JOSH Talks: Lessons on Team Building from the Army

I was invited to speak in the maiden JOSH talks event held in Kolkata on Jan 14th, 2018. With and audience over 500+, it was electrifying, energetic and enthusiastic. It was a wonderful experience to feel the ‘YOUth’ bubbling with energy!!!

A number of them walked up and wanted the talk for ‘keepsake’. It’ll be uploaded on FB and YouTube. Here goes the Script.

LESSONS ON TEAM BUILDING FROM THE ARMY

Tough times don’t last. Tough People do”.

Imagine the temperatures have further fallen and is presently hovering around 0°. Cold and shivering, you are sitting in a pitch-dark night waiting, waiting and waiting some more, where a minute seems like an hour. You are soldiers sitting in an ambush waiting for the terrorist to show up. Night after night hundreds of such teams of soldiers spend, such nights in the mountainous terrain of J&K. How do these teams operate and come out winners? Let me share some Lessons from the Army on Team Building.

After 20 years of service, The Selection Board approved me to Command ‘my’ infantry unit; roughly consisting of 1,000+ men. And shortly thereafter, we were deployed to combat terrorists in J&K sector.

Let me elaborate a little, for the uninitiated, what I meant by ‘my’ infantry unit. Infantry is the foot soldiers of the Army who capture ground, something, you would have seen in the Kargil war. I was commissioned and I commanded the same unit. The men of my unit are drawn from the Seven Sister States; which we club as the North East. These men have spent their early childhood in the jungles of Arunachal, Assam Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

These battle-hardened soldiers unflinchingly took me under their wings. My first fledgling steps in the uniform, in Lucknow, were spent with these men and they taught me lessons of life and warfare.

We’ve a tradition in our unit. The newly commissioned officer spends his initial two months with his troops in their barracks. Spending time dining with them, wining with them, playing with them, bathing with them, staying in the barracks. I had the opportunity to know these men from very close quarters. I was into all the ‘troop’ games; football, hockey, basketball, volleyball and even handball. Being from a boarding school helped.

After a month, the first pay parade. Those days the monthly pay of the soldiers, had to be physically distributed. In walks Sep Charliwan, a wonderful center half of our football team. I proudly announce, ‘Sir, Sep Charliwan. My Company Commander, my immediate boss, asks me, “And what is his Army Number?” Huh!!!! “Sir, I don’t know?” You better know. The next month pay parade, I announce, ‘Sir, Army Number 431000539 Sep Charliwan, reporting for his pay’. And what is his shoe size? KO!!!

Know your men. Know your men better than their mothers do; and love them as much, said Fd Marshal Slim addressing his officers in the Burma Campaign. I learnt my first lesson. If you don’t know your men, you are unfit to command them. You will not earn their respect. 500 years BC Sun Tzu wrote:

‘If you know the enemy, and know yourself, You will not fear the results of a hundred battle.

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat.

If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

When dealing with people remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion. None of us work in a silo. We have teams to work with. As a leader or even as a team member it is imperative that you know the team very well. Their strengths and their weaknesses. Strong camaraderie builds strong teams.

When I assumed Command, Sep Charliwan had risen in ranks and was a JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer) now. And in one of our first operations, his sub unit, was tasked to go after some reported terrorists sighted. We sat down for planning, and Sub Charliwan, very politely tells me, “Saab iska planning hum karlega, aap sirf fire support dena from ‘X’ location”. Sub Charliwan and his team move up the treacherous mountain top. He splits his team, deploys a support team to cover their move and leads from the front, to hunt the reported terrorists. Chasing terrorists in the thick of jungles, may be slightly difficult to comprehend sitting in the confines of this auditorium. Rugged mountainous terrain with thick undergrowth. The visibility is restricted to 5-10 meters. It requires extreme physical fitness, mental robustness and stamina.

They reach a small opening and find the remains of a bonfire. The ember tells them that the terrorists have a lead of an hour odd. Trained in jungle craft, they start following the trail. After a while they are hot in pursuit. The terrorists see the soldiers and start fleeing. A downhill running terrorist, with his AK 47 on his shoulder, finger pressing the trigger and spraying bullets all around. Facing these oncoming bullets. Major challenge.

Sub Charliwan comes on air and tells me, “Saab one-two”. Those of you familiar with soccer will understand the term. The fleeing terrorist hit my ambush, we exchange fire, they change their direction and run right into the waiting arms of Sub Charliwan. Three terrorists neutralized with no casualties to self. A clean operation. Thanks to the planning and of course team work. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

Lord Wellesley quipped, that The Battle of Waterloo was won in the playfields of Eton.

Well, The Battle of J&K jungles were surely won in the playfields of Lucknow.

