Twelve essential abilities of extraordinary people
‘These can be your game changers’
‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.’
While working towards success, people go wrong when they look for quick fix solutions and are often convinced about “Don’t work hard but work smart” ideology. You may work efficiently and optimize your efforts, but you cannot expect to take short cuts and become successful. . Every winner needs a coach, who shows him the path to the victory stand. Self help books act like a coach.
Human excellence is a very complex entity and so is every individual human being. To look at human excellence, I would like to explain my point, by drawing a pyramid of human excellence. It has three clearly demarcated sections.
Understand and Practice Organizing
& Managing. Techniques
Applying and learning
Learn and acquire
Education / Knowledge
Imbibe and Cultivate
Critical Qualities of Winners Qualities
a) The top of the pyramid represents the capability to organize yourself, learn and apply skills to achieve your goals and become more efficient.
b) The middle segment represents the knowledge and education, which one needs to acquire or learn in order to be successful. These are the abilities which one learns and acquires, through rigorous education and other knowledge tools.
c) The bottom of the pyramid represents those basic qualities which form the very basis of success — the material which the winners are made of. These are qualities which have to be imbibed and cultivated over a period of time.
Most books and training programs focus on the top two levels of the pyramid of excellence. Some of them address the top of the pyramid and would be covering techniques like time management, teamwork, Communication skills, Conflict management, handling stress etc to make you more productive.These are popularly known as soft skills. The next level is addressed by sound education acquired at schools and universities. The process is rigorous and the focus is on building domain knowledge.
This book is for developing what lies at the bottom of the pyramid. It is widely believed that pyramids draw their energy from the top but the fact is that gold is always found at the bottom.
These qualities are the basic foundation and are like the constitution of a winner. While the top two levels of the pyramid are important, the bottom of the pyramid is ‘essential’.These golden qualities have to be gradually imbibed.
While heading a premier B school I got an opportunity to deal with budding managers and the corporate world.
Taking a closer look at the current scenario, it seems that the focus has shifted from the bottom of the Pyramid to the soft skills on the top. Not only the bottom has been eroded, but the middle of the pyramid — the rock solid foundation of knowledge through sound education — has also taken a beating. Looking at the quality of manpower being churned out by the under graduate colleges one gets alarmed. Barring the top wrung institutes the “graduate exit level” domain knowledge is far below the desirable level. Companies, struggle for months together, to train and retrain this product in order to make it deployable. The cost of this “repair” is colossal. And unfortunately India pays for it.
The bottom of the Pyramid which is the basic human character has been totally ignored in the value chain. To sum up- the pyramid has been inverted, upside down. This is the single most important reason for leadership failure and poor industry performance across the world.
These dozen qualities are:-
- Will Power / mental toughness / resilience
- Integrity / dependability
- Empathy and human touch
- Delayed gratification
- Pride and self esteem
- Initiative and value addition
- Making friends / being humble
- Positive attitude
- Self discipline
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Believing in yourself
- Moral courage
‘When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.’ Abraham Lincoln
I analyzed eleven very successful people to see what they have in them. I have taken an army General, a national leader, a top cricketer, an Industrialist, a physically challenged, a top actor, an Inventor, Global CEO as well as a top scientist. JRD Tata, Dwight Eisenhower, Hellen keller, Amitabh Bachchan , Indra Nooyi and Mahatma Gandhi are in this list.
Instead of displaying an exact figure — which may become too Judgmental — I had assigned grades A,B or C. These grades have been arrived at by going through numerous articles written about them. In many cases their biographies have been scrutinized to arrive at these scores.
Not surprisingly, most of them score all A’s and a few B’s; none of them scores a very low — a C grade — in any of these.
It brings out two important inferences. First, these qualities are all important and essential for success in all the fields. Second, all great people need not have a top end score in all the qualities required for success.
These qualities are embedded into humans and often loosely called “nature” or “character” which means these are basic characteristics of individuals. Our sun signs play an important part and are indicative of some of our very basic characteristics.
One would appreciate that people born under a particular sun sign do share a common thread as regards their characteristics. This would appear to be truer if you look at it from a device I call “Macro Scope” rather than looking at it with a micro scope.
It is better to look at these things in this perspective because the “things” we are looking at are not things — they are intangibles! It is difficult to assign for instance a number or a value to the degree of personal integrity of a person. It is also equally difficult to quantify somebody’s will power, or adaptability! It would be futile to gauge these as laws of physics or chemistry. For example every action has an equal and opposite reaction as per Newton’s laws of motion. But in case of human reaction every action may or may not have a reaction, leave aside equal. Sun signs therefore are only indicative. Traits like pride, caring nature, mental toughness and self belief are closely associated with our sun signs.
Therefore after every chapter — which deals with one trait — I have given a brief pen picture of that trait for each of the sun signs.
Look at these briefings at the end of every chapter as broad descriptions rather than accurate one, because human nature can never be defined accurately. In fact none of us can accurately define ourselves. People take a life time to understand what they are and what they want from themselves. Seen in this light these briefings can be very helpful.
We do not accept our weaknesses very easily. If you do this you will not make much headway. Be ready for instance, to accept that you do not have many friends and accept it as a gap in your life rather than viewing it as “My Weakness”. Then go ahead and fill the gap. This book will show you the right direction.
If you change 20 to 30 percent in each of these twelve “essentials”, there will a transformation in your life.
The skills that are acquired at the educational institutes constituting the top two layers of pyramid may get you a job.
Actual Journey begins thereafter. There is a quantum shift in the Job profile in most cases after a while. The role becomes wider, more serious in nature; the stakes go higher and responsibility increases many fold. At the same time, expectations of you from your peers, your bosses and your subordinates soar pretty high. There is a shift from managerial expertise to high order leadership. That is the time when the gems at the bottom of the pyramid play a very critical role. In fact those who have not cared to develop these qualities find themselves losing their ground amongst their peers. It is therefore essential to focus on these aspects as early as possible. This book will urge the reader to develop and imbibe these critical qualities. Armed with this you would not only be successful, but you will be a respected person in all walks of life.
This is the art and craft of winning.
‘Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow — perhaps it all will’
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