I had a hard time understanding discipline as a leadership value all my life.
It was shown and demonstrated something in the lines of : obey, patience, obedience, aligning, code of behaviour and punishment for disobedience.
Then I saw this explanation of discipline by Jim Collins.( the world famous author of best sellers like ‘Good to great’ and ‘built to last’)
Discipline is not the same as regimentation. Discipline is not the same as measurement. Discipline is not the same as hierarchical obedience or adherence to bureaucratic rules. True discipline requires the independence of mind to reject pressures to conform in ways incompatible with values, performance standards, and long term aspirations.
In a brainstorming session at a recent workshop, I listened to a banter between two participants. It made me laugh. It was also profound.
A: “It’s a dream you are proposing. It’s impossible. How can we make impossible happen?”
B: ” You mean, you don’t know how to do the impossible?”
A: ” yes, that is why it is called impossible”
B: “well the way to do the impossible is to do it. “
Later in that day I watched “First Man”, the movie about Neil Armstrong. As a kid, when I learnt about Neil, it was just a fact. Neil was the first man on moon. On that day in 1969, 530 million people watched him take the ‘giant leap for mankind.’
The movie shredded my perceptions about landing on moon. I never knew the hardships in many fronts. How Neil struggled at home with sick kids. His daughter died at age two suffering from a malignant brain tumor. Never knew about his wife’s enormous strength and endurance. How he lost 3 of his fellow astronauts from a fire in a testing capsule. Never knew he escaped near death in many a missions. How thousands of NASA team members worked day and night to achieve the impossible, while citizens marched against mega budgets dedicated to moon landing, which could have gone in to pressing needs in America like poverty and racial tension.
It was impossible to go to moon, until that very moment Neil landed on Moon.
The more we run from our fears, the bigger they get. Yet, when we go right in to them, fears evaporate and vanish.
Motivation is plenty on internet with inspiring quotes to adrenalin pumping videos. We watch them daily on our social media feeds. It’s like drugs. You need more and more each day to feel the kick. Why?
Your motivation is directly linked with how much control you have over your work and surroundings. When you have motivation, you jump and do things.
That’s why people gossip about sports and politics. Gossip is all we can do, because we don’t have control over what happens in sports and politics. We are spectators, nothing more.
Think about office gossip. It’s kind of the same. When we do not have control over our work and environment, we opt for gossip. It’s easy. But when we are clear about what we have to do and given control, we are hungry for work. We stretch and do things that were impossible at the beginning. The confidence built from doing even a simple thing adds up to drive us to the next thing.
Workplaces and our homes are now intensely complex. It’s hard to stay calm and be objective because emotions and residues from the past bounces most of us to get distracted and irritated. Obstacles are a way of life now. To embrace obstacles is the new attitude. I must try hard to
1. Control emotions to focus on objective
2. Filter out good in all situations
3. Ignore what irritates me and which limits me.
4. Be mindful in the present moment. Remove fear about future. Not to over think.
5. Only spend time on things I can control.
Daily workout and meditation in the morning is my fuel tanked full, for the rest of the day.
There’s a saying “if you want to make people happy, do not be a leader, sell ice cream.”
Leadership for me is to do the right thing, and if it feels right, get others to do the right thing too, so that they become leaders. Humans do not like to be changed. It is hard work. And it’s a choice.
Most of us, when we hear about “innovation” tend to visualise staff retreats, having fun and been creative by expressing ideas. Then come up with that ‘aha’ moment, and go and work on it. Once in a year routine, may be twice a year.
Far from it. Innovation in reality is loads of hard work, an emotional drainage, and a creator of many awkward and uncomfortable moments. If not driven well, it can derail even the most honest intentions.
Right now, in this age, if the head of organization is not leading innovation process, nothing will happen differently. Discussions may happen, but changes won’t be there. From next week, it will be back to old stuff.
So, then what is the role of the leader? Instead of thinking I have to give the grand vision and inspire people to follow, a leader must co-create space that people on their own generate new ideas, test, get it right, fail, generate ideas again, repeat.
Yesterday Sri Lankan fans threw water bottles on the play ground during final moments of a ODI played between India and Sri Lanka. This is not the first in the history of cricket in Sri Lanka. It happened in 2015 too.
“It’s only a few people, not all Indians”
~ Indians, 1996
“It’s only a few people, not all Sri Lankans”
~ Sri Lankans, 2017
Frustration in universal. I’m not condoning the act, yet hey, welcome to reality.
No body wants to cheer a side that is losing continuously. No body wants to work in a company that is making losses year after year. Shareholders leave. Staff jump ship. People invest to win, they take bets on winning. At least fans need to see the hunger in their team to win.
Damage is done. Reputation is lost. Frustration is out. It’s ok.
What is not ok is to keep things shabby and rudderless. Fans cannot be asked to keep calm. Fans are fans because of what they do. They cheer.
The team needs to show their hunger to win on the field, not in press conferences. There will always be politics. That’s the case in every country. Players need to play. A captain needs to lead. For the cricket board, well, they need to bring sanity in to the structure.
Way forward is to win. To win a few matches. Sri Lankans are not the first underdog, would not be the last. Sometimes, been the underdog is a blessing, if they can seize the moment. That moment is now, when they are at the bottom of the most darkest of pits of all time.