“I Think, therefore I am” (Descartes). While Emerson says, “The hardest task in the world is to think”. A lethal dilemma for the human mind is to evaluate whether situation should equal the thought, or no, it is the thought that must equal the situation. What does that paradox mean? Do, we as managers enslave ourselves to the current or prevailing situation or do we dominate the situation through our thoughts. Infact this contradictional approach is similar and akin to the debate, whether, leaders create “situations” or are it “situations” that create leaders. Human history records in its annals both types of leadership.
Napoleon and Alexander gazed at specific stars in search of their destiny. They believed that their fate lay in the movement of the stars. It is therefore justifiable to ask, can fate and destiny, be changed? And who can change that? Linchon had remarked, “every man is said to have his peculiar ambition”. What is yours? We ought to know what we want for ourselves. Discover it. Think about it. Nobody human or the environment can offer it to you on a platter. You have to think and discover it yourself. As any traveler on the path of life, the discovery has to be a consequence of deep, invasive introspection of your own self.
In changing our fate and destiny, as leaders/managers, do” thoughts” play any role of either promotion or hindrance? They do. From the bedrock of “thoughts” emerges conditions, that propel positive action.
As managers, we carry pre-conceived thoughts about our team members. We hear comments at the work place like, ‘he can never get it correct" Or “do we, have to live and endure this incompetent team”. These remarks are made so often, that as managers, we tend to become insensitive about the impact it has upon the recipients.
No individual should be discarded as a useless resource. Everybody has value. Managers must use their lens of positivity even when evaluating the need and usefulness of the square pegs in round holes. Managerial mistakes of placing a wrong resource against the required skills of the job/assignment should not be use to punish, the resource, so chosen.
If “thoughts” need channelisation for having desirable situation, the imperative question to answer is, who chooses your “thoughts” ? It is you and you alone in the first place. The other elements that go towards structuring and constructing thoughts is the environment we live and grow up in; the schools and universities attended; the training received and more significantly what we read. The mosaic of personality results in the germination of thinking; if there are more negative elements in it; the consequence will be emergence of a negative personality and vice-versa. Our thoughts lead us to action, conversely if thinking does not spur activity, it is of no relevance or use. Ambition without conviction, is a day-dreaming venture that will remain illusive and will not find any success.
For altering, amending and changing thought pattern, one needs to learn. But from where? The quest demands an answer. Learning actually takes place from almost everybody you come into contact with. We must begin by acknowledging in our “thoughts” of the ignorance, we possess and contain. Once this exercise is done, honestly, one must set about to ask, learn and show willingness to change.
Never lose sight of the reality that your personal resolution to succeed is the only recipe for success. You can take all the horses to the pond but you cannot make a single one of them to drink, until the horse desires to do so. In the art of human resource management too, it shouldn’t be forgotten that, no results can be achieved by force, what otherwise are achievable through inspiration and motivation.
There is no leader in you, if there is failure to acknowledge your weakness and a lack of general willingness to learn from own and other people’s mistakes. Induce automatic jettisoning of thoughts that invite you to the perilous path of invoking hostility and negativity towards the surroundings. Thinking or ambition that lacks empathy will be very difficult to pursue. Success in the management of people and also to emerge victorious requires that as managers/ leaders you must relate to your colleagues on the level of understanding their feelings. Never expunge or reject thoughts that present as a promise to identify yourself with the feelings of your team members. Uniting your opponents and deserters is the greatest thought to possess. It gives you support in the implementation of your own ideas and allows the inducement of space for the “positive thoughts” of the generally negative minded colleagues, to become inclusive of your efforts.
A leader in possession of himself will never hesitate to apologize for any wrong done to anybody, regardless of whether it is real or perceived one. Let your thoughts transcend beyond personal grudges, enmities, prejudices, biases and dis-likes. Wrongs of the past must be used to serve not as a punishing tool but as a lesson for its avoidance and a repeat in the future.
Develop the ordinary qualities to extra-ordinary. Make your mind a “workshop of thoughts”. A foundry where you can throw into the blazing fire all the old thoughts, views and dictums and hit them hard, while they are hot, to let emerge instead, newer and finer thoughts, All great leaders carry with them a fiercely blazing cauldron, where old ideas and ways of doing things are consigned to melt away.
Controlling thoughts is the highest plane of moral culture. You have a choice to either live the way you think, or think the way you live. I recall these thought provoking lines I read in a book, where the author writes, “Privilege can stunt ambition, just as the lack of privilege can give ambition”. So, true. History is replete with heroes who changed their fortunes and destiny through sheer dint of unshakable resolve (thought) that success, of any and varied nature, that is sought cannot remain outside the grasp, of people who tame and properly nurture their “thoughts”. Our thoughts make our lives. Since intrinsically thoughts are elastic in time, they can spread over time-zones and geographies.
A historian while drawing comparison between Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, noted, the thoughts stored on the mind of Abraham Lincoln, were so entrenched that even causing a scratch would appear difficult, while Theodore Roosevelt’s mind or thought bucket was, “wax to receive and marble to retain”. No leader should back track on thoughts once shared. Stick to them. To achieve this without hurting yourself, think before you leap, think before you speak.
Reading, excessively and diversely, helps in creating new or changing old and worn out thoughts. We all read and debated at school level on, “. . . lives of great men, all remind us, we can make our lives sublime”. Perhaps it is true without an iota of doubt and I fully subscribe to this thought that lessons from history serve as the best fodder for feeding our own thoughts.“Profundity of thought belongs to the youth, clarity of thought to old age”(Nietzsche). Thoughts are contagious, but these penetrate only where the defences of negative attitude are lowered.
Direction of thought is crucial to reality. The capacity to undo a thought is just as difficult as developing a new thought. We have to learn to tame, arrest or even dismiss own thoughts. This requires a different mettle of introspection, which at its zenith only, can undertake the task of unthinking the already thought.
Managers, for every thought conceived must develop the ability to find an alternative thought -the positives only, until it becomes a habit.
The writer is a senior banker