Creativity and Appetite for Risk – Is Jeff Bezos a fool or a leader?

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 thinking and 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.

Shifting Limiting Mindsets – A Leadership Essential

Shifting Limiting Mindsets – A Leadership Essential

“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 the focus 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

Thoughts and Destiny – Is there a connection?

Thoughts and Destiny – Is there a connection?MMM Training Solutions specializes in soft skills training and personality development courses. We strongly advocate that your thoughts drive your destiny. Most people are skeptical when we hear our stance but this quote from Gandhi gives more clarity than we can explain:

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Hence the focus of our personality development courses encourages you to first create self-awareness and identify areas of development. Often as leaders we expect others to change while we do not indulge in any self-enhancement. We advocate that the best leaders are the ones that can role model the behavior that they want to see in others.

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 crusade requires the leaders to be willing to explore uncharted territories and be confident to handle the challenges that erupt on the way. It requires the leaders to have the skills that are required to influence and gently persuade the team to choose these paths of growth and development. Hence our leadership programs often have a combination of soft skills training and personality development courses.

This is a story of a mother who took her son to a well-known sadhu because he was addicted to sweets. When the sadhu heard the problem he asked the mother to bring her son a week later for a healing session. The perplexed mother did as she was asked. A week later, before her son went in for the session, she asked the sadhu the reason for the week’s delay. The sadhu said that he loved sweets himself and sometimes tended to overindulge. He knew that he could not authentically advice the boy when his weakness loomed large. So during this week he gave up sweets and went through the whole experience of giving up something he loved. “Now I feel competent to advice your son,” concluded the sadhu. The astonished mother was left speechless by the authenticity displayed by the sadhu.

Leadership is about not only helping others to reach a higher destiny but one striving always to do the same. When one comes from a space of humility, we realize that we all are in a process of continuous change. This will help us to be more tolerant to the weaknesses of others. This revelation is what our training programs strive to inculcate.

Creating Leadership Readiness Through Animated Movies

 Where do the best learning’s take place – in schools? In colleges? At home? At work??

Well the best learning takes place in a movie hall – specially when we watch movies of the animated kind – have you ever noticed how these creatures we call animals so beautifully mirror thoughts, actions, behavior, attitudes and morals as recorded in different faiths – they are perfect teachers – from whom we can glean a wealth of insights on human behavior.

Animals for centuries have been used to depict life’s lessons and the inevitable truths in a magical way. For many decades now we have experiences this magic through animated films. These films inspire charm and teach in ways that live -people films, limited by shackles of reality, struggle to do.

Let’s talk about Cinderella – Once the magic of the fairy tale wears off what life lessons are we left with to ponder over?

Cinderella had a step mom who made the devil scurry home to finish his housework before he dared any devilry – what did she do about it? Did we ever hear her complain – not one whimper from those pretty lips. It is so commonplace to complain, lament and lash out at the world for our miseries – Cinderella was the epitome of quiet strength and beauty. Harsh treatment and harsher words did not deter her commitment to her responsibilities – heck she even made the most of her adversity by daring to dream.

Cinderella teaches us an invaluable lesson – persist with the cards life has dealt you with and you will find gold at the end of the rainbow. It also teaches us the priceless worth of forgiveness – Beauty is a treasure but graciousness is truly priceless. If she could forgive her step sisters and step mother at the end of the story, we can surely try to forgive to build and further relationships.

Persist..One day a prince will appear who will help us flourish into the princess we always were.

Lots of hard work, a little patience and the clock striking twelve will definitely not turn our carriage back into a pumpkin!

Leaders – How Clean is Your Window?

It was raining very heavily and the little restaurant where I was having dinner was very crowded. All the tables were occupied and some hungry customers were waiting for their turn. Some children were crying as they had to wait and the harassed waiters were hurrying to serve the diners.

