different combination of character traits such as self regulation, creativity and/or emotional stability. Similarly, our Conative traits may be well developed or not. Conative traits motivate us. They automatically chose directions for us. For instance, if we discover passion early in life ( like Sachin Tendulkar) it is easier to focus on the path to the destination. But when we find our meaning in life at the age of 40, we may waste lot of time choosing wrong directions. 

Nurturing support to grow the innate abilities are varied: Our innate abilities are not just enough to help us cross the line. We also need support from our families, school and social environment in nurturing these 3 components of talent. While your school may nurture your logical ability like science, it may not encourage your artistic ability like painting ( even if you have it). The same is true for our character traits. While in some families, self regulation is nurtured, in others, it may be hampered. The same happens with conative traits. If you are lucky to have parents who have clear purpose in life, you will also imbibe it and will chose the shortest path to reach the destination . But if you have parents who do not have any purpose in life, you may spend a large part of your life in correcting wrong directions. 

Cross roads image copyrighted by Martin Lieberman.See the source (C) by 

Starting challenge in your career is charting your work-path 

Ultimately, you have to find a best possible domain or work-path that will help you reach the career destination, given your abilities. From this work-path, you will find your unique career-path. But finding your unique career path is not easy. One has to start with a work-path which will ultimately help you choose a  career-path.

If you are studying, you have to chose projects. This means actively testing your knowledge base with simulated domains (like projects and assignments) so that you are sure about the quality of your knowledge base. Even while changing your disciplines (say from Engineering to MBA), you must ensure that you are developing strong enough knowledge base instead of just changing because others are doing it. More often than not, students make mistakes because they forget they are different than others.They pick a easy road like Abhay who chose to do MBA after engineering ( in the earlier case we discussed). But unaware of the valleys and ditches around the corner, like Abhay, they remain unprepared and unequipped. So when they cannot encounter those blocks, they lose lot of 'career' time in surmounting them. 

If you decide to work, choosing your work-path is choosing your domain that will give you enough options to help you combine your abilities/traits. Because both your starting points and nurture grounds are unique to you, your path of growing abilities/traits is also different than others. Therefore, do not copy other's work-paths. 

Some professionals make elementary mistakes, because they do not know the arithmetic of ability development. Not knowing that conative traits take long time to develop than cognitive abilities, they start developing conative traits too late. And they pay the price like Phatak, which we discussed earlier, because the gap in conative traits cannot be filled easily if they have not started the process of developing that trait early enough. That is why, you find many professionals, in the age group of 40, are stuck in their career, because they do not know their 'purpose' in life. And even if they decide to find it out, it takes such a long time, that they lose all their motivation and heart until they find it.

When you do not find the right work-path, you cannot spot the opportunities that are staring at you. For instance, you may be working with a 'dominating boss' who wants you do 'everything'. Instead of using the opportunity to learn and do the functions and activities of your boss, you react to your emotions, instead of responding. So when you are promoted, you are ready to fail ! 

Charting your work- path ( domain) is therefore the first step in ensuring that you will reach your career destination ! 

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Why finding meaning in life has become urgent for today's professionals

Here are the four professionals that i got involved in last 3 months:

1. Manisha, age 32, is a researcher. PHD.  Doing a Post doctorate in a US university. She always wanted to return to India and do something meaningful in India. Two year back, she came to India to find a job. Could not manage to get it, because her criteria of 'job' were strict and because she could not compromise her work-expectations with the Indian environment. So she returned back to US last year. She has been finding more and more difficult to work in US as she is encountering all the 'work-related' dynamics: difficult bosses, impossible colleagues, and insufficient challenges in work. Now this year, she again faces the same choice. Should she return to India and work in not-so-perfect job?  Or continue to work in US?

2. Digvijay, 31, IT graduate works in Singapore from last 2 years. He has been working in IT, getting good promotions, has secured his life with investment in House. He met me last month. He is unhappy that his colleagues are 'ahead' of him, that he is not getting the best of the possible jobs, and has been dithering on the constant question of 'should he work in x company or y company', or ' should he take up a position or b position'?

3. Ramesh, 27, is working in a company in Pune. After a difficult period of adjustment in an existing job, he has settled in a job. Two months back, he called me, and said he wants to leave the job and join Teach India program. Teach India staff had come to his office and gave a presentation on what Teach India can offer. When i asked him his reasons of joining, he said that 'India has too much of illiteracy. I would like to contribute in some way to help it reduce it'. I told him that that is the ' nice-to-have official reason'. I asked him 'Why do YOU want to join Teach India?" He is trying to find his answer.

4. Abhijit, 27, is a CA. He seriously pursued CA for a long period, got the degree, and is now working with a bank. He got attracted to 'Sahajyoga' movement, because he found it important to understand 'what is the purpose of life?' From last 4 years, he is seriously involved in this movement, volunteering 90% of his discretionary time and effort, advocating it to youngsters and actively searching for the 'meaning of life' (as he likes to say). When i was in Bangalore, i met many youngsters who were part of 'Art of Living' foundation and devote substantial amount of time to explore the question 'How does the job fit in my life?

What is common in the work-life of these four professionals?

All four professionals are struggling to find meaning of job in their life. This is about producing personal outputs in life. The above four examples show the importance of Personal outputs in our life. We get engaged with the question of 'finding purpose of life' only in arm-chair discussion in college or coffee shop, little knowing that it will affect our work-life. Only after entering work-life, we suffer due to under-developed personal output like these four individuals who are struggling to take the simplest decisions of their work-life. They are not just stuck up in their work-life, but their quest of excellence is also blocked. Earlier, we assumed that this personal output impacted us only after the age of 50, but now the second law of Career Success ( inputs) informs that it affects us daily in our work-life. 

