Homo Sapiens grew up in tribes and subsequently fragmented into nuclear families. The next stage in the journey is to get back together again in a structure called Joint Families; where grandparents, parents and children stay together in a symbiotic relationship of love, peace, joy, harmony and yet, full self-expression; supporting each other to fulfil each others' intentions and realize each others' dreams.
It takes greater leadership depth to stay together than to stay by yourself. Values can only be emulated. They cannot be taught. Leadership means to respond from one's values instead of reacting from fear. Therefore, leadership in its truest essence cannot be taught in a classroom. Neither can we wait for kids to grow up to learn leadership in organisations, where they are assigned coaches to support them to increase their leadership depth. Grandparents and parents are the first coaches and mentors. As parents are often away on their day job, raising of kids is delegated to day-cares or nannies or at the cost of the mother's professional self-expression. There is not only an economic but a much bigger emotional and spiritual impact of such an arrangement.
There's loneliness at both ends - loneliness of growing older where one generation (grandparents) can no longer seek refuge in the busyness of being busy and the other generation (grandkids) hasn't as yet learnt to submerge themselves in the busyness of life. Bringing these two generations together serves both of them as the pace of life for them is the same. Since values of love, gratitude, reverence, integrity, mastery, joy, gentleness can only be role-modelled; kids have a greater learning opportunity observing their parents and grandparents living these values with each other. Marital relationships go through the cycle of stress and strain as the parents evolve in their own journey to greater harmony with each other. Therefore, parents may not be ideal relationship role models for kids.
Similarly, in organizations, getting the older generation to exit at a certain retirement age is creating a huge loss for the organisations by taking away natural mentoring and coaching relationships from the eco-system.
Google recently demonstrated that its best employees were not Ivy League students but rather young people who had experienced a big loss in their lives and had been able to transform that experience into growth. According to Google, deep personal loss has resulted in employees who are more humble and open to listening and learning.
- Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
From Google's experience, what becomes clear is that leadership depth is more important that technical expertise - humility (a combination of love, gratitude, reverence, gentleness), openness to listening and learning (pre-requisite for personal mastery). As we age, we also collect losses along the way, deepening us as human beings and we naturally slow down realising the futility of escaping ourselves by taking on a chase on the outside.
It's only when we learn to slow down can we really speed up the outcomes on the outside. Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the third richest person in the world, spends 80% of his time reading. When asked once about the key to his success, he said "I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business."
How will the organisations learn to slow down to speed up in the right direction from good to great? Only if the senior citizens of the organisations are still around to provide the stability and wisdom of experience.
"Superagers" is a term for 65 years and above, whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds. How do you become a superager? Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital suggests by working hard at something. From the article by the researchers - "The road to superaging is difficult, though, because these brain regions have another intriguing property: When they increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated. Think about the last time you grappled with a math problem or pushed yourself to your physical limits. Hard work makes you feel bad in the moment. The Marine Corps has a motto that embodies this principle: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” That is, the discomfort of exertion means you’re building muscle and discipline. Superagers are like Marines: They excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention."
A ground-breaking implication from this is that if you continue to engage with your employees well beyond the so-called 'retirement age' and support them to become a superager, you not only contribute to the society by ensuring greater health and well-being but also reap monetary benefits from having a loyal, committed, stable workforce who can be friend, guide, philosopher, coach to the younger employee force that you are on-boarding from colleges. Creating grandparent-grandchild kind of relationships at workplace will increase the quotient of compassionate love in your organisation. Research proves that a culture of compassionate love leads to greater productivity, performance, profitability and organisational greatness.
"We surveyed more than 3,200 employees in 17 organisations spanning seven industries: biopharmaceutical, engineering, financial services, higher education, public utilities, real estate, and travel. In organisations where employees felt and expressed companionate love toward one another; people reported greater job satisfaction, commitment, and personal accountability for work performance."
- From an article published in Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2016 by
Sigal Barsade, Professor of Management, Wharton;
Olivia A. O’Neill, Assistant Professor of Management, George Mason University
Two weeks before, I invited Dada Dadi (my kids' paternal grandparents) to move in with us and they did.
Nearly 7 years ago, I had moved myself, kids and husband out from their house because I could not bear staying with them. I wanted to live my own way and in peace. I was full of anger, upset, sadness, resentment and all sort of other types of negativity.
I thought at that time that they were the source of my misery. Shortly afterwards, my husband became the source of my misery. I couldn’t deal with it that I ended up becoming a coach to get a handle on all the misery in my life.
The journey as a coach and all the training and inner growth that came along with it made me realise that the source of misery is really inside me. The outside just serves as a trigger to activate whatever is inside me.
The continual inner cleansing brings me home to myself moment by moment, that joyous inner peace has become more important than being right and having my way. I also realize the only way to get my intentions fulfilled and dreams realised is to support others to fulfil their intentions and realise their dreams; give away all the credit without the need for approval, appreciation and respect.
