CTQ 'Beat the Status Quo'

Did you know that 2018 marks 200 years of using the treadmill as a punishment device for prisoners? Each new year, we continue to stay on life’s treadmill, endlessly running on and on, but never getting to the ‘next level’.

Trapped on the status quo treadmill?

At Choose To Thinq, we help the world beat its status quo. We call this UPLEVELING.

Each year, we help growth-minded teams and professionals succeed by bringing them vital information via highly impactful online formats. Below, you'll find our 2018 list of events. Each will be delivered via an online session or ebook.

Join our mailing list to gain get early access and bonus recommendations.


JAN 5 ideas that will improve the chances of you meeting important goals

FEB Famous self-learners and what you can learn from them

MAR Future of work: What are the latest trends in how the world will work?

APR Upleveling thought leadership inside a team

MAY How to ‘connect the dots’ for better ideas?

JUL 50 books, 50 takeaways

JUL How to build a culture of perpetual learning?

AUG How can managers lead and orchestrate innovation?

SEP Learn 3 new ways to NOT make decisions like a love-crazed teenager

OCT How to build habits and make them stick?

NOV How will you measure your life?

DEC The 25 most important things we learnt in 2018

Join our list to get early access and bonus recommendations.

Have a great 2018!

 

How to get inspired by the 2018 Choose To Thinq Calendar in 12 easy steps

How to get inspired by the 2018 Choose To Thinq Calendar in 12 easy steps

Innovator? Change-maker? Beater of the Status Quo? Get inspired by 12 real-life stories of putting a ding in the universe by hanging up this calendar on your wall. Our webcomic-style calendar helps you live, learn, and uplevel in 2018. Available in Desk and Wall formats.

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The importance of 'Rituals'

Rituals - everyone has them!

Rituals - everyone has them!

"We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then is not an act but a habit."

The first time I came across this quote was when we were shooting a video for my business school, Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. A few of us were asked to say this aloud and funnily enough, the team which was making this video made us repeat this line quite a few times to get the best shot. I found the quote quite fascinating and it was probably my first exposure to the idea of system-thinking versus goal-thinking.

The first book I read in the ‘self-help’ genre was Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I had read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance earlier though I didn’t consider it a self-help book then. (On that note, the first book that I read which I’d classify under self-help will have to be The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.) Coming back to Rich Dad, Poor Dad – I had picked it up because it had been highly recommended by so many people at work. The one idea that I seem to recall from that book was how a person is the sum total of his/her friends and where/ with whom he spends all his time.

The same idea popped up again when I read about what most sport-champions consider the secret of their success; what the world’s best CEOs consider the small things they do that make the difference; what Scott Adams recommends as life-advice. Was this the Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon at work?

Seth Godin has talked about the secret-handshakes of tribes. When I see religious and cultural rituals, I try to imagine how that particular ritual must have come about. One tends to retro-fit many rituals to some agricultural or ecological context to justify why it was started in the first place. I wonder if they were designed deliberately or evolved over a period of time or were done and followed for generations, without anyone giving it a thought.

An interesting ritual I come across is in the kids’ school. The school usually starts everything with five minutes of meditation and a prayer – kids start their day this way in most schools. The interesting thing is the parent-teacher meetings also start with five minutes of meditation and followed by a Sanskrit spiritual chant which says the Teacher is the representative of God and we all salute the God. Such sessions usually are crib sessions where parents come to the school with a long list of complaints. I feel the five minutes of relaxation and the chanting in praise of the teachers goes a long way in either eliminating most of the unnecessary complaints and definitely reducing the intensity of the complaints.

One habit that we have developed in our team is to ask quiz questions. One thing that binds everyone in our team is that we all love quizzing. So someone volunteers to ask a Question of the Day on our Whatsapp group. We also do a short quiz at the start of every meeting. This is our equivalent of meditation. Trying to answer questions gets us all to be mentally present for the meeting - we all are in the right frame of mind and meetings become a lot more effective!

Rituals, habits, systems are the building blocks for making any sustainable change. Change is happening all the time – sometimes planned and many a time, it is inadvertent.

I’d love to hear your experiences with designing rituals in your life or at work.

Tennis Chronicles: What did I tell my best friend?

There had been a lull for some time since the last time I had written about my Tennis. A book we often recommend is Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath. One of the techniques they talk about while taking decisions for yourself is to answer the question “What would I tell my best friend in this situation?” If you can detach yourself from a situation but also think about it for your best friend, you will care enough. That really increases the chances of taking better decisions. I have been trying to get this balance of dispassionate-ness and ‘caring enough’ in lot of the decisions I have been taking at work and in life.

