Source | linkedin.com.com |Ramesh Srinivasan, Corporate Speaker, Executive Coach
He had over 1600 books stacked across 25 shelves, all over the house. People who see that collection, ask the obvious question: “Have you read all these books?” His standard answer to this question seems to have a lesson for us: “Initially, I was driven by this need to be a learned man, and be capable of making intelligent conversation in any context. The first 1000-or-so books were predominantly disappointing. So, I did not get past even the half-way mark in most of these books. I simply abandoned them.
“But these ‘buying mistakes’ were making me understand what I was looking for. The topics and narrative styles, the examples and level of depth in each of these books helped me fix my own requirements across these parameters. So, I have read every one of the last few hundred books on these shelves. They are etched deep in my memory, and given valuable additional meaning to my understanding of the world.”
Discovering what you really want is a learning process, a journey full of mistakes, hit-and-miss, serendipity and joy. Garon Whited, author of the Nightlord series, says, “’Know Thyself’ isn’t a goal. It’s a road.”
The Coaching conversation with the Executive Director was going nowhere. He simply wanted to know methods by which people who work for him will obey every single instruction that he barks at them. “How can I make them do what I think they should do?” When asked, “Assume you have all of their unquestioned obedience now. What will that give you?” His reply was, “Everything will work like a well-oiled machine, and the company will profit.”
“Let me repeat the question: What will that give you?” The next one hour was spent in unravelling him, and to discover that he wants to quickly make a mark, quit corporate before he turns 50, go back to his village and run an international school there. That clarity about his goals helped in making him see that the methods he wants to use on his people will only delay his reaching his cherished dream.
“Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have”, says Doris Mortman, author of The Wild Rose.
If you want something badly at work or in life, it is useful to ask, “If I have it, what will it give me?” This is an effective question suggested by Peter Senge, as part of his Personal Mastery construct, to clarify your vision for yourself. Doing this is very difficult for most people. “When is the last time you had a meeting with yourself?” is a question that makes even senior executives squirm. They would rather go back to discussing people and situations around them. There is a fear associated with meeting yourself. When you do, there is no place to hide.