Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Do You Mean?

The other day I drove past a truck displaying the sticker "Factory Trained".  It occurred to me at that moment how for the longest time I used to equate this to mean the technician is highly trained, an expert in his field.  But this time I wondered, is that really so?  Could it also mean that this individual simply attended say a short education program held at the factory, thus "qualifying" him to display the sticker? 

As I reflected further on this, many other such commonly spoken statements came to mind and I wondered, what do they really mean.  Statements such as:
  • Quality first
  • The ultimate driving machine
  • Best in class 
  • World class
  • Original Copy
  • Certified Pre-owned
  • Genuine imitation
  • She is so beautiful
  • He is so smart
  • I need some space
  • Grow up
  • They are so successful
The older I get, the more I am realizing how very few things in life are absolute, and instead majority of things are relative, subject to one's assumptions and interpretations, and how much I tend to assume that what I am understand something to mean is what the other really means to convey.

As a result, more and more when I now hear such subjective statements, I am starting to ask "what do you mean".  As I do this, I see the gaps in communication surface, resulting communication becomes much more effective, and misunderstandings decrease.  And equally importantly, I am realizing how much my own views are limited due to my limited experience.  So by asking the question, others views come out into the open and in the process I too learn and grow.

So next time you hear such subjective statements, ask "what do you mean".  This will invite dialogue and as you truly listen, you will experience for yourself further learning/growth, better decisions and therefore outcomes, and stronger relationships.  It's absolutely beautiful. 

Go ahead, give it try.  Start asking, what do you mean, by...?

Friday, July 22, 2011

What Led to My Success, and Failure?

In my business life, I have experienced both tremendous success and utter failure.  In both outcomes, I was the same person possessing the same habits, intellect, skills, and abilities.  Therefore, I have often wondered why is it that at times I have succeeded and at other times have completely failed, by any external measure? 

I have been quietly reflecting on this question for over 2 years now.  I wanted to understand what was it that led to each outcome and going forward what can I learn from these experiences. I have finally come to see that when I have succeed, I have met 3 critical aspects and none have to do with my intellect, skills and abilities.  Here they are:

Clear Vision:  I could see clearly my desired outcomes (goals), see myself doing what needed to be done, who I was serving, what value I was delivering, how I was delivering the value, the business strategy (road map), to name just a few of these elements under vision. 

Strong Belief:  I firmly believed in the business, the business model, the team, the value being delivered, and how in the process I, my team, my family, and my clients were benefiting. 

Outcome Oriented  Focused Action:  Upon the foundation of clear focused vision and strong belief, I was able to act with conviction.  Bumps, while stressful at time, didn't throw me off course.  And the more I succeeded, the stronger my beliefs became, energizing me even further.  Nothing could shake me from my path.

On the other hand, when I have failed, I now realize that each of these aspects were missing.  My vision was cloudy. I didn't have a strong sense, and therefore belief, of who I am serving, what value I am delivering, and the business model.  In the absence of these factors, my efforts were half-hearted at best.  No wonder I failed.

While experiencing failure by no means was a pleasant experience, and I don't wish it on anyone, looking back I am thankful for having gone through such experiences.  I believe that today I am a better person because of it for I have learned invaluable lessons in the process.  And I see these experiences as having provided me with inner growth and now serve as stepping stones into my next phase.

So if you're in a place where things just aren't working out, ask yourself, with brutal honesty, are you clear about your vision, do you believe in that vision as well as in yourself, and are you willing to do whatever it takes. If you lack in any of these, I urge you to step back for a moment and do the work necessary, starting with within yourself, to achieve the clarity and conviction you need and then start again from that place. 

Remember, to succeed, you need all 3, and that there are no short cuts. And when you do experience set-backs, have faith that they are there for a purpose, even though you may not see it just yet.