How my biggest strength was stopping me from achieving results?

Time Management and prioritizing things have always been one of my biggest strength. First, as a student, and later as a professional, I have always tried to be ahead of time, and plan things in advance. I can’t remember how it started, maybe I just inherited this from my parents or my knack of doing something ‘extra‘ always made me manage my time properly. However, in the last one year, I have realized how this strength of mine has stopped me in achieving more and better results, and what I had to do to not let this strength become a barrier.

The earliest example of time management in my life came from my parents. I still remember my mother used to wake me up at 6 AM every morning while I was 7-8 years old and how my parents made me study for 30 mins every morning before leaving for school. The same used to continue after coming back from school with homework in the afternoon, some playtime in the evening followed by one hour of TV at night. I think the same planning of time carried on when I went to college in Jaipur and later when I started my career at Noida.

Now, as a student, and as a professional who was just starting his career, most of the work I did was individual in nature. It means I had the responsibility of doing something on my own, and I always enjoyed it as I was good at prioritizing and scheduling my time. Most of the success I tasted at work was primarily because of my ability to manage my time and schedule. All this was going well till I started handling the 99acres tech team. This moved me into a leadership role for the first time and I was responsible for the work of the whole team, and it was a team job rather than an individual job.

Are your strengths becoming your weakness?

Are your strengths becoming your weakness?

During that one year in Noida, I found that I made good friends and had a good relationship with people who were good in their work and finished their tasks timely. On the other hand, I felt anger and frustration whenever someone was unable to complete their work timely. I started treating both sets of people differently. In other words, I enjoyed working with people who shared the same traits of time management and resented working with whom ‘I considered‘ poor performers. At that time, however, I was totally unaware that this was stopping me from achieving more results.

Only in the last one year, when I have taken some projects in the social space, like Waste Management and Anti-Corruption, that I have realized how my biggest strength was stopping me from achieving results. As my work grew from personal to interacting with people and teams, it was obvious (not to me 😉 ) that there would be differences in the way people think and work. Different people will be good at different skills, and for the success of any task or project, it is very important to leverage the complementary skills of people so that the output is bigger than the sum of its parts. Instead, what I was doing is aligning people with same sets of strengths and weaknesses together, making the project difficult and more prone to failure.

When I finally realized that how easily I used to get worried and upset when somebody did not replied in time, or doesn’t do what I expected him/her to do, I made a conscious effort not to let this become a show-stopper for the project, and for me. It was not easy in the beginning, as I was more concerned with somebody not replying in time rather than thinking about the project as a whole. The day I stopped seeing this behavior as ‘it should not be happening‘, life became a lot easier and I realized how this way of being has impacted my previous projects too.

Once I realized this, I started building systems, structures and processes that provide necessary help to the people to empower them so that delays can be avoided, or their impact be cushioned at best. This helped in creating a win-win scenario with the team working together with each member contributing in his/her own way and without any resentment, worries, etc. There is still a long way to go for me in this area, and I think the best learning will come when I encounter such situations in future, and how I choose to react to them.

How to use Incentives to get things done?

This post is not about how to get things done by others, but by yourself. I want to emphasize the use of incentives to motivate ourselves to do a task. We all need motivation to do any task, and more so if the task is repetitive or boring. Setting incentives for myself for any task, big or small, is something I have used all my life, and to good use.

Set milestones in your task
If you have a long boring task, break it up into smaller tasks and set milestones at regular period of time. I normally break up my tasks in a way that no two milestones lie more than 3-4 days apart. This helps me keep focus on the task at hand while the overall objective of the longer task is also not forgotten. Overcoming these milestones give you a sense of achievement and keeps you going. So the next time you have a task which might take 20 days, break it up into six or seven subtasks, set milestones, and get going, one milestone after next. It is easy to procrastinate or miss a few days in a 20 day task, but very difficult for a 3-4 day one.

Treat yourself after every milestone
Whenever a milestone is reached, treat yourself with something. It could be as simple as having an ice-cream or going to eat in your favorite restaurant which you won’t go normally. These small treats are the things which you might do normally too every once in a while, but tying them to a milestone gives you a sense of achievement and adds more meaning to it.

