Tap of Energy

Imagine a sleek, aerodynamic car fitted with a powerful engine, ready to hit the road but…

Imagine a powerful wrestler, fit from years of practice, backing out of a contest because …

Imagine a powerhouse enterprise managing to achieve a good milestone, but stranded, because…

A lot of talk about success in life revolves around preparation and strategy, team and composition, action and follow up. If you get these, success is supposed to be a regular visitor at your doorstep.

Then why doesn’t potential always translate to performance; why do impressive specifications fail to deliver; or years of experience lets you down at that moment of truth?

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

Enthusiasm, excitement and energy are the cornerstones of good performances.

After a car is ready, it needs the energy to take it forward; a wrestler needs excitement to put up a fight; and an enterprise needs enthusiasm to move to the next level.

The most powerful gadget is rendered powerless when you remove it from the socket. A winner doesn’t go past the finishing line because didn’t participate with enthusiasm. The promising languish on the side lines because they didn’t jump in.

Though literally energy means power, energy comes from various sources.

Inspiration – With energy one can move mountains, with doubt, one can create them. A positive mindset is the seed of energy. You can be excited about the smallest and be cold towards the biggest opportunities. People who are inspired by a purpose derive their energy from it and don’t need external resources to build their energy bank. When you have a purpose and direction you don’t need to be woken up, you are awake within, waiting for dawn and not a yawn.

Ambience – A man is gauged by the company he keeps and his energy is gauged by the people he engages with. Choose well the people you spend time with as they can inflate you with the air of positivity or deflate you by puncturing your confidence. While they are a constant source of encouragement, in times of doubt and indecision, these people help you get up, and don’t let you down.

Preparation – Remember looking at the skies praying for rain on a wintry day when you were unprepared for an exam. Preparation builds energy through confidence. And constant preparation builds competence that gives you the energy to do well which unprepared individuals feel the dearth of.

The coming week marks the start of the ‘Navratri’ festival. It is a festival to celebrate the goddess of ‘Shakti’. Energy will be on display during this nine day celebration. To the devout it is time to revisit the deity and seek divine blessings. To the youth, it’s time to let their hair down to keep the spirits up.

Energy is not muscle, it is spirit. It is not brute power, it is enthusiasm. It is not physical stamina, but determination to weather the storm. It is not a spurt of vitality, but the perseverance to move towards your goals.

Energy brings out the best in you and sends a signal to everyone of your positive intent. You can plot to win battles armed with power, but you can only fight with energy. You can spend years in execution and feel deaf if you can’t hear the beats of energy in your ears. You can push start with support but can carry on the momentum only with the energy from within.

Energy cannot be refilled at a gas station. Energy cannot be transfused from one to another. It cannot be stored for a rainy day. It has to be created from within, again and again, each day, each time, for every endeavour.

And those who are full of energy don’t manufacture it, they have it. They don’t collect, they have created a process within that produces it, regularly, and in abundance. They just tap into it. To succeed, others may need the spirit of festivity in the air, and the beats to dance, but they tap to the beats of energy, from within.

Test of T20

Some months back I was scheduled to address a group of cancer patients. As I sat down to reflect what could be shared to motivate them, my heart was filled with compassion.

So little time, so much to do!

It struck me that the desperation and intensity is definitely affected when you have limited time at your disposal. You may want to write for hours, but when you have three hours to attempt six questions, you start filtering what you are going to focus on. When you have to meet a deadline, you have to conclude.

Watching the on-going T20 world cup I could see players taking undue risks in the shortest format. If you know you have limited time to stay alive you better score the most in the limited time. This is a sprint, not a marathon. This is not an endurance test where you reserve and preserve for a final flourish.

Today, we live in a T20 mindset. You can witness the change all around you. Lifecycles of products and services have shortened. You don’t buy products to last a lifetime. You want to have the time of your life, you want to enjoy till it lasts. People are not looking too far and companies have to prepare for the immediate future as the uncertainty of the future is certain.

Ideas are transforming into reality much faster. Intermediates and go-betweens are being dispensed with, to connect with each other directly. Information is on tap, and days of mining, accumulating and preserving info have faded into oblivion. People find it easier to search for contact details of a person on the net than look for the card they exchanged, when was it?

To the old school these are times of discomfort and uncertainty. Rule books are going out of the window, and a new order of no order is emerging. Earlier there was one route to success, and a few diversions. Now new versions are dished out every day. New destinations are added and new routes discovered. You don’t have to be copy book anymore, you can rewrite a book every day.

There is no time to build gradually; you need to create an impact, and that too almost immediately.  Fours and sixes are remembered with glee, and it is no longer attractive to watch singles and twos being accumulated. Earlier, fours and sixes were a punctuation, and now singles are as unwelcome as singles at a couples get-together.

While this mayhem of speed and non-stop excitement has changed the game, few things haven’t changed: the preparation, the practice and the development necessary to perform. What hasn’t changed is the need for commitment to what you do.

What has changed is the intensity.  It has made people more focussed on what to do, to make it happen, quickly. What has changed is the absence of patience, and the time you have at your disposal to succeed. There is no time to get your act together, you perform or perish faster than a perishable. Maturity doesn’t have to wait for years. Wine has to find ways to get its taste faster. The slow cooking flavour has to be re-created, but in the reverse pace.

