Monday, October 21, 2013

The Power Within Us to Change Our Lives - Finding The Super Hero Within

This is a gist of the talk that I'd given on the same topic - very relevant I thought for a group of young achievers at the Canara HSBC OBC Life Insurance Company, looking to achieve more. Credit for thinking up the topic must go to the young and passionate VP Salil Bhatnagar whose views on HR are very humane, and stuff that I totally endorse.

The challenge I now take up is to make the super power within each of us sit next to us by the time we end this.

The Power Within Us to Change Our Lives

(How I will Conjure Up Your Superpower and Make it Sit Next  To You in Two Hours)

Good morning,
Today's theme is 'The Power Within Us To Change Our Lives'. You have heard this many times before.

What exactly is this power and where is it?
When someone asks us if we have a power within us we say yes. Really? But the questions we need to ask are these:
-What is its name? How does this power look like? Where does it live so I can find it?
- Is it good for me? Is it bad for me?
- Why does it not come to me when I need it? Why does it not show up in my life? Is the prerogative of only a few?

When I was young I initially thought I was the blessed one. That I had a power that would bring anything to me like the magical genie. But as I grew older I started to wonder about this power. Where was it?

Can't find the power in us!
I looked in the mirror and found no trace of the power. The superheroes looked so different from me. How could I be them? I really believed that something was wrong with me. That others had this power and I had not. There was a part missing in me.
Now, I know everyone feels the same.

So I thought

- I was flawed
- I cannot be super hero while others can be
- It happens to me only at some special times when the stars are in alignment

My experiments with the power
I think I am standing here before you because I experimented with this superpower a bit. In cricket, writing, work and at life.
I analyzed best performances, best states and have written about the same. Small experiments with winning matches. Or reaching targets. Or achieving small targets.

A pattern emerged.

My findings
My findings are that
- anyone can access the power
- it can be accessed anytime (like the genie)
- once it comes, it will change your lives

Should we then attempt to find this elusive power within us? Should we risk the irreversible changes it will bring? I need your permission to go ahead.

Short term and Long term success
Look at it this way. You are all young achievers. You feel at the top of the world. But we all know that success can be short term  or long term. Short term success is short lived. You could get it by fluke. You don't know how you got it. You do not know the process, do not know what it brings, do not know how to sustain it. Some of us have achieved success this way.
But what we should aspire for is long term success. This is borne out of a process, of understanding, of learning and growing. It will keep you on the path and you will achieve long and lasting success in the long run.

In this circumstance I advise you to go for it. Risk finding this power. Let's find a name and address, a face to it as a beginning.

Finding a name, address and face for our superpower
I invite you then to listen to the story of my first  novel. It is the dream of every HR person I'd guess.

A team of young school boys who have no interest and no skill and who have not won a single match for at least 20 years are now required to win a tough cricket tournament to save their school grounds.

If you were the coach how would you do that? Remember that an improvement of 20-30- 40% does not help. One needs 200% commitment. How can you get that spirit and that result into them?

The answer is ownership.

It is the first key. Ownership is when the feeling of 'I' creeps in. I will do this. It is a subtle shift of power, a delicate handing over of the baton to the players on the field. Okay gentlemen, these are your grounds? How will you save your grounds?

Even in circumstances when the objective is clear and the responsibility seemingly rests with the leader (the Principal, Coach, Captain in this case), ownership is that small individual thought within each of us that says - I will do this one way or another. It is worthy of me.

Once the boys own the challenge the transfer is made and effort zooms. All it needs then is support and guidance. (I know its not as simple as that but it does require a completely secure manager to do that, one who is sympathetic, patient, process oriented and one who truly loves the players and their dreams.)

The Name of the Super power
What then does one call such a phenomenon?
Super power, excellence. Super hero. Full potential. 100% you. Ownership.

These all all the names of your super hero, that super power.

The Face of the Super Power
And now, how does he look like? Hritik Roshan? Tom Cruise? Priyanka Chopra? Who were the heroes when the boys won? The boys right?

The face then, of your super power, is You. It looks like you.

Am I the superpower? No!
Am I saying then that you have achieved the state of Tendulkar? Not really. None of us can believe that we are superheroes. That is because we are still work in progress. Tendulkar, Hritik and co have put in their work. So don’t compete with him.