Coming back to my tennis - I had a feeling that I was just showing up at my tennis class every day and going through whatever was on offer that day – it was not really going through the motions but it felt like that to me because I didn’t have a plan; I felt I was drifting. I decided to take a step back and look at my learning, what could I change and of course, give some rest to my troublesome knee. So I decided to take a break for the month of May.

During my cycling trips every morning, I chanced upon a different tennis academy and decided to play there for a few days to see how it goes. The new place was different in many ways:

  • It’s a hard-court. I had played only on clay courts for one year.
  • It’s much closer to my house. So I could save a lot in transit time.
  • There were three courts as against the four at the previous place.
  • There were fewer people who came to play.

I started with some doubts but decided to give the new place a shot anyways. The first week was horrible – I found it difficult to get used to the pace of the court; I was anyways coming off a month-long break. But I slowly got more comfortable. When our kids came back from their vacation, I convinced them to join me at this new place (leaving all their friends from their older class). Around 2 weeks in, I realized the biggest difference – the coach at the new place has given me ‘technical advice’ on exactly 2 occasions in the last 40 odd days. You might recall the equation I had quoted from The Inner Game of Tennis,

Performance = Potential – Interference

In the book, the author talks about how the ‘coaching’ from the coach becomes an interference for the player because she wants to implement what she has been told – extend your arm, check your grip et al. This new coach plays regularly with us; has been coaching for a few decades. So I’m sure he has a lot to say but his philosophy seems to be to let players develop their own style. He has a slightly different approach with the kids but largely the philosophy seems to be the same.

This works very well for me, personally. I can make my plans for what I want to improve every day. Since there are fewer people, I play more sets instead of going through the standard routine drills that everyone was put through. Fewer people as compared to the earlier place also means that there are fewer people whose tennis skill- level will be rated as high. Yet, my level has definitely gone up because I have been able to make the changes I want to and plan for. The biggest difference is that I feel more in control of my tennis journey and I feel happy about it! For an autodidact like me, this is the perfect scenario. I’ll wait to see how it goes for the kids.

So if I had to report back to my best friend, this is how his advice helped –

  • Found the new courts when I was out cycling -  Increase exposure to new situations, people, to improve chances of serendipity to happen to you
  • Took a break – allowed me to do detached reflection
  • Tried out the new place – experiment before coming to any conclusions
  • Fewer people at the new place – more mind-space and playing-time
  • Under-coaching allowing me to do my own thing.

What advice would you give to your best friend?

5 ridiculously tough ways to make your children fall in love with reading

5 ridiculously tough ways to make your children fall in love with reading

At Choose To Thinq, we are nutty about reading. So we often get asked: “How do I building a reading habit in my child?” 

Based on our experiences as readers, parents, and uplevelers who study habits, change, and innovation, here are five specific ways in which you could influence the creation of such a habit in a child.

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Tired of being forgotten? We'll show you a way to become 'stickier'.

Feeling Forgotten?

The worst fate for people charged with spreading ideas, the likes of which include budding innovators, entrepreneurs, and marketers, is being forgotten. Compare that to a fake news item, an urban legend, a proverb, an election motto, or a major shoe brand's tagline: once they enter your head, they stay there for ever.

Can we ever be as 'sticky' as them?

'Made To Stick', one of our favourite books ever, has teased out the secrets of success behind some of these memorable ideas. The answer, it says, is SUCCES

Keen on knowing what this is? Join us and the Bhau Institute of Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Leadership on Saturday, 13 May 2017, from 5 pm - 7 pm. While we talk about making ideas memorable, Jeet Vijay from Bhau Institute will specifically address how to put these ideas to work in the context of pitching to investors.

Don't miss this chance to uplevel the way you spread a message you care deeply about.