Beware of entrance to a battle, but being in Bear’t the enemy beware of thee’. No soldier, wants to be a runners’ up in the battlefield. There are no runners up in War. I assure you, to face oncoming bullets is not a comfortable feeling at all. How do you train for that? How do you control your nerves?

Let me share some secrets.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” On hearing a shot, your muscle memory takes over. You have trained so hard, you have trained so much that without thinking you ‘Dash – Down – Crawl – Observe – Fire’. We Just Do it! The harder you train, the better you get. This training is like meditation. You train and train and then you train some more. You train hard, because you know that some day it is this training that will save your life. It is the difference between life and death. People call it ‘Deliberate Practice’. Geoff Colvin/ Anders Ericsson/ Malcolm Gladwell all spoke about it in their books. It’s an old Army Saying: ‘The more you sweat in Peace, the less you bleed in War’. Training is the difference between amateurs and professionals.

After every two and half years in field, the unit moves to a peace location. The major part of this tenure is dedicated to training. Be it firing in the field firing ranges, to other operations of war. We train and train. The competitions are designed to support this training. Best Mortar platoon, MMG detachment, best firer, and so on. The sports competitions are held to build and improve camaraderie among each other. Training as a team lies at the crux of our success.

But then Murphy’s law says, ‘Anything that can go wrong, will’. I am sure, that no one in this gathering here believes that everything could be hunky dory and all the planning and training will avert any mishap/ disaster from happening. Always remember, ‘You plan for three options and the enemy will adopt the fourth’. No plan survives contact. So, while planning, do make contingency plans but avoid over planning. We had our fair share of accidents and failures. The ability to turn a failure on its head is an acme of a leader.

In one of our operations, we suffered a fatal casualty. This was my lowest moment of my command. We were in the thick of jungles and the road head was two hours. Transporting the martyr to the road head and then to our base was a challenge. I had to make a decision. The regulations state that the ‘Last Post’ of a martyr in operational area can be sounded in situ. In that location itself. While the ‘father’ in me said, I would like to see my son.

I took a decision to fly him home, some 3,000 kms. Remember, the martyr has to be embalmed lest decay sets in. Transferring him to Delhi, and another flight to Guwahati. And move 500 kms by road from Guwahati to Aizawl. It was an administrative nightmare but worth it. As the martyr entered Aizawl, the entire town had lined up to pay homage to the soldier. The local administration, the media and the local representatives. A huge procession reached his village and the soldier was laid to rest in the church and a memorial constructed.

The accompanying JCO brought back a letter from the father of the martyr. “Sir, I thank you profusely for sending across my son. I’ll remain ever grateful to you for this act. In his letters, my son has been writing about the unit a lot. My younger son is thirteen years old, please tell me when can he enrol and join the unit to continue the half-finished task of his brother?” On receiving the letter, I sobbed.

Recently, our unit was celebrating its Golden Jubilee and I was attending the momentous occasion. To my surprise, I meet the parents of the martyr, who had traveled all the way from Mizoram. They were profuse in their gratitude and proudly introduced me to their younger son, now a soldier in the unit.

Regard your soldier’s as your children and they’ll follow you in the deepest valley. Look on them as your own beloved son and they’ll stand by you even unto death. Failure will happen. Face them and turn it around. Every adversity provides an opportunity.

The soldiers goes to Battle for ‘Naam, Namak and Nishan’.

Naam, the name of the unit, the izzat of the unit. We build a culture within our organizations where the individuals have a stake. You all have heard of the terrorist attack on Taj Mumbai on Nov 26, 2008 and read about the acts of bravery of its employees. When the chips are down, when we are facing bullets the one thing that constantly reminds us to do the right thing and why we are doing what we are doing is Naam. The izzat of the unit that you are serving.

Namak, the salt of the country they have had. A soldier cannot even think that he could do anything, anything at all that will belittle his country or countrymen. We are conditioned to think ‘Country First’. The Arthur Andersons, Enron and Satyam are issues which reflect poorly on the Country. What is the image we would like to portray of our Country? You all are the brand ambassadors of our Country. Each one of you sitting here is a soldier out of uniform. Protect your motherland. Nurture it. Nourish it. Love it and be proud of it.

Remember: ‘Koi desh perfect nahi hota, use perfect banana padta hai’.

Nishaan, the standard or the colours of the regiment. The colours goes to battle with the unit. It rallies troops around it and raises their morale. It gives each one of us an identity. To keep the ‘nishan’ flying high, always and every time. Build a legacy for others to follow. Great institutions are made with legacies. What is the legacy you are leaving behind?

Zindagi mein ek aisa junoon rakho, jiske lie apni jaan dene ke lie taiyaar ho!

You will have a rallying point and this will motivate and guide you of your actions always and every time. People call it passion. Some call it purpose. Find your purpose and you’ll find meaning and will be self-motivated to achieve it.

