Monday, October 25, 2010

Why talent alone will not ensure success.

 Harsha Bhogle at IIM Ahmedabad on Excellence

An interesting presentation by Harsha Bhogle, which is insightful and gives you a possible  explanation as to why kids who topped the class, never topped it in life and the talented hotshots never took the winner's podium and why it is that we find ourselves applauding the supposedly "mediocre",or as a teenager once told me at the gym.. "why is it that, it is  the  #@%+,  who always gets the girl and has the BMW"?

If you are short of time, go to part II and to the 7th minute of the presentation, where he talks about, the importance of talent in achieving excellence. He mentions how people who are talented, always depend on talent to see them through and when it does not, they are lost and rarely are able to bounce back.  To me this was one of the most significant points he made.

I have seen many talented people who studied with me and who worked with me, who never reached the heights they could have and should have. It was not merely luck that explained it. There were other issues. Harsha mentions attitude and work ethic. He contrasts Vinod Kambli with Sachin Tendulkar. I however think that is too simplistic. I believe, emotional intelligence and the ability to network and form successful relationships by reading the political equations right is a sine qua non in the times we live in. This possibly explains the success of a Saurav Ganguly. Dravid had the attitude and the work ethic. He also and a modicum of talent and an astute and technically refined cricketing brain. He was also a well behaved professional who could never be faulted for his behavior. Yet he lacked the political savvy and the emotional intelligence that Ganguly had. Ganguly therefore, was a much more effective captain and player than Dravid, in spite of serious drawbacks in his technique and even in his attitude and work ethic.  Dhoni is another example of excellence and success.He has only limited talent, but is very adaptive and strong when it comes to emotional intelligence, networking and reading the political equation right. He staved off challenges from Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh and still calls the shots. He also has the unique advantage of a cool temperament and is never seen as egoistical in his dealings. He seems to be unconcerned about results and seizes opportunities. Luck also seems to be on his side :)

The moral of the story seems to be as it says in the Bhagvat Geetha:

A) Attitude
Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachna
Karmaphalehtur bhurma te sangostvakarmani.

which means
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action। Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

 As Harsha says .. we need to focus on the process and getting it right, the results take care of themselves. Have a goal and a plan of action to achieve it. The focus should be on executing it and in the now. The end result will take care of itself. "Get the runs and the dollars will come " !
'Living the moment' , 'enjoying what you do' and 'being in the now' , the journey is as important as the destination are all offshoots of this premise:)

B)  Having a mentor and a Godfather.
Harsha does not say this. I am mentioning this from experience. Sachin had Gavaskar as a mentor  and Mark Telly of World tel, who managed his career. Arjuna had Krishna. Most industry leaders have had a godfather or a mentor who pulled them along. Politics is inevitable. Even if you mind your own business, you end up being a political factor: Finding someone to look up to and ensuring that you work for him is a career strategy that may yield dividends in the long run.  Irrespective of the company, it is the boss who can make or break your career and affect your life day in and day out. Never loose a good boss if you find one. Make sure he grows and you should grow too.:)

C) Networking:
Many call this being a "team player". Playing the 'non-striker' and taking your 'catches' when the team is bowling  and making the "other guy look good" is a currency to use and something to focus on. Negotiators call this the win - win equation!! Striking this equation is easier said than done and that is where people skills come in. The trick is in ensuring that  you are not taken for granted and can call in the social debts  when required. Having such social investments, results in being able to influence behaviour and results in social power and effectiveness :)

D) "Living life on your terms" is a nice line in an advertisement. It does not happen in life. Get real. Compromise or Cooperate, is the name of the game ("kindly adjust")and the smart ones know where the line should be drawn so that success is not traded for ethics, self -respect and happiness. Breaking the law in pursuit of success is a folly some make, regret it and they pay for it all their lives and sometimes with their lives. Being reasonable, flexible and adapting to situations is the mantra here and keeping the ego out of the equation, helps.

Lastly actions speak louder than words and therefore it ends here


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