I want my parents to stay with me so that I can care for them as they move forward in their journey in this lifetime. Dada Dadi keep waiting for the one day in the week when kids will come. Dadi (paternal grandmother) misses the connection with her only child, who doesn’t really talk much and doesn’t really experience my love as I am not really able to give it unconditionally. My daughter keeps complaining about the food not being tasty. I find myself not being able to love my kids unconditionally too and see myself frequently losing my temper with them. I also see myself being too strict, disciplined and controlling. My younger one has now moved to a grade where he’ll also have his exams. My older one keeps feeling left out because of the younger one and does not fully experience my love.
Dadi falls sick and that becomes my pretext for getting them to stay with us. It is an intuitive decision, a decision that feels right. The rationale for the decision comes to me later as I go about enrolling Aditya (my husband), Dada, Dadi on the wisdom of this decision. Because the inside is cleansed, I access the power to get them to say yes to my proposal.
We have stayed together for a week now. Mealtimes are happy times, kids are no longer crying and fussing, the food is delicious that the kids appetite has increased, kids are having so much fun, Dada Dadi look so happy, Aditya looks settled and at peace, there’s financial abundance as there are running expenses of only one house instead of two and the other house will soon be put on rent. This arrangement also creates space for me to visit my parents weekly, who live 4 hours away in another city.
As per Harvard Grant study, there are only 2 things that ensure that a child grows up to be happy and successful - receiving unconditional love and doing household chores. Dada Dadi’s love for them is so much more unconditional than mine is. Also, neither do I know nor do I love how to cook well or how to manage the functioning of a house, both critical life skills for both men & women to have fulfilling relationships with themselves and with important others in their life. Dadi is not only an expert in both these skills, she loves both these crafts. The kids will effortlessly pick up these skills from her through the process of emulation because kids learn by observing and imitating rather than what we adults tell them to do.
Sure, there’s white rice that kids are being fed instead of brown rice, organic way of life is probably slipping away, Dada Dadi are feeding the kids instead of the kids eating on their own, daily disciplined study is not really happening, golf practise is not happening with the rigour of before, lot more screen-time is available for the kids.
Opening myself to other ways of life, other points of view is increasing my leadership depth. I feel having a happy positive home environment will create greater health and well-being for the kids than organic food, brown rice, the rigour and discipline.
Guess what, as I didn't attach myself to my way, Dada Dadi are opening up to explore other ways of life. Within 2 weeks, brown rice found its way back on the table, we just ordered organic vegetables yesterday, their brand of milk that we have now adopted is of much better quality. That's what I always keep discovering - when I give up my attachment to my way, others give up their attachment to theirs and we come up with an integrated way that is 100 times better than each of our individual ways.
Old age homes, retirement age, nuclear families are concepts antithetical to the organic growth and evolutionary process of our species. We started our evolution as homo sapiens in tribes. Being a part of a close-knit community is our natural way of being, providing a nurturing space for us to continue our journey of evolution from fear-for-survival instinct to compassionate love and childlike trust & faith. The wars outside are because there is a war inside each of us. The separation outside is because there is separation inside each one of us. We are designed to be in authentic connection with each other; designed to nourish each other through loving kindness, appreciation and respect. Living any other way reduces our productivity, performance, creativity and innovation.
As organisations seek ways for greater sustainable profitability, ways to transform themselves from good to great; we will come back home to ourself and to each other, end the war and separation within our own self to end the terrorism and abuse outside by re-connecting ourselves with our parents first and then with everyone else as our families become organisations of multiple generations staying together and organisations become families.
To this brave beautiful blissful new world, let's march forward.
An article from New York Times - How to Become a Superager
Warren Buffett, the world's 3rd richest person, credits many of his great money decisions to his voracious reading habit. When asked about the key to his success, he pointed to a stack of books and said, "Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest."
He once remarked, "I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business."
Here are a few other top business leaders who make reading a major part of their daily lifestyle:
1. Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year.
2. Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day
3. Elon Musk is an avid reader. When asked how he learned to build rockets, he said, “I read books.”
According to Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, rich people read for self-improvement, education and success. Meanwhile, poor people read primarily to be entertained.
People who read regularly find it easier to make decisions, plan & prioritise; are more satisfied with life, happier, more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile; and have greater respect for & tolerance of others’ views.
Here's a great article on how to build a reading habit:
How Changing your Reading Habits can Transform your Health
Enjoy your journey into yourself through the books you read.
Leading with Questions (How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask?) by Michael J. Marquardt
I spent 2 years with Ron McLuckie learning the art and science of leading with questions, first through the Action Learning program for Coaches and then the Senior Executive Action Learning Program run by WIAL, co-founded by Dr Michael Marquardt. Ron is the Chairman and Chief Executive for their India operations. He has done seminal work in the area of leadership and organization development in the country. I am grateful to not only have been coached by him but also to have him contribute to transforming the leadership consciousness in our country.
