Whenever my dad is explaining something to me, he has this habit of spinning short stories to draw such powerful analogies, usually ridiculous humorous renderings, which really make me see the point, loud and clear. I and Tinu always prod him to compile a book of his “examples”, but he laughs off the idea.
Anyway, a week back, my dad brought home a book that he probably picked up at the airport. This one, “The habit of winning” might be the simplest read I have ever had. This not only means there were just 8-10 words in the entire book that really needed to be looked up in a dictionary, but more importantly, it has been written in such a lucid language that although it seems to be targeted at young managers (author Prakash Iyer is the MD of Kimberly Clark Lever and an MBA from IIMA), it would be useful, if not equally beneficial, to a school-going kid or even a housewife. It has lessons of life explained through a string of random stories and anecdotes, loosely classified into some categories..like stories that help you discover your goals in life, stories that teach you the significance of perseverance, positive attitude and stories celebrating the qualities of a great leader. Not all stories maybe true; in fact, some of them involve animals! I wonder if they were selected from Panchtantra.. But the point is, none exceeds 2-3 pages! When I deduce a lesson in life myself, the hard way, nothing seemingly productive might have happened that day, but the satisfaction of learning a truth that will guide me in the future is enthralling. And to gather 10-15 such precious stories in a day! That can be somewhat overwhelmingJ.
For one thing, this book will probably engender some interest in cricket, for half of the inspirational stories are about the valor of some great cricketers round the globe. After all, cricket is such a perfect embodiment of all the principles of teamwork, perseverance and leadership. However, one of my favorite stories is that of the Chinese Bamboo that can grow as high as 80 feet in just 90 days, but here’s the catch: you don’t see any growth for the first 5 years!! Demands huge patience from the person sowing the seeds, doesn’t it? J But what happens in those five long years? The roots keep growing to form a complex network that needs to be strong enough to be the foundation of a tree that will grow so high! But what do people do? They tend to pull out the sapling to check if the roots are growing, further hampering the growth. In other words, we tend to lose patience. It’s a great lesson for organizations and individuals alike. Once you know you are doing the right thing, you may not see the results immediately, but you need to be patient and keep working. Just know that it’s all for a strong foundation..J
So, if you found that interesting, do read the book! Your favorite story would probably be the one that can you most easily relate with. I am thinking I will rename each story in the fashion of “The one with the bamboo that doesn’t grow for the first five years” and prepare a chart that I can read while brushing teeth in the morning. Should be a nice way to recall all of them quickly..So, time to give up the habit of whining and make the habit of winning!