The 4 enablers of excellence

We all want to be successful. The excellence, as it turns out, is the vehicle to achieve success.

So what it takes to achieve the success? What are the 4 pillars? What are the four enablers of excellence? Here they go:

  1. Essence: “I chose because that’s how I live my purpose. I’m responsible.” 
  2. Ownership: “I’ll make it happen no matter what.”
  3. Gratitude: “I’m thankful for all what I’ve got. Now let me give something back without expecting anything in return.”
  4. Courage: “If I don’t try, I can’t fail. But then what’s the point? Fear? Sure I do have my share of it. But I choose to feel the fear but do it anyway.”

We were born excellent. Fearless. We had all the above qualities although we did not have the distinction that lets us know that our core is made of pure excellence.

Then they taught us to be obedient. They gave us rules to live by…a sense of right and wrong from the perspective of society. Stories of punishments we will get if we don’t follow the rules became a part of our lives.

What they did not teach us was this understanding: it’s okay to break the rules; it’s okay to create your own rules…and be responsible for what you’ve created!

The result? Mediocre we. Yes, you. And me!

They were none other than our beloved family members, school teachers, elderly people whom we respected in society and alike.

They wanted to see us happy but their understanding of happiness was against bringing the “excellence” out from us.

Their definition of happiness was fulfilled if we get a “secured” job which was predictable enough to raise children, go to Europe tour once or (twice at a maximum) in a lifetime and live an apparently “settled” life.

Now, nothing is wrong with that definition if we are okay with mediocrity. Excellence takes something else.

The choice has always been ours; the choice will always be ours: we can choose to dance on the head of fear and get the sh*t done or let fear dance on top of us.

A choice well made is a choice which we won’t regret on our deathbed. What choice do you want to make?

Entrepreneurship 30

What is entrepreneurship all about?
Here are thirty thoughts on what it is and what it is not.
For some people, entrepreneurship is “cool” but in fact, it is easier felt than done! 
Entrepreneurship is:
  1. Glamorous, in the beginning;
  2. Hard (in fact, very hard), soon after;
  3. Needs a groundbreaker (pioneer, go-getter, fireball kind of) mindset;
  4. Not for you if you:
  5. …get disturbed by things you cannot control in your job;
  6. …need very clear objectives from your management to perform;
  7. …need very co-operative people to get things done;
  8. …always need someone to listen to your complaints. Ah…you complain??
  9. …are reasonable, well at least 90 percent;
  10. …think one has to lose in order for the other to win;
  11. …think that honesty was the best policy in 20th century, maybe. This is 21st – isn’t it?
  12. …think you need a perfect plan to get started (does perfection exist? Where?);
  13. Sure for you if you:
  14. …don’t depend on your MBA degree to take decisions;
  15. lead beyond your title to get things done, always;
  16. …want to take the pain of making the road;
  17. …know that someone else is going to travel that road later, but anyways;
  18. …don’t complain. About the dust. About bad people. About crazy clients. about anyone;
  19. …take responsibility for the problems created by other people;
  20. …have persistent determination; a completely different level of commitment;
  21. …listen to criticism about what you do; look at the things from multiple perspectives but still move ahead;
  22. …think you’re smart – you always learn from everyone’s (mostly others’) mistakes;  not necessarily your own;
  23. …understand multiple contexts well; better if you apply lessons learned in one into the other;
  24. …believe in creating win-win business prepositions (Haven’t read 7 Habits from Stephen Covey? Huh?);
  25. …are a (the best) people magnet – someone said ‘like attracts like’ …isn’t it? Are you?
  26. …are unreasonable;
  27. …begin with the end in mind (Covey, again) but having (smart) goals is must;
  28. …understand what ‘empathy’ means. It means: how people feel about things. It leads from hiring right person to producing great products to selling not so great products what you wanted to. Not so easy but simple.
  29. …enjoy reading (and acting upon, most important!) what Jobs or Seth or Bate have to say.
  30. …start something, right now!


Profit from conflicts!

A zero-conflict workplace doesn’t exist, does it?

So, wise is the one who is able to make profits even from the conflicts, isn’t it?

To do that, your primary focus should be on how to prevent the conflict. Once, Max Lucade wrote:

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.”

So prevent the conflicts. Here are some tips to do so:

  1. Have people with integrity on board: Make sure your people have integrity and character.  The team is not a team but just a group of people if team members cannot trust one another. Remember, trust without integrity is just not possible.
  2. Invest in developing a listening skill: Make sure they possess good listening skills. If you recognize that some people lack such a skill, work on it. State clearly what specific steps they need to take in order to develop listening skills. For example, encouraging them to attend Landmark Forum could be a good option.
  3. Have them read the One Minute Manager: Make sure that they have not only read The One Minute Manager, they really understand it from its deepest insights. Remember, we are just not an individual but an individual managing our own behavior – and this book focuses on some of the most powerful management principles.
  4. Don’t accept anything but solution-focused approach: Many people have a habit to complain or criticize about something. That’s okay when they also come with the possible solutions. In fact, a problem presented with a possible solution is a key weapon in grinding success faster. Encourage people to look at problems as opportunities to go to the next level.
  5. Encourage Life-long relationships: Make sure your team members have nurtured internal relationships which are going to stay alive for their remaining life. Situational leadership is good, not situational relationships.
  6. Develop tools to pre-handle conflicts: Invest in developing tools and techniques which handle conflicts even before that happen. For example, you can have a list of the causes of conflicts or invest in team-training where team members are taught how to self-handle conflicts etc.
  7. Choose leadership over bossism: Choose to be a leader over just being a boss. Reflect on what E.m Kelly said, “The difference between a boss and a leader: a boss says, ‘Go!’ while a leader says, ‘Let’s go!’.” A leader leads regardless of a title and takes accountability for what his people are doing. He leads from the front and makes optimum use of techniques like Responsibility assignment (RACI) metrics to prevent conflicts.