A soldier knows that he is the last bastion to protect his motherland. This is the ethos drilled in the rank and file, right from the officer down to the soldier. Each one of them ready to shout, ‘Yeh Dil Mange More’!

Jai Hind. Jai Hind.

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Motivation

 

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Early morning Bicycle Rides:     50+ kms

The instant that this word is read, “Motivation”, a number of you automatically start wondering what is being said/ written/ same ol’ junk. I know, this word has that effect and has been flogged so much that there is a ‘brain-fade’ on reading ‘motivation’.

A number of you, have asked me this query, “Sir, What keeps you going?” Day in and Day out … how do you sustain this energy? What drives you? or words to that effect. I did some introspection and have come up with some thoughts on .. em.. ahem .. ahem … Motivation. What keeps you Motivated? How do you get the energy to repeatedly do the same task over and over again? What urges you to go to the office on a Monday morning?

  1. Who are you doing this for? If you, for any reason, start questioning and wonder ‘What is this all about?’; its time you call it quits. This one question should be crystal clear. I’m doing this for … myself? my parents? our society? community? My boss? Now the last answer will irk you. If you’re only working for the boss – well soon your motivation will be rock bottom.
  2. What is my Daily Goal? How do I see my day panning out? Is there a ‘high’ I’ll get on completion of my task? What will I be doing today? Is it exciting enough? OR what do I need to complete today? Completion of a set goal gives a sense of satisfaction, a sense of achievement.
  3. Motivation gives you +ve strokes. Therefore, make things happen, so that you keep getting the high. Remember, Success is a drug. Once you get addicted, you will not settle for anything less. Get into the habit of success. See your results flow. This will keep you motivated.
  4. Keep Learning. Knowledge is power. It is true. The more you know, the more you grow. Your motto should be: What will I learn new today? “Learners are Earners”. It is knowledge that drives this economy. Keep learning.
  5. Hangout with Superstars. Your IQ is the sum total of your five closest friends. Look at them closely. Winners, invariably, hangout with superstars. Read about them. Follow them and be-friend them. Get to know their secret of success.
  6. Be your own coach. Nobody knows YOU better than YOU. You’ve done your SWOT. You know where to pitch in and where you need to work on. Address these issues. Explore opportunities and be prepared.

I always maintain – YOU gotta love what you’re doing. YOU made the choice in the first place, right? If not, start loving what you do. Better get going. Your love, passion and commitment show through in your quality of work. Your zeal, your enthusiasm .. all are reflected in the work. Without YOUR heart in it … it’ll always be Just a Job.

Passionate Prabir.

It’s OK to be Ignorant ..

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Not to Know is Bad. Not to Wish to Know is worse. – African Proverb

Really? We have a fear of appearing stupid. So we try to act like we know what we’re doing. This is more so at work, even when we don’t have a clue. The Noah’s Ark was made by amateurs; The Titanic by professionals.

The problem, therefore isn’t about appearing stupid. The problem is BEING stupid. The great Noble Laureate Albert Einstein said, “Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the Universe.”

Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. It can be fixed. Stupidity on the other hand, is not even knowing what you don’t know. Go get some knowledge, fill the void, and the problem is solved. I oft repeat: Knowledge is the ONE key to Confidence. Therefore, Research, Read, Absorb, Test, Validate .. Do what ever it takes to seek knowledge. That is YOUr only salvation. That is YOUr only redemption. That is YOUr only deliverance.

If YOU are ignorant, as the Wright Brothers were, you don’t understand why birds fly and humans cannot. So, YOU study the elements of aerodynamics, wind resistance, acceleration, lift, drag, thrust and fill the void with knowledge. The Result?

The development of the airplane, from propellers to jets to the man on the moon. Airlines, airports, runways, ATCs, flight attendants, baggage handlers, metal detectors, air sickness bags, to miniature liquor bottles. A whole new industry; in fact the largest industry in the history of the world. BUT if YOU are stupid, you flap your arms and crash to earth.

Remember, Ignorance is temporary, Stupidity is forever. The choice is YOUrs.

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Knowledge is Power!!!

Bengaluru – Conundrum

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Conundrum called Bengaluru: The IT Capital

02 Sep. My flight was at 1000 h. Reporting time 0920 h. Through the night, there was no respite from the rains. The rain-gods were more than kind to ‘love’ for Bengaloorians. Bannerghatta road, is located in a low lying area. I’d experienced a fateful night during my IIM days, when my two wheeler got submerged and I’d to abandon it; only to recover it the next day.

After my bittersweet experience of 01 Sep, I’d planned to start early.

