The Game of Perception: What people call “Congested” in a bus becomes “Atmosphere” in a night club.
Sipping tea in my garden this morning, I watched a little butterfly, perched atop a freshly opened, fragrant pink rose. As someone who is mighty fascinated by butterflies, I leaned forward to take a closer look. The little creature had a beautiful pair of wings, with an intricate design which was clearly visible as it stretched open its wings, in an attempt to fly, Also, one of its wings was tattered!!
I felt a sudden surge emotions for the little being. As I was contemplating on what I could do to help and feeling sad at the same time, my gaze was fixed at the little wings trying their best at flapping.
Lo, behold! After several attempts, it flew and landed itself on the next flower. After gorging on the sweet nectar, it went on to fly further.
Leaving me with a thought – You really don’t need a perfect pair of wings to fly!
It reminded me of various conversations that I’ve had with many senior leaders, who choose to stay stuck in the Perfectionist Frame of mind.As their Executive Coach, it was my duty to make them see the mirror and recognize how this mindset was often counterproductive and coming in their way of success.
Over conversations, we slowly worked on the limiting belief pattern and I am proud of so many of my Coachees, who learnt the art of letting go, slowly but surely. Their pursuit for perfection was slowly replaced by a pursuit for effectiveness.
And therefore realized – Yes, you really don’t need a perfect pair of wings to fly.
What are the ingredients that go into making “Mental Strength”?
How do you tap into this strength, especially when you are in a challenging situation and the odds that you are surrounded by, seem absurdly insurmountable?
What is that magic ingredient that defines a Champion?
In light of Roger Federer’s “Epic” win at The Wimbeldon 2016, I was asked these questions at an interview conducted by First post, Network 18. My views as a Life Coach, from a vantage point of observation, where I have had the privilege to see many leaders unleash their greatness, for over a decade now, are summed up here.
A token of humble thanks to Ms. Sulekha Nair, Features Editor at First Post who has summed up our discussion so beautifully.
Aditya Ghosh, MD Indigo Airlines, had a problem. Cabin crew was required to count full meal boxes entering, & empties leaving the aircraft at flight end. This was a critical activity but took a lot of time. Also, counting errors cost the crew part of his/her salary. All this put together was often causing flight delays.
Ghosh turned to his friend, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj Auto Limited, who suggested – Weigh in, and weigh out the boxes all together. The job was completed in seconds, without chances of human error.
Sometimes the biggest ideas are the simplest ones!
“Do you hold your beliefs lightly or tightly?
When I hold them tightly, I arrogantly believe everyone should believe as I do. When I hold them lightly, I appreciate others perspectives/points-of-view, even if they may not be mine. The spiritual path is not about trying to get rid of or not have beliefs. It is about holding them lightly because you know that they are simply one perspective among billions. When we cling to a belief, we are stuck. When we hold it lightly we are not stuck… we are free.”
~ Michael Jeffreys
One of my favorite books on coaching is: Emotional Intelligence Coaching: Improving performance for leaders, coaches and the individual by Stephen Neale, Lisa Spencer – Arnell and Liz Wilson.
What made me pick this book was the Foreword written by Sir John Whitmore – “I believe that Emotional Intelligence and coaching are inseperable…..the book focuses on emotional intelligence first, indicating that it is the foundation stone for good coaching; it goes on to address the basics of coaching and then to tie the two together.”
It’s a book I highly recommend especially for the coach community. Not that my peers are not ‘emotionally intelligent’ already, but the book is sure to add value in some way or the other; both to them at an individual level and to their clients via their further sharpened skills.
I have personally received a lot of value from this book. One of the gems I picked up is ‘The EI COACH model’ (Page 152-153) which is a unique amalgamation of the process of coaching and the principles of EI (Emotional Intelligence). The authors have developed the model around the acronym
C (change measure)
H (how are you feeling now?)
The benefit a coachee would derive (over other models) is the ability to gauge his emotional wellness ( barometer) during the coaching sessions, between them and even after the coaching intervention is complete, if this model is used well.
With exercises and questionnaires to develop one’s own emotional intelligence and thereby be instrumental in helping the coachee develop his/her own, this book is a rich resource.
I agree with the authors “ Asking someone who is not emotionally intelligent to coach others is like sending a newly qualified driver out on the roads in a Formula 1 car.” (Page 48)
They say the only thing you can count on for sure is Change and for people who like to maintain the status quo, that can be more than a little unnerving. Even when change is welcome, it is accompanied by an underlying psychological process that can often be surprisingly tumultuous.
As William Bridges says in his book, when any change occurs, it isn’t the physical change that is difficult but the psychological process that goes on when we leave one situation and enter a new one – and this is what he calls Transition.
Transition, he says, occurs in three phases (and this applies to any change) first there is an Ending, then we wander around in the unproductive, disconnected space known as the Neutral Zone, until ultimately we embrace a New Beginning.
Whereas change is usually focused on the attainment of a new goal, transitions begin with a letting go of something, and that something is usually internal. It may be a belief, an assumption, or the way you view yourself, others or the world. The change may be your own choice (such as leaving your job or relationship) or someone else may decide for you, but regardless, the process is the same. Even when you decide to make an outer change in your life, that change is simply the outcome which your transition has prepared you for.
Bridges suggests five aspects of the natural ending experience:
disorientation. The process of letting go of the past can bring up feelings of sadness, grief and loss as well as some relief or anticipation about the possible new future.
The Neutral Zone:
To me, this is the crux of the whole thing. The neutral zone is that in-between place where we lose our sense of relatedness and purpose. So much of who we are is tied up in the old way of life that we feel lost and empty without it. At this stage, there’s nothing new to anchor us or to give us any context or meaning, and that can be difficult, confusing and painful. Bridges suggests that many people literally go off into the “wilderness” during this phase. There’s a strong desire to be alone, to think and regroup. A lot of people report heightened intuition, personal insights and almost “spiritual” awakenings. I can readily recall The Turning Point in my own life and personally vouch for what Bridges describes in the neutral zone. I would wake up in the middle of the night……..every night…..thinking and analyzing, took up meditation, yoga, chanting, dived into astrology and spent a lot of time going for long walks on my own.
For most people, the neutral zone is a decidedly uncomfortable place to be. People around you wonder what’s going on, and make comments that you’re not yourself. They might wonder when you’ll “snap out of it”. The most important thing I’ve learned from Bridges is not to try to rush through this phase. It’s important and necessary, but for a lot of people the natural response is to grab a hold of something – anything – new, in order to get out of that uncomfortable place. If sufficient time isn’t allowed for the dust to settle and the pieces to fall back into place of their own accord, the wrong decision can easily be made.
Finally, after the endings and the wading through the neutral zone, a re-birth happens. There’s no prescription for deciding when it’s time to re-enter the world or how to choose the next “right” path to follow of all the possible options. Bridges suggests that a new beginning can happen as a result of an external cue or an inner signal, but when it presents itself it will resonate with you. You will hear the `clunck`. Out of the formlessness of the neutral zone, a new form starts to take shape and step by step, you start to build a new reality with a new sense of self and possibly new ideals, beliefs and values. Bridges rightly points out that trying to start anew without doing the hard yards of endings and neutrality is a futile exercise that will only lead to more frustration in the long term. It’s like the person who jumps from relationship to relationship without stopping in-between to reassess why the same patterns keep occurring. But when the hard work is done, you can enter a new phase of life with energy and vigour.
I highly recommend this book.