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Monday, December 17, 2012

Why sustaining work achievement is a pipe dream for many professionals?

The first reason is obviously the ignorance of the new law of achievement. But apart from this ignorance of new law, in my coaching experience, i discovered three blocks that make it difficult to sustain work-achievements:

Block 1: The Big Golden Prison

In the initial career, when you are struggling for food and shelter, you are chasing money. This pursuit pulls you into a 'golden prison', from which you may not be able to pull out.

When i passed out of MBA, some of my classmates joined banks because Banks were offering huge salaries as compared to other companies. As these colleagues started earning good salaries, they bought houses with mortgage loans. That starts a hefty EMI every month. So that is first lock that ties you to a unhappy job. Now even when they want to shift to a 'better job', they cannot shift because no one can offer them a comparable salary. So the lock is further tightened. Secondly, as they learn to work in a job which they do not like, the mind plays the game. It finds justifications to do the unhappy work. Good lifestyle, affordable holidays is an obvious justification. That is the second lock that ties you to the unhappy job. Further, as they marry, new responsibilities make it even more difficult to leave the job. This brings the third lock. And so on.

These professionals are caught in a bind. Because they have never experienced 'joy of having doing happy work', they have no incentive to unlock. Please remember these individuals have never experienced a job 'which they could like'. So for them, the concept of a satisfied job is just an illusion, a bookish concept. So even if we assume that they ae 'willing' to unlock, they have to start from scratch. Because of this uphill battle, they can never get out of the Golden prison; even if someone unlocks the prison for them; they do not want to come out. I know of many such 40+ corporate professionals who are stuck up like this. They have all the luxuries in the world, but are not satisfied with the job to enjoy them!

Block 2: Idiosyncrasy of skill market

Some individuals are lucky to avoid the golden prison. But they encounter another block: the skill market. Skill market enables you to convert your skills into money ( it is also called monetisation of skills)

I had interacted with a coachee in 2001. Let us call him Shailesh. He had an excellent background in psychology. He tried to get a job in a company. Managed to find some work in a counselling company that counsells students.  He was working with many school students. But because counselling is problem oriented, he wanted to shift to coaching. However, that did not work out. Ultimately, he was so frustrated, that he left India last year, despite resisting going to west for last 10 years. 

People like Shailesh, encounter the vagaries of skill market. If you become a master in any skill, be it music, sports, programming or medicine,you expect 'money' to automatically come your way. But that does not happen because money follows another logic: the logic of skill-market.

Skill-market, like product market, has a different set of coherent rules. For instance, price of a product ( or skill) depends on its scarcity, branding, and other extraneous factors as much as the product's characteristics. Shaliesh could not get the 'price' of his counselling skill, because his skill had lesser demand in a country like India. But in western countries, this counseling skill is a premium skill. If one does not 'comply with this logic of skill market', one is unlikely to convert one's skills into comparable money.  Not all are like Dhiraj Rajaraman, who understood the functioning of skill market and therefore could monetise his skills smartly !

When you cannot monetise your 'best skills', you are disheartened and demotivated, because you think you are not getting what you deserve. If , however, you understand the functioning of skill-market, you may take radical decisions to monetise your skills if your skills are unique. But when you do not understand the functioning of skill market, you blame the entire world for not giving you the rewards you should have got. You become a whiner and waste all your formidable talents in 'whining' against the world !

Block 3: The power of Group's perception

While working in a company, one assumes that one does not face the whimsical logic of the market. But one encounters another equally powerful block in companies: the power of group perception !

When you work in any group of 50-100 persons, be it a MNC employer or a local employer, you encounter the power of perception. As we have discussed in this blog, given the high degree of specialisation in a company, and given the 'time scarcity' of senior executives, perceptions are heavily used to evaluate employees in a company more than the objective facts. 

In an organisation, perception is heavily used for evaluating your performance. Whether you like it or not, you live in the imperfect world of people ! Most of the excellent individuals, unaware of this dynamics, refuse to play by the rules of perception. For someone who is excellent in his work, he has to consciously learn this skill. It is easier to learn this skill early in life. But some excellent performers miss this age of learning.  Because of this lack of crucial skill, you will find many many professionals languishing in companies. 

But they do not languish silently!  Unable to understand the power of group perception, this excellent performer blames the entire world for not getting his deserved recognition. He becomes another whiner, but instead of whining against the entire world, he whines against the politics of companies. Companies call them 'disengaged individuals' who actively use their talents in 'harming' the company! ( Gallup's survey have found that more than 70% of the professionals in an organisation are disengaged!)

If you are aware of the New law of Achievement, you can actively anticipate these roadblocks in your career and get prepared to meet these challenges. Or you can fall by the wayside and become a world class whiner! What choice do you want to take? 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Do you tackle problems or anticipate challenges?

Problems-  be it with boss, wife, work, or with life -  have to be addressed in life. But tackling problems is a time consuming way of dealing with life. It is rectifying the situation to bring back the status to normal. Nothing more. Tackling problems therefore often wastes lot of productive time.

Why do problems happen? They happen because you missed to do something that you should have done. They happen because you did not foresee something in advance, and therefore were not prepared to deal with the situation in the right manner. Problems happen because you were surprised with something emerging and were not ready to counter it quickly enough. In short, problems happen because you missed doing something yesterday. Problems are the result of yesterday's work not done well. It is far more productive to prevent problems, instead of dealing with them after they happen.

But to move away from tackling problems, you have to anticipate the challenges coming ahead, and prepare in advance. If you do not take this simple preventive action, you keep on spending time on fire-fighting on the yesterday's issues, instead of creating your future.

For instance, when you are unable to persuade boss to give you a raise, it is because you did not anticipate the challenge that the boss is facing in giving you the raise! When you are unable to deal with wife's over-reaction to your refusal to go for sunday movie, you did not notice and observe the build up of her frustration and therefore did not deal with it proactively. When you are stuck up in a job that is not giving you any satisfaction, you have not done enough to understand what gives you satisfaction. 

Why anticipating a challenge is so difficult for a professional? Anticipating challenges is not a rocket science. It is simply pressing a pause button once a while and taking stock of the events to anticipate what is coming. Professionals can take this step easily. But they falter at the next step. They do not know 'how to tackle the impending questions'.

For instance, they do not how to tackle of the questions of boss if he starts sharing them? Or how to tackle the growing frustration of your wife of which you are also a source? Or how to find 'what gives satisfaction in the job? Unable to deal with these questions, professionals push these questions under the carpet and hope that they will get resolved by themselves.

Average Professionals, i found in my coaching, dodge such difficult questions, hoping that the questions will go away, if they do not look at them for a long time. On the other hand, successful professionals deal with this questions proactively. They actively seek a Mentor ( an elder, a relative, ex boss, or even a Guru) who can help them 'resolve' these questions. Resolving such questions about people and self is a critical thinking skill that every professional has to learn. Today, professionals have another option. They find a coach to learn this skill of anticipating and dealing with these questions before they become big.

In my coaching, i have observed that this is a key difference between average and successful professionals. While average professionals spend far too much time on dealing with yesterday's problems, successful professionals spend all their time in creating their future.

How are you tackling your problems? In advance or after the event?