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..
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..
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’ …
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!
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..
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! :)
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..)
Its amazing how a forward can actually have a positive impact! I think the only thing that stopped me from forwarding it was the ‘forward it to x people… ‘ line
Anyway – the gist..The tiny frogs of an area were having a competition. They had to climb the top of a tall tower. There was a huge crowd of onlookers – none of whom believed the frogs could actually conquer the top of the tower. The race began and there was always the odd loud onlooker who laughed at the tiny ones and another who shouted – ‘don’t bother, this can’t be done’ etc etc.
In the race, one by one, frogs quit out of tiredness till it was down to just 5 frogs to climb the top. Now was the climbing bit and the crowd’s jeering and requests to quit(as they genuinely believed it to be impossible!) had its due effect on all but one. The other frogs were obviously curious to know how this guy defied the odds and made it.And it turned out… that he was deaf..
I would go a long way if I learnt this. Many a time I have felt the effects of just this. There are times I have reacted with anger, still other times my ego has helped try and get me do better but the worst are a huge percentage of these times when I have been affected and actually let it get to me..
I guess Nike’s the way to go then.. :)
The name says it all – Its just what the blog is intended to be. To help me re live some of those meaningful learnings. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up writing one a day.
(PS: I tend to have weirdly long days sometimes resulting in the next day being understandable short(36 hrs and then sleep through the next for example). So, the definition of day can be a bit..well.. shaky..
(PPS: That’s just me making excuses! Hoping to make it happen..)