Right Stuff


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Your life is a battle. Here are some ways to win

Every morning when you wake up, a battle begins. “The real battle is within yourself.” 

It’s a battle between forces that want you to become the best version of yourself and others that want to drag you down to become the worst version of yourself.

These forces (some are internal, others are external) are always at war with each other, trying to win your soul to join them. And every day, through your choices and actions, you’re strengthening and supporting one force or the other.

Thinking of your life as a battle might seem a bit exaggerated and confrontational. However, it’s a powerful metaphor that can help play a critical role in your personal development and improvement.

When you’re in a battle, there are two possible consequences: either you win or you lose. No one wants to be a loser, so here are some ways to help you succeed every day:

No army in its right mind would blunder into a battlefield without a plan. Similarly, if you want to win the battle of life, you have to plan for it, day by day. Ask yourself, “What would make tomorrow successful?” The more detailed you are in your planning, the more prepared you’ll be to win.

In every battle, there are consequences for making the wrong move. Similarly, in the fight for your soul, there are consequences for the slightest mishap. If you think that checking your phone first thing in the morning is harmless, you’ve lost the battle for your focus over the next 3–4 hours. If you eat that donut for breakfast, you’ve just lost the battle for your energy level once the sugar rush is over. Be careful.

In battle, sometimes you need to fool your enemies to win. Similarly, sometimes you need to fool yourself to make better and smarter decisions. For example, you can say to yourself that you’re only going for a 5-minute walk in the morning but, once you’re out of the door, stretch that walk into a 30-minute walk or jog.

The smart general is the one who realizes that he’s not that smart and there’s always somebody out there who could teach him or her something new. If you’ve been struggling with a bad habit for a long time, look at how others have overcome that habit and learn from them.

Some battles are won and others are lost. Lick your wounds when you lose a battle and get up and fight for your best self again the next day.

Just because you had a fantastic productive day today doesn’t mean you’ve mastered yourself forever. Be grateful. Be humble. And strive to work harder. It’s never over until it’s over.

Facing the battle of life can be challenging, especially with so many factors at play. Focus on what you can control and have faith that the rest will be taken care of.

At the end of each day, ask yourself: Did I win the battle of life today? If you did, be thankful and maintain your performance. If you didn’t, be humble and learn how to be better next day.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The mistakes that destroy the Profile of a Leader

As with most popular sayings, there is some truth in the adage, “Great leaders are born, not made.” To some extent, the capacity for great leadership is innate. However, learning how to be a more effective leader is within everyone’s grasp – whether you lead multiple teams, an entire company or just one staff member.

Effective leaders periodically take stock of their personal strengths and shortcomings. They ask:
What do I like to do?
What am I really good at
What are my areas of weakness, & what do I dislike doing?

Knowing your areas of weakness does not make you weak; on the contrary, it allows you to delegate to others who have those abilities, in order to achieve the common goal. Rather than clinging to the false belief that they can do it all, great leaders hire people who complement, rather than supplement, their skills. Working on your areas of weaknesses will improve your leadership ability – and recognizing them makes you more human.

It takes a village to raise a leader” says an African proverb. While theories on leadership contribute to varying attributes that enable an individual to become a leader, it is acknowledged that a leader has to be adequately cautious if he or she has to sustain the leadership over a long period. Right from the moment of assuming a leadership role, one would feel the winds of challenge from all directions of their operational universe. Therefore, the leader has not only to face these challenges with courage and conviction but ensure that their leadership profile is sustained without loss of esteem or repute.

It is seen that the following factors do contribute to the downfall of a leader to a large measure.

Not providing the full picture
Nature abhors a vacuum and so do most employees. Being asked to do X without understanding the context or how it feeds into Y is both disorienting and disheartening. It’s difficult to give your best effort when you don’t know to what end it's being applied. Bad leaders don’t think about building buy-in and fostering an atmosphere where information flows freely and each employee knows the goals his or her work contributes to. If you withhold the big picture from your team, expect them to withhold outstanding work from you.

Not acknowledging effort
Everyone has an ego and a good leader understands the need to stroke the ones on her team. Don’t wait until it’s crunch time and you need a herculean effort from them to dole out the praise -- they’ll be skeptical of your sudden magnanimity and rightly so. If you want great work in the future, acknowledge the great work they’ve given you in the past. Poor leaders under-praise or wait until their team is already thoroughly deflated before handing out hasty compliments.