0530 h. Say my ‘good-byes’ to my cozy room.                                                                                   0540 h. Uber refuses to respond.                                                                                                         0547 h. Ola is in “high demand” and not available. Somewhere, the ominous bells were going berserk.                                                                                                                                         0552 h. Angel in form of man advices me, to pick up my luggage and wait at the main road, next to the Security Room. He has just returned from the airport and all the roads leading up to our complex was under water. A submarine was sighted in the near vicinity, which he didn’t vouch for. The road had turned into a river.

0600 h. Apprehensively moved to the main road; lock, stock and two smoking barrels. An umbrella tried to prevent the downpour from wetting me. It was losing badly aka the Arsenal match against Liverpool last Sunday.

0613 h. I encounter an Angry Bird. The driver was in a great hurry. Archimedes Principle states that the force exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that it displaces. Standing by the road side the displaced fluid submerged me till the waist. But it helped me now to firm my resolve to wade through waist deep water, with my suitcase atop my head.

0633 h. A good samaritan, in the form of a local bus driver, gives me a lift. He drops me at Jayanagar, 4th Block. Informs me that Volvo for airport are available here. The rains applaud.

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9 3/4 Platform: Volvo arrives here

0719 h. A volvo for the airport materializes aka Harry Potter’s platform 9 3/4.

0859 h. Land Ahoy! Voila! The Kempagowda International Airport is beckoning. I’m on time for a change. A first of its kind. 

I would like to thank all the participants who helped me in this saga, the spoken, unspoken, the visible and the invisible, who made my Bengaluru trip so momentous. Phewww!!

 

Bengaluru: Love it or Hate it – But you can’t Ignore it

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Bengaluru: The IT/ITES Capital of the World

Having been invited as Keynote Speaker at the International Summit of Software Testers organized by STepIN Forum at Bengaluru on Sep 01,2017 (the second day of the conference). The venue for the conference was at Hotel Park Plaza, Marathahalli on the outer ring road. I reached on Aug 31 and settled down at Mantri Elite, Bannerghatta Road.

Knowing my penchant for cutting things fine, my better half advised (instructed?) me to leave early. My talk was at 1000 h and the days proceedings were to commence at 0900 h.

0730 h. Step out of elevator on ground floor. Intermittent drizzle.                                             0742 h. Book an Uber. Estimated time of arrival 03 minutes.                                                       0745 h. Reach the gate of the complex. Await Uber.                                                                       0800 h. Uber not in sight. Call the driver. He speaks to me in ‘greek’. I put him through to the security people, who converse in ‘greek’. They inform me, another five minutes he should be here.

0815 h. No Uber. [My numerous calls to the driver Santhosh (96.868.006.16) are all unanswered].                                                                                                                                         0816 h. Cancel Uber. Try to book again but then they are too busy charging me for cancelling a service they failed to provide.                                                                                         0818 h. Tried booking Ola who are in ‘Very High Demand’. The green circle completes and informs me that no Ola is around. Local people tell me that ‘autos’ will not go to Outer Ring Road. Stuck.

0822 h. Persuade an auto to take me for an exorbitant price though.                                      

0832 h. Auto malfunctions and refuses to start. I’m in middle of a traffic jam, in no man’s land. The driver is profusely apologising for something which has never happened earlier. I’m somewhere around BTM layout.

0835 h. I request an ‘angel’ in a motor bike to drop me. And he quips, “Sheuure Sir, No Problem”. I straddle the bike (the last I sat on a bike must’ve been 1948!!). Angel zips along the highway, weaving his way through very heavy traffic. He is good. Takes a couple of service roads. Safely he drops me at the Venue site. The light drizzle is  .. well.

0910 h. I walk into Hotel Park Plaza. Freshen up.

1010 h. My session starts on clock-work precision. Humbled by the appreciation and standing ovation. Grateful that I could Impact, Ignite and Inspire the community of Software Testers. A number of selfies later. Could sit down and analyse the events of the day.

 

Can I Improve my Creativity and Clarity

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Let YOUR subconscious work for YOU.

A simple answer would be YES YOU CAN.

But then things in life are not that simple. They may be easy but not simple. Let me explain.

 

“YOUr subconscious mind works continuously while YOUre awake, and while YOU sleep”. – Napoleon Hill

Understand a fact; YOUr subconscious mind never sleeps. At each moment it’s busy controlling your body temperature, your breathing, blood circulation, digestion and millions of other things. It controls all your vital processes.

Also, what happens at your subconscious, also reflects (and controls) your conscious mind. In effect, YOUr subconscious becomes YOUr reality. Therefore, it’s important to check what goes into your subconscious.

 

“The subconscious mind will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available”. – Napoleon Hill

YOUr goal therefore is to control YOUr subconscious or control it, feed it with what you want. Let it work for you and not against YOU. Therefore, before YOU go to bed. Follow this regime religiously.