Manisha, unable to understand the importance of working in India to her, is indecisive on her most important decision in work-life. She is unable to compromise her work-requirement with Indian environment, because she does not know why working in India is important for her? She is stuck up. Digvijay is constantly comparing his life achievements with his friends, because he does not know why is he doing his job. This is a common 'symptom' observed in many professionals. Instead of asking the abstract question 'why am i doing the job', they substitute it with a more concrete question 'why are others getting more than me'. Most of the professionals suffer from this 'misplaced' priority.

Ramesh and Abhijit are even younger. They face the question of 'meaning of job' paradoxically because of their well-to-do financial status of their families. Their fathers never faced this question because they just spend their entire work-life to find security in their life. Ramesh and Abhijit do not face this challenge of security. Therefore, they seek more from their life. And therefore they face this question of 'what is purpose of life and how should i express it through my job' far more early in life.

I feel that Ramesh and Abhijit are lucky to face this challenge early in life, because without being forced to answer this question, they may encounter a hopeless future like Phatak.

I met Mr Phatak last week. He is 52 years old. He is a petroleum Engineer who worked in India and abroad. He retired at the age of 47, because according to him 'he earned enough and wanted to do something for his own life'. Since last five years, he is working on developing a 'film club'. He has one of the rarest collections of best films in the world, not just Indian films. He has managed to find 350 member for this film club and screens this film every month. He discusses the films, knows the rarest directors, can talk about story sequencing and script for hours. He has learnt a bit of film editing.

When i asked Mr Phatak, what he is trying to do by running a film club, he said that he is not sure. When i asked him, why did he take such a gutsy decision to retire at the age of 47, he said 'He could not help it'. Unable to 'discover' the meaning of films in his life, he is still not able to articulate a 'mission for his life', even though he is 52; even though he has sufficient resources and time. He is unable to answer the question 'Given this meaning of films in my life, i would like to do xyz in my life'. Why is this so difficult even at the age of 50? 


Developing Personal output is like learning swimming. If you develop it at the right age, you develop quickly and even unconsciously. But, unlike swimming, they cannot be developed directly. We have already seen how character traits like self regulation can only be developed indirectly. Development of personal output is even more indirect than character traits, because it depends on developing your right brain. Therefore, if you miss developing them at the right age, you may never be able to develop them; you will get stuck up like Phatak.

I believe a man can do anything in his life, if he knows his constraints and can articulate his destination. But when i meet someone like Phatak, i am so disturbed with the thought that this person may never find 'his path' in life. It is so wrong to conclude that the future is hopeless for someone. But when i meet someone like Phatak, i do not know how something good can happen in his life. It is even more painful for me, because i can see his process, understand his predilection, but still cannot 'reverse' the time-table of his development. I am definitely going to try, but i am not sure if i will be able to undo the 'development' time-table.

If you are however a professional of 30, do not wait for personal outputs to develop on its own. Please use some of the tricks that were mentioned in this blog. See movies. Read interesting literature. There is no need to read serious books in philosophy, ethics or aesthetics. Read biographies. Read the journey of other individuals like Bill Watterson. Engage with people who know more than you on this subject. And most importantly; find a mentor or coach who can show you the path. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Enlight framework- Inputs required to achieve your end goals

This is Graham Gooch talking about excelling in batting in cricket sport, where skills seem to be the most  important component that produces excellence. He says,

" It is about 'the knowledge' of how to score runs in batting. I don't coach batting, I coach run-making. It's about how you think about yourself, how you glean information about different conditions, how you concentrate for long periods."

Excelling in any sport, be it playing tennis, golf, cricket or basket ball, is not about developing a specific skill of 'batting' in cricket, or 'putting the hole'in golf, or 'hitting home run' in baseball. That was the older input law of excellence. According to the first law of success of Inputs, we assumed that excelling is about developing one single skill alone. In sports it is Kinesthetic ability based skills. This is a single-dimensional view of achievement. 

On the other hand, watch any player and you will realise that his skills are just an 'entry point' in helping to enter in that sport, but excelling in that sport requires additional factors to sustain excelling. 

So what are these additional factors ? Scott Kaufman, who has summarised the different studies and research on talent, in his book, Ungifted Intelligence, lists down many other factors. He lists down Character traits (CAT) such as mindset and self-regulation as well as conative traits (COT) such as passion and purpose. Psychologists call it cognitive factors (creativity + cognitive skills that are derived from abilities) , affective and behavioural traits ( same as CAT) that determine how one uses ones mind to engage in a specific activity, and motivational  factors ( same as COT) such as passion and purpose that determine how one chooses an activity to stick to. 

Second law of success of Inputs states that synergy of traits and skills causes excellence. For knowledge workers, it is about combining the entire package of Skills (CAB based skills) plus  character traits (CAT) plus Conative traits (COT) in a domain of software, accountancy or manufacturing. Combination is a key word here. Synergy is important here. Not just making 1+1+1=3, but making 1+1+1= 5.

Individual character traits alone are unimportant in excelling. For instance, Roberta Ness in her study of Genius Unmasked found that, although 'autonomy' enables the creative geniuses to ignore conventions, but that same trait also leads to development of 'anti-social' tendencies that can distract them. 'Perseverance' enables the creative geniuses to persist 'irrespective of obstacles', but it also produces 'stubbornness' to wrong paths that can lead to failure.