Failing to steer the ship
There’s a difference between providing hands-on direction and micro-managing, but that balance is difficult to strike and recognizing it comes from experience. Unfortunately, many new leaders embrace a laissez-faire approach to leading a team in hopes of not appearing too meddlesome and nit-picky. While their desire not to interfere comes from a good place, working for a boss who doesn’t step in to fix dysfunctional team dynamics, who hesitates to make tough calls and who isn’t willing to get down in the trenches with his or her team when needed is a guaranteed motivation killer. Who can feel good about working for a leader who doesn’t want to lead?

Celebration of Ego
A leader is like the nucleus of a system and his power and impact radiates throughout the entire universe of his influence. The moment the leader starts celebrating the ego, this power of radiation and influence slowly decreases. He is seen as a unique identity in the universe. The members of the universe see him as one to celebrate, as one to admire, as one to be idolized and one different from their own emotional circle. This creates duality between the system and the leader, thus distancing the followers from any belongingness to the nucleus. This separation increases over a period of time raising questions about his relevance to their emotional and social needs in the system and for the system. Further, most leaders while celebrating their ego, look down upon others in the team, while assuming a heroic profile of their own selves.

Failure to Reach out
There is a general tendency for the leaders to climb up the ladders of power and superiority, oftentimes stepping over the shoulders of his followers. Over a period of time, the leader starts assuming that the value of their leadership relates to the positions they hold. They also start thinking that there has to be a meteoric rise in their leadership profile at any cost and therefore they engage themselves in performing some personal or professional gimmicks. Such things have a limited and transient value. The followers see the absence of genuineness and credibility in the emerging roles of their leaders and this slowly leads to trust deficit. The leaders fail to respond to the social consciousness of their universe. The absence of touch with the base from where they have grown and their declining credibility is indeed a strong threat to the sustenance of their leadership profile

Lack of authenticity
In many cases, there is a huge gap between the words, actions and performance profile of the leaders. They lack authenticity. They tend to generate a fake populism around themselves through illegitimate means and with the help of non-credible volunteers servicing them for a short period for their own personal gains or an agenda. They try to generate a myth of an aura around them which really doesn’t exist. The world around them realizes in a short time the absence of authenticity in their behaviour and leadership. This slowly corrodes their leadership profile and they are driven to self-pity.

Poor knowledge- base
A leader has to be current and relevant if they have to impact the team they lead. If they are not aware, sensitive meaningfully responding to the knowledge dynamics, not only in their own field of operation, but to the general global dynamics, they would be considered as irrelevant and not good enough to lead, however charismatic and modest they are. As such, a good leader is sensitive to the futuristic perspectives and has to lead the system to a purposeful future. Use of impressive language that mesmerizes people can help for a short duration to popularize one’s image, but people do see the leader as a man of action and an epitome of knowledge.

Developing a coterie
After reaching a certain level of leadership, leaders of all kinds - professional, political or otherwise tend to develop a coterie around them. This inner circle, most often, not only clouds the radiance of the power and the image of the leader but articulates the messages to its own advantage – thus distorting the profile of the leader. Every member of the coterie, interpreting the power and message of the leader in their own way, the real leader is lost to oblivion. Further, the coterie uses their influence to design their own leadership strategies for their future, thus corrupting the leadership profile of the person to whom they render their service. Evidences of corrupt practices of the members of coterie having destroyed the star profile of the real honest leader are not far from few.

Failure to deliver social justice
Leadership is an exercise in delivery of social justice. Equity, equality, proportionality and justice are the foundations in which a leadership is structured. A leader who fails to ensure the above and encourage polarization of thoughts, convictions, practices becomes an eye-sore to the deprived. As the above are linked to the emotional content of human existence, the leader who doesn’t deliver social justice is emotionally rejected by the society. It is absolutely impossible for a leader to catch up with the missing links of his leadership once this emotional distortion is brought into the social structure. And it is true of all professional and operational edifices of leadership.

Ineffective change management
A leader is essentially a change leader. He smells changes much before they happen and takes steps to articulate the direction of flow of his policies and actions in the emerging directions. Failure to smell change and take decisions well in advance puts him in a race to compete with others. This would require more energy and time, which is critical in the management of leadership profiles. The challenge for a real leader is not only to be a part of the change, but to lead the team towards the change. The wise leaders are those who lead the change.

In a highly competitive world where leadership profiles in all domains are under constant challenge, a competent leader should be conscious of the above challenges that he would be continuously facing to save his role.

Hasan Latifi

Monday, April 2, 2018

Why Quitting Is Sometimes Your Best Move

Winners never quit and quitters never win. So, the saying goes. Inspiration hits via motivational quotes remind us quitting is not an option. The difference between winning and losing is never quitting. Losers quit when they’re tired, winners quit when they’ve won. And on it goes, down the slippery slope of disappointment and failure. Clearly, quitting is the not your best move. Except sometimes, when it is. Certainly, there are times when quitting can be a good, like giving up some bad habit. Quitting something can be the first step towards the road to success.

