Monday, 5 September 2016

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU BEEN TURNED DOWN?



How many times have you been turned down? Is your answer ‘never’? Is it ‘very seldom’? Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee if you haven’t been turned down many a times, you are not pushing hard, and you haven’t asked often enough! Undermining complacency and challenging the vision of the prevailing best is key to breaking newer frontiers, and these are unchartered roads with no known road signs and maps………so you will get turned down initially. But, if we are contented with the present status quo, too cautious to even question it, and far too late to act, then no matter how good we are today, we will surely fail tomorrow. Nokia was a market leader of mobile phones in the last decade………where is it today? Only they continue to enjoy success all their life, who keep struggling to achieve it.

Too many successful individuals and institutions worry too much about holding on to success when they know in their heart that with the effort that they are putting in, they have more to lose than to gain. That is when they get timid, stop trying new things and start worrying about their image and their appearance. Movie stars of the silver screen are perfect examples – those who were blessed with fathomless talent, may not have been heroes and heroines all their life, but were always raising the bar for themselves, went on to give memorable performances and ensured that their last performance was their best. Thus Sir Lawrence Oliver, Marlin Brando, Audrey Hepburn were geniuses till their last day, while many super-stars of yesteryears only succeeded in becoming cranky old men and women later in life, only to be forgotten with time. 

Feel free to question the norm, debate the usual. Those days are long gone when inflexible adherence to sacred cows was imperative and almost essential for homogeneity and team spirit. A team thrives on multiple inputs from its different members and gathering a bunch of men and women with ‘yes sir’ attitude surely kills the individuality of its members.  Individual brilliance can give a renewed impetus and breathe life into a failing purpose but the team must be receptive to the new ideas. If a leader wants to see his/her carbon copy in every member of his/her team and not encourage effervescence of originality, novelty, uniqueness and freshness, then this team will surely fail, no matter how talented the leader is. Do you think a team comprising of eleven Sachin Tendulkars would have been world champions?

Whether it is an individual or a corporate, or for that matter a country, there should be no confusion between strategy and plan. What we want to be as an individual or as a company or as a country is strategy, and how we become what we want to be is planning. Only enthusiasm does not impress anyone, enthusiasm coupled with a plan is what is required.  If we are failing to plan then we are planning to fail. Then again planning should be optimal and not so elaborate that it saps all the energy required to perform. You do not need to clear the Grand Central Station just to look at the train time table. Too much planning and too much analysis will only lead to paralysis. We have seen this happen in the past in our country. As Nike so correctly screams from every bill board ‘Just do it!’

Warren Buffet once observed: "there will never be a better you than you." That is a brilliant insight. There will never be a better me, than me. And there will never be a better you than you. Some might try to copy the way you think, speak and do. But - no matter how hard they try, they will only be a second best you. This is because you are unique, and that there really isn't any competition. Same is the state of a country. India need not be better than any other country, it simply has to be the best India we can imagine……..and for this we need a plan!

In this politically mundane, economically stagnant and socially volatile world everywhere people are looking for a new leader and a new team. It is too simple to say that antagonism to a particular religious group is adding fuel to the amber of xenophobia and encouraging right of centre politics. No, people are looking for leaders who can march out into a world, with a whole new team of doers, a whole new bunch of performers. These leaders may not have the intellect or the credential but they have the temperament, the persistence and the perseverance. History may have rejected them in the past, but their time has come. A team of people playing boldly with their lives more than ever before, people who are prepared to exert more of their hidden potential, and people who are prepared to take a chance and liberate more of their natural creativity, it is their time now. The political changes in the democratic world – the annihilation of the grand old Congress party by a compulsive workaholic with a track record of performance in a small Indian state, the referendum in favor of Brexit in U.K, the rise of the ultra right in Belgium, Austria, Germany and France and the battle which the over-confident and the provocative ringmaster is giving to the realist, the conventional and the well prepared, for the coveted post of U.S. Presidency…..they all fall in a pattern.

This change must inspire every one of us. The success of those who were once dumped as improbable should pack us with TNT of inspiration, enthusiasm, zeal and zest to take us to the crest of success, which till recently was the exclusive domain of those with privileged pedigree and proud heritage. So, back to my original question ‘How many times have you been turned down? ‘If your answer is ‘never’, bad luck……you have not pushed hard enough. Your time hasn’t come yet!