For instance, we remember Thomas Edison for his relentless experiments of inventing a bulb. But we ignore his over-bearing stubbornness to AC current. Despite testimony from trusted associates that AC current was no more dangerous than DC, Edison waged the “war of the currents” for 20 years in which he conducted inhuman experiments where he electrocuted animals.  Only later did Edison admit that he had been wrong. 

Arnold Ludwig, in his book the Price of Greatness, who has studied achievements of over 1,000 extraordinary men and women has found that 'greater the achievement , the more likely is the presence of pathological disorders' such as mania, depression and schizophrenia. So, do not develop individual single traits alone. Do not try to pursue developing your individual trait like persistence, motivation or concentration. That diverts your attention and is often a 'hopeless' venture. 

Because, excelling in a field is not about developing the cognitive skills alone, or character traits like perseverance alone or conative traits like passion alone. Positive psychology books such as Seven Habits have tried to disconnect traits from skills, and have advised us to develop a single trait, say perseverance or passion, alone. Or develop 'creativity' or 'autonomy' alone. Or develop single skills like singing or dancing alone. We have already seen how developing virtuous traits is not useful in excelling in life. Even a quality like passion can become 'obsessive' and derail a person.

So, according to the second law of success of Inputs, what are the minimum basic inputs that you should bring in? Bring in CAB based  skills+CAT+COT . This may not ensure excellence, but its absence will ensure that the professional will get blocked in career success. 

Be on the lookout for output domains that activate the "synergy"  between your CAB skills+CAT+COT. Whatever the age, once you find a domain ( which could be developing a software for a company, or teaching school students, or solving a big problem of obesity) that best matches with your unique package of personal characteristics, the learning process can proceed extremely rapidly as you are inspired to excel. The latest science of excellence suggests that we are all capable of extraordinary performance; the key is finding a domain that best allows your unique package of combined personal characteristics to shine.

If you are serious about excelling in life, do not develop your skills or personal traits alone. That Input strategy is the old strategy arising out of first law of success. Instead spend your energy and efforts on finding the output domain where your unique package of combined personal characteristics ( cognitive abilities plus character traits plus conative traits) synergise together.

Find an output domain where your unique package of CAB based skills plus traits shine.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Success is all about focusing on the right work-output


I saw a very beautiful video of Peter Attia, who is trying to solve one of the most vexing problem of medicine: do we become obese due to lack of willpower or due to some other factor in the body system? Like all the other doctors, he also assumed that obesity is caused because the person lacks the willpower to avoid eating rich foods or the determination to get up in the morning and follow a strict regime of exercise.

However, when Peter Attia got overweight by 40 pounds, he found that his assumption was wrong. Despite exercising three or four hours every single day, and following the food pyramid to the letter, he had gained a lot of weight ( I am sure many of you have faced this paradox in your life: that you gained weight despite all the precautions you took. ) and developed something called metabolic syndrome which leads to many chronic ailments like high BP, diabetes and others. He found that he had become insulin resistant. Why is insulin resistance important?

Insulin is like a master hormone that controls what our body does with the foods we eat, whether we burn it or store it. When we become insulin-resistant, the homeostasis in this balance deviates. Insulin resistance is a reduced capacity to partition the fuel of the calories that we take in so that we can burn some appropriately and store some appropriately. Some bodies are insulin-resistant. Insulin resistance means that bodies are unable to decide how much to store as fat and how much to burn. He realised that obese people are perhaps the victim of their body system. They become obese not because they lacked control, but because their bodies lost the control of managing this homeostatic balance.

And he found data to support it. For instance, many obese Americans in the United States don't have insulin resistance, who can therefore be treated with the injection of 'willpower'. Conversely, six million lean people in the United States are insulin-resistant. In other words, these lean people are at a greater risk for those metabolic syndrome disease than their obese counterparts.

So, Peter Attia questions the old logic of obesity? Are we fighting the wrong war, he asks. Should we be fighting insulin resistance rather than obesity? By fighting obesity, he suggests that we are unknowingly blaming the victims, and washing our hands from our responsibility. By blaming obese for their lack of willpower to maintain diet and exercise, we have avoided investigating the causes of insulin resistance. By blaming obese for the homeostasis of their bodies which can happen to obese as well as lean, we are prescribing wrong solutions and even putting lean people at risk. And by blaming obese, we are forcing obese to spin into a vicious spiral where they start believing that they lack 'the resolve' to guide their lives. Peter Attia was so disturbed with this last inadvertent effect on obese people, that he cried in the above mentioned TED talk.

In career also, it is important to focus on the right output 

For instance, what should Rohit Sharma ( the cricketer) do to retain his place in the Indian team ?  He has been scoring runs. He is in the team for last 3 years. But still he is unable to retain his place in the team. How can he retain his place in the team? If Rohit Sharma wants to achieve the outcome of cementing his place in Indian cricket team, he will have to focus on the right output. He will have to take these three steps:
  1. First step is the conscious awareness of desired outcome in your work-path: Do not focus on your traits. For instance, Rohit Sharma has been advised to work hard, have more willpower or develop patience. But this is a wrong tack to take. Our traits (such as work hard) are useful only when they help us meet desired outcome ( of getting the first job), but they are useless when they thwart us in meeting new outcome (for instance, getting promotion). Our desired outcomes keep on changing from money to job satisfaction to doing achieving significance, but we are not even aware of this change. We never know when our desired outcome has changed, but we keep on employing same strategy which worked earlier. For instance, Rohit Sharma's current desired output is to convert 50 into 100. He has hit 2 centuries and 16 half-centuries. 
  2. Second Step is about converting outcome in desired outputs: In the cricket domain, commentators and critics keep on advising Rohit Sharma to focus 'on scoring 100' after reaching 50. But this 'output' is not useful. Because, in cricket, one has to focus on every ball, not on scoring 100. Rohit has to convert his outcome of scoring 100 into an output of 'how to focus on next ball after scoring 50'. 
  3. Third Step is using the inter-dependency of the 'work' in producing the actionable output: Only when Rohit Sharma focuses on the right output, will he be able to find out why he loses focus on the next ball after 50? Is it loss of concentration due to less challenging bowling of part-time bowlers? Or is it inability to rotate the strike? Or is it loss of concentration due to physical exertion? Or is it a overconfidence in a shot - say a pull over a square leg - that is his Achilles heal? He has to 'diagnose' the right cause in his case. Just trying to have a 'focus' (which is a normal advice) is not going to help Rohit Sharma to succeed in scoring 100 after 50. This step is the step of diagnosis. For instance, Rohit should talk to batsman like Tendulkar and Gavaskar to find the mistake he is making after scoring 50 or ask them the kind of typical mistakes that happen. Or she should ask his partner ( on the other end) the mistakes he makes, or he should ask his coach. 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Mismanagement of aspirations can cause unexpected and surprising consequences in career

