And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own hometown.” – Luke 4:24
Let me explain the reason why this verse from the Bible has left an indelible mark on my life.
Jesus performed the least number of miracles in his own hometown. When he conducted meetings and the lame were healed, the blind saw, the deaf heard and the dead rose. The audience marveled at His abilities and did not doubt that He was the Son of God and that He is ‘extra-ordinary’. Then someone said, “Is he not the carpenter’s son?” Upon hearing this, they swiftly lowered Him from the extra-ordinary to the ordinary! The wonder turned to skepticism and the belief turned to doubt thereby hindering the manifestation of the miracles.
We are leadership coaches who are endowed with the responsibility to see the extra-ordinary in the ordinary and to see the super-natural in the natural. But so often we hold people imprisoned to the picture we have drawn of them and we are unable to lure them to the realm of possibilities.
I wonder if the Wright brothers would have created a functional airplane or if Edison would have persisted till the bulb emitted light if they had relied on the leading of such leadership coaches? The ability of a coach to look at a new day as a fresh canvas filled with opportunities and disconnected from the pictures of yesterday is what enables the coachees to connect to the infinite! The executive coaches that have the rare and uncanny ability for painting a fresh depiction in each encounter are the ones that enable the manifestation of the super-natural from the natural and the extra-ordinary from the ordinary.
“Visionaries see the “impossible” as the inevitable.” – Robin Sharma
As I read about the octocopter drones in the newspaper yesterday morning, I thought I was watching a science fiction movie in my dream. After pinching myself to reality, I raced to the Internet and watched Jeff Bezos of Amazon being interviewed on 60 minutes.
I was entranced by the octocopter but even more mesmerized by Jeff Bezos who has the courage to take such a huge risk. Bezos stated that the time between receiving the request from the customer and delivering the product to the customer is shortening everyday and if the innovations are not targeted in this area, the business dies. In his quest to keep his business fresh and listening to the voice of the customer, he has revealed that Amazon has invested in the research and development of the octocopter which is a GPRS driven electrical device that will deliver packages (of maximum weight of 5 pounds) within a 10-mile radius in a window of 30 minutes. The description of ‘fast’ needs to be rewritten in the dictionary!
“A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”― Albert Einstein
As a leadership trainer, people who push the limit and are willing to take the fall always fascinate me. Managers who are conservative and cautious are becoming obsolete in today’s market. The ability to explore unexplored paths and make imagination a reality are core competencies of a leader today. In the 19th century, business encouraged people to be risk-averse but today people have to risk-hungry. Situations that are risky are seen as an opportunity for creative thinkingand growth.
Corporates that focus on leadership development should be asking themselves some key questions – Are we encouraging creativity, innovation and risk-taking in our people? Are we rewarding these qualities and is it a part of performance management? Are we talking about these qualities only for the top management or are we creating this environment for people as soon as they join the company?
The leadership programs conducted by MMM Training Solutions focuses on the core competencies of a leader that are essential for success in the 21st century. Some of the distinguishing features of our program are – duration of 3 to 6 months, combination of individual coaching and group training and individual assignments that help the participants to put the learning into practice.
‘I’ve had my ups and downs,’ he says. ‘My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics and a mindset to master the most epic of splits.’ – Jean-Claude Van Damme
Volvo released a commercial ‘The Epic Split’ on Nov 14th, 2013, in which Jean Claude does an amazing feat – does a split between two Volvo trucks. The commercial brings out the precision of the Volvo trucks with perfect clarity. But to me, as an Executive Coach, what was even more fascinating is the feat done by Jean Claude.
As I studied about his life, the two values that he embraced from age 11 were Consistency and Courage. At the age of 11, his father took Jean Claude for martial arts lessons because he was physically weak. At the age of 15, Van Damme started his competitive karate career in Belgium. From 1976-1980, Van Damme compiled a record of 44 victories and 4 defeats in matches.The application and dedication to the sport has contributed significantly to an enviable Hollywood film career for him.
Jean-Claude has struggled with substance abuse and mental illness for a significant period in his life. He had reached a point when he had strong suicidal tendencies. 1997 was a turning point in his life when started to pull things back to normalcy in his life.
As I read about Jean Claude’s life, I was impressed with the way he kept his singular focus on martial arts through his difficult times. This focus gave him the ability to deal with the other circumstances.
