Everybody. Dance. Now. A Simple Lesson in Leadership.

Everybody. Dance. Now. A Simple Lesson in Leadership.

Caveat: If you’re using a PC, please use an earpiece. Today’s lesson comes with a song ☺

In the past few months, along with my business partners, I’ve been privileged to lead an expanding team of young people, and one of the most vital lessons I learnt along the way, apparently, was from the song “Everybody Dance Now” by C & C Music Factory.

Old school stuff.

You guys should know the song. Few words used. Mostly incoherent (in the actual sense of the word). A Techno-ish beat. Some screaming woman melodiously demanding for “The Music”.

Caution – This song might make you want to move your body.

But anyways…

As a leader, most of your time would be spent on giving instructions to those who (are crazy enough to) believe in your dream by working for, or with you. And if you look closely at the title of that song, it sums up the 3 most important factors needed in giving instructions:

Everybody: This word indicates generality, but for the purpose of this lesson, let’s tweak it a bit to signify specificity. As a leader, every instruction you give must be assigned to a specific person, or a specific group of people. That way, if things go south, everyone knows whom to hold responsible. In the same light, if things go perfectly well, you know whom to appreciate.

Easy lesson, right? Maybe. But in real life, it’s much easier to just throw instructions into the air, and hope that someone would be pro-active enough to catch and execute it. That almost never works.

Next up…

Dance: Instructions must be clear and concise. I mean, how clearer can the instruction “Dance” be? (I know there are over a million dance steps you can ask them to do, but just… stay with me here). Try as much as possible to explain, very clearly, what you need that person/group to do, and then eliminate any grey areas that might affect the execution of those assigned duties.

Now: Instructions must have a timeframe. A clear-cut timeframe for execution. This timeframe must be followed up very closely… almost vehemently. If not, it would never get done. Why? You might ask? It’s because things are easier left undone. Sad truth. Have you ever noticed, if you have a faulty electronic device (a shaky phone charger or adapter for example), that it seems like the device is more comfortable when it’s off? But in order to switch it on, you have to bend it a little here, and hold it down there, and steady the device a bit, before it finally comes on?

Yeah. I know. It’s annoying. I feel your pain too.

Lastly, instructions must be followed up. Not in some boring kind of way (a la the carrot-or-stick method), but in an innovative way. Test different methods of following up instructions. Find out what works. And don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit.

But, in getting people to get things done, never, ever step on people’s heads, or treat them like slaves.

Never. Never. Ever.

Now. Everybody. Dance.

Stunt Doubles

Stunt Doubles

Yesterday, I went to the movies with a special friend. After much coercing and a little concession, I got to choose the movie we’d watch. And trust me, the last thing I’ll choose to spend 2 hours on is a chick flick. I’d rather go for movies with things flying around.

So we saw The Expendables 3.

In a nutshell, it was awesome. Even after delivering on its promise of things flying around, it was much more. Blazing guns, flying knives and close-up shots of popping muscles, the whole crew was on point. Gibson, Ford, Crews, Statham, Stallone, Banderas, Li, Couture, Snipes, Schwarzenegger, the fighting lady and the younger crew… everyone was simply awesome.

And as much as I’d love to go on and on about the movie itself, where I picked today’s lesson was, in what seems to be a twist, the movie credits.

I’m rarely in a rush to run out of the hall when the credits are rolling, as, you all know, these movie people, most of the time, slip in some sort of epilogues and cameo appearances in there (a la Thor 2, Captain America: Winter Soldier, A million ways to die in the west… etc.). Also, I’d rather not bump into people battling glare and trying to find their way down dimly-lit stairs on their way out of the cinema hall.

So we just sat there.

Each character was re-introduced with special effects… For example, Terry Crews, in his usual boisterousness, held a gigantic gun (that looked like it was supposed to be attached to a Humvee/Helicopter) as if it was a handbag. Everyone else was featured with some special scene from the movie as well.

And then the credits started rolling. So we figured… maybe there’s no extra scene in this movie after all. So we got up to leave.

