Effective Leadership & Power of Choice – Voting

As India votes in the Lok Sabha Elections 2014, here are some important lessons about the way we as leaders can choose to view critical life situations.

An incident that happened today reminded me of a key principle that should be a part of every Leadership Training Program. I was on my way to exercise my right to vote for the Lok Sabha elections this morning, I met the Garbage Collector of our colony. He was earlier than usual. My neighbor asked him “Why so early today?” He replied. “Well, I have to go and cast my vote. So, I am finishing my responsibilities as early as I can so that I can go and vote.”

It made me proud to hear this. Around me today democracy is alive. It is displayed by empowered people exercising their right to vote. From neighbours to friends to colleagues and even domestic help. Almost everyone I have met today seemed thrilled to vote.

This reminded me of the amazing ‘Power of Choice’. While circumstances are often not in our control, we can choose our responses to them.

With a vote, we have the power to choose our future leaders.  Similarly, we have the power to choose our responses in a given situation. We may get criticized. We have the power to choose to let it bog us down or learn from it. We will face challenges. We have the choice of letting it deter us, or turning them into opportunities for growth. We will have situations that cause anger. We have the power to choose between ‘being angry’ and ‘channeling that anger’ into productive energy.

One of the most amazing gifts that we have is that we can choose our mindset in any given situation. An interesting example of this happened very recently in a training session I conducted. The session was being held on a Saturday, which was normally a ‘day off’ for the participants. Their collective energy was very low, at the start of the session. Most of them wore a look on their face that said ‘I would rather be somewhere else’. I knew I had to do something different.

I said “We have a choice. We can choose to brood about all the things we would rather be doing today. Or, we can acknowledge that we are here for learning and choose to make this a day where we enjoy ourselves and the process of learning that we have been given the opportunity to embark on.” Immediately, I saw a smile on all their faces. They had recognized that there is an opportunity for choice in the situation. I then asked, “Who is ready to take this learning journey with me today?” Everyone sat upright and put their hands up. There was an immediate shift in energy in the room and the rest of the session went well.

This is something that we focus on in Leadership development programs. This could also be an interesting talking point for Leadership training in India.

The power to choose is a blessing. India fought for its freedom to allow for its citizens to have the freedom of choice. Martin Luther King fought for equal voting rights for Americans from varied ethnic backgrounds. This power is not to be taken lightly. It comes with responsibility. Research the candidates, read the political party’s manifesto and then cast your vote. When making a choice to vote, make it an informed choice. Let us make a choice to have Effective Leadership.

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.” – Larry J. Sabato

3 Ways to Motivate Yourself – Yuvraj Singh’s Life Lessons

3 Ways to Motivate Yourself – Yuvraj Singh’s Life Lessons

What is going through the mind of Yuvraj Singh just now? His performance was called the ‘Dementor’s Kiss’ that sucked the life out of India’s game in the World Cup final. He has been accused of being one of the chief contributors to India’s loss to Sri Lanka in the final.

While support for Yuvraj Singh has come from different people like:

MS Dhoni (his Captain): “ Yuvi tried his best, it was an off day for him, at the same time it is not easy for a batsman to go out there and start slogging.

– Yograj Singh (his father) : “Yuvraj should not be singled out”

Sachin Tendulkar (former team-mate): Last Evening, Yuvi had a tough day and he can be criticized. But he should not be crucified nor should he be written off.

Harbhajan Singh (former team-mates):

– Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah tweeted: 

Some have even gone to the extent of saying that the opposition was celebrating him as one of their heroes. Yuvraj jokes are trending on social media:


 and reports also say that his house has allegedly been stoned by frustrated fans.

What is going through his mind just now?

Have you ever had a bad day? Have you ever made a bad mistake? Have you been through tough times when nothing was going right for you? I think we all know that at some stage in our lives, the answer to these questions has been ‘yes’. What went through our minds then? I, for one, found it very easy to slip into a ‘victim’ mindset. I thought that I was the product of my circumstances and that the world was conspiring against me. It would be very easy for Yuvraj Singh or anyone else to fall into a defeatist attitude when they make mistakes. 

How good are your Motivation Skills?

When we conduct employee Motivation Skills Training  there are 3 ways to self-motivation that we would recommend you do to handle challenging situations and get into the mode of ‘Living Strong’:

  1. Accept yourself: No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Is it important to be self-critical? Yes. Is it important to reflect? Yes. But it is also important that you accept yourself. People can only be there for you, but they cannot walk in your shoes. Accepting yourself and tuning into your inner being is the first step to making a comeback from a challenging situation. Yuvraj Singh will need to do this (if he hasn’t already). So do countless others who face challenges every day.
  2. Believe in yourself: It is especially important to do this in times when no one else believes in you. It is important to focus on your positives. Past achievements and milestones come in handy to remind you of the goodness and capabilities that lie within you. Just a few days before the T20 world cup final, Yuvraj Singh had played a match winning innings against Australia. He also has the ability to break world records, as was evident from him hitting 6 consecutive sixes in an amazing display of talent.  He will need to remember those moments and rediscover his self-belief. It is also important for us to reflect on such moments in our lives and understand what we did right to rediscover the mental strength and self- belief that guided us through those moments successfully. 
  3. Push Yourself: Failures and challenges are some of our greatest teachers in life. Pushing past them is what gives us growth and builds character. Yuvraj Singh pushed past criticism and failure to help India achieve success in the cricket world cup in 2011. He was then diagnosed with cancer. He pushed past that. There was a long road to recovery. He pushed past that. It was challenging to make it back to the team. He pushed past that. Once back in the team, his fitness was questioned and he was dropped again. He pushed past that and regained fitness and his place in the team. He now faces another challenge. One that will test his mental strength. I have no doubt that he will push past this too. In everyday life, we all face those moments when were are tired, mentally fatigued and feel like things are not going our way. We need to push our minds to get past it. In our Motivation skills Training we talk about ways to keep pushing ourselves every day. Because when we do, we transform ourselves into higher beings, constantly striving for excellence.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

  • – Nelson Mandela






Can ‘Tough’ Feedback Make You ‘Tougher’?

Lizzie Velasquez started her talk by saying that she was called the ‘ugliest woman in the world’. She also said that someone wrote an online comment about her asking her to ‘Do the world a favour and put a gun to her head’. Imagine what it must have felt like to be Lizzie at that very moment.

She then said something that revealed the strength of her character. She said that she chose to take those negative comments and let them fuel her rather than dishearten her. She chose to define herself the way she wanted to be, and not by the perception of others. Hers is a truly powerful story.

So, what lessons can we take away from her life experience. I think the power of choice is one of the greatest gifts that a lot of us have today. The power to choose our response to a situation. The power to choose how we want to ‘define’ ourselves. The power to choose who we want to be.

When I first failed in making a presentation in front of a group, I also had negative thoughts. I had people smile at my misfortune. For a while, I defined myself by my negativity and said that “I am not going to do this again”.

Fortunately, something in me ‘clicked’ and I chose to overcome this challenge. I took my fear of public speaking and used it to drive me, to change the way I made presentations. I consciously put myself in positions where I would need to present in front of an audience. I wanted to turn this ‘tough’ feedback into fuel for positivity.

It helped me overcome my fears and I ended up making a career out of it.

The questions I would like you to reflect on as readers is ‘Do I want to be ‘tough’ on myself?’ ‘Do I want to seek criticial feedback?’ ‘Do I want to turn the criticism into a driving force that will fuel my growth?’

Criticism is simply a matter of perception. Although, Lizzie was called ‘ugly’ she embraced the beauty that was inside her. Today, we see the beauty that she embodies and the strength of her will, because that is how she chooses to see herself and, as a result that is what we see too.

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly” – Lao Tzu, a key wisdom that MMM Training Solutions uses in leadership training.

Sachin Tendulkar – The Epitome of Self-Leadership

While the world bids adieu to one of the greatest stars of world cricket, it is hard to stay away from the emotion of it all. I grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar. I enjoyed watching him play. However, to us, he represented something more than a talented cricketer- he represented ‘hope’. When he was at the crease, anything was possible – a valuable leadership lesson. A leader needs to make his team believe, that no matter what the odds, every challenge is an opportunity. A leader needs to be able to shift limiting mindsets.

A friend of mine who had watched Sachin at a cricket camp when recovering from a ‘tennis elbow’ injury, remarked at how focused he was in doing the exercises that the physiotherapist had recommended. He would perform the same exercise for hours on end just to ensure he recovered faster. At that time the doctors were unclear if he could recover from this severe injury. However, Sachin did not focus on the opinion of the doctors but focused on his ‘knowing’ that he would recover. His undying courage and positive belief  turned his ‘knowing’ into reality.

Sachin constantly strived for excellence as was seen by the hours of practice and his ability to never resting on his past laurels – a leadership lesson that Sachin has effectively taught us. This unique capability is something that I constantly talk about in our sessions on effective leadership skills training

As I watched his final innings it was not his stroke-play that caught my attention (although it was as good as ever), it was a moment at the end of the first day of his 200th test match. He was not out at the end of the day and as he was returning to the pavilion, he paused and waited for his batting partner (a much more junior cricketer) and walked back with him. Although, the whole world had its eyes on him, he showed respect for his fellow cricketer – a strong character trait of Sachin Tendulkar, the sportsman. Sachin Tendulkar’s heartfelt final speech in which he paid his respects to his family, friends, supporters and well-wishers showed how much he valued the people ‘behind the scenes’ who enabled his success. His message to his teammates was about valuing the opportunity of playing for the country and respecting the game.