How to identify him?
Let us start at the beginning. First understand and acknowledge that the super hero exists within you, behind that face somewhere. I know we cannot see it even now. But Sachin did that many moons ago and has worked closely with that super power.
How many times have you looked at your super hero and acknowledged him or her?

The 0-100 Continuum
Look at it like this.If you look at yourself as a continuum ranging from mediocrity to the best you can be, this power, this genie falls at the right extreme. Sometimes we are at zero, sometimes at 50, mostly 70-80, sometimes at 100. It is not fixed - we are constantly travelling between 0-100.
Imagine a 100 of you standing next to one another, shoulder to shoulder. One 100 You's. On the left most corner is you at zero capacity - Mr. Zero. At the other extreme is the Super Hero at 100. Shining bright like we know super heroes do.
As of now let's say you are 50% stage.Or whatever number you choose to give yourself.

Let us first accept that this hero is siting there, idle, at the end of the line. Can you recognise, acknowledge and make friends with him? Or do you want to continue ignoring him and look outside for help?

Between you and him there are 40-50 states you need to cross. to cross each one, you must push the boundaries constantly and reach past old limits. Push it to that first 100% within each state. That new boundary is excellence - for that stage.
When you go to next level, recognize it. Nurture it. Develop it. Challenge your limits every day. It sorts you out – the basics, the strengths, the weaknesses. You get so much clarity you don’t need anyone to tell you about it. As you cross one barrier after another you see yourself dealing with bigger and better competition.

Anyway we now have his name and address. Shall we call him out now? The super power?

But you cannot meet super heroes so easy - even if they are your own.

3 conditions to fulfill to meet the Superpower
To meet your superpower you must fulfill three conditions  – (1) take 100% responsibility (2) process -orientation and (3) 100% commitment.

If you commit to these three conditions, your super hero will appear beside you.

Responsibility, Process-orientation and Commitment are the keys to success, to excellence, to full potential. But what do they mean? We will explore that path a bit.

(1) 100% Responsibility - The Master Key
Responsibility means taking 100% responsibility. Not 10%, 20%, 30% or 70% responsibility. The entire 100% including the luck factor!

When you take 10% responsibility, you are only walking 10% on your feet and 90% on crutches. These crutches are otherwise called excuses, blame etc. When you throw away the crutches you will find the strength of your own two feet.

100% responsibility is 100% ownership. There are no excuses. Whatever happens you will deliver. "Whatever happens I will do this." In your own mind you must fix your target, of what you are capable of. Then it is possible.

Taking 100% responsibility is the master key that will open up the entire process. Process orientation will follow as does commitment. Goal clarity, honesty, love, efficiency, resilience, strength, courage, conviction - everything falls into place once you take full responsibility.

100% responsibility means that you go beyond the call of duty. Do whatever it takes.

These are the questions you must ask yourself:.
What do I take responsibility for? - Goal (what is this goal that has been conceived by your own mind?)
How much? – 100% (zero excuses)
Why do I need to take this responsibility? – Motive (why are you taking 100% responsibility?)

If you want to grow, you have to take more responsibility. You cannot have power without responsibility, freedom without responsibility.

Exercise: Take any area of your life? Set any target. Ask yourself if you are taking 100% responsibility. How much are you taking? If not, what are the things you are blaming, finding an excuse in? Eliminate that of blame, excuse. Push it to 100%.

Exercise: For what at your work are you willing to take 100% responsibility? Get that number.

Visualise: Yourself at 100% responsibility, at 100% potential. What comes to your mind? See the picture inside out. Feel it. How does your world look like when you have taken 100% responsibility for whatever you have taken up?

"I will do this whatever happens."

Why we don't take 100% responsibility?
We know that when we take 100% responsibility great things are done. 100% effort will certainly get you more.
But why don't we do it?

We want results without effort. We want results without responsibility. No wonder we don’t get what we want.

We fear failing. What if we give our 100% and it does not get the results? What if we fail?

Or more relevantly, what if we succeed? Success is the unknown animal here. We know failure but we don't know success. Many people have chosen to fail because of the fear of success. Be aware.

Is it high risk to push boundaries to get something? No. It is high risk not to push for my 100%.

First give it your all. Your 100%. Don’t bargain all the time because when you hold back it will make you smaller. You will start slipping down the ladder.
Seize all opportunities that allow growth. Take full ownership for yourself, your team. You have? Yes?

Your superpower is 75% closer to you now.

