Team dynamics..

I can’t help but mention the breathtaking Manchester United victory establishing themselves as the kings of Europe. At this point, however, my learning is based a lot on team dynamics. Both the teams going up to the final(the other being Chelsea) had a bunch of the finest talents in world football. Chelsea would have the edge in terms of experience because of the presence of a larger number of proven match winners. But, that’s really where man management is crucial..

A month ago, in a match between these two teams, there was a very open, and rather shameful, clash between two big names in the Chelsea side. This was so bad that one of their teammates chose to cover his face with his jersey as he couldn’t believe it was happening. Despite going on to win and beat United, it was hard to see them taking that forward with such team dynamics. Their season has been marred with spats with the coaching staffs, players blaming each other etc. And I was curious to see if they would indeed manage to win anything given the enormous internal friction thanks to huge egos and equally poor man management. I was curious to see if this assortment of match winners worth millions of dollars would manage to create history despite(very obviously) not enjoying working with each other. This – versus a young side brimming with all positive vibes, a healthy mix of experience and young talent managed by a manager whose man management skills are probably unequalled..

And thankfully, yesterday night at Moscow, justice was done..

(Note: This learning is with all due respect to Chelsea manager Avram Grant who’s done a great job in managing a side which was never his.. and that was what probably made all the difference in the world..)

‘Self Made’ Man..

I’ve been learning that there is really no such thing as a ‘Self Made’ man and its high time I get my people priorities right. I guess the other important thing is to understand that life is a very natural process of give and take and some of us are indeed lucky that we are in situations where we can keep taking without giving(eg: loving/doting families) and it is important that we do learn where to draw the line.

And more importantly, understand when we are taking the situation/resource/person for granted and start using our heads to add value.

Wiser people call this process of understanding “growing up”..

Your work..

is a clear reflection of your ability. I guess the ones that realize this and put cent per cent effort into everything they do are the ones who go farther in life. On a honest assessment, I probably do 20% of the things with that much effort and the results show… 🙂

I guess the greatest thing at this moment is.. thank god there is tomorrow for us to do more than we did today!

Standing out..

There are many popular sayings about standing out of crowds. Like the one I just saw, which went like – ‘You either stand out of the crowd or get lost within..’

I’ve wondered what this really means – as we could define dressing up in multi colored clothes in a formal board meeting would be standing out – in a way. That’s similar to a sports pundit I spotted on TV prior to the final Man Utd game wearing a yellow suit, pink shirt and blue tie if I remember right.

It was then I heard this – ‘To stand out, you must first fit in and then stand out’

Suddenly, it all made sense..

Taking Swings..

John “Jack” Welch is probably one of the most legendary leaders alive. Within 20 years of being CEO, he transformed General Electric from its worth of a few billion dollars to a net worth of half a trillion dollars! His one constant emphasis to all wanting to do well is to ‘take more swings’ (a connection to his baseball background). And the fact that it doesnt matter how many times you miss, but the number of times you try that really matters!

This insight helped me understand. There are many reactions to the obvious success of the United States. There are friends of mine who love digging up conspiracy theories about the states and, hence its success, yet other dismiss it and keep pointing at the “growing” and “future powers”. As time has passed, these have shifted from Germany at various times to Japan to China etc.(Its helpful to note whats the most in demand language in the world. Its gradually shifted from European languages and Japanese to Mandarin these days..)

Anyway, digressions apart, I’m astounded to know that, of revenue earned by the country, the United States spends 12 times more than an average developing country on research and development. As someone wiser than me once illustrated, it basically meant betting on 2 guys shooting a basketball through a hoop – one guy taking 1 shot and the other taking 12 shots. Now, even if it was Michael Jordan vs me(taking the 12 shots) – notwithstanding my primitive basketball skills, you would bet on 12 shots doing the trick. Sounds like a simple and straight forward answer, doesn’t it?

Voila! Here’s the answer..

A noticeboard sign that changed a life..

One of the most respected Heads of the US Chamber of Commerce was retiring and was asked in his felicitation dinner as to what he would attribute his success to.

He said that it went all the way back when he was a young man in just another ordinary job hardly doing anything of note. One day, while he was walking back home, he spotted a noticeboard outside a local school which said –

‘Your success is directly proportional to the amount you do after you do what you are supposed to do’ …

Incentives..

Here’s an interesting story I heard..

There were a bunch of miscreants who used to harass their old neighbour next door by stealing mangoes from a tree which she grew with lots of care. Every day the old lady would chase these boys out and they would come back again. Till finally, one day, the lady left them $10 at the foot of the tree. The boys were obviously delighted.. and when they came back the next day, they saw $9 and this came down $8 and so on till the day came when they no longer found money at the foot of the tree.

The boys stopped trying to steal the mangoes altogether and a few days later, the old lady met them in the local market and asked them as to what happened and their reply was – “So what do you expect? Now that you’ve stopped paying us to do it!”

This story sounded amusing at first until the power of giving someone something and then taking it away..hit me!

A learning from Sir Alex Ferguson’s book

For all those who do not follow football/soccer – Sir Alex Ferguson is the current manager of Manchester United and has been for an illustrious career spanning 22 years in which he has won everything that can be won and his hunger for winning is still alive. Moreover, in this time, he converted the club from a ‘has been’ to a footballing powerhouse winning the love of 330 million fans around the globe thanks to attacking yet result oriented football. This is just the first of many learnings from the great man’s book.

Probably, the greatest challenge that Sir Alex faced when he came to Man Utd in 1986 was that the club had a big drinking culture amongst its players. As the club had had a glorious history thanks to another great Scottish manager by name Sir Matt Busby, in whose time they had won league titles and the prestigious European Cup, the club, since his retirement had only declined.

SAF’s first move was to gradually weed out all the players who were part of this ‘drinking club’ as he said famously that he plans to run a football club and none other. Fans were intially outraged as a number of popular players were out before they knew it and gradually the results showed..

My learning from this is his innate belief that intrinsic control is the first step to success. SAF is reknowned for disciplining youngsters with strict hairstyles, diets and punctuality. And it shows.. as Man Utd are on the brink of their 2nd European Cup Final in his glorious tenure as manager..

Learning from the Romans..

My learning for the day is about appearances. The Romans, who influenced modern civilization like no other civilization did, were fanatical about appearances. Every person dressed as per his/her social status to the point that members of the senate always had a violet line on all their clothes to indicate their social standing. As someone much wiser said, when you dress, don’t dress as who you are – rather dress as who you would like to be.

Quote – ‘ As a person moves up in life, he dresses more like the President!’

Well, this calls for more thought to my selection of clothes! 🙂

Ayn Rand’s Great Gift..

I really enjoyed reading ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand and I think the underlying concept in the book helped me a great deal. My biggest learning, and hence application, from that book(and a few other similar concepts involved) is that the world is made of 3 kinds of people –

The first handers or the ones who create, the second handers or the ones who use/utilize and the third handers or the ones who destroy. My greatest learning out of this (having been all of these at different points of time) is that I can make a permanent settlement into one of these and thats just a choice I need to make.

However, thanks to Ayn Rand and a few other wiser people I have been lucky to meet, I was made aware of the clear line between the creator, the user and the destroyer. And the rest of life would be an effort not to be the third. Just a follow up to the frog story – it’ll probably help me understand because unlike the frog, I am not deaf..

A quote I love – ‘Leave everything a little better than you found it..’

(Note: The second hander category(from Ayn Rand’s classification) has been split for my own understanding..)