As leaders, do you have a purpose, which gives you direction in your life? “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” Rudder is the smallest part of a ship without which a ship is directionless. It takes courage to have a purpose and even more courage to hold on to this purpose through challenging times by consistently altering our mindsets. May we have more leaders like Jean-Claude!
“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit
At the age of 26 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating and progressive neurological disorder. By age 42 I had to use a wheelchair. The first few years of my life in a wheelchair were an absolute misery. I felt less than other people; I felt that I could not compete in the real world; I felt that my life had come to an end. I was bitter, angry and resentful. I was exhausted and sick.There was nothing that could help me to see the brighter side of life. I saw the wheelchair as a curse.
One significant day in my life, I was having a conversation with my father. I cried to him about the way my life had changed and wept about my stagnancy. My father was a quiet man of very few words. He did not have many motivational conversations with people as he always saw facts and not possibilities. But on this day he saw the possibility that changed my life; he said, “If President Roosevelt could rule America for 12 years in a wheelchair, what is stopping you?” I am not sure that it was earth shattering when he said it but as the days went by it permeated every cell in my being and I went from being in bed for 22 hours in a day to where I am today – traveling the world by myself in a wheelchair doing the work I love. I am an Executive Coach and a Leadership Trainer. I started MMM Training Solutions from my bed 8 years ago and today we have an enviable client list.
The wheelchair I once saw as a curse I now started to see as a blessing. Nothing had changed except my thinking. I moved from a Victim Mindset to a Creator Mindset.
There are two primary mindsets that we can all identify with – the first one is the Victim Mindset where a person with this mindset constantly feels victimized by his circumstances, his work pressures, his boss, his family – just about everyone and everything in his life. The victim mentality sucks the life out of innovative energy and has an excuse for every situation. Victims are addicted to complaining. They spread negative energy and want others to take on the same victim mentality that they are attached to.
The second one is the Creator Mindset where the mind is constantly looking for possibilities and has a single-minded devotion, diligence and dedication to what it wants to achieve. Such people are energized by challenges as they welcome the learning that they get from it.
The fundamental difference between these two types of mindsets is on where the person places their attention & focus:
For victims thefocus is on what they don’t want.People who see themselves as victims feel victimized by everything – the economy, the pollution, lack of time, an illness in the family, a bad childhood…the list just goes on and on and on. Such people rarely rise to new heights in their organization. Most successful leaders have looked into the mirror, recognized a victim mindset, taken steps to shift theirs to a creator mindset and have gone on reach dizzying heights in their personal and professional lives.
Creators place their focus on what they do want.They ask the questions – “What outcome do I want? How do I get there?” Their goals, targets and purposes are crystal clear. They do not leave this to memory but they write it in significant places, they talk to significant people about it and plan their life around it. This helps them to push through all the vicissitudes of life with their eye on the goal. This is the only mindset of leaders.
“Limitations can only be true as long as we believe them. Believe in yourself instead. Amazing things will happen.” Doe Zantamata
Recently I was running a leadership development program for a group of branch managers of a public sector bank. Repeated requests to turn off or put their cell phones on silent fell on deaf ears. As the session progressed one the issues that quite a few participants voiced was that it was hard to handle generation Y. They said that the new generation had very little respect for the seniors. At this point I asked the participants this question, “I have asked you many times to put your mobile phones on silent and you have not respected my wishes. Is it possible to get the respect of others when you are not doing the same?” There was pregnant silence.
What is leadership training and development about? It is about choosing to live the life that others desire to follow. It is about being authentic and creating the desire in others to live in this authenticity. It is about embracing a life of values and these values being displayed in the smallest of your actions. Is this easy to do? Of course not! But living the life of a warrior is difficult but the life of a coward is decidedly easier. A life of mediocrity is simpler than a life of excellence. What are you choosing? What are you doing to stay on this path of continuous improvement?
Problem Solving Training, Communication Training and Team Building Training– these are buzz words in developing leaders in the training industry. But my point of view is that unless one decides to embark on a path of self-awareness and continuous development none of these trainings will have the desired effect.
Michelangelo who sculpted ‘David’ – a 17 foot robust statue sculpted out of one block of marble with only a chisel and a hammer – had this to say when he was asked how he was able to make such a perfect piece, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
As managers, you are the sculptors who have to see the David in each one of your team members. You have to see their inherent potential, which even they are not aware of and awaken it to be productive. How can you carry this colossal responsibility if you do not live your life authentically?