(2) Process orientation

I think I never learned from anything as much as I did from this match. Osmania University vs VST, a league match we played in 1987. I wanted the outcome and it came.

This story happened when I was in college. I was a first class cricketer, and rather proud of that fact. Our team Osmania University was playing a tough team VST. I was the premier fast bowler for our team. In a two day game VST batted one whole day and scored a massive 350.
I was furious.
I had given away 128 runs and got 2 wickets. The VST team had got the biggest score that anyone had scored against us till then. I was upset. I wanted to win. I told my skipper I want to open the batting. I told him I will get the 128 runs back.

I went straight home. Visualized. Rehearsed mentally. Planned in great detail. Came back next day and finished the job. I got 158, got out in over 66 and at a total of 266 for 4.
It’s unbelievable when I think of it now. A number 8 batsman opening the batting and getting 158 runs. How?
I got happy, celebrated and clean forgot about it.
Until I started writing my first novel and this incident came up. I wondered why I never used that formula before.
We do that often. We forget to thank our Super hero and assign it to luck, to chance, to the gods. Super hero goes back to his corner, forgotten.

Let me run you through the process, which holds good for any.

Decision - Decide to take 100% responsibility and do it whatever happens.
Goal clarity - See the goal clearly with clear and sharp numbers, visuals and other senses.  If you can see your goal with clarity,it becomes easier.
Planning - The devil is in the details. All detail that makes you uncomfortable and want to skip it is where the detail lies - do not leave it alone.  Get more information and address it until your discomfort is addressed.
Implementation - This is about action.  Disciplined, purposeful, strong action that pushes all limits physically.
Monitoring - Cross check with original plan so it does not stray off. Take corrective measures.
Belief - It will throw up problems when you least expect them.  Hold your belief in those times.
Achieve - Goal accomplished.

If I can do it once, why cannot I do it again? What stops us?

No one cares about these little stories. My bigger cricket story is that I was part of the Ranji team that won the Ranji Trophy for Hyderabad in 1986-87. I did nothing there of significance. But this match - for me it is only one of the few examples I remember where I have been at my 100%. Where I have summoned the power within and achieved what I want.
You know, now I feel I can do anything that I want to. When I think of those, I still feel that same power.

Exercise: Write down one experience of yours where you had set your goal and achieved it. Run through the steps. Use the same formula everywhere.

Visualization: Know your strengths. Your weak areas. Plan the entire thing in your mind. See yourself working the way you are best at. See yourself achieving it.

I know how to do this

You know the process? Yes?

Your superpower is at the door ringing the bell.

(3) Commitment
Commitment is taking time out of the equation. Whatever happens, however long it takes, I will get this job done. even if I have to work at it all my life I will get it done.
Once you commit, you get clarity. It knocks time and excuses out of the way. Once the mind realises there is no escape, it stops producing excuses.Then you can work with clarity.

Commitment is the third key. Sometimes 100% responsibility and process orientation may not give you results instantly. You may not be ready for the results. The superpower waits until you are fully prepared to take the responsibility.
So keep at it. Slow down but don't stop. You will find what you set out for, or something better. 
When I quit my job to write I had decided I will write for life. But it was a vague commitment. Two years ago someone asked me – are you saying you will write books for the rest of your life. That gave me more clarity. Yes. I thought. If I live another 25 years, I will write one book a year or more. I decided I will write 30 books. I will get them published.
If not, I’ll die trying. There will be 30 manuscripts certainly.

I wrote my first novel in 1998. It never got published. I must have approached 100s of publishers in the world. Then I wrote a collection of children's stories. Then I wrote a cricket story. Then I wrote a romance. In 2007 the cricket story got published. In 2010 the love story got published. In 2009 a contribution to an anthology. 2 books and a half in 8 years.
But they cannot keep me out forever. Where will I be in another 5 or 6? 15 or 16?
Winston Churchill – I will be at it however long, however hard.
Gandhi did the same - Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

Commitment for life, teaches you the way to do things. When time is out of the equation, love flows in.

If you can fulfill these three conditions – take 100% responsibility for whatever you wish to achieve, bring in process orientation and commit to achieving it however long and hard it may be the power is with you. You will achieve what you want, or more.
Knowing the process is one thing and committing to it is quite another. When we commit to achieving it we prepare for the battle we know we will have to fight someday. When you see the goal, the difficulty of the goal sitting in front of you, when you know you want it, you can only prepare in a purposeful manner.