Don’t give yourself what you want, tie it to a result
During childhood, everything we two brothers demanded was never given to us directly, our parents always used to attach it to a result, most of the times academic results. If it was something small, the result could be as simple as doing your homework, or if it was something big, it could be tied to a good score in exams. I distinctly remember once when I wanted a cricket kit and that was tied to standing among the top three candidates in the final exams.

If you don’t achieve the result you wanted but worked hard, treat yourself anyway
Now when you set yourself some targets / milestones to achieve, sometimes you will achieve the results and sometimes you will not. That is very natural. But if I am sure I have given enough effort to the task, I go ahead and treat myself anyway 🙂 After all, the objective is to add some fun and motivation in doing of a task and not to discourage or demotivate.

Is it for real??

How many times have you experienced something so amazing that it is hard to believe if it is real? I guess there are not many moments. There might be a few unbelievable moments while you are on some vacation, or when you get some unexpected result, but overall our lives kind of “suck“… I just had an amazing time this weekend that I was asking myself “Is it for real?” And let me assure you, none of your “unreal, unbelievable” moments can match up to what I experienced!!

What I saw this past weekend was how life should be, and how it can be. It was the ideal life which our parents told us about when we were kids or the kind of life you find in books. A life full of joy, honesty, love and compassion for others and free of hatred, boredom or any kind of negative emotion. And I bet you can’t imagine what can it be like being amongst 96 like minded people over the last three days from 10 in the morning to midnight. There were people from 15 years of age to 70 years in the group, and at the end of it, all of us were jumping and dancing like kindergarden kids.

Now you might be confused. What am I talking about? No, I am not drunk!! But certainly there is a “nashaa“, a nashaa of life, of the new possibilities that exist in life now. Now to clear all doubts, what I did over the weekend was to attend the “Landmark Advanced Course”… Now for those who don’t know about Landmark Education and its “Curriculum of Living“, it is a collection of three events/programs/trainings (whatever you might want to call them) that will alter your life in a way that you have never imagined before. Its flagship program “Landmark Forum” has benefited millions of people worldwide. And anybody can do it, from college going kids to young professionals (like me 🙂 ) to 70-80 year olds. CEO of big companies have done it, world class athletes and sport persons have done it (including the Indian cricket team) and it has allowed people to grow in their relationships, business and career.. In short, it has given a new life to its participants.

The “Advanced Course” which I did is the second program in the Curriculum of Living. Like the Landmark Forum, it is held over Fri-Sun and Tuesday evening. While Landmark Forum was the experience of a lifetime for me, the Advanced Course is about realizing what is possible for in the future. Although I am trying my best, I think it is something to be experienced and not to be described. The best things in life are always felt and experienced, and no description can do justice to the task, and this is one of them. I have already registered for the last program in the Curriculum of Living which is the “Self Expression and Leadership Program” and can’t wait for it to start (in November)

As I said before, the Advanced Course is held over a weekend (Fri-Sun) and Tuesday evening. And tomorrow is the Tuesday evening, the last day of our Advanced Course. And guess what, on Tuesday evenings, participants are allowed to bring in guests who can first hand see what Landmark education is all about and the kind of results people produce after doing the “Curriculum of Living“. So all of you who are reading this are INVITED as my guest for the evening session on Tuesday, 21 September. It is free, and will give you a chance to register for the “Landmark Forum” on the spot (which I seriously recommend to one and all) . You can know more about the program at

The logistics for the evening are as follows –

Venue – St. Joseph European Boys School, Opp Post Office, Museum Road, Bangalore

Date – Sep 21 2010 (Tuesday)

Time – 7:30 to 10:45 PM (You have to reach there by 7PM)

I really want to all readers to come take a peek into the wonderful program (and register too) this Tuesday. If you are coming or need any other details, feel free to call me at 9916532966 and let me know. Also, feel free to invite any of your friends and family members.