Hence, I would like to conclude this blog by hoping that you have seen the wisdom in making a decision to be the leader that your people would desire to emulate. Personal developmentis the focus of the Leadership Training programs that are conducted by MMM Training Solutions.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nelson Mandela’s life is perfect story of authenticity………..
Mandela spent the best years of his life in prison. When he was released from prison he rose to the highest level becoming the President of the country. What a wonderful opportunity to take revenge on the people who imprisoned him because he demanded equality! But instead of taking revenge he displayed forgiveness and the first act of his presidency was to support the ‘all white’ rugby team to win in the world cup. This win was a much needed morale booster for the country. Color did not matter to Mandela; people mattered.
This is a powerful example of the power of authenticity as Mandela did what he expected others to do if they needed to leave the past behind and move forward as a nation.Being an Executive Coach I am constantly challenging myself in this area.
Recently I ran a leadership training session with a co-facilitator, Maria (this is a fictitious name). One of the topics that we were training on was ‘Conducting Performance Appraisals’ – as a leader how can you give empowering feedback to your team about their performance.
In this article I would like to reflect upon a short incident that happened during the session. I want to say upfront that I do not want to insinuate that I am perfect. It so happens that in this one incident the spotlight is on the other trainer.
We were working with a group of 60 people. Prior to the start of the session we talked about how each of us would like to run our sessions. One of the requests I had was that when I am facilitating I would not like to be interrupted by the other facilitator. The lead facilitator should hold the major space and the supporting facilitator only comes in if there is something very important. We both agreed to honor this expectation.
Maria opened the session and I played the agreed role of the supporting facilitator. In the next session I was the lead facilitator. I was winding down my interaction when Maria stepped in and took over the session. We then announced a 15 minute break. As the participants were leaving Maria turned to me and said, “I think the way you handled the session stifled the sharing and the energy in the group.” I felt that someone had knocked the wind out of my sail. All my excitement and exhilaration suddenly vanished.
Maria was oblivious of the impact that her words had on me. She continued to get ready for the next session and put up the power point slide titled ‘Proactive Language vs Reactive Language’. I could not help notice the irony in the situation – she was going to train the leaders on the importance of using Proactive Language (and avoiding Reactive Language), while giving feedback, when she had just used Reactive Language to me.
I took a few minutes to gather my thoughts and then, pointing to the slide, I told Maria, “I wished you had used proactive rather than reactive language”. I also informed her that I did not feel that she kept her commitment of giving me the space as the lead facilitator.
She was very upset with me and said that she felt stifled if she did not speak whenever she felt the need to. A couple of days later she informed the co-coordinator of the network that she did not work with me anymore as my style was not comfortable for her. I was devastated. I hoped that we could have worked it out. We are leadership trainers who encourage people to climb mountains and not go around them.
The word authenticity came to mind…………….
As a leadership coach Maria is training leaders to treat each member of their team based on their individual style and needs. However, she has decided not to work with me because my style caused her discomfort.
As a leadership coach Maria is training leaders to give feedback by asking questions and intently listening so that the situation can be understood from all perspectives. In other words, the feedback should be based on facts rather than feelings. This makes it proactive and not reactive. Was her feedback to me reactive?
“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The critical question for me is, “Can we be effective as a trainer in an area where we have not mastered ourselves?” I agree that we are all on a journey of continuous improvement but does walking away indicate that we feel that we have reached the destination or we are not interested in continuing our difficulty journey?
“When we are dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie
Executive Coaching is a privilege that only senior management of companies are privy to. Hence their ability to impact people is a key focus area of the coaching. Presentations are an everyday activity for these people and their ability to create an impact during these presentations are critical. Hence Presentation Training is a key focus during Executive Coaching.
During the Presentation Training the attention is on three areas: Preparation, Design and Delivery. Of these three areas, the one that is deemed most important by MMM is Preparation.
“The commander must decide how he will fight the battle before it begins. He must then decide who he will use the military effort at his disposal to force the battle to swing the way he wishes it to go; he must make the enemy dance to his tune from the beginning and not vice versa.” – Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
The success of a presentation is purely dependent on the extent of the preparation. This includes understanding the audience, defining the objectives with the stakeholders, planning the duration, practicing the presentation in front of a mirror and observing ones body language, preparing for the uncertainties and most of all being passionate and knowledgeable about the subject. Hence these are our focus areas during the Executive Coaching.
The success experienced by our coaches has provoked us to include in our leadership programs for middle management also. The effectiveness of the presentations of senior management has raised the bar in the organization. This together with the global nature of multi national companies has impelled us to augment our focus on enhancing presentations.