To Join Us

Entry is free. Please RSVP here: http://meetu.ps/e/CN5jP/qsG1H/f 

The seam of the tennis ball, Draupadi's swayamwar and the Universal truth of life

Arjuna.jpg

After my last post on Tennis, I was recommended by at least two people to read The Inner Game of Tennis. When I did a quick Google search, what really intrigued me about it was the fact that this book was used by coaches in different sports like Tennis and hand-egg. Usually, when a book has applicability and relevance in different domains or areas, it means that the book is talking about something more fundamental and higher-level. This book is considered the Bible of tennis coaching and the author, Timothy Gallwey has apparently written more books and is now an acclaimed business coach as well.I bought the book on Kindle immediately and started reading it. The book talked about what I go through on a daily basis – the trouble with concentration, the one great winner that I manage to hit once in a blue moon and call it ‘patchy’ form. The big equation to come out of the book is

Performance = Potential – Interference

Where Interference is the instructions you try to give yourself to hit a shot in a particular way or what the coach is asking you to focus on or what you think the situation demands. If you can minimize the Interference, then the performance can actually be as good as your potential. And it all boils down to focus. So what I've been doing all this while is sledging myself!! The idea is to figure out what works best for you – and this starts with understanding yourself and becoming more self-aware. You try out different approaches without being judgmental about the results and then once you do what's working enough number of times, you get into the groove i.e. you can do it exactly in the same way every time. Thinking complicated skills like walking, writing, driving!  There is always the risk of regressing to old habits because your ego needs the satisfaction of being in control and wants to ‘drive’ you towards great results. And that’s when you need to have practiced ‘how to get your focus back’.

This is a great equation because it’s a very fundamental equation. It’s applicable in every sphere of work and life. All the great saints, teachers, leaders have said something on similar lines – keep things simple; maintain razor-sharp focus and try to achieve the Zen state in whatever you are doing. Whether it is spiritual readings or self-help books or books on leadership/ behavior science or a bootcamp on hypnosis (and I’m speaking from personal experience), the ultimate message that you bring it down to is the same – keep it simple, focus, you have to figure out what works for you on your own and once you find that, rinse and repeat. And it’s always a system! Targets can be deceptively detrimental.

Uplevelling @ Choose To Thinq

This framework is something we follow at work. At Choose To Thinq, we uplevel growth-minded leaders to beat the status quo for themselves and their teams. The nature of problems can be quite varied. We have worked on challenges like –

  • My customers are smart. I can’t be doing the same standard thing to engage with them. What can I do differently?
  • The people coming to this Sales conference have probably got bored of seeing the same kind of demos and presentations. How do I convey my message more convincingly?
  • I want to engage better with this group of employees and develop these channels of communication. Skip-level meetings can’t be the solution!
  • I want to develop a culture of intrapreneurship in my company. How do I do this?

These business problems are from domains as varied as marketing, sales, traditional HR and organization development. The framework that we typically apply is –

  • Work with the leader to help them discover a destination to aim for.
  • Help the leader to creatively engage, persuade and recruit allies and equip them with new knowledge, skills and tools required.
  • Help shape the environment and build habits and culture for the quest to succeed.
  • Help sustain the change.

Some typical attributes of our approach are

  • Keep it simple and maintain focus.
  • Try out different approaches first to figure out what is working in your situation. (There’s no guarantee that what worked in another company similar to yours will work for you)
  • Something not working the way you wanted it to is part of the process.
  • Observe what’s working and amplify it.

We came up with this approach based on multiple philosophies and frameworks like design thinking, lean startup, systems thinking, B J Fogg's behavior design and books like Influence, Switch, Decisive, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Flow, The Power of Habit etc. Above all, we use a lot of common sense instead of being dogmatic about any one framework/philosophy. It’s our own version of Din-i-Ilahi, the religion that Akbar founded based on the best things from different religions.

tennis-ball-300x222.jpg

It all boils down to the same universal truth –

  • Keep it simple.
  • Focus.
  • Figure out what works for yourself – it could be very different from the ‘recommended best practices’.
  • Rinse, repeat to make a system out of it.

A simple trick Timothy Gallwey talks about for maintaining focus is to try and watch the seams of the ball and nothing else. Then the ball seems bigger and it even slows down for you to play your shots at ease. How different is it from Arjuna hitting the eye of the fish in the swayamwar to win Draupadi's hand in marriage?

Harish is co-founder, Choose To Thinq and Thinq2Win

"Contagious" - CTQ Book of the Month - March 2017

Contagious is a book that studies the phenomenon of word of mouth, virality, and what is it that makes people talk about a book, an idea, an event, or a person. Very useful for marketers, start-ups, intrapreneurs, and anyone who is trying to introduce something new. Here's our quick infographic summary of the 6 key conclusions of the book. This is also the visual for March on our CTQ 2017 Books Calendar.

(BTW, we are now offering a Financial Year version of the 2017 Books Calendar - it spans April 2017-March 2018 and is a great learning gift for your clients and employees for the next financial year.)

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