 

+ Switch off your TV (or any other program that you were watching.) Switch off your mobile (or at the least, put it in silent mode and stop checking for updates). Sit down comfortably at a place (in YOUr house) where there is absolute silence/ quiet/ least amount of disturbance. Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes. Take a pen and write down what YOU want. More specific you are, the better it is. Don’t write things like, “I want happiness”.  Define it. “I want money”. Hello … are you listening. Be Specific. Now your subconscious gets to work.

 

80 percent of people between the ages of 15-45, check their smartphones within 15 minutes of waking up. Research confirms that the brain (pre-frontal cortex), is the most active and readily creative immediately following your sleep. Through the night, your subconscious has worked and brought things to the fore.

+ The creative people (and most of the successful people), check on the performance of the task they had allotted to the subconscious. Take a journal and note down the points that have come about. (With practice, this skill set can be honed! It gets better with time, just like anything; The more you practice, the better you get). With time the ideas that start flowing, the clarity that you are seeking; all the answers come to YOU.

Your mental image, visualisation and subconscious translates into reality. Have Faith. Have the Belief.

You’re the Master of YOUR destiny. This simple routine will assist YOU in fulfilling your dreams. Chalk out a plan and move towards fulfilling it.

 

Are YOU Ready?

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Are YOU ready to don the new Role in your workplace?

The present day work environment is throwing up challenges each moment. More employees are distressed about their future in the organizations. The scenario looks ominous and the management doesn’t seem to be communicative enough!!!

As a knowledge worker this should help you give a better perspective!

An economic growth engine is well-oiled only if it has a steady supply of skilled resources.If India has to sustain the current pace of growth in its knowledge economy or meet the many ambitions of its private enterprise then a complete overhaul of its many institutes is needed. The skills required for the jobs are not being imparted in the educational institutes; while the educational institutes cry hoarse that there is insufficient interaction and the industry is unclear about what they want!!

While nearly 5 million students graduate every year from a thousand colleges and universities, nearly half of them are not employment-ready due to poor communication and cognitive skills.

What is severely lacking in mainstream education  is the absence of industry-specific skills and domain knowledge. Often, the skills taught in our institutions are not tailored to meet the needs of the industry, resulting in a higher unemployment rate among fresh graduates. It’s unfair to pass the blame to either. It is untrue when they say, that there are NO jobs. Well, there are; only the students are NOT trained to fill ’em up. There is a mismatch with what industry wants and what institutes give.

The oft-cited Nasscom-McKinsey study revealed that only 25% of the engineering graduates are employable. The number of unemployed educated youth between the ages of 15-29 has been growing in urban India and stands at 10 percent for males and 23 percent for females. For urban India, graduate unemployment is 8.2 percent while unemployment among post-graduates is slightly lower, at 7.7 percent.

So What does this Mean?

A new joinee is expected to hit the road running. They are considered work-place ready, if he/she can contribute to the company’s growth by efficiently handling the day-to-day tasks. Typically, IT companies allocate 3-4 months of training at an average cost of Rs. 200,000 per employee to make the freshly-inducted employee productive.
In non-technical domains, the training varies between 2-4 weeks. Is it any wonder that companies these days are considering pre-hire training as part of the standard induction process?

Pre-employment programs are short courses, comprising skill sets identified as essential for entry into the industry. It could be soft skills such as interpersonal skills, collaborating with stakeholders in multiple functions and geographies, cross-cultural interactions, multi-tasking, project management and cognitive skills. Nowadays, corporates are beginning to include pre-hire training as part of its recruitment process.

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Pre-hire Training: An Investment or Cost

Consider this: For every employee who falls short of expectations, an organization will have to bear costs equivalent to two and a half times of an individual’s salary. An unproductive new hire may weigh on the company’s efficiency rate and costs as the company ends up spending a lot on training and mentoring.

Training costs make up nearly 2-3 per cent of total staffing budget. Organizations realize that training is not a luxury but a necessity. Streamlining existing training programs for new hires to include mobile training and self-paced learning programs.

Even though pre-hire training may be more expensive on a per employee basis the company will save a lot more in the longer run. Companies can train employees in skillsets relevant to their industry. A pre-hire training program can be the gateway to an organization’s growth if the industry works with the academia to mobilize and train resources in relevant skill sets.

Developing skilled workers enhances their efficiency and flexibility; skills bottlenecks are reduced and skilled workers are able to contribute to the company’s growth and help in economy building. Educational institutions are starting to give vocational training its due especially in a gloomy job market where the IT, Pharma, Telecom, BFSI and retail sectors are not hiring at the fast clip they normally would.

While the debate is still on whether it should be the corporate sector or the academia that takes on the onus of pre-hire training, it cannot be contested anymore that employable skills are a necessity for graduates and post graduates in a hyper competitive economy.

