As a CXO Coach and corporate trainer, I often get asked a question during workshops on Leadership, “How does one stay relevant in an ultra competitive environment?”
As a CXO Coach and corporate trainer, I often get asked a question during workshops on Leadership, “How does one stay relevant in an ultra competitive environment?” On occasions, the questioner turns more specific by asking, “What should I do to keep my job and grow into it?”
My immediate reaction to such questions is to throw up my hands and confess, “Well! I don’t really know the answer.” Since, the questions are usually shot towards the end of the workshops, my quip is often met with looks bordering on the bewildered to the incredulous. “So, what the heck have you been propounding for the whole day?” is the question I perceive in those looks.
On occasions, the participants turn around and give me their suggestion, “You’ve got to be kidding. Whatever you shared till now made sense, but this does not. We are sure you’d have been thrown these questions before. All you need to do is share what you shared with others in similar workshops.”
“So, are you suggesting that what works for them would work for you?” I ask them in an effort to kindle their imagination. This question is followed up by a couple more, which could be, “Do you mean to say that every techie who borrows money from his wife to start-up can end up as Narayana Murthy? Or, can Tim Cook become Steve Jobs Version 2.0?
Yes! That’s exactly the point. What works for one, need not work for another. And, the only way one can find the answer to the questions is to respond with the answer that I gave initially: “I do not know.” Because, till one accepts that something isn’t working, one seldom attempts to fix it.
Of course, there could be a situation where one begins believing that nothing is working. We will take up this thought on another day, in another blog post.
Now, coming to the point that this blog carries as its headline, how does one rewire oneself to stay on top of one’s game? The answer is often found in sporting excellence, be it the current Indian cricket captain ViratKohli or all time great players such as Roger Federer, Usain Bolt and others.
Here is what they prescribe as the recipe for their own success:
- Being Mindful: The challenge is that the brain chatters non-stop through the day and generates feelings that oscillate between downright despondency to extreme exhilaration. As leaders we seldom create time and space for ourselves – our minds constantly seeking immediate problems to resolve and solutions for future challenges. There are several apps that guide users into a meditative process that sets the mind at rest, thus allowing it to prepare itself for work time. In other words, getting that time away from the workplace and possibly also the home. Experts have described it as ‘me-time’, ‘introspection’, ‘yoga’ etc.
- Surround Sound:What would you prefer? A team that constantly looks up to you for directions or one that self-starts and delivers, irrespective of your presence? Could be a tough one for a leader who loathes delegating work. The fact remains that the supporting cast often makes the lead actor stand out. Having the right sort of company at the workplace – where an average working person spends more than half of his time – could make the leader take her mind off delivery challenges. What’s more, it lets the CXO find time for mindfulness.
- Distractions Are Good: Most of us are often wedded to our work to such an extent that we often find ourselves multi-tasking to ensure things are done. The mind is so focused on the task or tasks at hand that it seldom wanders. A good practice that possibly delivers immediate results. However, it is seldom the focused mind that finds solutions as extreme concentration often blurs reality from perceived reality. On the contrary, the distracted mind finds it easier to find solutions – every human invention or discovery has been a result of distraction. So, can the CXO find something distractive to do at work? Maybe, watch a Tom & Jerry Cartoon? Or go for an after-lunch jog?
- Being In One’s Skin: It is better to be who you are than try and be someone else, because you can be the ‘best you’ while even the best ‘another’ you become can never match that person. Remember the Tim Cook, Steve Jobs question I asked earlier in the blog? And, how does one become the best? By becoming comfortable with one’s choices. CXOs often face such challenges of choice at work and the only way one can remain stress-free is to accept that our best choice too has at least a 50% chance of going wrong. Being able to take such critical calls also boosts one’s confidence, a pre-requisite for success. It is good to remember that people, in general, prefer those who can make such calls – because (a) they can find someone to blame (b) saves them the trouble
- Invest In Yourself: Every coach and every other self-help book has said enough and much more on this. One must continue learning, one must spend time preparing for tomorrow, one has to seek more and more certifications… the list is endless. While, I am in no position to comment on the veracity of these statements, I often tell participants in our workshops that any learning has to first start with oneself. What am I doing now that I hate doing? And, what would I rather do instead? It is important to ask these questions to oneself through one’s life as the definition of success often changes with age, life situations etc.
To conclude the rather lengthy post, I would hark back to the question from the opening paragraph, “What should I do to keep my job and grow into it?” The answer is quite simple: How about growing out of your job? This way, your boss would have to find you a better one to retain your expertise.
And, how does one grow out of a job? Well! That’s yet another topic that we will discuss in a blog post some time in the near future.
(Raj Narayan is the Chief Content Officer at Trivone Media Network and works as a corporate and life coach who uses Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) skills to build awareness and help individuals and teams to ‘Unleash Their Latent Potential’. More details from www.novaindia.net)