Our aspirations sometimes go too far ahead of our capability and sometimes they are too behind our capability. When they go too far ahead, they cause frustration, cynicism and even resulting into loss of opportunities. On the other hand, when they are far too behind, they result into untapped potential, missed opportunities, and more importantly, lack of growth. In my coaching, i meet both type of individuals, although the majority are the first type of individuals, who are far running ahead of themselves.

Sarabjit was transferred from Mumbai to Delhi.  He stayed in a big rented house, his commutation time was shortened to half an hour, and with time on his hand, he managed to do accomplish his unfulfilled desire: the desire to travel to different places. This continued for 3 years.

After 3 years, he got a  job offer in Mumbai with a 40% hike in remuneration. He eagerly came for the interview and got a hint that he can get the job. So he went to his house in Mumbai which was 1/3rd the size. He got frustrated when he took 2 hours to reach the house from the new office. He got the job offer later, but he refused the job offer. 

What happened to Sarabjit? His Wants got converted into Needs. His Want of big house, which was dormant in Mumbai, got converted into Need. His Want of more available time in the day also got converted into Need. And once his Wants were converted into Needs, Sarabjit was unable to adjust to the new Needs with the new job offer. It happens to us all the time. Sarabjit stayed in Delhi, even when the timing of job change was more appropriate for him !!

Wants get converted into Needs unknowingly

Psychologists tell us that food, shelter, clothes and sex take care of our bare needs, while rest are wants and desires. But once the basic necessities are met, we re-define new needs and seek to fulfill them. Our ‘wants’ are surprisingly similar across the status, religion, and other conditions because they depend on our awareness and exposure.

But their conversion from wants into needs happen due to factors like external changes that thrust on us such as change in economic status, change in location factors, change in our friends, change in our 'neighbouring' locality. Psychologists call this reactive covariance. But they also happen due to the dormant desires that are within us: our expectations from our family, from ourselves. This is called 'active covariance'. In other words, unknown to our conscious mind, the balance between wants and needs change due to active as well as reactive covariance.

For instance, when we shift from a small town to a metro such as Mumbai, items such as cellphone, laptop, decent wardrobe, and car become our needs. Now I cannot function without them.We therefore get surprised when relatives from rural village come to our house and label our spending money on these items as 'splurging' money. I forget that these items are still 'wants' for them.

Many unintended consequences happen due to this unconscious shift of wants into needs. For instance, we change our goals. Marshall, one of my coachee, had planned to start an entrepreneurial unit after working for 10 years abroad. But as he got used to high-standard of living, he was unable to let it go. Many coachees, whom i meet, get into software for the sake of  ''higher salary', planning to go back to their core function, after the initial period. That never happens as their new needs emerge.

Marriage further makes it difficult to manage aspirations. Difficulty is doubled when one marries. A professional gains by taking the trouble to readjust his wants, because his goals get fulfilled. But for the spouse, there is no commensurate gain. Especially if the spouse is the housewife, she loses more as she depends a lot on social and economic status for her 'mental well being'. Losing that social status for the elusive achievement of some distant goals is a very difficult trade-off for her. In my coaching the biggest bottleneck for sustaining outputs is this readjustment of aspirations of the housewife !!!

More importantly, executives Wants of positional power, big office, secretary, and other perks unknowingly become Needs as they grow. When they shift jobs, i have observed them negotiating hard on these Needs, while they hardly 'negotiate' on the content which will significantly determine the path of success for them. Isn't that paradoxical?


Our aspirations change our goals and shift our directions unknowingly. It is so subtle and powerful that even our passion does not keep us focused. We do not even know when we have traded our 'values' for Wants that have become Needs without our knowledge. When we hear the examples of well paid professionals of Enron and Accenture who did a small 'accounting trick', even when they were earning so well, we hastily assume that the cause is their greed. My premise is different. I think this happens because, unable to differentiate the movement between their wants and needs, they justify their actions for the sake of 'company'.

The dynamics of aspirations is so invisible and unconscious that we cannot see its impact unless we press the pause button. Managing aspirations is not a nice-to-do activity for a professional. It is a must-to-do activity. With the advent of Internet and 24/7 media, the scope and size of our Wants keep on increasing. Unless we learn to rein them, we are like a driver who is not commanding his steering wheel.  If a professional wants to be at the driving wheel, he or she must actively manage his/her aspirations. Otherwise he/she will not even know when did he/she abandoned the wheel and has been sitting in someone's car !

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Should you change jobs for money?

