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The HCF of Success?...

This is something which I would have probably written in my private hand-written corner and not left it open on the blog. But then this unmuddlings is almost a private corner with highly personalized readership – that quelled the feeling of a flogged nakedness writing in this forum. Also off late am closer to following my motto of ‘Shamelessness’…which I had told myself and few others [maybe] almost 2 decades earlier would be the name of my first book/novel. Since then, I have christened and not written many a book by now. So my announcing the old name hardly makes a statement. The third reason for publishing is that – this message a trigger a train of thoughts of some. Worth a debate.

What is being successful? What is the common characteristic or the most important pre-requisite for success? How does one go about it?

These are some of the questions which have been with me in my mind for a few years now. Interesting for a large part of my life – I hardly cared to bother about wanting to know what is being successful and what are the pre-reqs. Quite clearly I was indifferent about them. The entire trajectory was an after-effect of indulgences and whims. Different types of indulgences and whims - ranging from the responsible to consistently crazy. The only common factor then, was to be consistent with ones on value [unarticulated] system of fairness and equity. Success then [and even now] was always to be in a positive state of mind and to protect ones values [rather live up to them] and not get carried away by the convenience to be inconvenient to others. Any other definition of success, was a part of some other lexicon – unfamiliar to the self absorbed ways of yours truly.

The self absorbed ways of yours truly have hardly changed. However one critical realization and need has been to pursue success/goals as an end itself – and not to be conveniently stuffed under the carpet with a ‘halo-ed’ justification – internally posturing it akin to a child losing interest in a toy, rather than accepting a sub-optimality and/or working out of it. All this, is most certainly a play of human conditionings. The world of the sub-merged ice-berg; whereas the tip of the ice-berg [in this case the conscious mind] playing the games of justifications, indulgences and hide-n-seek.

So, here we have, another long winded introduction to a subject. Leaving fewer words for the main story. This is the story of all my blogs – written after a long gap. So be it. Essentially coming to the questions again - What is being successful? What is the common characteristic or the most important pre-requisite for success? How does one go about it?

The first question is the easiest. What is being successful – simply – whatever the individual considers it successful. I think what is being successful or not is what one considers as successful. It can range from highly action oriented materialistic attributes to contended ‘apparently’ muted and unstirred response to the whirlwind of opportunities. As long as any particular goal – doesn’t damage the self – it is fine and has the due loftiness attached to it. To summarise, success is a totally personalized metric. It is relative metric to the extent, that we make our definition of success a comparative to the ‘success’ of people around us [mind us: the person who is ‘successful’, alone knows his own ‘woes’ and ‘failures’]. Individually human beings have two distinct continuums of aspiration. One is a relative contribution and impact to society. Two, the orderliness, calm and peace of one’s immediate surroundings [self, family etc]. As a hypothesis, it is worth proposing that other things remaining constant - one would like have the most of each of the dimensions individually. But then, other things are not constant. Higher the intended social impact, the higher the potential personal disorderliness. Where one slots, one own self is a mix of the two co-ordinates. A personal choice borne out of ones context and/or conditionings. Interestingly I am getting to be of the view –our context and conditionings are two sides of the same coin!!

Now – the common characteristic of success. The more I delve into myself to examine the gaps between intended state and actual state; and the more I try to delve into the mental make-up of people who apparently get to do things they aimed at [some or all] or the mental make-up who probably didn’t reach the objective they had set for themselves in certain dimensions – the more reach another hypothesis is the degree of involvement. The intensity and the continuity of involvement. My current level of understanding, [as a corollary] suggests that, whatever activity/goal we set for ourselves/our group we need to assess that whether we as an individual and as group have configured ourselves to have hygiene levels of human involvement [in terms of time and quality] at all levels of the ideation and execution. That according to me is a critical differentiator between success and failure. A great idea can fail without due involvement. An average idea can excel with excellent involvement with the details [God lies in details!!]. A mediocre idea and intelligence can live with dignity with right fitting the degree of involvement. Many apparently weak and commoditised ideas can get extra-ordinary success. While, many breakthrough ideas have in the past have unbelievably hurtled down the gutters. The different lies in degree of involvement vis a vis what is due. The design – at all levels – down to dotting the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s.

Failure [as an opposite to success – self stated desires/goals…not speaking from a third party definition of success/failure – which is inconsequential] is never bad luck, like success most of the time is not good luck. It’s the involvement design. Failure is never why me. It is most often inevitably configured. The first step to change a state is to accept the above.

All battles lost can be a input to a war won – the introspection can be in the line of indentifying gaps of due involvement and right aligning them. In the context of sowing ones seed – it is advisable that sow them small over a smaller patch of land. So that we can water and nuture all the fields with due attention individually. Till we can afford structural changes to our resource allocation.

While quality ideation is any day a common factor – no two ways. There is greater co-relation with execution quality rather than ideation quality. That is why I propose the name of Ms/Mr Involvement as the highest common factor [HCF!!] as the torch bearer of success.

The third question. How does one go about it? Before that – while talking about involvement as HCF. Is it saying much?? It isn’t when one is making a theoretical, understanding level statement. While, it pretty much is when one is making an attempt to create a behavioural level paradigm shift – which questions every idea vis-à-vis the resources/instincts required to ensure a threshold level of involvement allocation. That is the crux. That is the reason why question three can naturally. What I have understood below threshold factors of involvement allocation – happen when we either over-estimate or underestimate ourselves. The quirky fact is at different points we demonstrate both the instincts. We may over-estimate to bite more than what we can chew; and other times feel we have contributed enough [and drop the guards] or reached our limits – when actually we can walk a few more miles if we can shake off a debilitating [yet deeply entrenched and self fuelling] instinct. Involvement with orderliness and health is the key.

So that’s it for now. How to execute this insight is the key? How to reign in the false fears [or embark conscious and consistent capacity creation] and how to deliberate on the best bite? How to configure this [almost oxymoronic] calm continuity of desperation, till the goals are achieved? How to get waylaid, with the false satisfaction of ones intent and efforts vis-à-vis results? How not to drop ones guards with the chimera of implied and actual delegation to teams without examining their right alignment of intent, space and competence to the needs of the task? These are the questions one needs to examine every moment till the goals are achieved [not just till when they are in sight].

Looking back – it seems this has overlaps with my earlier blogs, Pain Barrier and Trust Your Instincts.

Nov 21, 2010


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