Before the concept of 'Leading with Questions' hit me straight on my face and woke me up from my slumber, I was a 'telling my people what to do' kind of a leader both at work and at home, who always had to have an answer to all the problems. It was an exhausting way to lead. As John Stuart Mill says in his book The System of Logic:
"Asking more of the right questions reduces the need to have all the answers. Leading from good to great does not mean coming up with answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision. It means to have the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights."
Though the problem usually is, as Dr Marquardt points out that too often, we ask questions that disempower rather than empower our subordinates. These questions can cast blame; they are not genuine requests for information.
•Why are you behind schedule?
•What’s the problem with this project?
•Who isn’t keeping up?
The risk with leading with questions as a tactic without the shift on the inside is that it will end up creating more disengagement and alienation in the organisation than a purposeful coming together for the best solution and effective implementation by people on the ground themselves taking complete ownership and accountability. That is why, in our leadership evolution methodology, learning to ask great questions is a Gear 3 (Communicating while Being in the World of Others) skill after the leaders have been immersed in Gear 1 (Agility of Mind) and Gear 2 (Being of Service) Leadership Consciousness.
The power of questions had been understood even 2000 years ago. Folklore has it that when people went to Socrates with their problems, he would respond back with questions for people to discover their own answers. That makes him the first known coach in the world. The coach's secret power is the ability to lead their clients from their original question to an even greater question, shifting the way they look at their problem and their world itself. The coach's job is not so much to give answers to their clients' questions but more to create the space for them to access their own wisdom to find their own answers and lead them to even more powerful questions. Finding answers is the easiest thing. The challenge lies in discovering the right questions. A really effective leader is a one who understands that his role is not only to lead but also to nurture and coach.
Dr Marquardt does a phenomenal job at deconstructing and teaching the what, when, where, who, whom, why and how of leading with questions with amazing clarity. If it isn't as yet, include this book as part of your essential reading for your leadership team. And, of course, begin with yourself first, if you are really serious about sustainable transformation of your organisation from good to great.
Here are few gems from the book for you to experience the power of leading with questions:
1. Leaders who use questions can truly empower people and change organizations. Poor leaders rarely ask questions of themselves or others. Good leaders, on the other hand, ask many questions. Great leaders ask great questions. And great questions can help you become a great leader.
2. The ability to ask questions goes hand-in-hand with the ability to learn. A learning organization is possible only if it has a culture that encourages questions. Questions enable people to increase alignment, engagement and accountability. It is not simply asking more questions. It is asking more and better questions. Avoiding questions can cause serious harm – even disaster. Because people did not ask questions, the Titanic sank and people lost lives.
3. Questions are useful for giving feedback, problem solving, strategic planning, resolving conflicts, team building. When we avoid questions, all these activities suffer.
4. Organizations and leaders who avoid questions are actually losing opportunities to learn. By telling rather than asking, they are actually making their organizations dumber, less smart, less aligned, and less energised everyday. A lot of bad leadership comes from an inability or unwillingness to ask questions. The dumbest questions can be the most powerful. They can unlock a conversation.
5. If you ask profound questions, you get profound answers. If you ask shallow questions , you get shallow answers. If you ask no questions, you get no answers at all.
6. Deep significant learning occurs only as a result of reflection, and reflection is not possible without a question. Questions, especially challenging ones, cause us to think and learn. The point is not to find the answer. Rather in a questioning culture we keep asking and learning. There is no correct answer, the point of asking questions is to gain perspective.
7. Questions can certainly empower and motivate people more effectively than exhortatory statements do. Good questions empower people to devise their own solutions. When people discover their own answers, they develop self-responsibility and accept ownership of the results. Asking people questions shows that you value them. Questions move people from dependence to independence.
8. Most people are totally unaware of and unconscious about the internal questions they ask themselves - even though such inquiries virtually program their thoughts, feelings, actions, and outcomes. Self-reflections enable us to better understand ourselves, gaining insight into why we do some things and avoid doing other things.
9. We have difficulty with questions for four primary reasons:
a. We avoid questions out of a natural desire to protect ourselves.
b. We are too often in a rush.
c. We often lack skills in asking or answering questions due to a lack of experience and opportunities, of training, and of a role model.
d. We find ourselves in corporate cultures and working environments that discourage questions, especially those that challenge exacting assumptions and policies.
10. Fear inhibits us from asking questions in another way. We sometimes fear that if we ask a question we will get an answer that we do not like, one that depicts us as a part of the problem, or one that indicates that a favoured project has gone off course.
11. Most of us feel more comfortable in efficiently making statements and providing answers. We do not have the discipline or the commitment to make time for questions.
12. The capacity to ask fresh questions in conditions of ignorance, risk, and confusion, when nobody knows what to do next is at the heart of great leadership.
13. Insights are more likely when you can look inside yourself and not focus on the outside world.
14. There is no such thing as the correct answer; it is only perspective.
15. Depending on how the leader asks a question, it can be perceived as “an invitation, a request, or a missile.”
16. When you talk it stops others from expressing themselves. And, so began that revelation that leadership is about listening.