Please see this excellent compilation of research on money and motivation. Entire data of research gives a clear answer that you should never change jobs for money. 

But are there cases when you should change jobs for money? May be, when your salary is less than 'benchmark value', the value which takes care of your basic needs. For instance, Daniel Kahneman found that this benchmark value is about 75000 $ in US. In India, I guess, this figure may be about 10 Lakhs per annum, depending on which city you are living. In Tier 2 cities, the same figure will be lower. But whatever is the benchmark value, below that value, lack of money demotivates. In other words,when you are earning below this value, money motivates.

But this also suggests that salary beyond 10 Lpa is not enough to motivate. It means that, beyond this salary level, one should not change jobs, just because there is a 40% increase in salary ! 
Why should you not do this? Because Extrinsic goals ( money, reputation, and power) always crowd out intrinsic goals (e.g., enjoyment, sheer curiosity, learning or personal challenge). More the extrinsic rewards increase, less important intrinsic goals become. Why should you worry about this? Because, sooner or letter, intrinsic rewards affect job performance. As the authors say ' The more people focus on their salaries, the less they will focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.'

So if you cannot change jobs for money, what should you change for? According to Rossabeth Kanter, the researcher on leadership comments, 'I identified three primary sources of motivation in high-innovation companies: mastery, membership, and meaning. Another M, money, turned out to be a distant fourth. Money acts as a scorecard, but it does not get people up-and-at 'em for the daily work, nor does it help people go home every day with a feeling of fulfillment." Using these 3 M  intrinsic rewards are central to engagement and happiness. 

In other words, searching for Mastery ( the excellence in work), Meaning in life ( linkages job to personal values) and being a Member of a group that is making a difference to the world ( be it social challenges or personal vision like Steve Jobs) act as three big intrinsic motivators for successful achievers.

Here are some Dan Ariely's experiments about why we are motivated to work. It is far more interesting and multi-layered view. Please go through this video of Dan Ariely. You will appreciate that there are many reasons for liking to work than just money. For instance, we like to work because there are more difficulties and challenges, such as while climbing the mountain. Or we like to work when our output is 'visible' and can be seen, such as when we build houses for people. Or professionals working in big software companies cannot get motivated by seeing their 'visible outputs', but they love the work because they face challenges of constant changing knowledge. 

In other words, excellence in work is far more 'nuanced'. We have been discussing about the unwitting blocks we create on our road to work-excellence. For instance, we should not change jobs from more competent jobs to less-competent jobs because we get more money. Or, when getting money is our primary  challenge, we should understand the block of skill market and deal with it instead of changing the job. Or instead of changing jobs because of boss who does not give credit to our work, we should deal with the perception of boss . Or, instead of complaining that 'we are doing our best', we should also learn to generate visible results in a company by understanding the metasystems of company. Instead of changing jobs because we do not have any purpose in life, we should instead find meaning in life actively and not wait for life to tell us the purpose of life.  

Motivation of work-life is more multi-dimensional than just money and challenges. 

Monday, April 01, 2013

Acquiring positive traits like patience is not useful for work achievement

The essential characteristics required to achieve in work-life - perseverance, confidence, goal-setting, focus, passion, values - are listed by meeting achievers. That is why you will find every book listing down these positive traits as 'success habits'. But when we start chasing these success-habits to find our success, we are putting cart before the horse. Why?

Because the central Challenge of achieving in work-life is matching the character traits with cognitive abilities to produce the targeted results  

If you ask any successful man, if these traits are required to achieve in life, he will undoubtedly agree with you. For instance, if you ask Narayan Murthy who created second-biggest Indian software company, Infosys, in his one lifetime, you will find that he will surely agree that these 'positive traits' are useful and mandatory. But that does not mean that you should advise aspiring achievers to acquire those positive traits. This is like seeing full fledged apples, discovering their good characteristics and then trying to grow the same apples irrespective of the soil conditions in your field. Wise men will tell you that in Nagpur, where the climate is too hot, you cannot grow apple. Instead, you should be growing oranges, because the conditions suit them.

Similarly, the challenge for each one of us is different in achieving because we are producing different results in programming, medicine or sports. We commence our lives from a different starting points. We have different innate abilities - logical, verbal, visual - and different traits - self regulation, creativity and emotional stability. The nurturing conditions around us grow some of these innate abilities and traits, while it may block the growth of some of these . For instance, although rich financial status of your family provides you more options, it also lowers your motivation to use those options.On the contrary, poor financial status may reduce your options, but they enhance your motivation to use those limited options. Both these individuals require different 'traits' to utilise their distinct background. So no innate ability (or nurturing condition) is purely good or bad. Our family background may increase/decrease our options. For instance, even though Sachin Tendulkar's son is likely to achieve a lot , if he choses cricket-path, it may not suit him.

Therefore blindly acquiring positive traits alone is not useful in work-achievement

So why are we advised to acquire 'positive traits' like perseverance, confidence, focus, creativity and others. Obviously, many believe that, if we acquire positive traits, we will automatically succeed. But is this true? Let us understand.

Please read this part of story of Narayan Murthy. In 1973, Narayan Murthy had no goal, no desire to start a company. He wanted to become a communist and run an orphanage. His values were completely anti-capitalist. No one could have imagined that he would start his own software company later in 1981.But something happened in 1974. Read his speech to Graduates of New York University.  In 1974, in a border town between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, he went through an incident that completely changed his 'values'. In this speech to NYU, he says "I always thank the Bulgarian guards for transforming me from a confused leftist into a determined, compassionate capitalist!". His beliefs and character traits changed indirectly due to the events and experiences he went through. We can consciously alter our cognitive abilities, but our character traits and beliefs alter unpredictably through our experiences, and more specifically how we interpret those experiences. 