The debate rages on!! Reminded of the incident in my previous organization where the ‘training’ budget was being slashed and the CLO was vehemently resisting the move. The CEO says, “… and after all that training, if the employee leaves us, then?” and the CLO quips, “And if we don’t train them and they stay?”  Check and mate!!!!

 

 

How do I boost my Confidence Quotient?

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The Confident YOU

Yesterday I was conducting a workshop for a renowned MNC. The participants were all lively, involved and eager to launch in their new roles. Yet, at certain times, I felt there were some voids and on questioning, it came out that some of them felt less confident. The other day a similar query was raised by the students of an elite institution.

Maybe you’ve been unsure of yourself  terrified to start something new. This not only limits your potential in life; it also minimizes your ability to make a positive impact on the world around you. It sows a seed of self doubt in the minds of your boss/ senior. There’s a lot that goes into overcoming those fears. You may need to challenge limiting beliefs formed years ago, or take yourself out of a situation where other people undermine your abilities. One thing that will definitely help is working on your confidence.

It all boils down to How do I boost my ConfidenceIs there a technique to boost my confidence? Can I fake confidence (even when I’m shivering inside)? Well, let me spell out my rules, which has stood me in good stead during my years in the uniform.

Think back when YOU were a child, were YOU afraid? YOU were blissfully unaware of judgement and other’s views. When you start feeling unsure of yourself remember: we were all born with confidence, and we can all get it back if we learn to silence the thoughts that threaten it.

Know YOUrself. YOUr strengths, YOUr weakness. Once YOU’re aware of YOUrself, YOUr strengths, YOU gain in confidence. Work on them some more and YOU’ll get surer.

Confidence comes from Success. One of my seniors advised me pretty early in my career, “Prabir, Success is a drug. YOU get addicted once, then YOU want it every time”. This has stood me in good stead. Conventional wisdom suggests to expect the worst because you won’t be disappointed if you fail and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you succeed. But research suggests this isn’t universally true. Pessimism can undermine your performance creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Find the successes in every day and you’ll notice over time that they increase. Each success leads to more successes.

BE confident of YOUr capabilitiesNo one in the world knows everything. Everyone is good at some things. Don’t weigh your security against what you know or can do; weigh it against your willingness to learn. If someone does better than you, see it as an opportunity to learn from them. Don’t worry if you’re not confident in what you can do now—be confident in your potential.

+ Know that there are certain things beyond YOU. Even confident people lose. Even they get the pink slip. YOU need to realize that there are certain things beyond YOUr control. Be sure of YOUr capabilities.

Take RisksIf YOU do the same things over and over again and expect different results YOU must be an i****. Do different things. Take risks. Stick out YOUr neck.

+ Practice Confidence. Know that YOUr brain visualizes in pictures. Envision the image of YOUr walking up the dais to receive the award. Picture that. Introducing YOUrself, shaking hands. If doubts raises its head, replace your thoughts with more confident ones. Ask yourself what a confident person would do and then try to emulate that. Watch your posture and your tone. Hunching and mumbling will make you feel and look less confident, so stand up and speak slowly and clearly.

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Want to be Confident at Work

How do I BE more Confident in Work? Besides the above mentioned points.

+ Stay Focused. Good work and positive attitude leads to confidence.

+ Believe in YOUrself. Work on YOUr self affirmations (Watch Jessica’s self affirmations). What do you tell yourself. What is YOUr self talk. Do you deride yourself? If so, it’s only natural that others will deride you too.

+ Closely monitor your successes. Prepare a ‘to-do’ list. Ticking off each action point helps your brain feel confident.

+ Be a role model for others to emulate. Workers will be attracted to YOU and then it becomes a cycle. You cannot be BUT confident.

Research and Scientific study suggest ways to Feel more Confident. These actionable tips will help YOU fake Confidence.

Stand Tall. Correct posture is the hallmark outer sign of confidence and research shows standing up straight will help you feel it on the inside, too. As social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains in her TED Talk, your posture can also increase confidence boosting testosterone in the body and indicator of success.

Recall a time when YOU were Confident. Your being a CR, best man or anything where you displayed confidence helps build your self efficacy. It releases testosterone.

Indulge in a morning ritual. Before you step out of your house. Have a morning ritual. Repeat your self affirmations. Recall all the confident moments. Raise your spirits before you step out to face the world.

Dress for Success. Chances are you’ve heard the old adage to “dress for success” and there’s a reason, as research proves them right. Studies suggest that what you’re wearing can have a direct effect on how secure and powerful you feel. The day you wear wrinkled/ unfit clothes your attention will be preoccupied with your clothes. Clean shoes, so important. Grooming is such an important aspect of YOUr feeling confident.

Stretch YOUr muscles. A physical activity recharges YOU with energy. YOUr cells are rejuvenated and makes you feel good. Better blood flow helps your skin glow and in turn your confidence levels.

