“Yes, and…” - why this idea from improv theatre has applications in the world of researchRead More
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.Read More
In this edition of 'CTQ Highlights', we'll tell you if you should read 'Switch', a great book about 'making change happen when change is tough'. Join us for this online session on 20th August. Read more for details.Read More
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.
It all boils down to the same universal truth –
- Keep it simple.
- 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
Here at Choose To Thinq, books are what energy cells are to clocks: they make us tick. We love books and love helping people grow by getting them to consume and applying the wisdom from books. We are constantly stocking and restocking our library of books - this time, we are looking specifically at books that can help you work better. Can you help us? Then read on!
Some of the themes we are interested in getting books for, are:
- Practising Innovation and Building Innovation Culture
- Persuasive Communication
- Making Change Happen
- Being More Productive
- Making Better Decisions
You can also go beyond these topics and tell us some must-have books for our library. We will put up a list of books based on what you tell us, so go ahead!
Vacations can be like parole - they can release you from the prisons of old routines where others set rules for you, and let you taste a different kind of life. But if you've just done the usual touristy things, lazed around with bottle and cards, and slept most days in a hotel room, you've missed out on an opportunity to turn your life around.
Here are 3 ways to use your vacation to thoughtfully change your life:
1. Try out a new habit
a vacation is a great time to trial a new habit. According to The Power of Habit, to form a new habit, pick a "trigger" when you initiate the activities in the habit, and find a reward when you complete it. Since you are on holiday and don't have to make breakfast or get ready for work or school, you have the mental space and time to do the hard yards. Also give yourself the luxury of a reward when you complete the routine. Hopefully, by the end of your vacation, you'll have put the roots of a new habit.
2. Finish that great book
Use the long flight or train journey to get through that life-changing book that you could never make time for. Sitting in
3. Thoughtful photography
Everyone has a great camera these days. But many of them don't know how to use them well, resulting in an ugly mass of photos that pollute our info-streams. Learn how to use your photo device (if you follow simple rules of thumb of composition, modes, and techniques, you'll be taking good photos in no time). Click thoughtfully, not randomly.
Sometimes, you should just be paying attention to the real scene in front of you, rather than watching it through a viewfinder. There are millions of photos of the Taj Mahal, so unless you can add something unusual, you are better off just taking a personal moment in its magnificence.
And if you do, you'll have something to cherish forever.
Let's start with the biggest problem with "The Power Of Habit" - its name. It sounds suspiciously like one of those self-help type books that give you wishy-washy solutions to difficult problems. Habits are deeply human and as anyone who has tried to change a habit will tell you, it's incredibly hard to pull yourself out of a habit. So when a book comes along talking about habits, with a title that sounds a little bit like some of the books you would not be seen dead with, you are allowed to be a tad suspicious.
Except that The Power of Habit is actually a reasonably down-to-earth and useful book. Here's why:
1. It's based on scientific research: the book is in that modern breed that aims to bring the current state of scientific thinking on a topic to lay readers like us. This book looks at what habits are (in individuals and in groups of people such as societies and organisations), describes a simple model to study them, and summarises ways to go about creating and changing habits.
2. Stories: like books in the Malcolm Gladwell space, this drives its messages through lots of interesting stories and anecdotes. For instance, the author describes the US Army as perhaps the biggest habit-formation exercise in history, given how much time and money is spent on training troops to automatically and consistently respond uniformly to a variety of situations.
3. Useful strategies: No, there's no silver bullet or Aladdin's lamp to change a habit. It takes hard work, mental willpower, and the ability to recover from slipping back. However, the book does provide a easy-to-use scaffolding with which to build habits.
All in all, we would recommend the Power of Habit, even if you are the perfect human being with nothing to change, even if just out of sheer curiosity. As with other books, always keep your shaker of salt at hand and question every easy conclusion and seek nuance (which books like these often can trade off when they are trying to simplify the complexity of messy, real-world scientific findings).
For more, visit the official website for the book.