You will find similar instances in the lives of successful men if you dig deeper in their stories. For instance, read this story of  Manmohan Singh's ascendancy to highest post of Prime Minister, and  you will realise that  his 'positive traits' did not help him become Prime Minister. In other words, these so-called positive traits are not the causes, but are the reverse. They are caused by producing desired results. After these individuals produce big results, they assume that they achieved because they were 'focused, confident and had passion'. Psychologist call it "cognitive dissonance". Wanting to find a coherent explanation for their achievement, they find it easier to explain the 'dissonance' in a 'rational' language.

Morever, psychologists also know that 'positive traits' like confidence are emergent traits. They are not the traits 'hidden within ourselves'. They emerge from the way we interact with the external systems, from the way our work impacts our personal life and vice versa, from the way the resulting outputs support our values and vice versa, from the way our relationships impact our work and vice versa. Positive traits are not the habits that we can 'practice and create' in our minds. They are the 'resultant' of our interactions with work-life through which we produce results. They are not the 'cause', but the 'effects' of creating different results ( be it work or friendships) in life.

Therefore, contrary to what many of these self-help books tell us, we can never deliberately plan to acquire these positive  traits of perseverance, focus, passion or values, because they are the 'result' of our' interactions with external output systems of work, family and society'. Therefore we should never chase these positive traits because they do not cause achievement; instead they are caused by achievement.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Spirituality is a means, not an end

Last week I was talking to a senior corporate professional on the different aspects of spirituality.  On the one hand, one sees growing popularity of spiritual-oriented movements such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living, Sahajyoga, or 10 days meditation of Vipassana. On the other hand, many feel that these movements of 'spirituality' are mere 'talks' and have no relevance to 'hard performance' in corporate or work life. They claim that spirituality can help manage stress-related disorders, at the most, and are therefore useful only at the later ages of life. For a hard core working professional, engaging in spirituality is a luxury, it is presumed.

As always, the truth is hidden. We have confused means with ends. For working professionals, spirituality is a means to achieve our ends. (For others, it could be an end itself.) But, because corporate professionals  have forgotten the 'end'  of spirituality, they are throwing baby with bathwater.

Spirituality offers three benefits which are absolutely critical to excel in work-life:
  1. It helps us understand and appreciate the purpose of life
  2. It helps us appreciate our inherent limitations of effort 'that we can only produce output, not outcomes' and 
  3. It helps us accept that "People around us are not black and white; they are grey"
If any other system ( other than spirituality) can offer me these three benefits, then i need not try to become 'spiritual' ?

Why is the first benefit of spirituality [finding the purpose of life] useful? It helps us get a long term direction in life, a bearing that enables us to navigate through the thick and dense jungle, called life. It helps us understand that our daily work is just a means to achieve an end that connects us to the source of life. It helps us therefore avoid short term actions ( such as immediate transactional benefits ignoring our conscience ) that hamper the long term result of our life. It helps us do something daily to reach that end to which we can only 'contribute' like all others. It is a brilliant stress buster for us who are constantly in the mode of achieving something everyday.

Why is the second benefit of spirituality [Effort can produce output, not outcome] useful to excel? As we have discussed earlier in an earlier blog, through our effort, we can only generate output. But we cannot generate outcomes, because outcomes are the result of many interacting elements, most of which are out of our purview of control. Even President Obama cannot control terrorism; or ensure health-care to all. Good intention, hard work, or single minded dedication can only produce outputs, but may not produce outcomes. Deluged with advocates of 'positive psychology' self help Gurus, we have forgotten this important principle of second law of excellence. We therefore tend to overdo efforts, 'somehow' try to twist outcomes impairing the long term health of the system, and win the war, but lose the battle.

Why is the third benefit of spirituality [ People are not black and white, they are grey] critical? We tend to see others ( and therefore ourselves) as black and white. However, we are more complex grey creatures, because our ( and people's ) behaviour changes on how our past interacts with the unfolding present, on how the reality matches with our  expectations, and how our actions produce ( or not produce) the desired outcomes. But instead of understanding this reality, we tend to simplify people as good vs bad, nice vs rude, confident vs passive, right vs wrong. This results in dysfunctional behaviour with people: conflicts, taking rigid stands, avoiding to face  reality. People, instead of becoming collaborators, become a bottleneck. And without joining hands with people, nothing of significance can be achieved.


With these three benefits, Spirituality is not only useful for corporate professionals, but is absolutely critical to excel in their work. By providing them long term direction in their lives, it not only helps them excel in the current task, but prepare for the next challenge. Professions, with long term direction, tend to anticipate the challenge instead of reacting to the challenges.

Third benefit of spirituality affects our productivity the most. We tend to take stands visavis people all the time, and unwittingly create roadblocks for ourselves in our path of excelling.We are either against them or too attached to them.

The second benefit perhaps affect us the most because we always forget that we cannot produce 'outcomes'. Like Daniel Kahneman, the Noble Prize winner says, Success is equal to talent plus luck. But big success is a little bit of talent plus a huge luck.

I have seen many working professionals practicing spirituality without gaining these three benefits, because they are confusing means with ends. For them, spirituality becomes another way of spending time, instead of learning more about life. Spirituality becomes another crutch, instead of a step to go ahead. For them, Spirituality is really a luxury.

But i have also met some professionals practicing spirituality without being religious, or following any movements of any Guru. I know a family where the father has been doing social activity while the mother has been working to keep the fire glowing in the kitchen. Both children claim to be atheist, but are deeply spiritual and successful in their work-lives.