17. Start by asking yourself, “What is the most important thing to the other person?”
18. It is important for leaders to fully recognize and understand the power of words.
What do I want my question to accomplish?
We end up creating that which we focus on.
‘What’s wrong?’ questions threaten self-esteem and thereby cause people to get mired in problems.
Empowering questions, on the other hand, get people to think and allow them to discover their own answers, thus developing self-responsibility and transference of ownership for the results.
In empowering others, the leader must resist the urge of give people advise. When people ask for help, the leader must ask them questions so that they come up with their own answers.
19. Instead of asking disempowering questions, such as “Why are you behind schedule?”, “What’s the problem with this project?”; Leaders can ask empowering questions such as these:
a. How do you feel about the project?
b. What have you accomplished so far that you are most pleased with?
c. How would you describe the way you want this project to turn out?
d. Which of these objectives do you think will be easiest to accomplish? Which will be most difficult?
e. What will be the benefits to our customers if you can meet all these objectives - for our company, for our team, for you personally.
f. What key things need to happen to achieve the objective?
g. What kind of support do you need to ensure success?
20. Great questions are selfless; they are not asked to illustrate the cleverness of the questioner or to generate an interesting response for the questioner. They are generally supportive, insightful, and challenging.
Empowering questions such as:
•What’s on your mind?
•Can you tell me about that?
•Can you help me understand?
•What should we be worried about?”
21. Some more empowering questions:
•What is a viable alternative?
•What are the advantages and disadvantages you see in this suggestion?
•Can you more fully describe your concerns?
•What are your goals?
•How would you describe the current reality?
•What are a few options for improvement?
•What will you commit to do and by when?
22. Great questions for leaders to ask themselves:
•What matters most?
•What is one problem that I can turn into an opportunity?
•What do employees need to hear from me?
•What is our customers’ greatest pain?
•What new business relationship will I pursue?
•How will I be more strategic?
•How can I make swift yet smart decisions?
•What leadership skills can and should I get better at?
•How will I recognize success?
•What is my biggest fear, and how will I face it?
23. Grasping the art of questioning can lead to impressive results; asking inappropriate questions usually closes learning. The attitude, mindset, pace, timing, environment, and context - all can affect the impact of our questions. Asking a question at the right time in the right manner and with the right person is just as important as the content of the question itself.
24. Best approach is to be a supporting coach rather than the judging boss. Coaching is the opposite of bossing. A coaching-type relationship helps people work out issues and find their own answers though the skilful use of probing questions.
25. The key to framing good questions is to inquire about the “quest” in your questions. What do you want this person to think about? What do you want to learn? A questioning mindset shows that you care about the other person. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Wishing you the joy of the conversation.
Why is your organisation's higher purpose critical for your organisation's financial health?
The Gartenberg study, which included 500,000 people across 429 firms and involved 917 firm-year observations from 2006 to 2011 — documents that firms exhibiting both high purpose and clarity have systematically higher operating financial performance (return on assets) and forward-looking measures of performance (Tobin’s Q and stock returns).
Simply said, quoting from the enclosed HBR article,
"Purpose is not just a lofty ideal; it has practical implications for your company’s financial health and competitiveness. People who find meaning in their work don’t hoard their energy and dedication. They give them freely, defying conventional economic assumptions about self-interest. They grow rather than stagnate. They do more — and they do it better. By tapping into that power, you can transform an entire organization."
For the organization to have a higher purpose, the CEO has to have a higher purpose. That requires CEOs to be emotionally and spiritually intelligent. Mere intellectual intelligence will only take you so far.
Click below to learn how to create a purpose driven organization.
Questions for deeper reflection:
1. What does being emotionally and spiritually intelligent mean?
2. Why is that needed to have a higher purpose?
3. Why does the CEO need a higher purpose for the organisation to have a higher purpose?
Leadership is a journey, not a destination. It is a way of being, not a place to go to. You don't become a Leader by moving into a role in an organization. By role, you may be a Leader and yet not know how to lead. By role, you may not be a Leader and yet be powerfully leading the business function within your influence from good to great. Leadership is an inner journey of personal evolution from good to great that results in you transforming your environment (personal, professional, social) from good to great.
It is a journey over 5 stages. We iteratively move forward by focussing on key skills at each stage involving all the four bodies of the Being (physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual). I find it useful to call the stages Gears as you cannot force your way to Gear 5 without immersing yourself in the learnings of the previous gears, as in a manual car.
1. Leadership Skill: In Gear 1, we learn to 10X what we tell others, drawing power from giving unconditional love to ourselves and relating to our own self as extraordinary.
2. Nurturing Skill: In Gear 2, we learn to unconditionally give our love to all beings and relate to others as extraordinary.
3. Coaching Skill: In Gear 3, we realize the futility of talking from where we are and learn to communicate while being in the world of others by learning to coach.
Rich is a master coach. He has beautifully put together a comprehensive Deep-Coaching checklist. I am grateful to have been coached by him for nearly a year. I still look up to him and continually learn from what he puts out in the world in the form of his writings to forward my own journey as a coach, even as I have moved to another coach to deepen my experience of living and giving.
