14 Nov 2019 18:18 IST

The diverse skills that power you through all times

As the column celebrates its century post, here are the most inspiring snippets from the first half

This post marks the hundredth one since we started. A big thanks to the BusinessLine on Campus’ editorial team for their faith and support for this column. Thanks to all my young readers who have walked together with me on this leadership growth journey and hopefully have benefited. To celebrate the milestone, I thought to capture some snippets from the last 99 posts — 50 in this post and 49 in the next. Some are quotes, some are movie one-liners, some are borrowed from mentors and friends who inspired, and some are my own one-liners — anything that has helped to inspire reflection and action in the important task we all have, of becoming better leaders every day.

1. Alvin Toffler: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

2. There’s a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth.

3. Ronald Coase: “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”

4. Character is what I am prepared to do even when no one is watching.

5. Jim Collins: Level 5 leaders are those having a ‘paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will’.

6. In reality being ‘glocal’ is intrinsically about being more human. Kindness, respect, concern for others, common courtesy, a smile. These have no boundaries. Ultimately, it is about being focused, not on what separates us, but what unites us.

7. Arnold Toynbee: “Nothing fails like success.”

8. When you near the sunset of your life, your regrets are not the things you did, but often the things you didn’t.

9. Brad Bird: “I want my films to make money, but money is just fuel for the rocket. What I really want to do is to go somewhere. I don’t want to just collect more fuel.”

10. Owen Davian, (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Mission Impossible 3: “You can tell a lot about a person’s character by how they treat people they don't have to treat well.”

11. Leaders leading from the front in a blaze of solitary glory are being replaced by leaders who know how to get people and teams to work together for the good of the organisation and its goals. The old command and control approach is making way for connect and collaborate.

12. “I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.” Clayton Christensen’s Harvard Business Review article, “How will you measure your life?”

13. Bruce Lee: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

14. Joanne Lang, Founder and CEO of aboutone.com: “I…had to learn that if you are not feeling the emotion of failing, you are not trying enough new things or stretching yourself as far as you can…I had to learn that my greatest failure could be not aiming high enough, or not trying in the first place.”

15. We enjoy the easy things in life..but they rarely help us grow. The difficult things we go through in life — we may not enjoy them, but they help us build the muscles we need for life.

16. When we set out to climb a mountain, let’s not be happy settling down in the valley.

17. There’s no such thing as time management. There is only ME management. Time can’t be managed. But I can manage myself.

18. What we really mean when we say, “I don’t have time” is in effect, “This thing or person is not a priority”. As Gandhi put it, “Action expresses priorities”.

19. Very often we disguise what’s likely to happen, with what we hope to happen. Instead we must be ‘pessimists of the intellect and optimists of the will’.

20. Any tool is only as good as the discipline and consistency with which it is used and the smart way it is applied.

21. Sheryl Sandberg: “I don’t believe we have a professional self from Mondays through Fridays and a real self for the rest of the time. That kind of division probably never worked, but in today’s world, with a real voice, an authentic voice, it makes even less sense.”

22. Abraham Zaleznik: “Leaders are ‘twice born’ individuals who endure major events that lead to a sense of separateness, or perhaps estrangement from their environments. As a result, they turn inward in order to emerge with a created rather than an inherited sense of identity.”

23. Thoughts are powerful, but feelings make the world go around. Wise is the leader who learns to work with both.

24. 10 years of experience vs 1 years’ experience ten times. The difference between stagnation and growth!

25. Tom Cruise’s character in Knight and Day: ‘Someday’ is code for ‘never’.

26. Our inability to let go of what has worked well, what has succeeded in the past, paves the path to future failure. One of the most difficult decisions for a leader is creative destruction.

27. Eddie Cantor: “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”

28. One of the biggest misconceptions about the successful salesperson is that he is a smooth-talking charmer. But really successful salespeople will tell you that it is often quite the opposite skill that matters more – the skill to shut up and listen.

29. Fix the first broken window. Don’t allow it to stay on the façade of your leadership with the justification that ‘this is just once’ or ‘this is so small’.

30. Actor Mark Rylance: “Sometimes, the most supportive thing is to oppose. Something women seem to be better at than men, is opposing without hatred.”

31. “My job as your leader is to lead...and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away..I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up.” — Travis Kalanick, former Uber CEO

32. Perception is reality. If they perceive it differently from the way I see it, then that is their reality.

33. This tension between doing what’s correct and what’s right will be a constant companion on a leader’s journey. How she responds to this dilemma will help form her as a leader and often define her leadership.

34. Conflicts often require negotiation. And most negotiations begin with a win-lose mind-set. This is because we often tend to frame situations as zero-sum games. But in life or in business they rarely are.

35. “Don’t chase the funding, it’s like your shadow, the more you chase it, the more it will run away from you. Chase the difference you want to make.” — Nalin Singh, India FundFest Chairman

36. The positive style of communicating is the win-win path. Here the leader seeks to be assertive, not aggressive. She seeks to be friendly but firm. This style is more for things than against things.

37. Tim Cook: “I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think like humans. I’m more concerned about people thinking like computers without values or compassion, without concern for consequences.”

38. St. Ignatius: “Enter through their door to leave through yours.”

39. The impact of my communication is not in my lips, but in my listener’s ears.

40. Winston Churchill: “I am writing you a long letter, because I have no time to write you a short one.”

41. Max Eastman: “It is the ability to take a joke, not make one that proves you have a sense of humour.”

42. Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say.”

43. The key in virtual leadership is understanding that while technology may evolve, people and their needs are still very much the same.

44. Feedback begins with caring about the person who’s being given the feedback and is rooted in a commitment to his and the organisation’s growth.

45. It is (being willing to do) the ugly stuff — that makes a difference between a good job and a great one.

46. Ancient Greeks compared Pericles and Demosthenes. When Pericles spoke they would say, “See how well he speaks.” — when Demosthenes spoke they would say “Let us march.”

47. Peter Drucker: “Adult life begins when you ask yourself, “What do I want to be remembered for?” What are theories? Nothing. The only thing that matters is how you touch people.”

48. Record. Review. Reflect. Refresh. Renew.

49. Benjamin Franklin: “Habit took the advantage of inattention. Inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. The mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping, ..contrary habits must be broken and good ones acquired and established before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct.”

50. Reba McEntire: “To succeed in life, you need three things — a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.”

Look forward to walking with you on the next 49 snippets next time.