If YOU analyse, there is nothing that cannot be achieved. A small tweak here, a small tuck there and YOU’re ready to face the world. And I cannot refrain from quoting Maria from Sound of Music when she is headed for the Von Trapps household ..

What will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be? I wonder …
 … The courage to serve them with reliance, Face my mistakes without defiance, Show them I’m worthy, And while I show them, I’ll show ME.
.. I have confidence they’ll put me to the test, But I’ll make them see I have confidence in me. And mind me with each step I am more certain, Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine, They’ll have to agree I have confidence in me.
I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain, I have confidence that spring will come again, Besides which you see I have confidence in me.
 .. I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me! …

What Gives Confidence?

 

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Confidence is a Feeling!! And YOU can get there.

YOU have been told n number of times to Be Confident. And you couldn’t really place a finger on what do they mean? Here you’re preparing for your toughest test (exam, interview/ meeting/ presentation), having butterflies in your stomach, and this piece of advice. Hello? Blistering Blue Barnacles. Besides, each of us has come across a person, who radiates confidence, breezes in majestically and just for a second, thought, how does he/she behave so confidently? YOU’ve an idea how they look like. How they navigate through challenges? Things start falling in place for such people. YOU wish to emulate them and wonder, how do I get there?

Confidence is knowing what YOU’re good at, the value YOU bring to the table, and acting/ behaving that conveys to the others, ‘Here is a person, who is sure of himself/ herself’. Their presence instills others too of assuredness/ confidence. If there is a team work involved, the team is re-assured that the job will be well done. Confidence has a direct correlation to promotions at workplace. Even at personal level, they seem to be more happier enjoying conjugal bliss. A pilot study at The University of Melbourne found correlation between confidence levels as early as primary school and success in the workplace as adults. A study by The University of Texas showed that students who received some expression of confidence in their ability, even while receiving criticism, performed better later on than those who were simply told to aim for higher standards.

Confidence is NOT something that can be learnt like a set of rules or reading a book. Confidence is a state of Mind. YOU need to practice Positive Thinking, Knowledge and talking to people to help YOU improve your confidence levels. Confidence comes from feeling of well being, acceptance of your body and mind (self-esteem) and belief in YOUr own ability, skills and knowledge. Confidence is NOT a static measure, and can change. Some days we may feel more confident than others. Low confidence can be result of various factors including, fear of unknown (being deployed in a new area during my uniform days), criticism, being unhappy with personal appearance (self esteem), feeling under prepared (exam fever!!), poor time management (YOU reached late for the most important meeting), lack of knowledge and previous failures.

If YOU’re seeking to change this state, my one word advice would be knowledgeRest of things will fall in place. Move out of prescribed books (which are important and required to improve subject knowledge/ marks). But seek as much knowledge as YOU can. BE a knowledge seeker. Watch TEDs. Read Books. Undergo internships. Do certification courses. Interact with people. Meet subject matter experts. Attend seminars. Do anything/ everything YOU can to seek knowledge. Knowledge is the mantra to confidence. If you dig deep, YOU’ll realise, that knowledge will assist you to crack the exam, face that interview, make that all important presentation, prepare YOU for any meeting. Prepare and YOU prepare for success. As for luck, forget it. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

The major contributors to YOUr confidence is Self Efficacy and Self EsteemSelf Efficacy  is when we see ourselves mastering skills and goals that matter in those skills areas. YOU participate in a marathon run. The first time, YOUr brain tells YOU, are YOU mad? 21 kilometers? I’ve never done it. I may collapse. I’ll be a laughing stock. People will shame me. And all such self-doubts crop up. Just take the first step. RUN .. run .. and run some more. Complete the 21 kilometers (and forget the timing). And now see how Self-Efficacy take over. YOU’re in the starting line for another marathon and NOW YOUr brain sends a message – Dude, YOU just ran a marathon, remember? 21 kilometers is a cake walkAnd then YOU do it again and again. This is the confidence that, we master in any particular area. Remember, YOU’ll succeed. Persist and YOUr self efficacy will take over.

Self Esteem reflects a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his/ her own worth. It’s a judgement of oneself; an attitude towards self. It encompasses beliefs about oneself, (what is YOUr self-talk; YOU can never do it OR remember dude, YOUr XII class percentage – 94%. YOU are good!!), and YOUr emotional state like pride, shame, triumph, and despair.  