I have enclosed his checklist to support you to learn to coach to be a successful leader / prosperous entrepreneur / an effective parent.
How can you live the learnings from this checklist moment by moment to shift to Gear 3?
4. Integration: In Gear 4, all the above skills get integrated and a Leader is born.
5. Being: In Gear 5, you become these skills and these skills become you. A Master is born.
Though it should not come as a surprise, a smile escapes me to see that it always does come as a surprise to my clients that as they work on the inside to shift from one Gear to the next, all areas of their life (work, finances, relationships, kids, health, making a difference) simultaneously move forward. When you eat food, you don't expect to get energy only to work or only to drive or only to read a book.
Wishing you the joy of the journey.
I thought I knew what it takes to fulfil one's intentions and realise one's dreams. In fact, I had it all mapped out in a 5-step process. I coached it to my clients and it worked magic for them. Their life shifted, my life shifted as a consequence though it was a slow process. So, I taught the virtue of compassionate love, gratitude and patience to myself and to my clients. That added its own magic to the mix. Results accelerated because peace and stillness descended where there was unacknowledged and unconscious angst, anger and upset; showing up in the form of stress, impacting productivity, performance, creativity, innovation and health.
My clients evolved in their journey and I evolved as an outcome of that and as an outcome of me raising 2 kids. I say as an outcome of both because I wanted to show up as a better human being every new day for my kids and for my clients that had me model all that I was coaching them on.
Then, I had a moment of epiphany, the moment for which the entire journey so far was, the moment that could not have been without the journey before.
I understood, finally, the secret to fulfilling one's 100% intentions and realising one's impossible, unimaginable dreams; dreams so big that they scare you.
Either one could be right; or have one's intentions be fulfilled by generously letting everyone else be right. Either I could have my way; or fulfil my intentions by providing space for others to have their way.
Either one could take all the credit; or realise one's greatest dreams in deepest communion with one's highest self by generously giving all the credit away. Either I could work hard to be appreciated, acknowledged and applauded; or fulfil my dreams effortlessly by silently supporting others to fulfil their dreams, for them to feel complete, fulfilled and at peace.
Of course, this requires a massive shift in our human consciousness from fear-based evolutionary survival instinct to joyous love-sourced consciousness with defenceless (no urge to defend or protect oneself) childlike trust and faith.
The journey of human evolution isn't over as yet. Physical evolution sure has played its part. The evolution journey is now in the domain of emotional, intellectual and spiritual bodies. This evolution will be played out in the organisations as businesses would be forced to evolve from good to great in search for more and sustainable profit, possible only if there is leadership evolution at home and at work.
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes." said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair have been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be Ugly, except to people who don't understand."
- Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Come home to yourself to experience the Real you; and you will find all the wealth and success chasing you, instead of the other way around.
The 80/20 Principle (The Secret to Achieving More with Less) by Richard Koch
This is a book after my own heart. What I am upto in the world is to support leaders to have it all - deeply fulfilling successful career, loving harmonious relationships, happy responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed, lots of nourishing nurturing me-time while making a huge difference in the world. I love busting the myth that you cannot have it all with every coaching engagement. This myth is a cause of so much misery and sadness on this planet because it makes people cynical and resigned about the possibility of living their greatest lives and fulfilling their impossible unimaginable dreams. Nothing spreads the disease of 'living small' as much as forgotten dreams, pushed away under the carpet of imaginary 'reality'.
One of the key levers to have it all is to become an 80/20 Thinker. Richard Koch has done a phenomenal job of explaining step by step how to become one. The 80/20 Principle has been my secret magical wand in supporting my clients. That's how we coaches dramatically increase the effectiveness of our clients, professionally and personally, by getting them to realize what 20% of what they do gives them 80% of their outcomes and then systematically get them to expand the 20%. Of course, in that whole journey of expanding 20% to become 60% so that results are now 240% from the original 80%, unacknowledged hidden fears show up and then the work is about getting off that to take powerful effective precise actions.
The 80/20 Principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to majority of results, outputs, or rewards. That means, 20% of what you do at work is actually what is creating your success and 80% of what you do is largely irrelevant. Amazing, isn't it.
Based on my own experience, I connect to the truth of what Koch says -
The 80/20 Principle can raise personal effectiveness and happiness. It can multiply the profitability of corporations and the effectiveness of any organization.
Here are few gems from the book:
1. Strive for excellence in few things, rather than good performance in many.
2. In every important sphere, work out where 20% of effort can lead to 80% of returns.
3. Calm down, work less and target a limited number of very valuable goals.
4. Three implications for organizations:
a. Successful firms operate in markets where it is possible for that firm to generate the highest revenues with the least effort. A firm cannot be judged successful unless it has a high absolute surplus (in traditional terms, a high return on investment) and also a higher surplus than its competitors (higher margins).
b. It is always possible to raise the economic surplus, usually by a large degree, by focusing only on those market and customer segments where the largest surpluses (profits) are currently being generated. This will always imply redeployment of resources into the most surplus-generating (profitable) segments and will normally also imply a reduction in the total level of resource and expenditure (in plain words, fewer employees and other costs).