As we were leaving, my eyes caught something in particular. Something, surprisingly, I’d never seen in movie credits before.

Stunt doubles.

Each major character had a stunt double. Well, from my little understanding, a stunt double is someone, usually a trained professional, who does most of the dangerous stunts you see the actors doing. So, for example, when Antonio Banderas was free-running (jumping) down a building, trying to impress Stallone, he most likely wasn’t the one actually doing it, but his stunt double.

Besides, these guys are like, really old. They had to have doubles.

But I digress.

And that got me thinking…

Throughout the movie (the part that people actually watch), you never see the face of the stunt doubles. Just the actors. Most likely, these guys do more strenuous work than the actors themselves. But in the end, the actors take most of the glory. Not too fair, right? But you know the funny thing?

That’s how it was meant to be.

And then, I figured out something…

Our relationship with God is also quite similar to the above-stated analogy. We are here on earth, battling the elements of life… making the tough choices… pulling the stunts… crisscrossing the terrain… roaming the range… doing the flips… and getting our hands dirty. But in what would seem a little strange and less-than-logical, in the end, we’re to give God the glory. All of it. We are to be satisfied with the world looking at us, and instead of seeing us, seeing Him. Even more, we shouldn’t be bothered when all they see is Him – and none of us. Why is this, you might ask?

Because that’s how it was meant to be.

Boy, is it a long and humbling process.

“Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” – 2 Cor 10:17

Stuff I’ve learnt growing older

Stuff I’ve learnt growing older

I drafted this post about 5 months ago (on my birthday to be precise), but never really remembered to post it till recently.

Growing older, I’ve learnt a whole lot (naturally). And once I turned a year older, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to share a few lessons that have really stuck. My first intention was to make a list that correlated with my age, but on second thought, I settled with listing out just 14 points. It’s obviously not an exhaustive list, but 14 seemed like a pretty justifiable figure. So, here are a few things I’ve been privileged to learn in my little life here on Earth:

When there’s life, there’s hope: Whoever came up with that quote was clearly on a roll that day.

Babies are cute (most of the time): And they have no worries (well, for most of the time too). If that’s reason enough, then let’s strive to make the world a better and healthier place for the new babies coming into the world, if not for anything else.

There’s a compulsion to walk: At some point in the life of a baby, it just gets tired of crawling… then it starts walking… then it falls… then stands up again. Then it starts screaming at people who pick it up for too long… because it just want to get down and… well, walk some more. Respect the growth process, but never stop moving.

A Social Media Tip: Don’t use Social Media to vent your anger. In my opinion, neither should you use it to vent happiness. In short, stay emotionless for most of the time. if you’ve got an ulterior motive for tweeting, blogging, posting a status update or uploading a picture, just sit there and do nothing. The feeling would pass. Share your deep feelings with close friends, family and loved ones instead.

Sometimes, Drastic Steps: In the movie ‘Family Weekend’, Emily was so frustrated with the ‘dysfunctional’ in her house that she had to ‘kidnap’ her parents and, well, deal with them. It wasn’t easy for her, but they were all better for it. Besides, the song by Katie Herzig at the end brought a tear or two to my eyes. But that’s another story entirely.

You’re not Indispensable: Don’t let anyone tell you that you are… or that they can’t do without you. Or their life would be incomplete without you. If they do tell you, just smile. Don’t believe it. It might be difficult at first, but people would always move on. They’re built to move on. We’re all built to move on. And that’s the basic truth.

Carry the World: Dedicate yourself to a cause much bigger than yourself. It’s what makes life really interesting. Every other thing is, quite honestly, just survival.

It’s hard to let go of the past: Past glories… past failures… it’s hard to let go. But we really do not have a choice but to let go and move on. I’d argue that Nature agrees, as it’s actually quite difficult to walk backwards for a really long time. So, keep moving forward.

Stay Focused: Have your main goal… and let everything else be secondary.

Work Hard: There’s still no substitute for sweat equity.

Work Nimbly: Learn to be adaptive to change. With the shocking tales of the once-been behemoths turning irrelevant within a surprising period of time, it seems like the world is moving faster than anyone can fathom.

