Focus on your own mountain!
Last week, I delivered a talk at a gathering of the Sri Aurobindo Society in Bangalore. The topic was ‘Leveraging the power of people – the critical role of Leadership’. The talk was anchored in 15 of my own Quotes.
My 15 Quotes:
Quote #141: ‘If you can inspire, you won’t have to perspire.’
Quote #17: ‘Help people see a grander version of themselves and they will be inspired to fill the empty spaces.’
Quote #180: ‘When you make a ‘difficult’ task seem easy, it inspires more people to participate in it.’
Quote #348: ‘Whoever pushes you out of your comfort zone is, actually, contributing to your growth.’
Quote #344: ‘Don’t wait. You will never be 100% ready.’
Quote #294: ‘Be generous with praise for a job well done. It is a characteristic that defines your People Leadership.’
Quote #233: ‘Sometimes, we have to remind people of their strengths until they need no reminders.’
Quote #169: ‘Failure is Universe’s way of checking how badly you wish to succeed.’
Quote #230: ‘Never raise false hopes in people.’
Quote #246: ‘Never underestimate the power of a conversation.’
Quote #252: ‘Never abandon people when they are struggling.’
Quote #347: ‘Trust-building is a slow process but the rewards are certainly worth the wait.’
Quote #280: ‘Inspired people can astonish you with what they accomplish.’
Quote #297: ‘When you contribute to people’s lives, it shows.’
Quote #49: ‘There is untold pleasure in watching people you coached, grow and touch the skies.’
The talk went off well. Based on the Quotes, I had some real-life stories to share. I ended the session with one of my favorite stories – The Golden Buddha. As part of the session, we had some questions and after the talk concluded, some people met me for a brief discussion.
I was not like this
As I was driving back home, I went back in time. I was never used to addressing an audience until June 1987.
In 1987, I got an opportunity to address a gathering while working for a premier publishing house in New Delhi. My manager for whom I had done the background work for an upcoming presentation and had prepared his slides pulled out at the last moment. As a consequence, I was catapulted on the stage.
The gathering of the National Leadership team was happening in the hallowed hall – out of bounds for most people. The Board members and the senior-most members of the Leadership team sat in the front row. The rows behind the front row were filled with people in the order of their position in the organization. There was pin-drop silence.
As our department’s name was called, I stepped on to the stage. From the stage, the section of the hall where the audience was seated was pitch-dark. A bright circle of light from a lone overhead halogen lamp fell on the stage. I was to stand there and address the gathering facing the pitch-dark room. You can imagine!
Obviously, I was caught completely unprepared. My limbs were trembling, my mouth was going dry, and I was short of breath. My manager offered to change the slides for me, a role that was mine till a few minutes ago.
Since I knew the subject and had prepared the slides, the presentation ended well. After the presentation, as I stepped back behind the curtains, I saw my manager smiling. He shook my hand and congratulated me. I seemed to have done a great job. Later I learned that my address to the audience was no accident – it was my Manager’s way of pushing me out of my comfort zone.
Thanks to that opportunity, I never looked back.
Over time, addressing groups and gatherings became part of my role – incidentally, I had later evolved to become a facilitator. I was now used to addressing a bunch of people in different formats. In addition to addressing audiences at work, I was also speaking at the Rotary, at Business Schools, seminars, colleges, and schools.
Years have passed since. I am now also a Motivational Speaker addressing gatherings at client locations. The 366 Quotes that I have created (now compiled as a book titled ‘366 Insights for Life’) are the basis for a session that I have named, ‘Quotivation’ – motivation through Quotes. These sessions are gaining popularity now.
My past, present, and future
Looking back, I have a habit of regularly acknowledging my progress as compared to where I was in the past.
In a sense, I am a mountaineer of my life and I regularly evaluate my climbing progress on my mountain. This is what I mean when I say, ‘focus on your own mountain’.
I check on my progress from the past, the skills that I have added to my portfolio over time, my growing resilience to handle the odds and my ability to keenly spot victories and celebrate them. I now know that I am a much better mountaineer than I was in the past. The proof is in the various summits of life that I have scaled.
I don’t compare my journey with others’
I believe that I am a bundle of pluses and minuses.
Although I could learn from the experiences of other mountaineers, I am aware that my mountain and my relationship with my mountain cannot be compared with others’.
My journey has been a consequence of the opportunities I took on and the ones I missed. Of the opportunities that I took on, the way I performed in those roles and learned to get better has been key. About the opportunities I missed, what did I learn about myself in that process is critical. Did it reflect a faultline within me? Is the faultline repairable or is it part of who I am? I often mull over this question and learn from the answers.
I am an incorrigible optimist
My belief is that tomorrow will be better than today just as, in my view, today is better than yesterday. As a mountaineer, when I look at a higher peak on my mountain, I have the optimism and hope that I will conquer it one day – it is just that I need the right mix of knowledge, skills, and patience to deserve that victory.
Focus on your own mountain
Now that I am a Life and Career Coach, my incorrigible optimism is a big advantage. Most of the coaching clients I meet are stuck in their life and unable to spot a breakthrough. Many a time, they are focusing only on their deficits. Many others are busy comparing themselves with others leading to misery.
Learning from my own journey, I often help my coaching clients focus on themselves in an absolute sense and not in a relative sense. After all, each one has a different mountain to climb.
The day people begin focusing on their own mountain and look at what it takes to scale that peak without really bothering about others’ peaks, life will open up.
My next mountain peak is coming up
Next month, I have been invited to address a Global Network of Leaders from India, the Philippines, and the US. My session will be telecast to all these locations simultaneously.
As you can imagine, this is a higher mountain peak that I am expected to scale. It will call for slightly different (and additional) skills as I address a globally distributed audience at the same time. I will have to tighten my material, address Leaders from different cultures, be ready for questions from different contexts, and yet deliver the address within a fixed time frame.
I will be focusing on this new mountain peak. I think it is a great opportunity and I have a feeling the session will go very well.
Well, didn’t I just mention that I am an incorrigible optimist?
Are you ready to focus on your own mountain? Let me know if I can help coach you. Reach out to me at [email protected]