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Monday, February 11, 2013

Ability blindness can prevent you from achieving your simple goals in life

I met one interesting individual, Nishikant, last month.

Nishikant is a B.Com graduate. Did his MBA. Worked in a Hotel Construction Company selling their services to companies. Did very well with them for 3 years. Left that job to join a multinational based group in the same domain, Hotels. He was therefore given a senior position. In one year, he managed to  grow within that company to a significant scale. He was sent to new territories, to hire new people, train them and then manage them from his head office. As such his job involves lot of travel, meeting tough targets, and closing deals with companies. 

After 4 years, of experience, he got an offer from his close school friend, who has an automobile business. He sells bearings. He wanted to start his own office in Northern Region. He asked Nishikant to set up the office and manage his dealer network in Northern region. He is expected to get 12 Lakhs in the first year, as compared to his current remuneration of 8 LPA. He was actively considering leaving his current job to take over this job. 

When i asked Nishikant the reasons of his desire to take over the job of automobile dealer, he said ' I will get more money. I will not have to work on Saturdays and Sundays.. I do not have to appease bosses, because i would be working with my friend. And even after working in the company, what will i be doing?' 

What is wrong with Nishikant's thinking and line of action? Nishikant is making three mistakes 

Mistake 1: He is moving from a job requiring higher ability to lower ability

Selling automobile bearings to dealers is far more easier than selling Hotel Services to companies because of three reasons: Transaction size of Hotel services is higher, Selling services is difficult than selling products, and selling to companies is far more difficult than selling to individual dealers ( as decision making matrix of company includes influencing decision maker, user, and authoriser who could be three different individuals in a company as compared to a dealer where all three roles are embedded in one person). 

When any job requires higher ability/skill, it earns more premium. When someone is doing a work competently, he naturally wants to move to a more challenging task that will demand higher ability or complex combination of abilities. What happens when Nishikant moves from a job with higher skill to a job of lower skill? He will quickly get bored. 

Instead of his old boss, Nishikant will find that he has got a new boss: his owner. He will soon find that he is 24*7 in his job, not just on Saturdays and Sundays, because it is his own business. What will he do after three years or so? I get many coachees who are 40+, have money,car and security and even some fame, but desperately try to find meaning by changing their jobs which have similar ability or lower ability than the earlier job..

Root cause of this mistake: Nishikant is aware of sales abilities at a very gross level. But he is not aware of the individual components of that ability ( such as transaction size etc) and therefore cannot figure out how it is different in the next job. He is ignorant of the basic skills of achievement. This is called mapping the abilities of a job. These Ability-blind individuals cannot view job as consisting of fungible components. Therefore, these individuals are unaware of the abilities they have, or the jobs that require those abilities. 

Mistake 2: Nishikant is taking this decision because he is ignorant of how (sales) ability develops 

Some individuals may have not have ability blindness, but they may have Ability-development ignorance. 

Nishikant seems to be aware of his sales abilities, but he was ignorant of 'how to develop it further'. For instance, Sales ability involves learning different components to close a sales cycle. It includes understanding and influencing the "decision making matrix" of a client company. Or the component of Negotiation. Or Mapping client and identifying its fit with the one's company offerings. When one is doing a sales job competently, one is managing these components unconsciously. But to achieve your results, one has to master these components consciously. One has to understand and use these components in actual selling to know its strengths and limitations. 

The route of achieving big results is from Unconscious competence > Conscious Learning of the different components of competence > Conscious competence. Without consciously learning the components, one may have a great skill, but one may not be able to repeat the achievement or use it in other domain or scenario. It is the classic syndrome of Virendra Sehwag. When you are performing well, you have no time to consciously learn the individual components. But when you fail, you have no time to recover from the failure. For instance, if Nishikant cannot sustain his achievement because of  some external events, he may not be able to even shift to selling Xerox machines to companies ! He will get stuck, if he does not develop his sales ability consciously..

Root cause of this mistake: Nishikant has to understand how his sales ability must be consciously developed. This is called understanding the arithmetic of Ability-Development.This is required to convert Unconscious competence to Conscious competence. Without doing this, one is at the mercy of the outside environment. One is not taking charge of one's direction in life. 

Mistake 3: Nishikant is confusing ability with domains   

Every ability is used in a domain. If you have a sales ability, you can use it in any domain,  be it selling software, hotels, soaps, automobiles or anything else. If you have a teaching ability, you can teach to school students, graduate students, executives or any other community. Domains are playgrounds to use our abilities; they are not same as abilities. Teaching is an ability, but can be used in different domains depending on what you desire in life. An athletic ability, for instance, can be used in different sports. Domains, when we separate them, can be used to pick an area of work where our requirement of money and other career objectives can be simultaneously achieved. 

For instance, if Nishikant is bored of selling Hotel services, he can take up another domain: selling software services to gain international exposure. Or if he likes to work alone without boss, he can sell services like Insurance/Finance on his own and still earn huge money. Or if he is likes to sell products, he can sell products to companies. There are any number of multiple combinations that one can figure out in using one's ability after one separates ability from domains.

Another big opportunity of understanding domains is by combining abilities.  For instance Nishikant is a BCom graduate. He can use his Accounting ability to combine with sales and sell financial products to companies. For instance financial professionals who sell mergers to companies have these two abilities. Another possibility is understanding the whole of your work of you are doing the part, understand  other ways by which your capability can be combined and find new combination. For instance, Nishikant will easily understand that his sales ability can be combined easily with marketing to grow further in his company.  
Root cause of this mistake: Like most other professionals, Nishikant cannot separate ability from domain. Due to this basic ignorance, he cannot keep track of different domains, gain more knowledge of them, and find what other achievements are possible for him.That is why he said " What will i do in the company?" This domain-confusion (confusing domain with ability) will ultimately disable Nishikant in achieving the four objectives of life that every man desires: Money, job Satisfaction, Achieving something of significance and leaving behind legacy. 


Lack of Input framework of Achievement - Ability blindness, Ability-development ignorance, and Domain confusion - today makes or breaks the progress in sustaining one's work-achievement. You will learn how to use these inputs only after you adopt new law of Achievement. 

Without adopting the New law of Achievement, Nishikant may perhaps earn money in his career. But without adopting it, Nishikant will  almost certainly fail in achieving any meaningful work-achievement in his life. And this is a paradox of sustaining achievement. Until man is struggling to earn money alone, he is lucky . But when he wants to achieve many other objectives through his work-achievement, he is compelled to use a framework of achievement.