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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Enlight framework- Inputs required to achieve your end goals

This is Graham Gooch talking about excelling in batting in cricket sport, where skills seem to be the most  important component that produces excellence. He says,

" It is about 'the knowledge' of how to score runs in batting. I don't coach batting, I coach run-making. It's about how you think about yourself, how you glean information about different conditions, how you concentrate for long periods."

Excelling in any sport, be it playing tennis, golf, cricket or basket ball, is not about developing a specific skill of 'batting' in cricket, or 'putting the hole'in golf, or 'hitting home run' in baseball. That was the older input law of excellence. According to the first law of success of Inputs, we assumed that excelling is about developing one single skill alone. In sports it is Kinesthetic ability based skills. This is a single-dimensional view of achievement. 

On the other hand, watch any player and you will realise that his skills are just an 'entry point' in helping to enter in that sport, but excelling in that sport requires additional factors to sustain excelling. 

So what are these additional factors ? Scott Kaufman, who has summarised the different studies and research on talent, in his book, Ungifted Intelligence, lists down many other factors. He lists down Character traits (CAT) such as mindset and self-regulation as well as conative traits (COT) such as passion and purpose. Psychologists call it cognitive factors (creativity + cognitive skills that are derived from abilities) , affective and behavioural traits ( same as CAT) that determine how one uses ones mind to engage in a specific activity, and motivational  factors ( same as COT) such as passion and purpose that determine how one chooses an activity to stick to. 

Second law of success of Inputs states that synergy of traits and skills causes excellence. For knowledge workers, it is about combining the entire package of Skills (CAB based skills) plus  character traits (CAT) plus Conative traits (COT) in a domain of software, accountancy or manufacturing. Combination is a key word here. Synergy is important here. Not just making 1+1+1=3, but making 1+1+1= 5.

Individual character traits alone are unimportant in excelling. For instance, Roberta Ness in her study of Genius Unmasked found that, although 'autonomy' enables the creative geniuses to ignore conventions, but that same trait also leads to development of 'anti-social' tendencies that can distract them. 'Perseverance' enables the creative geniuses to persist 'irrespective of obstacles', but it also produces 'stubbornness' to wrong paths that can lead to failure.

For instance, we remember Thomas Edison for his relentless experiments of inventing a bulb. But we ignore his over-bearing stubbornness to AC current. Despite testimony from trusted associates that AC current was no more dangerous than DC, Edison waged the “war of the currents” for 20 years in which he conducted inhuman experiments where he electrocuted animals.  Only later did Edison admit that he had been wrong. 

Arnold Ludwig, in his book the Price of Greatness, who has studied achievements of over 1,000 extraordinary men and women has found that 'greater the achievement , the more likely is the presence of pathological disorders' such as mania, depression and schizophrenia. So, do not develop individual single traits alone. Do not try to pursue developing your individual trait like persistence, motivation or concentration. That diverts your attention and is often a 'hopeless' venture. 

Because, excelling in a field is not about developing the cognitive skills alone, or character traits like perseverance alone or conative traits like passion alone. Positive psychology books such as Seven Habits have tried to disconnect traits from skills, and have advised us to develop a single trait, say perseverance or passion, alone. Or develop 'creativity' or 'autonomy' alone. Or develop single skills like singing or dancing alone. We have already seen how developing virtuous traits is not useful in excelling in life. Even a quality like passion can become 'obsessive' and derail a person.

So, according to the second law of success of Inputs, what are the minimum basic inputs that you should bring in? Bring in CAB based  skills+CAT+COT . This may not ensure excellence, but its absence will ensure that the professional will get blocked in career success. 

Be on the lookout for output domains that activate the "synergy"  between your CAB skills+CAT+COT. Whatever the age, once you find a domain ( which could be developing a software for a company, or teaching school students, or solving a big problem of obesity) that best matches with your unique package of personal characteristics, the learning process can proceed extremely rapidly as you are inspired to excel. The latest science of excellence suggests that we are all capable of extraordinary performance; the key is finding a domain that best allows your unique package of combined personal characteristics to shine.

If you are serious about excelling in life, do not develop your skills or personal traits alone. That Input strategy is the old strategy arising out of first law of success. Instead spend your energy and efforts on finding the output domain where your unique package of combined personal characteristics ( cognitive abilities plus character traits plus conative traits) synergise together.

Find an output domain where your unique package of CAB based skills plus traits shine.