Third Conditioning

Approvals. Yes. Expecting and taking approvals is the third conditioning. 

When you are new, it’s natural. Not interested in being the bad apple in the mix, you look up to your seniors and bosses for approvals of your action. Just to be sure. Approvals are required to ensure governance and compliance too. But why do you need an approval, a permission to do your best work?

When approvals and permissions become a way-of-life, the workplace turns mechanical. Life becomes routine. Automation finds its way. People soon find the exit routes more frequented. A great opportunity to challenge. Innovation is knocking the doors. 

Innovators find it toxic to be contained in a system governed by rules, regulations and approvals. Operational freedom, permission to try, fail and explore is critical. 

It starts with your mind. Ability to think and break barriers for good. Find the constraints of the system early on. Devise your method for small experiments. Show and tell. Results change the system. When not challenged, people believe that system is working well. More approvals will be required in due course. 

Don’t get caught in the web of approvals. Permission to try is always there. Just embrace it like an uniform you may wear to work.

Second Conditioning

Vision exercise is the second conditioning. 

Annual strategy workshop is a must. We build a SWOT. Add a look-back and accomplishment chart. Sometimes we include a snapshot of what-went-well and what-didn’t. Top-down trickle of corporate goals are stated. Strategic themes for next mid-decade are announced. You are allowed to define your strategy relevant to your business and expected to align well with corporate goals and themes. 

Nothing wrong with it. As long as you are not a cost-centre. Most teams and business units within local teams of large companies are created for convenience of delivery management. Not necessarily for revenue growth. In such cases, strategy-vision-mission exercises may become an overkill. 

Define and live your “Mantra”, instead. Let it tell why your team is existing. What and how you live. Let it guide every decision and action. Bind people and bring their passion to play. Measure results and outcomes through that lens. Obviously it’ll align with corporate objectives and themes. But, creates own identity and way-of-life. 

Try it out and witness the magic it builds. 

First Conditioning

Goal orientation is the first conditioning.

Everyone loves creating a set of them. Irrespective of the need or rationale, that becomes a ritual. There are experts and templates available. Millions of books and articles too. Since we hate rituals but follow anyway, goals run into pages we may read once in a year, just before the appraisal. Make it fun and motivating. Let it bind everyone in the team look forward and march ahead. Let there be room for individual creativity and pride. Passion follows and so is the result.

Keeping one meaningful goal in order to stay focused and channel every available resource towards realising that, is simple. A list is mostly a source of distraction. Better is to paint the rough picture of tomorrow you wish to achieve instead of stating just the goal. Visualisation helps in thinking and collaboration. 

Three immediate and logical steps to reach the goal is useful. A list of mini-outcomes within a short timeframe is much better than just steps. Success with these outcomes accelerates the push towards the goal. Failure with these accelerates learning to make it happen. Either way, we move forward. Make it weekly for better results. 

As we discover and fix the pieces of the puzzle – the picture of tomorrow inches towards reality. Easy to see, act, show and tell. Gets everyone on board and keeps the bus on track! 

Isn’t that the purpose of setting and living the goal?

Win yourself

When everyone else’s idea seems to be better and brighter than your own, you are taking two steps back at a time. Own yours and make it better and brighter. Win with yourself first before racing with others.

Replace “idea” with anything that matters – job, role, career, etc. Effect remains the same.

Practice leads to excellence

We prize comfort over everything else. Comfort never leads to excellence. It took us so long to get here. Why not rest and enjoy? This mindset will not let the champion to retain his position in the next match. There’s that next player waiting to upset him. Still we see champions like Roger Federer retain their position for so long. How do they do it? Practice better than the last. 

Practice in a way it hurts, stretches and grows you. First win is where your practice begins to play. Set the bar to next level, every time you practice. This practice leads to excellence. 

Be a #dreamerdoer