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.

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

Life Changing Customer Service

As MMM Training Solutions conducts Customer Service Training we are often privileged to hear stories that are life changing thanks to one person who decided to serve another person beyond the expected. Here is one such story:

January 2006, it was a severe winter in the United Kingdom. There were spells of snow and rain combined with sleet showers. It was my friend, Vikram’s, first trip out of India. He was overawed by the hustle and bustle of London as he made his way to the famous London Tube station to go to Cardiff in South Wales.

It was the peak hour of a weekday and at the station the trains were spilling over with people. He was one of the last to get into the train and before he could pull in the second suitcase, the door closed.

The suitcase was left on the platform and train began to move. The panic set in and the fear of losing his valuables in a new place began to control his senses. He agonizingly saw his suitcase left in the platform as the train moved past it swiftly. It took him about 3 to 4 minutes to recover from the shock. As soon as this happened he realized he could get down in the next station and ask for help.

Vikram knew that any unattended baggage would be destroyed immediately due to security reasons and so he got down and informed one of the stewards of what happened and asked for help. While taking down the details of the baggage the steward noticed the tension on Vikram’s face so he gave him a seat and comforted him. Then Vikram had an agonizing wait for a status update.

The suspense lasted for about 15 minutes. A Lady walked up to him and asked him to identify his baggage she had. The lady, a steward from the previous station was extra courteous understanding Vikram’s anxiety. My friend was so happy and his joy knew no bounds when he was handed over the suitcase. He repeatedly thanked all the stewards.

The secret to success is to treat all customers as if your world revolves around them.” – Leadership Tools

What followed this incident was the exception. The tube train in which the steward traveled was still parked in the station waiting to leave. Vikram asked the steward if he could board the train. Much to his shock she said, “The train has been waiting for you to board all the while.”

Isn’t it important that we disregard limitations and go the extra mile to ensure that our customers have a positive life changing experience?

As far as customers are concerned you are the company. This is not a burden, but the core of your job. You hold in your hands the power to keep customers coming back – perhaps even to make or break the company.” Unknown

Here are some more blogs on soft skills training:

  1. Developing Creativity in Employees Through Outbound Training
  2. 4 Effective Ways To Manage Your Time
  3. Handling Difficult Conversations – A Leadership Essential

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

Customer Service – Going the extra mile

Our two year old daughter loves the pastries at the newly opened pastry shop. Their pastries were beyond doubt, the best and the customer service was remarkably good; kind service staff, with that endless, beaming smile and the smell of freshly baked bread as soon as you enter the doorway. I’d walk a mile just to taste their delightfully soft ‘melt in your mouth’ pastries. We visited them often as the shop didn’t provide home delivery for purchase values that were below a certain amount of money and our purchases were never of high value. However, the customer service staff would offer our daughter freebies like their special pastry of the day or would carry her around, with our permission of course, and let her play around. Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than what they expect to get.” – Nelson Boswell Over time, our visits became less frequent but the pastry guys were not willing to give up. Immaterial of the value of our purchase, we were offered home delivery at no extra charge. When we asked them why, they simply said, “We would love to have your daughter relish our pastries.” In due course of time we started getting discounts on our orders. We were grateful for their discounts and home delivery but we would have still gone back to them with or without the extras. We were impressed with the human touch they gave to their services, their core value of love and care through the customer service that they demonstrated. “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney Despite their irresistible pastries, their willingness to look beyond the revenue aspect and to provide selfless customer service earns them a special place in our hearts. Isn’t it great when the work culture of an organization is as good as their products and services? Customer Service Training helps you to understand that customer service is about the heart and not the mind. So focusing on customer service techniques does not create the impact as the person providing the service needs to feel it in their heart. Below are some of our recent blogs on Customer Service and Soft Skills Training:

  1. The Art of Giving Knock-Out Sales Presentations
  2. Selling Skills – Achieving Excellence Through Training
  3. The Cost of Clarity in Communication

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 is About Effective Handling of Change

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

Change is an inevitable part of life. But it is not easy to either change or to deal with change. There are two important factors for effective change: First, our perception of the situation and second, our attitude to embrace rather than resist the change. In short, change should first happen inside each one of us.

Let me narrate an interesting story…

It was Pete Gray’s dream to play baseball in the Yankee Stadium one day. At the age of twelve he was an excellent right-handed pony baseball player and represented his school in the game. And then one fateful day his dreams came crashing down…….

While doing chores on the family’s Pennsylvania farm, Pete slipped and fell off his father’s pickup truck. This completely crushed his right arm without which it was virtually impossible to play baseball. Anyone else would have given up their dreams but not young Pete!

The Adidas ad says, “Impossible is Nothing” – a slogan that Pete entirely embraced. He taught himself to bat, bowl and field with his left hand. His speed, strong throwing arm, and excellent athletic ability allowed Pete to perform this miracle quickly enough to be a solid, dependable outfielder.

Against all odds, by the 1944 season, the one-armed outfielder had a batting score of 333, stole 63 bases, and won the League’s Most Valuable Player award. Baseball fans were astounded!!!

One year later, in 1945, the one-armed outfielder, Pete, achieved his boyhood dream when his team, the Browns, played against the Yankees. The Browns defeated the Yankees, and Pete played a major role in his team’s victory.

As Robert E. Quinn rightly said, “One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”

Perhaps that is why Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see.”

Is Leadership About Following Your Heart?

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam summarized the essence of Leadership Training when he gave a regaling talk to an enthralled audience at a “Times Avenues” event on career options. [Kalam Tell Students To Follow Their Heart, Times of India – June 23rd, 2009]

Speaking in his typical anecdotal manner, Kalam doled out advice on issues ranging from current prospects for aeronautical engineering to the need for reform in appointment of primary school teachers.

The key point he made to the students was to follow their heart. It had the audience both amused and inspired.

I completely agree with Kalam’s viewpoint. Following one’s heart is the most vital ingredient of success to all that we do. It is possible to achieve both success and happiness by pursuing the kind of life, career or hobby that we are deeply interested in. Recounting episodes from his childhood, Kalam stressed that he was able to succeed in what he did because of his passion for what he did, that automatically tied to the will to succeed.

Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.
~ Shigenori Kameoka
(Director of the Japanese Shinto Moral Training Society)
You need to find your seed of success and nurture it to growth. There maybe instances when weeds threaten to hamper the growth of your dream, but you should remain steadfast and strong, not stopping until the goal is achieved.

So always remember to do something that is close to your heart. In doing so, there is no coercion, and all your energy is effortlessly harnessed towards achieving what you set out to achieve. This will lead to happiness and fulfillment in life.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
~ Confucius

This is the underlying theme of all the soft skills training programs that are run by MMM Training Solutions. None of this training will be useful or impactful unless each one of the participants nurture a strong desire to change.

Here are a list of blogs that we have published on various topics:

  1. Is Your Feedback Constructive?
  2. 3 Tips To Improve Creative Thinking
  3. Essentials of any Leadership Training Program