You will commit even if it takes forever? Yes?

The superpower is sitting next to you!
Hold on to it tight. Don't let go of him now. When you relax any of the three conditions, the superpower  will slip away from you. Tighten up and he/ she will come back.

Now you have the power, use it. Use it often and grow.

The process of preparation
Let me tell you how we pick players in cricket selections. We look for expertise in skill (for all basics in place, a good work ethic etc), we look for physical fitness (on measurable parameters) and we look for mental preparation (80%). The third is what they say constitutes 80% of high performance.

The Mental Aspect
What is this mental part that makes them match winners? It is that part that takes total responsibility, that gives those big performances when the team needs, that puts the team ahead of oneself, that rises to the occasion each time and performs consistently. To do all that one needs to have prepared well and hard for many years.

What exactly is the mental aspect then? The power to see the entire picture. See where you are. Where you want to get. Find the best way to get there. Find out your strengths and weaknesses. Find out a method to constantly keep you on the job. To improve slowly but surely. To handle pressure by putting yourself through those situations in real or simulated situations. To find ways of bettering yourself. People use many methods to get ahead, stay afloat.
I don’t need to go into that.

Let’s start at the basics. How can you prepare for higher performances in sales and career advancement?
Are you the expert at the basics? Do you know all you need to know about the products, company, industry, customers? Do you believe you are there to give the customer the best value? Sales as I know of it is a part of the marketing function which in two words talks of ‘need satisfaction’.
Are you prepared to commit? Have you answered the mental aspect questions for yourself?  What is the outcome you are looking at?

It appears hard. Is it the only way? How about short cuts?
There are no short cuts to sustained success. What I can guarantee is that hard work becomes enjoyable. You need long and hard work. But as Churchill said commitment is ‘however long, however hard’. Work cannot be escaped. You can make it interesting if you have the imagination. 

Commit to the growth mindset
Understand these two mindsets as explained by Carol Dwycke in her book 'Mindset - A New Psychology to Success'.. Fixed and growth mindsets. Talent vs Hard work.

The best condition to success  is high talent combined with growth oriented work. The second best is low talent but high effort (growth oriented work). The last is low talent with no effort (growth oriented work).

The key is that most of us have both mindsets - we need to focus on one - the growth one.
-        Hard working people go on effort. They commit to learn. Growth-oriented learning is likely to take you to full potential than relying on mere 'talent' with no work.
-          Maintain high standards. Focus on preparation and effort. Create a motivating atmosphere.
-      Growth is about hard work, process orientation and the right tools to handle the process. Give process feedback, growth framework to the learners.
-          Ask for help when you are stuck, do small acts that change things, work on beliefs, mindsets and getting process orientation. One has to get over the-world-owes-me and denial (as in my-life-is-perfect syndrome).
-          Champs work the hardest and constantly challenge themselves.
-          Learn and help learn.
-          High effort and high risk. Low effort has no chance
-     Fixed Mindset suffers from - desire to look smart, avoid challenges, give up easily, get defensive, effort as fruitless, ignore negative feedback, feel threatened by others successes and as a result of all this, they plateau early and achieve less than their full potential.
-          Growth mindset encompasses - desire to learn, embrace challenges, persist in the face of setback, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, find lessons and inspiration from others success and reach even higher levels of achievement as a result. The growth mindset takes you closer to your potential.
-          Success is learning, not about proving that you are smart. It is about stretching, about self-esteem, learning, preparation and effort.

Growth is a constant climbing of the hill. Boring. Hard. But that’s the only way. The view from Mount Everest cannot be enjoyed without the climb. Once you enjoy it, you start appreciating the joy of climbing too. But that's another story.

How competition gets filtered?
1st filter knocks out people who take less responsibility. (I’ll do it)
2nd filter knocks out people who do not know the process – (I know how to do it.)
3rd filter knocks out hose who give up (Will get it done even if I die)

Do you believe the power to change your life is within you now?

Let me recap.
The power is within you. Recognize it. Make it your friend. Awaken it.
It comes with expectations. It comes with responsibility. You must take it.
It comes with growth and process orientation. It has to make a difference and achieve. Do it.
It comes with commitment. Commit for life.

You know you can handle anything. Your superpower will take care of everything.
Wishing you well.

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