Neil Sheth (Founder of Only Way Online) quit his job as a successful investment banker in Goldman Sachs in London.
Sarah Grove (Co-Founder at Raw Food Magazine) who quit her job as a kiteboarder to start a successful online health food magazine.
Catherine Wood (Founder & Head Coach of Unbounded Potential) who quit her job as an economist for the federal government to become a life coach.
Mark Zuckerberg (Founder & CEO – Facebook) left his studies at Harvard to focus on a little website he and some friends were working on, a site called Facebook. 

All these people are quitters, and all these people are happier, and more successful because of it.

The question to ask yourself
Of course, quitting isn’t for everyone, and at times it can be hard to know if quitting something is even the right decision. To help determine whether quitting something will be beneficial, it is important to ask yourself this very crucial question: “Is what I’m doing helping me get to what I want most?”

Time, ultimately, is finite. So, if you have something you strive towards, or something you dream of doing or having, there is a risk that your normal 9-5 job isn’t helping you but hindering your progress and taking up valuable time. That said, quitting does not need to be as drastic as it sounds, you could consider it to merely be you changing your direction. Indeed, some successful people stress the importance of building bridges, instead of burning them, staying in touch with the people you worked with instead of moving on from them.

The significance of the question
Life, and the world is full of distractions. Unless you’re not fully focused on your goal, it can be easy to lose track of it, or run out of time to meet your goals in life.
Have you ever had to cancel something you were looking forward to because work got in the way?
Or put aside time to do something, only to discover that you filled that time doing other, less important things?

You might have even dropped something you were enjoying because you had already put a lot of time into something you weren’t enjoying, but didn’t want to see that time wasted. This is an example of sunk cost bias, the mistaken belief that something is worth sticking with just because you invested a lot of time into it, even if you didn’t like it, or enjoy doing it.  It is the cause of many bad relationships, hurt feelings, bad books read, and years of wasted time.

The benefits of the question
The above question allows you to take a step back and fully assess what you’re doing. In asking this question you’re also asking yourself:
·         “Why am I doing this?”
·         “Is this adding value to my life?”

It makes you ask yourself what your goal is, and whether what you’re doing is working towards that goal. If the answer to those questions is yes, then fantastic! You’re doing great!
If the answer is no, then maybe you should ask yourself is what you’re doing worth doing if you want to achieve your goal.

There is a much-debated theory that suggests it takes 10,000 hours to truly master something.  If this is true, if your goal is, for example, to learn a new language or instrument, then you could be losing a great deal of that time doing something that doesn’t contribute to it at all.

The question reminds you of your true purpose, whatever it may be, it brings it back in focus, and once it is, you’ll be able to better understand how to reach it. To strive for it, and if necessary, quit or drop some unnecessary things to achieve it.

There are times when quitting is sometimes your best move. Here are some reasons why.

1. It saves a lot of unnecessary pain.
If you persevere with that soul-sucking office job, or that college course that someone else chose for you, it’s prolonging the pain. You know it won’t end well so why put yourself through it.

2. It creates space for the right fit.
Ending the pain of what’s not working allows you free up space and energy to attract the things that are meant for you. It’s saying no to what you don’t want so you can say yes to the things you do.

3. It makes you more committed in the long run
It’s not easy to quit something. It takes courage to make the decision and commit to what you really want next. This shows commitment to your vision; it’s not staying stuck or safe.

4. You refocus and change direction
When you stumble, it just means oops, detour. There’s no quitting, just some tweaking and refocusing in a new direction.

5. It’s a positive move
Quitting tends to be seen as a negative thing, ending in disappointment. But it can be freeing and energizing, propelling you on to the next chapter with more speed and renewed inspiration.

6. It’s courageous
It takes courage to step up and take ownership of your decisions and actions, even when they haven’t turned out as planned. If something doesn’t feel right and is making you unhappy then identifying this is a big step towards moving past it.

7. It doesn’t matter what others think.
I’m sure you know at least one person who stays in a job they don’t like or a relationship that’s no longer working because it’s easy. It’s not easy admitting you have made a wrong choice but at least you’re brave enough to do something about it.

Sometimes carrying on can be the best thing to do. Quitting isn’t always the best option and it’s not something you rush into. But it doesn’t have to end in disappointment. I’ve quit giving myself a tough time over quitting. I never quit, I simply course redirect and keep my eye on the destination.

Hasan Latifi