Presentation training has become an integral part of personality development courses, these days. Delivering presentations form a vital part of a business process and can never be deleted from the same. All kinds of professions require sharing knowledge and also keeping different teams well informed about the status of various kinds of projects that have been undertaken by the company or business house. The better a person is at giving presentations, the chances of their career enhancement increases dramatically. But, many people perform poorly while delivering a presentation because of the lack of skills and confidence that it requires. Mastering the art of delivering effective business presentation requires significant knowledge, guidance and practice. Presentation skills training helps to face and conquer all fears related to speaking in public and make you emerge as a confident speaker, who conveys ideas effectively and captivate the audience. Training programs that also provide individual coaching are the most effective as ongoing guidance is a critical component contributing to the success. So, if you want to swap from being an anxious speaker to a captivating speaker, then enrolling for a presentation training program will be imperative.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker
The Executive Training and Managerial Training conducted by MMM focuses on transforming managers into leaders. Often the words managers and leaders are used synonymously but there is a world of difference between the two. Henry Kissinger put it very aptly when he said, “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” This seamless movement requires the leaders to be willing to explore unexplored territories and be comfortable with the uncertainties encountered on the way. It requires for the leaders to be able to ask questions and enable their team members to discover the answers that surprise them with the results as people are more amenable to being led rather than being driven.
“The only real training for leadership is leadership.” – A. Jay
The focus of our Executive Training and Managerial Training programs is on helping the managers to understand that in order for them to earn the role of a leader that others desire to emulate, they need to be a role model. In other words, they need to be the leader that does the things that he/she wants other to do. They need to live a life in which they follow the same principles in both their professional as well as personal lives. This all-encompassing passion is what impacts and changes lives.
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight Eisenhower
In the movie ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ one of the characters wrote the word ‘Happiness’ on the wall but spelt it as ‘Happyness’. When questioned about using Y instead of I, he said that there should be no ‘I’ in Happyness there only should a ‘Y’. It took me a while to get the deeper meaning to the statement. After dwelling upon this for a while, I also agree that there should only be a ‘Y’. ‘Why is it so?’ I am sure you would wonder. Read on…………
Well let’s admit that there are metrics to measure just about every aspect of our lives – our money, our well being – physical health, emotional health, our success, economic security and now I’m told research and science is just a step away from measuring our life span as well.
Which brings me to a question – why are we scampering to collect metrics on these aspects? Does this indicate how happy we will be when we collate the information? Why do we need what we need – home, money, family, security, health?
A realization hit me one morning a few weeks ago as I was travelling to work – I had metrics to measure all the above aspects while I lacked any framework on measuring the single most powerful driving force – the desire to be happy.
Did I have reasons to be happy? I sure did – I was a facilitator – cannot imagine doing anything else for a living; I had friends, family and my health….
Then I started to ponder about the ‘Ys’ or ‘Whys’………..Why then was I snapping at the same people who I care about so deeply once too often? Why was getting dejected at the slightest setback-professional or personal? Why was I losing my temper too often and too easily? Is that how a happy person should react?
I thought long and thought hard and realized that if I could figure out the ‘Ys’ I could increase my feeling of happiness. Here are some of the changes I made in my life which resulted in me being a happier person:
Eat and sleep in time – science has enough evidence to prove this affects how happy we can be.
Hold on to your anger – Every irritation does not have to be aired as soon as you start to sense it – this only adds to bad feelings. Allow your irritation to dissipate a little and might be that as time passes you might feel that you need not air it at all.
Enjoy the fun of failure – People who are happy are the ones who dared to do things differently. As Shiv Khera says "Successful peopledon’t do different things, they do things differently.” Challenge yourself to learn and explore. Failure and success are mere byproducts – the satisfaction of having tried has no equal.
Money can buy happiness – Using your money to be closer to your loved ones, to buy products that will increase your efficiency and productivity – the list could be endless. Go ahead splurge wisely and make others and yourself happy.
Exercise to be happy – there is enough evidence to prove that even a ten minute walk can boost your mental and psychological health.
Let the second best be good enough – In life it may not be always possible to get the best – no point in fretting over choices available or choices made.
Give a thing only as much importance as it deserves – this is entirely from your life’s perspective and never from anyone else’s.
Act – Reflect on what will make you happier and take concrete steps to get closer to whatever makes you happy
This won’t take forever to garner and it is totally worth it!