Firms rarely reach the highest level of surplus that they could attain, or anywhere near it, both because managers are often not aware of the potential for surplus and because they often prefer to run large firms than exceptionally profitable ones.
c. It is possible for every corporation to raise the level of surplus by reducing the inequality of output and reward within the firm.
5. 80% of value perceived by customers relates to 20% of what an organization does. What is that 20% in your case? What is stopping you from doing more of it? What is preventing you from "making" an even more extreme version of that 20%?
6. 80% of any industry's profit come from 20% of its customers. Do you have a disproportionate share of these? If not, what would you need to do to get it?
7. One-fifth (20%) of a typical company's revenues account for four-fifths (80%) of its profit and cash. Conversely, four-fifths (80%) of the average company's revenues account for only one-fifth (20%) of profits and cash. ... You could have a business solely composed of the most profitable chunks and it could make the same absolute returns, provided you organised things differently. And, why is this so? ... It is because simple is beautiful. Business people seem to love complexity. No sooner is a simple business successful than its managers pour vast amounts of energy into making it very much more complicated. But business returns abhor complexity. ... The act of making a business more complex depresses returns more effectively than any other means known to humanity.
8. A recent careful study of 39 middle-sized German companies, led by Gunter Rommel, found that only one characteristic differentiated the winners from the less successful firms: simplicity. The winners sold a narrower range of products to fewer customers and also had fewer suppliers. The study concludes that a simple organization was best at selling complicated products.
9. Where a business is dominant in its narrowly defined niche, it is likely to make several times the returns earned in niches where one faces a dominant competitor.
10. What is most simple and standardized is hugely more productive and cost effective than what is complex. The simplest messages are the most appealing and universal: to colleagues, consumers and suppliers. The simplest structures and process flows are at once the most attractive and the lowest cost.
11. Waste thrives on complexity; effectiveness requires simplicity.
12. The large and simple business is the best. The way to create something great is to create something simple. ... Progress requires simplicity, and simplicity requires ruthlessness. This helps to explain why simple is as rare as it is beautiful.
13. Important as focus on the few best products is, it is much less important than focusing on the few best customers.
14. The key to superior sales performance is to stop thinking averages and start thinking 80/20. ... Most studies find that the top 20% salespeople generate between 70 and 80% of sales.
15. Focus every salesperson's efforts on the 20% of products that generate 80% of sales. ... The salesforce should be rewarded for selling the most profitable products, not the least profitable. ... Focus salespeople on the 20% of customers who generate 80% of sales and 80% of profits.
16. The Top 10 business applications of the 80/20 principle:
iii. Cost reduction and service improvement
vi. Information technology
vii. Decision making and analysis
viii. Inventory management
ix. Project management
17. A few things are always much more important than most things.
18. Progress means moving resources from low-value to high-value uses.
19. The 80/20 Principle, like the truth, can make you free. You can work less. At the same time, you can earn and enjoy more. ... The beauty of 80/20 Thinking is that it is pragmatic and internally generated, centered around the individual. There is a slight catch. You must do the thinking.
20. Most of what any of us achieve in life, of any serious degree of value to ourselves and others, occurs in a very small proportion of our working lives. 80/20 Thinking and observation makes this perfectly clear. WE HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME. We demean ourselves, both by lack of ambition and by assuming that ambition is served by bustle and busyness. Achievement is driven by insight and selective action. The still, small voice of calm has a bigger place in our lives than we acknowledge. Insight comes when we are feeling relaxed and good about ourselves. Insight requires time - and time, despite conventional wisdom, is there in abundance.
21. Work out what you want from life. ... aim to "have it all". Everything you want should be yours: the type of work you want; the relationships you need; the social, mental and aesthetic stimulation that will make you happy and fulfilled; the money you require for the lifestyle that is appropriate to you; and any requirement that you may have for achievement or service to others. If you don't aim for it all, you'll never get it all. ... We are wasting 80% of our effort on low-value outcomes. 20% of our time leads to 80% of happiness; but 80% of our time yields very little happiness. ... Remember the promise of the 80/20 Principle: if we take note of what it tells us, we can work less, earn more, enjoy more, and achieve more.
From Richard Koch back to me :-)
What actions will you take as an outcome of reading the above insights in different areas of your wheel of life?
In a session I was leading today, I suddenly got present to strong judgments in me because of which I relayed outwards a blinkered ineffective emotional response. Few years back, I would have been totally disconnected to the arising emotions as I was too busy being busy and I would have simply moved on in a cut & dried fashion.
