Saturday, November 30, 2013

Achrekar's Coins - Two Great Lessons for Teachers, Managers and Mentors

That Ramakant Achrekar was a good coach is obvious and it sinks in every day. Take these two stories - one of his coins and the second of not ever having told his protégée 'well played' in all these years.

Achrekar's Coins - Challenge Them to Get Their Best
Achrekar's coins have now become folklore and occupy pride of place in Sachin Tendulkar's collectibles which include a guitar from Mark Knopfler, signed gloves from Mohammed Ali, signed bat from Don Bradman among others. The story behind the coins is this. Achrekar would place a coin on the top of the stumps when Sachin was batting (or any batsman in those nets I'd reckon) and challenge him. If the batsman does not get out, the coin is his.

He earns the coin.

Challenge is the key to make anything interesting and drawing the best of anyone. And Achrekar's wonderful understanding of human nature made him challenge his wards by this simple challenge. If you're so good, hold your own. Earn that coin! It is a wonderful way to build concentration, to draw the best out of the trainees - batsmen and bowlers alike. How many coaches have the sense, the understanding and the security to be able to quietly challenge the wards with such simple tasks and draw the best out of them? Great lesson for all aspiring coaches, mentors, managers etc. Use your creativity and challenge the team, the individual.
That will keep them working at it.

No Praise - Keep Them Hungry
Another wonderful lesson that Achrekar taught with his superb man management skills is this - he never praised his protégée even when he was so far gone. The whole world can say you are the greatest but you always crave to hear it from those who matter - the coach, the sibling, the father. They are your harshest critics, they know you well, inside and out. The smart mentor looks at the effort and says 'good effort' and that is about it. He does not singing high praises because they create a ceiling. Praise has that effect - of creating a false ceiling leaving nothing more to explore. And a true mentor wants his wards to go higher and higher, to never be satisfied, and stay hungry always.

If there were two lessons to learn for any man manager these two stories can do wonders to get your people to perform at their best and to keep at it forever.

The first is about introducing a personal challenge that is dubiously simple and keeping that going everyday so it improves skill, concentration and aids purposeful growth-oriented performance. The second is to keep the person in a state of dissatisfaction always with a so-what?- you did a fair-job-but-you've-still-not been-perfect-yet.

I am looking out for more such stuff from this wonderful coach of men and their minds.

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