Put action to your words: The world is filled with too many people talking… just talking; too many free-readers arguing at the newspaper stand… too many unfulfilled promises and overpromises. It’s a long and humbling process, but we need to learn to walk our talk.

Let your words be Life: Expletives and poorly-thought-out speech, as much as they seem ‘hip’, won’t do much for those listening, as well as for those speaking.

Lead Right: A mentor of mine recently told me, that “True leaders live in the future. They only come back to the present to carry everyone along with them.” Naturally, that got me thinking… ‘how possible is that, to constantly live in the future?’ And I figured something out. It’s not the easiest of things to do. But if I’m not ready to lead right, there’s no use in starting in the first place.

Socks

That seriously annoying, but obviously helpless moment when you’re about to leave for work, and you bring out 8 different socks – But none of them are a match.

Excellence, Anybody?

Excellence, Anybody?

Every once in a while, I take time off work to check out something fun. It’s actually intentional (for the sole purpose of maintaining my sanity). Well, here’s what I stumbled upon today:

And then, from the same videographer, this:

And then this!

And then a bunch of other stuff that’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

As much as I’m impressed with the actual stunts, the general adrenaline-y feel and the wide-eyed wonder in which you’ll watch these videos (et al), I’m actually a bit more particular about the Videographer (I hope that’s what they call them), Devin Graham. His attention to detail, his risk-taking persona, the well-selected background music (is that even supposed to be a thing?), his 4K camera and a million other things that he has to do behind the scenes to produce stuff this awesome.

I could write an entire article on how awesome this guy is… whoever he is… but… erm… okay. Maybe I will. Sometime later.

Today’s lesson? If you wanna get the attention of those that matter, you had better be excellent.

There’s no other way around it.

Depth…

Depth…

In life generally, but most especially in my work with Grappleline, I’ve learnt a whole lot.

Trust me. I can’t even begin to explain, or scratch the surface of the insight we’ve had to seek… the normalcies we’ve had to radically question… the proverbial boxes we’ve been forced to shatter. The things we’ve had to learn, unlearn and relearn, in the process of building an organization of worth.

We’ve had to do these, not because it’s particularly fun or easy, but because, in order to stay relevant. we’ve just gotta do it.

And boy, do we have a long way to go…

It’s a long process… Yet, so humbling.

Most notable among what we’ve had to do, is that we’ve been forced to break past the barrier of regular, on-the-surface thinking. I mean… anyone can follow a thought, or think through an eureaka-ish idea up to a certain degree (maybe 2 degrees deep at best, with a lot of painful reluctance). But how easy could it be to actually dig much deeper? To ask the difficult questions? Be willing to follow an idea through, into the deeply-situated, dark and dirty depths where the treasure is often realised?

How easy could it be?

Wait, the story is not over…

And when that treasure is finally found, how easy would it be to heat it up, knock it around, burn it down, and mould it back up till it becomes invaluable… golden… useful… sensible…

To turn it into insight?

I really don’t have the answer, but I can give you a little clue…

It’s freaking hard.

But somewhere within me, I know… and I trust… that we humans… popularly and scientifically heralded as homo-sapiens… were built for challenges like these. We were in-built with the capacity to bend so much without breaking. To explore, even if seemingly virtually impossible, the edge of our intellect. The part that makes us truly ‘higher animals’.

That internal, not-so-obvious tensile intellectual strength that we so easily and often ignore… or underestimate, is what makes us stronger than we could ever imagine.

So, after all is said and done, in the end, I know just one thing…

I was made for this…

You were made for this.

We were all built for this.

But are we ready to accept the challenge?

Are we truly ready to step out of that uber-mediocre comfort zone resident in our minds?

Now, that’s a question worth asking.

Up All Night…

Owl City’s latest song from his Ultraviolet EP has this ‘Surreal’ feel to it… speaks of love lost, dreams rekindled, and ambitions revisited…

Many things…

Anyways, here’s my favorite song of the week: