We grew up reading fascinating fairy tales. It encouraged us to dream. We just had to close our eyes and the prince and princesses became real; castles came to life; magic wands made wishes come true; there was always victory of the good over evil; witches failed; goodness prevailed. We could listen to the same story everyday and still experience the surprise and the feeling of relief when ‘they lived happily ever after’. Fairy tales use the powerful tool of imagination and visualization. But as we grew older we lost this fascination. Why? Because we became logical beings subject to rational thinking, devoid of imagination.
Florence Chadwick was the first woman ever to swim across the English Channel twice both ways. When she first tried to swim the twenty-six miles between Catalina Island and the California Coastline, she had to give up as heavy fog set in. Two months later, she tried the same and completed it successfully, in spite of facing the same challenge of impermeable fog. So what was different this time? During the two months before her second attempt, she spent hours visualizing the image of effortlessly swimming through the dense fog with her eyes focused only on the shoreline. The hours spent in this repeated visualization gave her the capability to face a situation that had now become familiar to her.
Creative visualization uses the power of the mind as it trains our sub conscious to strive to make our images a reality. Transform the visualizations to pen and paper, and bingo! You have a double guarantee of giving life to all your goals. A natural power given to us that does supernatural wonders!
“If you want to reach a goal, you must see the reaching in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.” – Zig Ziglar
Leaders are people who are able to keep their teams on track and highly motivated up until the goal in achieved and beyond. With dreams getting bigger, goals getting tougher, competition getting tighter and the platform getting more globalized, the need for leadership skills that has an unwavering focus on objectives has become indispensible. True leaders should be motivated and not discouraged by today’s fast paced and unpredictable marketplace. Leadership training programs are oriented towards bringing such outcomes in an organization. After all, leadership development lies in making the impossible look possible with a lot of conviction!
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’.
‘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!
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 development is the focus of the Leadership Training programs that are conducted by MMM Training Solutions.