As he paid his respects to the cricket pitch and walked back leaving his footprints in the sands of time, his messages to the world are an age-old formula that form the essentials of leadership skills and self-leadership that we, at MMM Training Solutions , believe in – Respect your fellow-men, strive for excellence and always, always – ‘believe’.

Understanding Empathy: Lessons from Cyclone Phailin

“My shop has been badly damaged in the showers and the wind, but I had promised my customers I would serve them food from today itself. Hence, I have opened my shop,” stated Rahul Kant, an entrepreneur, one day after Cyclone Phailin. Rahul runs a south Indian eatery on the beach in Gopalpur, which was the epicenter of the cyclone.

I was amazed to hear about the attitude and commitment of this man who wanted to open his shop a day after a major cyclone had struck.

As a training consultant, I am always asked the question, “Can you provide a training program on ‘Fostering Ownership’?” Sounds easy on the surface, however, we all know that one training program is not enough to do so. Ownership and Accountability are what we term assoft skills, which, put simply, are the skills paramount for effectual interpersonal relationships.

Where does ownership come from? I keep looking at the statement made by Rahul Kant and I ask myself the question – “What within him is driving him to overlook his safety and focus on the needs of others and open his store to provide food for his community?” I think the answer is empathy, a soft skill that is a key part of Emotional Intelligence. Empathy helped him to prioritize the ‘need of his community’. Empathy enabled him to take ownership for the recovery of his people.

I believe the key to fostering ownership is giving people a cause to believe in. One that is bigger than themselves, and connecting it to how they play a role in contributing to that cause i.e. the ‘bigger picture’. This clearly explains why enhancing soft skills is a major focus of leadership programs today. The ability of a leader to see the bigger clarity and lead his/her people there is imperative to the success of an organization.

The cyclone Phailin that hit Orissa in India brought out some wonderful examples of people suspending their personal agendas and working together to contribute to the ‘bigger picture’. The Hindustan Times reported that 30,000 electricity workers in state of Andhra Pradesh, who had been on a strike to protest the division of the state (the Telengana issue), came back to work to deal with the emergency situation. Rediff.com also reported that Hindu and Muslim communities in Orissa joined together in offering prayers for the safety of the people of the state.

There is nothing better to bind people together than a common goal. The disaster prevention efforts for Cyclone Phailin have been termed a success because everyone saw the ‘bigger picture’ and took ownership to make a contribution in the roles that they could play. I believe the key in corporate business is the same. People need to see the ‘bigger picture’. That is why in leadership training programs today, leaders are encouraged to answer these questions:

• What is the ‘bigger picture’ that our organisation is contributing towards?
• How do we enable employees to understand the ‘bigger picture’ and their contribution towards it?
• How do we connect their ‘inner picture’ to the ‘bigger picture’ of our organisation?

Cyclone Phailin has left a lot of devastation in its wake but it has also given us the opportunity to witness the goodness and courage in people like Rahul Kant. I am proud to be an Indian!

The Pursuit of ‘Goodness’ – Is It A Choice?

Things that are bad for you seduce you easily; you run towards them impatiently. But things that are actually good for you fail to attract you; you shun them creatively, finding powerful excuses to justify your procrastination…”

– Mythical character ‘Raavan’ as quoted by mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik in the Times (Times Life, July 4th 2010)

I cannot but agree with king Raavan as far as the above quote is concerned. Many times in my life I have been seduced by what was not good for me. Be it that tasty fried dish, that extra hour spent watching television instead of going to bed, lying about something so as not to lose face and all the other pleasures of materialism that come with being human.

A number of times I have shunned what was good for me – the cleaning up of a room, the exercise that I always wanted to get but never seemed to make the time for, the vegetables that were lovingly kept on my plate, being bold enough to swallow my pride and take responsibility.

How do I rise above this? How do I chase after what is good for me with a greater interest than what I show to all that is material?

The only answer I have found is ‘shifting my intentions’. Choosing to do the ‘good’ things; the ‘right’ things. I chose to eat more vegetables. I chose to take more responsibility. I chose the good. Surprisingly, it was not as hard as I thought it would be. It was by no means an overnight process but the power of a determined mind can take one to levels that a strong body cannot.

Good and bad exist within all of us. I believe that what you give power to (the good or the bad) is what will determine your path in life. Today, ‘goodness’ is something that I chase after. Today, the ‘truth’ is something that I constantly chase after. The challenge is separating the ‘truth’ from ‘subjective truth’. It is an arduous journey, yet one that I believe is the path of higher learning.

As an person who conducts extensive amount of both executive coaching and leadership training, I strongly believe that it is this path that will allow me to be a candle that will spark the learning of those around me.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…”

“…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Mariam Williamson (Spiritual activist and author)

Below are some of our blogs that have been well received by our readers:

  1. What It Takes To Develop The Leader In You
  2. Creativity and Appetite for Risk – Is Jeff Bezos a fool or a leader?
  3. Sachin Tendulkar – The Epitome of Self-Leadership