If prevention doesn’t work and still you find yourself in the middle of a conflict, next best thing is to systematically attack the problem, resolve it, record the lessons learned and prevent it the next time. Here’s how:

  1. Develop Problem Charter: Understand the problem very precisely. Go to the maximum possible detail level and get the clarity. Develop a problem charter which clearly states Who, What, Why, When Where and How of a problem.
  2. Develop a plan: Develop a plan which clearly states how you will perform steps to overcome a problem.  Meet the entities identified in the first step, collect other relevant information, keep alternatives ready and be ready to attack the problem.
  3. Execute: Now you have two good things. Necessary clarity about what the problem is and one or more ways about how you will act on it. So execute. Call meetings, exhibit different situational leadership styles and management practices.
  4. Evaluate the outcomes: Captivation of execution is such that the executor forgets to pause and think about how he is executing. So monitor and control your execution. If you feel that your execution needs to be altered, do that. Nothing is permanent and ‘execution’ should also not be an exception. If needs be, restart from step 2 and refine the plan.
  5. Close the problem: Once the planned outcome has come, close the problem. Make all the required people aware of the updated status of the problem and record the lessons learned.

You don’t need to always formally develop problem charter or a plan but you need to do that process mentally in order to execute effectively.

So profit from conflicts. In closing you might want to read what a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung said:

“The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results.”

Stop Being a Hero

When you were a child, your grandmother told you, “You’re special, you possess a unique charm; you’re like a hero!”

First, you laughed…then you started liking it and eventually started believing that you’re a hero… someone very special!

Then, after years of education, you became a software professional and got a good job with one of the top IT organization, but still, in the back of your mind, you have treasured the old image, “I’m a hero!”

That’s where the problem rests for many software teams.

Since you consider yourself a hero, you inevitably strive to reinvent everything. Right from what other team members should have done to organizational processes or what the customer should have expected instead.

Your coarse argument would be, “No one in this organization can work like me. If I were not in that team, that big problem could have never been solved.” Or “People out here do not know even 10% of what I know and I don’t think they will be able to perform the task so effectively when I am not in the team.”

Instead of being open and learning from past mistakes of colleagues or everything else around, you insist on doing everything on your own; at the cost of the client or the organization.

You spend most of your time in beautifying your own code, debugging your less experienced colleague’s code or re-creating architecture of the half-developed business application.

You need to understand that you’re not a hero. At least not at the workplace. If you become one, it is not going to give you benefits after a certain point. Reserve that narcism for your visit to your grandmother’s house.

Be less heroic. Be less special. Be more agile.  Focus more on how your team can add value. Ship early; ship often rather than investing your time in less necessary artifacts in order to build a product or a service that works. Inspect and adapt. Remember, none of us is as powerful as all of us.

Mini Saga – Doing rather than being

Many companies focus on the looking-good type of practices than actually being good. For example,  read this mini-saga.

Doing Rather Than Being

Tactically lionized Steve joined a company as a VP, Sales and was on his first sales call. He had to win over an old client to initiate a crowning deal. The client was happy with the presentation but enunciated, “You can’t paint over a bad experience with good Sales efforts.”

The time has changed, the customer mindset has changed, they have become smarter, sharper, and declared that now such companies cannot keep making a chump of them anymore. Either be able to add value – by bringing in Linchpins or doing whatever is necessary  – or get lost.

A leader beyond her title leads by 7

This age is of being the best version of you, being able to provide unmatchable value in everything you do, regardless of your position or title.

The following 7 points throw some light on what it takes to be a leader beyond the title:

  1. Embracing creativity – It is often possible to solve the problems with creative thinking even though it might not sound logical at its first glance.  Sure, she is as logical as hell can get but she has nurtured right side of her brain well. 
  2. Mastering at-least ONE skill –She’s the best and can do a world-class job in at least one (important) skill. It is the result of hard+smart work and she has spent countless no of hours perfecting that skill. Oh, and did I say that sometimes being a generalist is a special skill! 😮
  3. Being genuine – She is genuine and friendly. It does not mean she is people-pleasing but she is not afraid to show her vulnerability. She smiles when it’s natural and doesn’t wear a masked smile to fit a situation. In other words, she says what she means and means what she says.
  4. Showing instinct – She makes optimum use of this natural leadership resource that all of us have, instinct.  Nonetheless, she evaluates all the possible actions with good analysis but operates often from her gut. Often when reasons don’t help, her instinct does. 
  5. Assuming responsibility – She takes responsibility for her tasks and the tasks her teams do. By choice, she is response-able for every situation: for her personal happiness, for her well-being, for doing her job well, for being a loving family member, for better health; for making the best use of her energies, for every area of her life, and for everything that’s happening to her. For example, she assumes responsibility like Peter did in this story.
  6. Being OK with the discomfort – She is comfortable being uncomfortable. She sets the next impossible target and crushes that with a notable margin.  She understands that the risks are always personal and the benefits are for all. It is not that she does not feel the dread; she does but still chooses to do it anyway.
  7. Traveling road-less – She travels from situations to situations regardless of whether there is a defined road or not. In most cases, the well-traveled roads are of mediocrity but she chooses to take the unconventional steps to create and leave a trail. 

Power Question: Are you limited by your title or able to lead your way regardless of your position?