How are you practicing spirituality?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ability blindness can prevent you from achieving your simple goals in life

I met one interesting individual, Nishikant, last month.

Nishikant is a B.Com graduate. Did his MBA. Worked in a Hotel Construction Company selling their services to companies. Did very well with them for 3 years. Left that job to join a multinational based group in the same domain, Hotels. He was therefore given a senior position. In one year, he managed to  grow within that company to a significant scale. He was sent to new territories, to hire new people, train them and then manage them from his head office. As such his job involves lot of travel, meeting tough targets, and closing deals with companies. 

After 4 years, of experience, he got an offer from his close school friend, who has an automobile business. He sells bearings. He wanted to start his own office in Northern Region. He asked Nishikant to set up the office and manage his dealer network in Northern region. He is expected to get 12 Lakhs in the first year, as compared to his current remuneration of 8 LPA. He was actively considering leaving his current job to take over this job. 

When i asked Nishikant the reasons of his desire to take over the job of automobile dealer, he said ' I will get more money. I will not have to work on Saturdays and Sundays.. I do not have to appease bosses, because i would be working with my friend. And even after working in the company, what will i be doing?' 

What is wrong with Nishikant's thinking and line of action? Nishikant is making three mistakes 

Mistake 1: He is moving from a job requiring higher ability to lower ability

Selling automobile bearings to dealers is far more easier than selling Hotel Services to companies because of three reasons: Transaction size of Hotel services is higher, Selling services is difficult than selling products, and selling to companies is far more difficult than selling to individual dealers ( as decision making matrix of company includes influencing decision maker, user, and authoriser who could be three different individuals in a company as compared to a dealer where all three roles are embedded in one person). 

When any job requires higher ability/skill, it earns more premium. When someone is doing a work competently, he naturally wants to move to a more challenging task that will demand higher ability or complex combination of abilities. What happens when Nishikant moves from a job with higher skill to a job of lower skill? He will quickly get bored. 

Instead of his old boss, Nishikant will find that he has got a new boss: his owner. He will soon find that he is 24*7 in his job, not just on Saturdays and Sundays, because it is his own business. What will he do after three years or so? I get many coachees who are 40+, have money,car and security and even some fame, but desperately try to find meaning by changing their jobs which have similar ability or lower ability than the earlier job..

Root cause of this mistake: Nishikant is aware of sales abilities at a very gross level. But he is not aware of the individual components of that ability ( such as transaction size etc) and therefore cannot figure out how it is different in the next job. He is ignorant of the basic skills of achievement. This is called mapping the abilities of a job. These Ability-blind individuals cannot view job as consisting of fungible components. Therefore, these individuals are unaware of the abilities they have, or the jobs that require those abilities. 

Mistake 2: Nishikant is taking this decision because he is ignorant of how (sales) ability develops 

Some individuals may have not have ability blindness, but they may have Ability-development ignorance. 

Nishikant seems to be aware of his sales abilities, but he was ignorant of 'how to develop it further'. For instance, Sales ability involves learning different components to close a sales cycle. It includes understanding and influencing the "decision making matrix" of a client company. Or the component of Negotiation. Or Mapping client and identifying its fit with the one's company offerings. When one is doing a sales job competently, one is managing these components unconsciously. But to achieve your results, one has to master these components consciously. One has to understand and use these components in actual selling to know its strengths and limitations. 

The route of achieving big results is from Unconscious competence > Conscious Learning of the different components of competence > Conscious competence. Without consciously learning the components, one may have a great skill, but one may not be able to repeat the achievement or use it in other domain or scenario. It is the classic syndrome of Virendra Sehwag. When you are performing well, you have no time to consciously learn the individual components. But when you fail, you have no time to recover from the failure. For instance, if Nishikant cannot sustain his achievement because of  some external events, he may not be able to even shift to selling Xerox machines to companies ! He will get stuck, if he does not develop his sales ability consciously..

Root cause of this mistake: Nishikant has to understand how his sales ability must be consciously developed. This is called understanding the arithmetic of Ability-Development.This is required to convert Unconscious competence to Conscious competence. Without doing this, one is at the mercy of the outside environment. One is not taking charge of one's direction in life. 

Mistake 3: Nishikant is confusing ability with domains   

Every ability is used in a domain. If you have a sales ability, you can use it in any domain,  be it selling software, hotels, soaps, automobiles or anything else. If you have a teaching ability, you can teach to school students, graduate students, executives or any other community. Domains are playgrounds to use our abilities; they are not same as abilities. Teaching is an ability, but can be used in different domains depending on what you desire in life. An athletic ability, for instance, can be used in different sports. Domains, when we separate them, can be used to pick an area of work where our requirement of money and other career objectives can be simultaneously achieved. 

For instance, if Nishikant is bored of selling Hotel services, he can take up another domain: selling software services to gain international exposure. Or if he likes to work alone without boss, he can sell services like Insurance/Finance on his own and still earn huge money. Or if he is likes to sell products, he can sell products to companies. There are any number of multiple combinations that one can figure out in using one's ability after one separates ability from domains.

Another big opportunity of understanding domains is by combining abilities.  For instance Nishikant is a BCom graduate. He can use his Accounting ability to combine with sales and sell financial products to companies. For instance financial professionals who sell mergers to companies have these two abilities. Another possibility is understanding the whole of your work of you are doing the part, understand  other ways by which your capability can be combined and find new combination. For instance, Nishikant will easily understand that his sales ability can be combined easily with marketing to grow further in his company.  
Root cause of this mistake: Like most other professionals, Nishikant cannot separate ability from domain. Due to this basic ignorance, he cannot keep track of different domains, gain more knowledge of them, and find what other achievements are possible for him.That is why he said " What will i do in the company?" This domain-confusion (confusing domain with ability) will ultimately disable Nishikant in achieving the four objectives of life that every man desires: Money, job Satisfaction, Achieving something of significance and leaving behind legacy. 