Now, I was painfully aware of the judgements, the resulting limiting emotions and the impact of that on the group. I recognised Intellectual Arrogance behind my judgments. Behind the Intellectual Arrogance, I discovered many fears. In that moment of self-awareness through the process of acceptance, inquiry and reflection; I found my freedom from the suffocating grip of the judgements, arrogance and fears. Once the fears lost hold on me, I re-connected to the love within for myself, for the group and for the Universe itself.
What saved me was acknowledging my judgements and emotions to myself; and with the group. In that, I found my way back home to myself.
Wishing you the joy, freedom and fulfilment of finding your way back home to yourself. In that you will find the access to greater productivity, performance, effectiveness, creativity, innovation and the success which is the outcome of all of that.
An article I was reading recently in Harvard Business Review indicated that many employees and half of CEOs report feeling lonely in their roles. The experience of loneliness is not only a health hazard shortening lifespans in a way similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day; it also negatively impacts productivity, performance, effectiveness, creativity and innovation.
In today's over-connected world, we have almost forgotten what being connected originally meant. Building authentic relationships at work and at home gets lost in the adrenalin-filled chase of targets and goals, both professional and personal. Interestingly, it is easier to achieve much bigger targets and goals if the focus is deep human connection between fellow human beings. Our default evolutionary fear based human design comes in the way of naturally being authentic and vulnerable, the 2 pre-requisites for forging deeper bonds.
Organizations looking for greater profitability need to wake up to this new reality where communities have been replaced by organizations, as people spend majority of their day at work. The sense of belongingness to a particular community that anchored us before has now to be provided by organizations that we work for. A job only as a vehicle for earning money for sustenance does not create a space for authentic connections at workplace nor inspire maximum contribution by individuals forming the organization.
In the current model of leadership development, where the focus is on beating the success out of the system without understanding the linkage of that to inner growth of people responsible for creating the success, there is a limit beyond which the businesses will not be able to grow and prosper.
There is ample research out there pointing to the need to transform how we work though it is like blind-folded people touching different parts of the elephant and shouting Eureka. Each bit of research is definitive and emphatic about its discovery and its set of recommendations on what the organization needs to do. What is needed is an integrated approach which combines all the learnings across different domains for growth; with the recognition that organisational growth is a function of personal growth of people who form that organization.
As long as we are still operating from the ‘Survival’ mode of the default human design, a space of authenticity and vulnerability cannot be created. We may implement a few tactics, which may have worked in some other situation, the outcome will largely be uncertain and unsustainable. Loneliness, disengagement, loss of productivity and performance, lack of creativity and innovation, struggle to remain profitable are all symptoms. Solving the problem only at the level of symptoms will not address the underlying malaise which, if not healed, will continue to fester and the struggle with the symptoms will be an endless game.
It all boils down to leadership development in the new model of leadership where the focus is to support people on their inner leadership journey - from fear-based Survival of the Fittest to the love-sourced Transformation to Our Highest Self - by working at the level of habits across all the 4 bodies of the Being (physical, emotional, mental / intellectual, spiritual). Leadership development cannot happen in isolation. It needs a playground for the leadership muscles to practise and strengthen. Therefore, to successfully journey forward from good to great, organizations have to play 3 games that CEOs need to lead:
1. Leadership Depth - The inner journey of personal transformation from Evolutionary Fear to Transcendent Love for an integrated wheel of life to have it all and for greater impact in the world through living our Purpose of Life.
2. Business Excellence - The outer journey of professional success by contributing to the communities that we serve through the work we do and leading our organisations / business functions from good to great.
3. Craft Mastery - Becoming a key person of influence in our industry through continual learning, unlearning, re-learning to become the master of our craft.
Ready to play?
Learning is the only way forward to success. No true learning happens when you are successful because then, you don't feel the need to. Its only when you are down and out, and as yet have the commitment to keep walking the path to create what you want to create that you will dig deep inside to figure out what is missing.
'What is missing?' is a powerful question that leads to an inner and outer search, a fundamental pre-requisite to enormous learning. The opportunity of this question is not available to us in the moments of success.
Raising kids is a phenomenal practise in understanding human beings and creating awareness about our own selves. Both my kids played so badly in their recent golf tournament that they were thoroughly embarrassed. Both of them curled up on their bed, having lost all their appetite and having some body ache or the other. I could have sympathised and participated in their self-pity and blamed the course or whatever external circumstance that was there; after all they had played for 5 hours in the rain and then in the scorching heat that followed almost immediately.
To release them from the experiential trap of 'failure', I invited them to dig for the Diamond Medal available only if you fail. They weren't interested. Finally, the younger one got curious. I shared a note from my journal for him to release the limiting energy of 'not being good enough' from his body.
"I am not sourced in love at the moment. That means I am sourced in Fear.