So the question is, HOW do I build my Confidence?

a. Stay away from negativity and enthuse positivity. Avoid naysayers and surround yourself with +ve people.

b. Change YOUr Self-Talk and YOUr body language and image. A +ve body language and YOUr image will exhibit confidence. SMILE, eye-contact and posture (how you carry yourself) all go into making this change.

c. Don’t Give up and never accept failure (or below par output). Work on this and persist. Remember, the more you practice – the better YOU get.

d. Be Prepared! Remember the motto of The Scouts? Be prepared! For whatever you’re undertaking – meeting, dating, interview, presentation. Be Prepared.

e. Create YOUr life long Anti-Depressant Drug. Jot down all YOUr accomplishments. All. Laminate it and hang it on YOUr wall. Read it often. Watch four year old Jessica’s Self Affirmation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0ifIQNwXBE).

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Remember, only YOU’ve the right to look down upon YOUrself. If YOU don’t feel confident about YOUrself, fat chance that others will. So master this art and walk out to face the world with C . O . N . F . I . D . E . N . C . E ……..

If not NOW, When?

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Raise YOUr voice

It’s time to wrap up all the confetti, streamers, buntings and banners for next year. Mar 08, 2018 and we will, dutifully, bring them back. It has indeed become an annual ritual with some of us. As humans we touched nadir when on FB we livestreamed the atrocity meted out to a minor by five animals and it attracted thousands of “likes” clicked on the live streaming. Really!!! Each day there are some new horrors that come to light. Yes, the media goes berserk, grabbing eyeballs and “selling” their conscience.

How much further can we, as humans, sink?

It is high-time we all rose to the atrocities perpetrated against women. Each one of us is part of the system. When I speak to students, I ask them some very hard hitting questions.

If you’ve watched bollywood movies which promote misogynistic ideas (even inadvertently), YOU’ve told the directors/ producers that you accept such ideas/ viewpoints. It’s a pure case of demand and supply. YOU demand and they supply. YOU asked for songs/ item numbers which portray women in a demeaning way/ objectify them. YOU’ve told them YOU want it. The onus lies ‘fairly and squarely’ on your conscience, buddy. Movies that promote the idea that ‘harassing a women for love’ is fine. Which promotes that ‘NO means MAYBE’; No it is NOT!!! Do a ‘Ranjhana’ and the girl will give in. The perpetrator needs psychiatric help – he can’t control his emotions. He can’t take a NO. He can’t handle daily rejections. You don’t need item numbers for movies to be HIT! We know that, right? A Dangal, English Vinglish, BMB, ZNMD, PK et al .. movies without item numbers and yet are box office successes.

Now is the Time to DO!!!!

These five basic steps could be the beginning. Just spread the word. Each one of us are responsible to make ‘Our Society’ the way we want it; the way we would like to have it. The way we would like to leave it for our children.

1.  Know YOUr Basic Rights. This is THE first step. Know that if you’re a women, you cannot be taken to the PS (police station) between last light and first light (sunset to sunrise). Know that the PS must have a lady constable. Know about zero FIR, which the SC has passed in a ruling recently. It says that the rape survivor can register in any PS (not necessarily the nearest PS), it can be done online, or registered post, even after weeks or months after the incident. The PS is mandated to record the statement.

2. Denounce Victim Blaming. Shaming her for the clothes she wore, the time or the place of the act or even her profession. Really? Each time we pass the blame to her, remember these are convenient narratives in support of patriarchal society and the mindset. It is NOT OK to strike/ perpetrate violence against women.

3. Have a Talk with YOUR family. Let YOUR family members know that a boy and the girl, both have same privileges. The rules acceptable for the boys are also applicable to the girls. Raise both of them with confidence. Let not the boy think that he can get away with anything. As parents we need to ‘teach our sons better’. #RESPECT. When the children see their father respecting mother, they take lessons for life.

4. Demand Actual Solutions. Candlelight vigils, sharing on whatsapp, blog on fb may raise awareness (and some just forward it for forwarding sake). It is more important we demand actual solutions. We need to denounce parliamentarians/ men in position of influence/ power to make such ridiculous statements like ‘chowmein is the cause of sexual atrocities’, jeans donning women ask for it, mobile phones or such absurd ideas. What we need to demand is rectify the sorry state of affairs; we need safer public transport, well-lit community spaces, faster processing of cases, higher conviction rates, sensitive handling of cases, national criminal register, and the list is endless. Let US begin. NOW .

5. Stop Forwarding Rape Jokes. It is NOT funny. STOP sharing, forwarding, sharing any/ every insensitive content. PLEASE . STOP . NOW . Reprimand those who do. It is these small things that YOU can do. People asked me in a number of sessions/ seminars, how do we know if it is risque? Hello? Really? OK .. put it through the grandmother test. If YOU can share it with YOUR grand mom, you can share it with your female colleagues. IF NOT, it is sexual harassment.

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NO, means NO!!!

I believe, that if you’re not raising YOUr voice, YOU are complicit and according YOUr consent. Is this the legacy YOU would like to leave behind for YOUr children?

IF NOT NOW WHEN?