Lack of Input framework of Achievement - Ability blindness, Ability-development ignorance, and Domain confusion - today makes or breaks the progress in sustaining one's work-achievement. You will learn how to use these inputs only after you adopt new law of Achievement. 

Without adopting the New law of Achievement, Nishikant may perhaps earn money in his career. But without adopting it, Nishikant will  almost certainly fail in achieving any meaningful work-achievement in his life. And this is a paradox of sustaining achievement. Until man is struggling to earn money alone, he is lucky . But when he wants to achieve many other objectives through his work-achievement, he is compelled to use a framework of achievement. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unwrapping your beliefs is important for your growth

If i ask you a question, "What is your belief about a person like Mahesh Bhatt ( whom you have not met)?' in a nice classroom setting you will answer this question in a very cool, rational, and calculated way. You will try to recollect many of the past stories you have heard about him, try to reason your thoughts, and then respond in a very deliberate manner.

But if i give you this interview of Mahesh Bhatt, which seems to be done at a very personal level, you will respond almost immediately and without any barriers. These are 'semi-dense' situations, situations in which you use lot of your head and less of your emotions. Fully dense situations are ideal to 'unwrap' your beliefs, because both emotions and mind equally strong.

But because we encounter very few 'dense' situations in our life, we must learn to use these semi-dense situations to know more about ourself. This helps us grow faster. For instance, your response to this interview of Mahesh Bhatt will tell you about 'YOUR' intrinsic beliefs about many aspects of your own life, instead of telling you about Mahesh Bhatt. If you use these situations intelligently, you will be able to grow mentally. Remember that your intra-personal ability is not only a big accelerator for growth, but also becomes a bottleneck for growth  if not developed adequately. 

Let us, for instance, use this opportunity of Mahesh Bhatt's interview. Read this interview from end to end, and write your response on a piece of paper. Write whatever comes to your mind. Be honest and frank with yourself. At least, try to answer these three questions after you read the interview: 1> Write your evaluation of your Mahesh Bhatt as a person? For instance, do you think he is genuinely good person or a fraud or ... 2> Do you think Mahesh Bhatt could be right in his way of doing his work? 3> Do you think Mahesh Bhatt is a good father or a good husband?

Here are some clues to understand your own beliefs from the above interview of Mahesh Bhatt (semi-dense situation):

1. You could be giving an overt emotional reaction: If you think Mahesh Bhatt is a 'liar' or a person who just hogs ' attention', or is a hypocrite, or his interview was 'fabricated' etc, then you are letting your 'beliefs' dominate your thoughts. Your emotion is crowding your thinking. Remember, we are not aware of any truth even after reading this. Our emotional reaction is not just based on what Mahesh Bhatt is 'saying', but on our accumulated belief about 'Entertainment industry professionals' that we have formed till now.

2. Your views could be dominanted by religious linkages : If your reaction is driven by his 'Muslim' mother, and other aspects of his 'Muslim' views, then your reaction is perhaps governed by your own 'anti-muslim' sentiments. It is ok to be pro-muslim or pro-hindu, but when it comes in the way of evaluating someone ( and that too only on the basis of heard interviews and newspaper comments), we should start worrying.

3. Your views of Entertainment business could be filtering your evaluation : Most of us work in professions where our personal values are not brought into foreground in our work-life; they remain in the background. For instance, our personal views of 'how movies should be done' are not expressed in our work, but they are highlighted when we talk and think of movies. If we have strong one sided views of how movie should be done, we express them indirectly at such occassion. And if they are 'contrary' to what Mahesh Bhatt is saying or doing, we will 'dislike' Mahesh Bhatt. We have the right to have our own views, but we do not have the right to evaluate others through its lens. Morever, do remember that, our views are just ring-side academic views. If we are inside the 'movie business', we may have different views. Psychologists observe such differences in every individual; they call it hot-cold empathy gap.

4. Your views about Mahesh Bhatt being a good father could be based on hearsay evidence:. We can have different beliefs about what it is to be a good father and so on. We are responsible for our beliefs and therefore we must take care while adopting them, not just blindly follow someone else's beliefs. But when we are trying to evaluate someone else on our criteria, we should be extra-careful. We should not judge them on our benchmark, especially when when we are evaluating an inter-personal relationship ( a relationship of father and daughter!).  Please remember that our evaluation of Mahesh Bhatt as a good father/husband is only based on hearsay evidence. To know whether he is a good father or husband, we should be asking his daughter and wife.


Unwrapping our beliefs is important for you, because beliefs block us from understanding the as-is reality.  With beliefs, we see things through a lens and therefore tend to mis-read the situations. It is therefore important to unwrap the beliefs and be aware of them, instead of getting 'used' by them.Please read this blog to understand how beliefs and emotions are intrinsically related.

Every semi-dense situations highights different aspect of our beliefs. For instance, Norway incident highlighted our belief about of 'whites and blacks'.

Should you do analysis of every such semi-dense event in your life? Not for all events. But, whenever you have strong views about something, you should press a pause button, and take a time-out to review your beliefs. For instance, if you are not having any views about Mahesh Bhatt, you would not have found the above exercise of reacting to Mahesh Bhatt's interview beneficial for you. But you can use the above format for some other semi-dense event in your life.