Sunday, August 31, 2014

What did Sehwag say?

[caption id="attachment_886" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sehwag in conversation... Sehwag in conversation...[/caption]

It was my first face to face exposure to a sportsman of International calibre. The event was titled Leadership in Sports. I must say I was enthusiastic but a bit sceptical about the event for Sehwag was neither an established leader, not a known orator and had nothing much to do with management. The beauty of walking into an event with very low expectations is you leave reasonable scope to be pleasantly surprised. That evening panned out somewhat like that.

For starters, Sehwag turned out to be a great communicator. Great orators impress people but good communicators touch their heart. That is precisely what Sehwag did. He was spontaneous, forthright, witty and had an original, down-to-earth viewpoint. The interview turned out to be not just an entertainer but also very thought provoking. Especially, with the comparison of what happens in sports field, which is easy to understand and analyze and have opinions on, to what happens at workplace, which is hazy, unclear, confusing and therefore frustrating, there were some amazing conclusions and learnings that brought clarity. To me clarity is what Sehwag is all about. Tendulkar is genius, Dhoni is strategist, Dravid is technique, Laxman is elegance, Kumble is determination and Sehwag is clarity. From this hour long interaction I saw infectiously uncluttered mind which accepts rough with the smooth.

I learnt five important lessons.

"Coach can't do anything"

Sehwag played under various coaches, in his point of view no coach could change is batting style or temperament or batting stance. He had to figure out his own way of scoring runs, coach could only be a facilitator. To him, coach's job is to create relaxing, healthy atmosphere in the dressing room, overcome challenges to enable the team to bond and to perform to the best of their abilities.

At work, leaders often gets bogged down by challenges of individual team members. Learning from Sehwag was, the leaders should help the team help themselves. They should create an atmosphere in which team members recognize and overcome their challenges. Leader's job is to encourage them, create bonding and positive atmosphere to achieve this. The key is to treat them like Sehwag and let them solve their problems and not be under an illusion that you can solve it for them.

"Talented people are lazy"

The audience busted into laughter when he said this, but he was damn serious and added a rejoinder ,"I can prove it. Indian team has many talented players like Sachin, Yuvraj.....Sehwag who are very lazy". Every team has Dravids and Sehwags. Dravids are disciplined, meticulous and go about doing their work bit by bit, till they grind it down. Talented Sehwags burst on to the scene, convert impossible situations into cake walks. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses and perform and bring success in different situations. One should never make a mistake of straight jacketing them. Talented players need to be left on their own. You can't make Dravid out of Sehwag.

"Talent and Performance are different. Talent gets you there performance make you stay"

To me this was the quote of the evening. While managing careers of exceptionally talented, bright teams sometimes you are blind sighted. We often hear ,"This guy is great. He has a lot of potential, great asset to the team. He may not have performed this year but lets recognize him". In sports context if I say "Sehwag is a talented player, he has great records, so what he has failed in this match, I think we should give him man-of-match award", one can easily spot the contradiction. The team should be selected based on talent and rewarded based on performance.

"You may not like someone off-the field but on field you have to be best buddies"

This another challenge we face at workplace. Team members bring their personal preferences to work and refuse to cooperate. Sehwag's solution was simple and matter of factly. Off-the-work preferences should be left outside workplace and at workplace  team members should focus on common goals and bond together to achieve it.  This segregation may be clearer on the cricket field than in board rooms but one should strive to do it.

Celebrities are people too.

This was my learning after the interview was over. Celebrities like to interact with people who are interested in them. Sehwag was mobbed by the  fans for autographs and photographs, I struck conversation with him as we walk by. I asked him about his best performance, some famous sledging incidences, his advertisement performance etc etc. Our discussions were continuously interrupted by photographs but he continued the conversation. I got my moments of exclusive attention from a celebrity because I wanted to communicate, not just get photographed.

Learning is at its best when none is teaching and when its least expected. Thats what happened to me when I went to listen to what Sehwag had to say.

(I thanks Mr. Bala Shetty and MintAsia for inviting me for this event. Leadership in Sports is an excellent concept and all my best wishes are with them)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Unconnect for Better Quality of Life!

Thanks to social media, a day after birthday is also exciting. I had hundreds of birthday wishes and comments which I had to read and reply. I was really excited to see comments from people whom I never thought think about me. While going through the list of my well wishers, I noticed that one of friends who was a Facebook buff hadn't wished me. From what I knew of her she used check Facebook status more often than she used to breathe, as she would put it. I thought she would be the first one to wish me but she hadn't.

I saw her the next day, she was looking a bit dazed, but warmly wished me ,"Happy Birthday, Vivek" She said with a smile and warm handshake.
"Thank you so much", I replied but I could sense something was different.
"Its so nice to wish in person, rather than Facebook", She said.
I could not believe my ears. My facial expression could roughly be translated as "you too Broots". "What happened? Talk to me", I said as we walked towards our pantry.

"I have quit all social media. Since yesterday" she began.
"What happened?" I genuinely enquired.
"I realized that social media is becoming an addiction. I didn't realize till because it slowly grew on me. My friend gifted me this book Palace of Illusions which tells the Mahabharat from Draupadi's point of view. How exciting I thought. But I just could not read it beyond a single page. The story was interesting, language was lucid, I wanted to read it but it just wont happen"
"Aha! Why? Sometimes it happens to me too" I confessed.
"After a bit of soul searching, I realized that it was all due to my social media addiction. I had just lost the ability to concentrate. I had become a very distracted person. My daughter had started complaining about it but I had ignored. But it was hitting me back. I realized that my friends who were half a world away knew more about me and my daily life more than my family who were off social media. It felt so wrong." She said.
"Ya it happens to me too. But I never thought about it that way", I agreed.
"In our last vacation we landed up giving up a hotel with good view and facilities in favor of another hotel which wasn't so good just because it had wifi. This just didn't make sense. My younger daughter swears by her ipad and would not go anywhere without it. She has speaking difficulties. The doctor advised us to take her away from Ipad and ensure she speaks to real people more often."
This was real but getting really serious I thought.
"My elder one is very good at written communication but he struggles big time when it comes to talking face to face and interacting in social gatherings. So I thought I have had enough and I just gave up virual world for real world"

I was quite moved by the story. I was not that addicted but I was getting there. I didn't see a need to give up the social media completely but I thought of 3 things I would do to keep my social media at sane level.

1. I plan to check my social media only at specific timeslots. Rest of the time I just log off and keep all notification off.
2. When family is around, dinner times, vacation times there is no social media allowed for anyone of us.
3. I want to pickup a new hobby may be golf or gardening to gainfully use my time.

What do you plan to do?