Amidst all this confusion there was one waiter called Chandran who was serving everyone with a smile. His communication skills were fairly advanced. He was serving each customer according to their need, carefully listening to each order, checking his understanding and then executing the order. But Chandran’s smile was short lived as very soon there was a huge commotion at one end of the restaurant. One angry diner had flung his plate across the room and was screaming at him.

All eyes turned to that part of the room. It was surprising to see that Chandran was involved in this situation. As a regular diner I had always admired Chandran for his skill at customer service. Always polite and quick to serve the customers, he was indeed very popular with everyone. In fact he had also very recently received the “Employee of the Month” award from his employers. So what was going wrong?

The customer was actually accusing Chandran of physically assaulting his little son. The manager rushed to the spot and, after pacifying the customer, got to the bottom of the issue. Most of the people around also had seen Chandran drag the little boy across the room but what was Chandran’s version?

Then we came to the final truth. Unnoticed by the parents the little boy was playing with a fan that was kept nearby. As Chandran was passing by he noticed that the child was pushing his fingers dangerously close to the fan. Chandran quickly dragged him away from danger. A moment’s delay would have had dire consequences. Instead of thanking him these parents were shouting at him!

The attitude displayed in this situation reminded me of something that I had recently read:

“And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.” – Author Unknown

When we look through a dirty window the world outside looks dirty and when we clean the window and look through it, the world outside is a beautiful world. The window we look through is really the perception we have of people and situations.

If only those parents could clean their window and look at the situation. Instead of shouting at him they would be thanking him for saving their little boy!

“We see the world not as is but as we are. By improving, refining, and defining who we are, we see the world from the highest, most enlightened perspective”.

– Robin Sharma in Leadership Wisdom

Follow your heart – Courageous Leadership

On December 1, 1955, when a White person got into the bus, Rosa Parks, a 42 year old Black woman refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus and move to the back. Today the action seems simple but not in 1955, when black people were treated like slaves and second class citizens by the white people. This action created a major uproar and Rosa Parks was put in jail overnight. When in jail, she got up to get herself a glass of water and she was informed by the jail warden that the water fountain was only for white people. This was the straw that broke Rosa Parks’ back. She decided that she would do what it took, even at the risk of losing her own life, to attain liberty for Black people from this oppressive situation. She joined forces with Martin Luther King and was one of the key people responsible for the Civil Rights Movement which released the Black people to a life of freedom.

Now what would prompt a woman who was a seamstress in a local department store to take a brave stance of this magnitude? I think that she had a clear vision for success that was propelled by her passion. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” John Maxwell quotes.

What Rosa Parks did was not an act that was planned with a specific personal objective. In fact, what she did was spontaneous, triggered by her quest for equality and her rejection of racial discrimination. The loss of a job or even the loss of her life didn’t deter her from continuing her quest for equality. Leadership takes courage – courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and explore unknown territory. Rosa Parks did just that.

Are you willing to constantly challenge yourself to go beyond what you think you are capable of?

Follow your dreams!

Leadership – Sticking To Your Guns

Walt Disney needs no introduction. The famous founder of Mickey Mouse and co-founder of Walt Disney Productions was an influential thinker during his time. As a young boy, he developed a love and passion for drawing. The journey never stopped even after the setting up of the Walt Disney amusement park, where all his characters still enchant audience – young and old alike – even to this day.

Walt Disney was a man with high Emotional Intelligence – his strong leadership qualities were very pragmatic because of his understanding of the people around him. He believed that you should never stop dreaming, as it leads to the formation of new ideas and gives you a sense of purpose and direction. Though he suffered huge setbacks in his life, he had the courage to keep going on.

His story of struggle and success teaches us an important leadership lesson – leaders need to have the tenacity to chase a dream or goal. This is what will make a true leader stand apart. This person should be the motivating factor to urge his team on towards the finishing line. The leader should encourage others to make their dreams a reality.

“The key to happiness is having dreams. The key to success is making your dreams come true.” ~Anonymous

Living With Emotional Intelligence – Learning From The Mosquito

An important aspect of Emotional Intelligence is optimism. Here is an amusing story based upon positive thinking that I recently heard. I’m sure that it will help us understand that life becomes more beautiful and exciting when perceived from an optimistic perspective.

This is a story of a mosquito family. Like any other mosquito child of his age, the little mosquito of this particular story had to go to mosquito school. This was where he would learn how to fly and feed himself from the best available resource available to mosquito-kind – the humans.

After its graduation, the little mosquito left home on its first assignment. Its parents were excited and worried at the same time – their little one had grown up, and was about to take its first flight into the big world. The little mosquito calmed them saying that he would definitely return and share stories of his taste of success.

Time passed by. The little mosquito was gone for a while now, and his parents were beginning to get nervous. Just when they thought that all hope was lost, in he flew. He looked very happy, and was jubilantly smiling. His proud and relieved parents asked him, “How did you do it son? We’re so happy that the humans haven’t swatted you!”

To this the little mosquito replied, “Swat me? No way! I think they somehow came to find out that it was my first assignment. They were so happy to see me that they encouraged me throughout – by clapping hands and cheering me on!”

This humorous story brings out an important facet of life through the perspective of the little mosquito. Life is what you make out of it – you can choose to be happy and enjoy the journey and the challenges it brings; or you can choose to be pessimistic and appear downtrodden in your own eyes – seeing every hurdle as a mountain in your path, and ultimately having nothing to look back and be proud of.

We should lead life in an emotionally intelligent way, and ensure that we have something to look back at and be happy that we have done something, rather than wonder why we had not done the right thing when it was demanded of us.

Emotional Intelligence – The Seed You Sow For A Fantastic Life

In this blog post, I would like to help readers understand an important aspect of Emotional Intelligence – life is what you think it to be. Read on…

On May 29th, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak at 29,000 feet. In his book, High Adventure, Hillary mentions that he had to grow into this success: In 1952 he attempted to climb Mount Everest, but failed.

A few weeks later, a group in England asked him to address its members. Hillary walked on stage amidst thunderous applause. The audience was acknowledging an attempt at greatness, but Hillary saw himself as a failure.

He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform. He made a fist and pointed at a picture of the Mount Everest and said in a loud voice, “Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow… but I’m still growing!”

Such extreme achievements have a lot of physical, mental and emotional power involved. If Hillary would have given up, or relaxed after the first attempt, the world would not have known such a great mountaineer today; he is a man known for his sheer determination and grit – and I would like to see him as an individual who sowed the right seed that led to a great achievement.

This is an example of Emotional Intelligence that harbours many facets. Taking the right step is an important beginning that would chart out a better view of the challenges that you are faced with. So by thinking in the right way – optimistically – you pave the way for continued success in your life.

Emotional Intelligence – The Story Of Two Horses

Emotional Intelligence, today’s corporate buzzword, is a concept that is more concrete than abstract. When you open your eyes and start to think, there are a lot of instances, examples and anecdotes that will come to your mind with regards to it.
Here is an excerpt of a short story that I recently read that once again drives home the concept of Emotional Intelligence that is, or should be, at work in our life…

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it. From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you get a closer look you will notice something quite interesting…

One of the horses is blind.

His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made him a safe and comfortable barn to live in. If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. It comes from a smaller horse in the field. Attached to the horse’s halter is a small, copper-colored bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so that he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, he will stop occasionally to look back, making sure that the blind friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell..

– Author Unknown

The display of empathy and inspiration is common amongst animals as it is in man. Think of your personal and professional life up to date: there are a lot of instances where you don the role of the blind horse and other times when you become the horse with the bell.

The blind horse signifies the times when we needed to be inspired and motivated, just so that we realize and are reminded of our infinite potential and strength. Other times, we become the horse with the bell – that is, the source of inspiration and motivation to guide others so that they can find their way through, and achieve what they are capable of.

In a nutshell, what more can Emotional Intelligence mean, when applied to our lives?