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The vagaries of success


I was in the class of Marshall Goldsmith, the celebrated leadership coach, one the Great Thinkers of our times. He started the 2-day program outlining how we delude ourselves about our own achievements and how success becomes an obstacle on the path of getting better at something. This was quite an intriguing thing in my mind initially, but later had an Ah moment!

All successful people are confident about what they know, their practices and beliefs. They believe that they are successful because of what they do and how they do things. They take accountability for their tasks and take pride in their work. They are passionate about getting results; they aim high and rightfully stake a claim in the results that they produce. All our life, we are trained in our families, schools, societies and workplaces to be ambitious, excel, show confidence, drive towards results and raise the bar. Little we realize that these strong beliefs about what’s the right behaviour could potentially harm us and create the barrier for scaling greater heights.

As one becomes more successful, one goes higher up in an organization and influences a larger platform. Such a person faces a bigger challenge to overcome, if one wants to get better at something. That’s why it is so difficult to coach a great player because he is simply the best at it. The master chef in a restaurant, the dance teacher in the school, the CEO of a firm and so on, are at the helm. Who can coach them to do better? Unless their image exudes confidence, their team cannot have the motivation to demonstrate passion in what they are doing. Sure, one needs to be positive, show the passion and knowledge, take accountability and be in the driving seat! This behaviour is incredibly important to take the organization to success and bigger results.

However, the leader needs to recognize that s/he may not be as good as it appears or what is attributed to him/her. Else, when the going gets tough, the leader doesn’t recognize the fact that the strategy could be wrong and the course needs to be altered. Several times, we have seen our bosses making mistakes. This is so easy to spot! We need to think that we are making mistakes which need to be spotted and corrected.

And another important point that struck me was the fact that one understands the need to change but finds it very hard to practice the change. Examples like diet, exercise, quitting a habit stand testimony to this fact. Same is the story when one is trying to change behaviors like open and honest communication, collaborating with others in the team, working hard, recognizing others and so on.

Humility to learn from others and the determination to change are the two ingredients that we need to develop so that we become great from good! 


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