This is not a passing fad, it is a lifestyle. It is not optional. Jump in or be left behind. Good news and bad news get dissipated equally quick. Neither can you brood too long, nor can you celebrate for too long because the next news is at the door, waiting to be let in.

Albert Einstein had the entire varsity management gunning for him when they found he had set the same physics exam paper for two consecutive years. He smiled and replied, the questions are the same but the answers have changed.

These are testing times. Same questions now have new answers. And the answers keep changing at the blink of an eye. The game has changed, but what hasn’t changed is that, to be the best, you need to test yourself. And if you don’t change with the speed of light, the tunnel will be a never ending one.

To bow out or be ousted

Monday morning found two friends discussing the weekend. One was delirious of the friends who had dropped by over the weekend. The other was distraught at his friends coming for dinner. That made one wonder how the friends’ visit meant differently to both of them. ‘They left so early, I wished they had stayed longer’, was the first friend’s comment. ‘They stayed forever, and refused to leave well past midnight that we forgot the great time we had until then’ was the latter’s experience.

When to leave; when to call it a day; when to exit, has always been a point of conjecture between people in both personal and professional lives. Whether it is a senior member in a company, a sportsperson, or even a father handing over reins to the son in a family business, the timing has always been the fine line of distinction between agony and ecstasy.

The world of cricket, in recent times has witnessed some exits and some calls for exits. Both issues have raised eyebrows and left people further perplexed on this delicate issue.

I recollect attending many conferences where the speakers enthrall you and then stall you because they don’t know when to stop. There seems to be a misconception that more is more effective. Theatre and cinema exhibits plenty of examples on how people with short but effective appearances leave a lasting impact. Sometimes these cameos even overshadow the longer main roles. Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length wrote Robert Frost. Like a good play, or a movie the performers make an appearance at the right time, and exit at the right time too.

Every useful product has an expiry date, and becomes dispensable from being indispensable. And it is this understanding that makes people time their decisions well. Staying beyond the ‘ideal’ time or overstaying hospitality will find people gunning for you, and leaving early makes people long for you. In one case they have had more than enough, and the other they long for more.

Brand management includes many things, and also includes the crucial sense of knowing where to draw a line. First impressions get you started. Last impressions are what people carry with them. They can leave a bitter after taste if not well managed.

In a career where performance matters, people who are brand conscious end up being conscious of getting the timing right. They can’t see themselves being seen or recollected in a manner less than their usual high standards, and call it a day when they see darkness approaching from a distance.

The late Vijay Merchant, great Indian cricketer chose to retire from Tests after a last innings effort of 154 at Delhi. He said one should retire when he’s good enough to play on. Why now, people should ask, and not why not now, was his view.

A popular line from a commercial was, ‘Catch me if you can’. The delayed departure bandwagon believes, ‘Push me out, if you can.’

Leave early and be remembered for all the great feats and good times. Delay it and the ugly froth of that extended unwanted stay will make you be remembered for the wrong reasons.

In this speed crazy age there are no warm welcomes or emotional send offs. It is better to leave by yourself, than to be shown the door.

Teaming Up

People are seeking to learn all the time. They read books, listen to thought leaders, get coached, and of course learn from experience. Those with a keen eye find that every observation and interaction offers an opportunity for learning to a fertile mind which is ready to absorb the knowledge overflowing in life.

Every interaction is a learning experience and any group activity offers a rich cluster of lessons.

Any group activity needs purpose, planning and execution. And all these within a framework of teamwork which can make the difference between winning and losing.

Purpose: It almost seems absurd that you can have a team engaged without a purpose. However we have seen two key areas of deficiency. One is clarity of purpose and the other is lack of communication. You may come across groups which are feverishly committed to be together but have little idea why they have come together. They fail to achieve anything significant other than being a social interaction platform. Some groups start with a well-defined purpose but the lack of proper communication or the continued communication of purpose gradually erases the primary reason of their association.

Leadership: Whether the group is made of two or two hundred, leadership or the lack of it makes its presence or absence felt. Good leaders will be communicative, assertive, encouraging, inspiring, guiding, selfless, and lead from the front. Weak leaders will be poor in communication, unsure, wavering, self-centred, and play favourites. Leadership has something unique about it. The leader may be visible or invisible, but leadership is always omnipresent in any group.

Execution: The success of any venture or group’s purpose is measured by its execution. It is the teamthe members, the way they perform individually and in tandem, and the team spirit is what determines the outcome. Good leaders and passionate team members still follow the proverbial rule of a rotten apple and keep the team free of one. Purpose and Leadership ensures the team is on track and meets its goals.

Teams are a collection of individuals and individuals performing well collectively make a great team which achieve great results. So it boils down to individuals: how they see their role and how they contribute.

Some want to do it, from some you have to get it done. Some want to do it well, while some need others to get out the best from them. Some want to win, and some want to participate. Some look at what they have to do, while some see what the team needs to do collectively to win.

Great team performances are a result of a combination of the three key factors and the team players who make the final difference. Team members committed to give their best do not wait to be summoned or reminded of what they are expected to do. They in fact are constantly looking at how they can improve their contribution towards the team cause. And it is this approach and attitude from each of them that makes the team unbeatable.

So ask yourself the key question: Do you voluntarily give your best or has it to be extracted out of you?