* Bringing out the Best in You *
Ambition has always been one of the greatest drivers of growth for humankind. Which one of us does not aspire to get the most out of our abilities to achieve success? The desire for achievement can only be fulfilled if we first master ourselves and school the self to extract the talent that resides in us.
It is to this end that a study of the factors that enhance personal effectiveness was embarked on and the results follow. Below are some tips that will help you to most efficiently put your personal resources at work and remove the barriers that may be holding you back from reaping the fruits of your complete potential.
I. Stop being a slave to your public image – We all have a self-concept that we constantly try to live-up to sometimes at the cost of being effective. The need to be likeable can stop you from being tough and take difficult decisions, the need to be seen as intelligent can stop you from asking questions that sometimes need to be asked.
Mohan, in charge of a large team of customer service representatives, prided himself on being a person who never veered off-course once he had made a decision. Decisive and tough – that was his mental image. Unfortunately, this stopped important feedback regarding his decisions from reaching him since he was perceived by his team as being inflexible and out of touch with his human side.
To be effective in varied situations, we need to rise above our self-concept and send out the message that will be most useful in that situation. That includes being perceived as less intelligent sometimes when it serves a purpose
II. Don’t ignore your intuition but double check the data to verify your assumptions – Intuition is defined as immediate cognition, the faculty of knowing or sensing without using rational processes. For that reason it is often dismissed as intellectually lazy and not based on facts or reason.
Intuition, in fact, is based on facts and past experiences that are stored in the recesses of our brain and also on subtle clues and external cues that the brain notices on a sub-conscious level. Research at Leeds University based on forensic analysis by psychologists (on people who had taken crucial or life-saving decisions based on “hunches”) discovered that “hunches” are often based on the instantaneous evaluation of internal and external cues on the non- conscious level.
But, intuition does need correct interpretation and unfortunately doesn’t always give the complete answer. It is important to tune into your intuition to allow the conscious mind to better understand the message and to use tangible information available to whet the decisions where time permits.
III. Control your Desire for Security – Our personal fears and need to protect our space can seriously interfere with our focus and levels of productivity. Risk aversion and self-protection are embedded in our DNA which can make us expend valuable time and energy on unproductive activities.
Sheila had been part of the recruitment division for a large organization for 5 years now. She had started at the lowest rung and risen up steadily till she became the Head of Recruitment, the youngest one the organization ever had. Her early success won her admirers and adversaries alike. While the admiration was something that she felt she deserved for all her hard work, the adversaries started taking up a lot of her mind-space. She was constantly on her toes lest she give one of them an opportunity to pull her down. This started taking so much of her attention that the single-minded focus on results that had brought her here soon started getting diluted. Also, the forthrightness that was one of her admirable traits was replaced with evasiveness or defensiveness on occasions when her adversaries were part of the discussion. This had an obvious impact on the results and the wisdom of promoting Sheila to the role of Head of Recruitment began to be questioned. Sheila started to get increasingly more bothered about the negativity she felt was surrounding her and started to miss her earlier position where she was cushioned by the then Head.
Most successful people are those who made an effort to break out of their comfort zone and stay focussed in a competitive or even hostile environment. I was surprised to note how energized people feel once they stop defining themselves by their personal fears.
IV. Never stop working on yourself. The skills and level of proficiency that got you so far will not necessarily take you to the next level. Success breeds success they say but then success also starts breeding complacency. You worked hard to start with and kept updating and developing yourself. Soon you were ahead of a lot of peers in your levels of proficiency. This is the point where complacency begins to set in, after all your skills got you many promotions and always kept you ahead of other, didn’t they? But remember, when you want to move to the next stage, the higher plane in your career, you would need to master whole new set of competencies before you can be an effective leader.
We no longer live in a world where expertise in one area can safely see you till the end of the career. With new breakthroughs everyday, you never know when your knowledge might become obsolete.
V. Feedback should be APT. Avoid seeking excessive and continuous feedback – Feedback is only useful when it is APT – Actionable, Precise, Timely. Ambiguous and unspecific feedback rarely adds value and would only create information overload, interfering with learning. Excessive feedback can strain your cognitive capabilities which can lead to increased stress levels and seriously hamper learning.
Feedback should be taken at intervals and ideally be followed up with an action plan. Only when you have achieved a milestone in your action plan should you consider seeking further feedback.
I hope some of these tips would help you embark on the journey to success with renewed vigour and I will be sharing another set of tips that can help us tap into our complete potential with you next fortnight in my upcoming blog. I would be glad to hear your personal stories of growth and obstacles overcome. Do write in.
“If you have a great ambition, take as big a step as possible in the direction of fulfilling it. The step may only be a tiny one, but trust that it may be the largest one possible for now.”
Copyright ©2011 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.