Fear of failing, fear of being laughed at, fear of being ignored, fear of not being respected, fear of not being loved, fear of not being good enough to be loved, fear of a wasted life, fear of being insignificant, fear of not amounting to much, fear of not having it all, fear of not having a deeply fulfilling career and not having loving harmonious relationships with my spouse, parents-in-law, sisters, parents and not having happy responsible kids and not having nourishing nurturing me-time, fear of being disrespected, ignored and unloved by my kids, fear of failing as a coach, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as an entrepreneur, fear of not creating anything from <Company X>, fear of messing up at <Company X>, fear of giving and not receiving, fear of everything I stand for of no value, fear of being a failure in golf, fear of my kids failing in life, fear of my marriage failing inspite of all the struggle of 17 years to continue to hold on to it, fear of divorce, fear of the impact of divorce on the kids, fear of ridicule, fear of humiliation, fear of poverty, fear of losing everything.
I embrace all my fears. I welcome failing. I welcome being laughed at. I welcome being ignored. I welcome being disrespected. I welcome not being loved. I welcome not being good enough. I welcome a wasted life. I welcome being insignificant. I welcome not amounting to much. I welcome not having it all. I welcome not having a deeply fulfilling career and not having loving harmonious relationships with my spouse & everyone else and not having happy responsible kids with their genius fully expressed and not having nurturing nourishing me-time. I welcome being disrespected, ignored and unloved by my kids. I welcome failing as a coach, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as an entrepreneur. I welcome not creating anything from <Company X>. I welcome massively messing up at <Company X>. I welcome giving and not receiving. I welcome everything I stand for being of no value, I welcome being a failure in golf. I welcome my kids failing in life. I welcome my marriage failing inspite of all the struggle of 17 years to continue to hold on to it. I welcome divorce. I welcome the impact of divorce on the kids. I welcome ridicule. I welcome humiliation. I welcome poverty. I welcome losing everything.
In that welcoming, I love myself the way I am and the way I am not. I have nothing to prove and nowhere to go to earn my own love for myself. I have nothing to prove and nowhere to go to prove to myself I am good enough. I am enough. I am complete. I have nothing to prove and nowhere to go. I am letting go of significance. I am free. I am free. I am free."
Our fears are a natural outcome of our evolutionary process of Survival and are hard-wired in our brain. Denying them only pushes them deep underground where they fester to create disease at the level of the physical body and no experience of fulfilling happiness. The only way for growth to happen is to give yourself the permission to experience all your fears. In that acknowledgement, they lose their power. In fully embracing them and welcoming them, they lose their power over us and finally let us be; leaving us to experience expansive authenticity, freedom and joy. Nothing has power over us any more. In expressing and embracing all my fears through the process of journaling, I made a much bigger difference to my client than I could have otherwise; because I was no longer in my way of serving. Fear of not creating no longer cripples me in taking action in alignment with my highest intentions and impossible unimaginable dreams, personally and professionally. Are those fears gone forever? Not really. That is the design - fears will come; and they will go when I stand back and observe. I am not my fears, I have fears. Our default response is to cringe away from them. Only in embracing our fears, not being judgemental of them and ourselves for having them, of having them experience our acknowledgement of their existence do we give ourselves the gift of freedom.
In sharing my fears with my son, I let go of my fears even more. In experiencing my fears as he read my journal aloud, his body language changed. The hunching of his shoulders got replaced by him standing tall again, his scrunched-up face suddenly lit up as his face relaxed, his breathing became gentler and more rhythmic. I knew he had escaped the clutches of the paper ghost called 'failure' and now he was ready to be on his Hero's journey once again. He was now ready to go in search of his Diamond Medal, available only if you don't win. I gave him a journal to review and reflect on his experience of the tournament by answering the below 5 questions:
1. How am I feeling?
2. What worked well?
3. What could have been better?
4. What are my learnings from here?
5. What actions will I take to implement these learnings?
My heart filled-up reading what he had written, what his Diamond Medal was. It was even more precious than any success I had experienced before. He discovered that he needed to focus on his game and not on the game of others, that being angry at a bad swing came in the way of playing well, that sleeping on time and getting up on time on a daily basis will ensure he is not lethargic during early mornings of the tournament days, that eating food and exercising would help him to have more energy to play, and that he needed to practise so much more for his craft mastery. This humbling acknowledgement after his self-inquiry had much greater impact on him, than all the directives I had been giving him telling him what he should or should not do. After this bit of work, he immediately came home to himself - totally lit up, full of energy & enthusiasm and joyous love & passion for the sport; ready to play another tournament, the loss no longer sucking his blood like a leech. Interestingly, all body aches and tiredness vanished. In sharp contrast, my older one moved around like a wounded soldier - lifeless, tired, exhausted with aches in the head, feet and everywhere else. She processed her emotions by sleeping through. Though, yesterday she told me that she wants to dig out the Diamond Medal too. So, we are off on the search today :-)
There is a reason I shared all of this with you and the reason is for you to answer these questions for greater self-awareness and growth:
1. What did you learn about the design of a human being from this sharing?
2. How will you apply this learning in your life, personally and professionally?
3. How will you lead differently, at work and at home?
4. What will you do differently next time you experience your heart sinking or stomach churning?
5. What are you feeling at the moment?
Keep giving yourself the permission to drop your layers to come home to yourself and embrace your innate greatness.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.